Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν,
And you being dead because of trespasses and sins
ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε ⁞ κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, ⁞ κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, ⁞ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ⁞ ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας·
In which you once walked according to the fashion of this world, according to the prince of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί·
in which we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, doing the wants of the flesh and the thoughts, and were children by nature of wrath even as everyone else
ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς,
But God being rich in mercy because of His abundant love with which He loved us
καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς ⁞τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν ⁞ τῷ Χριστῷ,— χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι—
even while we were dead in our trespasses he made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved –
καὶ συνήγειρεν καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
and raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ⁞ ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφ ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
In order that He might show in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.
τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·
For it is by grace you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves – of God the gift.
Not by Works
οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων,
ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.
Not from works, so that no one can boast
αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν.
For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared before hand that we might walk in them (together)
Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί,
οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου,
Therefore remember that once you were the fleshly nations who are called “foreskins” by those who are called “circumcision” – in the flesh made with hands
ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.
that you were at that time apart from Christ, separated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in this world
νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ,
For He is our peace, who has made the two one and the middle wall of partition broken down, the enmity, in His flesh,
τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην
the law of commandments in dogmas He abolished so that He might make the two in Himself into one new man making peace.
καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ⁞ ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι ⁞ τῷ θεῷ ⁞ ⁞ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ.
And the two were reconciled in one body by God through the cross having put to death the enmity by it
καὶ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνην ὑμῖν ⁞ ⁞ τοῖς μακρὰν ⁞ καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγύς·
and coming He proclaimed peace to you the ones far away and peace to the ones who are near
ὅτι δι ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα.
Because through Him both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι ἀλλ ᾽ ἐστὲ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ,
So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God
ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν, ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ,
Having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone,
ἐν ᾧ πᾶσα οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη αὔξει ⁞ εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν κυρίῳ,
in whom the whole home being built together grows into a holy temple in the Lord
Falling into the Sea
Something distracted me and I looked down. I noticed that the surface of the sea I was happily standing on was smooth. I could see quite clearly that there were all sorts of creatures below the surface, some of them seemed quite fascinating.
Then suddenly I was sinking.
I was holding my breath and floundering around but then I got used to it. My clothes were billowing around me.
The creatures were strange.
I was fascinated. I couldn’t keep my eyes off these creatures. They were strangely attractive and I kept looking and looking.
I knew I shouldn’t be doing this, it was dangerous and unhealthy for my spirit. Eventually, if I stayed down here long enough I could find myself devoured or drown (Matt. 13:7,22).
I wanted out. So I turned away from the monsters and began to rise to the surface. I emerged into the light and remembered how I was able to walk on water in the first place (Matthew 14:28,29; John 10:9).
I remembered a time when I was unaware of this difference between being below and above the water. I was dead then spiritually, no different from the vast majority of people and could do nothing about it.
But God…. His mercy hadn’t changed just because I had left Him for a while. He was still rich in mercy towards me.
Heaven was in full swing, the dancers, worshippers and the Lamb sitting on the throne enjoying it all. All the rest was beneath His feet.
The Basis of Everything
Looking at the sea again I realised that there was a pink tinge to it. I could also still remember the taste of it which reminded me of the pink champagne I had been drinking. Then I remembered that God had made bitter waters sweet using a tree in the past (Ex. 15:25). My beloved still bore the scars of His world-sweetening tree even in Heaven.
So now the feast was spread out again only this time I was in a body of saints disparate. We were all seated together with Him at a very long table. We all held hands and thanked Him before digging in.
I started speaking to the person beside me. He was like ivory with a firmness to his body texture and gold bracelets on his wrists. He was dressed in white linen garment that scarcely covered him.
“Isn’t it amazing” he said. “Yes” I agreed with him.
“What do you do in this age?” I asked.
“I am a plumber.” He responded simply. “I help people with their water, waste and heating systems.” Then he got a bit more complicated: “People need to be able to drink purely, remove stuff that isn’t healthy for them and bring warmth and light to those around them. God’s kindness has been so excessive in my life. He finds ways for me to help people in spiritual ways similar to the ways my profession helps them in physical ways.”
Paul had got up to propose a toast.
“To His grace”, he said. Then, instead of drinking from the cup he had in his hand, he poured it into the sea.
All around the table everyone did the same. The pink tinge spread from the table of the saints into the sea around. Some of the creatures in the sea began to poke their noses above the surface. Others even leapt out like flying fish only to fall in again unchanged.
But there were others who rose beautifully out of the waters and came to take their places at the table.
Down towards the other end of the table from where Jesus sat someone was disturbing the joy and peace that had so far characterised all that was happening.
The man causing the scene was oddly dressed in rags whereas everyone else was dressed in clothes suitable for a wedding. It was also noticeable that he lacked an outer garment tinged in red that everyone else was wearing in some form or another.
