Reading: Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:10; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 2:10; Hebrews 2:9; Ephesians 2:6; Numbers 23:21.
Christ enthroned! That means that God's end is reached. Do you notice what those words in Hebrews chapter 2 teach? "We behold Jesus... crowned with glory and honour... For it became Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, (the margin says, "having brought") to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings...". This teaches quite clearly that the enthronement of the Lord Jesus is the perfection of the Captain. He is first seen crowned with glory and honour, and then it says He is made perfect. We know that does not refer to Him as Son of God, but as Jesus the Son of Man. In the throne, then, the meaning of His enthronement is that He is perfect. It is the perfection of the Son of Man. God's end as to man is reached in Him; it is perfect. But God's end is reached in Him in His perfection as Captain of the salvation of many sons who also are to come to a like position and condition, to be perfected, to come to glory. Christ enthroned is God's end reached as to man. God's purpose is secured, and the many sons are secured unto perfection in His enthronement. It is a good thing to recognise that the glory is connected with the perfection. When you come to perfection according to God's mind you have come to glory. That clearly indicates that the destiny of man according to God's mind is glory and the glory comes when he is perfect and in Christ the perfection is secured. The marginal is quite one with the Ephesian tense which sees the thing done from God's side: "Hath made us to sit in the heavenlies in Christ"; "...having brought many sons to glory". From God's side, when Christ is there, we are all there; it is as good as literally done. It is secured. God's end is reached in the enthronement of the Lord Jesus.
Christ's enthronement links with the original thought of God as to man, and says most positively that God's purposes cannot be frustrated. It is a long history from the counsels of God, the projecting of the intention of God in the creation of man; it is a long history of the saddest, most tragic nature. It is a terrible history of the apparent triumph of God's enemy, of his success in making havoc of God's purpose. Many times in the course of the ages it would have been very easy to have despaired of there being anything of God in the creation at all. You find in the Bible various points and periods when it looked as though there was nothing left at all, that the imagination of the heart of every man was only evil. It looked like universal success of all that which came in to say, 'No', to God's intention, but over against all that Christ enthroned declares God's purposes cannot be finally frustrated. When God decrees, it does not matter how much and how long forces may rage and work against that decree; it cannot be set aside. "I will declare the decree, I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." That was prophetic. That is a Psalm written long years before the resurrection, ascension and enthronement of Jesus Christ; a Psalm, as you know, taken up several times in the New Testament in connection with Christ, showing that with God there is no time factor at all; it is complete from the beginning. Christ ultimately enthroned shows that there never was any question at all about God's purposes being open to destruction. That is strong, solid ground for our feet.
This also means that Christ enthroned sees every adversary and opposing element overcome. Not only do the decrees of God stand and the purposes of God remain impossible of being set aside, but everything that comes in, no matter what it is nor how much it is to work against those purposes, is destroyed when God has His King upon His holy hill of Zion. And if we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, we see in Him and in that fact the utter destruction of everything that has been set against God's purpose concerning ourselves.
We must seek to get our feet planted firmly upon the fact that Christ enthroned does mean that if there has been a universe of evil precipitated against God's intention for you and for me, all that has been defeated and overcome, for Jesus is enthroned! That is what it implies.
You notice that the Word teaches that His enthronement is because of what He has done in His suffering and death. "Wherefore, God highly exalted Him..." is linked with His obedience right to the point of death, even the death of the cross. He obeyed God step by step in all that that obedience to the Father required, even unto death, and that, the death of the cross. And that obedience took Him into the realm where He had to meet everything that had ever risen up in history to hinder God's purpose, and meeting it He overcame it. His enthronement is in view and in virtue of that overcoming. That is very simple, and it may seem elementary. But it is good for us to remember that this enthronement of the Lord Jesus is not just the automatic movement from earth to heaven, from heaven to earth and back to heaven again; it is a process of the operation of a tremendous force against a whole realm of antagonisms to their overthrow. He is in the throne as Man who has overcome everything that ever came in to hinder man reaching the destiny which God had fixed for him. That is our destiny. Our destiny is where Jesus is now, and as Jesus is now, crowned with glory.
Now we come more to the side of the church. The church is the elect vessel for the expression of Christ's enthronement. He is beyond the reach of the enemy. I suppose the enemy has given Him up, but he has not given the church up, and if the enemy can no longer touch the Head, he will turn upon the Body and assail it, which he has always done and which he is doing. There is no more hope of his success with the Body than there has been with the Head, but he knows quite well that we are still here in the flesh, cumbered about with a lot of the old nature, in the midst of a great deal that is very serviceable to him. He knows that we are here in training, that we are not yet perfected in ourselves. If by any means he can retard or arrest our progress towards that glorious destiny he will stand at nothing to do it, and so he assails us as he assailed the Lord Himself.
