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Christ's Dynamic Victory

Christ's Dynamic Victory

"Destined for the Throne" by Paul E. Billheimer

Christ's victory was not only legal, it was dynamic; that is, it was won by the application of irresistible force. Because He was "made sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21) on the cross, He was banished from God's presence as a loathsome thing. He and sin were made synonymous. In order to become a valid substitute He was compelled to satisfy the claims of justice by himself alone, against the cumulative sin of the whole world, as if He were actually guilty of the sum total of that sin. His soul was made an offering for sin, the sin of all the generations of mankind (Isaiah 53:10). Eternal justice could not survive if it merely ignored the sins of the race. That would make it a farce. Justice demanded that the full penalty for every sin of all mankind be paid by someone. No finite mind can ever comprehend the depth of anguish He endured on the cross. It is probably best described in the words of the prophet, "He hath poured out his soul unto death" (Isaiah 53:12). He suffered in our stead until the claims of eternal justice were fully met, as confirmed in Isaiah 53:11: "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied."

We marvel at Jesus' willingness to drink that awful cup of woe -- but we are in danger of forgetting that "God [the Father] so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." Jesus was not the only sufferer in the Godhead. It is impossible to imagine what the Father suffered when He had to forsake the Son of His love in order to provide a full atonement for us. This was the essence of Jesus' punishment and of the Father's sorrow. But the Father's anguish had not in just the foresaking reached its dreadful climax. Something of the cost to the Father is revealed in Romans 8:32: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,  how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Eternal judgment against sin could not be satisfied by merely turning His Son over to the insufferable tortures Satan inflicted on the cross. Justice required that the full fury of the Father's own wrath against the cumulative sin of the human race be poured out upon Him unto the uttermost without stint or reservation. (See Psalm 88)

Imagine what it must have cost the Father to wreak the full force of His wrath against the aggregate sin of all humankind upon the innocent person of His beloved Son. From this there was no escape for the Father. This fact was spelled out by Isaiah centuries before. "Yet it was the Lord's good plan to bruise him and fill him with grief. But when his soul has been made an offering for sin, then he shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again and God's program shall prosper in his hands. And when he [the Father] sees all that is accomplished by the anguish of his soul, he [the Father] shall be satisfied; and because of what he has experienced, my righteous Servant shall make many to be counted righteous before God, for he shall bear all their sins" (Isaiah 53:10-11, TLB). This was the immeasurable cost to the Father of obtaining a family of His very own, not only created, as were the angels, but also reborn into His own household. And since Jesus offered himself "through the eternal Spirit" (Hebrews 9:14), all the members of the Godhead shared equally in the cost of this amazing plan of redemption.

Christ's death for our sins -- His payment of the penalty declared against us -- was His legal victory whereby He erased Satan's legal claim to the human race. But Christ also won a dynamic victory. That is, when He was justified and made alive, adjudged and declared righteous in the Supreme Court of the universe, Satan, the arch foe of God and man, was completely disarmed and dethroned. Christ burst forth triumphantly from that age-old prison of the dead. Paul says the He "spoiled principalities and powers" and "made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15).

According to Webster's New World Dictionary,  "to spoil" means to "strip the hide from an animal," to "completely disarm a defeated foe," to "damage or injure in such a way as to make useless," to "destroy." This is what Jesus did to Satan. Death did its utmost to shackle Him, to keep Him permanently in its grip. All of the resources of the underworld were mustered to prevent His resurrection, but in vain. It was impossible for death to "keep its prey." In the words of the psalm writer, "He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder" (Psalm 107:16). From that struggle He emerged triumphant with the keys of death and of hell. "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:18).

Michelangelo has given us his conception of this event in one of his celebrated paintings. He shows the doorwat of that ancient prison unhinged at Jesus' command, with a demon crushed beneath the fallen portal. Truly, "death could not hold Him." An eloquent writer has described the resurrection scene and Christ's ensuing exaltation thus: "Forcing a mighty earthquake, He mounted up again to solid earth, the light of day, and to the world of breathing men. Up and up again through the rent clouds and the ranks of shouting angels and under the lifted heads of the everlasting doors, until He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. In the realms of space, in the kingdoms of the universe, in the regions of light or darkness, in the epochs of eternity, there are none to rival our Lord Jesus and now power that does not owe Him tribute. He has no uncounquered challenger. In the heavenlies, it seems there are thrones higher and lower and names more or less eminent, but He stands clear above them all. The Christ who died on the cross, who rose from the grave in human form, is exalted as a human being to share the Father's glory and dominion, is filled with God's own fullness, and made without limitation or exception Head over all things." Yes, today the One who is fully God and fully man sits on the throne of the universe.

