Vos: Man Belongs To Two Spheres

Man belongs to two spheres. And Scripture not only teaches that these two spheres are distinct, it also teaches what estimate of relative importance ought to be placed upon them. Heaven is the primordial, earth the secondary creation. In heaven are the supreme realities; what surrounds us here below is a copy and shadow of the celestial things. Because the relation between the two spheres is positive, and not negative, not mutually repulsive, heavenly-mindedness can never give rise to neglect of the duties pertaining to the present life. It is the ordinance and will of God, that not apart from, but on the basis of, and in contact with, the earthly sphere man shall work out his heavenly destiny. Still the lower may never supplant the higher in our affections. In the heart of man time calls for eternity, earth for heaven. He must, if normal, seek the things above, as the flower’s face is attracted by the sun, and the water-courses are drawn to the ocean. Heavenly-mindedness, so far from blunting or killing the natural desires, produces in the believer a finer organization, with more delicate sensibilities, larger capacities, a stronger pulse of life. It does not spell impoverishment, but enrichment of nature. The spirit of the entire Epistle shows this. The use of the words “city” and “country” is evidence of it. These are terms that stand for the accumulation, the efflorescence, the intensive enjoyment of values. Nor should we overlook the social note in the representation. A perfect communion in a perfect society is promised. In the city of the living God believers are joined to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, and mingle with the spirits of just men made perfect. And all this faith recognizes. It does not first need the storms and stress that invade to quicken its desire for such things. Being the sum and substance of all the positive gifts of God to us in their highest form, heaven is of itself able to evoke in our hearts positive love, such absorbing love as can render us at times forgetful of the earthly strife. In such moments the transcendent beauty of the other shore and the irresistible current of our deepest life lift us above every regard of wind or wave. We know that through weather fair or foul our ship is bound straight for its eternal port.

Geerhardus Vos | Grace and Glory, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth., 2020), 144.


Heidelberg Reformation Association
1637 E. Valley Parkway #391
Escondido CA 92027
The HRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

    Post authored by:

  • Heidelblog
    Author Image

    The Heidelblog has been in publication since 2007. It is devoted to recovering the Reformed confession and to helping others discover Reformed theology, piety, and practice.

    More by Heidelblog ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Amen. Can’t help but hear echoes of Col 3 and Hebrews all throughout this quote. May we be of such heavenly-mindedness as we look unto Jesus, remembering that, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb 13:14).

  2. Amen. “As the flower’s face is attracted by the sun” indeed! One thing you can’t help but notice when you read Biblical Theologians like Vos and M.G. Kline is their fervent longing for heaven and the new creation. It always bursts out as poetry in the midst of their prose.

    “In such moments the transcendent beauty of the other shore and the irresistible current of our deepest life lift us above every regard of wind or wave.”

    As Kline said in response to the criticism that his view of heaven was too pie in the sky: “Give me some more of that Pie!”

  3. Yes, more of this!

    We know one Man who walked this earth, one Man who was so completely heavenly minded that he was of incalculable earthly good. And we have not yet seen with our own eyes the fullness of that goodness, for that Man is He “[…] whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

    But we will see this goodness in the land of the living, for you know He comes to make all things new, so that no longer will it be said of man “[…] cursed is the ground because of you […]”, but instead “[…] blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it […].”

    Blessed assurance we have by that Man’s righteousness! So that even now, this very day, we who belong to both spheres can by faith see and confess aloud with Job “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

    Truly the LORD is a great God!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane, deny the gospel, advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession, or irritate the management are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.