Certain necessities, therefore, arise for us, and the first of these is that the church should apprehend its place in the heavens in Christ. You and I should apprehend our place in the heavens by faith. It is declared to be a fact from the Divine side that Christ being in heaven, we are with Him. God regards the church, the elect vessel, as inseparable from its Captain, or its Head. There is no such thing as a division from the Divine side between the Head in heaven and the members on earth. As God sees it we are in Christ there, as God sees it we have reached the end. Therefore we are not allowed to raise such questions as to whether we shall ever get there, as to whether we shall ever get through. That is just what the enemy wants us to do. He constantly reminds us what we are in ourselves, and the hopeless state that we are in, and the hopeless mess that we are, to try and get us to accept the suggestion that we are going to fall by the way and we are not going to get through. In God's sight we are already through.
That is the faith that overcomes. It is the faith which advances to God's end realised in Christ, and anchors there. Today there may be a terrific storm and a great strain upon faith's cable; we see nothing. Paul in his first shipwreck, for many days saw neither sun nor stars. So it seems. There is no sign of heavenly government; all seems to have been blotted out in this terrific upheaval. It is often like that spiritually. The enemy threatens us and seeks to get us to doubt as to our getting through, to accept that we are going to be submerged and defeated; that the whole thing is a myth, the bottom has fallen out of it all and it is a terrible unreality. The church must say, "I stand by the grace of God in that place where there is no question about this after all. It is not left with us; it is settled in Christ in heaven."
It is a necessity for triumph, and for the expression of Christ's triumph in the church that the church takes that position. You and I can only be an expression of the Kingship of the Lord Jesus as by faith we take and hold to our position with Him in the heavenlies; that is, as we seek to stand into the position that there is no question as to the issue of this. The issue is victory. It is fixed. If Satan can pull the Lord Jesus from that throne and hurl Him down, then we have no ground for faith. But as long as it is impossible for Satan to undo the enthronement of the Lord Jesus, we in faith hold onto that and we are indestructible. The fact of His enthronement is manifested in the church.
In that connection there are two things to consider. I have usually found that when you speak about being seated together with Him in the heavenlies there is always a reaction to that. The inability to grasp its meaning results in people saying, 'Yes, but after all, you know, we are not in the heavenlies, we are here. That is all very well, but here we are on this earth, and things are as they are. It is very nice to contemplate that, but in reality we are here.' Well now, what position are you going to accept spiritually? Your own position, or God's position? Your own view, or God's view? What we are in ourselves, or what we are in God's sight? Where we are in ourselves, or where we are according to His mind?
That is why we referred to Numbers 23 at the beginning of this meditation. Israel is in the wilderness. The story of Israel in the wilderness is a sorry story. It is a story of failure and weakness. It is a pitiable story when you read it in the light of what they were in themselves. Oh, these things that Balaam is made to say about Israel, how utterly untrue they are. Yes, they are untrue if you are looking at Israel as to what Israel is as a people in themselves, but that is how God looks at Israel in virtue of certain things. You see just before this the serpent has been lifted up, and then the springing well has broken forth. Where the curse has been removed the Spirit has broken in, and in view of the cross and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the people, God sees them in another way. "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob." I think that is one of the most wonderful statements in the Bible. If there is a more wonderful statement, it is: "I am the God of Jacob." Of all the mean and contemptible men in Holy Writ, Jacob was the meanest. "I am the God of Jacob"; "The God of Jacob is our refuge." If Jacob can find refuge, then we can. No one need despair if He is the God of Jacob. Now this is God's point of view.
If Balaam could have depicted Israel according to Israel's own natural colours he could have gone the whole length in cursing Israel, but because he was compelled to depict Israel according to God's thought, in virtue of the blood and the Spirit, there was no place for a curse, and he had to come to the point where he said: "...and the shout of a king is among them." What is that? That is victory; all the work of the enemy is destroyed. There is no place for a curse; Satan cannot bring them under condemnation. "The shout of a king is among them." It is victory, and you only get victory when you look at things through God's eyes, with the blood. It is the efficacy of the blood having been sprinkled and the Spirit of God having come to reside within that makes that possible. When the blood is there, and the Spirit is there, there is the shout of a King; victory over all the attempt of the enemy to bring into judgement and under a curse. Our power of ascendancy over all the work of the enemy is to ever keep in view how God views us in Christ, not in ourselves. Sit down and begin to take account of yourself as you are, and Satan will soon triumph over you. Keep holding on to that ground of where you are in Christ and the shout of a King is in the midst. That is the meaning of Christ enthroned.
