In Luke’s Gospel we have one of God’s records of the words and works of His Son “on earth”. In the Epistle to the Ephesians we have something of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ “in the heavenlies”.
Let us compare two verses: “The Son of man hath power `upon earth’, to forgive sins.” Luke 5:24. “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings `in the heavenlies’ “. Ephesians 1:3. The blessed ones in Ephesians 1:3 have already been delivered from the power of darkness and have been translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Colossians 1:13. Their citizenship is in heaven; and they are waiting for Christ to call them on high in bodies like unto His glorious body. Philippians 3:20 to 22. The people of Luke’s Gospel, to whom the Son of man was preaching on earth, were instructed to strive to enter in at the straight gate and to pray “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth.” Luke 13:24 and Luke 11:2.
You will recall Paul’s instructions in Philippians 1:10, “test the things that differ” (R. V.) To even the superficial student of the Word of God it must be apparent that there is a great difference between “on earth” and “in the heavenlies” “In the heavenlies” is found five times in the Epistle to the Ephesians. Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12.
The Greek word translated, “heavenly places” or “high places”, “epouranios”, means literally the “super heavenlies”, that is, “the highest heavenlies.”
The expression “on the earth” is used about ten times in Luke’s Gospel. In Luke’s Gospel Christ is on earth. There He is instructing people to be meek and thereby inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5. There He is promising His faithful disciples that they will be rewarded by sitting with Him on earth when He shall return in glory. They are going to sit with Him, eat with Him, drink with Him„ and reign with Him. Luke 22:28 to 30.
In the Ephesian ministry the sinners, saved altogether by grace, are members of the Body of Christ; and they are waiting for the manifestation of Christ, to be manifested with Him in glory. Colossians 3:3 and 4. “On the earth”, is the key to Luke’s Gospel; “the King and the kingdom”. “In the super-heavenlies”, is the key to Ephesians ; “the Head and the Body,” “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1: 20 to 22.
In Luke’s Gospel the Prince of Peace is born in the city of David, in the house of David, of the seed of David, to take the throne of David. Luke 1:28 to 33. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6 and 7. Therefore, the government is to be upon His shoulder, when He is upon the throne of David. Of the increase of His government and peace there is to be no end. Hear the announcement sent to earth from heaven “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. Israel rejected the Prince of Peace, saying, “we will not have this man to reign over us;” “we have no king but Caesar.” They crowned their King, with the emblem of the curse, the thorns that came as the result of the sin of the first man. The first man brought the thorns; the Second Man wore the thorns. The first man (Adam) brought the curse; the Second Man, Christ, bore the curse.
The Man at God’s right hand is the only man now living, or who will yet live, that has the right to David’s throne. But that Man’s present ministry has nothing to do with David’s throne; or with bringing peace to this earth. The Father of glory is now engaged in making One New Man. Ephesians 2:15. This New Man is made up of the Head, who at present is not on David’s throne, but far above principality, power and dominion in the highest heavenlies. Ephesians 1:19 to 22. The members of this Body were once dead in trespasses and sins, by nature the children of wrath, alienated from the life of God, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers of the covenants of promise, in the world having no hope. Ephesians 2:1 to 4 and Ephesians 2:11 and 12 and Ephesians 4:18. Then comes those two glorious “Buts”. Hear them: “BUT GOD” and “BUT NOW”. Ephesians 2:4 and Ephesians 2:13. Never forget them. “But God” . . .”But now”. “But God who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith He loved us … hath made us alive … and raised us up to sit together with Christ in the highest heavenlies.” “BUT now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” What a transformation! What a change! Sinners who were once walking according to the course of this world forgiven for Christ’s sake. Ephesians 4:32. Saved by grace through faith; not of works. Ephesians 2:8 and 9. All for the glory of God. That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7. Every spiritual blessing that believers enjoy, and shall forever continue to enjoy, is through Christ Jesus and in Christ Jesus. The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23. Grace reigns through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:21. Who shall deliver us from the body of this death? Romans 7:25. I praise God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:27.
If you are a believer, have you permitted God to do for you what He longs to do? God longs to give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of you understanding being enlightened: that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward. “The hope of His calling”; “The riches of the glory of His inheritance”; “The exceeding greatness of His power.” This is all because Christ is the believer’s peace. Ephesians 2:14. On the cross the Lord Jesus Christ made peace by the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:20. He was foreordained before the foundation of the world to be the spotless Lamb of God, for the redemption of sinners. I Peter 1:18 to 20. It was then that our high, holy and heavenly calling was in the mind of God, with our salvation, not according to our works; but according to His grace and purpose which was given us in Christ before the foundation of the world. II Timothy 1:9.
