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The Cloud of Witnesses in the Courts of Heaven: Partnering with the Council of Heaven for Personal and Kingdom Breakthrough
by Robert Henderson
Learn More | Meet Robert Henderson
Dimensions of the Spirit
ONE of our greatest challenges as believers is believing in the unseen realm. When you stop to think about it, it seems crazy that this would be such a challenge. As Christians our belief system is rooted in the understanding that the unseen dimension influences and even controls the seen realm. Yet if we allow nature to take its course, we allow the natural world to dominate our view of life. There is, however, a very real spiritual dimension that is unseen by most. This realm has to be entered by faith. As extraordinary as this may seem, we all actually have the ability to function there. Hebrews 12:22-24 accurately describes a spiritual, unseen dimension we are called to and have already come to:
- But you have come to Mount Zion and to the
city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
to an innumerable company of angels, to the
general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all,
to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus
the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the
blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than
that of Abel.
This Scripture lists many things we have been granted access into in the spirit realm. Most of the time we would see Scriptures like these and place them in a theological statement category. I, however, think this is a mistake. These kinds of Scriptures are not just theological statements, they are to be spiritual experiences. The writer of Hebrews is seeking to express to us activity in the spiritual unseen realm we should expect to encounter. When it declares we have come to these, it is unveiling operations and functions of a heavenly realm. Because we have come to them, there is the implication that we are in the spirit realm where they are. This is not just a theological statement or brainteaser. This is to be a spiritual experience and even encounter in these dimensions.
To really appreciate this concept, we should realize that the book of Hebrews is a very mystical book. The term “mystical” might scare some believers. Collins Dictionary lists the definition of “mystical” as relating to or based on intuition, contemplation, or meditation of a spiritual nature. It also can involve that which is mysterious. Wikipedia describes “mysticism” as the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them.
When I think of something being mystical, I think of it being super-spiritual for today’s Church. Yet the book of Hebrews, which was accepted into the canon of Scripture, makes some pretty mystical claims. It speaks of angels, unseen priesthoods, blood that is speaking, a celestial Judge, a Mediator securing salvation, and a company of people who have died yet are still alive in a heavenly dimension. When we look from this perspective, it can seem really challenging to the level of spirituality of most believers today.
However, I believe it is God’s intent to bring the Church into a new level of spirituality. If we are not careful, we will reduce our experience down to only what can be explained logically. This will produce in us what Paul warned Timothy of in Second Timothy 3:5 concerning the last days and the people of that era:
- Having a form of godliness but denying its
power. And from such people turn away!
I take this to mean we look religious, sound religious, and seem religious, but there is no power associated with us. John G. Lake, the great minister who shook South Africa with the healing power of God and formed the healing rooms in Spokane, Washington, that allowed it to be declared the healthiest city in America in his day said, “Christianity is not a philosophy, it is a power.” He further stated this is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. At our core, we believe our Founder, after being brutally beaten and mutilated to the point of being unrecognizable, rose from the dead and is now in Heaven standing on our behalf. This is pretty mystical when you stop and think about it.
Our problem is, traditional Christianity has made us consider anything that has a twinge of mysticism attached to it as weird and to even be afraid of it. This has kept us bound with logic, intellectualism, and rationale rather than being the supernatural people we are to be. Again, the book of Hebrews implies that we are this kind of people. Hebrews 2:11-13 speaks of us and Jesus being joined in a spiritual connection:
- For both He who sanctifies and those who are
being sanctified are all of one, for which reason
He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise
to You.” And again: “I will put My trust in
Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children
whom God has given Me.”
This speaks of us having the same DNA as Jesus. In the natural, what makes people siblings is having the same parents. This is what results in the same or similar DNA being in those who are related. You and I have the same stuff in us as Jesus. We have the divine nature of God in us. The same nature of God in Jesus is now in us. Jesus is therefore not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. Notice the last part of the Scripture mentions that we are also His children whom God gave to Him.
The following is from Isaiah 8:18 that further explains the DNA that is part of us by our new birth:
- Here am I and the children whom the Lord has
given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel
from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in Mount
As children who carry the same DNA as Jesus, both as His siblings but also as children given to Him by God, we are created for signs and wonders. We are made for the supernatural. We must stop denying who we are and embrace these dimensions and realities. Part of this supernatural realm we are to walk in is described in the Hebrews verses previously mentioned. We are meant to walk among all the spiritual activity mentioned in this realm.
