“But 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 (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 4-7 – NASB).
Recently I was asked to speak at a retreat but not given a specific topic. I sensed that the Lord wanted me to talk about Ephesians 2:6-7 and discuss what it means as a Christian to realize that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. According to scripture, we’re already in heaven! This was challenging to speak on because frankly, I really didn’t know what it means to be seated with Christ in heavenly places.
For several weeks I meditated on this scripture, as well as cross-references. Ephesians 1:3 gives us a hint what this entails: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (NASB). Every spiritual blessing that is available to Christ and through Christ’s death is also available to us – wow, what a thought! We are to partake now of our heavenly inheritance while we are on earth. Though we look forward to the peace and rest and glory of shedding our earthly tents and being joined in spirit with Him there, we already have access to the riches and power of Heaven. As my friend Lou Goszleth put it, “What’s more amazing than the fact that we can download an entire library into this little device [holding up an ipad mini] is that God has downloaded Himself into us!”
Later in Ephesians 1 we are given further insight into what it means for us to know we’re seated with Christ in heavenly places. Paul says to the church “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:18-20).
So this passage reveals what is ours because of Christ being seated in the heavenly places, where we are, too: the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us.
The Greek word for “calling” in verse 18 is klēsis which means a call to a vocation, as well as an invitation to a feast! Interestingly, the word for “glory” in this same verse is doxa and is defined as splendor or brightness, or anything belonging to God – but it foremost means “opinion, judgment or view” of someone. In the New Testament, this word is always translated to mean a favorable estimate of someone. And the word “power” here is dynamis from which we get our English derivative “dynamite.”
Essentially, what this passage tell us is that this inheritance we are accessing because we’re seated with Christ in the heavenly places means a confidence in all that we’re called to do on earth to advance God’s Kingdom, as well as the assurance that all of Heaven is backing us up!
Being seated with Christ means that we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). We’re not looking at our world any longer from an earthly viewpoint. 2 Corinthians 5:16 says “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer” (ESV). We see with spiritual eyes that those difficult people, those angry people are wounded, broken, and confused. It doesn’t mean we don’t speak the truth in love to them, or that we tolerate wicked or abusive behavior. But we see deep down to the root at what is in the heart. We see our circumstances in light of spiritual warfare (Galatians 5:17, Eph. 6:12), of spiritual testing (Jer. 17:10, Psalm 11:4), of suffering for great glory (Romans 8:17, 1 Peter 4:13).
We don’t look at our circumstances or the individuals in our lives as nonbelievers see them. If we do, something is fearfully wrong! Our perspective is Christ’s.
There are things we no longer partake in because we’re seated with Christ in heavenly places because they’d only tether us to the earth. Gossip. Grudges. Jealousy. Pettiness of thought – “Well, he got asked to minister and I didn’t, think I’ll go sulk.” Christianity is the only thing on this planet in which there really needs to be no competition with others in finishing first. When God advances the Kingdom through others around us, it’s to our benefit, and when God advances His kingdom through us, it’s to the benefit of everyone else. How great is that?!
If we’re seated in the heavenly places with Christ, we don’t need to get entangled with people hurting us and using us wrongly. My mom used to say, when Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven, that’s how many times the enemy brings to mind the words somebody said that were so thoughtless. Or the thing that your parents did that’s created so much resentment in you toward them. It might take seventy or seven times seventy times in your mind before you’re at a place where you’ve truly forgiven that person and the situation no longer has a sting, but eventually it will go. And when you let it go, you’re saying, “I’m exchanging this mud for gold. I’m trading this ugliness for big glory” (see 1 Peter 5:6).