Be an Incredible Christian!

In past blog posts, I have shared about “Throne Life,” life in the heavenly places in Christ. A.W. Tozer understood throne ways of being, thinking and living, expressing the paradox of this Throne Life in his book That Incredible Christian:

    “The Christian believes that in Christ he has died,

yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever.

He walks on earth while seated in heaven

and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here.

Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty

but on the ground is awkward and ugly,

so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places

but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born.

The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of heaven among men on earth

he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary.

That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy;

he loses his life to save it

and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it.

He goes down to get up.

If he refuses to go down he is already down,

but when he starts down he is on his way up.

He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong.

Though poor he has the power to make others rich,

but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes.

He has most after he has given most away

and has least when he possesses most.

He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest

and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin.

He is wisest when he knows that he knows not

and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge.

He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still.”

Tozer would challenge each of us to be that incredible Christian, to rise into the heavenlies above the world’s ways of being, thinking, and living. Live Throne Life to the highest and fullest!

Excerpted from Come Up Higher! Rediscovering Throne Life–The Highest Christian Life for the 21st Century by Paul L. King. Available for purchase at http://www.paulkingministries.com

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A Gateway to Heaven–The Lord’s Supper

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and I will dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

I have found great meaning and power in the Table of the Lord—Communion—the Special Manifest Presence of God. I discovered, too, that the early church fathers, saints, Puritans, and Holiness leaders viewed the Lord’s Supper as a divine connection between heaven and earth. Consider the many ways the Table of the Lord can take on new meaning for you from these classic Christian leaders.

An Open Heaven

Bernard of Clairvaux declared, “Through the blood flowing from the side of Christ, he threw open to us the gateway of heaven.” Puritan Thomas Watson wrote in similar fashion, “Through the Red Sea of Christ’s blood, we enter into the heavenly Canaan. . . . Christ’s blood is the key that opens the gate of paradise for us.” When we partake of Communion, we enter a portal into the heavenlies.

Jacob’s Ladder.

Another Puritan leader, Thomas Brooks, likened the Table of the Lord to Jacob’s ladder reaching from earth to heaven:  “The Lord’s Supper is a reciprocal exchange between Christ & a gracious soul. Communion is Jacob’s ladder, where you have Christ sweetly descending down into the soul—& the soul by divine influences sweetly ascending up to Christ.”

Raised to Dine with the King.

Fifth-century church father Chrysostom beckons us to dine in the heavenlies:  “Look, I entreat you, a royal table is set before you. Angels minister at that table. The King Himself is there. Do you stand gaping? Are your garments defiled, & yet you make no account of it? Or are they clean? Then fall down & partake!”

A Feast of Freedom.

More recently, the renowned preacher Lloyd John Oglivie likewise invites to dine with the King: “This is what it means for me to break the bread & take the cup. It means laying aside my prison garb to dine with the King. It means that I am set free to be the man God created me to be. To live life as it was meant to be lived. .  .  . I now invite you to this incredible feast of freedom.”

Celestial Blessings.

Puritan Thomas Watson described the Lord’s Supper as “a repository & storehouse of celestial blessings. . . . All the sweet delicacies of heaven are served at this feast.” Likewise, fellow Puritan Thomas Brooks expressed this poetically:

“Communion with God is . . .

a shield upon land,

an anchor at sea,

a sword to defend you,

a staff to support you,

balm to heal you,

a cordial to strengthen you.

High communion with Christ

will yield you two heavens,

a heaven upon earth,

And a heaven after death.

 Jesus invites us to open the door and let Him take us into a heavenly experience.  I encourage you to partake of the Table of the Lord at your next earliest opportunity, and to understand and experience Communion to a depth and height that you have never experienced before!

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The Power of Stillness

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Literally, this means, “Relax—cease striving—and know that I am God.” Stillness before the Lord spawns salvation—healing, security, well-being, wholeness, victory. Ironically, doing nothing in the presence of God actually accomplishes something.

Again David wrote, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother” (Psalm 131:2). A weaned child is no longer anxious, whining, or dissatisfied. It rests peacefully. William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, once wrote, “True silence is the rest of the mind, it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” When we are distressed, we become agitated, restless, or anxious. Being still quiets the storms raging within us.

