Up or down – what’s first?

Now this phrase, “he went up,” what can it mean if not that he first went down into the lower parts, that is, the earth? Eph 4:9

This verse talks about Jesus – I am well aware of this fact. It tells us that before Jesus ascended into heaven, he came down. He came down to fulfill the old covenant – bring it to its fulness. A covenant is full when both parties did their duty. We know that God did his, and that man failed at keeping the law. Only when God became man and fulfilled our part as well – this is why it is so important that Jesus was the son of men – the stage was set for the new covenant.

The new covenant draws from the old in such way that Jesus not only lived a sinless life fulfilling all requirements of the covenant, but also fulfilling all requirements of the once and for all offering, the one time sacrifice that became the foundation of the new covenant.

In him we all are saved and restored into a living relationship with God, into a new creation, into God’s plan with humanity from the beginning: the new creation, Christ, he the head and we the body.

So what then happened with us?

Manyfold.

The one thing I want to look at today: we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.

Lately, God put the ladder of Jakob on our hearts. Angels went up and down the ladder. Thus this place was called Beth-El, the house of God.

Jesus himself referred to this verse when he talked to Nathanael.

Then he said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!” John 1:51

And when this is true of the first-born son, it is true of Christ.

Jesus used the word aggelos – well, I am pretty sure that he said malach, but the bible was written in Greek, not Hebrew.

But both words mean the same: messenger.

Only by derivation, these words mean angel, as in the old times, angels were messenger of God. Think of Sodom and Gomorra, but also of the angel that met Joshua before crossing the Jordan. And think of Zaccharia  and Mary. But there are other messengers too. Think of the prophets, one of which was called Malachi, my messenger. Actually, even the kings were messengers, as the word malach and melech are the same. And by derivation, it means ambassador and teacher.

I am reminded again of Paul speaking to the Corinthians:

And God has put some in the church, first, Apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then those with wonder- working powers, then those with the power of taking away disease, helpers, wise guides, users of strange tongues. 1Co 12:28

All messengers using their specific gift to represent Christ in the earth. Even in todays verse, the bible speaks of some of these messengers. If we read on, we find that Jesus gave from himself the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.

I think I am on good ground to say that in Christ it is us, his messengers, that go up and come down.

We go up carrying people and their situations before the throne of God, we come down in authority and power to bring change.

Authority: exousia, the right to do something. Power: dynamis,the ability to do something. A bank robber certainly has the power to get money from a bank, but no authority, while an old lady tied to her bed may have the authority for her bank account, but lacks the power to go and get some money. We need both.

God gave us both authority and power to rule the earth in paradise.

Jesus gave his disciples – and by inclusion us – the power and authority to drive out demons, to heal, to baptize both with water and the Spirit. And there are so many more promises. Just think of his provision.

But back to our question in the title. Let me rephrase it. Where do we start?

By the grace and the work of Jesus at the cross we are seated in heavenly places. We therefore start our journey from heaven down to earth. There is no struggle to come to heaven before returning in authority. We have already been raptured up, we are now to come down again as portrayed in Revelation 21: the bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem, the city. Come down in the glory and authority and power of Christ.

If we’ld only believe.

Let’s learn to see. See our stature and position in Christ.

Can you see it?

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By Ralph Rickenbach

Accompanyist | Pastor in Exile | Iconoclast — I am a Gallup certified CliftonStrengths coach and a Spiral Dynamics practitioner.