Eternal Hope

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NKJV) 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

The message I believe God has given me for the church this year is that we need to get back to believing all things are possible. In my own life and in the church in my country I see more and more evidence that we are settling for the possibilities we can see and not expecting something more. I believe we have lost the edge of expectancy concerning what God can and will do in our lives.

As we have been building this sense of God’s possibilities we have looked at a number of things. Recently we have been studying Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 and 2. Specifically the reality that we are seated with Christ Jesus in heavenly places. This is a spiritual location not a physical location. However, location determines possibility and seated at the right hand of God we can see a whole new realm of possibility open to us.

This week we have been looking at what Paul prayed would be revealed to us. There are three things and the first is the hope of his calling. The revelation of these truths and our active acceptance of them will help us experience the reality of our spiritual location and see the possibilities that are ours because of where we are seated. What is the hope of his calling?

In our last post, we talked about the reality of God’s call on every person’s life. God gives each of us a destiny and a calling. Every person needs to know that their life matters. That is a powerful truth but not the one Paul is praying we would understand. He is talking about God’s calling not ours. This is God’s personal invitation to be with him and participate in the salvation he purchased in Christ.

You are born again. Biblically, that is the only way you can be what Paul called a “new creature in Christ” in 2 Corinthians 5:17. There are many who are members of a Christian church or have a Christian heritage and culture. The bible does not teach that as true Christianity. In John 3, Jesus made it clear.

John 3:3-5 (NKJV) 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

This does not play well in the current climate of political correctness and total acceptance. Nevertheless, I did not write this, Jesus said it and the apostle John recorded it. If you are not born again you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. You are not a Christian. You may go to church and have a Christian heritage. You may consider yourself a Christian historically. You may even be sincere in your religious devotion. Unless you are born again you are not able to enter the Kingdom of God. To me that means many things but the most important is that you cannot and will not go to heaven.

When Paul talks about the hope of God’s calling us, that is what he is talking about. I like to say it this way. In 10,000 years you will not care what kind of house you had or what you did for a living. You will not care about how much money you earned or who knew your name. You will be very happy that at some point in your life you accepted Jesus as your savior and Lord and were born again. That is all that will matter.

We have a saying. We need to make sure we are not so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. I understand the sentiment behind that thought. We cannot forget that God has us here to do a job. We need to remember that our main reason for existence is to extend the kingdom of God and bring more people into the family. That said, this saying is not at all scriptural and not at all true.

We need to be so heavenly minded that we become useful in the earth. We need to begin to understand that the hope of God’s calling in Christ is not what we do here. It is the eternity we will spend with the Lord. Our earthly purpose is to bring more people to eternity with us. When we understand that, life and all its trappings look very different to us.

Now I am not talking about having a martyr complex. I am not talking about wanting to suffer for Jesus. I am talking about a revelation that life here is only a fraction of the life God wants us to have. I am talking about understanding that God wants to bless us in our earthly life but that it is more important to him that we extend his call to eternal life to as many as possible. The hope of our calling is eternity with God. Nothing else comes close.

In my country I believe we are so blessed that we make up reasons not to be happy. Depression is a real problem in the United States. I do not mean to minimize the pressure of life here. Many people do not understand that with the standard of living we enjoy comes a certain pressure. That said, I have been too many places where people are not struggling with unfocused clinical depression.

They are hungry, scared and without much future. They are threatened in more ways than most of us in America can imagine. They do not spend much time in counseling. They are too busy living the life they have been given. That is why many of them tend to be more open to the miraculous. They have to trust in God’s possibilities. They have no choice!

I am very happy that I was born in the United States. I understand the problems and pressures that face us. However, I also know that if we truly understood the hope of God’s calling us in salvation, we would not be subject to the struggles we often go through. The same is true for those described above. No matter where we live or what kind of challenges we face, we must understand that a Christian’s real hope is in his eternal life with God.

Paul understood this. The people in the first century church understood this. They lived in constant danger because they were Christians. They knew that at any time they might be killed for their faith. They could be ostracized, lose their livelihood and their families because they chose to believe in Jesus. Most of us do not understand this. Being a christian has not cost us that much. We might be ridiculed or marginalized but not threatened. At least not yet. History tells us that could change.

