The Danger of Neglecting the Heavenly Position
The early pioneer dispensationalists (Darby, Kelly, Mackintosh, etc.) were thrilled because of their position in Christ. Though walking on earth, they saw themselves as seated in heaven. They understood their high, heavenly, upward calling. They understood their IDENTIFICATION with Christ, not only in His death and resurrection, but also in His ascension and present session. While most Reformed men encourage us to "keep looking up," the dispensationalist who is aware of His exalted position has a better word: "KEEP LOOKING DOWN" [slogan send to this writer from Miles Stanford] Why? "For ye died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). May we not lose perspective!
"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). "For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus" (Heb. 3:1).
We find no such statements ever made in the Gospels. We find no such statements in the Sermon on the Mount. We find no such statements ever made to the Israelites in Old Testament times. God is doing a marvelous and unique thing in this present age!
David Dunlap sums up the issue:
Is it more appropriate to consider believers as saints or as sinners? We explored whether miserable-sinner Christianity is the proper message for New Testament Christians, and we discussed what the Bible emphasizes in that regard. Yes, the belie ver does sin; there is no doubt about that fact. But believers are saints—children of God and co-heirs with Christ—and as saints, they ought to live up to Christ’s high calling. Scripture stresses that our identity in Christ is more important than what we make of ourselves through performance, actions, and failures. Indeed, when we are firmly grounded in our proper identity in Christ, we will live up to the full potential that Christ has marked out for us. [David Dunlap, The Battle is the Lord’s, pages 135-136]
J. Sidlow Baxter has issued a similar plea:
The more I reflect upon it, the surer I become that we cannot have a true disposition toward the New Testament teaching on holiness unless we have a discerning appreciation of our standing and privilege in Christ. Nobody thanks God more than I for the Protestant Reformation. Nobody glories more than I in its triumphal arch of the "doctrines of grace," with its shining keystone, "justification by faith." Nobody marches more positively than I under the aegis of Luther and Calvin.
Yet just because I march beneath the same banner, I claim the same right to differ...the "miserable sinner" emphasis of the Reformers may be overdone to the point where it actually incapacitates our response. All the New Testament epistles were written to Christian recipients, and they all alike assume that the new Christian standing has fundamentally changed all the relationships of those who are "in Christ." The standpoint is not that we are seeking forgiveness but that we are already forgiven. We are not just seeking peace with God but we "have peace with God." May we never forget the New Testament emphasis, that the Christian belongs to the new, in Christ, rather than the old, in Adam. It says that we already are saints, positionally, in Christ, and that we are to become saints of His in our character. [J. Sidlow Baxter, A New Call to Holiness, pages 35-36]
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