The Battle for the Throne

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - Recovery in Christ

Reading: Psalm 8:1-6; Hebrews 2.

The effects of the fall are in two realms:

1. Inward, spiritually and morally. Our thought is particularly in connection with government. While we speak about the prophet and the priest, it is the king, the governmental side of things, which is mainly in view, and here the fall has brought about this inward loss spiritually and morally in the realm of government, authority, dominion.

2. Then outward. Of course, that is obvious, that man has lost the dominion which God gave to him and entitled him to have over the world in every kingdom.

Man has all these centuries been seeking to recover that mastery, and inasmuch as the government of this world is purely upon what is spiritual and moral, when man has attained his greatest success outwardly he finds himself a defeated man, and still incapable of governing the world. Is it not a remarkable thing that in this day when outward mastery has attained such a considerable point of advancement, the moral government of this world is so very backward? The real government and dominion is a spiritual and a moral thing before it can be wholly and fully according to God's mind.

Let us note the course of things. Man created and constituted for dominion, but conditioned. The condition, even when he is constituted for dominion, is absolute obedience and allegiance to God. Then that dominion lost in the fall, and the consequences of that.

Now we come to two other things which are fresh points from now onward.

Recovery in Christ

All that was lost in the fall in man's constitution and in man's appointment or calling or vocation, has been recovered in the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to get behind that, because here we touch the magnificence of this whole matter. I said at the commencement that in the eternal intention of God the whole issue of universal dominion was centred in His Son, the Lord Jesus. It was not first of all centred in Adam. If it had been, when Adam surrendered it, it would have gone for ever, there would have been no recovery at all, but it was centred in Christ. Therefore, although the means brought in for its expression may fail, its source will remain. The Head in which it is gathered up abides, it is not lost. God's security against the total loss by the fall is His Son, and Christ is eternally God's security and ours. It was preserved in Him. These elements are eternal elements; that is why I have been so careful to stress that these are not mere phases, and these are not merely temporary or periodic things. They are eternal, they came out of the very nature of God when He said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," and proceeded to do so. He 'made' with these constituents: prophet, priest and king. That is what God is - a spiritual mind, a righteous heart, a spiritual government; and He constituted man upon that basis, according to those principles in His own Eternal Being.

Man may fail, but God never fails, and so these things, being eternal, are indestructible, and they are secured for expression in the Lord Jesus, as above time and above history. Do you not see what a great revelation it was that was given to the apostle Paul about the eternity of Christ, and the eternity of God's purpose? That revelation was lifted clean out of history, clean out of the course of this world, and put back into eternity. That revelation points to and links two eternities.

The first chapter of the letter to the Colossians is matchless, putting the Son right back in eternity, and showing everything as related to Him, not as incarnate but as eternal. Man was brought in as a means to be used for this expression. What a calling! What an honour! What a glory, that man should be chosen in relation to that eternal thing which was in the very being of God, to express it and to be constituted for that by God. But man fell, and that race lost it all in Adam. But it was not lost. It was still secured in that Eternal Head; it was still preserved as indestructible in God's Son. These things were not first in man, but in God. Man is but the means for expressing them.

Then Christ came, because God had not abandoned and was not going to abandon His intention as to the method of universally expressing that. He could have chosen angels to universally express these things. He could have made some special order other than man, but He had decided that it should be man. The Psalms and the Apostle use strange and wonderful words: "When I consider the heavens, the works of thy hands, the moon and the stars which thou hast made, what is man that thou makest mention of him, or the son of man that thou puttest him in charge" (that is the literal translation). That is God's eternal thought, intention, and even though Adam may fail, God does not abandon that thought, and so it must be recovered for man and it will be recovered for man by Man, but what a Man! The Lord Jesus came to recover - not for God, not in the Being of God, not something that God had lost out of His Being by Satan's interference - but to recover for man that which God purposed for him. Here is grace. Here is the wonder of salvation.

I think, beloved, if only we had a fuller presentation of the positive side of salvation it would not be necessary to preach hell fire to frighten people into salvation. Of course, the New Testament puts a very strong emphasis upon that, but, oh! to see what we are called to, what God has chosen us unto! Is not that an adequate motive for us to appreciate the grace of God in salvation? "So great salvation!" That is the word. It is the loss of that, which can make hell for us; and to wake up to what we have lost. Christ's work on the Cross was vicarious in this three-fold realm of prophet, priest and king. It was not only dealing with sin. It was that, but it was the recovery of the lost function of man. And when the Lord Jesus has accomplished His work in the Cross, and is raised by the Father from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is there as the Representative, Prophet, Priest, and King. And then the saints through being raised together with Him, are brought into fellowship with Him in that ministry.

