The Sphere of Heavenly Life

J. N. Darby

In both Ephesians and Colossians the heavenly life is spoken of as a present thing ; but there is entire separation even down here between the pilgrimage and this heavenly life itself, although the latter has a powerful influence on the character of our pilgrim life.

And this introduces a very important subject, which I cannot treat at large here — the connection between life as manifested here, and the objects it pursues. They that are after the Spirit have their minds on the things of the Spirit. The new life flows from what is divine and heavenly — from Christ; and this is specially John's part in teaching; hence it belongs to the risen state in glory, has its full development and place there. Our politeuma is there, and this makes us pilgrims; the heavenly life belongs to heaven. The second Man is ex ouranou. But in its full development there is no pilgrimage. We are at home in our Father's house, like Christ. But here it is developed in pilgrimage, has this character from its being heavenly. It has a growing development in a growing apprehension of what is heavenly. (See 2 Cor. 3:3, 17, 18; 4:17-18 ; Eph. 4:15 ; 1 John 3:2-3, and many other passages.) This necessarily, our object being on high, makes us strangers and pilgrims here, declaring, in the measure of our fidelity, that we seek a country, the country to which our life belongs; but it forms itself thereby for the display of Christ here; it is adapted to the scene through which we pass; has duties, obedience, service there. The starting-point is sure, that we have died and are risen with Christ, in one aspect; and in another, we are sitting in Him in heavenly places.

But this last is not our subject here, it is Ephesian doctrine; this is more Colossian. Christ Himself, though Himself that life, and its manifestation down here in pilgrimage, yet, as a man down here, had objects — for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame, and is set down. And this is deeply interesting. His life — God Himself (the last is more John's doctrine) — was what was to be expressed — expressed suited to the scene He passed through; but, being a true man, He walked with objects before Him, which acted on the tenor of His path. The fact that He was this life, and that for His living it had not to die in His death, as we have to an evil nature, makes it more difficult to realize in His case; but obedience — and He learned what it was — suffering, patience, all referred to His place here. Compassion, grace as to His disciples, and all the traits of His life (though divine and such that He could say, "The Son of Man who is in heaven"), all were the development of the heavenly and divine life here.

Its influence was perfect and entire in His case; but His life in connection with men, although the ever perfect expression of the effect of His life of heavenly communion and of His divine nature, was evidently distinct from it. The joy of the heavenly life entirely set aside all the motives of the lower life, and leading to the sufferings of His earthly life in connection with man, produced a life of perfect patience before God. In Him all was sinless, but His joys were elsewhere, save in acting in grace in the midst of sorrow and sin — a divine joy. Thus also with the Christian there is nothing in common between these two spheres of life; and besides, nature has no part whatever in that above. In that below there are things which belong to nature and to the world (not in the bad sense of the word "world," but considered as creation). Nothing of this enters into the life of Canaan.
J. N. D.

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