Heavenly Church

Oct 8, 2011
Winfield, Mo.
If it be not accepted that we are heavenly, there must be endless confusion in the attempt to regulate the Church according to the calling and principle of an earthly people. The incongruous size of the mustard tree sprang from appropriating what was strictly peculiar to Israel as an earthly people. The distinctiveness of the Church calling has not been preserved. Imitating and adopting what belongs singularly to another always destroys individuality and makes one unreal, and unfit for everything. Let it first be admitted that the Church is heavenly, and not earthly; and then let us ascertain how a company altogether heavenly can function on earth.

The teaching of the great supper in Luke 14 contrasts heavenly and earthly joys. It is not that land, or oxen, or a wife are sinful, but they are earthly, and not the joys proper to the Gospel (see note – NC). The fatted calf is peculiarly heavenly, and belongs to the Father’s house. The ransomed soul is brought to joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The soul that is filled with the earthly thing has no taste for the heavenly. “The full soul loatheth the honeycomb” (Prov 27:7).

Surely we all know if we study our own history that, while there has been much exercise of soul to reach the joy of salvation, which is called peace, there has not been persistent seeking for or sole expectation of heavenly joys, or feasting on the fated calf, while we journey down here. How little has even the matured believer grasped that the condition on earth of the saved soul is that he should never thirst, that there should be in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life!

A perfect redemption through the Blood of Christ, and an unclouded assurance of eternal acceptance are, thank God, enjoyed by many; but how many can say that they are in such practical enjoyment of this heavenly gift that they never thirst (John 4:14; 6:35), and that they are so replete with it that out of them flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). If the believer has not learned that only heavenly joys are given to him here, he, in seeking for or preferring earthly ones, will forfeit his own true happiness, and be subjected to vexations and many disappointments, besides being practically unfitted for effective testimony.

It is hardly possible for anyone who is not heavenly in taste, association and hope to comprehend the Church as the “Body of Christ” (1 Co 12:27; Eph 4:12). There is union in resurrection, hence, “if ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col 3:1). Many a one, through grace, enters into the gospel as delivering him from his misery as man on the earth, and assuring him an eternal home in heaven, who cannot grasp the Church in its real character; because, though on earth, it is of heavenly order.

It is a truth accepted and owned today of the Spirit’s presence and indwelling; hence, it is necessary to insist that He does not lead to earthly joys. He leads to, and imparts, heavenly blessings, and when the heart of the believer’s goals are natural gratifications, a strange god, the Spirit is grieved. It is not that He would lead us to despise or disregard the comforts which the Father’s care so continually provides for us in our path down here; He is ever ready to succor (Heb 2:18), and to console, and to help in our infirmities: but while most effectually strengthening with all heavenly joys, so that even if we were deprived of all the comforts here, we should have “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
- J B Stoney

Note: All that has to do with that which is earthly only, and not related to the heavenly, is not specifically of the Gospel of Christ (though having an earthly life is required to learn of the heavenly), which only involves that which is heavenly, i.e. “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Mat 22:30).

For further reference see Luke 30:30, Gill commentary:

“For in the resurrection”,.... At the time of the resurrection, and in that state; when the bodies and souls of men shall be reunited,

“They neither marry, nor are given in marriage”; neither the men marry wives, nor are the women given in marriage to men, which is done by their parents here, generally speaking, they having the right of disposing of children in marriage: but, as Luke says, "they which shall be accounted worthy"; not through their own works of righteousness, but through the grace of God and righteousness of Christ, "to obtain the world," the world to come, a future state of happiness, "and the resurrection of the dead," that which will be unto everlasting life and glory, "neither marry nor are given in marriage"; shall not enter into any such natural and carnal relation: and this agrees with the notion of the other Jews, who say that "In the world to come, there is neither eating nor drinking, nor fructification, nor increase (of children), no receiving and giving, (no commerce), nor envy, nor hatred, nor contention.”

“But are as the angels of God in heaven; or, as in Luke, "are equal unto the angels"; and which he explains their immortality: "neither can they die any more"; no more than the angels can: for this must not be extended to everything; not in everything will the saints be like, or equal to the angels; they will not be incorporeal, as the angels are, but then, even their bodies will be spiritual, and in some respects, like spirits; they will not stand in any need of sustenance, by eating and drinking, any more than the angels; nor will there be any such things as marriage, and procreation of children among them, any more than among angels; for they "are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”

-John Gill