Baptized Into The Heavenlies

Many of us in the West are aware these days that we have entered intense and increasingly difficult times (just catching up to Christians in various other parts of the world), and when one is in the midst of very trying things there is little appetite for a teaching.  At the same time, we must be solidly grounded in truth; we must be standing on the sure foundation of Christ, and our prayers must go up from prayer’s foundation.  Otherwise we are incapable of fighting the battle of the Lord; we will soon go under.  That need never happen: God has given us all the provision we need to triumph in what is more and more becoming a very evil day.  So let me share with you something my Teacher is teaching me these days—right in the midst of the battle.

Paul five times in Ephesians uses a phrase which in the King James Version is translated, “in heavenly places.” (Actually one of these is translated, “in high places.”)  The Greek for this phrase is en tois epouraniois, which some versions translate “in the heavenlies.”

The first reference (using in the heavenlies) has to do with blessings:

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

The second has to do with the immeasurable power God wrought in Christ in raising Him from the dead and setting Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies.  He prays that we might know:

…What is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlies
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:19-23).

The third passage has to do with how what God accomplished in Christ affects those who are in Christ:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through (in) Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-7).

The fourth has to do with how the church is to impact spiritual beings in the heavenlies:

 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Eph. 3:8-12).

And the fifth has to do with how the wicked beings among those spiritual beings are completely brought to nought by those in Christ who are equipped with the whole armour of God.

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:10-12).

The third passage is in the centre of these five, and is central to what we want to emphasize.  Let’s look at it.  It is built upon the second reference about what God, with illimitable power, accomplished in Christ’s death and resurrection and ascension into the heavenlies.  This, Paul says in the third reference, is the very heritage of those to whom he is writing this epistle.  They are quickened (made alive) together with Christ, and are raised up together with Him, and are seated together with Him in the heavenlies.  The question remains, when did this happen?  When did the Ephesians join Him in this heavenly heritage?  When did it happen that they were quickened together with Him, and raised up together with Him, and seated together with Him in the heavenlies? It happened when they were baptized into Christ.  For, Paul is writing this epistle to those “in Christ” (Eph. 1:1).  It is those in Christ whom God has quickened together with Christ, and has raised them up together with Him, and made them sit (enthroned them) together with Him “in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.”

Is not this astonishing?  To be baptized into Christ is to be made one with His accomplishment in the cross and resurrection and ascension (see also Rom. 6:3, Col. 2:12, Gal. 3:27).  By being baptized into Christ—it is not water baptism but Spirit baptism that accomplishes this—one is baptized into His death, and is consequently made alive with Him in the power of His resurrection life, and is enthroned with Him in the heavenlies “far above all principality and authority…”  I am not talking about theory.  I am talking about participation in Christ by His Spirit.

I used to view the first reference (about the spiritual blessings) as one who with neck craned upward was looking into the heavenlies trying to figure out how I could get those spiritual blessings down.  That is entirely wrong thinking.  They are “spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.”  If I am in Christ I am with Him in the heavenlies; the blessings are my heritage in the heavenlies.

And I used to view the last reference as a soldier who was warring against these forces of darkness in the heavenlies from an earthly vantage point—a rather intimidating prospect.  But that too is entirely wrong thinking.  “We wrestle… in the heavenlies…”  That is the sphere of our warfare—the heavenlies; we are there in the heavenlies, in fact in Christ are above these forces of darkness.

Dearly beloved in Christ, this—what God wrought in Christ at Calvary and in His resurrection and ascension—is the foundation, the bedRock, upon which we walk, and testify, and pray, and fight the good fight of faith.  Baptized into Him we are dead to sin as He is dead to sin; baptized into Him we are alive unto God as He is alive unto God; baptized into Him we are enthroned as He is enthroned above all the forces of darkness in the heavenlies.  This, the heavenly realm, is the sphere of our life and walk and warfare.  We are baptized into it.  Let us fight the good fight of faith from thence.  It means inevitable triumph.

 

 

 

 

18 responses »

  1. Oh Allan — you have struck such a chord with this post!! I’ve been studying the heavenly life on and off for the past 6 months or so. I wonder how much we can truly grasp this side of heaven! First of all I read your entire post and then went back and just read the passages you quoted here. I’ve been meditating on Paul’s letters for awhile now, trying to get away from just seeing them as doctrinal books (they are doctrinal of course, but also so much more). I hope you don’t mind — this is not the point you were making here — but the heart of God is so evident in these passages.
    The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies (distinctive from earthly blessings) . . . the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward . . . the Church, His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all; God who is rich in mercy loves us with a great love — He has raised us up with His Son to sit with Him in the heavenlies.
    And For what purpose? In order to showcase (to the angels) a kind of wisdom that they have never before seen! A wisdom (and I must say grace and mercy) that rises above all man’s failure, overcomes every obstacle, and brings the Church to heaven as a glorious, spotless bride!! Oh My!! We could say this is about us — but it’s so much more about God pushing sin out of the way so He can have what He wants. And He’s not after sinners who make it into heaven just because they have salvation.