The Cross - the Way to the Throne

Let us take that a bit at a time. THE issue, the final issue of Christ's work on the Cross is not only that our sins have been dealt with and put away. It is ultimately and pre-eminently and all-inclusively that it is made possible for us to come back to the Throne, to come back to all that the Throne means; to be kings and priests unto God, to be restored to spiritual dominion in this universe. And when any child of God through resurrection union with the Lord Jesus is linked with Him as there at God's right hand, and comes under the government of the Holy Spirit, their education begins in the school of how to reign, how to gain spiritual dominion. That is the whole explanation of our remaining here. It explains everything that the Lord allows to come into our lives.

The Lord is perfectly able to keep every bit of trouble out of our lives, every bit of opposition, persecution, suffering, trial, to keep it all out. Have you been asking Him to do it? You are asking Him to take your crown away if you do. By it He is teaching you to reign, He is developing in you and in me spiritual and moral government. Why has He left the devil about, and his whole hosts? To teach us how to reign! Are you sitting down under him, accepting him? God's thought for you is that you should have power, authority over all the power of the enemy. That is our calling, our vocation, and our function in union with the risen and ascended and enthroned Christ. That is the top stone of the testimony of Jesus. It is to that everything else points and leads in our relation to Him. What the Lord is seeking is to possess a people who, in relation with Him as enthroned, govern spiritually now. They will govern manifestly in the universe later.

Christ's work on the Cross was primarily in relation to man's fall and lost dominion, in order to recover it, He fought a battle in the Cross. It was not just meeting wrong, it was not only dealing with the fact of sin. This was not an abstract thing, to set up a standard of morality, an ideal for life. It was meeting hell; it was a conflict with the whole range of those principalities and powers, those spiritual intelligent forces which had wrested the dominion from man, and that dominion had to be restored. It was done in the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and it is in the hands of Christ, now risen and ascended: "All authority has been given unto me in heaven and in earth."

Fallen Man Cannot Reign

Now we must go back a bit. The fallen - now known as the natural - man can never occupy the Throne nor have dominion. He, as such, is fully and finally set aside. He has sought to exercise kingship. The devil has tried to make him a king: "All these will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." While that was said to Christ, it represents a principle of Satanic effort from the beginning. The devil has always followed that line in trying to make men kings without God, and the full expression of that effort of his will be Anti-Christ, Super-man; man representing universal government, control, authority, apart from God. But, as history has proved, and will prove right to the end, even Anti-Christ, that fallen or natural man, even Satanically energised, cannot have dominion according to God's thought. God has taken pains to make that clear. His inability to have dominion has all the way through been exhibited by God. His unfitness has been displayed. Oh! how God has, as it seems, gone out of His way to show man's inability in himself to reach any Divine standard.

We must keep to this one point of dominion, but look at the long dispensation of law. Did not God know right at the beginning when He gave the law what the end would be? Being God, He knew that the end of the dispensation of the law would be utter failure, because He knew man, and yet He gave the law. He gave the law deliberately, knowing full well what the end of it would be. Then, you say, if God knew that the end would be failure, why did God do it? God did it in order that man might come to know himself, his inability. It has taken centuries of history in man's experience to bring him to the place where he knows that this thing is not in him. And so God paves the way for His Son. Somehow or other the Lord has to bring that home to us, with a period of experience, before we fully accept it. We might take it mentally, and say we agreed with it, but then God puts us into the place for a few months where we are tested out, and the end of that severe test is, Lord, if you do not do this thing it will never be done! Put me up against the devil and see how much good I am! Put me up against the law and see if I can keep it! No! it is not in man. That is the verdict. God has demonstrated that through long periods of practical history, based upon that very fact. And we have outstanding illustrations of it.

An Historic Example

We might take one example in the particular realm in which we are moving, as to dominion. Look at Saul, the king. He is a good illustration. Saul humanly and naturally is a very fine specimen. When they looked at Saul they saw that he was head and shoulders above any other man in Israel, and the naturally minded acclaimed Saul a magnificent specimen of what a king ought to be, and they shouted, "God save the king." Well, that is man at his best. Now he has come to the throne. How will it work out? I know that there is a problem as to the anointing of Saul, that God anointed him to be king, and I want you to recognise a difference. There is always a big difference between God's sovereignty and God's grace, or between common grace and saving grace. God acted in sovereignty over Saul, in what we call "common grace." God is Sovereign of this universe, and He can do as He likes, and within the compass, the range or realm of His sovereignty He operates in common grace, that is, what He does in sovereignty is to work in a general way toward His ultimate end, in order to bring in what is according to His mind. That is common grace. Christ is governing this whole thing, and His government is in common grace. The end will be to the glory of God, the end will be that Christ comes back into His own. That is common grace.

