Open Heavens and Sonship - Nathan Shaw
There has been a significant increase in spiritual hunger over the last few decades. Many Christians are no longer content to know about a supernatural God. Instead they yearn to know and experience Him in tangible ways. The phrase "walking under an open heaven" is often used to describe this reality. When there is an "open heaven" God's presence becomes both tangible and recognisable. The atmosphere becomes charged with supernatural energy. Power encounters, visions, healings and other supernatural activities become common. You only have to read revival accounts from past or present generations to realize that we are wired for supernatural. Merely reading about it awakens desire. We want to experience it ourselves.
It's natural for us to desire the supernatural. This shouldn't be surprising. Consider:
1. We were created for relationship with God and God is supernatural.
2. We have been supernaturally born from above ("born from above" is a more literal translation of "born again" from John 3:3).
3. We are called to live a supernatural life.
4. We are called to release God's supernatural works.
Why are we called to release supernatural works? The answer is simple. God's supernatural works display His supernatural love and God's love is so profound He was even prepared to send His Son to the cross to redeem humanity. Jesus stated it clearly: We are called to do greater supernatural works than even He did (John 14:12)! However, living under an open heaven and releasing God's supernatural works are not the same thing. In fact releasing supernatural works is only one aspect of living under an open heaven. Jesus only worked miracles for three and a half years but - with only one exception - lived under an open heaven for His entire earthly life. Likewise, Christians live under an open heaven from the moment they are born again.
During Jesus' 33 years on the earth there was only one moment when He didn't live under an open heaven. That moment was when He took the sin of the world on the cross. Here's the good news: Jesus didn't earn the right to live under an open heaven. He lived under an open heaven because He was God's Son. The same is true of every born again Christian. We live under an open heaven by virtue of our being sons and daughters of God. (Understand that the biblical concept of sonship includes both men and women).
The theme of sonship is powerfully proclaimed in the four gospels. The power of this theme is often lost because of our tendency to focus on individual chapters or events. Both Matthew and Luke describe the same sequence of events in Jesus' life: His conception; His baptism by John the Baptist; His temptation by Satan; His supernatural ministry. In both gospels the first four chapters cover the first 30 years of Jesus' life. These 30 years proclaim an incredible message of sonship that every born again believer is to experience and know for themselves. Come with me on a mind blowing journey of discovery about sonship.
The Privilege of Sonship - Jesus' Conception
Most people don't realize that Jesus lived under an open heaven even during the first 30 years of His life. They assume the open heaven reality happened after He was baptised at the age of 30. Afterall, the bible clearly says the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him at His baptism (Matthew 3:16, Luke 3:21-22). But let's put that assumption aside and examine Jesus' first 30 years more closely. Luke 2:40 says this about Jesus' childhood: And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. The Greek word translated grace in this verse is very rich in meaning. It speaks of God's empowering presence. Expressed in a modern way we would say the anointing was upon Jesus. This open heaven reality was always with Him.
Luke goes on to describe a remarkable situation that happened when Jesus was only twelve years old! While Jesus was in Jerusalem at one of the customary feasts He started interacting with the teachers in the Temple. It wasn't, however, just any ordinary conversation. It was an in-depth conversation which displayed remarkable insight for a person of His age. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers (Luke 2:47). Jesus' ability to have such captivating understanding at the age of twelve is because of His connection with the Father and with the Spirit. His connection with His Father was so real He told His parents that He must be about His Father's business (Luke 2:49). Luke emphasizes the point once again just a few verses later by indicating that the evidence of this grace, as amazing as it was at the age of 12, continued to increase through Jesus' adolescence and early manhood: And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). The same Greek word translated "grace" in verse 40 is translated "favor" in this verse.
Jesus lived under an open heaven. Jesus' sonship on earth started the moment He was conceived in Mary's womb. There was never a moment He wasn't God's son. Likewise, from the very moment we are born supernaturally by God's Spirit we are God's sons. The same open heaven dynamic Jesus experienced becomes our reality also. It's automatically ours by inheritance.
