Regardless of how far we may consider we might be from our desired fellowship concerning our relationship with God, He is ever at “working in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). This involves all who are His, irrespective of our evaluation concerning our level of fellowship (mature or immature) with Him. The believer’s relationship with God includes union and fellowship, in which union is a constant (Rom 11:29), and the fellowship is a progression that never digresses but rather always progresses, due to the above Scriptural passage, which is to all who are born again (Christians).
I would say born-again Christian, but this would be redundant, similar to saying one is a tooth dentist. As we should know, a Christian is one who has been born again—involving regeneration of spirit, without which leaves people as they are—non-Christians!
Union with God involves a varying level of fellowship; from a “babe in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1)—to “being conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). This results from an unceasing progression “from glory to glory” (2 cor 3:18), producing an inevitable spiritual growth in all Christians, which also becomes more manifest as its progression continues.
Are You There?
The great and peculiar privilege of the believer now is that he is united to the risen Lord Jesus in glory (Eph 2:6), and therefore where he is determines everything. The old association was not to be resumed, as He said to Mary Magdalene, “Touch me not . . . but go to my brethren, and say into them, I ascend into my Gather, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:7).
There is a great deal of enjoyment of the Lord Jesus which does not spring from personal fellowship with Him*. There is a sense of perfect remission of sins; there is the heart burning because of the opening of the Scriptures; and there is the action of the light, the sense that I belong to it, and am really of a divine origin. There is the knowledge of His favor in service and circumstances, yielding a very distinct joy; and yet none of these rises to the height of association with Him where He is. All of these, however great, could be and are enjoyed on earth.
Nothing can divert from earth but another place, and a greater, and this is one of the primary effects rising from fellowship with the Lord Jesus in glory. Then I know my citizenship is there; I become loose to earth, because I am conscious of having real enjoyment of heart with Him in heaven where He is. If I only get heaven when I die, I retain earth until that event takes place. But when I know my position above I am deflected from this place, which is so entirely, in the best of circumstances, inferior to it.
There are other great and deep experiences which cannot be known unless the believer has been led by the Spirit of Christ into heaven. First, there is no true and clear sense of the priesthood of Christ, unless I know Him now appearing in the presence of the Father for me. How could I enjoy the effect of this, if I were not in spirit associated with Him there?
How can I know what it is to enter into the Holiest by the Blood of the Lord Jesus, by the new and living way, unless I were associated with Him by the Spirit? If I am not with the Lord Jesus where He is, I have neither a clear, well-assured sense of how He maintains me in the presence of the Father, nor have I, however great my intelligence of doctrines and truth generally, ever really tasted of the true place of worship in the Holiest of All.
This accounts for the constant references in hymns and otherwise, by many apparently advanced saints, to the work of the Lord Jesus and their need of atonement. I believe that everyone in the Holiest deepens in his appreciation of the wondrous work which has procured entrance for him into the perfect scene; but I say that one there is not seeking or reverting to the way to get in, because he is in, and he is praising and blessing because he is there.
A saint might have the faith of an Abraham, and not enjoy occupation with the Lord Jesus in heaven. He might have the courage of a Daniel, and not know union with Him is heaven. He might be assured of the forgiveness of his sins, and not know that he is united to the Lord Jesus in heaven. One might have the devotedness of a Mary of Bethany, and be as sure of heaven as a Simeon or the thief on the cross, while still not knowing the deep, wondrous effect of being in spirit with the Lord Jesus; hidden with Him in God (Col 3:3).
- J B Stoney
Note: Opinions that I may include with these materials are not intended to present to the viewer an accepted explanation of the author’s materials, but are merely a sharing of my interpretation (encouraging other opinions) concerning what I believe might be the author’s intents. I also want to thank all who continue to share their opinions (the more you share, the more He teaches), and may God’s blessings continue to manifest Himself in our lives and as we share in His Word.
* Of the many blessings one has in Christ which originate from salvation, the greatest is the fellowship of Christ which one has from being in Him, which also varies in degrees among believers (union is constant for all) according to the learning progression of each (as the Lord determines). One can have salvation and all its accompaniments (2 Pet 1:3), and have eternal life without understanding all its implications (but we do not live by explanation but by the stated Word) and has yet to sufficiently understand the interaction of the fellowship of Christ in accordance with His Word.
Though we are with Christ by the Spirit (connected with Him there and us here), we can also be with Him in spirit, e.g. a desire of being with Him as though we were in presence even though we are not, similar to Paul’s “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit . . . as though I were present” (1 Cor 5:3; Col 2:5), which is in concert with Colossians 3:1, 2.
As God reveals to us that He desires to increase where we yet lack, let us patiently seek Him for His Spirit to teach us to continue to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), and all glory to Him who has “the preeminence” concerning “all things” (Col 1:18).
HEAVEN NOW AND FOREVER – MJS