The body of Christ has a calling in which we easily discover God’s true purpose for the church. We are members of the heavenly calling. Our purpose, in the counsels and plan of God, is contained in this calling. The church is to be in the heavens, seated in Christ in heavenly places, forming the habitation of God our Father. There we are destined to be blessed with every spiritual blessing. We are to be found there, exalted above all principalities, powers, might, and dominion. In the ages to come our Father will show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ (Eph. 1:3, 21, 2:6-7).

Hebrews 3:1

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.”

Our calling is heavenly and our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Jesus went away to heaven to prepare a place for us there. In the heavens is the Father’s house. We are the sons destined and predestined to dwell in that house (John 14:1-3). We are those, along with Paul, in possession of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). We are instructed to always look there, into the heavens. Our thoughts are to be there, as heavenly minded (Col. 3:1-2).[146]

Our Calling: Holy and Blameless in His Presence

The church will be in the presence of the Father. We are closest to Him and we approach the One who dwells in unapproachable light. We are the ones who, being in Christ and united to Him, will look upon the glory on the face of God – that which was forbidden for Moses. This is our calling and the result of our redemption.

All true believers are called according to His purpose – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:28-30) God’s purpose is for the believer to be conformed into the image of His Son. It does not yet appear what we will be, but we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is (I John 3:2). As we have borne the image of the earthy, so also we will bear the image of the heavenly (I Cor. 15:49). Our earthly bodies of flesh will be fashioned like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21). This will be a body given to us that is suited for heavenly places and glory. God has prepared us for this very thing, who has also given us the earnest of the Holy Spirit as the guarantee (II Cor. 5:1-5).

Being glorified, we enter the presence of the Father in the image of the One in whom all the Father’s delight and pleasure is found. We are forever with the Lord and like the Lord. We are the fruit of the Father’s love and eternal purpose. He has made us His children and we are received as sons into the Father’s house. This is our eternal state and joy. This is both the position and privilege of the church in Christ, resultant upon the rapture fulfilling her calling.[147]

In the dispensation of the fullness of the times (millennium) God will gather all things in heaven and earth into one Head – Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). The believer’s portion in this gathering is to be in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). Now our position is in spirit – sitting there in Christ Jesus. Later it becomes our place in glory – sitting there with Christ Jesus.

Jesus has entered into God’s presence behind the veil. As the forerunner He has entered there for us (Heb. 6:19-20). All our Christian hope that serves as an anchor for our souls is that we will go in behind the veil where He already is – in the Presence. He did not go into an earthly tabernacle made with human hands. He went into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24). If we ask where the veil is that our forerunner has entered in behind, it is in the heavens and in the presence of the invisible God. Our hope then, which is sure and steadfast, is that we will go in there as well.

We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). We have this blessing now in spirit. Later we will physically be in heavenly places enjoying every spiritual blessing the Father has thought of – the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ (Eph. 2:7).

When the body of Christ is glorified we are taken to the heavens to be holy and blameless in God’s sight (Eph. 1:4, Col. 1:21-22). That is our heavenly calling – to be before Him in His love, holy, blameless, irreproachable, and as the image of His Son. This is the moral nature of God. It also is our perfection as conformed into the Son’s image. Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man glorified, is this now at the right hand of God. It is the only nature that God can delight in and that God allows in His very presence. Except for angels, everything else must stay at some measure of distance. [148] The Spirit through Peter tells us we have been made partakers of the divine nature (II Pet. 1:2-4). The believer has this now in soul and spirit, but the sinful flesh is still with us and we are still on this earth. When we are glorified into the image of His Son, the flesh will be changed – the corruptible will put on incorruption, and the mortal will put on immortality (Rom. 8:29-30, I Cor. 15:50-53).   The true church will then leave this earth, and in the Father’s house we will be perfect and complete in Christ. By this we will realize our true calling – the heavenly calling.

In the first chapter of Ephesians the believer/church is given two things as its portion through or in Jesus Christ – the calling of God (Eph. 1:4-5) and an inheritance from God (Eph. 1:11). We have our calling, but it is not completely fulfilled as yet. We have nothing of the inheritance at this time, although the believer in Christ is declared an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. It is a truth and principle of Scripture that God will not give His inheritance until all the heirs are gathered and united together in one place. This place is the Father’s house (John 14:1-3). The heirs of God are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26, 4:6-7, Rom. 8:15-17). Although the giving of the inheritance waits for this future gathering, we have received the earnest of the Spirit as its guarantee (Eph. 1:13-14).

