The Heavenly Places #5

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

“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 high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

It is not until we come to Paul’s ministry do we learn how God will cleanse the heavenly places. Ephesians highlights our eternal destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ. Just as Father God will use Israel to accomplish His will in the Earth, so He will use us to achieve His will in the Heavens. He will exalt His Son, Jesus Christ, in both realms. Ephesians chapter 1: “[9] [Father God] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance….”

One day, brethren, we will be displayed for all of the universe to see. All creatures will witness God’s wisdom fully manifested in outer space. We will participate in Jesus Christ’s exaltation in the heavenly places throughout eternity future. Ephesians chapter 2 declares: “[6] And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

As good as this all is, however, we are not there yet. The heavenly places are still so far away! Howbeit, one day, Jesus Christ will return to Earth—at the Rapture—to take His Body (us) beyond the sky. Until we get there, though, we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Knowing full well that we will replace him and his minions in the heavenly places, he fights us every chance he gets. We had better don all the armor of God, beloved, that “we stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-20)! 🙂

 

The Heavenly Places #4

Monday, June 5, 2017

“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 high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

Parroting the misguided claims of so-called “Bible authorities,” critics complain about the King James’ italicized words. The phrase “heavenly places” is heavily derided because the original Greek does not have “places.” Thus, people refuse to quote the Authorized Version verbatim here—they prefer “heavenlies.” “Places” is needed to construct a complete English thought; therefore, our 1611 translators rightly inserted it. Upon removing “places,” we rob ourselves of an important link.

Revelation 12:7-9: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Friend, did you notice “place” in verse 8? It means a “room, position, dwelling.” Satan and his fallen angels functioning in heaven today (today’s Scripture) will be tossed out onto the Earth halfway through the future seven-year Tribulation. (Recall the “Old Testament” references about God and Satan both working in the heavenly places, with God cleansing those regions of evil. The Revelation is the capstone.)

With the heavenly places vacated of evil beings, Father God installs us the Church the Body of Christ into those positions of power (refer to the “heavenly” references in Ephesians—1:3-12, 1:20-23, 2:6-7, 3:10-11). Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Christ Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:… [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth [using Israel], or things in heaven [using us the Body of Christ].”

Now, we wrap it up….

Joy to the World! #4

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:6,7 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

When Satan’s reign on Earth and in Heaven concludes, voices in heaven cry out, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Hebrews 1:8,9 quoted today’s Scripture as true of Jesus Christ’s righteous reign. Notice how Father God addressed Jesus as “God.” Human history has never experienced a global, benevolent, theocratic monarchy. For the first time ever, all power in Heaven and Earth will be consolidated forever in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:8-10). All governments in Heaven and Earth will be cleansed of evil. By faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, we will participate in that operation of God (Colossians 1:16-22). We will reign with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7)!

Zechariah 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” And, Jeremiah chapter 23: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Indeed, there will be such joy! Jesus Christ glorified forever, in Heaven and Earth! 🙂

Joy to the World! #3

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

God’s Word to Adam just after he sinned included the following pronouncement, “…[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17,18). This is part of the “bondage of corruption” of which Romans 8:21 speaks. Sin tainted creation. Thorns and thistles began to grow, making Adam’s labor in the field even more grueling. Paradise was indeed lost… but not forever!

When God created the heaven and the earth, He selected a special location on Earth as His home. Exodus 15:17,18 say: “Thou shalt bring them [Israel] in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.” Isaiah 40:22 says God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” While Adam’s sinful actions delayed God’s earthly kingdom, God would take care of those mistakes and still accomplish His original intention.

Israel’s mistakes further delayed God’s earthly kingdom. However, God will restore Earth’s ecology to its original, pre-Fall (pre-sin) conditions. This is true especially of Zion, Jerusalem, which will be the global and universal capital city. There will be joy and gladness, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. All believers in heaven (Body of Christ) and earth (redeemed Israel) will join the angels in song. The curse has been lifted, and Jesus Christ has been exalted (Isaiah 11:1-9)!

Bible Q&A #333: “Why should I go to church?

To Know Your Purpose

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9,10 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know your purpose as God wants you to know it!

How sad it is that some people literally spend their whole lives looking, looking, looking (!) for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Perhaps they even reach the end of that earthly existence disappointed, having not a stiver of meaningful information more than they started their quest! However, they diligently and frantically explored various avenues—fame, education, money, professionalism, sexuality, entertainment, religion, friendships, science, “inner searching,” marriage, parenthood, and so on. Throughout, their minds and hearts were spun around and rendered senseless with myriads of conflicting ideas and downright fallacies. Having ignored the Holy Bible, they looked in all the wrong places!

Since the living and true God is God, He can withhold information. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God….” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Since we are creatures, not Creator, certain knowledge has been withheld from us. We can search all we want, but we have no such capacity in and of ourselves to grasp it (even if we could find it!). However, the verse continues: “but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Daniel 2:47 is a pagan king admitting the God of the Bible, JEHOVAH God, is “a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets….”

Today’s Scripture says God has made known unto us “the mystery [or secret] of his will.” He purposed in Himself that we might have a purpose. The God of the Bible wants to make His Son, Jesus Christ, the Head of everything in the universe. His secret will for us is that He wants us to glorify that Son in the heavenly places. The Holy Bible is very clear that we do this first and foremost by becoming members of the Church the Body of Christ!

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To See the Invisible Hope #5

Monday, November 7, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

When today’s Scripture says, “We are saved by hope,” this certainly does not mean, “We hope we are good enough to go to heaven when we die.” No, that is not Christianity—that is vain religion masquerading as Christianity! When we come by simple faith in Jesus Christ dying to pay for our sins, His burial to put away our sins, and His resurrection to give us a right standing before God, then we are just as sure of going to heaven as if we were already there with the door locked behind us!

To be “saved by hope” is not referring to being saved into heaven, or being declared righteous before God. It means, “delivered from misery and depression.” If all “life” was was this brief time before death, existence in a sin-cursed world filled with evil and suffering, we would have every reason in the world to feel depressed beyond words. As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). We would be most miserableindeed! In fact, the Corinthians, who were denying bodily resurrection, had robbed themselves of such Christian joy.

Thankfully, brethren, we are not trapped in these limited, weakening bodies forever. As we would change clothes, God will take these earthly bodies and exchange them for heavenly bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:36-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8). We will then share in Jesus Christ’s glorification in the heavenly places forever (Romans 8:18-25). Let us take our stand by faith in these simple truths, thereby letting us “see the invisible hope,” until we see the hope we cannot see! 🙂

To See the Invisible Hope #4

Sunday, November 6, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This is certainly an unusual exhortation—“look not at the things which are seen, but [look] at the things which are not seen.” What is one of the things we should look at today, which cannot be seen? It would be the first eight verses of chapter 5, which are an explanation of the context of today’s Scripture (Romans 8:18-25).

At the head of its great “Hall of Faith” chapter, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (And then, the writer lists dozens of names of believers from ancient Bible days.) When we hope for something, we cannot see it with the physical eyes. But, we assume it is coming. It may or may not come. However, when the Bible speaks of hope, it does not mean, “I sure hope it comes.” “Hope” in today’s Scripture, as well as in Hebrews 11:1, is a “confident waiting.” As today’s Scripture says, “we with patience wait for it.” The day of the resurrection of us Christians is coming, the Rapture is imminent, but we must not rush it.

While we cannot physically see our glorified bodies today, while they do not exist today, God’s Word plainly declares they will exist and we will indwell them. We just believe those verses, counting them as true (for they are true), and that hope delivers us from misery and depression….

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