The Heavenly Christian
The Heavenly Christian
Who is a Christian? Is he one who professes to follow Christ and yet lives a life that is no different from the lives of the people of this world? Is there not a difference? Study the life of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is given in the four Gospels. Was not His walk different from the walk of the Jews around Him? He came down from heaven. He called upon God as His heavenly Father. He was a heavenly Man. So, too, a Christian is born from above, born from heaven; heaven is his home; he lives by heavenly resources; he too calls upon His heavenly Father in prayer; he is a citizen of heaven, and is a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth. Today’s Christianity is an earthly Christianity; it is not the Christianity of the New Testament. Many Christians are in love with the world; they think like the people of this world; they live like the people of this world; they follow the customs and traditions of this world; they have settled down in the world; they have no idea of what it is to live under an ‘open heaven’.
When we meditate on the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially those 3 ½ years of His walk in the midst of men, we observe that the way He thought, the way He lived, the way He depended utterly upon His heavenly Father, was totally different from the ways of the Jews around Him.
When you study the Gospel of John you are struck by the fact that our Lord was constantly speaking about heaven. He was a Man who came down from heaven. As a man’s native country is in his blood, so heaven was in the spirit of the Lord Jesus. If you are away from your native country for many years, having settled down in a foreign land, you will still feel the pull and the call of the home country; it is in your very blood. You long for the native land, the native tongue, the native hills and streams, the native cities, the native food, the native atmosphere. All this has come to you by birth. So also the Lord Jesus Christ, though He lived for 33 ½ years upon the earth, was a Man who came down from heaven, John 6.38. In John 3.13 He says that He is still in heaven, even though at that very moment He was down on earth talking to the religious leader, Nicodemus, in Palestine. What a strange way of speaking! He was deeply conscious of His relationship to heaven.
Heaven was the source of His life. He was all the time living out from heaven by that heavenly life. He could find nothing here on earth to answer to the life that was in Him. His life was constantly ministered to Him from heaven. For every demand He went back to heaven to have it met. 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 was the seat of His government. In everything He went to heaven for direction. He refused to be governed by the things here on earth. He refused to be governed by the world, the ways of the world, what the world expected, what the world demanded. He did not allow the spirit of the world to influence or affect Him in any way. He refused to be governed by religious tradition, by the established order and custom. Even the members of His household tried to prevail upon Him, stating that this was what was expected, this was the prevailing practice and precedent, but He stood back, He refused to bow down to the accepted norm. He stood back and got His direction from heaven. So often He declared: ‘My hour has not yet come.’ It was a phrase He used in many different connections, at different times. It meant: ‘The time has not come for Me to do that; I have not got it from heaven. It may be your hour, your time; but it is not my time. Heaven has to declare, Now is the time! Only then can I do it.’ Heaven was the seat of His government. He was not governed by the world, or by the wisdom or practice of men.
Now herein lies the basic issue, the understanding, of who is a Christian. This heavenly consciousness is implanted in the Christian, the child of God, right from the time of his new birth. We are born from above; we are related to heaven. In other words, we have become strangers and pilgrims here on earth. We are called out of this world, to live out of heaven. You will find, as you go on in the Christian life, that it becomes more and more difficult to accommodate yourself to the world. Things which once attracted you in this world do not attract you any more. You have deep longings within you, longings and desires that can be satisfied only by resources from heaven.
Now as you live this heavenly life, with its heavenly consciousness, here on earth – living as a stranger and a pilgrim in your journey to heaven, you will come across another kind of Christianity, having another type of Christian, one who is firmly attached to this earth. This is not the ‘born from above’ Christianity that we have been talking about, but it is an imitation or artificial Christianity that has sprung up out of this earth. It is an earthly system, with earthly thinking (‘minds set on earthly things’, Phil 3.19), with earthly ambitions, seeking earthly treasures, earthly name and fame, firmly rooted and planted on terra firma.
This second kind of Christianity, this earthly Christianity, is very widespread and very popular with people. Adherents to this type of Christianity claim to be Christians (even born-again evangelical Christians!) but they do not walk as Christ walked. They have no idea of what it means to be born from heaven, to have their resources out from heaven, and to be governed by heaven. They have no understanding of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit who has come down from heaven – and whose job is to prepare us for heaven.
Now you will understand why John spoke so
strongly about loving the world and the things of the world. The world is the
great enemy of the church. Worldly ideas, worldly customs, worldly wisdom,
worldly ways & habits, worldly desires, worldly fashions, worldly devices –
anything originating out of this corrupt and perishing world – is abhorrent to
God. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not belong to this world, and He Himself
declared that if we walked in His footsteps the world would hate us. The world
is against the children of God. Hence, ‘all who live a godly life in Christ
Jesus will suffer persecution.’2 Timothy 3:12.
Spiritual and heavenly Christians are subject to the animosity and attack of earthly ‘Christians’ – false, illegitimate Christians who have put on a cloak of Christianity, adopting a so-called Christian creed or practice, appearing externally to be Christians – but inwardly having no change of heart, nor experiencing that longing for the heavenly country from where true Christians are born.
(Based on a message by T.A.S.)