by Jerry Shugart

Earthly and Heavenly

Pastor Paul Sadler, the President of the Berean Bible Society, teaches that there are two distinct and separate "plans" of God, one which applies to the "earthly" sphere and another which applies to the "heavenly" sphere:

"God would have us understand that He is the Creator of heaven and the Creator of earth, which strongly implies that He has a different 'plan' and 'purpose' for each" (Sadler, Exploring the Unsearchable Riches of Christ [Stephens Point, WI: Worzalla Publishing, 1993], 26).

In regard to the Lord's "earthly" plan he writes that "those who were saved under this program, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, Stephen, and the saved of the future tribulation period all have or had an 'earthly' hope" [emphasis added] (Ibid., p.30).


Was Abraham's hope an earthly one, as Pastor Sadler says? The following demonstrates that he actually looked for a city whose builder and maker is God and he also desired a "heavenly" country:

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went...for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God...These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Heb.11:13-16).

It is inconceivable that Abraham's hope was an earthly one since he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God and he also desired a "heavenly" country. While on the earth the saints spoken of in this passage are said to be "strangers and pilgrims."

The Greek word translated "stranger" means "a foreigner" and the Greek word translated "pilgrim" means: "in the NT metaph. in reference to heaven as the native country, one who sojourns on earth" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

Abraham desired a heavenly country so Pastor Sadler is clearly in error when he asserts that Abraham had an earthly hope and not a heavenly one. Of course since Abraham's citizenship is in heaven he will spend eternity in heaven.

The Jewish Christians

The following passages prove that all those who received the book of Hebrews had access to the heavenly sphere which includes the very throne of grace:

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb.10:19-20).

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb.4:16).

These facts are confirmed by the same author when he tells the Jewish Christians that they have come to "the heavenly Jerusalem":

"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest...But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb.12:18, 22-23).

John Nelson Darby says the following about this passage:

"Having named Sion below, the author turns naturally to Jerusalem above; but this carries him into heaven, and he finds himself with all the people of God, in the midst of a multitude of angels, the great universal assembly of the invisible world. There is however one peculiar object on which his eye rests in this marvelous and heavenly scene. It is the assembly of the firstborn whose names are inscribed in heaven...It is not merely that they reach heaven: they are the glorious heirs and firstborn of God, according to His eternal counsels, in accordance with which they are registered in heaven. The assembly composed of the objects of grace, now called in Christ, belongs to heaven by grace" [emphasis added] (Darby, Commentary on Hebrews 12).

Kingdom Saints

Pastor Sadler refers to those who received the Jewish epistles as "kingdom saints" because they will be on the earth during the earthly reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here the Lord tells the Apostles that they will sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel during the earthly kingdom:

"And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Lk.22:29-30).

However, those in the Body of Christ will also have a part to play in the earthly kingdom because the Apostle Paul reveals that those in the Body will be caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the air and from that point forward they will always be with Him:

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess.4:16-17).

The whole context of this passage is in regard to an actual "presence" or "nearness" of the glorious body of the Lord Jesus. Before the rapture the Christian is not in the vicinity of the Lord Jesus' body but at the rapture all Christians will be in His presence. This speaks of a nearness so when Paul says that we "will ever be with" Him this can only be saying that Christians will forever be in His presence from that point forward. So when He returns to the earth those who have been raptured will return with Him.

It can also be said that those in the Body of Christ are "kingdom saints" since they will also be participants in the earthly kingdom. We can also see that Paul says that in the future the saints will judge the world just as the Twelve will judge the Twelve Tribes of Israel:

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Cor.6:2).

Therefore it is clear that a person can be a member of the Body of Christ and also take part in the earthly kingdom. These two things are not mutually exclusive as some would have us believe. In fact, it is only those in the Body of Christ who have access to the heavenly sphere and we know for a fact that all of the Jewish believers who received the book of Hebrews enjoyed that access:

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb.10:19-20).


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