The first thing mentioned is we have come to Mount Zion. This is the name of the dimension of the spirit we have come to. Everything mentioned after that is the activity of that dimension. We will get into this so we can see that the Great Cloud of Witnesses is part of a major operation from the heavenly realm. Mount Zion is a dimension of the spiritual realm. Clearly when we read that we have come to Mount Zion, the writer is not speaking of boarding a plane and flying to Israel. Coming to Mount Zion is speaking of stepping into a supernatural realm where all sorts of heavenly activity is occurring. Mount Zion is several things in the spirit realm. It is the place of His presence. Psalm 76:1-2 tells us that God dwells in Zion:
- In Judah God is known; His name is great in
Israel. In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His
dwelling place in Zion.
One of the ways we know we have come to Mount Zion, is that we suddenly sense His presence in the atmosphere. This is because He dwells in Zion. Psalm 132:13 tells us that God has chosen Zion as the place of His habitation:
- For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it
for His dwelling place.
There are many different ways to discern what is happening in the spiritual realm. One can see, hear, feel, smell (discern), and even taste. All five of the natural senses have spiritual correlations. I have experienced all five of these means of deciding what is occurring in the spirit realm. I, however, am much more of a hearer and a feeler. I can sense or tell when I have stepped into Mount Zion in the spirit world because I feel the atmosphere change. I become aware of His presence and of His closeness. This is because He has chosen Zion as His desired place of habitation. When I sense this, I know I am now standing among varied heavenly activity.
Another characteristic of Mount Zion is it is a place of government. When we step into Mount Zion, we are moving into a place where our activity does more than change things concerning just us. Our activities in this realm can actually alter cultures and shift nations. Psalm 110:1-2 shows that the rod of God’s strength comes out of Zion:
- The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right
hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out
of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
From this spiritual realm called Mount Zion, God sends forth His rulership through us. This means that a Kingdom manifestation begins to be seen on the earth. God through us from Zion begins to rule in the midst of His enemies. Out from the place of His habitation and presence, His authority is manifested and seen. Another part of Mount Zion that we step into is a resting place. Psalm 132:13-14 says:
- For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it
for His dwelling place: “This is My resting place
forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.”
When we step into Zion as a spiritual dimension, we step into God’s resting place. This is important because rest is a dimension of the spirit in and of itself. Hebrews 4:9-11 speaks of a place of rest in the spirit world:
- There remains therefore a rest for the people of
God. For he who has entered His rest has himself
also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest
anyone fall according to the same example of
There is a rest that God is still waiting for a people to move into. In this place of rest, we no longer strive in our own efforts. Everything is done through the impetus of the Holy Spirit. Rest is not just a place of quietness. Rest is a place of rulership. When we step into this realm of Zion, from this dimension a whisper can change nations. Jesus is sitting in perfect rest at the right hand of the Father. Hebrews 10:12-13 declares He is waiting until His enemies are subdued and become His footstool:
- But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice
for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of
God, from that time waiting till His enemies are
made His footstool.
Jesus is confident in His sacrifice and work. He is now waiting until His people, His Church, take all He has done and subdue every enemy under His feet. He is at rest! When we step into this same arena of rest, from this place all enemies are subdued. The Lord is teaching us how to operate out of Zion from this place of the rest of the Lord.
Within Mount Zion are all kinds of spiritual activity. As we move into this place we have come to, we can encounter and agree with this realm. Joshua, the High Priest in Zechariah 3:7, was told he could walk among this activity:
- Thus says the Lord of hosts: “If you will walk in
My ways, and if you will keep My command,
then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places
to walk among these who stand here.”
As High Priest, Joshua was being granted access into this realm where all this heavenly activity was happening. He was being given the right to function here in agreement with what was occurring in the spirit realm. So have we as New Covenant kings and priests. Other Scriptures, for example Hebrews 12:22-24, tell us what activity is going on in Mount Zion. We have come to the heavenly city, New Jerusalem. We know that the heavenly city is the bride of the Lord. Revelation 21:9-10 shows us this city coming out of Heaven, which is the bride of the Lamb:
- Then one of the seven angels who had the seven
bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said
to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the
Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the
Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me
the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out
of heaven from God.