Christ's Exaltation and the Church's Enthronement

When Christ took His seat in the heavens, He proved conclusively that Satan's devastation was complete, that he was utterly undone. Hell was thrown into total bankruptcy. Satan was not only stripped of his legal authority and dominion, but by an infinitely superior force was stripped of his weapons also. But this is not all. When Jesus burst forth from that dark prison and "ascended up on high," all believers were raised and seated together with Him. "But God...brought us to life with Christ...And in union with Christ Jesus he raised us up and enthroned us with him in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 2:4-6, NEB)

Identified With Christ

All humankind was identified with Him in death, but only those who believed are identified with Him in His resurrection and exaltation. In the mind of God every believer shares complete identity with Christ from the cross to the throne. According to the Word, we are crucified with Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, exalted with Him, and enthroned with Him (Romans 6 and Ephesian 2).

"We thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Corinthians 5:14). "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20, NAS). "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him" (2 Timothy 2:11).

We are not surprised that He  is exalted and enthroned in the heavens. What is difficult for us to comprehend is that we have been exalted with Him. Yet if "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17), it cannot be otherwise. We are not surprised that "all things have been put under his feet." What we have failed to comprehend is that as part of Him, His Body, all things are also legally beneath our feet. What we do not realize is that He is "the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1:22). This means that His headship over all things is assumed and held for the benefit of the Church and is directed toward His purpose for her.

We have underestimated the supreme importance of the Church in God's economy. She is the motive of all His activity from all eternity. He does nothing solely for His own sake. She is included as a full partner in all His plans. The Church is His Body, the fullness of Him that fills all things everywhere. He is not full or complete without His Church, which is His Body. This is true only because of God's voluntary self-limitation. In the absolute, God is wholly self-sufficient. He needs nothing and can be served by no one. Yet He has chosen voluntarily to limit himself in order that the Church share in His reign. It is true that the Body cannot function without the Head. It is just as true that the Head, by His own choice, will not function without the Body. Both are important to the accomplishment of His plan.

Identified with Christ in His Conquest of Satan

Through the new birth we are part of God's family. We are part of Christ. As part of Him, when He conquered the forces of darkness and left them disarmed and paralyzed before He arose from the dead, we who believe were participants in that victory. When He snatched the keys of death and hell from Satan, we were sharers in that triumph. When He ascended up on high and took His seat in the heavenlies, we were exalted with Him. Because Satan and all the hosts of hell are beneath His feet, they are likewise beneath ours. When He defeated Satan it was our victory; He did not conquer Satan for himself. The entire substitutionary work of Christ was for His Bride-elect, the Church. He became flesh and blood so that He, as an unfallen human being, could enter the conflict and overcome Satan for the benefit of His Bride. Satan's dominion over us ended at Calvary. He can lord it over us no more. Instead of his having power over us, we have been given authority over him. This is the meaning of our enthronement with Christ.

Satanic Guerrilla Warfare

One of our great difficulties, after we know who we are, is that under satanic pressure we so soon forget our position. Thus, when God permits Satan to throw his black mantle over our spirits, we tend to forget who we are. We are like the man James tells us about, who loos at his face in a mirror, and looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (James 1:23-24). We forget that we are actually a part of Christ and that Satan is subject to us. We unconsciously lapse into our old life of fear and defeat, seeing ourselves as we were and not as we are.

We must constatly remind ourselves and affirm that we are in Christ--and because Satan cannot touch Christ, he cannot touch us. "No one who has become a part of God's family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God's Son, holds him securely, and the devil cannot get his hands on him" (1 John 5:18, TLB). Satan wants the believer to forget that he is risen and exaulted with Christ, that he is now, in his spirit, united with Christ on the throne with all enemies under his feet. If we are held in bondage to demons of fear, sickness, disease, or limitation of any kind, it is only through ignorance of what Christ has done for us, or by forgetting who we are in Him. 

Affirmation of Identity

We can constatly remind ourselves of our identity by affirming: Because I am a part of Christ, "accepted in the Beloved," I hold the same place in the Father's bosom as Christ does. Because I am a part of Him, the Father loves me as much as He loves Christ. (See John 17:22-26.) Because I am a part of Christ, I have His wisdom--because He is made wisdom to me. (See 1 Corinthians 1:30.) Likewise I have His righteousness.

It is not only legal and theoretical, but in essential reality. "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. And so we should not be like fearful, cringing slaves, but we should behave like God's very own children...And since we are his children, we will share his treasures--for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering" (Romans 8:14, 17, TLB).

The Unlimited Potential of the Church

All of this is assurance that it is God's intention that the Church militant should walk in the same life, power, and divine liberty as Jesus walked. "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you." This "even so" suggests that we are sent under the same circumstances, with the same authority, and with the same resources as the Father sent the Son. God does not set any arbitrary limits to he Church's use of divine resources. He has made available all the Church's use of divine resources. He has made available all that He is to a believing Church. "Of his fulness have all we received" (John 1:16). "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). All limitation is on the part of the believer. One saint realized the full potential of walking with God, clear up to translation. What one man did by faith, it is conceivable that others may do. God has given us the keys of the kingdom of heaven, but He does not compel us to use them. He waits. The rest is up to us, His Church. In His triumph over Satan He has given us the needed weapons. How well we use them is up to us and may well determine our rank in the Bridehood.