What has the hope of God’s calling or the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints of Ephesians, or the exceeding greatness of God’s power that raised Christ to His own right hand far above, which placed members of the Body to the same high and exalted place, to do with “peace on earth”? The members of the Body of Christ are already completely justified, at peace with God, and every day conscious of the peace of God that passeth understanding. But we know full well that peace on earth is only in spots and that there will be wars and rumors of war until the horseman of Revelation 6:4 shall come and do his deadly work: “to him was given power to take peace from the earth.”
The question which the Lord Jesus asked in Luke 18:8, “when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth”, demands, by the Greek construction, the negative answer. The Son of man will not find faith on the earth when He comes to the earth. The Son of man is coming to the earth; but He will not come as long as the Church, which is His Body, is in the making. The Lord Jesus Christ is not the Son of man to the Church which is His Body. He is the Head of the Body. He is not coming to the earth to judge His Body. But the Son of Man is going to sit as the King on the throne of His glory. All nations will be gathered before the Son of man when He is again on earth on the throne of His glory. Matthew 25:31. The Son of man will not only judge Gentiles, but He, together with the Twelve Apostles, will judge the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28.
James, one of the Twelve, wrote to the Twelve Tribes: “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh;” “the judge standeth at the door.” James 5:9 and 10. The arrival of the Son of man will be when there is no faith on the earth. What will be on earth? And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and UPON THE EARTH distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming ON THE EARTH: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 25 and 26.
It will be at such a time that the Son of man shall arrive to bring peace on earth. “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory!” “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” Luke 21:27 and 31.
When we compare Luke 2:14 with Luke 12:51, we are again reminded of the importance and necessity of applying II Timothy for the intelligent understanding of the Word of truth and for .the elimination of the seeming contradictions in God’s Book. The declaration of Luke 2:14 is, “peace on earth.” Therefore, when the question is asked by the Son of man in Luke 12:51, “suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth,” we would promptly reply “yes”; for that is what the heavenly messengers proclaimed to the shepherds keeping their flock by night. But note the Lord’s answer to His own question; “I tell you, Nay.” If Israel would receive Him as the Prince of Peace, as their promised King and Deliverer, He would take the throne for which he was born. But His sufferings must precede His glory; so He must be despised and rejected. His kingdom must be postponed. With the postponement of Christ’s kingdom on earth, world peace, peace on earth must be postponed. The King will be rejected. Pilate is to ask Israel, “shall I crucify your king? What then shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? Their answer is to be, “away with Him; crucify Him.”
Peace on earth cannot be, and will not be, while the King is away from the earth. Christ’s presence on earth, actually reigning as the King on the throne of His glory, is necessary, in order that there shall be peace on earth. As long as David’s throne is unoccupied, world peace is impossible. The prince of the power of the air, the usurper, is still the god of this age and the prince of this world. He will not be reigning when God’s King is on David’s throne. When God’s King shall occupy David’s throne, Satan will be a prisoner in the bottomless pit. Israel will be a scattered people and Jerusalem will be a city trodden under the feet of the nations until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled. Luke 21:24.
Instead of peace on this earth while the King is away, the times. of the Gentiles is to come to an end with much distress and great sorrow. This is the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:7 to 11. Israel is to be saved, by the coming of their Deliverer out of Sion. Romans 11: 26. It will be at the time of their greatest distress that they are to lift up their heads and know that their redemption is nigh, by signs in the heavens and on the earth; and then the Kingdom of God will be at hand. During that time of sorrow surely Israel will pray, “thy Kingdom come” and “give us this day our daily bread.”
Thus we do see that “on earth” is the key to Luke’s Gospel. Christ was on earth. At first peace was announced; “peace on earth.” Then the King was to be rejected; and He would go away. “Peace on earth?” “I tell you, Nay.” When the Son of man comes back, will He find faith on the earth? Nay. What will the Son of man find on the earth “Upon the earth, distress of nations, with perplexity … men’s hearts failing them for fear, looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:25 and 26. Surely we have in these Scriptures anything but “peace on earth.” And then what?
“They shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:27.
In comparing the truth of Luke’s Gospel, the Son of man “on earth,” with the truth of Ephesians, “the Lord Jesus Christ in the super-heavenlies,” surely we can see how essential it is to obey II Timothy 2:15. There is real spiritual progress from Jesus of Nazareth in the land of the Jews, proclaiming His kingdom message to the people of God, protected and preserved by God’s covenants, to the proclamation of the dispensation of the grace of God to the Gentiles, who had been aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and to the revelation of the dispensation of the mystery to you Gentiles who were strangers of the covenants of promise.