Saving grace is quite another thing. It is in the universe at large that sovereignty operates and common grace is at work, but it is only amongst the saints that saving grace is at work. I am touching Saul; the problem of his anointing. In the sovereignty of God and in the common grace of God he was anointed at the command of God. How will this common grace in sovereignty turn out? It will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the natural man at his best cannot govern, and when you have come to that conclusion you have opened the way for saving grace. Do you see that? That is, you have cleared the way for God's king when you have got man's king out of the way, but you will never have a way for God's king until man has tried and failed. That is the nature of things, that you are never prepared to have God's thought until your own thought has broken down. That is how this world is in the fall. God will never get a chance until all other chances have been tried out by man, but that is the common grace of God. He lets them try it out, with a view to establishing His own thought eventually. There is no question about it when you get there. You will say, with a good deal of experience, I have come to the place where I have tried everything else and it has failed, but this is it. If this had come first I might have had something in the background, something up my sleeve.

And so God, in common grace and sovereignty allows Saul to be anointed as a very bright specimen of men. And it is not very long before this natural man at his best is shown to be quite incapable of ruling. He represents the trial of the natural man in relation to government, his unfitness to rule is very soon manifested. He is given a few tests, and what comes out? The word of the Lord through Samuel is: "I remember that which Amalek did to Israel." "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy..." He is put to the test, as to whether he will govern, whether he is fit to govern. Spiritual government is conditioned by absolute obedience and allegiance to God. That is the principle of spiritual government. Now he is being tried on that principle. You know the result. He did not utterly destroy Amalek, he spared the best of the flock and the herd. He excused himself by saying that he spared the best of the flock and the herd for sacrifice, but Samuel said: " obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." And Saul lost his office before God because he had proved that spiritually he was unfit to hold it, that is, he could not keep the kingship because he was not constituted for it.

The Kind to Reign

Who is the man that will reign? It is significant to notice that it was for forty years that Saul kept the name of king. Spiritually he had never held the position, but even under God's recognition in that realm he had only held it for three years, and then thirty-seven years he was spiritually and morally out of that realm altogether. But he kept the official title for another thirty-seven years, making forty years in all. Forty is always a time of probation, and here is the natural man at his best, proving his unfitness to reign throughout a perfect period of testing. That is an illustration, a type. Now the man who will reign, who is he? I will not take a type at this point, but will take the principles. He is the one who is joined to the Lord inwardly. There is the Lord Jesus exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on High, a Prince and a Saviour. Who will reign? Who will come to spiritual dominion? Those who are joined to Him inwardly. Cover the whole range again - the prophet, the priest and the king. We have said that these all go together, and form a whole, and the two lead to the other, the third, the throne.

The Prophet

The Prophet leading to the throne. What is that spiritually in the New Testament? It is simply this, "We have the mind of Christ." The prophetic function is the spiritual mind. The spiritual mind is related to the throne, it leads on to the Throne, and that is what Paul meant when he said, "We have the mind of Christ." "To be spiritually minded is life..." Now, go back to your New Testament with the spiritual mind in your thought, and you will see that it is a feature of the Throne, it brings you to a place of spiritual ascendancy. Let us put that quite simply. Who are the people who will really be in the place of advantage, of spiritual power, who will be looked up to? Amongst men they may be the weakest, the most foolish, nothing to look at; everything that man would set aside and ignore, and yet [there is] something about them that demands attention, something about them that cannot be ignored, something to be reckoned with. You have to say, there is something about them, and when they speak there is something in what they say, and it comes to pass, it is true, you cannot get away from it, you cannot close your eyes to it. What is it? They know the Lord. They have a spiritual knowledge of the Lord. Despise them if you will amongst men, but that thing is something dominant spiritually, and you have to bow to it. There is the prophet, the spiritual mind. The spiritual mind represents something of the Throne, it relates to the Throne.

The Priest

It is a matter of the heart, righteousness, or that abandoning of the heart to what God desires. It is a quality, but it is a mighty quality. Righteousness is a strong thing, it is always represented as a strong thing in the Word of God. It is the brass, and brass is a very powerful thing. You cannot resist brass, the fire cannot overcome the brass, the altar of whole burnt offering is of brass, and the fire is kept burning perpetually. It is righteousness, and there is something about real righteousness of the heart which speaks of the Throne. It is a governing thing.