The two aspects of our calling is given to us in Ephesians. The first is that we will be perfectly holy and blameless before God in His love (Eph. 1:4). The second aspect of our calling is in connection with the Father as sons (Eph. 1:5). Our portion is to be like Christ in glory and to be with Him forever. The results of our calling are to be in the heavens and enjoying all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (as Israel is destined to be on the earth with temporal and physical blessings – Eph. 1:3, 2:6). Therefore the Scriptures speak of our hope laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:5). Also God’s inheritance is reserved for us there, that is incorruptible, undefiled, and does not fade away (Eph. 1:11, I Pet. 1:4). So then it is said, “…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph. 1:18) It is the distinct testimony of Scripture that our hopes, our blessings, our place, our inheritance, and the glory Christ shares with us, is all celestial, not terrestrial.

I said earlier in the chapter that we can discover our purpose by knowing our calling. More so, it is the purpose of God for us, settled before the foundations of the world, which defines our calling (Eph. 1:4). He had these thoughts and intentions concerning us before time began. His calling of us is according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:5). He delights in doing so. Our calling serves to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph. 1:6). It exalts God and glorifies Him. God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. This is the purpose of God towards the believer. These two words – foreknew and predestined – precede the word ‘calling’ in the list in Romans (Rom. 8:29). The eternal purpose of God determined our calling. Of course we are not in the glory yet. However it is what we have been redeemed to, prepared for, and wait for. Our entrance into the glory of God is our heavenly calling (I Pet. 5:10).

Many sons into the Father’s Presence

We should understand that the greatest part of God’s purpose for the church is to be physically closest to Him and in His presence. His desire is for the church to be nearest to Him. This is His desire for Jesus Christ His Son and we are in Christ and united to Christ as His body. The church is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh (Eph. 5:29-32). We are one with Christ, we are one spirit with Him (I Cor. 6:17).

Hebrews 2:10-11

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

We are Christ’s brethren. Jesus, the very Son of God, is the one who suffered and became the captain of our salvation.   As a result, He is the one who brings the many sons to glory. This glory certainly includes the very presence of the Father. This is the church’s ultimate privilege. God’s calling and purpose for the body of Christ is to be His tabernacle containing His presence (Eph. 2:22). There is no reward, no honor, no power and dominion that will be given to us that can possibly compare in value to this privilege!

Can we imagine what it will be like to dwell in the Father’s house for all eternity? This is the essence of this verse in Ephesians and the purpose for raising us up with Christ, “…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6-7) It is the Father’s love for His Son and His many sons.

The Church’s part in the Government of God

Having said this, we should be able to understand another part of the purpose of God for the church. We replace the administration of the angels in the government of God in the heavens. It is there and then that we will be kings and priests to His God and Father (Rev. 1:6). We are seated in the heavens in Christ in the government of God over the millennial earth. God has not put the world to come in subjection to angels (Heb. 2:5). “And do you not know that you will judge them?” (I Cor. 6:3) Is this not the essence of these verses in Ephesians and the intended purpose of God in His government over the millennial earth, “…to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:10-11) The church is a large part of the eternal plan of God. By placing the church in the heavens God will make known His multifaceted and manifold wisdom throughout the ages to come. These are the things angels desire to look into.

Having been glorified and conformed into the image of His Son, we will be holy and blameless in God’s sight before Him in love. All the responsibilities given to us at that time, whether in the government of God or as sons in the Father’s house, will be carried out in divine perfection according to the Son’s nature we are conformed into. The government of God over all creation will be given to Jesus, the Son of Man. The true church is His body and His bride. As His help-meet we will reign with Him over all things visible and invisible. When the church is glorified the government of God is not over the sons of God. Through Jesus Christ and in Christ we are the instruments of God in His government. Both the corporate responsibilities of His body and the individual responsibility as sons will be accomplished in excellence to the glory of God. It will be an end to the failure of the church as well as to any individual failure of the believer.

A Walk worthy of our Calling

Therefore in view of our heavenly calling, we have a current walk on this earth in which we are pilgrims and strangers. This is individual. It is our responsibility before God to act and live according to our calling. We are to act and live as pilgrims and strangers to this world and on this earth. It is the responsibility of the ministry before God to always teach doctrine that shows the church how to maintain her separation from this world and earth. Our Lord said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14, 16) This speaks of our position in Christ and with Christ. Obviously our walk is a result of this position and relationship we have as sons of God and apart from the world.

“I, therefore…beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you are called.” (Eph. 4:1) You get the sense that the calling is yet to be fulfilled while the walk is the present thing. Our calling is heavenly and future, while the walk is what we are engaged in now, on the earth and in the wilderness of the world. It is the current walk that should reflect upon the calling (I Thess. 2:12). Yet it is clear that the ‘walk’ is not the ‘calling’. This must be seen and understood.

