|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 15
Meditation Title: Raised & Seated
Eph 2:6,7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Here we are, yet another ‘link word' – “And”. What have we seen here in this chapter so far? Contrasting our past with what God has now done in us, Paul started the chapter reminding us what we had been like – dead, disobedient, objects of wrath (v.1-3). But then God came and ‘made us alive' (v.4,5). That was the big contrast, but it didn't end there (and that is why we've gone back to the beginning) because we have this “And ”.
In other words, not only did God make us alive – just like He made Jesus alive after his death – He also “raised us up” AND “seated us with him.” Now of course when we were born again (we've covered that so many times in these meditations, let's not detail it again), we had no idea that this had happened. We carried on living our normal lives on earth, aware that something amazing had taken place and we felt completely different - but we hadn't realised what it was. That only became clear as we read the Bible and were taught.
Now one of the frustrating things about Scripture is that it isn't always ultra clear. If we had been Paul's pupils in a classroom we might have asked him to clarify what he meant but we can't, and so when he says “God raised us up with Christ” we are not sure if he is referring again to the work of ‘being made alive' or whether he is referring to an aspect of our being united with Christ in heaven where we are ‘seated with him.' Both are true because God has raised us from the dead and He has united us with His Son who (positionally) is seated at His right hand in heaven.
Now we have observed previously that when Paul uses the expression, “heavenly realms” he means heaven itself, and so here we find an amazing claim for Christians. It is that we have not only been raised from the (spiritual) dead, but we have also ascended and are seated in heaven with Christ. Hang on, you say, but I still live here on the earth; that hasn't changed, so have can this be? Look again at the description: “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Because His Holy Spirit now dwells within us, we are linked to Christ, for the Holy Spirit is also referred to as the Spirit of Christ and so many of the descriptions of what has happened to us, as laid down in the New Testament, are said to be “in Christ”, just as we find in these verses. So Paul is saying, that because we are linked to Christ by his Spirit, it is as if part of us is there with him where he is, seated on his throne in heaven.
Now comes the crucial question: what is the significance of that, or what are the consequences, or outworking of that? Put another way, what is the practical relevance of this claim? Well we could speculate on many things but let's restrain ourselves and limit ourselves to what Paul tells us: “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Did you note the link words, ‘ in order that' ? He's done that so that He may be able to do something else, bring something else about, and achieve something further in His plans.
Let's check it. “in the coming ages.” Whatever else it means when Paul wrote it, it means the future. For the period of the church – between Pentecost and the time when God brings an end to all things – it means that Christ ruling on his throne in heaven is going to reveal and express the “riches of his grace” to us, i.e. he is going to be able to share with us all the outworkings of the Cross and how they affect us in our daily lives. Now if you are a bit unclear about God's grace carefully note Paul's description of this grace that we so often glibly talk about: “the incomparable riches of his grace.” This grace that God expresses to us through Christ has an immense value (riches) that has no comparison. It is more valuable that ANYTHING else we can think of! We may not realise the extent of this ‘grace', this goodness of God towards us that is “ expressed in his kindness to us,” but it is ours and part of the development of our lives is coming to understand it, receive it and live in it more and more and more.
Now ultimately this ‘grace' flows to us in two ways: firstly, and mainly, through the presence and working of his Spirit through us who takes his word (the Bible) and reveals the truth of it to us and brings us understanding which in turn brings changes in the way we live. As we step out in belief in response to what He has said (that is faith), we find his presence works as a power within us to enable us to live freely in ways we couldn't previously. But his grace also flows to us by his activities in the world around us and so he does change people and circumstances as far as they relate to us.
An example of this as seen in the Old Testament was the way, in respect of Joseph: “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.” (Gen 39:2-4) i.e. God gave Joseph ability so he did well but He also impressed this on his master so that he so trusted Joseph that he put everything into his hands, thus acting for Joseph's good (even as a slave!). Later when Joseph was in prison we find, “the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.” (Gen 39:21,22) This wasn't the Lord only giving Joseph ability, but He also impressed this on the prison governor so he acted for Joseph's good (even in prison!)
We have much to learn about this grace, but note in summary some key things: a) it flows to us through us being united with Christ in heaven, b) because we are seen as ‘seated' it comes to us not by our efforts but simply because Christ gives it to us, c) the extent of it is way beyond our frequently limited understanding and d) it is something we are to learn to receive more and more as we walk through this life with Christ. Wow!