More than a century ago A.B. Simpson wrote a wonderful poem called “The Power of Stillness,” in which he tells of his own experience of its renewing, restorative power:

Years ago, a friend placed in my hand a little book

which became one of the turning points of my life.

It was called True Peace.

It was an old medieval message,

and it had but one thought, and it was this—

that God was waiting in the depths of my being to talk to me

if I would only get still enough to hear His voice.

I thought this would be a very easy matter,

and so I began to get still.

But I had no sooner commenced than

 a perfect pandemonium of voices reached my ears,

a thousand clamoring notes from without and within,

until I could hear nothing but their noise and din.

Some of them were my own voice;

some of them were my own questions,

some of them were my own cares,

some of them were my very prayers.

Others were the suggestions of the tempter

and the voices from the world’s turmoil.

Never before did there seem so many things

to be done,

to be said,

to be thought;

and in every direction I was pushed and pulled,

and greeted with noisy acclamations and unspeakable unrest.

It seemed necessary for me to listen to some of them,

and to answer some of them;

but God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Then came the conflict of thoughts for tomorrow,

and its duties and cares,

but God said, “Be still.”

And as I listened, and slowly learned to obey,

and shut my ears to every sound,

I found after a while that when the other voices ceased,

or I ceased to hear them,

there was a still, small voice in the depths of my being

that began to speak with an inexpressible tenderness, power, and comfort.

As I listened it became to me the voice of prayer,

and the voice of wisdom

and the voice of duty

and I did not need to think so hard,

or pray so hard,

or trust so hard,

but that “still, small voice” in my heart

was God’s prayer in my secret soul,

was God’s answers to all my questions,

was God’s life and strength for soul and body,

and became the substance of all knowledge, and all prayer, and all blessing;

for it was the living GOD Himself as my life, and my all.

Beloved! This is our spirit’s deepest need.

It is thus that we learn to know God;

it is thus that we receive spiritual refreshment and nutriment;

it is thus that our heart is nourished and fed;

it is thus that we receive the Living Bread;

it is thus that our very bodies are healed,

and our spirit drinks in the life of our risen Lord,

and we go forth to life’s conflicts and duties

like the flower that has drunk in, through the shades of night,

the cool and crystal drops of dew.

But as the dew never falls on a stormy night,

so the dews of His grace never come to the restless soul.

We cannot go through life strong and fresh on constant express trains,

with ten minutes for lunch;

but we must have quiet hours, secret places of the Most High,

times of waiting upon the Lord, when we renew our strength,

and learn to mount up on wings as eagles,

and then come back to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint.

The best thing about this stillness is that it gives God a chance to work.

Excerpted from God’s Healing Arsenal: A Divine Battle Plan for Overcoming Distress and Disease by Paul L. King, available at http://www.paulkingministries.com

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Breathe!

“Jesus breathed into them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22, literal translation).

I recently received training from a drama coach for some dramatic vignettes I have been asked to present at a conference in Canada in early July. He taught me how to relax my body and mind and how to breathe from the depths of my being to prepare me to be “in character,” to feel from deep within the words and experiences of the people touched by the Holy Spirit.

This brought to mind a wonderful old poem by A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which describes what it means to breathe in the life of Jesus and breathe out the old life. I encourage you to read this out loud, slowly and dramatically, and let Jesus breathe His Holy Breath, His Holy Spirit, into you and through you.

“Breathing Out and Breathing In”

By A.B. Simpson

Jesus, Breathe Thy Spirit on me,

Teach me how to breathe Thee in,

Help me pour into Thy bosom

All my life of self and sin.

I am breathing out my own life,

That I may be filled with Thine;

Letting go my strength and weakness,

Breathing in Thy life divine.

Breathing out my sinful nature,

Thou hast borne it all for me;

Breathing in Thy cleansing fullness,

Finding all my life in Thee.

I am breathing out my sorrow,

On Thy kind and gentle breast;

Breathing in Thy joy and comfort,

Breathing in Thy peace and rest.

I am breathing out my longings,

In Thy list’ning loving ear,

I am breathing in Thy answers,

Stilling every doubt and fear.

I am breathing every moment,

Drawing all my life from Thee;

Breath by breath I live upon Thee,

Blessed Spirit, breathe in me.

