Heavenly Places in Christ

by Terry Wane Benton

I pointed out that Christians are presently “in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3,7), and one preacher, in disbelief, asked, “What is it like in heaven?” He thought he had me stumped for claiming we are presently in “the heavenly places.” His question reveals a disturbing misunderstanding. It is disturbing because he leads other people into the ditch if he does not know that all Christians are in Christ, which is a heavenly place. If you are not in this heavenly place in Christ, you are not in Christ at all, and if you are not in Christ, you have no spiritual blessings such as redemption through His blood and forgiveness of sins. That is disturbing!

So, how can we be in “the heavenly places in Christ” without being in heaven itself, where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God? The expression “heavenly places” in Christ concerns a spiritual zone relating to being united with Christ. It is “heavenly” instead of “earthly” in origin. Since Jesus came to us from heaven, He is described as “the heavenly gift” (Hebrews 6:4). We have “tasted the heavenly gift.” That means Jesus is a gift that comes to us from heaven as God’s gift to us. If we can have the heavenly gift without being personally located in heaven itself, then there must be a way to enjoy heavenly things without first being in heaven itself.
In like manner, if we can wrestle against “the rulers of the darkness of this age…in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) then this struggle does not have to be going on in heaven itself. Thus, “heavenly places” can be a zone where we are doing battle with evil forces. When Paul says, “heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3), he speaks of a spiritual zone of safety in Christ where our hearts or spirits may find refuge. So, we are all in “heavenly places” where we are battling with forces of evil, but we are not all “in the heavenly places in Christ.” “Heavenly” simply references the invisible spirit realm, and “heavenly places in Christ” references the spiritual safety zone where we have great spiritual blessings to aid us in the spiritual conflicts we face daily.

To believe that we are not in “heavenly places” is to believe that the rulers of the darkness are right there where Jesus is seated in heaven. That idea also implies that we are not really wrestling against the dark forces since we are not personally in heaven. That is not what the Spirit tells us in Ephesians 6:12. We are really and presently “wrestling against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” In that case, we certainly could not take up the armor of God and fight. We would have to wait till we get to heaven. So, it is beyond reasonable dispute that we are all in the heavenly places. And some of us have come into Christ and were baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), who is in this heavenly (spiritual) zone. Those who are presently in the heavenly places in Christ will one day get to go home to heaven, which is where Jesus and His throne are located. That place is heaven itself, while we await and do battle with forces of evil and darkness in “the heavenly places.” A place can be “heavenly” without being heaven itself. There is no darkness at all in the very presence of God in heaven, but there is darkness in “the heavenly places” because that is just a spiritual zone that is not fully visible and earthly. The heavenly places in Christ is a spiritual zone we enter now when we are baptized into union with Jesus (Romans 6:3-6; Galatians 3:26-27). In this region we are given great tools and resources for victory. In this region, we have “redemption through His blood, forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:3,7) and many other riches that provide us with the means of victory.

Have you entered the heavenly places in Christ like the early disciples? If not, you remain under the power of the forces of darkness. Can we help you come into the heavenly places in Christ for safety?

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