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Post  Admin on Tue 07 Sep 2010, 2:59 pm

*By Jim Roberts*

In Ephesians, Chapter 2, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we were at one
time dead in trespasses and sins as we walked according to the course of
this world system. But God, because of His great love, intervened and
saved us by His mercy and through His grace. Then God did something that
was totally unexpected when He raised us up to sit in the heavenly
places. Verse 6 says:

(God) raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus.

Of course, this sounds rather odd to us at first. How can we stand on
this earth while being seated in the heavenly places? In this statement
Paul is actually teaching a very important doctrine. There is a
difference between the way we are in the natural world and the way God
sees us in Christ. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that
we are far from perfect, but God does not see our imperfections when He
sees us in Christ. Notice that we are not seated in the heavenly places
with Christ, but we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ.

God could never accept or fellowship with that which has even a spot of
sin. The Old Testament sacrifices had to be without spot and without
blemish. The Lord Jesus, Himself, was the spotless lamb of God. Peter
said that we were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver
and gold but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without
spot or blemish.

God requires absolute righteousness. Part of the good news for us is
that when we put our faith in Christ, we are baptized into Christ and
His righteousness. From that moment of faith, we are added to the Church
which is the Body of Christ, and God sees us in the heavenly places and
in the righteousness of Christ. Ephesians 5 says that Christ loved the
Church and gave Himself for the Church, that He might sanctify and
cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present
it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such
thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Paul put it this way in Colossians 1:

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked
works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,
to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
(Col. 1:21-22)

Some have said that Paul was simply building upon the doctrines of the
Lord Jesus when he emphasized the heavenly realms. They point out that
Jesus taught His followers to lay up treasures in heaven where neither
moth nor rust can corrupt. They refer to the fact that Jesus told Pilate
that His kingdom was not of this world. They also cite Jesus
conversation with Nicodemus where Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be
born again, or more literally, that he had to be born from above.

However, when Jesus told his disciples to lay up treasures in heaven, He
went on to say that they should not worry about earthly provisions
because God was going to give all of these things to those who seek
first the kingdom of God. Their hope was clearly based in a future
earthly kingdom.

When the Lord Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world,
He was saying that the world system of His earthly kingdom would not be
anything like our present world system. Satan directs the affairs of our
present world system as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians
2:2). Satan is the god of our present age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and Satan
is the head of the rulers of the darkness of our present age (Ephesians
6:12). The Lord Jesus was telling Pilate that His kingdom would bring in
a new age with a new world system which will be free from Satans
influence. Again, we see that Jesus consistently taught the hope of a
future earthly kingdom.

When the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born from above,
He was telling Nicodemus that he needed to be born spiritually into the
kingdom in heaven before he could hope to be part of the kingdom from
heaven. The Lord knew and encouraged the fact that Nicodemus was looking
for the earthly kingdom of God.

In comparison, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus, he
was writing to members of the Church which is the Body of Christ
(Ephesians 1:22-23), and he never mentioned Christs earthly kingdom at
all. In fact, he taught that the Church will be blessed in the heavenly
places throughout the ages to come.

(God has) raised us up together, and made us sit together in the
heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show
the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus. ( Eph. 2:6-7)

**A new breeze is blowing--and a nation
refreshed by freedom stands ready
to push on:
there is new ground to be broken,
and new action to be taken. *

*George Herbert Walker Bush

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