“In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them.” (Zechariah 12:8)
“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pe 1:3-4)
When speaking of the Word of God, the apostle James wrote: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (James 1: 23-23) The question is, what kind of people are we, who have been born from above to “conform to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29) Who do we see when we look in the mirror of the Word? We are the spiritual house of David that Jesus is building by the Holy Spirit (1 Pe 2:5). The prophet Zechariah doesn’t mince his words: he says that we will be “like God.” Peter says that through God’s “great and precious promises” we are “partakers of the divine nature.” Yet you don’t have to spend more than a few seconds with me to know that I am clearly not like God at all. What’s gone wrong?
Nothing, because you are seeing my flesh and not my spirit. I have already looked at our spiritual identities in “We shall be like Him,” and it seems to me that the evidence of Scripture is this: in the heavenly places where we are seated, we are like Him already, because we are already seated in the atmosphere of His glory, where nothing can dwell that is less than perfect.
Here are a few details of who we are in Christ that Scripture has sketched in for us:
“Those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8 28-29)
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them” (John 17:22)
We have come to “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (Heb 12:23)
We are “crowned with glory and honour.” (Psalm 8:5)
We have places to walk in the courts of Heaven (Zech 3:7)
We can be “joyful in glory” and have the honour of “executing God’s written judgement” on the Nations (Psalm 149: 5-9).
We “Worship God in the Beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9)
All of these descriptions of the Saints – and there are plenty more – can only relate to our walk in the Spirit: since the flesh wars against the spirit nothing of our carnal nature can have any part in them. From the moment we are born again to the time when we join the Lord in Heaven we mature as Christians, “grow(ing) up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—” (Eph 5:15) as the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of Christ in our lives. But the question I am aiming at is this: is a baby Christian on Earth also a baby Christian in Heaven?
I think the answer has to be “No.” There is no passage of time in Heaven, where a year is as a thousand days, where the God who created time has reigned since before time began and where we are seated as His children together with His Son. If there is no duration in Heaven, there can also be no maturation: what we are in the Spirit is what we were created to be, as are the angels, the seraphim, the 24 elders and all the other members of the Heavenly host. I think we “grow up in all things into Him who is the head” (Eph 4:15) as, step by step, faith to faith, and obedient moment by obedient moment, we put to death our carnal natures and allow our spirits and not our flesh to do the walking.
Paul exhorts the Philippians to “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” (Phil 2: 14-16)
The “crooked and perverse generation” is the generation of the First Adam (See “away in a manger” for more on this). As we let the dead shell of that same carnal nature fall away, the light of Christ’s Spirit that is one with ours shines more and more strongly and brings His light into the darkness, while His Word executes His will on Earth. The process of maturing as Christians is becoming on Earth who we already are in Heaven, and in doing so becoming the answers to the Lord’s prayer: “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The correct translation of the Greek tenses in Matthew 18:18 is this: “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on the earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Everything was finished at Calvary: as we grow in the Spirit we are always reaching into Heavenly places for a completed work.
Pauls prayer for the Ephesians was
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” (Eph 1:17-20)
It is often said that Jesus is the “bridge” from earth to Heaven. The bridge from Heaven to Earth is the Holy Spirit: the baptism in the Holy Spirit gives us all we need of Heaven’s equipping for our earthly works – “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” The more that we can see in the mirror of God’s word who we really are, the more the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened, and the greater will be the works (John 14:12) that we will do.