That which might be only ideal and theoretical has got to be made spiritually real and that is what the Lord is doing with us. The ideal may be, 'Yes, we are in the heavenlies, seated with Christ, and the Lord is at work to make it so.' God never accepts mere ideals, and He certainly never accepts mere theories. Doctrinal positions are no good to God; actual positions are the only things that He will have. Our training under the hand of God is all to teach us how the fiercest assaults of the enemy only issue in ascendancy. There is the love of God. How we have retarded our own spiritual progress! How we have kept ourselves in defeat by our reaction to the Lord's permissive will in allowing the enemy to assail! The Lord has allowed a time of fierce assault of the enemy, when everything has seemed to be brought to an end, under eclipse, and in the fire doubts and questions and bad feelings have arisen. But in His grace He has brought us out into a place of enlargement and a place of blessing through that. The reaction then was, "Oh, why did I question the Lord? Why did I doubt the Lord? Why did I not rejoice in it, and thank the Lord for it?"
A few experiences like that have steadily, gradually begun to bring about this position - "Oh, here is another assault, here is another bad patch; nevertheless we shall come out higher up, further on, there is some gain coming out of this!" That kind of thing has started to grow, and the Lord has been at work seeking to produce that.
Some of you have got to the place where you can enter into the darkest and most fierce experiences from the devil, and in going through you never wavered for a moment; you rejoiced as though you had all the spoils of the battle already. But the point is this, the Lord is seeking to train us to get there, and what is the meaning of that? It means that we have already in faith reached the place of Christ enthroned. That is, we have fully apprehended the fact that this is not defeat; this is victory. We are learning to reign in and through all that the enemy is allowed to do. In this way the Lord is using the enemy for our training. This is how He turns things upon the enemy and uses him to manifest in the church the very victory of Christ, which Satan intended to set at naught. That is sovereignty; that is the throne set up in the church.
"That now unto the principalities... by the church may be known the manifold wisdom of God." I suppose our wisdom would say the best thing to do is to finish the devil right off in one stroke, and get rid of him, but God's wisdom says, 'No! I will use him to realise the very end that he is seeking to defeat.' Only God knows how to do that. God can override with a superior wisdom all that cunning, wit and diabolical ingenuity of Satan. God can so override with a superior wisdom as to make it serve His very end. That is the wisdom of God, but it is being displayed in the church. When the members of Christ's Body pass into such times, and have an awful experience of suffering and adversity at the hands of the enemy, and a weak saint looks up to the Lord and says, 'Lord, I am having a bad time, but I know I am coming out alright and this is not going to be loss but gain; it is not going to be defeat but victory; this is not going to be greater weakness but greater strength', then the very throne of the exalted Christ is, in essence, in that very action. That is a display of Christ's exaltation and enthronement, and the Lord is thus using the church to express the Kingship of His Son.
This is all very practical. We do not open ourselves to anything by what we say, but we recognise what the Lord is doing. Faith is being trained to take the position of Christ's victory as to God's purpose in every assault and trial, so that it may be made known how exalted Christ is. If our course were without trial and without adversity, there would be no occasion for the victory of Christ to be displayed, and while we are here, that victory is being made known.
It is that to which Paul refers when he says: "Thanks be unto God who leads me on from place to place in the train of His triumph, to celebrate His victory over the enemies of Christ." In the train of His triumph! The triumph is in front. I am following on in the triumph. The victory is not to be gained; it is to be celebrated in every place. That is triumphant faith. Oh, that I would always look at things like that. I see Paul going from place to place and in every place his life was a prey unto him. Oh, the tremendous difficulties that met him in every place. Looked at naturally it was anything but a triumphal procession, but he viewed it like that. We may say, 'This is a difficult place, this is Satan's triumph, this is a stronghold of the devil, this is a manifestation of the power of the enemy!' Not at all! This is a place for the celebration of the victory. That is how the apostle Paul faced these situations. How far you have got there I do not know. I do not profess to have got there, but I see that this is what the Lord is seeking to do in me, and in the saints, in the church, that through trial and adversity these things only issue in advancement.
When the people were going into battle it was not the Field Marshal, the militant Captain who came to the front and made a proclamation and gave an address to the troops; it was the priest. Therein is this significance, that it is He who has triumphed by the blood, and whose triumph by the blood is the basis of victory, who governs all our conflicts. He is in His victory there as King, because of the priestly work of the blood of the Lamb.