    J.B. Stoney says “Instead of taking the actual position of being dwellers in heaven, and coming from there to earth, many believers only look up to heaven for help as to their walk on earth. Their strength and labors are always influenced and dictated by the condition of things here on earth, and instead of pressing upon man the mind of the Lord as learned in heaven, they are occupied with the blessings of man on earth.”
    I can’t say I don’t fall into this myself, but I have lately become aware of it (a good first step). The Spirit of God is faithful to direct me to the heavenlies!! In these dark days (on the earth) the shift is very freeing! “My peace I give to you.” Thank you Lord!!

    Like

    Reply
    • Lori, you are right about the heart of God being evident in those Ephesian passages, and oh how needful it is that we become awakened to this! The same can be said about Romans. And Colossians. I have such a burden on my heart these days that these books come alive to us! The things that are written therein are beyond astonishing. It is truly GOOD NEWS, but all too often we are asleep to it all; it is just “doctrine,” something for the theologians to work out. Oh for an awakening to the reality of what is ours IN CHRIST… in the heavenlies. That is to be our habitat, that is where we are to be dwelling, not in the earth!

      Thanks for the J.B. Stoney quote. That is so good! He makes mention of those who dwell in Heaven. Understanding what this actually means will enable us to read afresh with new light The Revelation (where several times John speaks of those who “dwell in Heaven”).

      Like

      Reply
      • Allan – I love the way a single word in a sentence can grab our attention and add nuance to something we think we thoroughly understand. Here’s a good example, you said: “To be baptized into Christ is to be made one with His *accomplishment* in the cross and resurrection and ascension. . .” That word “accomplishment” is awesome! I can’t say why, but it added punch to the meaning/sense of what Christ has included us into (awkward way to say it, but you get my meaning). Participating in His accomplishment — it just has a new impact on me!
        Also this: “…IN CHRIST… in the heavenlies. That is to be our habitat …” That word *habitat* — well, it just makes me stop think. I love nature and science, I studied habitats with my kids when they were young. So now instead of just breezing past the thought of heaven as our dwelling place, all of a sudden I’m tuned into the characteristics of a habitat! The rain forest is not at all like the high desert. The ‘habitat’ of earth is the antithesis of heaven’s habitat. I love this — it’s so helpful in thinking about the heavenly life that we are called to and placed into!

        Like

        Reply
        • Lori, I wasn’t thinking of the following verse when I used that word “accomplishment” but it came to me after I read what you wrote: “And behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease (Gk. ‘exodus’) which He should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:31). On the cross He “accomplished” an exodus!

          As to the word “habitat,” many places in the Old Testament speak of God’s “habitation.” From now on I’ll be thinking of that in terms of what you have said about “habitat.” It truly is inspiring to think of His habitation, His dwelling place, as being a delightful habitat “in the heavenlies” that the new creation man can begin to enjoy even now in the midst of the desolate environs of this world.

          Like

          Reply
          • Wow Allan — this discussion is such a feast of delightful spiritual food. I’ve been plodding along for months working so hard to really get a grip on these heavenly truths . . . now they are finally coming to life. This is the kind of discussion I would have had with my dear mentor who went to be with the Lord in 2009. How I miss this kind of interchange!
            That OT ‘habitation’ word always tripped me up — now that you mention it, I will see it differently as well. I’m going to look it up on BibleGateway and see what I can see with my new ‘lens’! A “delightful habitat in the heavenlies” — what a yummy thought!

            I think you will enjoy this from T.B. Baines:
            “We are made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This is where God’s grace has set [us]; and [our] walk in the world is to be such as befits those holding so marvelous a position. The same fact determines also the character of [our] conflict; for though the believer has a perfect title to these blessings and this position, his PRACTICAL ENJOYMENT OF THEM IN THIS WORLD DEPENDS ENTIRELY ON THE EXTENT TO WHICH HE LAYS HOLD OF THEM BY FAITH.

            “The power of Satan and the spiritual principalities is, indeed, already broken; but their wiles are always to be dreaded, and call for unceasing watchfulness. They cannot change or lower our standing, but they can cheat us of the enjoyment of it, and so rob God of the glory which our walk and conversation should bring Him; for Satan’s object always is to deprive God of His glory, and the believer of his blessing.

            “Satan’s craft is specially put forth to lower the standard of blessing, and lead [us] to take an inferior place, and therefore a place less honoring to God than that which He has assigned [us]. Hence our conflict, as set forth in this epistle, is for the possession by faith of these heavenly places, and our enemies are those who would seek to drive us from them.”

