What is termed “the heavenly places” is a phrase which
is peculiar to the Ephesian Letter and has no reference to heaven as a place or to specific places of spiritual privilege here on earth; but it does refer to the present realm of association with Christ, which association is the inherent right of all those who are in Christ Jesus. The association is a partnership with Christ which incorporates at least seven spheres of common interest and undertaking.
A. PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IN LIFE.
The New Testament declares not only that the believer has partaken of a new life, but asserts that life to be the indwelling Christ. In Colossians 1:27 a mystery is revealed:
Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (NKJ)
Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (NKJ)
1 John 5:11-12 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (NKJ)
Upwards of eighty times in the New Testament the truth appears, that among the major features which characterize a Christian is the impartation of a new life from God. Thus a unique partnership in life is established between Christ and all who believe which is both a position and a possession.
B. PARTNERSHIP IN POSITION.
As an incomparable position, the Christian raised with Christ, and seated with Christ in the heavenly association.
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (NKJ)
Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (NKJ)
To be raised with Christ and to be seated with Christ is a partnership in position which is real and abiding. Its contribution to the entire fact of the believer’s association with Christ is enough to characterize the whole. The honor and glory of it are knowledge-surpassing.
C. PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IN SERVICE.
A number of passages unite in a testimony that the
service of the Christian is one of copartnership with
Christ. Of these, none is more direct and convincing than 1 Corinthians 1:9.
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (NKJ)
As the word is also at times rendered “communion” (2 Corinthians 6:14) with the thought of agreement or partnership, and to be in harmony with the message of Christian service, which theme characterizes this Epistle, the idea of joint undertaking may be read into this passage.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (NKJ)
Some, as Meyer and Alford, see a sharing here in Christ’s coming glory; but as this Epistle is almost wholly one parenthesis which begins with the verse following this notable text and ends with 15:57, it is important to observe the next verse in the direct course of the message, namely, 15:58.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (NKJ)
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. (NKJ)
2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of
God in vain. (NKJ)
2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, (NKJ)
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (NKJ)
To be thus in partnership with Christ is a position of limitless responsibility as well as exalted honor.
D. PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IN SUFFERING:
Of the entire field of the doctrine of human suffering, a well-defined feature of that experience is “suffering with Christ”.
2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, he also will deny us. (NKJ)
2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (KJV)
Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, (NKJ)
1 Peter 4:12-13 12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (NKJ)
Colossians 1:24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, (NKJ)
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with
the glory which shall be revealed in us. (NKJ)
1 Thessalonians 3:3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we
are appointed to this. (NKJ)
1 Thessalonians 3:3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. (KJV)
1 Thessalonians 3:3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 3:3 that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed. (ASV)
While the child of God may suffer the reproaches of Christ, which is a definite form of copartnership suffering with Christ, the form of fellowship suffering which is closest to the heart of the Savior is to share with Him His burden for lost souls - those for whom He died. Such longings are not natural to any human nature, but are generated in the heart by the Holy Spirit who causes the yielded believer to experience the compassion of God.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (NKJ)
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NKJ)
As an illustration of this ability of the believer to experience the compassion of Christ, the Apostle Paul testifies of himself:
Romans 9:1-3 1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, (NKJ)
Partnership with Christ in suffering is real and reflects the fact that the Christian occupies a position of untold distinction.
E. PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IN PRAYER.
The very act of praying in the name of Christ is in itself an assumption that He also makes petition to the
Father for those things that are in the will of God and for which the Christian prays. The central passage bearing on this aspect of partnership is:
John 14:12-14 12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (NKJ)
“Greater works” are to be done by the Son of God in answer to the believer’s prayer in His name. The partnership in responsibility is defined thus, “If ye shall ask . . . I will do.”
F. PARTNERS WITH CHRIST IN BETROTHAL.
To be betrothed to a person is a position which is both definite and demanding. It is also a partnership. The Church is espoused as a bride to Christ. The marriage day is that of His return to receive her unto Himself.
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (NKJ)
Ephesians 5:25-27 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (NKJ)
G. PARTNERS IN EXPECTATION.
The “blessed hope” is ever the expectation of the instructed Christian; for the coming of Christ will be the moment of release from these limitations into the fullness of glory, and the moment of seeing Him who is the center of all reality for the believer. But Christ, too, is now “expecting”, and His longings to claim His bride are as great as ever His willingness to die for her.
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (NKJ)
Hebrews 10:13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. (NKJ)
All partnerships in human relations create their corresponding positions and possessions; in like manner the sevenfold partnership which the child of God sustains with Christ creates positions and possessions, and these are riches of divine grace.
24. HAVING ACCESS TO GOD.
Could any human being catch but one brief vision of the glory, majesty, and holiness of God, from that time forth that one would marvel that any human being - even if he were unfallen - could have access to God; yet, through Christ as Mediator, sinners are provided with an open door into the presence of God. In attempting to understand what is granted in that access to God, it would be well to pursue certain revealed truths in a purposeful order.
A. WE HAVE ACCESS INTO HIS GRACE.
Divine grace in action is that achievement which God is free to undertake because of the satisfaction respecting sin which Christ provided by His death and resurrection; therefore, access into the grace of God is access into the value of His finished work. This door is open to all; but only those who have believed have entered in. Of this position which Christ procured, it is written:
Romans 5:2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (NKJ)
The believer is not only saved by grace (Eph. 2:8), but he stands in grace.