Our Place In Christ’s Supremacy
By T. Austin-Sparks
It is a great thing to recognize the personal supremacy of the Lord Jesus. It is an added thing to recognize the greatness of the work which He accomplished which brought Him into that personal supremacy.
In Philippians 2:5-11, we see the descending movement of the Son of God’s love from the place of equality with God down, down, down, until utterly emptied. He became "obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." "Yea" says the Apostle: "Yea" – and no glorious death, no honorable death in the sight of men – "the death of the cross – Wherefore [for this reason, on this account, because of this, the death of the cross] also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The ground of His supremacy is the uniqueness and the transcendence of the work which He has done.
Christ’s work is all glorious, and our hearts ought to be moved by that great objective reality, the supremacy of Christ and His work. But we have to see how we come into it, and one or two fragments will help us. Let us look at Colossians 2:12-13:
"Having been buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did He make alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses." "If ye died with Christ" (Col. 2:20) – might we leave out the "if" and make it an affirmation: "Ye died with Christ." "If then ye were raised together with Christ…" (Col. 3:1).
Formerly He has made the statement that this was so, that we were buried with Him, that we were raised with Him. Now we might take it up like that, as a two-fold affirmation: Ye died with Christ; ye were raised together with Christ: "…seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God." The right hand is always the place of honor and power; that is where Christ is. "For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). "Lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew…but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:9-11).
The full issue of Christ’s absolute victory in the realm of all principality and power, in the realm of the authority of darkness we must carry through to its fullness. Forgiveness of sins is a great blessing; the atonement for our sins is a great blessing; to be saved from hell at last and go to heaven is a great blessing. We would not minimize them for a moment, or take from the greatness and the grandeur of those things because of the infinite cost with which they were purchased for us, and I say again, it is necessary for us to carry the work of Christ through to its full issue. Its full issue lies in the realm of principalities and powers, lies in the realm of the authority of darkness, the jurisdiction of darkness.
That is important for the sinner to know – that it is not only a matter of being forgiven his sins and saved from sin. The sinner should know that in salvation all the authority, the jurisdiction of principalities and powers, of the adversary, Satan himself, has been destroyed and broken. Out of that jurisdiction, that authority, that rightful hold of Satan, they have been rescued – for that is the word here – rescued by Christ in His cross. It means that Satan has no more power because he has no more right. His power over us depends upon his right, and his right is based upon a state of things in our hearts. The cross deals with the state of things and destroys or removes the ground of his right, and breaks his power.
All that is in Christ for us! Christ in Himself embodies His supremacy over the adversary because in Him there is nothing of that ground that the adversary must have upon which to encamp and construct his rightful authority to hold in bondage. In Christ there is no such ground. Christ is in us when we believe. To apprehend that by faith means that the authority of Satan is broken because there is that in us which is Christ. There is Christ in us in whom there is no ground for the jurisdiction of Satan.
To be delivered not only from sin but from the authority of Satan is a tremendous thing. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again" (Rom. 8:33-34). What is the value of that? The accuser comes along and tries to lay a charge against us. What is our ground of answer? Our ground of answer is this: "It is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again." That is the way to answer the accusation of the enemy: Christ, who hath triumphed over sin and over all the grounds of Satan’s authority.
You and I can never meet the enemy ourselves in ourselves. He would have the best of the argument every time, but if we are able to present him with Christ, what can he do? "…the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me" (John 14:30). These are the words of the Lord Jesus. What power has Satan? In Christ’s death and resurrection all Satan’s power has been destroyed. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?" (Rom. 8:33). "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). That is the provision God has made, and if only we had a fuller, readier apprehension of Christ we should find that to be the way of victory. What is it that the Holy Spirit works upon in order to make victory in us actual?
It is not our struggles to be better. The Holy Spirit never helps us in a struggle to be better. We may struggle on forever, and die struggling, and the Holy Spirit will not help us if that is the way in which we think we are going to be either saved or sanctified. What is it with which the Holy Spirit will cooperate? It is our faith apprehension and appropriation of Christ as our perfection, as our salvation.
"Oh," you say, "yes, but we are sinful and there is so much wrong about us; are we to close our eyes to actualities about ourselves?"
You are to open your eyes to Christ. Stop looking at yourself and your own sin and get your eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus as perfection for you to God, and from God to you. As you take Him by faith – "Not what I am, O Lord, but what Thou art – I in myself am bad: ‘…in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing’ (Rom. 7:18). But Lord, You are my salvation, You are my righteousness, You are my holiness, You are my sanctification, I hold on to You for all that" (1 Cor. 1:30). When we take that stand on God’s Word, the Holy Spirit makes that good to us. It is our appreciation and appropriation of Christ that is the Holy Spirit’s ground of activity; that is the way of deliverance.
Christ the Way out for the Sinner
Hear that wretched man crying out: "…for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I" (Rom. 7:15). In that up and down life, resolving and failing, at last he cries: "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?…I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 7:24-25). What is the way out for the wretched man? It is an apprehending of Christ. Not the man’s own struggles, his resolutions, his efforts in making up his mind that today he is going to be better, and coming back and having to repent at the end of the day. No, no! It is our faith-hold on Christ which is the way out, the positive ground of victory.
You try that way. God honors His Son, and God honors our faith in His Son. "It is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again" triumphant (Rom. 8:34); and, "Christ in you," "…the head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:10). This is necessary fact for the unsaved. If we had been converted on the strength of this we would have been stronger believers from the beginning. If only we had known this when first we were saved, we would have leaped into something that came to us many years afterward.
Oh, for the preaching of salvation to the full! You get a different kind of convert altogether when you carry the work of Christ to its full issue, when it is not only preached that your sins will be forgiven and you will go to heaven and not hell. Perhaps a little more than that is preached, but it is infinitely more than that. If only we preached the fullness of Christ’s work we would have converts that went ahead rapidly, and reached maturity much sooner than the majority are doing!
The Lord give us a new joy in the Son of His love as supreme in every realm!
– From The Centrality and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ by T. Austin-Sparks.