            This is such a good piece; you might want to read the whole thing. Baines goes on to discuss the “weapons furnished for our heavenly warfare.” He compares them to the temptation of Jesus before He began His ministry, and talks about Joshua’s warfare in the Promised Land as a type. So helpful in ‘seeing’ the reality of spiritual battles.

            http://www.stempublishing.com/magazines/cf/1879/Wrestling-in-the-Heavenly-Places.html

            Like

          • Thanks for this link, Lori, I will read that through. What he has said about faith is vital to this truth. Also wanted to ask you for a link to the J.B. Stoney quote you mentioned earlier.

            Like

  2. Allan — I came across this yesterday and it comes to mind as we talk here. You will like this!

    “The legalist teaches that we must surrender earth in order to get heaven. But how can fallen nature surrender that to which it is allied? How can it be attracted by that in which it sees no charms? Heaven has no charms for nature; yea, it is the very last place it would like to be found in. Nature has no taste for heaven, its occupations, or its occupants. Were it possible for nature to find itself there, it would be miserable. Thus, then, nature has no ability to surrender earth, and no desire to get heaven. True, — it would be glad to escape hell and its ineffable torment, gloom, and misery. But the desire to escape hell, and the desire to get heaven, spring from two very different sources. The former may exist in the old nature; the latter can only be found in the new. Were there no “lake of fire,” and no “worm” in hell, nature would not so shrink from it. The same principle holds good in reference to all of nature’s pursuits and desires. The legalist teaches that we must give up sin before we can get righteousness. But nature cannot give up sin; and as to righteousness, it absolutely hates it. True, it would like a certain amount of religion; but it is only with the idea that religion will preserve it from hell fire. It does not love religion because of its introducing the soul to the present enjoyment of God and His ways.

    “Instead of calling upon me to educate and manage, by the dogmas of systematic religion, an irremediably corrupt nature, in order that thereby I may surrender an earth that I love, and attain to a heaven which I hate, [AND HERE’S THE AWESOME PART:]

    He, in infinite grace, and on the ground of Christ’s accomplished sacrifice, bestows upon me a nature which can enjoy heaven, and a heaven for that nature to enjoy; and, not only a heaven, but Himself the unfailing spring of all heavens joy.” ~C.H. Mackintosh

    Like

    Reply
  3. Allan and Lori,

    Everything fell into place for me when I discovered that the translators avoided the intimacy of what real salvation is at every turn. It all stems around one little Greek word, “eis.” This word is found in each of the New Testament’s verses speaking of our initial salvation but was rarely translated correctly. We do not believe “on” the Lord Jesus Christ.. that totally leaves us with an external relationship. But as Jesus said,

    “This is the work of God, that ye believe on [eis – into] him whom he hath sent.”
    (John 6:29 KJV)

    Intimacy with and IN Christ is ours! We do not live separate lives and then ask Him to bless them. For, “IN Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

    (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on [eis – into] him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
    (John 7:39 KJV)

    Do a word search on this Greek word “eis” and you will find that all our favorite salvation verses (including John 3:16) speak of an initial act of faith that places us INTO Christ and as His saints we from that moment on live IN Him! So with this in mind what does it mean to be baptized into Christ?

    For as many of you as have been baptized [baptidzo – immersed] into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27 KJV) — [Note: “eis” is translated correctly as “into” in this verse.]

    This speaks of being immersed INTO Christ, not into water. Water baptism after we have believed is only an outward sign of a spiritual reality. When we were baptized into Christ when we first believed, we were immersed into His Spirit as well. So, as you properly bring out, if we are IN Christ, we NOW dwell in heavenly places IN Him. Where He is is where WE are! Dualistic thinking (He is up there and we are alone down here) has stripped so many of us of the reality and power of what true faith is. If your eye is single your whole body will be filled with light.

    As for the putting on whole armor of God, if we have put on Christ we have also put on HIS armor, too. It is God’s armor! It is all about understanding and believing just what a great salvation we have IN Him as we abide IN Him, wouldn’t you say? When the New Testament speaks of our standing IN Christ, it means just that! We stand IN and abide IN Him. Oh, what a great salvation our Father has given us! Like Paul prayed for all of us may,

    “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18 KJV)

