In the Heavenlies

Eph. 1:3, 2:6, 3:10, 6:12.---' In the heavenly places.'

'In the heavenly places'; more simply and more literally still, 'In the heavenlies---it is the refrain to which this Epistle to the Ephesians returns again and again. The melodies of the everlasting chime which ring and echo through the Holy Book are distinct and various; and this is the melody which belongs specially to these chapters.

It is a wonderful tribute to Christ and Christianity that a prisoner should live and move and have his being 'in the heavenlies.' When he wrote the Epistle, Paul was a captive in Rome, confined to his own hired room, watched over day and night by the legionaries of Caesar, his left hand fettered to the wrist of one of Nero's guardsmen. But the narrow little chamber could not shut him in. It seemed as if its solid and rigid walls dissolved into thin air, and he walked at liberty through a spacious land, with wide horizons and fruitful fields and a thousand beauties and grandeurs. It citizens crowded round him. Its Golden Prince was his intimate Friend. From the restrictions and discouragements of his immediate surroundings he escaped to the freedom, the dignity, and the power of the heavenlies, and none was so rich or so glad as he. And that is what Christ has done, and is doing still, not for royal souls like Paul's alone, but for multitudes of humbler men and women.

The heavenlies, therefore, are not to be restricted to the world of the future. St. Paul finds them nearer at hand. To him they are a sphere of experience and action and discovery with which he is already familiar. They are a stage and an arena where real events of his life transpire. We shall never know the heavenlies of tomorrow unless we are breathing the air and enjoying the privilege and doing the work of the heavenlies of today. The one is forerunner of the other, its suburbs and outcourts, its porch and gateway.

So here are pictures of the heavenlies, where a Christian man is to spend his history in the present. They are a warm and wealthy home. They are a dramatic and enthralling spectacle. And they are a field of keen, hot battle.

The heavenlies are a home---then warmest and the wealthiest of homes.

'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,' Paul says and sings, 'who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.'

Once we were outside the threshold, in the dark night, in the cold winter, in the distance of banishment, in self-will and sin. We had our possessions and joys; but they were not the best possessions, not the joys which endure and last. At heart we were poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked. But the Father pitied us, and led us, through the persuasion of His Spirit, and in the grace of His Son, from our exile without to the light and heat and provision and plenty within. We think of the old deprivation and the new abundance; we remember the sheer kindness and goodwill which have wrought the change; and we take up Paul's psalm and bless God.

For this is no ordinary home in which we find ourselves. It is amazing, incomparable. Its foundations were laid in eternity, and our place in it was appointed then. And as for the riches we discover waiting within its walls for our appropriation, an inventory of these is next to impossible. Paul attempts the catalogue, but it is like to baffle even his capacious soul and his tumultuous pen. Adoption and sonship, acceptance and God's favor, redemption and the forgiveness of sins, membership and inheritance in the mighty family Christ is gathering to Himself, the seals and the tokens and the foretastes of glories yet in front: thus the great thoughts and the kindling words chase each other in rapid succession. And all this is ours when the father blesses us, through the Spirit, in Christ.

The heavenlies are a drama, an exhibition, a spectacle of endless and enthralling interest. In the heavenlies, Paul declares, the Church makes known to the principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God. They are the scene where, in age after age and land after land, the Church has played its part and spoken its message and fulfilled its mission. The angels, cherubim who know and seraphim who burn, are watchers and students of the scene; it holds their attention as nothing else can, and stirs their wonder, and compels their worship, and calls forth their sympathy and praise.

The Church, but where is the Church? Not in vernable councils and assemblies alone, nor in splendid cathedrals, nor in the throng of vast congregations. It is where two or three meet in the name of Jesus Christ, and are taught by His Word and Spirit. It is in this separate and single soul which has been touched by the flaming coal from the altar of God, which was once dead but is now alive, which is being sanctified more and more as it looks away unto Jesus---its First, and Last, and All in all---which believes and loves and prays.

So in us the Church may be summed up, the whole drama of the heavenlies may be enacted, and the angels may behold in operation the manifold wisdom of God---His righteousness joining with His love to redeem us, His ingenuity and His patience training us into the likeness of His Son, His skill and resource and strength put forth without cessation and without stint for our perfecting. Surely we would reverence ourselves more, and would let God have more unfettered scope within us, if we recollected habitually that we are a lesson-book and spectacle to the principalities and powers of the unseen world.

Last of all, the heavenlies are a field of fierce, keen, hot battle. The devices of the demonic come against us. There is no reason why they should succeed. Once we were subjects of those evil powers. They could do with us what they liked; we were citizens of their commonwealth. But now we are transported into the heavenlies, and are ourselves part and parcel of the heavenlies. The spiritual hosts of wickedness are not at home there. it is not their sphere. They do certainly invade its precincts. They approach us. They tempt us. They strive hard to seduce us from our dwelling and our Lord. There is no victory over which they would more rejoice than that. But the victory need never be theirs. Let us pause to recollect the safeties and the liberties and the glories of the dwelling, and it will be an utter impossibility to part with them. What is more essential still, let us cast ourselves afresh on the Lord, and He will undertake for us against the adversary. 'We wrestle,' Paul says; but our wrestling is our trust in Christ, our cry to Christ, our confidence that Christ is more than all who are against us.

God bring every one of us into the Heavenlies through Jesus the Door.

In Christ, timothy maranatha