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Seek to See Heavenly Things

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Have and Keep Up a Heavenly Spirit

Seek to See Heavenly Things}


Get your minds in the beam of heavenly light that you may discern heavenly things and their nature and worth. Paul begs this for the saints at Ephesus, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17–18 NASB). There are great hopes and glorious riches given to believers in the Gospel. The knowledge of this is necessary to cheer the heart and engage the soul to seek these riches with all its strength. “One thought of Christ reaching the heart,” said Mr. Ball, “is more to be valued than all creaturely comforts of any kind, even if they should be enjoyed in their fullness for a thousand years without interruption.” It was this that kept the apostles’ hearts alive under the dying of the Lord Jesus in their bodies and filled them with such courage and joy; they had an eye to see glorious and eternal things. “10Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 13Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak. 16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:10, 13, 16, 18 ESV). And this was their great work: by [means of] the Gospel, “to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (Ephesians 3:9 ESV). And having received this spiritual eye, a Christian’s duty is to keep it open and fixed on things above and to preserve it from injury by sin and Satan. A Christian must take heed of irritating fumes from a carnal heart and of the dust of this lower world, that they not get in this eye and weaken its sight. Christians must get eye salve from Christ and the pure anointing by the Holy Spirit on this eye every day so that they may see invisible things and those great things of the other world about which they are engaged. The most discerning eye on this side of the everlasting hills544 sees only darkly via a mirror and only knows in part (1 Corinthians 13:9–12).545 How carnal are the minds of most Christians in this world. Even the disciples, though their eyes were blessed to see miracles (Matthew 13:16),546 still had carnal understandings of spiritual things even after the Lord Jesus had invested so much labor on them: “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6 NASB). Souls may have knowledge, but may be prevented from seeing: “But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16 NASB). They also may not be able to bear new knowledge of His glorious truth: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12 NASB). Thus, the Lord Jesus may say to everyone in this life, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25–26 ESV). David, after he had long been a learner, even after he was wiser than his teachers, cried out for more light: “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You” (Psalm 143:8 NKJV). “Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18 NKJV). “We may sail here,” said Mr. Hooker [on John 17], “in daily search and we find that there is something still beyond our knowledge. It is as men [experience] who travel in the main [Atlantic] ocean: they see nothing but water and see neither bank nor shore, brim nor bottom, and there is more water to be seen. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ and He keeps the keys in His own hand and bosom.” Look often to the Lord Jesus for clearer sights of Him, the things freely given by God, and the way to them. Knock often at the treasury door until He answers, opens, and sends you away enriched with the knowledge of Him. This is part of your trade: to know merchandise and the worth of it and how to buy and sell to best advantage. After all, what good is it to deal in goods about which people know nothing? And heavenly things are hidden things beyond the reach of people and angels. “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12 ESV). Angels bowed and stooped down to pry into those hidden secrets, and as it were to peep into the mysteries of the Gospel. The word547 signifies to look carefully every way with lively observation as through a low window by which one passes. They did this with an earnest and restless desire. The apostle alludes to the cherubim placed over the mercy seat with their faces looking toward the mercy seat, and through it, to the ark [of the covenant] (a type of Christ and Gospel mysteries, Exodus 25:20).548 This knowledge of heavenly things the angels consider worthy, yet hard to know. This knowledge calls for an inward and spiritual eye guided by a fresh anointing [of grace] every day. Christian, this is your daily work: seek to know the Lord. Be much in the presence of the Son of Righteousness so that He may heal you and illuminate the eye of your mind. By these means you may become more capable of understanding the whole counsel of God for your life. This is a heavenly spirit, or mind enlightened with heavenly wisdom: to see and understand heavenly, spiritual things.

544everlasting hills: a metaphor for Heaven.

545For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:9–12 ESV).

546But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear” (Matthew 13:16 NASB).

547παρακυψαι [par-ak-oop´-to], to bend beside, that is, to lean over so as to peer within, to look into, stoop down.

548The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat” (Exodus 25:20 NASB).

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