Unless a Seed Die: The Mystery of the Third Heaven
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body which shall be, but bare grain…But God gives it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 
I Cor 15:35-38  
Since the fall of Adam, the carnal mind of man has been oriented to worship a localized and external God, usually one associated with a physical building or located way out beyond the blue.  God, on the other hand, wants to enter into a union with man that is so intimate that we take on His identity and His character and our physical body becomes His physical body.  To accomplish this, God had to take the creation through a teaching process in which man is being slowly weaned from worship centered around outward things to internal spiritual worship.  God does this by taking man through a succession of heavens or manifestations of His Glory.  Before I discuss the three manifestations of God’s Glory that He has unveiled to man, we need to look at the reason for man’s focus on the outward.

We tend to view the casting out of Adam from the Garden of Eden as a “Fall” or downward spiritual movement or, if our thoughts are on a more carnal plane, as a movement out of one location on earth to a less desirable location.  The expulsion actually involved a change in man’s focus from the internal paradise of God where he enjoyed continual fellowship with his Creator to a focus on the external world of the senses.  This is the world where human intellect and the soulish emotions reign supreme.  They reign supreme because the throne in man that was once occupied by God is now occupied by man’s carnal intellect which is the anti-christ, that man of sin who opposes God by seeking to always keep God outside of man. 

It has been God’s plan since the Fall to return man to the paradise of internal spiritual fellowship, which is heaven, by unfolding the heavenly realm in three stages.  When God finished with one heaven, or revelation of His Glory, He was ready to move on to the next heaven and woe unto those saints who do not move with Him! This is why the scripture speaks of the destruction of the heavens (“For my sword shall be bathed in heaven…” Isa 34:5), or the heavens changing and waxing old as a garment (Heb 1:10-11), or the heavens passing away with a great noise (II Peter 3:10).
The first heaven was contained in the tabernacle in the wilderness.  It was here that God first manifested His Glory in the midst of His called out people.  This heaven, even though it was external to man and housed in a physical structure, contained the pattern and foreshadowing of the greater revelation to come. 
Man’s carnal intellect had no problem with the first heaven, but all hell broke loose when God unveiled the second heaven or the physical body of Jesus Christ.  The spirit of anti-christ which is within man hates the truth that the Glory of God can be contained in a physical body.  It goes against the grain of the religious mentality and was seen as blasphemy by those, then and now, still inhabiting the first heaven.  As radical as the revelation of the second heaven was, the carnal mind could still take comfort in the reality that the second heaven was external to man and localized, being confined to one physical body.  Christianity could spread over the entire globe and the spirit of anti-christ would be relatively unfazed as long as the focus remained on the historical Jesus of the past or the glorified Jesus of the future.  Either way, the kingdom of the anti-christ within man is untouched. 

If the ushering in of the second heaven in the form of the manifestation of God in the individual body of Jesus caused hell to break loose, how much more the manifestation of the third heaven: an army of messiahs each one containing the fullness of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Ghost! The church world now has no problem with the second heaven – the Glory contained in one body 2000 years ago or in a glorified Jesus to be encountered in the afterlife or in the “rapture”.  But the spirit of anti-christ that rules this religious world will fight tooth and nail against the revelation of the third heaven.  Why?  Because the carnal intellect of man does not want to surrender the throne and be replaced by the mind of Christ.  And so the vast majority of Christians are either hung up on the historical Jesus or waiting for him to appear in the clouds or to meet him at death. 

The transition from the second heaven to the third heaven has to occur in order to bring man back into spiritual fellowship with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The physical body of Jesus was the seed that had to die in order to bring about God’s harvest – which is the manifestation of his Glory in a multi-membered body.  As long as that second heaven walked the earth, we could not come into our inheritance in God because the focus would always be on something outside of ourselves.  If the Light of the world isoutside ourselves, then darkness still reigns within us.  As John the Baptist had to decrease that Jesus might increase, Jesus had to “go away” – he had to die and, after his resurrection, he had to ascend to the heavenlies no longer to walk the earth in his own physical body – so that the revelation of himself in us might germinate and grow.  That revelation of himself in us is his “return” or “coming”.  Jesus gave his life to take away the old heaven that the new heaven in us might be established.  When he paid such a price to open up the revelation of the third heaven, it grieves his Spirit that Christians persist in hanging on to the second heaven by putting their hopes on the reappearance of Jesus in his own individual physical body.
Some Christians try to have it both ways.  They halt between two opinions by trying to have their cake and eat it, too, so to speak.  They understand that the Sons of God will manifest the fullness of God’s Glory but they believe that at the end of the age, Jesus will appear to head the army of glorified Sons.  The second heaven in glorified form will make a second appearance.  The problem is that as soon as the Glory of God is again localized and externalized (and believe me, if Jesus in physical form headed an army consisting of you and me, all focus would be on him) all sorts of carnal absurdities arise.  Christians would trample each other to be physically close to this physical Jesus.  The truth of the matter is that the re-introduction of the second heaven in the form of the separate physical body of Jesus would nullify the third heaven.  The Sons of God would become the “2nd class” body of Christ overshadowed by his “real” individual body.  The veil of the tabernacle that was rent, which represented his individual flesh body, would be sewn back up and the Glory of God once again kept at a distance from us.
The scripture that is cited to support the physical return of Jesus is the passage in Acts 1:11 where the angel asked the disciples why they were looking to the sky for the return of Jesus. 
Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 
The angel here is speaking a prophetic utterance using God’s spiritual language which cannot be interpreted literally.  Just like the men of Galilee, Christians today are still looking to the sky for the return of Jesus.  The same Jesus that was received and hidden from the view of his disciples by a literal cloud in a physical sky, appeared in like manner to the disciples in the Upper Room, to John on the island of Patmos and to many of us as the Father began revealing the truths of the kingdom message.  His unveiling is in “like manner” except that the natural has now become spiritual: now he is unveiled as the Sun of righteousness breaking through the Glory Cloud containing myriads of saints. 

The have-it-both-ways theology of many Christians who still inhabit the revelation of the second heaven contradicts the truth that we are truly bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  Unlike physical marriage where each partner retains his or her own identity and body, the mystical union of Christ and the Church produces a new creation which is the flesh regenerated and inhabited by the spirit of Christ.  In this true union, there is now no longer two but just one.  This is why Jesus said in Matt 23:29: “…ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."  The only way to see him in the future will be to see him in his Sons.  The Sons of God are the body of Christ in a two-fold sense: we are members of the collective, multi-membered body and we are each individually his body.  The spirit of anti-christ allows Christians to believe that they are members of the collective body of Christ but will not allow them to really believe, beyond lip-service, that their own body is truly his body because, on some level, they are still hanging on to the physical Jesus.  

Just as Jesus’ individual physical body, as the seed of the glorified multi-membered body, needed to die to bring forth the Church, we need to die to our carnal attachment to that seed body, or second heaven, and we need to awaken to the knowledge that we are his only physical body.  When this truly happens, the Glory of God can be seen not in one body but in every body as the third heaven unfolds and as we enter that place in God, and indeed, become that place in God where Paul heard those unspeakable words that could not be uttered in his day.