The early church did not care much about temporal things. Everyone wants to be comfortable, prosperous and safe. They were no different. Nevertheless, they also had a tangible understanding that they had a hope that other people did not. They were going to heaven. Anything that could be done to them on earth was temporary. Holiness was important to them because of the immediacy of this hope. They lived today in the light of eternity. This made them more effective in their witness and their Christian walk.

I do believe we should expect to prosper. We should believe for healing and victory. I believe God can and will do anything to bless his children. These are all promises made to us in our covenant. I also believe that if we have a revelation of the real hope of God’s calling in our lives, those things will be secondary not primary. Our primary motivation will be to live worthy of that calling and then to extend it to everyone we can. We will not get so overtaken with the things of the world, especially when things do not go the way we expect them to. We will have a place of joy and peace that cannot be touched by earthly lack or trial.

Read today’s scripture and meditate on it. That is the hope of his calling in your life.

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The Hope of His Calling

 

Ephesians 1:18 (NKJV) 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

From Ephesians 1 and 2 we have been looking at a number of things related to our ability to walk in God’s possibilities and not limit ourselves to natural possibility alone. We have looked at the fact that we are seated with Jesus at the right hand of the Father. It is for our minds to process that we are in two locations at once and yet in a legal, spiritual sense it is true. From that location we have access to God’s possibilities.

Yesterday we began looking at what Paul prays that God will reveal to us. The first thing in the list is the hope of his calling. As a pastor, I am always talking to people about their calling. I believe God creates each one of us with a specific call and destiny. I believe God wants all of us to know that we have worth and that our lives matter. That said, Paul is not praying here about our calling he is praying about God’s calling.

What this is really talking about is God’s calling us to salvation. The word is derived from a root meaning to call by name. I believe God has called each of us by name to be with him and to participate with in spreading that call to the world. Yesterday we focused on the fact that with that call comes the ability and provision to fulfill it. However, in the lives of the early church the real hope of that calling had little to do with life here on earth.

In the western world in general and the United States in particular we live in a world that is far too focused on the kind of life we live here on earth. Everyone is created with a desire to be valuable. Today we have so much free time and so much access to information and entertainment of all kinds that we get far too focused on that aspect of things.

Although it is being challenged today, we also live in an age of security. Even with threats of terror, crime and natural disasters we do not live under moment to moment or day to day threat. The number of people suffering violence in our world is miniscule compared to the whole. True Christianity is under attack but not yet with violence. That was not true in the days of Paul and the rest of the first century church.

The people gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost had no idea if they would be arrested and killed like Jesus had been. I believe they were hiding in the upper room. The threat to their lives was real and tangible. Paul lived under that threat as well. Look at the list of things he suffered for the Kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NKJV) 23 Are they ministers of Christ?–I speak as a fool–I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—

That is a long list of things I do not want! We tend to be concerned about how far we go in our ministry, how big our church may be, what kind of financial base we have or who received more opportunities than we did. Paul was not worried about those things. That was the reality for anyone who named the name of Jesus Christ.

The early church did not worry about much of what so concerns us today. A little persecution at work or being made fun of in school were not problems. Being pressured to stay out of the political debate was not on their minds. They were concerned with being arrested and beaten. They were not just left out of the political debate, the politics of their day saw them as a threat. They lived in the ever present reality that faith in Christ could cost them their life.

It is in that context that Paul speaks of the “hope of His calling.” They were thinking in a far more eternal manner than we tend to think. I believe that God wants to prosper. I believe he wants to bless and heal us because we are his children. I believe God wants to give us success and victory in life. I believe that those things can be relative terms. To the early church they meant something very different than they do to us.

When I was in my twenties I heard the message that faith could change things in our natural life. I heard that God wanted to bless us and that our covenant gave us certain rights with God. I believe that. I do not think God is offended when we have a nice house, car or some money in the bank. I do not believe any of those things should become our focus. I do believe we can believe God for good things. Nevertheless, travel has given me a little different focus.

I was ministering in West Africa many years ago. I was part of a group preaching in a conference. The “big” speakers were two men I did not know. I was leading a team that was asked to participate in the meetings. One of the speakers was a very nice African American brother from a larger city who had a good sized church. He was from a background like mine who believed, as do I, that Godly prosperity is for everyone. That is great. I teach that as well.

The problem was one of perspective. He was talking about the $200,000 discount he got on his $2,000,000 house. (I do not really remember the numbers but they were something like that.) He was showing the people his $1000 alligator shoes and encouraging them to believe that God is a big God and they could see the same results. He meant well. He really did. However, he was completely ignorant about the people to whom he was speaking.

