In Ephesians chapter one we see the most incredible mystery the Universe has ever beheld. The God of the ages, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, chose to take his own creation, formed from the dust of the earth, men, women and youngsters alike, from every tongue, tribe, people and nation and call them his own.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace…” - Eph. 1:4-5
Later, his love was poured out again when his children turned from him, selling themselves into a slavery bound to sickness, sin, and death, beginning in the garden of Eden. In His love for them he laid down his one and only Son’s life in order to give them the opportunity to once again be a part of his household and to have the chance to live a good, hopeful and love-filled existence. Through the cross Christ paid the penalty set against us and redeemed us from the works of Satan:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” - Eph.1:8a.
In the midst of this truly miraculous love story the children of God have an identity which is multi-faceted. We are saved by grace and become children of God. We then begin to work with our Father as servants and coworkers. Moving on from there we grow into a deeper understanding of our identity and calling as priests and kings, until ultimately we mature into the very Bride of Christ, whom He will return to claim for himself as his very own inheritance.
As children we come to God with childlike faith knowing we can do nothing of our own effort.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” - John 1:12
"Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” - Mark 10:15
Only one who is humble and childlike in heart can receive entry into the Father's household. A person must be able to admit that they need help - deliverance even, from their own decisions. One must be able to repent of his/her mistakes and ask God to take control of their life. The lifestyle and choices which one would of their own volition determine as best, must be willingly laid down in order to be trained and brought up in ideas, concepts, and parameters which another, the Trinity (Father God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit) would instill, mature and lead them into. Through faith they would become children of God by a way made open for them by the love of a Father willing to sacrifice His only Son to purchase them from death; a Son willing to live a difficult life on earth, then be tortured and killed for brothers and sisters who would be saved through his act of selfless devotion; and a Holy Spirit, willing to come indwell these adopted children to “lead them into all truth” through much patient love and training. As children we simply receive the gift of God's love:
“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” - Eph 2:8
As we grow as children into greater maturity in the household of our God we will have more and more evidence of Him at work in our lives.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith…” - Col. 2:6-7
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” - Eph 4:13-15.
Our attitude, words, actions, thought-life, even possessions and the way we handle finances and time will reflect our Lord. We will become more and more like Him as we practice living like Him, abiding in Him and His Spirit and in doing the work which He does in His service to those in need. Growing in swift obedience to God and a growing willingness and desire to seek His glory, not one's own, are pivotal. In this way we become servants and co-workers who are able to partner with Him in the work that He does, not just small children who only receive but do not know how to give back.
“For we are God’s co-workers” - 1 Cor
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5
“This, then is how you ought to regard us; as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” - 1 Cor 4: 1
“…for the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work..” - Mark 13:34
This is also when we should be becoming more and more aware that we can invest our lives and resources into things which will give us an earthly inheritance or a heavenly one. Our hearts will be where are our treasure is, and that treasure can act like a spiritual compass pointing us toward God and His ways, or likewise, away from Him:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” - Matt 6:19-21
The longer we walk with the Lord and come to know Him more personally and deeply the more we begin to better understand all the riches which He has given us as part of our identity and relationship in Him; this is also one point when one may begin to enter into his/her identity as Kings and Priests unto God. It would be such a shame to waste these divine gifts from our Savior! Thus, we must seek to cultivate these, not only in our own lives but also in the lives of those around us. For, Jesus Christ “.. has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” - Eph. 1:3 Gifts have been given to us which were bought at a great price by our First Love, Jesus. As we grow in maturity we learn to not only refuse to take these gifts for granted, but to also receive them with thanksgiving and to help others around us to see and access them as well.
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.” - 1 Cor 14:1
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” - 1 Cor 12:7.
Manifestations of God’s gifts to us, such as prophecy, healing, service, generosity, etc. are never given solely for our benefit, though they do reveal a very tangible and powerful dimension of the love of our God toward us! However, just as importantly, they are given to us to bless all those who are in the family of God and to reach out to those who do not yet know Him or His love.
It is often the case that those who make a regular practice of walking in the spiritual giftings given to them by their Lord, also have come into a deeper place of understanding that they are truly “not of this world”. They know that they must follow and know the Lord, not only in His glory but also in His suffering. For even Jesus, “Son though he was, he learned obedience through those things which he suffered” - Heb 5:8 Many spiritual battles and refining fires have tested and tried these ones in their struggle to lay ahold of the higher spiritual ground and to enter into the Lord’s rest, and often they have had to live out the verse spoken by their Lord that,
“.. from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” - Matt 11:12.
