Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Heaven Now

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20)

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. (Ephesians 1:3)
Growing up in church, and even in Bible college, I had the impression that these sayings about heaven were only for when I died. Yes, I was laying up treasure for myself, as Jesus said, but I didn’t expect to see one bit of it before I kicked off of this planet. Yes, I was blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, but that was for later, not for now.

Now, perhaps that is what I was taught, or perhaps that was what I picked out by my own feeble understanding. I won’t blame my teachers and professors, although, looking back, there was an awful lot of that weak tea going around. But I will blame it on the deceptions of the devil.

It was supposed to be an encouragement to me to know that I had all these treasures and blessings waiting for me “in the sweet, by and by.” But other than that, they seemed to have no practical value to me in the mixed-up here and now. There was a saying that used to go around (and probably still does in some circles): “He’s so heavenly-minded that he’s no earthly good.” What we were meant to glean from that aphorism is that you better not be thinking about heaven too much if you want to get anything done on earth.

How utterly ridiculous!

I have since come to realize that, until I get my head firmly stuck in heaven and my mind solidly established in the spiritual realm, I won’t be able to accomplish anything at all worth keeping. Paul said,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Heaven is precisely where our minds are supposed to be focused. Why? Because that is where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of the Father — and that is exactly where we are, hidden with Christ in God. Paul makes this even more explicit in Ephesians 2:4-6.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Think this through: God the Father is seated in heaven on His throne, where He rules and reigns forever. Jesus Christ the Son is seated there also by His side, where He rules and reigns forever. Not only that, but every believer in Jesus Christ has been made alive, raised up and is now seated together in Jesus in the heavenlies. If we are seated with Jesus (and the Bible says that we are), then we are seated on the throne with Him. And what do you do on the throne? You rule and reign. That is, we rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ — not sometime off in the future when we die or are raptured out of here, but right now. Today. This moment.

That is why we need to get our mind into heaven, to understand our identity in Christ, to understand the authority and power God has given us to make His kingdom known on earth.
  • The treasures we lay up for ourselves in heaven are not for the sake of heaven but for the sake of earth. We won’t need them in heaven, but we do need them here and now, to bring forth the kingdom of heaven on earth.
  • Every spiritual blessing we have been given in the heavenlies is for our use now, to fulfill God’s purpose through His people. The spiritual realm is not divorced from the natural realm, but is actually the source of the natural realm.
  • The prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come. Will of God be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is for now. If we’re going to call for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven, then we better be able to see what’s going on in heaven.
The kingdom of God is breaking through into this present age. Jesus said,
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (Matthew 11:12 NIV)
The kingdom of heaven is not static, it is dynamic. It is forcefully advancing upon the earth. That is why we must have our focus firmly fixed on heaven, not because that is where we are going, but because it is breaking forth into our world.

We need to change our perspective. We are not the last team out, waiting for the Big Airlift to extract us from this old, sinful world. No, we are an insertion team, an advance unit heralding the kingdom of God, bringing the power and authority of heaven to bear on the problems of the planet and establishing the rule and reign of God on the earth. It is a “can’t lose” situation, for at the end of the book of Revelation, we see heaven and earth coming together as one. That is where all things are headed, but for the believer in Jesus Christ, heaven is now.