I knew these people. I spent time with them and went to their churches. Many of them had nothing. They lived in conditions that this brother could not imagine. To them, that was life. Does that mean they could not believe for better? Of course not, but you do not go from where they were to “alligator shoes.” The numbers he was speaking of meant nothing to them. I often say to our people that where I go, people aspire to what we call poverty. God will bless them and prosper them but that does not mean the same thing there as it does here.

More than that many of these pastors had escaped from war torn nations. Most of them had lost loved ones to extreme violence of a nature you and I cannot imagine. They had endured life in refugee camps and times where the only food they had was the leaves off trees. To these people, prosperity often meant survival. Not because they did not have the faith for something better but because where they were born life simply meant something different than it does to us.

This is much closer to the kind of life Paul was living when he wrote Ephesians 1. We know that he was eventually killed for the Gospel. To the first church the things listed in 2 Corinthians 12 did not happen because of where they lived. They happened because they were Christians. The hope of God’s calling was much more eternal to them than temporal. They were not nearly so concerned with things on the earth as we are. They knew how temporary those things were. They were concerned with the eternal hope that was theirs in Christ.

We need to continue to believe that God will bless us here. We need to understand that blessing comes with a responsibility (1 Timothy 6:17-19.) However, that does not mean it is wrong to believe for it. However, we must add the hope Paul is talking about if we are going to access the fullness of God’s possibility. We must understand the real hope of God’s calling upon us is eternal. That is just as true for us as it was for them.

More tomorrow.

His Calling

Ephesians 1:18-19 (NKJV) 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power

For the last two weeks I have been looking at Ephesians chapter one and two concerning Jesus current location, our current spiritual location and how it affects the possibilities that we see in life. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, far above anything that could hinder him in any way. Chapter two tells us that we are seated with Christ Jesus in those same heavenly places. Not only is Jesus far above “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” but so are we!

This is one of the mysteries of Christianity. Paul did not say that we will be seated in heavenly places but that we were seated. If we were seated, we are seated. If you are a Christian, you are in two places at once in the spirit. Physically you are here. Do not be confused about that. This world and all that are in it are real. However, we are not just physical beings. In the spirit we are there as well. We have the right to access that location and therefore see the possibilities that are ours because of the location in which we live spiritually.

Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17 that God will give us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus. Paul is praying that we will see the world as God shows it to us. Revelation is knowledge that is shown not knowledge that is simply learned. We should learn and study the word of God. However, revelation knowledge comes when the Holy Spirit takes what we have learned and energizes it by his spirit. He will show us more than we can learn on our own. He will give us his wisdom or insight. All of this must flow from and be based in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I want to begin to look at what it is that Paul says God will reveal to us in the context of what he is talking about here. There are three basic truths we need to see if we are going to access our spiritual location and see God’s possibilities. Paul prays that God would reveal to us the hope of his calling, the riches of his inheritance in the saints and the exceeding greatness of the power he used to raise Christ from the dead. If we understand these things, Paul says that we will understand that we are seated at the right hand of God in Christ.

The first truth in Paul’s list is the hope of his calling. The wording here is significant. He does not pray that the spirit of wisdom and revelation would reveal the hope of our calling. I believe that every Christian has a destiny in God. I believe that one of the things that we need to share with the world is that God has a calling for every person. Everyone wants to know that they count. They need to believe that their life matters. You have a calling and destiny in God and it is important to walk in that calling.

As important as it is to know that hope that comes from knowing you have a calling in God, that is not what Paul is praying about here. He is praying that we would come to understand the hope attached to his calling. He is not talking about God having some kind of call on his life. He is the caller. There is no one to call him! He is talking about God’s calling to us.

The word here has some interesting implications. It does not mean a calling to a purpose as we might apply it within our Christian life. Webster defines it as a request to be present and to participate. Strong’s Concordance defines it as “an invitation to embrace the salvation of God.” It is derived from a word that means to call by name. Paul is not praying that we would understand that we are called to do great things. He is praying that we would understand the hope attached to God’s calling out to us in salvation.

Before we can do great things in God we must come to an understanding of how powerful and wonderful God’s call to us was before we ever God saved. The key to everything, including both God’s call on your life and the ability to receive God’s possibilities in your life, is that calling that came to you as a sinner. I love the picture painted by this word calling as we look into the definition.

