Position and Power - The Power of His Resurrection
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - Position and Power

That which we have before us at this time is the matter of spiritual power in the Lord's people. One of the great things in this connection which needs very much to be known and fully realised is that spiritual power is very largely a matter of spiritual position. It is not that we ask for power from God, but that we come into the position where the power of God operates.

Now I want to lay down two passages of Scripture to begin with as that toward which we are working. We turn to the Ephesian letter in chapter 1:19-20: "And what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe according to that working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and made Him sit at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

I would like to read that from Conybeare:- "And how surpassing is the power which He has shown toward us who believe; (for He has dealt with us) in the strength of that might wherewith He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead; and set Him on His own right hand in the heavens, far above every Principality and Power, and Might, and Domination, and every name which is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And 'He put all things under His feet,' and gave Him to be Sovereign Head of the Church, which is His body; the Fulness of Him who fills all things everywhere with Himself."

And then chapter 2:6: "And raised us up with Him and made us to sit with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." From Conybeare: "And in Christ Jesus He raised us up with Him from the dead, and seated us with Him in the heavens."

You see the two things are related in both these passages, the matter of position and power, or power and position. They are inseparable, but they are recognised as being two distinct factors, that power is a matter of position, and position is a matter of power. That is the end, as we have said, to which we work. What we have in view is the throne, coming to the throne, and, while the ultimate issue is a rapture, a distinct act, a definite movement to the throne, it is but the conclusion of something that has been going on spiritually for some time before. It is the culmination of a process. We come to the throne by the final act because we have been coming to the throne all the time; that is, we have been gaining spiritual ascendancy over the enemy progressively, we have been learning what it is to reign. We have been in the school of the reigning ones to be learning how to reign. The question is sometimes asked by the critic, "If God is omnipotent why doesn't He wipe out the devil, why doesn't He have done with him once and for all?" in which, of course, the critic displays his lack of wisdom and understanding. The answer is very clear. The Lord has not done with the devil yet, He has got a good use to make of him before He has done with him, and that very good use is to teach the Church how to reign, how to overcome how to come to the throne: so that the enemy is the unwonted and probably unconscious instrument of Divine sovereignty to bring the Lord's overcomers to the throne. So that spiritual ascendancy is the thing which is before us, coming to the throne: the ultimate goal is the throne.

Now having that in view we have to go over the steps which lead us to our heavenly position now, our place in the heavenlies now. And I want to take that course very simply this morning by way of leading on to the fuller and deeper things of spiritual ascendancy. You notice that here in this letter, in most of Paul's letters, of course, but in this letter with special apparentness, everything is in Christ. You may not have those exact words, it may be "in Him" but such phrases "In Christ," "In Christ Jesus," "in Him," and so on, and to get the rich meaning and benefit of that is our first objective here. Now everything in relation to salvation in its completeness, in all its aspects and phases, unto this fulness is bound up in the Person of the Lord Jesus. It is in Christ: all of the salvation which God has provided for mankind is in Christ. That is the first fact which we have to recognise. Of course, we know that quite well, but then all of the salvation which we realise in experience centres in our faith apprehension of Christ, and that is an extra thing. I do not want to take it for granted that you have grasped what I have said, so you will suffer repetition.

Provision and Appropriation

All of God's provided salvation for mankind centres in Christ, but all of the salvation which God has provided which we realise in experience is in our faith apprehension of Christ, and we have no more of it than we appropriate by faith. It is all there in Him, but in experience we have no more of it than we appropriate by faith. Now that is the second thing. The third thing is this, that salvation, that full salvation which centres in Christ, is historically revealed in epochs in the life and work of the Lord Jesus personally. Those epochs represent progressive aspects of the full salvation in Christ, and we have to appropriate by faith each one of those epochs in its spiritual meaning in order to come into the good of it. That is a broad statement and you may not have quite grasped all of it. There are seven epochs or stages which complete the circle of salvation. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection or completeness, and this salvation which God has provided for mankind is represented in the seven epochs or stages or movements in the life of Christ, in the history of Christ. They represent seven spiritual stages for the believer and each one has to be appropriated by faith in its spiritual meaning for the believer, and these seven are:-
1. The Incarnation.
2. The earthly life.
3. The death.
4. The burial.
5. The resurrection.
6. The ascension exaltation.
7. The coming again.

Now these seven stages are seven spiritual epochs. They contain and represent spiritual values for the Lord's people. That spiritual value has to be appropriated by faith step by step and stage by stage to bring us to God's fulness, to His ultimate position. Briefly, then, without going into all the truth contained in each one of these seven stages we might note just perhaps one thing about each, which seems perhaps to be the supreme feature in them.

The Spiritual Value of the Incarnation

Perhaps we have not recognised sufficiently, the spiritual value and good for us of the Incarnation. "Inasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also partook of the same in order that, through death He might destroy him that had the power of death" and so on (Heb. 2:14). Why did the Lord Jesus take flesh and blood? Now I realise the risks that I am running of being somewhat misunderstood, but try and understand me in the way in which I am saying it - in order that He might be you and me. In order that He might be humanity, be man, and from that point onward this Man, yes, it is God I know that side, with every bit of intense emphasis that it is possible to put upon it He is God, He is the Son of God, but also as truly Man, and it is as Man that He is doing this thing. He is doing it as man, and a Man that can do it; because we could not do it He is doing it, but He is as Man, He can do it. Why He can do it is another matter of doctrine. The point of the Incarnation is this, that here is a Man (God-man, if you like) who is taking up this work and doing this thing. God has come in man-form to compass this salvation and its fulness. I do wish we could get into the heart of that spiritually. We have a good time singing our Christmas carols about the birth of the Lord Jesus, but oh, the spiritual meaning of that to us to be appropriated by faith!

Here is some immense thing needing to be done, and we are hopeless, unable to give a quota to its accomplishment, but a Man comes who can do it and links Himself with us, and it is done as us. It is He as us, as man, even as though we were doing it in a sense, He is going to take man through this way. It means beloved, that as we appropriate the spiritual meaning of the Incarnation we are taken through with Him in this achievement; we are linked on with Him by faith, in the meaning of the Incarnation, going to go right through to the full accomplishment of God. In the final issue it will be man there at the right hand of God. Of course, we know, not the old man, but this Man to whose image we have been conformed according to the fore-ordained intention of God, Rom. 8:29. We ought to get away from the doctrine and at once get down on our knees and say, "Have I by faith appropriated that as a working spiritual reality. How much have I got down before the Lord and linked myself on by faith with the spiritual meaning of the Incarnation and taken up all the good of that in the intention and the thought of God in His being manifest in the flesh?"

It is a practical, working, thing. It is the first step, and until that first step is taken we will never be able to take the other steps which issue in the throne. Man, for man. "The second Man who is the Lord from heaven." I am conscious of difficulty in getting that over as I see it and as I feel it; a position perhaps where we need the Lord to quicken us and open our understanding, but it is an epoch where we become, by faith, joined to this Man to be taken through. That is the Incarnation. "He also partook of the same that..." you see that, this One took our flesh and blood, not in its sinful nature, there was no sin in Him, but He took our humanity in order that "He might destroy, nullify, bring to naught him that had the power of death and deliver all those who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." To bring many sons to glory He partook of flesh and blood. "He took not the seed of angels, but took the seed of Abraham" to accomplish this, and so He joins us with Himself and Himself with us to carry humanity through, but He does not do it automatically. We can only go through to that Divine end as we appropriate the meaning of the Incarnation, by faith. See Rom. 5:17,19; 1 Cor. 15:21.

The Spiritual Value of the Earthly Life of Christ

Now the earthly life is the second epoch. Why was He not immediately incarnated in mature manhood at the age of thirty-three years and a few months and go straight to the cross to accomplish the work of redemption by Calvary? Because He had to be subjected to every kind of temptation that man can be subjected to. He has to go through the fire of trial, trial along every line; and it would be a profitable thing for you to sit down and catalogue the temptations of the Lord Jesus as they appear. The list of the unapparent would be far bigger than the apparent ones. The "oven trials" as well as the "pan trials." The oven which tests the fine flour, where you do not look in and see what is going on (the meal offering), but when put into the pan you see the kind of trials; and there are plenty of those open trials in the life of the Lord Jesus. From hell, from man, along every line of open antagonism to the most subtle subterfuge: by offering of popularity, by treachery, and by the far more insidious danger of affection. And when the enemy cannot defeat by open assault he will come through someone who is linked by affectional ties; and so we have Him subjected to every kind of temptation with one object in view, to see if He will stand true to the will of His Father, or by any means whatever be turned aside from that will. Beloved, the fact that He went through unscathed, undefeated, triumphant through temptations and trials packed into thirty-three and a half years, which probably are not packed into the life time of any long-lived man otherwise, and came out with the triumphant cry, "Not My will nevertheless, not a bit the less, Thy will not one whit the less, even if My humanity flinches, even if I am conscious of how there is a shrinking in My humanity, not one whit less, Thy will just as much as ever, Thy will - whatever I might say as man under these sufferings, not one whit the less, as much now as ever Thy will." He came out triumphant. That is something to be appropriated by faith. He is doing it as man, it is all in Christ.

We said to begin with, it is all summed up in Christ. The testing and triumph of the earthly life is a victory in Christ, it is in Christ, it is there for us, beloved. Oh, get it. All that the Incarnation means is there in Christ as an active virtuous thing. It is in Him, and all His triumph through testing means a mighty victory in every kind of temptation. He was tempted in all points like as we are - and that He triumphed is something now in Christ as a part of salvation, something to be appropriated by faith. We can get through every kind of trial and temptation because the victory along that very line is in Christ now. How shall we get through trial and temptation? It will not be because we are able to, but because the virtue is already in His triumph. It is in Christ something to be actively and deliberately appropriated by faith. When we are in severe trials our attitude is not "Oh Lord, give me grace to endure, help me to go through," it is "Lord, I appropriate Your victory in this trial." The victory is accomplished, not something in the first instance for me to accomplish, but something that has been accomplished for me to appropriate by faith. This is an epoch in His life which has a spiritual virtue with which we become linked by a definite act of appropriating faith. A stage further on to carry us to the throne.

The Value of the Death of Christ

You come to the death, the death of the Lord Jesus representing so many things, but I think primarily the closing of a whole scene and condition of judgment. The last thing in the life of the Lord Jesus, the very last thing before He gave back His spirit to God was judgment completed upon sinful man; the ground of judgment in man. He had at the end of His life, there on the cross, put upon Him sin, in our place, all the judgment of our sin. "He was made a curse for us," when He was put on the tree, because it is written, "Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree." That is where the curse lighted upon Him, and that is where He was made sin, then the judgment of God came upon Him as man, in the place of sinful humanity. Not inherent in Him, but representative, laid on Him. That is all familiar doctrine, but His death closed forever the question of the ground of judgment, and judgment itself. That whole thing has passed beyond the reach of judgment in the death of the Lord Jesus, because the state which merits and demands judgment has been put out of existence, it has been borne right away into a land unknown where even God takes no account of it: it passes out of consciousness and the remembrance of God, it is dead to God. It is a blessed thing, beloved, if it is dead to God it can be dead to us. The trouble is so many people keep alive for themselves what is dead to God. The Lord is dead to that and we keep the whole thing up before us so often. The death means much more than that, but I am taking the primary thing.

Our faith acceptance of that is declared when we testify in baptism to our union with Him in His death, to put us beyond the reach of judgment, and beyond the remembrance of God as sinners. That is blessed, that God no longer looks at us as sinners. If only we could emerge into that today. If faith could really get hold of that today: that, now, in Christ Jesus God does not look at us as sinners. It is in Christ. If we begin to circle round ourselves and take ourselves out of Christ in mind, thought, spirit, and attitude, we will very soon bring ourselves under unnecessary condemnation and the enemy will get us back on to his territory in spirit, and accuse us; but while we abide in Him, God does not look at us as sinners. One little word is the key to it all, "Accepted."

God has never accepted anything sinful yet, and you may take it for granted that He never will. God has never accepted any sinful thing, nothing sinful has got through to God's acceptance. The slightest touch and taint of sin puts beyond the acceptance of God, is rejected, but the word clearly is "Accepted." "Hath made us accepted in the beloved." This is in Christ because that which was not acceptable is now dead in Him, "Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God." There is no being "alive unto God" unless there is that death. Something to be appropriated. How elementary this is. I am going over all the well-known ground, but this is to be made practical. Our doctrine has got to become practical, potent, and what I am after is not so much to point out the principle as to come to the active point. I have to have a transaction on that. It is wonderful as an unveiling of truth, but I have to get down on my knees before God and appropriate that by a deliberate act of faith; my death with Christ to put me beyond the place where God takes any account of me as a sinner. Have we died with Him? "As many of you as were baptised into Christ were baptised into His death," and we know the untranslated word, baptizo, means "buried"; if you immerse a thing it goes down out of this world, it may be only an instant that you are immersed, but during that instant you are in the place of death. If you were not brought back within 40 seconds you would be finished, but for those few seconds you are in the place of death, it is only a matter of time. One wants to emphasise this, this thing is a position, a very real position.

The Value of the Burial of Christ

The burial. The death is an active thing. The death of the Lord Jesus is not just a physical thing, it is an active thing. It is something that He does in the energy of the eternal Spirit. Man did not kill the Lord Jesus, they crucified Him but they could never have killed Him. "No man taketh it from Me, I lay it down of Myself. This authority have I received of My Father." It is an authoritative action, something that He is doing by His jurisdiction.

His burial is simply the concluding phase of that old work on the sin, death side, the old humanity side as in the realm of the powers of darkness and the authority of Satan. It is the concluding part of one era, one regime. With His burial that passes out from sight. The burial the concluding phase of an old state of things relative to humanity and the world as under the power of Satan and the authority of darkness; it passes out with the burial of the Lord Jesus, it is covered from God. So far as salvation is concerned that side of things is finished with the burial of the Lord Jesus, and when we were buried in baptism, that is the covering of an old sin-mastered humanity, and from that point you start on another level; and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus puts Him beyond the power of death, where death has no more jurisdiction; beyond the power of Satan, the jurisdiction of Satan ends at the burial. The burial is the conclusion.

The Value of the Resurrection

That whole state of things is passed out of in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, He is no longer on that plane of life, nothing of Satan has any power over Him at all; He lives by a deathless life in resurrection, He lives now by an authority which is given Him over all the authority of the evil one. "All the authority has just been given to Me in heaven and in earth." He is out in a new realm now. Resurrection means a new life in a new realm where all the old conditions have ceased. Now beloved, that is something to be entered into by faith. Come to Ephesians, "raised together with Him." Resurrection union with the Lord Jesus is to walk in a newness of life. To be possessed of a life over which death has no power, over which Satan has no authority. It is the life of One who has taken the authority and who is triumphant over death. This life is a mighty life which will prove in the end that Satan had no power over it at all. "I am He that liveth unto the ages of the ages." "I have the keys (the authority) of death." "Because I live ye shall live also." That is very familiar again and simple, but it is an epoch in His history and it represents an epoch in our spiritual life when we appropriate it by faith. We must definitely get before God and appropriate by faith our resurrection union with the Lord Jesus because it brings us into a new place, on to a new level.

The Value of the Ascension - Exaltation

The next is ascension exaltation by which He is not only living in the power of a new triumphant life, but He is now set in the place of all authority in heaven and in earth over every Principality and Power and Rule and Dominion and every name that is named in this age and that which is to come. He is in a new place; it is the Man in a new place that helps you to get to the heart of things. Man is in a new place now, in Christ. It is man now representatively in Christ in a new place. He has broken free from tho whole world system as lying in the wicked one, as encircled by the prince of the power of the air; He has broken free through His cross from that whole system. Man, in the place of authority, in the place of dominion, at the right hand of God. The right hand is always the place of honour and of power. We have only got to come to our Ephesian passage to see that this runs in spiritual sequence to be again appropriated by faith, "And hath made us to sit in the heavenlies with Christ." The position is one thing, but we have got to get there by a faith act, by a deliberate act of faith, to appropriate that position, it is ours in Christ. Let us go back to our original premise; all the salvation that God has provided for mankind centres in Christ, but all the salvation which we realise in experience depends upon our faith appropriation of what is in Christ, or of Christ as the sum of it all.

The Meaning of the Rapture

The rapture is not going to be any more automatic than these others. We do not automatically come into the place of "no condemnation" apart from an exercise of faith; if so, all the world would be in that position now without any believing at all. We do not come into our heavenly position in Christ mechanically, there has to be a definite exercise and taking of our position in faith. We have got to have faith for translation. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death," and there has to be an exercise of faith in relation to the rapture, the same law operates, and the final test of the saints who are to be raptured lies in the realm of faith. We are not going to be raptured because we are full of good works - it is just possible we shall have our good works cut off and find it very difficult to do much work at the end. In "Philadelphia" at the end it is a very difficult thing to find open doors for true spiritual ministry; there is almost universal antagonism to what is truly spiritual. I do not think God will enter into competition with antichrist and try to outdo him with signs and wonders. We have to believe God, with not a sign or wonder to be seen, even if antichrist is calling down fire from heaven and giving life to the image. That is the test, that is the faith for translation.

Our particular point at this time is our union in the heavenlies with Christ, a thing to be appropriated by faith. You see what I mean by progressing upward to the throne by stages, each of which is marked by an appropriation, a definite act of faith to bring us into the heavenlies in Christ.

Everything Changes in the Heavenlies

Recognise just this, that when we get by faith to that position of Ephesians, when we really do get to the Ephesian position, seated in the heavenlies in Christ, everything changes, and that is the explanation of the tremendous difference between believers who are still on the earth plane of Christianity in life and service, and believers who have come into the Ephesian position. We have another spiritual consciousness; our spiritual consciousness changes. We begin to realise that now our wrestling is not with mere flesh and blood, and we are not dealing with just men and movements and earthly conditions and circumstances, the disadvantages and difficulties of doing Christian work such as are known to Christian workers here. We become conscious that we are up against ultimate forces, things back of difficulties, that our wrestling is not with flesh and blood but Principalities, Powers. It is no use trying to drop down to other believers who do not know experimentally anything about it and who have a much easier time and who do not understand, who think you have got into what they call a dangerous realm. It is no use trying to explain to them. It is not something you have worked up; a doctrine, teaching you have accepted and taken on, it is a real consciousness, it is as though you had passed out into another realm and it does not matter how much you wrestle with the thing as a doctrine, you are up against it. We have been through this thing and there have been times when we have perhaps stood back and asked questions about the whole matter just to test it. Now are these things what they are simply because we have accepted these ideas, these teachings? Is it the teaching that creates the thing or is the thing there and the teaching is the explanation of it? You have to come back to the second of these propositions.

When you have gone on with the Lord by faith, step by step, stage by stage, having reached your resurrection union with the Lord Jesus by faith and taken that and asked the Lord to bring you into the good of that and make it real, and you have gone the next step and seen your heavenly position in Christ according to Ephesians, and said, "Lord, make that real," beloved, you have not taken on a system of doctrine, you find at once you have come into a realm, a sphere, which is marked by these things, and the doctrine helps you by way of explanation, for you are up against facts for which you need no proof by doctrine, only explanation. You have a new consciousness of being now over against those other forces that are operative in this universe and you come into a realm of real spiritual conflict. That is true, but mark you, you have come into the position of power because you have come into Christ who is above every Principality and Power. We must realise that and take that by faith. So often we allow our consciousness to be almost overwhelmed with the fact of the forces of darkness and forget we are in Christ in the heavenlies far above all, and because our faith does not carry us high enough, it does not carry us higher than the lower heavens, very often the conflict goes against us - but we want to go all the way in this faith appropriation to bring us into this position of authority in Christ, ruling in Christ, dominion in Christ, ascendancy in Christ. Not just a position, but as an active ministry.

I am just feeling that we want to get there. You and I want to get now by faith right into Christ as above, to rule down these things, to fulfil a ministry of executive administration in Christ from the heavens, for unto Him all authority is given in heaven and in earth. What is called the "missionary commission" has suffered a tremendous loss because one half of it has been taken and the other half left. The "great commission" as it is called, is simply "Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature." That is only half, and because that is all we have what we have today of only going half-way in the work in very many cases, and a very great deal of defeat and arrest. The other half is this, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth, Go ye therefore...." Because of that - and you cannot, you dare not go into all the world where Satan has such power unless you go in your heavenly position in Him who has the authority as a spiritual thing. If you do, one of two things I should think would happen. Either that you will be smashed by the forces of darkness sooner or later, or you will only half do the work that you were intended to do, an earthly work not the establishing of the Lordship of Jesus Christ there. You cannot do that, set up a testimony to His absolute Lordship, unless you go in your heavenly position far above all.

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