Reaching into Redemption Meditations: 29. Redeemed To (2)
Eph 2:6,7 God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Recap: We are looking at the verses in Eph 2 that follow on from those where Paul describes our ‘old life’ and we said that from verse 4 he balances out those things with the things God had made us to be and is making us to be: alive to Him (v.5), joined with Christ (v.6), recipients of His incredible blessings (v.7). In the previous study we considered something of what it means to be ‘alive’ spiritually. We move on now to the second aspect.
Seated with Christ: Now I did cover this area in some detail in Part 3 of a previous series, ‘Lessons in Growth’, and so I will simply take some snippets from there to produce a more concise summary for this aspect of the Christian life to which I believe many give little thought. It is, of course, a matter of perspective; it about us seeing ourselves. Yes, it is very much about our daily human lives living out human existence here on earth, and yet it is about seeing ourselves as linked to Christ and therefore, in the realm of the Spirit, being seated with him in heaven where he is seated at his Father’s right hand. Because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, He is the link between us and Christ who is reigning at his Father’s right hand in heaven.
An Aside: Having just referred to heaven, I am aware that there are schools of Christian thought today that are pushing away the idea of heaven as our ultimate goal and are focusing on a new heaven and a new earth and especially about the reality of our living out the God-life here on earth which becomes the main focus. Now I believe there did need to be that readjusting balance but if we reject thoughts of heaven – even now or in our future – we fail to pick up on the bigger picture that the New Testament brings to us – that Christ IS reigning in the midst of his enemies from his Father’s right hand in heaven, expressing his rule through his Spirit, until one day all his enemies will be destroyed. I would love to think that it will be a gradual process whereby the world will get better and better, but the New Testament picture does not convey that. The primary resource that God has given us for understanding this period has to be the book of Revelation, and there we see that despite God’s ongoing redeeming activity on the earth, the folly of sinful mankind means that that destruction of enemies will come in stages and Jesus’ Second Coming will be one of those biggest stages.
Yes, in the meantime we are to remain faithful and respond to all Jesus is showing us – and that will bring blessing – but it is a naïve believer who ignores the lessons of the Old Testament seen through Israel, that even with God’s presence and God’s help we stumble and mess up. We are going through a period of time where in different parts of the Church there are positive changes that have been taking place for a number of years (while many others just carry on oblivious of these things). Yet again and again, as the years pass, we see new ideas or ideologies coming, lasting and falling and, tragically, that is also true of leaders as well. Even with the indwelling Spirit, we are prone to getting it wrong (as we have sought to show in previous studies).
Us with Christ: So what can we learn that hopefully will help us in our struggles as we see Paul describing us as being seated with Christ in the heavenly realms? Well let me take the things I identified in the previous series:
- First of all, that it is a position in the presence of God. In heaven everything focuses on God. Your life and mine must first of all be a life that is God-conscious.
- Second, because it is heaven, there is also a sense of being ‘above’ the earth and therefore everything of the earth is visible to heaven and therefore God sees everything and knows everything. This position therefore, as we share it with Christ, is a position of revelation. Although I suspect that is a strange concept for many modern Christians, our present life, the life He is redeeming us to, is intended to be a life of revelation, where Jesus shares with us knowledge and insights and wisdom to help us through.
- Third, because this is all about God, it is also all about power and authority. We might take that as read when we start by saying we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but this takes on a new emphasis now because it is a direct link to the Godhead and so there is this enormous sense of power and authority wherever God is concerned.
- Fourth, because we are now talking about a more intimate or closer link to Jesus by his Spirit, and this to the Godhead in its entirety, we must remember a crucial word that occurs in the Bible over five hundred times – holy. It means to be utterly different and it reminds us that God is perfect, and that means He cannot be improved upon, He is complete, lacking nothing. There is also a moral or ethical dimension to it, that He is morally perfect. How can we have contact with such a God and still live? Only by the completed work of the Son of God on the Cross. Never have any silly idea that this concept, that we are touching on in this Part, allows us to become super-beings, super-Christians who can do what they like. We are what we are because of Christ’s work and we do what we do because of Christ – nothing more and nothing less.
- Fifth, what we are now looking at is another phase in the strategy of the Godhead formulated before the creation of the world, that is working towards a clear goal, and it opens up a vista or panorama of new understanding for the child of God who is open to the Lord in His word and by His Spirit, a vista that has an end goal The apostle Paul caught something of this panorama when he spoke of when Christ returns again at some future time and he says, “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:24,25) You and I need to understand that, and recognise that, ‘seated with Christ’ and ‘empowered by his Spirit’ we are part of God’s means to overcoming his enemies – anything that is contrary to the design, the will and the purposes of God, and we will only be able to do that by revelation that we referred to earlier.
And So for us? How does this affect who we are today? Well let me summarize in one sentence these five things: we are to be a God-conscious people, sharing in His insights, knowledge and understanding, receiving and using as He imparts it, His power and authority, maintaining that ‘utter different-ness’ (holiness) that is constantly reminded that we are what we are by Christ’s work on the Cross and by his indwelling Holy Spirit, and that we are working towards a goal, the restoration of God’s design in our lives and bringing righteousness and goodness wherever He directs and enables us.
The first of those three things in verses 4 to 6 of Eph 2 – us coming alive – enabled us to enter into a new life with a new identity and new power source. The second one, that we have just been looking at, puts focus and goals before us. So far it has been ‘being’ and ‘doing’ but there is yet a third, even more wonderful, aspect yet to come and that we will consider in the next study.