God called each of us by name. When he offered me salvation it was not a generic thing. Although he offers it to every person he ever created, somehow it is personal to each one of us. It is a picture of God’s desire for us to be part of his family. He gave us a personal invitation to be partake of what he did through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He called us to be present with him for all eternity. I do not know if that does anything for you, but it does for me!

Think of whatever celebrity you might look up to. Maybe it is a political figure, a sports figure or even some ministry that has meant a great deal in your life. There was a person we followed closely early in our ministry. They were flowing in circles far removed from us. I loved his preaching and the quality of his life even more. At that time, I used to think about what it would be like to have dinner with him and his wife. I thought it would be wonderful if he called me by name. How excited I would have been to receive a personal phone call from him inviting me to be with him.

I know now that this kind of thinking is immature. God does not want us to idolize people; even good people. However, the same feeling needs to be applied to the call God made to us in salvation. God called me by name and gave me a personal invitation to join him for eternity. His invitation included the right to sight at his right hand in Christ Jesus. If we could see that call in the same light we might see a celebrities call to join him or her for an occasion, it would change how we see ourselves and life itself.

When I would fantasize about this wonderful minister calling me, I also knew that a personal relationship with someone like that would present opportunities to me that I did not have on my own. Possibilities would become available to me that I could not have in any other way. However, as spiritual as this person may have been my mind was focused on natural possibilities. What if I understood that God’s calling to me in Christ was not a fantasy but a reality? What if I understood that the possibilities that calling opened up were not natural but supernatural?

We need to see that when God called us salvation it was a personal invitation to be with him and to participate in salvation. That does not mean simply to receive salvation. That is the beginning. Until we do that, the rest of the implications of this calling are not possible. Nevertheless, he is calling us to participate in spreading this invitation to the rest of the world as well.

He has called us to himself in Christ Jesus. We have been invited to sit at the right hand of God in Christ. From that vantage point with all of its inherent advantages we are called to reach out to the natural world where we live. We are called to spread his invitation to those around us. We are called to teach them what this wonderful invitation means. He equips us from our heavenly vantage point to do the job. He shows us possibilities that can only be seen at God’s right hand so that we can live and work here on earth by the power of our spiritual location.

That is a wonderful and powerful truth. However, that is not all there is to what Paul prayed. He prayed that we would understand the hope attached to that calling. To understand what he meant we will have to see it the context he was writing.

Raised up and Seated with Christ in Heavenly Places

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

This week we have been studying the relationship of our location to our understanding of what is possible. In the natural location has a great deal to do with the possibilities of life. This is also true where God’s possibilities are concerned.

In our study we have primarily looked at Jesus current location. Ephesians 1:20 says that when Jesus was raised from the dead, he was seated at the right hand of the father. That is what we see happening in the ascension described in Acts 1. Jesus, the glorified resurrected man, is sitting at God’s right hand in heaven.

We looked at what God’s power did to get him there. It raised him from the dead conquering the greatest impossibility facing mankind. It seated him or put him at permanent rest in God’s presence. He is not threatened by anything the devil can do. He is not just seated above all power and authority but faaaaaaaaar above. All things were placed under his feet meaning they are under his authority. He is seated at the right hand of the greatest power that exists. All of this is that he might be the head of all things to the church. He is all those things to us. That is powerful.

Today’s scripture takes all of that to a new place. Not only did he do these things for us. Not only does he exercise all these things on our behalf but we have been seated with him. We are faaaaaaaaar above all things that could defeat us. We are at the right hand of God’s authority. Anything that could threaten us is under our feet. It does not say we will be seated with him. It says very clearly that we are seated with him!

I do not understand this. It is impossible for my natural mind to comprehend that this could really be true but it is what the bible says! Look at this verse in the Amplified Bible.

Ephesians 2:6 (AMP) 6 And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Somehow we have joint seating with Jesus in heavenly places. All that God did in him; he has also done in me. In the spirit and by virtue of my covenant oneness with Jesus I am in two places at once. I am really here. There is no question about that. We cannot simply deny that this world is real. It is very real. We cannot say the problems of this world are not real. They are very real. They are so real that according to John 10:10 the devil wants to use them to kill you, steal you from the family of God and destroy you if possible.

