Your Royal Identity

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”—1 Peter 2:9, NKJV

My last name is King. You would think that with a last name like that, I would have a sense of royal identity. However, when I was growing up, and even into my adulthood, I had poor self-image and low self-esteem. My first name is “Paul.” “Paul” means “small.” So I felt like I was a small king, a very small king.

I discovered from Scripture that in Christ, I am indeed royalty, and it began to change my view of myself and my self-esteem into what Oswald Chambers calls “Christ-esteem.” The Apostle John writes, “For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [Greek, exousia = authority] to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name” (John 1:12). Since God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, we are children of the King of Kings—we are princes and princesses. All believers have the rights and privileges of a child of the King. We are co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).

I also discovered a treasure of great teaching on our royal identity in Christ, especially from the Puritans and from the Higher Life movement of the later 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, Thomas Watson, a 17th century Puritan, declared about being a new creation in Christ: “The new creature fetches its pedigree from heaven; it is born of God. God counts none else of the royal blood. The new creature ennobles a man’s spirit. He aspires after the favor of God, and looks no lower than a heavenly crown. The new creature raises one to honor. He excels the princes of the earth (Psalm 89:27), and is a joint heir with Christ.”

The famed Scottish preacher and hymn writer Horatius Bonar claimed, “God is seeking kings. Not out of the ranks of angels. Fallen man must furnish Him with the rulers of His universe. Human hand must wield the scepter; human hands must wear the crown.” Quaker Hannah Whitall Smith, in her classic book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, likewise declared, “We have been called to be kings, and we were created to have dominion over the earth.”

So we can understand that by redemption through the cross of Jesus Christ, dominion is once again fully restored to all humankind who believe in Him; that is, the Church. Andrew Murray asserted: “Church of the living God! Your calling is higher and holier than you know! God wants to rule the world through your members. He wants you to be His kings and priests. Your prayers can bestow and withhold the blessings of heaven.”

Can you fathom Murray’s statement?—God wants to rule the world through the Church! Not in a political sense, but by our prayers and our decrees spiritually. Before we can act as kings, we need to have a revelation of our royal identity. We cannot properly use our authority without properly knowing our identity.

One of my doctoral students, a Korean Presbyterian medical doctor, who is working on a Doctor of Ministry degree, is doing his dissertation on our royal identity in Christ. He astutely remarks in one of his papers, “Knowing a Christian’s authority is important. Knowing one’s royal identity, however, is more important, because one’s authority comes from one’s royal identity.” I encourage you to personalize the words of Scripture today and declare:

“I have received Jesus Christ; I believe on His name.

He has given me the rights and authority to be a child of God.

I am a child of the King. I am a prince (or a princess).

I have the royal blood of the King of Kings flowing through my veins.

I am royalty in Christ!”

Standard

Divine Energizing

“Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think [in the heavenly places] according to His power at work [Greek—energeo—“energizing”]  within us . . .” (Eph 3:20).

        Throne power is only obtained through Christ. He alone is our source of energy. It is for that reason Paul directs his praise to Jesus: “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. . .” It is not some New Age energy within ourselves like chi or prana that we tap into; it is power only from heaven, only from Jesus, only from being in covenant relationship with Him. Only those who are born again from above and have the Holy Spirit, the divine nature, dwelling within them can harness this energy.

            And it is not something we do, but something God does in us, lifting above and beyond ourselves. In The Holiest of All, Andrew Murray explains:

 “We have Jesus as our Forerunner into God’s presence, with all the power of His death and resurrection-life working in us, and drawing and lifting us with divine energy into the Father’s presence. Yes, Jesus with His divine, His heavenly life, in the power of the throne in which He is seated, has entered into the deepest ground of our being, where Adam, where sin do their work, and there is increasingly carrying out His work of lifting us heavenward into God’s presence, and of making God’s heavenly presence here on earth our portion.”

         At the Throne Divine Energy Is Released in Prayer. God’s throne is a place of divine energy. John MacMillan, author of the original classic book The Authority of the Believer, writes about releasing divine energy from the throne of God: “As earnest, humble and continuous supplication is presented before the Throne, the divine energy is released, and flows forth in gracious streams of heavenly loving kindness.” As we pray from our position in Christ on the throne, divine energy flows from us.

         It is then, MacMillan declares, we can exercise the “command of faith” based on Jesus’ statement in Mark 11:22-24, exhorting disciples to speak to the mountain: “The question involved is not that of an imposing faith, but that of an all-sufficient Name. . . . As he speaks to the mountain in the name of Christ, he puts his hand on the dynamic force that controls the universe. Heavenly energy is released, and his behest is obeyed.” Again, it is His power, not our power. It is His energy, not ours.