This bride that is a city, which is a people, the Church, is in perfect union with the Lord. Galatians 4:26 shows she is the lover of the Lord, but is also the mother of us all:
- But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the
mother of us all.
In other words, the bride’s union with Jesus as the Bridegroom causes conception and birthing of things onto the earth. We have come to and are part of this bride who conceives and gives birth. We carry in intercession and travail the passions and purposes of the Lord to full term. We then birth His pleasure on the earth. We have come to this people that is this city in the spirit realm.
We have also come to an innumerable and festal company of angels. As we step into these dimensions of the spirit, we enter the territory of angels. They are helpers and messengers of God. They are also to minister to the heirs of salvation. Hebrews 1:13-14 says they are here to minister to us who are receivers of salvation:
- But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit
at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your
footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits
sent forth to minister for those who will inherit
Angels are here to help us, empower us, and work in agreement with us for God’s purposes. We have come to this dimension where they are.
We have also come to the governmental people of God called the Church. This people are registered in Heaven. This means they are recognized. They have a right to stand before the Lord in His Courts and council and petition Him even on behalf of nations. We are part of this company. This company is made up of what is on earth and in Heaven. Ephesians 3:14-15 tells us the whole family is named and recognized by the Father:
- For this reason I bow my knees to the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole
family in heaven and earth is named.
The interesting thing to me here is that God recognizes both who is in Heaven and who is on earth as part of the family called the Church. It takes both the heavenly and the earthly working together to constitute the Church. We on earth must learn to recognize the heavenly and move in agreement with it. The Church is not just what is on earth. It also includes what is in Heaven. When Heaven and earth agree together, the earth is changed!
We have also come to God the Judge of all. As Judge, decisions are rendered because of our activity before Him in the council and the Courts of Heaven. We can petition the Lord in His position as Judge and see these decisions released that causes life to shift on the planet. Judges only render verdicts as a result of testimony presented. As we come to stand in this place called Mount Zion, we present cases and information that allow the passion of the Judge to be fulfilled.
We have also come to the spirit of just men and women made perfect. This is a reference to the Great Cloud of Witnesses. We will discuss this in more depth in a later chapter.
We have come as well to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant. Through His intercession for us, we are able to enter into all that He died for us to have. Hebrews 7:25 says He ever lives to intercede:
- Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost
those who come to God through Him, since He
always lives to make intercession for them.
Jesus not only died for us, He is ever praying to see that we move into the full benefit of it. Jesus, and His intercession as our Mediator and High Priest, is the means to fully experience all that He provided for us from His sacrifice. We have come to the blood of sprinkling that is speaking for us. Just like Abel’s blood cried out against Cain after Cain killed him, the blood of Jesus is crying out for us and our redemption. The blood of Jesus is releasing testimony on our behalf, giving God the legal right He needs to forgive us.
God has always had a heart and desire to forgive. He, however, needs a legal right to do it from. This is why in the Old Testament the priest had to offer the blood of bulls and goats. The testimony of that blood gave God the legal right to remove their sins from them for a year. Hebrews 10:1-4 shows us that this yearly offering of the Passover lamb could only grant the people a reprieve from judgment on a yearly basis:
- For the law, having a shadow of the good things
to come, and not the very image of the things,
can never with these same sacrifices, which they
offer continually year by year, make those who
approach perfect. For then would they not have
ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once
purified, would have had no more consciousness
of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder
of sins every year. For it is not possible that the
blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Not only did these sacrifices only suffice for a year, but they were a reminder of their sins from year to year. The people lived with a perpetual sense of guilt and shame. The blood of Jesus, however, doesn’t just cover and atone for our sins for a year—it cleanses them away forever. Hebrews 9:14 says that the blood of Jesus purges our conscience of the guilt and stain of sin. We are able to live our lives with a God consciousness and not a sin consciousness.
- How much more shall the blood of Christ, who
through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without
spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead
works to serve the living God?
We no longer live our lives under condemnation and guilt, but rather as new creations who have been cleansed from all our dead works! This is because the blood of Jesus is speaking for us and granting God the legal right to completely forgive and cleanse us.
This is what is in the spiritual dimension we have come to. We by faith agree with and attach ourselves to all that is functioning on our behalf in this realm. We will see in the coming chapters how the Great Cloud of Witnesses is connected to all this heavenly activity and is part of it.
