We are called to set our affections on the realities of heaven because it is the place “where Christ sits at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1).
“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence” (Hebrews 9:24).
What makes heaven so desirable is not the absence of anguish and suffering, nor the presence of angels and fellow believers. Heaven is so desirable because it is the place “where Christ sits at God’s right hand.” This is what the apostle Paul emphasized when reflecting on his own death: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).
After Jesus finished His mission on earth, bearing our sins and being raised from the dead, He returned to heaven and took the seat of highest honor to appear before God “for us.” It is very reassuring to know that in the highest court possible, those who know Christ as their Savior are well represented.
Let these words settle deeply into our hearts: “Christ went into heaven itself to appear for us in God’s presence.”
In Colossians 3:3-4, the apostle reinforced his call to focus on heaven by writing:
“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
“The Christian’s whole and only status before God is in Christ. True and wonderful though this is, however, the sphere of the Christian’s existence is still here on earth. He is still beset by temptations; he is hampered by weakness and frustrated by failings; he falls short of ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13); the perfection for which he longs is not yet. He needs a holiness not his own, made available to him by the Lamb of God who has made atonement for his sins and who now interposes himself as his representative in the heavenly sanctuary. And this is the representation which Christ fulfils as he appears in the presence of God for us” (Philip E. Hughes, Hebrews, p. 349).
For deeper meditation on Christ’s representation, see: Romans 8:33-34 Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:23-271 John 2:1-2. The apostle John said those who confess their sin (I John 1:9), have an “advocate” with the heavenly father (I John 2:2). The N.I.V. translates advocate with the phrase, “one who speaks to the Father in our defense.” It pictures a legal setting with Christ as counsel for the defense. His position as advocate is based on His redeeming work (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5-6).
“Our advocate doesn’t plead that we are innocent…He acknowledges our guilt and presents His vicarious work as the ground for our acquittal” (John R. W. Stott, I John, TNTC, pp. 81-82).
Don’t misunderstand the nature of this representation. We should not picture a scene where a well-pleasing son is trying to persuade a hostile father to look on us with favor. God was the one who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (II Corinthians 5:18-21). God “spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32; cf. 1 John 4:9-10).
“The intercession of the Son, then, is in no sense a pleading with the Father to change his attitude toward us. Nor does the Father have to be reminded of the full redemption that he himself has provided for us in his Son—the very thought is preposterous! The presence in heaven of the Lamb bearing the marks of his passion is itself the perpetual guarantee of our acceptance with God, who gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. In ourselves, however, though we have the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ and though we are united to him in love and trust, we are unworthy because Christ has not yet been fully formed within us (cf. Gal. 4:19) and we still sinfully fall short of the glory of God (cf. Rom. 3:23). This consideration explains our continuing need of the advocacy and intercession of him who alone is accounted worthy before God (cf. Rev. 5:1-10). It is in his worthiness that even now we rejoice in the blessings of the divine favor, for by the grace of God his merit has been reckoned to us as our merit, his heaven has become our heaven, and his eternal glory our eternal glory” (Philip Hughes, Hebrews).
For those who think we need the assistance of saints or angels to get us to God, Hughes wrote,
“To imagine that saints or angels can be influenced to intercede for us is not only a delusion; it is to cast doubt on the perfect adequacy of the intercession of Christ on our behalf and thus to deprive ourselves of the fulness of the security which is available to us only in Christ. Our Lord clearly taught that no man can come to the Father except by him (John 14:6) and that our requests to God are to be made in his name (John 14:13f.; 15:16; 16:23, 24, 26), precisely because there is no other name which avails and prevails with God (cf. Acts 4:12) (Philip E. Hughes, Hebrews, p. 353).
Christ alone is our mediator, advocate, intercessor, high priest, and way of access to God (Ephesians 2:18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; John 14:6). Let your heart dwell on these great words: “Christ went into heaven to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
Heaven is our point of reference! How did Jesus teach us to pray? “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But don’t stand gazing into heaven because there is work to be done for the honor of God’s name, the advancement of God’s kingdom and the fulfillment of God’s will. We must pour out our hearts for these great concerns and let them become the motive for our words and works in all things.