Similarly, F.B. Meyer, a British Baptist Keswick leader from more than a century ago, asserted that to come into contact with God is to encounter a magnetic force that pulls us up to a higher dimension of living. When we touch Jesus, we become magnetized and energized. We operate in the authority of throne influence and people are changed—not by us, but by the presence of Jesus within us. Let us pray as Meyer prayed:

 “Oh, let me touch You!

Let me dwell in unbroken contact with You,

that out of You successive tides of Divine energy

may pass out into and through my emptied and eager spirit,

flowing, but never ebbing,

and lifting me into a life of blessed ministry.”

Adapted from Come Up Higher! by Paul L. King, available at http://www.paulkingministries.com

Standard

Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord!

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. . .” (Ephesians 1:17)

 

Paul prays that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened to know (by experience) the hope of His calling for us, the riches of His inheritance in us, and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us (literally, “into us”) (Eph 1:14-19). Understanding Throne Life, our elevated position seated in the heavenly places on the right hand of the throne of God with Christ (Eph. 2:6), can only come through divine enlightenment, not through human comprehension.

Consider this: Paul is writing about this amazing truth while he is in prison. He is not in a very heavenly-like place. He is chained; he is restricted. Yet his spirit was not restricted. Even in chains, he is transported in his mind and heart to a heavenly realm in which he can see a deeper, fuller revelation of truth.

T. Austin Sparks explains that, like Paul, we need “a Divine apprehension” of our position in Christ, because our minds and situations, like Paul’s in prison, produce “an atmosphere of doubt, suspicion, question.” Therefore, it was especially while Paul was in prison that God revealed to him this “fullness of testimony from identification with Christ in death and resurrection, on to throne-union with Him, power over ‘Principalities, Powers’ etc., and on to the ministry ‘in the ages to come.’” Like Paul, we too today need a fresh revelation from God of our identity in Christ and our life with Him at the throne of God.

Andrew Murray declared, “The more a man lives in heaven, the better fitted he is to live on earth.” Throne position is intended to become throne experience. It is not merely theological or academic. It is not abstract and ethereal; it is meant to be experienced. George Peck explains that throne-experience occurs “when the believer’s enlightened faith successfully claims his associated position and privileges with Christ.”The Holy Spirit imparts “to us a consciousness of union with Christ (John 14:20; 1 John 4:13), . . . whereby we realize that we are ‘complete in Him which is the Head of all principality and power’ (Col 2:10).”In other words, the Holy Spirit enlightens us.

Paul further prayed for the Ephesians to receive a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Christ (Eph. 1:16).  They had already received the indwelling and the empowering of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14; Acts 19:1-9), yet Paul prays that they receive more of the Holy Spirit.  No matter where we are in our walk with God, no matter how long we have been a believer, no matter how high we have gone spiritually, God has something more for us—something, as A.B. Simpson would say, “higher, deeper,  and fuller”:

—  A dimension of the Spirit beyond the indwelling of the Spirit at your conversion.

—  A dimension of the Spirit beyond the sealing, baptism, or filling of the Spirit.

—  Something more God wants you to see.

—  Something more God wants you to know.

—  Something more God wants you to experience.

—  Something more of God Himself.

I recommend that, every day, you begin by personalizing the prayer of the Apostle Paul:

“Father of Glory, I pray that you will impart to me

the Spirit of wisdom and revelation

to open the eyes of my heart—

that I may more fully, deeply, intimately, know Christ,

that I may more fully, deeply, intimately, know the hope of Your calling,

that I may more fully, deeply, intimately, know the riches of Your inheritance for me,

that I may more fully, deeply, intimately, know the exceeding greatness

of Your power and energy in my life.”

Standard

Prayer for the New Year

I cannot say a better prayer for 2014 than this poetic prayer of more than a century ago by A.B. Simpson.

A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR

A.B. Simpson

 What shall I ask for the coming year?

What shall my watchword be?

What would’st Thou do for me, dear Lord?

What can I do for Thee?

 

Lord, I would ask for a holy year,

Spent in Thy perfect will;

Help me to walk in Thy very steps—

Help me to please Thee still.

 

Lord, I would ask for a trustful year;

Humble, and yet so high;

Help to sink at Thy blessed feet,

And on Thy bosom lie.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of faith;

Give me thy faith divine,

Taking my full inheritance,

Making Thy fullness mine,

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of love,

That I may love Thee best;

Give me the love that faileth not,

Under the hardest test.

