According to Paul, we who believe in Jesus have been raised up from spiritual death and are seated with him in a heavenly realm. “Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6, NKJV).
Where is this heavenly place where we’re seated with Jesus? It is none other than God’s own throne room, the throne of grace, the dwelling place of the Almighty. Two verses later we read how we were brought to this wonderful place: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (2:8).
This throne room is the seat of all power and dominion. It’s the place where God rules over all principalities and powers and where he reigns over the affairs of men. Here in the throne room, he monitors every move of Satan and examines every thought of man.
Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand. Scripture tells us, “All things were made through Him” (John 1:3) and “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). In Jesus resides all wisdom and peace, all power and strength, everything needed to live a victorious, fruitful life; and we’re given access to all those riches that are in Christ.
Paul is telling us, “As surely as Christ was raised from the dead, we’ve been raised up with him by the Father. As surely as Jesus was taken to the throne of glory, we’ve been taken with him to the same glorious place. Because we are in him, we are also where he is. That’s the privilege of all believers. It means we are seated with him in the same heavenly place where he dwells.”
Paul says that all spiritual blessings are bestowed in the throne room. All the riches of Christ are available to us: steadfastness, strength, rest, ever-increasing peace. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
When I talk about a great awakening, I mean what Paul describes as a revelation and enlightenment: “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” (Ephesians 1:17-19, NKJV).
Paul was telling the Ephesians, “I pray that God will give you a fresh revelation, that he’ll open your eyes to the calling he’s given you. I’m asking him to give you new understanding about your inheritance, the riches in Christ that belong to you.”
According to Paul, “[God’s 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,” is the same “exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe” (1:20, 19). For this reason, Paul exhorts, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
How are we to examine ourselves? We do it by measuring ourselves against the awesome promises of God. We’re to ask ourselves: “Do I access Christ’s power to overcome sin? Do I live continually in the joy, peace and rest Jesus has promised to every believer without exception?”
Your personal “great awakening” comes the day you look at your life and cry out, “There has to be more to life in Christ than this. All my plans have unraveled, all my dreams have been shattered. I’m living as a slave to my fears and fleshly lusts. But I know the Lord has called me to more than this defeated life. Oh, God, is there actually a place where you’ll supply me with strength to live victoriously?
“Is it really possible for me to have continual intimacy with you? Is it true I don’t have to slide into apathy anymore or struggle to please you? Help me find the place of rest in you where I’ll never again need revival because my faith remains steadfast!”
“As 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” (2 Peter 1:3, NKJV).
For years, I’ve claimed to be filled with the Spirit. I have testified that I’ve been baptized in the Spirit. I’ve preached that the Holy Spirit empowers me to witness and that he sanctifies me. I’ve prayed in the Spirit, talked to the Spirit, walked in the Spirit and heard his voice. I truly believe the Holy Spirit is the power of God.
I can take you to the place where I was filled with the Spirit at eight years of age. I’ve read everything that scripture says about the Holy Spirit. Yet lately, I’ve found myself praying, “Do I really know this incredible power that lives in me? Or is the Spirit just a doctrine to me? Am I somehow ignoring him? Am I not asking him to do for me what he came to do?”
The fact is you can have something very valuable and not know it. You can’t enjoy what it is you have because you don’t understand how valuable it is.
There’s a story about a farmer who worked his small farm his whole life. For decades he tilled the rocky soil, living poor and finally dying in discontent. At his death, the farm was passed down to his son. One day, while plowing, the son found a gold-streaked nugget. He had it appraised and was told it was pure gold. The young man soon discovered that the farm was full of gold. Instantly, he became a wealthy man. That wealth was lost on his father, even though it was on the land his whole life.
So it is with the Holy Spirit. Many of us live in ignorance of what we have, of the power that resides in us. Some Christians live their entire lives thinking they have all the Holy Spirit brings, yet they truly haven’t received him in fullness and power. He isn’t accomplishing in them the eternal work he was sent to do.
Dear believer, don’t let this be you! Plead with God to make you aware of the full measure of his Spirit.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, ESV).
No one wants to just go through the motions. Don’t you want to be a man or woman who clearly has the touch of God on your life? Wouldn’t you want people to look at you and think, “What is it about that person? There’s a holy anointing on them. There’s a touch of God on their life.”
I believe God wants to raise up people and say, “Ah, there’s a vessel right there that I can work through. There’s a heart, there’s a mouth, there’s a voice that I can speak through in these dark days.” He wants people through whom he can stretch out his hand to heal and give signs and wonders. As the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord sets up a counterpoint. That’s what he wants to do in your life.
If you’re living in a generation that is raging against the Holy One, then you’re going to need a pleading in your heart saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, come! Come, Holy Spirit in your fullness and your power, come to your church and revive us. Awaken us.”
We need the Holy Spirit to shake this place once again and put us through the refiner’s fire, burning off the dross so that we might come out as pure gold. We want to come out of hard times and oppression on fire for God.
I pray that once again the Holy Spirit would capture our hearts. Lord, stretch out your hand on our lives. Lord, put the touch on our country. Oh God, that’s our cry. I ask that our prayer lives would once more be on fire and that we would become almost obsessed with seeking the Lord’s face. We need to ask our Lord to rid us of backsliding and a coldness of heart, an unwillingness to be corrected. He must heal us so that we can come into the fullness of the anointing he has for us.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:11,16, ESV).
Paul is giving this teaching about the battle that we’re in and what we need to be victorious in it, what we need to pick up or put on. Notice, you can’t just acknowledge that there’s armor. Scripture doesn’t say “study the armor of God.” It says, “Put on the armor of God!”
This is one of the problems for many Christians today. We’re into a type of mental positivism and false triumphalism where it’s hard for us to talk about what really goes on in life. We’re all involved in warfare. Paul was involved in this struggle, and he’s one of the greatest Christians we’ve ever heard of. So if one of the greatest Christians talks about our struggle against the demonic forces that are arrayed under Satan, we should pay attention.
Our minds are where the warfare is, temptations to sin, to quit, whispers of despair, taking our eyes off of Christ.
If you hear anyone talking spiritual smack — “I’ve got to a place where I’m not even tempted by the enemy. I just have victory every place where I put my foot down.” — don’t ever believe them. We’re all in a battle. We’re all tempted. We all fight off discouragement. We all have to ask God for grace every single day. We need mercy because we all mess up.
Don’t tell me that’s not real because the battlefield is littered with people who were once preaching the gospel! Forget simply being a Christian. These were preachers and church leaders, and now they’re in rehab somewhere or have created great scandals and a mess in their church and city.
Some people lose out in this battle. They don’t put on the full armor. Somewhere the enemy got entrance. The arrow sticks. We must not lose sight of the battle we’re in right now, each day. We must encourage each other with these passages and help one another fight effectively as war rages on around us.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.