The Announcement of Sonship – Jesus' Baptism
If Jesus lived under an open heaven for His entire life, what then happened at His baptism?
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).
This was an announcement of Jesus sonship to the nation of Israel. Jesus didn't become a son at this point. The Father announced what already was. Jesus sonship was no longer hidden. It was publically broadcast by the Father Himself. Sons demonstrate fathers. Now, through Jesus, the Father would be known in the nation of Israel in a greater way than ever before. At His baptism Jesus received a specific anointing to fulfill the public ministry God had for Him during the next three and a half years. It didn't mean that He wasn't already anointed or that He didn't walk under an open heaven.
We are all sons of God and anointed to serve Him. However, there are times in our spiritual journey of sonship that God thrusts us forward with greater prominence and anoints us for specific tasks.
The Testing of Sonship – Jesus' Temptation By Satan
As soon as the public announcement was made by the Father, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by Satan (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1). Satan hates sonship. Sonship is powerful. The authority of sonship is powerful. When a son walks in the authority of sonship Satan is particularly threatened. With the announcement comes visibility. With the visibility comes greater testing. Sonship overcomes the testings of Satan. It is when we respond as slaves or orphans and in our own strength that Satan gets the upper hand. Sons that know their identity stand strong in the midst of the greatest testing.
The Demonstration of Sonship – Jesus' Supernatural Ministry
It's interesting to note that Luke 4:1 says Jesus was filled with the Spirit but Luke 4:14 says He returned to Gallilee in the power of the Spirit. Jesus was filled with the Spirit before He was tested by Satan but walked in the power of the Spirit after He was tested by Satan. For the next three and a half years Jesus demonstrated the heart of the Father through supernatural demonstrations of power. Some people think healings and miracles are to showcase God's power. They certainly do demonstrate God's power but there is a much greater reason for them. The primary reason for healings and miracles is to showcase God's love. As a son Jesus demonstrated His Father. This is the privilege of all God's children.
After what Jesus did on the cross Christians can walk in demonstrations of power from the moment they are born again. But understand also that there are times and seasons when God promotes us to greater visibility. As we learn to endure the testings that come with this greater visibility the glory and power of sonship is demonstrated in even greater dimensions. This is not only true of us as individuals, it is also true corporately. The announcement of sonship from the Father isn't isolated only to individuals. It can also happen over a whole church, the churches in a city, the churches in a nation or even the international church. God has different prophetic time clocks for each church, city and nation. At present many sons are faithfully walking in a measure of kingom authority. However, God is about to announce sonship on an unprecedented level. There are many sons being prepared in hiddeness at this present time for an unprecedented demonstration of kingdom authority on the earth. The Father will be known through His sons.
A Strategic Revelation
The most important thing for you to know is this: As a Christian you already walk under an open heaven. There is phenomenal supernatural activity all around you whether you realise it or not. Sons are hungry for the tangible manifestations of revival we read about in the bible, from throughout history and also from the present day (Matthew 5:6). But sons also know that they walk under an open heaven.
Jacob was a son of covenant. This automatically meant that he was surrounded by intense supernatural activity. Jacob had no idea about this spirit realm activity. Without this revelation he did some stupid things and ended up in real trouble. In fact he got himself in so much trouble he had to flee for his life. At this point he had a profound, life changing dream.
Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you." Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" (Genesis 28:12-17).
Jacob's dream awakened him to the intense supernatural activity that was all around him as a son of covenant. This supernatural activity already surrounded him before he had the dream! The dream simply made him aware of that which already was. Jacob's natural fear was turned into godly fear and awe simply because he saw the supernatural activity that surrounded him.
Like Jacob you are a son of covenant. You walk under an open heaven. God wants you to know that. As Paul exhorted the Colossians, Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). One of the biggest keys to coming into the full maturity of sonship is knowing that you walk under an open heaven. As you deliberately focus on the movement and activity in the spirit realm your spiritual vision becomes clearer. It is your inheritance to know the same reality that Jacob saw in his dream. The revelation of sonship will set you radically free to live in the supernatural inheritance God has for you.
© 2014 Nathan Shaw.
Back to Articles.