 

Lord, I would ask for a busy year,

Filled up with service true;

Doing with all Thy Spirit’s might

All that I find to do.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of prayer—

Teach me to walk with Thee;

Breathe in my heart Thy Spirit’s breath;

Pray Thou Thy prayer in me.

 

Lord, I would ask for a dying world;

Stretch forth Thy mighty hand;

Scatter forth Thy Word—Thy power display

This year in every land.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of joy,

Thy peace, Thy joy divine,

Springing undimmed through all the day,

Whether of shade or shine.

 

Lord, I would ask for a year of hope,

Looking for Thee to come,

And hastening on that year of years,

That brings us Christ and Home.

This is my prayer for 2014.  May it be yours as well.  Have a blessed New Year!

Standard

Dust and Deity Made One

“Emmanuel”—God with us, is the miracle of God in the Incarnation. God is with us through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in many ways. Let us consider five ways in which God is with us.

God Is with Us—Walking in Our Shoes

 Oswald Chambers ponders this: “The wonder of the Incarnation slips into the life of ordinary childhood; the marvel of the Transfiguration descends to the valley and the demon-possessed boy, and the glory of the Resurrection merges into our Lord providing breakfast for His disciples on the sea shore in the early dawn. The tendency in early Christian experience is to look for the marvelous. . . . It takes Almighty God Incarnate in you to peel potatoes properly, and to wash heathen children for the glory of God.”

 God Is with Us—Dwelling in Our Hearts

 Early Church Father Athanasius wrote, “The Word of God came in His own person, that, as He was the Image of the Father, He might be able to create afresh the man after the image. . . . A portrait once effaced must be restored from the original. Thus the Son of the Father came to seek, save, and regenerate. No other way was possible. Blinded himself, man could not see to heal. . . . The Word alone could do so. But how? Only by revealing Himself as man. . . . The most holy Son of the Father, being the Image of the Father, came to our region to renew man once made in His likeness.”

God Is with Us in Constant Communion

 Jesus is the Paraclete, the Advocate or Helper who has come alongside us. Jonathan Edwards declared, “For Christ having, by his incarnation, come down from his infinite exaltation above us, has become one of our kinsmen and brothers. Jesus promises “I am with you always.” The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus abides in us as our Paraclete, our perpetual partner in constant communion. The old hymn sings of that intimate fellowship: “He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

 God Is with Us—Dust and Deity Made One

 As we become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), we become one with Him. Oswald Chambers explains, “God in Essence cannot come anywhere near us. To be of any use to me, He must come down to the domain in which I live; and I do not live in the clouds but on the earth. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God did come down into our domain. . . . Dust and Deity made one. The pure gold of Deity is of no use to us unless it is amalgamated in the right alloy, viz., the pure Divine working on the basis of the pure human. Jesus Christ has the power of reproducing Himself by regeneration, the power of introducing into us His own heredity, so that dust and Deity again become one.”

 God Is with Us in the Heavenlies Places

 Since we are in Christ and He is in us, we are seated together with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). A.W. Tozer comments, “Instead of God degrading Himself when He became man, by the act of Incarnation He elevated mankind to Himself. God, in the Incarnation, did not became flesh by a coming down of the Deity into flesh; but rather by the taking up of mankind into God. Thus, we do not degrade God but we elevate man—and that is the wonder of redemption!” Through the Incarnation, He raises us to more than we can be.

No wonder John Wesley declared with his dying words: 

“The best of all is, God is with us!”

Standard

Scarecrows and Strange Fire

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your heavenly Father know how to give good gifts to those who ask Him.”—Matthew 7:11

 Recently, a book was published by pastor John MacArthur, calling the contemporary movement of the Spirit “Strange Fire.” While he points out some very real excesses and problems, he is carried away by his prejudices, presuppositions, and fears, and he thus unjustly caricatures the entire movement.  Rather than trying to find a middle way of balance, he writes off the entire movement as counterfeit.

On the other hand, many theologically and biblically sound evangelical leaders of the past and present, have not been scared away by the excesses. For example, respected 20th century Reformed expositor David Martyn Lloyd-Jones has written, “In our fear of the excesses that some who claim this experience may be guilty of, we often become guilty of ‘quenching the Spirit’ and robbing ourselves of the richest blessings.”