However, Ephesians 2 is telling us is that there is another reality that we access in Christ Jesus. Our salvation caused us to be raised up to another place in the spirit. I am here in the flesh. I will be here until I die. I am also there. My location at God’s right hand is just as real and just as valid as my location in this world. I do not understand that. I do not have to understand it. I simply have to believe it. When I do, I begin to see and access the possibilities of my spiritual location not just the possibilities of my natural location.

There is a bible truth called “substitution and identification.” Jesus identified with our humanity (Hebrews 2:14-16.) He took upon himself our sin and suffered our death and when he was raised it was for our justification (Romans 4:25.) He became our substitute so we could be identified with all he did. This is what our confession should be.

· I was crucified with Christ.

· I died with Christ.

· I was buried with Christ.

· I was raised with Christ.

· I was seated in Christ at the right hand of the Father.

This is a doctrinal truth. However, it is much more than that. It is our legal position in Christ. When the devil brings accusation we can use this doctrinal truth to remind him of our legal status in the spirit

Romans 8:31-34 (NKJV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

It is not only a legal standing. It is a spiritual reality. The more we meditate on this truth the more we can see God’s possibilities. The more those possibilities become real in our hearts and minds. That is called faith. When we look at life from our real location it takes on a completely different potential.

I have been walking in this most of my life. Sometimes I do not feel the power of it. Sometimes my natural location wants to overwhelm me. I see all the impossibilities that face me. I am reminded of all my limitations and all my weakness. I have a hard time seeing how God could ever meet my need. In those times I focus on my true location.

As I meditate on Ephesians 1 and 2, I begin to “take off” as it were in my spiritual airplane. The impossibilities of the world get smaller and smaller until they disappear. I begin to see another world. It is a world that is just as real as the natural world. It is the world that created the natural world. It is full of possibilities that I could not consider when I was “on the ground.” The ground was dominating my vision. As I rise above to where Jesus is seated, I see them clearly.

It is important to remember that seeing possibilities does not mean we know how God is going to bring them to pass. In my experience, God rarely does anything in the way, or in the time frame, I expect. What I can tell you by testimony is this. God’s possibilities have never failed me. I have lost count of the impossible things I have seen and done in my life.

Access the reality of your true spiritual location. Let your faith rise above the limitations of the earth. Soar above life in your identification with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. I am not saying you will never have any turbulence. You most certainly will. I guarantee you that the devil will try to get you to come down from the heights of your identification with Jesus. Just remember his only weapon against you is fear. He cannot “bring down” your plane of identification.

In the end you will get to your destination safely. Just do not let fear cause you to bail out. Rise above life. Have dominion in Jesus Christ. See the possibilities above and you will have victory.

Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV) 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The Power That Changed Jesus’ Location

Ephesians 1:19-20 (NKJV) 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

This week we have been looking at how location changes the possibilities that are available to us in life. Paul prayed for us in Ephesians concerning some very important things. One of them is that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In our last post we looked at how that worked in Peter’s life from Matthew chapter 16. It is one of the major things that will help us receive God’s possibilities.

Today I want to continue in Ephesians Chapter 1. What Paul is revealing to us here is what the power of God that resulted in a change of location for Jesus. Today, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. What he sees as possible for the church, he sees that perspective. What happened to him in the process?

The power that changed Jesus’ location first of all raised him from the dead. We just looked at the resurrection as we celebrated Easter Sunday. The resurrection is the defining truth of Christianity. In Romans 10:9-10 we see that it is impossible to be a biblical Christian without believing in the resurrection.

Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

In the context of believing God for the impossible, the resurrection is pivotal. Death is the greatest impossibility to face man. When God raised Jesus from the dead he defeated the power of death. That was step one in changing Jesus’ location.

Next we see that this same power seated Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Jesus was raised from the dead as a human being. When he walked amongst his disciples they could see him and touch him. He ate with them and when Thomas expressed doubt that Jesus could really have risen, he commanded Thomas to put his finger in the holes in his hands and his hand in the hole in his side. Jesus was flesh and bone!

In Acts chapter one we find that Jesus spent forty days interacting with his disciples. During this time, he showed them many “infallible proofs” that it was really him and not a ghost or an imposter. He communed with them and ultimately gave them the direction to go and wait for the baptism in the Holy Ghost revealing that they would be empowered to carry out the great commission.

