A New God-Consciousness
You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. (Hebrews12:22)
We must avoid the common fault of pushing the “other world” into the future. It is not future, but present. It parallels our familiar physical world, and the doors between the two worlds are open.
“Ye are come”, the writer says to the Hebrews(and the tense is plainly present), “unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 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, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks the better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24) All these things are contrasted with “the mount that might be touched”(verse 18) and “ the sound of the Trump her, and the voice of words” (verse 19) that might be heard.
May we not safely conclude that, as the realities of Mount Sinai were apprehended by the senses, so the realities of Mount Zion are to be grasped by the soul? And this not by any trick of imagination, but in downright actuality.
As we begin to focus on God, the things of the spirit will take shape before our inner eyes. Obedience to the word of Christ will bring an inward revelation of the Godhead(John 14:21-23). It will give acute perception enabling us to see God as is promised to the pure in heart. A new God-consciousness will seize upon us, and we shall begin to taste and hear and inwardly feel the God who is our life and our all. More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great All, and His Presence the glory and wonderful of our lives.
Which is the more real world? The spiritual realm of God, invisible for the most part to human senses? Or the earthly realm, visible and experienced through the five human senses? For years, science fiction writers have purported the idea of another parallel universe. It often is presented as an alternate world that is either paradise or hell. I think they have the right idea about another world, but their descriptions and comparisons miss the mark. Shakespeare said:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
What a sad picture of humanity if this is all there is. The Bible introduces us to another realm, the realm of the kingdom of God. Hebrews describes it as the realm of God, heaven, where the “spirits on just men are perfected”, and a real place inhabited by angels, redeemed spirits, and Christ Jesus Himself. That this place is real there can be no doubt to believers for this is the realm where we go after our life on earth is finished.
“So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]— we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth] or away from home [and with Him], it is our [constant] ambition to be pleasing to Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-9
Our challenge is believing this world exist now for us and that while we are in our earthly bodies we can experience and visit this “other world”. So I ask us some questions to ponder. Do we believe that God exists and that Christ sits at the right hand of the Father? The Bible says so, but do we really accept it as reality or mere spiritual perception?
“whereas Christ, having offered the one sacrifice [the all-sufficient sacrifice of Himself] for sins for all time, sat down [signifying the completion of atonement for sin] at the right hand of God [the position of honor], waiting from that time onward until his enemies are made a footstool for His feet.”
You may say yes this is what I believe. So my next question is whether we in this life can enter in to this realm and see the reality of heaven and all that it holds. I present my case that this can be so with three testimonies.
Our first witness is Steven, the deacon martyred for his faith. Hear his last words spoken in this world:
“But he, being full of the Holy Spirit and led by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory [the great splendor and majesty] of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened up [in welcome] and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they shouted with loud voices, and covered their ears and together rushed at him [considering him guilty of blasphemy]. Then they drove him out of the city and began stoning him; and the witnesses placed their outer robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They continued stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!” Then falling on his knees [in worship], he cried out loudly, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them [do not charge them]!” When he had said this, he fell asleep [in death].”
Our second witness is Paul the apostle who was one of those who heard Steven’s witness of the reality of God, Christ, and heaven.
“It is necessary to boast, though nothing is gained by it; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, [only] God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, [only] God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words which man is not permitted to speak [words too sacred to tell].”
2 Corinthians 12:1-4
Our third witness is John on the Isle of Patmos.
“I, John, your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patient endurance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, [exiled there] because of [my preaching of] the word of God [regarding eternal salvation] and the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit [in special communication with the Holy Spirit and empowered to receive and record the revelation from Jesus Christ] on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. And He placed His right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last [absolute Deity, the Son of God], 18 and the Ever-living One [living in and beyond all time and space]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of [absolute control and victory over] death and of Hades (the realm of the dead). After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a [war] trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” At once I was in [special communication with] the Spirit; and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne.
Sometimes in our trials and struggles, we forget that this world is not our home. We are pilgrims on a journey, passing through. Our citizenship is in the city of New Jerusalem and our King is Christ. Though we are in this present world, we are not of this world. To expect and enjoy divine encounters with God is the privilege of every believer. O that God would open our eyes as He did Elisha’s servant and that we might see the realm of God and find hope in this messed up world in which we live.
“The servant of the man of God got up early and went out, and behold, there was an army with horses and chariots encircling the city. Elisha’s servant said to him, “Oh no, my master! What are we to do?” Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “ Lord, please, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servants eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.”
2 Kings 6:15-17
Dr. John Thompson