As I’ve been working in Ephesians, a reoccurring theme keeps touching my heart so I share it with you. That theme is the “heavenly.”
We tend to be very location oriented in our thinking so when “heavenly” comes up, it’s “out there, in the clouds” somewhere, or, at least I think so. It would be helpful here if we thought more in the terms of a “realm” than location.
One of the dangers of thinking location is a standard criticism of Christianity, “It’s pie in the sky” belief. Not much happens with Christianity until . . . we’re dead and gone “out there somewhere,” or Jesus returns!
Thinking in terms of a “realm,” we might see that through our faith in Jesus, who died for our sin, we change “realms”!
Jesus said clearly, Jn 18:36.
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
This “world” (kosmos in John’s Gospel) is a realm in rebellion against God, whose rulers (actually the “ruler” and his followers, cf. Eph 2.1-2; 6.1) wield the sword to proclaim their places, violence is there way, force is in their hands! This is not Jesus’ “realm”!
This “world” is (spiritually) in blindness to the Truth of God, sinfully dishonoring of God’s Word and Ways, and therefore (spiritual) darkness!
Jesus came, as recorded by the Apostle John, Jn 1:4–5.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (or “overcome) it.
The message of Jesus is about changing “realms” now, by faith in Him, and, that “realm” is a new “realm” forever! This is God’s work of grace, Col 1:13–14.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
By grace, through faith in Jesus, we move from darkness to light, physical to spiritual, earthly to heavenly, and we do it the moment we believe!
So, back to this new “realm.” As mentioned, I’m presently working in the text of Ephesians and the Apostle Paul speaks of this “realm” powerfully and precisely several times.
First, just a pinch of grammar, remembering the fundamental of Bible Study, never open the Scripture and ask, “What does it mean”? Always open the Word of God and ask, “What does it say”! We’ll never know what it means if we do not know what is says!
The Apostle Paul uses the adjective “heavenly” or “heavenlies” 5 times to show us the powerful work of Grace, through faith in Jesus, in this new “realm.” Our word is an adjective, not a noun, it’s a work in the “heavenlies.”
Our adjective, “heavenlies,” is a compound, “heaven” (”ouranos”) + the preposition “epi” meaning on, upon, near, in, stressing location; or, at, near, stressing presence.
Thus “in the heavenlies,” or “at the heavenlies” stressing location or “in the realm / sphere of the heavenlies,” stressing presence. Again, this is an adjective, describing, not a noun of place.
Paul’s use seems far more toward the sphere / realm aspect as we’ll see shortly. Our faith in Jesus has, by grace, done the work of God in our lives which has changed our “realm.” We could paraphrase the Apostle Paul’s description of what Grace has done by “in the heavenlies” or “in the spiritual realm,” not pressing a physical location but a “sphere” of activity. I’d propose God’s divine work of Grace through faith in Jesus, is in “the spiritual realm of reality”!
The Apostle Paul writes, Eph 1:3.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the spiritual realm of reality in Christ,
20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the spiritual realm of reality,
6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the spiritual realm of reality in Christ Jesus,
10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the spiritual realm of reality.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the spiritual realm of reality.
When we place our faith in Jesus, the Grace of God transfers us to kingdom of His beloved Son, a “spiritual” realm now and a coming Kingdom of earth according to God’s Promise!
In Jesus . . .
- we have every spiritual blessing
- the highest spiritual position and privilege
- the most intimate spiritual relationship
- the greatest spiritual proclamation
- the supreme spiritual power
When do we have this? Now! Where do we have this? In Jesus as His Word and His Ways are lived out through our lives!
Now, don’t think this “in the spiritual realm of reality” has no impact in this “physical realm of reality” which is in rebellion to God! It’s quite the opposite! There is absolutely nothing “pie in the sky” about faith in Jesus! 1 Jn 5:4.
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Do you need somewhere to connect your life? This “realm” is the most secure place, the most intimate place, the most glorious place, the most free place, the most adequate place, the most open place . . . it’s with Jesus!
Why do we have this? We declare God’s Amazing Grace and Jesus’ New Life now and in His coming Kingdom! In fact, with faith in Jesus’ death for our sin, we will be to the praise of His Glory forever! And where will this be? “In the spiritual realm of reality” now and fully realized in God’s coming Kingdom!