The Spirit instructs us as to having a worthy walk. “…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:2-3) This is our corporate responsibility. Yet our walk, carried out in human responsibility, is not what determines our calling. It is only the purpose of God towards us, as He settled before time began, that fixes our calling and position.

2 Timothy 1:9

“…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”

Our calling is according to God’s eternal purpose. It is not determined by human works of responsibility (Eph. 1:3-9). This is the sovereign work of God. Nothing can hinder this in coming to its intended result. Yet when the Spirit speaks of walk in Ephesians 4:1, we have that which is present on the earth. It is seen in Scripture as a unique mixture of human obedience through God’s power and grace (Phil. 2:12-15, II Cor. 4:6-11). We are encouraged to walk in lowliness, gentleness, and longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. Only the life of Christ in us and the power of the indwelling Spirit enables the believer to do this (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 8:2-4).

Further in Ephesians the Spirit says (Eph. 5:1-2), “Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us…”   Here we see that the believer’s walk in responsibility results from his position – as dear children of God. We follow God as Christ did, and love as He loved. We emulate His walk (I John 2:6). This is all human responsibility as a believer in our ‘walk’ in the wilderness of this world. It should be a walk worthy of our calling that is yet to be fulfilled. If we look closely we see that Ephesians 4, 5, and 6 is all instruction about the believer having a worthy walk while here in this world.

The Son of Man had nowhere in this world to lay His head, yet He said, “Come, follow Me.” Jesus had a walk leading Him out of this world. As believers, we have the same thing in our calling. Even though we are presently in this world and on this earth walking, our calling leads us out of the world and into the heavens. If we are to follow Jesus, it is for the purpose of ending up where He is – seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (John 12:26, Eph. 2:6).

Of course we all know the believer has to tread through this world. Christ had to go through it, and He did so for us. Now we follow Him through the wilderness. Our citizenship is in heaven and our passage through this world should reflect upon our heavenly conversation. The true believer does not have the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God.   We should be living in such a way to emulate where Christ sits, the One who has gone to prepare a place for us. We have to pass through this world. While we do, where are our hearts? Can we say that our associations of life are all up there in the heavens? Is that where our hearts are living? Does our worship and praise bear the mark of our conversation being in heaven? Does it bear the stamp of the happiness and blessedness which is the expression of our connection with Him there? “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Cor. 4:18) Let us, then, remember that the Lord has given Himself for us that we might have the things that are unseen – the eternal things. Jesus has Himself entered there above as our forerunner.

The Corporate Responsibility of the Church

The purpose and counsels of God for the assembly are first mentioned at the end of Ephesians 1 (all that precedes this is the individual believer as seen in God’s purposes). There the body is exalted in Christ to the right hand of God, far above all principalities and powers, and is the fullness of Him (Eph. 1:19-23). The sovereign work of God to establish the assembly as His house on earth is seen in Ephesians 2:11-22. Still speaking of God’s sovereign purpose, the body of Christ is the mystery of God’s will, which He kept hidden from the prophets and previous ages (Eph. 3:1-11) – the last two verses of this passage make the pairing of the church with and in God’s eternal counsels quite straightforward. The remainder of Ephesians 3 speaks of our fellowship with the Father in view of this privileged position in Christ.

In Ephesians 4:8-16 it speaks of the body’s corporate responsibility. This was God’s intention for the body on the earth –we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. It goes on from here which you may read for yourself (vs. 14-16). The calling of the church is heavenly, but until then the church must walk on this earth with a walk that is worthy of its calling. The responsibility of the body was to be taught and to be edified, to grow up into a perfect man. The church was responsible to testify to the truth of God (I Tim. 3:15), and not to be tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Yet we understand that what God starts in sovereign grace on the earth, with all gracious intentions from Him concerning it, must eventually be handed over to the responsibility of man. Therefore we have Paul laying a foundation in sovereign grace for the earthly building of God, a foundation no other man could lay (I Cor. 3:9-11). Then the Spirit says, “…let each one take heed how he builds on it.”

The corporate ‘walk’ of Christendom on the earth has failed. As an external entity the professing church, having responsibility before God, has been proven corrupt and spiritually dead. This is a non-recoverable situation. To think otherwise is not hope or faith, but the greatest of pretentions and blindness. The individual believer has individual responsibility before God. This responsibility can be made good, or as good as we can make it, by walking as Jesus walked, with Him always as our example (I John 2:6). I have discussed this earlier in the book as well as earlier in this chapter, and so will not repeat it here. It is the individual walk that remains and is the emphasis, when the corporate entity is found corrupt. Again look at Philadelphia. It is a very individual message given to her from the Lord without the corporate entity of Christendom being addressed.

