Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heaven as Your Source

Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. (Colossians 1:5)
In the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking or maybe so/maybe not. The biblical words for “hope” in the Old and New Testaments speak of expectation. Hope is a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation. Hope is about things that are not yet seen but which we fully expect to see. The author of Hebrews tells us that faith is the underlying reality of hope and the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Paul gives thanks for the hope that belongs to the believers at Colosse, a hope “laid up for you in heaven.” We often think of heaven merely in terms of destination, especially as future destination. Many also often think of it as a place far, far away, somewhere out in space, at the edge of the universe or beyond.

For those who know Jesus the Messiah, though, heaven is a present reality. Paul tells us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3), that He has made us alive together with Jesus the Messiah, raised us up together and made us sit together with Him in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:5-6). Notice the tense. These are not future events but accomplished acts and present realities. They are both now and forever. Heaven is not far away — how can it be when we who are of earth have already been seated there with King Jesus? Think dimensionally instead or merely geographically.

Think, also, of heaven, not merely as destination, but as source. Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Although he traveled far and wide preaching the gospel, his citizenship was in Rome. That brought with it certain benefits and privileges, which Paul could invoke no matter where he was in the empire. Likewise, our citizenship in heaven brings with it certain benefits and privileges, which we may call upon at any time wherever we are in the world. Heaven is not just our destination and our location; it is our source.

We are people of heaven and earth. God’s plan is that, in the end, heaven and earth will come together as one (see Revelation 21, which portrays the New Jerusalem, the city of heaven, coming down to unite with the earth). It has already begun. 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; see also A Kingdom Forcefully Advancing). Our job is to lay hold of it by faith and to pray, as Jesus taught us, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 JVD). The apostle John tells us, “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

These are all present realities, in the process of coming to pass in the here and now. Though we do not see them all now, we can have every expectation that they will be revealed. As we joyfully anticipate the completion of what God has already begun, we can, by faith, draw on heaven as our source and supply. This is good news from the gospel.

For more about heaven on earth, see The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth: Keys to the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew.



The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.