Heavenly Places In Christ

" Heavenly Places In Christ "

Ephesians 1: 3

After a brief greeting, Paul goes into a great hymn of praise.
It is one long sentence in which each successive thought crowds in on the one before.
As the blessings are enumerated the contemplation of each one leads naturally to the next:

Three particular notes sound right through this great doxology: Let's notice the sphere in which our spiritual blessings in Christ are experienced.(verse 3)

There are two expressions that define the sphere in which Godís people are blessed:

"In Christ" is an unusual expression that occurs five times in Ephesians.
It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.
To determine its meaning we have to study each passage where it is used. The term " in the heavenlies" appears as a flexible expression.
In 1:3 and 1:20 the context indicates that the heaven of glory is referred to.
In 6:12 the principalities and powers and the world rulers of the present darkness
and the spiritual hosts of wickedness are mentioned.

The kingdom of the heavens, which was an expression of Matthew, is established here on earth
and is heavenly throughout and is not of this world. (John 18:36)
It is the threshold of the kingdom of glory and is located wherever Godís grace has sway.

So the phrase does not refer to a physical locality.
It refers to a celestial region.
It is a sphere of spiritual activities to which the believer has been lifted in Christ.
It is not the heaven of the future but the heaven which lies even now within and around the Christian.
Believers really do belong to two worlds. (Philippians 3:20)
Temporarily we belong to the earth, but spiritually our lives are linked with Christ's.
We belong to the heavenly realm.

It is not merely that the blessings with which God hath blessed us are blessings that have their origin in heaven,
but they are blessings which have their seat where God Himself is and where Christ reigns at His right hand.
So while we are still in this physical body on earth, we are enjoying a foretaste of the greater blessings
we will enjoy forever in heaven.

Now let us examine the other phrase defining the sphere of Christian blessings.
Let's examine the phrase "in Christ."

The phrase "in Christ" is one of Paulís favorite expressions for the Christian relationship.
More of Paul's thinking can be placed under this expression "in Christ" than in any other.
The phrase must certainly refer to all the redemptive work of Christ.
It must include His incarnation, His death, and His eternal purpose for man.
All that has been done by way of spiritual blessings has been done for us "in Christ."

"In Christ" is the keynote of the book of Ephesians.
It is struck at once.
Paul and his readers are "in Christ."
All are members of Christ.
All share in His resurrection and His life.
Christ is now exalted in the heavenly realm and all who are "in Christ" belong to that heavenly realm.
Remember, it is there that we "enjoy every spiritual blessing" that God has bestowed upon us
as children of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

Every believer is "in Christ."
All that is in Christ is ours because we are in Him.
We are in Him in wondrous spiritual identification.

"In" is the most simple of words, yet mighty in spiritual importance.
What is "in Christ" will only be fully realized in eternity.
But what is ours "in Christ" now is overpowering and continues on into eternity.
All that we are and have is "in Him."
That is what greets our gaze, stirs our hearts, and steadies our steps
throughout each page of this message from heaven in Ephesians.

Paul conceives the whole Christian life as being lived "in Christ."
We not only believe in Him and are faithful to him, but we are "in Him."
He is the sphere of our existence.
He forms the sum and substance of our being.
For us to live is Christ.

"In Christ" or "in Him" or their equivalents is used fourteen times in chapter one of Ephesians alone.
So, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole message of the book of Ephesians is compressed within them.
Think of that!
This passage is the sum to it all.
It is the essence to the wonderful story committed to Paul to share with us through this great book.
That story is concentrated in two words - "in Christ."

From first to last the fullness of the Divine blessing is to be realized "in Christ." (verse 3)

So here in verse 3, where it says that Godís people are blessed "in Christ"
-- it means that the blessings which we experience come to us by virtue of our union with Christ.
Christ is the great reservoir of blessing, and only those who have this living connection share in His great spiritual blessings.
Only those who are "in Him."

Someone has expressed it like this:
"If you take Christ out of Christian, what you have left is i-a-n. I -- am -- nothing."
With Christ I am everything!

"Shall I tell you why my life now is so easy?
'Tis because this wretched self has ceased to be;
Once it caused me all my troubles, but itĻs buried,
And it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me!"

Christ lives in me!
He is real and alive in me.
We are so busy trying to be like Him, trying to serve Him, and trying to promote Him that we forget this great fact.
At times we put Christ in a corner of our lives and occasionally steal a glance at Him and say,
"I'm going to be like you if it kills me!"

STOP! LISTEN!
Let this shattering realization sink in.
Godís purpose is that Christ should find in my life and yours a willing instrument
and an expression for His very own life.

Christ lives in me!
What a lifting, liberating, thought.

All of God was in Christ...
All of Christ is in me...
All I needed was Christ Himself...
And I have Him living inside me!

Ephesians 1:3: "Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
.."

AND IT HAS ONLY BEGUN!

"Life had only begun
When I gave Him my heart.
'Twas the dawn of the day,
It was only the start.
Godís law was satisfied
By His Son crucified.
I was saved, was reborn
In my heart.

In my heart there is peace
Which the world could not give;
There is joy, boundless joy,
In each day that I live.
I can be what I ought
In each deed, in each thought.
Itís not I but itĻs Christ who lives.

But there's more, so much more
Than that first sweet day;
More, so much more
Every passing day.
For the life I now live
God is living through me
In each word, in each deed,
Each day!"

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. Harold L. White