Now you see that these two things represent spiritual links with the Lord Jesus inwardly.

The King

He is King there, because He was so utterly abandoned to God's will. Who are those who reign? Those who are one with Him in the will of God, who have the Spirit of Christ in them, consuming them unto the will of God! Find the men and the women who are wholly, utterly in the will of God, and you cannot do anything with those men and those women. On the plain of nature they may be nothing, but they are a dominating factor in the spiritual realm, and you know quite well that you cannot turn those lives round as you like, they are in the will of God and they govern spiritually, morally. It is the Lord Jesus in what He is as Prophet, Priest and King, exercising Himself, expressing Himself in and through the saints spiritually.

Spiritual Dominion is Universal

It is not merely in this world of flesh and blood. What can the devil do with a man or woman who knows the Lord? What can the powers of darkness do with a man or woman who has the righteousness of Christ as a breastplate over the heart? What can the adversary do with a man or woman who is utterly bound by the will of God? What can he do with the Lord Jesus? When we come into that position, we reign in the spiritual realm. If you are going to try and find some defence against the enemy as the Accuser in yourself, as to your goodness, well, the Lord has taken a big lump of history to prove that that cannot be done and in the end man is hopeless. Are you still trying to find some good with which to beat the devil? You had better give it all up. Do not go on for he will worst you, he will pulverise you, in the end you will be good for nothing. The sooner you stand with both feet on what Christ is there for you, the sooner you are coming into spiritual dominion over the devil. Then you will be in the place of, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" - even the Accuser - "and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." That is an impregnable position against the devil. It is the way of the Throne, it is dominion!

Reigning by Christ

Now, this man, to reign, is reconstituted by Christ. That is, that constitution for government in the new creation is the Holy Spirit making Christ over to the believer. We are reconstituted, created anew, and we are created anew for this ultimate purpose - dominion. It is not going to be office. Do not get an external mentality about reigning on thrones later on. This thing is intensely real as a spiritual thing. The throne, the crown, the dominion, is fundamentally and preeminently spiritual, and we are to be constituted for it, not appointed to it, and we are constituted for it by Christ. You see what I said at the beginning, that out from what God was, there came into man that which constituted him for dominion. Now in the new creation, out from what Christ is as in the Throne there is brought by the Holy Spirit the constituents for dominion. "Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inward man." That is a constituent of Christ to make us govern. The Holy Spirit taking of His things and revealing them unto us. That is spiritual revelation, to bring us into a governing position spiritually, the Holy Spirit making good for us, to us, His righteousness, the righteousness which is of God by faith. That brings you to the throne, dominion over the power of the enemy. It is a very real thing, it is not just a picture. That is what is going on in us. It is simply that we are being constituted according to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. Those things which are in Christ there, are being imparted to us, and developed in us, and what we have to do day by day and hour by hour is to draw upon Christ, in order to maintain our position of spiritual ascendancy.

Am I weak? That is not the criterion. He is strong, and by faith I reach out to make His strength perfect in my weakness. Am I foolish? Am I in a quandary? That is not the thing. He is perfect wisdom, made unto us from God, wisdom; and therefore I take from Him the wisdom that He is, to bring me up out of this position. It is what Christ is made over to us, constituting us to govern, and it will all be a matter of the measure of Christ as to how much we reign. The rank that we are going to hold in the coming universal reign of the Lord Jesus will just be the measure of Christ that we have. Let the Lord have a large place, live on Him, live out from Him, draw upon Him, make Him your everything. Learn day by day how to appropriate Christ by faith, how to repudiate what you are in yourself, and make what He is everything to you. That is the way of victory. Circling around yourself, looking into yourself, trying to find something; all that is simply grieving God, it is saying, in effect, to the Lord, 'Your Christ is not what You have said He is'. We must not malign God by bringing up our own natural state, continually holding it in view and hoping for something from it. We have got to learn to live on Him, the Christ of God. There is no other way of deliverance. Christ is the way, not has just made the way. He is the way, and as we apprehend Christ we shall move on in triumph, in victory.

He is the King. We have to live by His Kingliness, in dominion over every kind of force that would tyrannise here on this earth. The Lord give us to believe that the natural man has been set aside, and not to bother too much about him, not to take him so much into account in trying to find, hoping to find, something good in him. He is set aside and God has demonstrated that he is worthless through long generations, he cannot reign. But there is One Who can reign, and because of Him we can reign in life by that One Man, Christ Jesus.

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