When the 40 days were done, he was taken up bodily into heaven as they watched. Where did he go and who or what went there? It was Jesus the resurrected man with whom they had fellowshipped for forty days that went to sit at the right hand of God.

There are two aspects to this that I want to point out. He was seated. The idea of being seated implies two things. First it means he is at rest. It implies the work that purchased salvation is done. It also implies a certain permanence.

If you go into someone’s home to deliver a message or drop off a package, you do not sit down. When asked if you would like to sit you say, “No, I can’t stay, I have other things to do.” However, if you intend to be there for a while you might say, “I don’t mind if I do.” If you sit you intend to stay. Jesus intends to stay at the right hand of God. He is not going anywhere!

This verse also tells us that he was seated “at the right hand of God.” God is the highest authority in the universe. There is nothing nor anyone who can challenge him. What he says is the law of the universe and any resistance to his will is always temporary. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the greatest power and authority there is. It is universally accepted that whoever sits at a powerful person’s right hand is second to him in power. Jesus, our Lord and older brother is seated at ultimate power’s right hand. That is what I call “friends in high places!”

In verse 21 we see another aspect of Jesus location. Jesus is seated:

Ephesians 1:21 (NKJV) 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

When I preach on this verse I like to hold out the word “far.” Jesus is seated “faaaaaaaaar” above. He is not just a little above. He is not just barely above. He is “faaaaaaaaar” above.

I do not like heights. I will not climb a ladder to the peak of my house. I do not like looking over the edge of high buildings or bridges. We went to the Grand Canyon and there is an overlook with a glass floor. I decided I did not need to see that part, thank you very much! When I fly in an airplane and look down it does not bother me at all. The reason is that I have no real sense of height. I am so “faaaaaaaaar” above things that I have no sense of perspective.

Jesus was seated so high that there is not even any perspective regarding what he was seated above. That brings me to the next part of the verse. What is he seated above? He was seated about all principality, power might and dominion that could in any way challenge him. He was seated far above every name that could ever be named. He is seated far above everything that is or ever will be. I believe this implies that he is also seated above everything in the past.

Jesus was raised to a position so far above spiritual powers, natural powers or that which can be named, and temporal power, the past, present and future, that there is not even any perspective that they exist in his reality. They are like the tiny cars that I see at takeoff. They look like toys at first but as we go higher they look like ants until we eventually are so high we cannot see them at all. That is how high Jesus is above every spiritual or physical challenge that might come to him. They can never reach him again.

Finally, we see two more aspects of Jesus location.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NKJV) 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Given that Jesus is seated so far above all the things listed here it might seem redundant that Paul would also say they are under his feet. However, we must understand that this is an idiom. It is a phrase that really means something else. When Paul says they are under Jesus feet he is telling us that Jesus in not only in a location that is out of reach for them but that they have been put under his legal authority. Anything “under my feet” is dominated by me.

The last thing he says is that all that was done by the exceeding great and mighty power of God was done not just for Jesus but for the church of whom he is the head. What a powerful truth. We have a Lord who has conquered death, who is far above anything that could challenge us and has all those things under his feet. He sits at the right hand of ultimate power and he is there for us at all times. He cannot be taken from his place and it can never be diminished.

That is great, but there is something much greater for us to see!

Revealed Knowledge

Matthew 16:17-19 (NKJV) 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

In our last post we began to look at Ephesians chapter 1. In this chapter, Paul speaks of where Jesus is located. He says that God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at the right hand of God. His location allows him to see from a different perspective. Our location determines our perspective as well. It particularly determines what we see as possible.

Although there is a great deal to look at in Ephesians 1, we see in verse 17 that a key to seeing God’s possibilities in our lives is “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.” Paul is praying that we will have this spirit. The spirit of wisdom and revelation that flows from the knowledge of God causes us to see beyond the natural into the supernatural. How does it do that?

Wisdom is insight into the true nature of things. Knowledge is information. In history class, I had to learn various dates associated with important historical milestones. That is knowledge. I needed to know who fought at certain battles. I needed to learn who was president during World War 2. I had to learn many facts and figures about historical events. That is knowledge. Wisdom is different.

I like to study history. However, I do not just want to know the facts. I want to know why things happened and the way they happened. I like to try to get “inside the mind” of historical figures. I want to know the conditions that led to a particular outcome. I want insight, or understanding, into the true nature of what caused history. The facts are valuable but the insight far more so.

