The Difference Between the "Heavenly Calling" and "Seated in Heavenly Places"

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 14
The relation in which Christ is presented to His people as " the Apostle and High Priest of their profession" in Hebrews; and Christ as Lord and " Head of his body, the church," of which we are the members, in the Ephesians, might of itself explain what the difference is, and determine it. There are, however, other considerations of interest to which the Scriptures guide us.
We are looked at in the Hebrews as a collective number of persons, on their way into the rest that remaineth, and therefore pilgrims and strangers, in virtue of our heavenly calling. Another and a very important point is, that "the time of need" measures the provision made for our supply by " the throne of grace," to which we are exhorted to come boldly, in order " to obtain mercy and find grace to help" us. Moreover, we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who is able to succor them that are tempted, for that " He himself hath suffered, being tempted." It is evident, from. such provisions as these, and others of a similar character, that the people are not contemplated as in Canaan, or in the rest', but on their way to it: "we who believe are entering into rest;" and again, "let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest." Further, "the heirs of promise" are encouraged to lay hold on the hope " set before them, within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus," &c.
In brief, we see in all these instances that Christ is separated off from His people-a High Priest passed into the heavens, and He alone "set down" on the right hand of the Majesty on High-though there on behalf of His people, but a people as yet on the earth, with a heavenly calling, and on their way to the rest. So as to "the forerunner"-He is within the veil, but alone-though He has entered there for us; and " to them that look for him shall he appear" a "second time," &c. What can be plainer than that the character and provisions made by God, in the Hebrews, to suit Himself in the Holiest, and a people whom He has called. into His rest, recognize distance, and infirmities, and a time of need. In short, the necessities of a people on their way are met by the resources of the heavens above their heads, and ministered by the great High Priest of their profession.
In the Ephesians, we are viewed as members of Christ's body; of His flesh and of His bones-which He nourishes and cherishes. Besides this, the power which wrought in Christ to place Him where He is, at the right hand of God, is likewise to usward who believe-God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us hath quickened us together with, Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This epistle is just the opposite of the Hebrews; for there, as we saw, the Lord was alone, and set down as a Priest-or entered in alone as a forerunner (and very precious these relations of Christ are to us); but here, in the Ephesians, He is not alone, for we are in Him, as the members of His Body, seated in Him in the heavenlies, because He is the Head of the Church-not in an office, which priesthood is, but as Head of His Body-not as a forerunner, but we are quickened together, and raised up together, and seated.
Moreover, our infirmities are not the question, but a direct and different ministration from the Lord, in love to the members, "till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
There is no corporate body in the Hebrews, but a collective number of people, with a pilgrimage and the rest of God in view-whereas in the Ephesians there is nothing of this kind, but a " unity"-" a habitation of God through the Spirit "-and "a body" upon the earth-not units, tens, hundreds, and thousands (numerically considered) like the children of Israel, who were "six hundred thousand, and a thousand seven hundred and thirty," when numbered on the plains of Moab, before their entrance into Canaan-on their way into rest-but " one new man."
The saints of God, in this dispensation, stand in the relation to God of a people on earth, "begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus. Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away," &c., of which Peter's epistles give the description. Till we enter into this inheritance by our own resurrection, or translation, we are addressed as " pilgrims and strangers," and exhorted "to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear," calling upon the Father, &c.
But the saints of God have another relation to Christ, as "the beginning, flit first-born from the &cid," and " Head of the body, the church "-and in which relation we are not on our way, but seated in the heavenly places in Christ; for as members of Christ, and of His Body, we should be denying our relation to both, if we do not allow that we are seated, as our Head, and in our Head. A Christian can therefore say in his Church, relation that he is quickened, raised up, and seated in the heavenlies in Christ-because he is a member of His body-whereas, if viewed in another relation (as in the Hebrews) he is one of the holy brethren, and a partaker of the heavenly calling-moreover called to consider Christ, not as Head of the Body, but in an office, as the Apostle and High Priest of His profession-who appears in the presence of God for us, and lives to snake intercession for us. Does the Lord do this for the Church, the Body, of which He is the Head? On the contrary, one of the prayers in the Ephesians is, that the members "may know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." How different this love to the intercession of the great High Priest-though that is the fruit of grace too.
A Christian is therefore one of the holy brethren, with a heavenly calling, on his way into the rest that remaineth, with a promise of entering in, but in the meanwhile obtaining mercy, and finding from the throne of grace in the heavens, the help that is suited for the time of need, or the pilgrimage journey. A Christian is also " joined to the Lord," and " one Spirit;" and as such " baptized (with all his fellow-members) by one Spirit into one body;" and "made to drink into one Spirit"-and this body is Christ. To introduce " a calling," or a " pilgrimage," or " intercession," where all is vital, and existing in the unity of a Body, would he to disturb these relations with Christ, and put all into distance again, and reduce the Body to mere units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. A Christian, as a Churchman, is already raised up, and seated in heavenly places.
I trust these remarks will make plain the difference between the " heavenly calling" of the Hebrews, and "seated in heavenly places" in the Eph. 1 trust also. that we shall be able to hold our duplex character of "holy brethren," on our way to the rest, and laboring to enter in -yet quietly take our places, as knowing no distance, nor difference in this respect, between Christ as Head of the Body, and ourselves as of His flesh, and of His bones, seated with Him in the heavenlies! It is thus we are contemplated and addressed in these two epistles, and faith accepts it in communion with the Father and the Son, through the Holy Ghost.