Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that when they were saved by grace something happened that is mind-boggling. He writes, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”(Ephesians 2:6).
What does this mean?
The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ was not just an event in human history, it was an eternal event. In other words, while things were unfolding within the bounds of time (the crucifixion, burial, and ascension of Jesus) there were other things happening outside the bounds of time in the realm of the spirit. Jesus didn’t just pay for the sins that had been committed up to that point, He paid for all the sin of humanity for all time⏤past, present and future. It was an eternal moment.
Paul tries to explain this to the Roman Christians:
“…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him…”
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”Romans 6:3-6, 8, 11
So when we surrender our life to Jesus, it is as if our old self was there with Christ being crucified with him and being buried with Him. Likewise, we are raised to new life with Him just as Jesus resurrected out of that tomb.
But our journey with Jesus wasn’t done. Not only were Jesus’s death and resurrection eternal events but so was His ascension. Remember what Paul already wrote to the Ephesians about God the Father and Jesus’s ascension, “…he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”(Ephesians 1:20-21).
So where is Jesus’s residence right now? He’s seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms far above all other human and demonic powers, far above any other name to which people pray. And He will be there not only now but for eternity.
Paul then drops the bomb on us and says that God has “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”(Ephesians 2:6). Just as we were somehow with Christ in His death and resurrection, we are now with Him as He sits with the Father in the heavenly realms.
Because we were with Christ on the cross, we don’t live hoping our sin was dealt with, we live knowing our sin was death with once and for all. Because we were with Christ when He rose from the grave, we don’t live hoping for new life one day, we live knowing we’ve been given new life today. In the same way, because we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, we don’t live hoping we get into heaven in the future, we live from heaven to earth today!
Living from heaven to earth means that heavenly things are now natural to us and earthly things have become unnatural. Having the mind of Christ, thinking from God’s perspective, has now become natural. By “natural” I mean “that which alines with our new nature.” Sin feels abnormal. It’s not who we are anymore. Operating in the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit has become natural. Fear feels unnatural. Resentment feels like an old coat that no longer fits and smells bad. Forgiveness, however, has the feel of when a ball hits a bat right on the sweet spot.
Paul articulates this well to the Colossian Christians:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.Colossians 3:1-3