 

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Being a Knight in Shining Armor

 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”                                                                                                                                                   (Eph 6:11-12).

In recent posts, we have been asking the question, “What Shall I Wear Today?, about our position as royalty in Christ.

To look at it in another way, we are knights at the King’s Round Table. We are His royal ambassadors. But it is not all fun and games for those who are royalty. Before we become too heady with the rights and privileges of Throne Life, we need to be aware that both godly and malevolent principalities and powers are also found in heavenly places. Spiritual warfare is part and parcel of Throne Life. Spiritual warfare pioneer John MacMillan cautions, “The heavenlies . . . are also the place of most intense conflict. Let the believer, whose eyes have been opened to the comprehension of his throne rights in Christ, definitely accept his seat and begin to exercise the spiritual authority which it confers upon him. He quickly realizes that he is a marked man.”

Sitting with Christ on the throne of God can be a heady experience. For if we do not maintain humility, we experience the dangers of Throne Life as well as the joys and the privileges. Living Throne Life prepares us for warfare. If we are not living Throne Life, we get defeated. Throne Life does not prevent warfare and subtle deception, but it equips us to face it. Our enemy throws down many challenges to Throne Life.

Maintain Your Throne Authority in Warfare. Ultimately, our victory in times of throne warfare comes by staying alert from our vantage point on the throne, keeping dressed in our heavenly armor from the throne, and standing firm in our position at the throne: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:10-11). This is what A.B. Simpson describes in his song “Living in the Glory”:

I have found a heaven below,

I am living in the glory.

Oh, the joy and strength I know,

Living in the glory of the Lord.

                                            

Storms of sorrow ‘round me fall,

But I’m living in the glory;

I can sing above them all,

Living in the glory of the Lord.

 When we are maintaining the heavenly life in the midst of our earthly life, we can live in the glory of the Lord. Living in the glory does not mean absence of suffering or sorrow. Rather, it means singing above all the storms even while going through the storms. Simpson goes on to show that living in the glory also does not mean exemption from attack of evil powers:

Satan cannot touch my heart

While I’m living in the glory;

This disarms each fiery dart,

Living in the glory of the Lord.

Simpson acknowledges that the fiery darts will come. “Higher Ground,” the old theme song of the Higher Life movement, expresses this same thought:

I want to live above the world

Tho’ Satan’s darts at me are hurled

For faith has caught the joyful sound

The song of saints on higher ground.

 Even above the world in the heavenlies, Satan’s darts are hurled. However, if we are living Throne Life, Satan cannot touch our heart. Even though the flaming arrows are flying all around us, and sometimes even seem to hit us, living Throne Life quenches the fiery darts, preventing them from doing permanent damage. Simpson declares further:

I can triumph over pain

While I’m living in the glory;

I can count each loss a gain,

Living in the glory of the Lord.

 Again, Simpson avers, Throne Life does not mean a painless life. Rather, it means that we can endure and victoriously overcome pain. Every loss is not a permanent loss, but an ultimate gain, when we are living in the glory of Throne Life. Make this your confession in the midst of your throne warfare:

Yes, I’m living in the glory

As He promised in His Word.

I am dwelling in the heavenlies,

Living in the glory of the Lord!

 Excerpted from Come Up Higher, available at http://www.paulkingministries.com

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What Shall I Wear Today?

Our Right to Wear the King’s Robe

“What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? . . . . Let a royal robe be brought . . . that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor.”—Esther 6:6, 8, 9, NKJV

In the Old Testament book of Esther, King Ahasuerus honored Mordecai for foiling the assassination plot against him by giving Mordecai the right to wear the royal robes of the king (Esther 6:6-11). He was treated as royalty.

In a similar way, because of Christ’s work of redemption in identification, as believers we take on the identity of the righteous Christ. Paul declared, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).

On this basis, and referring to Mordecai in the book of Esther being dressed in kingly attire and given the royal treatment, Andrew Murray applied this in a personal way to every believer: “Believer, abide in Christ as your righteousness. . . . Take time to realize that the King’s own robe has indeed been put on, and that in it you need not fear entering into His presence. It is the token that you are the man whom the King delights to honor. . . . Live your daily life in the full consciousness of being righteous in God’s sight, an object of delight and pleasure in Christ.”  (Abide in Christ).

