From a human perspective, the idea of sitting in heavenly places is challenging to grasp, especially on this side of eternity. Nevertheless, this is the experience of everyone who is redeemed by God’s grace: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–7, ESV).
Astonishing as it may sound, Christians are united with Jesus Christ in His resurrected life (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4). The apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians to understand “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19–20, NLT). A little later, in Ephesians 2:4–10, Paul explains that the greatness of God’s incredible power toward believers is rivaled by the magnitude of His love, mercy, and grace.
Before salvation, we were spiritually dead in our sins because our “sinful nature was not yet cut away,” but then God made us “alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins” (Colossians 2:13, NLT; see also 1 Corinthians 15:22). Our transgression no longer separates us from God (Colossians 1:21–22; Romans 8:38–39) because we now share in the life of Christ (Romans 8:11). Since Christ is seated “at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms,” so too are we in a spiritual sense. Since we have been “raised to new life with Christ,” we can now set our sights “on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1, NLT). Physically, we still live in the natural world. But God, by His great power, and because of His immense love, mercy, and grace, raised us from our spiritually dead status to new life in Christ. We now sit in heavenly places.
To sit in heavenly places is more than a figure of speech. It is a spiritual reality for the believer. Because of our union with Christ, we reap the benefit of His position of divine authority (see Psalm 110:1; cf. Acts 2:34–35). He is our Head and our Representative. Peter taught, “Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority” (1 Peter 3:22, NLT; see also Philippians 2:9–11). The gates of hell will not overcome the church (Matthew 16:18; see also 1 John 2:13) because we are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37; see also 1 John 5:4–5) who gives us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Our spiritual seat in the heavenly realms is a position of high honor, much like being seated at the VIP table of a Presidential luncheon. We have been given the royal privilege of being enthroned with the Son and will one day partake of His glory. If we let this spiritual truth sink in, it will change the way we think and live. Because we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, our position in heaven is secure, but we must never forget that we don’t deserve our place there. We did nothing to earn it, but God graces us with it anyway (Ephesians 2:8; 4:7; 2 Corinthians 3:5).
As we sit in heavenly places while still living on earth, we have access through Jesus Christ to all of heaven’s privileges and spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3–14). The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is available and working on our behalf as we walk in this world (Ephesians 1:18–19; Acts 17:28; 1 John 4:9). We have the whole armor of God at our disposal to help us “stand against the devil’s schemes” and stand firm “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11–12).