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The Christian's Relationship with Heaven
The Christian's Relationship with Heaven
(What is being spoken here is the truth of who a Christian is. A Christian is one who is born from above, i.e. born from heaven; heaven is his home; he lives by heavenly resources; he calls upon His Father in heaven; he is a citizen of heaven, and a stranger on earth; he is indwelt by the Spirit who came down from heaven. Let us understand this very clearly, because most of Christianity today is an earthly Christianity, not the true Christianity of the New Testament; it is false. Many Christians are in love with the world, and they think like people of the world, and they have settled down in the world, and they have no idea of what an 'open heaven' is.)
(This is an extract of a wonderful message spoke by TAS, which has been titled The Way. It is possible to get copies of The Way from The Golden Candlestick, a bi-monthly brochure published by The Golden Candlestick Trust in Twello, Holland. For full details you may google the key words here.)
When we quietly consider and meditate upon the life of the Lord Jesus during the three and a half years of His walk in the midst of men, there are certain things about Him which are quite evident and quite impressive. Those things are the things which must be carried over into our own lives if others are to have indicated to them the way to God.
We will begin by noting one thing that is so very evident and always present and noticeable about the Lord Jesus in His earthly life, and that is His consciousness. In a greater or lesser way every life that is really alive is marked by a consciousness, and in a very marked way this was true of the Lord Jesus. His consciousness was that of His relationship to heaven. You just cannot fail to recognize that. He is constantly speaking about it, and His speaking of it so frequently and so much is because that is the ever-present and uppermost consciousness with Him, His relationship to heaven. Just as a man’s native country is in his blood, so heaven was in the spirit of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps you know what that is. You of course do not know very much what that means unless you have been away from your native country, and then you know after a time that that country is not so far away after all, it is in your very blood. There is a pull and a call and a remembrance, the consciousness of where you belong, where you came from, which rises up and asserts itself. I think some of you know what I mean. If I may make a personal reference, there was a time years ago when I spent years in London and was not able, neither was there the demand then, for going to Scotland so often as there has been in recent years. At a certain time in the year Scotland made such an appeal that I just had to go, that is all. If it were only for a weekend, not with any object at all, not for any work, but I just had to go and come back again. Something would not let me rest until I had just gone and come. The pull was there.
Now what is true in the natural was true in the spiritual with the Lord Jesus. “I am come down from heaven” (John 6:38). And He even said that He was still in heaven while He was here (John 3:13). Strange, strange speaking! The Son that came from heaven and is in heaven! It was this strong deep consciousness of His relatedness to heaven, and that had various meanings for Him.
Heaven the source of His life
It meant that heaven was the source of His life. His life came out from heaven, and He was all the time living out from heaven by that heavenly life. He could find nothing here to answer to the life that was in Him. Everything here just failed to give what that life in Him demanded and required. He just could not live here except in so far as life was constantly ministered to Him from heaven. Heaven was the place of all His resources. For every demand He went back to heaven to have it met. That is, He got away in spirit, He got away in prayer, to draw what was required for the situation, the need, the next move, for every crisis and for His whole life. Heaven was His source of supply.
Heaven the seat of His government
Heaven was the seat of His government. In everything He went to heaven for direction. You know what I mean, He got His life from heaven, He refused to be governed by things here, He refused to be governed by the world, what the world expected, what the world demanded. He did not allow the world and its mind and its way to influence or affect Him at all. He refused to be governed by religious tradition, by the established religious order. He refused to be governed by religious expectation and religious precedent. Often they tried to impinge that upon Him and tell Him that was the thing expected, that was the thing done, that was how it was usually and He refused it all. He stood back and got His direction from heaven. The oft-repeated phrase indicated this heavenly life — “My hour has not yet come” — the phrase which He used in so many different connections, at so many different times, not meaning as He used it that final hour, His hour, but meaning, ‘The time has not come just at this moment for Me to do that, I have not got it from heaven; it may be your hour, it may be the hour of circumstance, it may be the hour of seeming demand, but that does not weigh with Me; My hour is the hour when heaven says, Now!’ Heaven was the place, the seat, of His government.
Now let us pass this over as we go along, that is, in that threefold way: the essential consciousness of the true Christian and of true spiritual Christianity and of the only Christianity which, as we have repeatedly said, will go through the ordeal of fire. That is something which is implanted in us at our spiritual birth and if we are not able to sense that, we ought to attend to it, for it is an essential feature of being born from above that immediately — not in its fulness — but immediately we are aware that we are related to another world, we are related to heaven. To put that round the other way, immediately we have become strangers here. The true Christian from very birth has a stranger-consciousness in this world. It may be a simple beginning, but what is true of every Christian going on in the way of Christ is that that strangerhood grows and grows and deepens all the way along until it becomes, on the spiritual side, almost impossible to live in this world. We have got to do it, it is no use trying to get out until the Lord takes you out, but you know spiritually it is becoming more and more difficult to accommodate yourself to this world, to find anything that you can call home here. Forgive the simplicity of this, but it is an important factor. It is the very witness of the truth of our Christian life, but the fact is so apparent that a vast amount of what is called Christianity has no such consciousness. It can accommodate itself to this world, and it is doing so, and moreover, it thinks hardly of those people who do not do it. The ‘Christianity’ that really does not understand Christians who cannot accommodate themselves to this world is a false and an illegitimate Christianity. If ever there was a stranger here, He was that stranger. His consciousness was altogether other and we “ought to walk as He walked”.
Again, it should be true of Christians that all their resources are in heaven, not as a fact but as an experience, that they really are being supported and sustained out from heaven, and further, that their seat of government is in heaven. We put it before in this way, that the church has no headquarters on earth, its headquarters are in heaven, and all government is to come from heaven by the Holy Spirit. That is how He walked, and unless that is true in our case and in the case of Christians, there is something fundamentally weak and wrong and lacking, and only in so far as that is true shall we be able to stand up against the world. We have got to settle that. Is it strange to you that the world knows you not and the world is against you? Is it strange to you that you have no place here? Well, if it is, you have missed the point. It should not be strange. It is native, it is natural, it is just a part of a true position, and it is quite false to be otherwise.
T Austin Sparks, "The Way" Chapter 4