In the ninth article of the Apostle’s Creed, we confess, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.” This is part of the Christian “Tradition” with a capitol T. The word “tradition” has become demonized progressively in the post-modern era, because the very mantra of the post-modern era is “There are no absolutes”— which, ironically, is an “absolute” statement that is therefore self-contradictory.
The post-modern era has questioned everything that preceded it and is responsible for calling into question every area of society where there are “institutions” (including the Church). Sadly, in a highly secular culture, the Church has bought into that line of thinking. The 12 Articles of the Apostle’s Creed are as relevant now as when they were recited by those being baptized in the early Church, including the doctrine of the Communion of Saints.
What exactly is the doctrine of the Communion of Saints? Very simply, it is threefold: 1) our communion as believers with the Triune God; 2) our communion with the Church Triumphant (the saints who have already gone on to their reward); and 3) our communion with the Church Militant (the saints on earth who continue to fight the good fight of faith while in their present earthly existence). The Communion of the Saints as an article of the Creed is not something dead and dry. In fact, it is an indication of the fervor and conviction of the early Church in their conviction of the mystical union between Christ and His Church, both on earth and in Heaven.
Robert Henderson tells some very powerful accounts of encounters he has experienced while asleep, that might for some sound strange and radical. However, a careful study of Church history, from its ancient origins until even now, reveals that what Robert has experienced is more common than we might have thought or realized. Encounters with those who have joined the Cloud of Witnesses in Heaven and have passed out of this life into the next are testified to throughout Church history.
Athanasius (AD 293-AD 373), who was the Bishop of Alexandria, also known as Athanasius the Confessor, one of the great Ante-Nicene Fathers and doctors of the Church, was the chief defender of Christian orthodoxy in the 4th Century against the heresy known as Arianism. While he experienced persecution by four Roman Emperors during his 45-year tenure as Bishop of Alexandria, it is his writings that gave shape to the future of the Church.
Arianism is the belief that Jesus was “created” by God. This heresy had spread through the entire Church. It challenged the very revelation of the Triune Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit—as revealed in the Sacred Text through Christ Himself. Athanasius was the key voice to the hammering out of the nature of “three Persons in one substance” in speaking of the Triune God.
This is important to know and substantiates the scholarship and the commitment Athanasius had to the Gospel. He penned these words among many others: “Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ rob God of his Word, like plunderers.” “Word” here is not Scripture, “Word” here is the Logos Himself, the Second Person of the Godhead, God of very God as it says in the Nicene Creed.
It is this great doctor and scholar of the Church, deeply committed and devoted to Christ, who in his own experience with the Triune life of the Godhead would say these words about the Communion of the Saints in His treatise, Against the Heathen:
- ...When the body lies in bed, not moving,
but in death-like sleep, the soul keeps awake
by virtue of its own power, and transcends
the natural power of the body, and as though
traveling away from the body while remaining
in it, imagines and beholds things above
the earth, and often even holds converse with
the saints and angels who are above earthly
and bodily existence, and approaches them in
the confidence of the purity of its intelligence;
shall it not all the more, when separated from
the body at the time appointed by God Who
coupled them together, have its knowledge of
immortality more clear? For if even when coupled with the body it lived a life outside the
body, much more shall its life continue after
the death of the body, and live without ceasing
by reason of God Who made it thus by His
own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The intent by those who believe that all things miraculous ceased with the completion of the Canon by the late 4th Century, is all too common in Western Evangelicalism. While the doctrine of the Communion of the Saints would not necessarily be a part of the argument against the ongoing demonstration of the Spirit in signs and wonders, because of the mystical nature of these kinds of experiences, it all-toooften is reduced to rational, scientific, Enlightenment explanations by those who essentially take the cessationist perspective.
Robert Henderson, transparently and genuinely shares experiences he has had, in relation to the Communion of the Saints, not unlike Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, and many, many others in the ancient Church, and throughout Church history. He is inviting you, in this book, to be aware that indeed, these kinds of experiences continue to happen in our lives, often when we least expect them to.
Robert speaks in clear and plain tones and makes his experiences accessible to all of us. The Cloud of Witnesses in the Courts of Heaven is written for the everyday person who is walking with the everyday God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
- —Dr. Mark J. Chironna
Church on the Living Edge
Mark Chironna Ministries
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