A.W. Tozer, who had once shared a pulpit at a conference with Lloyd-Jones, responded similarly, “Well, my brother, I will not be frightened out of my rightful heritage. I will not be scared out of my birthright because some others didn’t know what to do with the birthright or have found something else that has nothing to do with the birthright. I want all that God has for me!”

A century ago, A.B. Simpson, founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, wrote about Satan’s scarecrows:

“Many of God’s dear children have been hindered by fear of certain manifestations and spiritual movements which may not always be wholly scriptural in their methods and results. The enemy loves to use these things as scarecrows to keep away God’s children from genuine blessing. Let us simply wait upon God without fear. Can we not trust our heavenly Father to keep His promise to us, ‘if a son shall ask bread of any of you which is a father, will He give him a stone him, a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he ask an egg will He offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall the heavenly Father give the Spirit to them that ask Him.’”

 Paris Reidhead, a former missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission and friend of Tozer, similarly declared, “For years the adversary of our Lord Jesus Christ and the enemy of our souls has been putting every possible means to keep the Church, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, from its resources, tools, and weapons which would make her invincible in her warfare and task. How much longer can earnest, sincere, honest-minded evangelicals let scarecrows keep them from that which is rightfully their inheritance in our Lord Jesus Christ?”

Tozer and Simpson both advised that the answer to abuse is not disuse, but proper use. Instead of broadly condemning a movement of the Spirit that admittedly has flaws, it is much wiser to discern how to keep the movements within banks of blessing rather than dismissing the whole movement as false.  The Spirit is quenched both by excesses and by critics. Let us not be scared off by the scarecrows, but welcome the movement of the Spirit with balance, discernment, and maturity.

For a scholarly response to MacArthur’s Strange Fire, see biblical scholar Craig Keener’s critique at: http://pneumareview.com/john-macarthurs-strange-fire-reviewed-by-craig-s-keener/

 

Standard

Expect a Supernatural Revival!

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.”—Acts 2:16

“And He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain.”—Joel 2:23

People often associate Pentecostals as the source for the belief in the latter rain of revival in the last days before the 2nd Coming of Christ. The early Pentecostal movement emphasized the latter rain of Joel. The revival in Canada beginning in 1948 was called the Latter Rain Movement.  However, the belief in a latter rain end time revival was taught by evangelicals before the Pentecostal movement.

The great 19th century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon declared that we should expect to see an increase of the supernatural:

“If at the commencement of the gospel we see the Holy Spirit work great signs and wonders, may we not expect a continuance—if anything, an increased display—of His power as the ages roll on? If there is not a miraculous spiritual power in the church of God today, the church is an imposter. Only let men come back to the real gospel and preach it ardently, not with fancy words and polished speech but as a burning heart compels them and as the Spirit of God teaches them to speak it; then will great signs and wonders be seen. We must have signs following; we cannot otherwise answer the world.”

Spurgeon was once a cessationist who did not believe in the gifts of the Spirit today, but he changed his mind.

Spurgeon’s friend, pioneer missionary J. Hudson Taylor, declared we are supernatural through and through: “We are a supernatural people born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, taught by a supernatural Teacher from a supernatural Book. We are led by a supernatural Captain in right paths to assured victories.”

Another 19th century evangelist who changed his mind was Dwight Moody, founder of Moody Bible Institute. He admits he was wrong: “I believe Pentecost was but a specimen day. I think the church has made this woeful mistake that Pentecost was a miracle never to be repeated. I have thought to the Pentecost was a miracle that is not to be repeated. I believe now if we looked on Pentecost as a specimen day and began to pray we should have the old Pentecostal fire here.”

His ministry influenced another Baptist, A.J. Gordon (founder of Gordon College and Seminary), who saw people healed in Moody’s meetings. Quoting German professor Theodore Christlieb, Gordon declared, “In the last epoch of the consummation of the Church she will again require for the final decisive struggle with the powers of darkness the miraculous interference of her risen Lord; and hence the scriptures lead us to expect miracles once more for this period.” As the church approaches the end of this present age, he reasoned, so the church will need the supernatural powers of God to combat the supernatural powers of darkness.

A.B. Simpson, friend of Gordon and former Presbyterian minister who founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, also anticipated this latter rain revival:

“We are to expect a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in connection with the second coming of Christ and one as much greater than the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit as the rains of autumn were greater than the showers of spring. There is no reason whatever to suppose that the great prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in any complete measure by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and in Apostolic times. We are in the time when we may expect this latter rain.”

In spite of the chaos and ungodliness in the world around us today, let us expect a greater outpouring of the latter rain. Let us anticipate a supernatural revival!

Standard