They do not shy away from the Lord’s discipline or from the persecution guaranteed to those
who love and follow Him, not only in the 10-40 window, but even in the Western world, for "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." - 2 Tim 3:12 (emphasis mine). Rather, they embrace the way of the cross and because they take Him at His word concerning those things He said were available to them, they come to live from the deep revelation that they are presently seated in heavenly places with Christ, and they think, move, act and are often motivated from this place of understanding. They know they have been given authority to have “power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases…” - Luke 9:1 This to them then is not simply a memory verse, but rather, a lifestyle. They are secure in this because all authority and power is the Lord’s and it was His desire to empower them as His ambassadors and co-workders on this Earth in bringing His kingdom. They know that they are not the scum of this world though the world may try to treat them as such, just as it did their Lord, Jesus Christ. Rather, like their Savior, they live from deep faith, endurance, hope, and the knowledge that the King of Kings has called them,“.. to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” - Rev. 5:10
Lastly, the final place of understanding one’s heavenly identity comes from looking at who the Lord is returning for. When Jesus returns for a second time he does not return for a child, a servant, or even a priest, for as the bible says, he returns for a spiritual Bride. The Lord will:
“present her to himself as a radiant church (in all her glory), without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” - Eph 5:27.
We as the Church, the Body of Christ, are called to prepare ourselves for His second coming, both by bringing in the harvest of souls whom He gave his life for, but also in becoming so closely knit to our Lord that we are one with Him and have through the power of His Holy Spirit and love for us, sought to keep ourselves from everything of this world that would separate us from Him.
“But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in Spirit” - 1 Cor. 6:17.
We should be seeking to answer the cry of our Bridegroom, Jesus, who during his final moments of recorded conversation with Father God said,
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me before the creation of the world.” - John 17:24.
Jesus desires to have people who would seek to draw so near to Him during their days on this earth that they would come face to face with him - and live from this place of intimacy and friendship. Here they would behold the fulness of who Christ is and see His glory! To see him not only in his humanity but also in his divine nature, the nature given him before the creation of the world, before he came in the form of man to live on this earth. We will all see him in His glory when we leave this planet, however the greatest in the Kingdom of God will be those who live to see and know him in the fullness of his glory, love and greatness NOW. These ones are not content to see and know their God one day in the distant future, like many, who waste their lives seeking mere trinkets and earthly friendships more than seeking the treasures of The Kingdom and the greatest relationship made available them - friendship with God Himself.
From this place of Holy Spirit unity we should be living out the word Christ gave about abiding and so be able to like our Saviour say, “(I) can do only what (I) see (my) Father doing.” - John 5:19. The goal is to come to the place as a mature spiritual Bride, so that like Paul said to the Galatian church in his letter to them,
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me , the life I live in the Body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” - Gal 2:20.
And, “I consider my life worth nothing to me.” - Acts 20:24.
Like Job, it is from this final place of maturity that we will we will say, “Though He slay me, yet I will praise/trust Him.” - Job 13:15
The summation of these levels of growth which I have expounded on in explaining our heavenly identity are certainly by no means perfect, all in-inclusive, nor the way it will unfold or look for each Believer every time. We will each have areas in our maturity where we will be in need of greater attention and growth than in others. Thereby, we may walk in the place of our identity as a King or Queen when it comes to our giving or generosity, but as a mere babe in Christ when it comes to our temper, tongue, or patience. In all things, our goal is,
“.. to walk, even as he walked” - 1 John 2:6.
Perhaps, the most important thing to keep in mind as we continue this journey in coming to grow more closely with the holy Trinity and in deeper understanding of our identity and relationship with God, is to simply take it one day at a time and to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” - Prov 3:5. Also, let us allow ourselves to believe our Father to do great things in and through us, "For God does not show favoritism" - Rom 2:11. He can use me and you for His purposes as much as anyone else, and if He tells us to ask for good gifts, He surely will answer our request; God is not unkind, He does not toy with us His children/Beloved. So let us each dream BIG, ask BIG, and expect BIG, as we grow one day at a time in knowledge, maturity and love for Him and this world whom He gave His life for.
The path and work to spiritual maturity will have variations, but the road through the love, relationship, scriptures and power of God will surely be seen in each person’s path who seeks to follow and love Him. Let us each seek to press in to take ahold of the fulness of our identity which has been purchased and lavished upon us by our incredible God and Savior. Though the road may be narrow and difficult, the rewards are beyond imagining!