Ephesians mentions “heavenly places” or “heavenly realms” five times, and they seem so far away because we often think of heaven as a place somewhere in the clouds. But if you string the passages together and read them in order, a new perspective emerges:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Eph. 1:3,4
“…according to the working of his [God’s] great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Eph. 1:19-23
” But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 6:4-7
“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” Eph. 3:10-11
” Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6:11-12
Read the verses together, and a more immediate meaning becomes clear. We are at the center of a raging conflict, and God has astounded the dark forces by choosing to make us–the unlovely and sinful–holy and blameless in Christ, to make us alive again, and to seat us with the king in heavenly places. We’re part of God’s eternal purpose.
Another, much older, verse comes to mind: “…choose this day whom you will serve….” Joshua 24:15
Which part of these verses stands out to you?
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