Colossians 3:1-3        

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

The things above are matters of hope that the believer is to be thoroughly acquainted with. If not, you will not be able to set your mind on them. Modern Christian teaching seldom teaches this. Contemporary teaching does not grasp the thoughts in the above passage. It doesn’t comprehend the true calling of God for the church. The modern result is most often the church being taught in the light of the wrong calling – an earthly calling. And the church will be taught with the wrong instructions – earthly and Jewish. Modern teachings serve to pull the true church down to the earth and establish her life in the world. But the believer’s life isn’t in the world as you can see in the passage above. Our life is not on the earth. It is not about things on the earth (Phil. 3:18-21). Our life is Christ. Our life is about where He is right now in glory. Our life is only about Christ, and He apart from this world. A Christ in glory must be the object occupying the attention of our hearts (II Cor. 3:18, 4:4, 6). Our hopes? It is Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27, Rom. 5:1-2).

Ephesians 4:1-4

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, (2) with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (3) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.”

The simple truth is that if you do not comprehend your calling, you cannot have a walk worthy of it. There is only one calling for the believer and church. There is no other. And this calling is in hope (Eph. 4:4). It is not on this earth, in this world, or of this present time. God’s desire is for the church, and all individual members gathered by the Spirit forming her, to be conformed into the image of His Son, and to be with the Father and Son in His glory (John 17:22, 24). Our calling does not leave us short of the glory and presence of God (Rom. 3:23, I Pet. 5:10-11).

                                                         Chapter 20: Endnotes

[146] Many say that some Christians are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. There is not one portion of Scripture that supports this statement. Quite the contrary, the true believer is to be just this – ‘so heavenly minded’. To set your mind on earthly things is to be equated by the Spirit of God as in the category of ‘the enemies of the cross of Christ’ (Phil. 3:18-19). Our citizenship is in heaven, and the spiritual believer is taught and trained to look only there (Phil. 3:20-21). Forgetting all things behind, Paul did only one thing – ‘reaching forward to those things ahead’. And what are these things ahead? “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We are always looking at and pressing toward our calling, which remains before us, and is upward and heavenly. It will only be fulfilled by the rapture of the church – her resurrection and glorification (Phil. 3:10, 21).

In Colossians we get the spiritual reason for our heavenly gaze and the object of faith for our present walk on this earth – Christ is there, sitting at the right hand of God. Therefore we seek those things above and set our minds on things above, and not on things on the earth (Col. 3:1-3). Why? – Because you died. You died, and ended any relationship with the earth and world. “For you died…” Paul says, giving the Spirit’s reason to not look at earthly things. Having died, the only reason the believer is alive is because he has been raised from death with Christ (Col. 3:1), and now possesses Christ’s resurrected life (Eph. 1:1-6, Rom. 6:3-5, Gal. 2:20). If Christ is at the right hand of God and He is the believer’s life, then our life is there as well, hidden in God as Christ is now hidden in God. So then the Spirit says, “…Christ who is your life…” This one who is our life is the Son of Man in glory. He is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Can there be any doubt why we are heavenly minded? God’s purpose for our calling is to be in the glory of God with Christ and as made like Christ. His purpose in promising to conform us into the image of His Son will be so we can be near Him (the Father) in His presence and the objects of His delight (Rom. 8:28-30).

[147] The rapture and glorifying of the church into the heavens is written of extensively in the second book of ‘the Son of Man Series’. Its title is ‘The Blessed Hope of the Church’.

[148] The church will be found in the very presence of the invisible God. This is our privilege by virtue of our position as sons of God. Our position matches that of Jesus, the Son of God (John 20:17). Those that are saved on the earth during the tribulation for the millennium, including the Jewish remnant and those born on the earth during the millennium, are at a distance from God. It is as far as the New Jerusalem is above the earth, with the Son of Man on the earth as their mediator. The wicked dead are destined to forever be separated from the presence of God and during the millennium are found in Hades. After the millennium is the great white throne judgment. This is when Hades gives up all the wicked dead to be judged by Christ. They are all cast into the lake of fire as the final destination of all wickedness. At that time Satan is cast in there as well. After this follows the eternal state in which the tabernacle of God will be with men on the earth as come down from heaven (Rev. 21:1-4). The tabernacle of God is the New Jerusalem, which is the church. At least it is the heavenly and eternal habitation of the church.