Paul is praying that we will have a spirit of wisdom but also of revelation. Revelation is wisdom or knowledge that we do not gain through observation or study. It is revealed or shown to us by someone else. That is why man was not to eat from the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Some things God desires to reveal to us because we will not see the right things by observation and study. God wanted to reveal what was good and what was evil.

Not only does God want to reveal things to us, he wants what is revealed to be in the context of our knowledge of Jesus Christ. Our perspective, or intellectual location, has a great deal with how we interpret what we see. This applies to what we see outwardly and what we see inwardly. Look at this verse in James.

James 3:14-17 (NKJV) 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Self-seeking and strife produce an entirely different interpretation from what the knowledge of Jesus Christ will produce. Our wisdom must be influenced by revelation and come from the mindset and world view produced by knowing Jesus. Today’s scripture shows how this worked in the life of Peter.

The story is a familiar one. Jesus askes two questions. The answer to the first one can be obtained by natural observation but the answer to the second could only come through revelation. The first question is “Who do men say that I, the son of man, am?” (Verse 13)

The answers they give are revealing but I want to focus on the fact that Jesus used the term “son of man” when he asked the question. He is asking them what people are saying about his earthly ministry. That is what the term son of man represents. The answer is available from anyone who saw him minister or heard people speak about him.

The second question is the one that is pertinent to us. “Who do you say that I am?” (Verse 15) Here there is no use of the term “son of man.” He is not asking for someone else’s opinion. He is asking them who they believe the real Jesus is.

Peter answers by saying, “You are the Christ (Messiah) the son of the living God. This is a huge statement for Peter to make. Many suspected by observation that Jesus might be the Messiah. However, that is not what Peter said. He not only declared that Jesus was the Messiah but that he was the son of God as well. This goes against the basic identity of the Hebrew religion which set it apart from almost all others. “Hear oh Israel the Lord thy God is One.” They did not believe in the existence of any other Gods so how could God have a son?

He was not expressing his opinion. He was expressing insight into the true nature of what was happening right before their eyes. His natural understand could not have come to such a profound conclusion. That is why Jesus said flesh and blood did not reveal this to him. God revealed it to him. God himself put the facts together for Peter and he saw them from the perspective of what he knew about Jesus. That is Paul’s prayer.

When we walk in this kind of knowledge we see things that others do not see. All the disciples followed Jesus just as Peter did. They saw and heard the same things he saw and heard. They experienced his presence in the same way. However, only Peter stood and made this declaration. It is possible that others may have had this revelation but we do not have any way of knowing. We do know that Peter had it, and having it had a profound effect upon him.

Jesus said this revelation changed his name from Simon, a reed blown in the wind, to Peter which means a stone. He said that on this rock he would build his church. The rock was not Peter. Peter’s name meant stone or piece of the rock. The rock that Jesus built upon was the revelation that he is Christ the son of the living God. It is that revealed knowledge that comes from the preaching of the Gospel and is capable of changing the hearts of people. That revelation is what produces the New Birth.

Paul prayed that we would have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. That is not just a single revelation. One revelation in Peter’s life so changed him he had to have a new name. Paul is praying that we would be able to live in a continuous flow of revelation and the wisdom it produces. He says that if we can see everything around us through the intellectual location of the knowledge of the son of God, our whole life will change. We will have a new name as well. That name will be Christian or little Christ.

Revelation comes from two places. It comes from written Word of God. God will never reveal anything that contradicts his written word. However, revelation comes when the Holy Spirit in us reacts with the written Word. He is the Author. He can and will take the written Word and “reveal” it to us in ways that our natural mind would never see. When we have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, we will see God’s possibilities as clearly as Peter saw “you are the Christ the son of the Living God.”

Location, Location, Location!

Ephesians 1:20-21 (NKJV) 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

The title for today’s post is a real estate term. Everyone knows that you can have a very nice house but if it is not in the right location, it will be worth far less. A business can be made or broken by the location it occupies. Much of our lifestyle is determined by the location in which we live.

The possibilities available to us are also determined by location. I live 4 to 5 hours north and west of New York City. Many people think all of New York State is one big paved parking lot but that is not true. Where I live is very rural. We have a lot of open fields and beautiful wooded rolling hills. What we do not have is the diversity of possibilities that those who live in the Big Apple enjoy.