A.B. Simpson asserted in his book The Self Life or the Christ Life, “We have put off the old man and put on the new man. We have ceased to be paupers and have become princes.  Therefore, we are to put off the rags of the beggar and wear the badge of rank of a prince.”

Speaking of God’s grace to seat us in the heavenly places in Christ, A.W. Tozer writes his book The Knowledge of the Holy, “We benefit eternally by God’s being just what He is. Because He is what He is, He lifts up our heads out of the prison house, changes our prison garments for royal robes, and makes us to eat bread continually before Him all the days of our lives.”  Think of that!—Prison garments to royal robes! In a similar vein, A.B Simpson asserts:

“Do we dare to believe that we are absolutely, utterly, eternally accepted in Jesus Christ, in the same sense as He is accepted, and righteous even as He is righteous? Can we believe that our very name before God is: ‘The Lord Our Righteousness;’ His own name of ineffable holiness (Jer 23:6) given to us (Jer 33:16), even as the bride bears the husband’s name? Now, this all comes by a simple act of believing God’s testimony. God declares it of us simply because we have accepted Christ’s atonement and we believe the declaration; and take the new place assigned us.”

This righteousness is known as imputed righteousness, reckoned to the believer and worn as a garment, not to be confused with imparted righteousness within the believer, which is related to sanctification. We have the right to wear the robe of righteousness, and as we grow in holiness, that righteousness is imparted within us.

Dare to believe that you are accepted at the throne of God.

Dare to believe you are royalty.

Put on the royal robe of righteousness —

The King delights to honor you!

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Access to the Throne Zone

“Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace. . . . When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter. . .” (Esther 5:1-2).

Esther gives us a picture of our approachability to the throne room of the King. She was not permitted to come to the king’s chambers unless he had called for her. She dared to do so—only on the basis of the need and her relationship with the king. He extended the scepter to her and accepted her into his presence.

The throne room is the innermost dwelling of the king, where only those who are his favored can approach. Throughout the Bible, God is pictured as a King, seated on a throne. “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven” (Ps 11:4). The picture is one of distance from the King. God’s position on the throne is lofty and exalted, far above and beyond human capacity and comprehension. How can we dare approach the throne room of one so revered and exalted?

Yet God in all His glory bids us to approach Him, to enter the throne room, and to remain in His presence. He smiles upon us and lovingly calls us, “Come on in!” Through our identification with Jesus, we have the right of access to the throne room of the King of Kings. God our King has given us permission to access His throne room—His holy presence—through the blood of Jesus Christ. He has extended His scepter to us. Not only are we permitted in the throne room; we have the privilege of a personal audience with the King.

Amy Carmichael illustrates this truth in the way that she received leadings from God— through the special enlivening of Scripture in what she called a “durbar,” an Indian word for a special personal audience with a high official, which she related to the Hebrew word “dabar,” to speak a word:

“When reading your Bible, have you not often noticed that some word has shone out in a new, direct, clear way to you? It has been as though you have never read it before. You cannot explain the vivid freshness, the life, in it, the extraordinary way it has leapt to your eye—to your heart. It just was so. That was the ‘durbar’; you were in the very presence of your King at that moment. He was speaking to you. His word was spirit and life.

This is what is sometimes called today a “rhema,” a special personal word from God. We have access to a personal word from the Throne of Heaven.

Chrysostom pictured entering the inner chamber in prayer (Matt 6:6) as a palace: “When you pray, it is as if you were entering into a palace—not a palace on earth, but far more awesome, a palace in heaven. When you enter there, you do so with complete attentiveness and fitting respect. For in the houses of kings all turmoil is set aside, and silence reigns. Yet here you are being joined by choirs of angels. You are in communion with archangels and singing with the seraphim, who sing with great aware their spiritual hymns and sacred songs to God, the Lord of all.”

John MacMillan recounts that “President Chiang-Kai-shek [of China] spent an hour in prayer each morning. . . .When the President went to his prayer room, he dressed himself in his robes of state, saying that he was having an audience with the King of kings, and it was becoming to render Him due honor.”  We too have an audience with the King of kings!

Excerpted and adapted from Come Up Higher, available at http://www.paulkingministries.com

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