The Spiritual Realm

It is my impression that many Christians live in a drab and boring world of our own making; that is, one that has been handed down to us by our rationalistic culture. We think that we see the world and reality around us as it is, and that we think biblically about creation, but do we? (I include myself in this.) I have been doing a lot of thinking about the spiritual realm, and thought I would devote some time to the spiritual realm as understood by the Bible, and for much of Church history up to the so-called “Enlightenment.”

I admit that much of what we will discuss is speculative. However, speculative does not mean unimportant. In fact, to do theology well one must engage the imagination; we who are made in the “image” of God are endowed with the powerful faculty of “imagination,” a divine-like quality. Speculation is a way of engaging the imagination, and it is not only valid, but necessary for the holy life. The quality and authority of speculation depends on whether one’s premises by which we start our speculations are firm and solid, anchored in Scripture and nature.

And so we start our speculations on the spiritual realm on the solid foundation of creation itself. Genesis one tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The word “heavens” in Hebrew is actual a dual, and on material level, it reveals that the ancients thought of the heavens in two parts; the “upper heaven” of the immoveable stars, and the lower heavens of the moving planets, sun, moon, and that which is very close to us, the clouds full of the water above. This may seem simple to us, but from the perspective of observation, it is true enough.

Moreover, the dual also was understood to differentiate the two types of heavens, the material heavens of which we have just spoke, and the spiritual heavens symbolized by the immovable stars. The spiritual heaven is to be understood as created spiritual space inhabited by spiritual beings. This means that before creation there was just God who filled all in all; there was no place where God was not. At creation, God prepared space where “he was not” in a sense where creatures could move about with “freedom to become” by power of their own God-given wills. True, God still fills all creation with His Glory, but creation is unique as space created by God to give creatures the gift of freedom and individuality. Freedom is necessary in the divine economy, for freedom is a divine quality that God values.

It is very important to understand that the spirit realm we call heaven is a created realm, and that this realm was created with the material realm, and that these two realms cannot be understood apart from each other. We often say and think that Heaven is the eternal realm of God. No! Technically, the spiritual realm that we call heaven is a creation. God reigns above creation, above the realm of the blessed spirits, who dare not lift their “eyes” upon uncreated glory. In other words, Scripture is clear that God is not just another spirit among lesser spirits inhabiting the same spiritual space. Spiritual space is created space. True, often Scripture speaks of God dwelling in heaven, but this is with the understanding that God is not limited to spiritual space as King Solomon acknowledges, “… Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You…” (I Kings 8:27). God is above and beyond everything created; He dwells apart.

Everything that will be said from here on out in the next posts depends on this very fact, that the spiritual realm called “heaven” is, in fact, a created place inhabited by created beings. Why this is this so important? Because we tend to live in a cosmos where the line is drawn between us and the spiritual realm where God and His angels are. This line has become for us a steel ceiling that has almost totally disconnected us from the spirit realm. In reality, the Bible draws the line between God and creation which includes both the created spiritual realm and the created physical realm that are designed to mirror one another. This explains, in my opinion, the unimaginative, dull and drab world we live in; all we are left with is the material. In this “enlightened” way of thinking, the spirit world is apart from us, and must be, lest we descend to the pagan world view of magic and spooks. So to save ourselves from paganism, we have embraced rationalism, and have left the true biblical world view far behind!

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