If they want entertainment, they have many, many choices. They have Broadway, we have the “Cider Mill Playhouse.” Take my word for it that they are not quite the same. They have the Mets, Yankees, Giants, Jets and many more professional sports teams. We have the Binghamton Mets minor league baseball team. Again, not the same. They have 5th avenue for shopping we have Oakdale mall. The possibilities are very different.

Of course they have much higher crime. I never lock my doors. They have traffic jams, subways and mass transit. We rarely worry about traffic and we do not have “mass” anything. We have the possibility of a nice peaceful, quiet place to raise our families. We have the possibility of going to the lake or the forest any time we like. Each has its pluses and minuses but the location determines what is possible.

As many of you know, I do quite a bit of travel internationally. Again, location determines the possibilities to which we have access. When I am in a second or third world country there are things I simply cannot do that I can do at home. Of course at home I cannot minister to the people I can minster to overseas. Different locations different possibilities.

We have been talking about cultivating the attitude that all things are possible if we believe. As I was meditating on that, I began to realize that location has a bearing on whether we see God’s possibilities or are limited to natural possibilities. What is our location anyway?

In today’s scripture, we see something that is very powerful. This is a section of one very long sentence that Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus. In it he is revealing Jesus’ current location to the Ephesian church. He is also letting them know how he got there and what possibilities have been made available by his current location.

Let me point out something from earlier in this sentence. Look at verses 15 and 16.

Ephesians 1:15-16 (NKJV) 15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:

We began this discussion by pointing out the father of a sick son in Mark 9. He came to Jesus with great faith and expectation. He ended up questioning if Jesus could do anything for them. The erosion occurred because of the disappointments that came to him along the way. Jesus said the problem was that he did not believe. His answer was, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” I contend that he did have faith but his faith needed a boost in expectation.

In this verse we see that Paul is not writing to people without faith but to those who have faith. What he is going to reveal to them is designed to take people of faith to a higher level of possibility. I believe that he is talking to you and to me! Next he tells us what he is really praying for us.

Ephesians 1:17 (NKJV) 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,

What do we need if we already have faith? We need a spirit of wisdom and revelation that flows from the knowledge of the Son of God. Our location is not only determined by where we are on the globe. It is also determined by how we think. What is the location mentally and spiritually from which we draw our conclusions about life? That is a major factor in determining possibilities.

In order to walk in God’s possibilities, we must begin to order our thinking the way he orders his. Paul said we are transformed, or totally changed, by the renewing of our minds. We cannot see God’s possibilities if our thinking does not flow from his truth. Look at this verse.

Proverbs 4:18-19 (NKJV) 18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble.

I cannot help but see our world in this verse. The path of the just is like walking at noon on a sunny day. You can clearly see everything. You can see the obstructions and you can see the clear path. You do not stumble because it is easy to identify the problems before you and the way around them.

For the wicked it is not so. They stumble and do not even know why because they cannot see what is right in front of them. They spend a great deal of time and money coming up with solutions that do not work because they cannot really see the problem. They stumble around in the dark and do not have any idea why they are failing so miserably.

God’s possibilities become clearly visible when we start from the right location. God is God! God’s Word is true. Supernatural things exist and we have access to them. The world does not start there. The world starts from the perspective that man is all and what we can see is the only thing we can count on. They cannot see God’s possibilities and they define the problems only on the basis of what they can see.

God placed two trees in the garden of Eden. He told Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life and they would live. They did not have to analyze the tree to find out why they would live. They did not have to investigate or postulate on what made up the tree. They just had to accept that God knew better than they did and eat! If they wanted to learn more later they could, but to gain the benefit they had to walk in the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” given in the knowledge that came from God. That is it!

The second tree in the Garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were not to eat from that tree. Why not? It is not because God did not want them to understand the difference between good and evil. It is because he wanted to “reveal” that knowledge to them. When we try to figure those things out ourselves we get it wrong even when we have the capacity to understand.

Paul prayed we would have the spirit of wisdom and revelation. That is a big word. We want to “figure things out.” God wants to reveal things to us. That does not mean he wants us to stop thinking. It does mean that he wants us to think about what he reveals to us. When something is revealed that means the knowledge originates from someone else.

To see God’s possibilities, we need to be located firmly on the truth revealed to us by God. When we are, we can see things that are impossible for us to come up with on our own. Tomorrow we will look at how this worked in Peter’s life.