Eventually the commotion died down. I asked one of the angels nearby what had happened. He explained that this man had tried to get a place at the wedding table without wearing the required clothes. By doing this he was telling everyone that Jesus’ death wasn’t required for him, he was good enough without it. As it turned out this man had lived a blameless life, no other man could turn to him and say: “You have sinned.” The Father Himself had to tell him he couldn’t come in dressed like that. He wouldn’t listen though and had to be evicted forcibly. Pride was his undoing (Matt. 22:11-14).
I watched as the body got together again and it happened in this way. First we held hands. Then each of us felt the Spirit moving like electrical signals between us.
I began to realise I was a cell in a body, vitally connected to the cells around me. The Spirit was sending signals between us. The table began to turn into a tapestry. It was also a map. Then the Bride began to appear as one again.
We walked together in the eternal purposes of God, each of us knowing our part to play, each depending on the other as we walked with God.
While walking together her eye saw where His gaze was looking and she moved her hand with His to comfort creation, sow seeds, heal pain, encourage and build. Her feet were as awesome as an army crushing the head of the sea monsters as she danced in triumph with her Beloved on the waters.
Together we are His masterpiece.
The command: “Remember where you have come from” came through to me in the midst of heaven.
So I tried to remember where I had come from. It wasn’t easy but it started coming back to me.
I remembered separation. Somehow I existed without much relationship.
I seemed to remember early on abstracting myself into my mind to protect myself. I had no idea about loving God or others. Interactions were shallow, inconsequential, pleasure seeking, all about me, me, me.
“Us” and “Them” defined everything then. We were “Irish” they were “British”. We were “Roman Catholic” they were “Protestant”. Chunks of the world cut off from each other because of a false identity that God doesn’t see.
The curious thing was that I felt no sense of need for so long then. I was separated from everything of real eternal, spiritual value and not bothered most of the time, not even aware that I was hopeless and without God. I didn’t belong but I was too young for that to matter much.
Until it did begin to matter.
I had asked all my questions and they had been answered from the bible. The logic of it appealed to me and made sense but that was not enough.
People began to pray and I began to realise I was unable to do the right thing, some revelation of my lost condition began to come through. Things started going wrong in my life which added to my sense of need.
Eventually, when the time was right, the day came when I, who was far away from God, understood that I had been brought near to Him at a tremendous cost. That realisation changed the experience of my life from that day on.
I had been born again.
As I looked around in heaven again, now, I could see that the reason the sea was pink was not because we had poured our cups filled with grace into it – though that did contribute- but because under the throne on which my Beloved sat was a welling up, a red spring of what looked like blood.
The whole earth is being filled with the knowledge of the love of God through the gospel as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9).
I looked into His eyes again and felt peace.
Then I saw in a vision a great and high wall covered in Hebrew, Greek and other writings. On top of the high wall in the middle stood Moses scowling down on everyone. Some people had tried to pick away at parts of the wall and stood on it precariously at various heights. The labour required to climb was oppressive. Many had climbed and fallen, some to their deaths, others, in despair had just walked away and were indulging themselves in all forms of crime.
This dividing wall extended out all around the earth. A succession of popes were on top of various sections of it enticing others to try and climb and then mocking their efforts if they failed. Elsewhere I could see Mohammed threatening climbers and driving them on, forcing them to conform or be killed. On another part there were people meditating, fasting and praying and beating themselves at the foot of the wall somehow hoping to be lifted up above it by some force or other. Demons were happily lifting some of them up to the amazement of others only to drop them later on top of their followers.
As I looked I realised that there were also many pulpits set into the wall at various heights with preachers proclaiming various sets of laws that they were saying were necessary to know Christ.
But that was all on the earth. In Heaven there was no wall, nor any concept or possibility of their being one. Jesus was totally opposed to such a thing.
And anyway, how could you build a wall upon a sea?
Where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15). The Law brings about anger, it is opposed to Him and He got rid of it on the cross.
Two become One
I saw another vision. In this vision there were two characters. One was a woman, stern and dressed in black, almost Muslim style, wielding a sword. The other was a huge barbarian man dressed in skins and with violence in his demeanor. Both circled around each other taking various stances.
Then a cross appeared and both were distracted by it away from each other. As they both looked towards the cross the sword fell from the woman’s hand and the barbarian put on more civilised clothes and changed his demeanor. They began to hold hands and walk in the same direction towards the cross.
The Spirit spoke peace over them both as they walked hand in hand.
The cross turned into a door and as they walked through they approached a throne. On the throne sat the Ancient of Days.
Now there was no longer two characters but one – the Christ.
I put my ring back on and started to explore the magnificent palace which is my home. It was filled with the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Families played together. Grandparents enjoying their grandchildren, children in loving and familiar relationships with their parents and grandparents. Uncles, aunts and cousins joining in, everyone was related somehow.
All were brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, members of the household, fellow citizens.
The great home was an organic, living structure like a forest of trees.
It was like lothlorien.