In Luke’s Gospel the unfortunate diseased woman was healed, because she was the daughter of Abraham. Luke 13:16. In Luke’s Gospel sinful Zaccheus received salvation, because he was a son of Abraham. Luke 19:9 and 10. The only Gentile to receive a blessing of healing, according to Luke’s Gospel, was a centurion, who loved Israel and built them a synagogue. Luke 7:1 to 11.
In Ephesians the good news is proclaimed, that on the cross of Calvary the Son of man, who confined his earthly ministry to Israel, broke down the middle wall of partition between Israel and the Gentiles, then and there made peace. Any advantage or preference previously shown to Israel, by virtue of covenants, has been done away with. The uncircumcised Gentiles, in Ephesians, if there is any difference, have the advantage over Israel, because that Nation had received a judgment of blindness from the hand of God. Acts 28:25 to 28.
In Ephesians, the richest spiritual blessings of the Lord are available for any and every member of the Body of Christ; the mighty power of God and the inexhaustible riches of God’s grace are at the disposal of the believer. The grace message of Ephesians is a free-for-all message. It is no longer a kingdom blessing for the sons and daughters of Abraham, or for one special Gentile of great faith who had built a synagogue for Israel which Nation he loved. No; here is the contrast: “But God Who is rich in mercy; for the great love wherewith He hath loved us when we were dead in trespasses and sins, aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise.”
We have observed that the twelve apostles are to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, when the Son of man comes to sit on the throne of His glory. Most assuredly, this is an earthly scene and a reward in the kingdom for faithful discipleship. But in Ephesians 2:6 we have learned that members of the Body of Christ are already seated with Him in the superheavenlies. While the kingdom was in view, the apostles of Christ were to testify to Israel that He was the Messiah. This they could do by reasoning out of the scriptures, for as Christ said, “they are they which testify of me.” The members of the Body of Christ are to make all men see what is the dispensation of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God. “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ;
“TO THE INTENT THAT NOW UNTO THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN HEAVENLY PLACES MIGHT BE MADE KNOWN BY’ THE CHURCH THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD.” Ephesians 3:9 and 10.
We learn by Ephesians 1:11 that this is according to the eternal purpose which God purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Surely there is a difference between that which God foretold in the Scriptures, concerning the Kingdom, and that which He did not foretell in the Scriptures, but which He did purpose before the foundation of the world, concerning the Church which is His Body. No prophet ever wrote concerning Christ’s present position and concerning the Body of which He is Head.
When the Saviour was on earth He was tempted by Satan the prince of this world. But in Ephesians 6:11 to 20 we read that members of the Body of (Christ are wrestling against the rulers of darkness in the super-heavenlies. Surely the adversary who transforms himself into an angel of light is opposed to the message of Ephesians. He will use every effort to keep members of the Body of Christ from obeying the two commands mentioned in Ephesians 4:3 and Ephesians 3:9, which we quote:
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3. “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:9.
The modernists’s slogan is “back to Jesus”. Let us remember that Jesus was on earth proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom was at hand for Israel. The kingdom was taken away from Israel. But the kingdom will be given to Israel when the Son of man returns with His angels in the clouds, in power and great glory. He will come to the earth to establish His kingdom. He is in the highest heavenlies, Head of the Church which is His Body. Surely those who know the high and holy truth of Ephesians, the exalted place and privileges of sinners saved by grace, identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, seated with Him in the super-heavenlies and blessed there with all spiritual blessings, will not exchange their inheritance in Christ and His inheritance in them for the inheritance of the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world.
“Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” Matthew 25:34.
God has given to members of the Body of Christ the highest place among all of the redeemed, the most glorious hope and calling, the choicest blessings and the richest inheritance which He has had or will have for any people. It is the will and desire of the Father of glory that we should appreciate and appropriate the riches of His grace and know the hope of His calling. Certainly the Father of glory would not have us go back to the Son of man on earth, to Israel’s hope and calling. But rather we should search diligently for the meaning of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10 to 14, which we quote:
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death:
“IF BY ANY MEANS I MIGHT ATTAIN UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, If that I may apprehend that, for which also am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
“I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE OF THE CALLING ON HIGH OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS.” Philippians 3:10 to 14.
Shall we go back to the earthly ministry of the Son of man, leaving our high and holy place, privileges and possessions in Christ in the super-heavenlies? Shall we go back and hear the Son of man say, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel?” Shall we go back the other side of Calvary back to the ignorance of the Twelve? Read these two verses:
“And they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again;
“And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
The Son of man on earth did not suggest that there was to be a joint-Body, the One New Man of Ephesians seated with Him and in Him in the super-heavenlies. This blessed truth came by means of Christ’s revelation through Paul. Where is our blessing, “on earth” with the Son of man or in the heavenlies with Christ our Head?
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.