Seated in Heavenly Places

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul makes a startling statement — but one that is very easy to miss. "… when God raised Jesus from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named … and He put all things in subjection under His feet …. God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus" (Eph.1:20-22, 2:4-6).

We readily acknowledge that after Jesus was raised from the dead, He went back to the Father (Jn.14) and God gave Him dominion over all creation. But what does it mean that He has also raised us up and seated us with Jesus? That's hard to wrap your brain around! What is He talking about? What does that imply?

At the very least, it should give us reason to rethink what Paul means by the term "heavenly places." If we are seated with Him, then the primary meaning here cannot be some physical location "up there." Paul must be using an anthropomorphic metaphor — not trying to give us a literal description of a throne room. This heavenly realm that he is referring to consists of all the spiritual realities that exist all around us all the time, but which we cannot see with our physical eyes. Reality in its entirely includes both physical and spiritual elements. And the heavenly realm is just as real as the chair in the room, and just as close.

Now if Jesus has been given sovereignty over all spiritual realities, then He is already King of the heavens. Whatever remains of evil in our world is an on-going rebellion against His rightful authority. And here's the good news … if within this spiritual realm we too have been raised up from death and given life and are rightfully placed next to Jesus, then we are no longer subject to the powers of darkness on this planet! We are not fugitives, running for cover and hiding from the evil forces around us. They do not tower over us. Good is more powerful than Evil !  And with Christ we are in the process of putting down the insurrection — whether out in the world or inside our own body!

Paul has a wonderful view of salvation that goes way beyond getting into heaven when we die. We have been rescued from the rebellion (even though we were on the wrong side — Rom.5:10) and are in the process of being restored and equipped to help Jesus push back the darkness and take back the planet! We are now with Christ and on the side with all the authority relevant to spiritual life. We win! Just re-read the passage above with all this in mind, and be amazed!

May we truly catch this vision and believe what is given to us!

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