    Like

    Reply
    • Michael, I am no Greek scholar, but yes, the preposition eis seems to say more than believing “on” Jesus. But about this that you said: “When we were baptized into Christ when we first believed, we were immersed into His Spirit as well.” That may happen, and should happen, but sometimes being immersed in His Spirit is missing in the believer’s experience. For, believing “in” or “into” Jesus and being baptized into Him are two separate things. Many are taught that they receive the Spirit, are baptized in Holy Spirit, the instant they believe– in fact are taught that they are one and the same thing: to believe in Jesus and receive the Spirit are the same thing. Scripture does not bear this out. Acts Ch. 19, for example. Paul asks the Ephesians, “Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?” I know that this can be translated, “Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?” But the obvious implication is that Paul did not consider them one and the same thing– believing and receiving the Spirit– although being baptized in the Spirit could happen at the same time as believing, or very close to it. But believing must be first; only those who believe are given the Spirit. But all too often, particularly in fundamental/evangelical Christianity, baptism in Holy Spirit has not taken place. Instead, water baptism is credited with doing what only baptism in Holy Spirit can do– cause one to be baptized into Christ.

      Like

      Reply
      • Allan, I agree. I know from my own experience that my Christianity was powerless and empty until I received the Holy Spirit and was immersed INTO Christ. I said a “sinner’s prayer” with an Evangelical pastor in 1968 and lived a shallow and empty church attending life until 1970 when someone asked me the same thing Paul asked those believers in Acts 19, “Have you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed?” I did not know for the Holy Spirit was not taught in that denomination. I had to admit that my life lacked power over sin and that my belief was an intellectual belief at best. God did not have my whole heart! It was then that I got serious with God and gave Him my whole life and ALL that it entailed and HE got serious with me and emptied me of myself and all that I had clung to and filled me with His Spirit. Oh, what a change that was to have the very Spirit of Christ alive in me and me immersed in Him.

        Finally, I had “put on” Christ. It was not about receiving “spiritual gifts” for me, but rather it was about being immersed in the Giver of the Spirit. He then gave me what He saw that I needed to be an viable member in His body and the “spirituals” came as HE willed just as Paul said. There are two extremes in the church today, On the one hand we have those who ignore the importance of walking in the Spirit of God and on the other we have those who are absorbed in receiving “spiritual gifts” from God for their own self-exaltation. In both cases the flesh remains alive and well and in control. The cross of Christ that crucifies our flesh daily can not be ignored in a life that is led by the Spirit.

        “And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,” (Luke 4:1 KJ2000)

        Jesus is the proto-typical Son of God. The question I have for today’s Spirit filled believers is, “Have you also been led of the Spirit into the wilderness or are you, as His servant, greater than your Master who had to learn obedience to His Father through the things which He suffered?” Even after receiving the Holy Spirit, there is much cleansing that must be done before we can walk in the obedience of Christ.

        Like

        Reply
        • Good word, Michael. You said, “Finally, I had ‘put on’ Christ. It was not about receiving ‘spiritual gifts’ for me, but rather it was about being immersed in the Giver of the Spirit.” I like that very much!

          Also what you said about being led of the Spirit into the wilderness. This is a vital matter, and it is only after His wilderness trials that we read of Jesus coming out of the wilderness “in the POWER of the Spirit” (Lk. 4:14). Too many who are baptized in Holy Spirit want the immediate power of the Spirit without going through the wilderness trials in which God would test and prove them, and it ends up in shipwreck. The wilderness trials are so critically important. In fact Mark says that after Jesus came up out of Jordan with the anointing of God upon Him (the Spirit in the form of a dove), “immediately the Spirit DRIVETH Him into the wilderness” (Mk. 1:12). Now, that is some leading! There was a terrible urgency about this!

          Like

          Reply
          • Allan, I am so blessed you can see the necessity of the wilderness testing in our lives before we can be trusted with the power of the Spirit. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing! That old Adam in us dies hard and he wants to grab anything he can to keep manifesting his will, including spiritual gifts and any number of religious activities. If the Son of God had to go through such purification, what make us think WE are exempt? I have a saying, “If you come to me and want to tell me about this ‘great man of God’ you saw or heard, I have one request, FIRST SHOW ME THE DEPTH OF HIS WILDERNESS!”

            Bless you, my brother!

            Like

  4. So grateful that our Father does not leave us on our own in dealing with wilderness experiences (growth-inducing situations). What a pity it is that so many go on and on without apprehending Him and all He wants to pour out to us for life and Godliness. I remember those years and would never want to go back — those were dark days. It was a great day when I learned to not count on my faithfulness to Him, rather His faithfulness to me. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” . . . First grace and then peace. I’ll take it!!

    Faithful, faithful to the end
    My true and precious Friend,
    He is faithful, so faithful to me. (A favorite song lyric)

    Like

    Reply
    • I am grateful for that too, Lori. You said, “It was a great day when I learned to not count on my faithfulness to Him, rather His faithfulness to me.” Amen. Thanks also for the insight about grace and peace: “‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’ . . . First grace and then peace. I’ll take it!!”

      I’ll take it too!

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: