We Stand in His Stead, As His Body, Administrating The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth!
This is actually what it means to be a Christian – to not only represent but to embody Christ through the Holy Spirit on earth. It is not a simplistic thing. It is a powerful calling, with a two fold intention 1) of destroying the works of the devil: “… The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil”. (1 John 3:8). And 2) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)
Let’s repeat that: Jesus came to destroy the works (power / authority of the devil and all its manifestations), and make us into sons of God. If we keep these two purposes in mind, a lot of puzzling things fall into place when we read and contemplate the Holy Scriptures.
Jesus prayed for a divinely empowered Church which would stand on Earth against the evil one and all his works “in His Name” – in His authority, in His stead. It does not come from us; it comes from Him. His “High Priestly Prayer” – His last word before His arrest and crucifixion, was a prayer for the bestowal of this on His people:
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22-24)
The Apostle Paul reveals to us that the Father raised us up and seated us in Christ Jesus in heavenly places! We are co-participants in Him through His crucifixion, resurrection, and His ascension into Heaven. We perceive ourselves in this way with the eyes of faith – as in Him in all these events of His Passion.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
This is not just so we can go on a big power trip, or have a “God complex”, but so that we are also aware that our old sin nature is dead in Him, first of all. Out with the bad and old, in with the good and new – all “in” Jesus. In Jesus’ Passion (His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit), we have access to complete victory over sin, self, Satan and his system of this world.
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:24)
We reckon it so and live in what we reckon.
In the “Great Commission” as Jesus was about to ascend, His final reminder was about His authority, and it is in this authority – in His Name – that we’re to go forth and teach all nations to observe all that He commands. Why? Because through us He is calling souls out of the dominion of darkness into His kingdom to be restored as sons of God!
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Role of Suffering
The foregoing understanding of Jesus’ name and authority brings meaning and purpose to life’s challenges, adversities, and suffering. This is the part that many today do not wish to acknowledge: the Lord’s disciplining of those He is transforming into sons.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) “And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17)
“For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?… (Hebrews 12:6,7)
“And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed IN us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:17-19)
God will use everything that happens in life for our good! Not just the parts that feel good. Just as gold or other precious metals cannot be purified without the refiner’s fire, so we too spiritually require a similar process spiritually. This is not popular thought in today’s “name it, frame it, and claim it” formula Christianity. To our Heavenly Father we are golden. Yet it remains that the impurities must be removed, and we must also be forged into vessels for holy purpose.
These are just a few basic thoughts on the Name of Jesus. It could be summed up thus and affirmed in this way: If Jesus says that all power (authority to reign) in heaven and on earth is given to Him, and I am in Christ Jesus as a participant in His sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, and if I live, move, and have my being in Him, then I can speak to all things “in His Name” – on behalf of His authority over all of life.
Thus we need to remember to “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:17)
Take these things to heart. Ponder them often. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the wisdom in these verses and to expand your understanding of them. Our Lord never refuses wisdom to anyone who asks. It does not happen overnight, however, so persevere.
People talk about “being born again”. That is only where it starts, but so many stop there due to popular shallow teaching. One can, however, look to an Old Testament type concerning this. The process can be stated simply this way: A slave could be set free from Egypt overnight, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the slave. For that they were sent wandering in the wilderness, to be prepared for receiving the Promised Land.
You might get free of the devil, in other words, but it takes awhile to get the devil out of you – in a manner of speaking. This inner work of “sonship reconstruction” is done by the sovereign hand of God Himself. We only pray, surrendering our will, “Come, Lord Jesus. They will be done.” And so we show up for work. His work in us by grace.