Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Heavenly Realms — Revisited

Biblegems #274

Question: Are the “spiritual blessings” believers receive in “the heavenly realms” here on this earth those things that we are grateful for that God has provided to us, like happiness, love, joy...all the good things in the midst of all the bad?

( Note: This post is a follow-up of Biblegems # 78, published August 4, 2015, entitled, “What Are The Heavenly Realms?” I encourage readers to read that article first as a background to understanding my comments in this post. )

The phrase “heavenly realms (NIV) may also be translated as  “heavenly places (KJV, RSV, ESV). The underlined words are not found in the original Greek texts. They are added in our English Bibles to help readers understand Paul’s meaning. The Greek word epouranios, literally translates as “the heavenlies” in English (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).

The apostle Paul consistently uses the terms “heaven” and “heavenlies” in the sense of a place. So when he writes in Ephesians 1:3 that Jesus “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” he means that the spiritual blessing we experience as believers have their origin in heaven, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand (Eph. 3:20).

However, even though these blessings originate in heaven, it would be a mistake to think that they come down from heaven to us on earth. Rather, God has “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:20):
         Rom. 8:9            You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.

Not only are we with Him in the heavenly realms but we are in Him, and He is in us:
         Rom. 8:1  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

What are these “spiritual blessings” we receive in the heavenly realms (Eph. 1:3)? The word “blessings” in its most general sense means “good things.” The New Testament puts these “spiritual blessings,” these spiritual ‘good things’—into two categories.

The first category of “spiritual blessings”—or ‘good things’—is spiritual power, the very same power God used “when he raised Christ from the dead” (Eph. 1:20). A primary role of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is to equip us and empower us with everything we need to live godly lives:
         2Pet. 1:3            His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

The second category of “spiritual blessings”—or ‘good things’—is our inheritance as Abraham’s children by faith:
         Gal. 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

That promised inheritance is to reign with Christ in His Kingdom on this earth as kings and priests. This what Jesus referred to when He said:
         Matt. 5:5  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

For at Christ’ Return in power and great glory there will be no more distinction between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm, for everything will be perfectly reconciled as one in Christ forevermore:
         Rev. 11:15b  “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

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