Home ] Up ] The Controversy ] Online Books ] Study the Word! ] GOD's Health Laws ] Religious Liberty ] Links ]




There is no more necessary and no more comforting truth taught in Scripture than that our Lord Jesus Christ reigns in the heart of every believer. The frequency with which this sublime fact is stated in the New Testament should surely impress us with its great importance. The apostle Paul, whose extensive knowledge of the Old Testament and whose special tuition under the divine Teacher (see Gal. 1:12; Ephes. 3:3, etc.) gave him a crystal - clear interpretation of the prophecies concerning the Lord reigning in the midst of His people "Israel," triumphantly taught that the Lord Jesus reigns in the heart of each believer, as well as in the body of the church. He stated that he was especially endowed with wisdom "fully to preach the Word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ I in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:25-27, margin).

The prophecies of the Old Testament declare that God - "the Holy One of Israel" - reigns "in Zion," and that by His Presence and power the enemies of Israel will be defeated and Israel triumph gloriously over them. See Ps. 2:1-9; Joel 2:1, 15,32; 3:16, 17,21; Obad. 17; Micah 4:2,7; Ezek. 39:7, etc. Isaiah declared: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall put him to flight. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord" (Isa. 59:19, 20). Notice Paul's inspired application of this verse in connection with the "Gentiles" - "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel" (Ephes:2:12) - who, by their acceptance of Christ as Lord, then become members of "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16), being "no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Ephes:2:19). Paul taught that the true Israel of God will be made up of sin-freed Jews and Gentiles: "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sin" (Rom. 11:26, 27). Under the provisions of the New Covenant, God has promised to "subdue our iniquities" (Micah 7 19), to "take away our bent to sinning." Because God will not force the will, we must cooperate with Him by yielding our hearts to Him in a daily surrender. Thus, day by day, the Lord writes His Holy Law upon our hearts, as He has so graciously promised to do. (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-12.) We learn to say with the Psalmist: "O how love I thy Law! it is my meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:97). "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt 6:11). "And He [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). "I die daily" (1 Cor. 15:31). "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body... yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:10, 16).

The greatest problem in the world is, and has been since the inception of sin, that of personal, daily victory over sin. A hymn-writer has expressed man's great need:

"And none, 0 Lord, have perfect rest,
For none are wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would serve Thee best,
Are conscious most of wrong within."

Christianity is more than the good news that God forgives sin; it also proclaims that God promises power, daily, to over- come sin. Another hymn-writer has expressed the desire of the sincere heart for this "double" or "perfect cure": "Be of sin the perfect cure, Save me from its guilt and power."

Sin can be overcome only by Christ dwelling in the heart. This is the grand theme upon which the Apostle Paul frequently dwells. In his "much more" chapter (Romans 5) he declares with glowing eloquence: "Much more, then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life... much more they which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ . . . But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:9-21). Sin brought man to a state of bondage from which he can never extricate himself. Being born with a sinful nature it is impossible for man to cease from sinning. (Jer. 13:23; 17:9, etc.) But a life free from sin is assured all those who permit Jesus to reign upon the throne of the heart. Sin, as a powerful tyrant, reigns upon the heart and will drag man down to eternal destruction, but Jesus will save from sin all those who put their trust in Him. Sin is powerful, but "much more" strength is given the believer to reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." "Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" lived out in the heart. With Christ living and reigning upon the heart, victory over sin is assured. In chapter six of Romans, Paul continues to emphasize this essential teaching of freedom from sin through the indwelling Christ. Instead of sin reigning in the heart (Rom. 6:12), the believer has Christ reigning in the heart and giving him freedom from the power of sin (see vs. 11, 12- 22). After describing the battle against evil and the sincere soul's quest for holiness (Rom. 7), Paul then presents the secret of sanctification - the indwelling Spirit of Christ. He says: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death . . . if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you . . . And if Christ be in you . . . the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:2-11). Victory over sin is assured through the indwelling, living, pulsating power of the Spirit of Christ, Who enlivens the mortal body and gives power to resist evil. Having shown that believing Jews and Gentiles alike partake of these privileges, Paul then applies, in connection with a Christian's victory over sin, Isaiah's prophecy of the coming of the Redeemer to Zion, the turning "from transgression in Jacob," and the putting of the enemy to flight.

Old Testament prophecies concerning the Lord reigning in Zion, and the victory of His people, are not to be understood as being separate from the story of salvation from sin, for salvation from sin is the moral purpose for which they were written. This interpretation of Old Testament prophecies was no doubt under- stood by some devout Israelites in ancient times, but from the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit made this abundantly clear. Paul, in particular, was given special revelations to make these things clear to the Gentiles and to the "saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you. the hope of glory" (Col. 1:25-27).

In his "Greek Dictionary of the New Testament," Dr. Strong says concerning "Sion": "Figuratively, the Church (militant or triumphant)." Significant derivatives of the Hebrew for "Zion" are given as: "to glitter from afar, i.e., to be eminent; also to be permanent... strength, victory." Each believer in Christ may know from personal experience the present glorious fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Lord reigning "in Zion," for from the Lord Jesus reigning upon the heart will come "strength" to live a life of "victory."

Victory over sin through the power of an indwelling Christ is "the hope of glory." "The Spirit of truth... He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you... and I in you... and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (John 14:17-23). "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (1 Cor. 6:19). "God is in you" (1 Cor. 14:25). "Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Cor. 13:5). "Ye are of God . . . and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). "Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephes. 3:16, 17). "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20).

In the words of the hymn "Live Out Thy Life Within Me," Frances R. Havergal has beautifully expressed the secret of personal victory over sin:

"Live out Thy life within me,
O Jesus King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer
To all my questionings;
Live out Thy life within me,
In all things have Thy way!
I, the transparent medium
Thy glory to display.
"The temple has been yielded,
And purified of sin;
Let Thy Shekinah glory
Now shine forth from within."

In another hymn she wrote:

"Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne."

In Heb. 12:22 we read: "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn." Sion is a heavenly mountain whose very name signifies sunny, and is the city of the living God. The expressions mount Sion" and "the heavenly Jerusalem" not only refer to the future glorious capital of the Messiah's eternal kingdom in the earth made new (Rev. 21 and 22), but they refer to the present dwelling-place and throne of the Lord Jesus in His church and in each believer. Those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour enter "the heavenly Jerusalem," and so long as they are loyal to the Commandments of God (Rev. 22:14) they are safe and secure as if in a mighty fortress. This expressive imagery is often presented in the Scriptures. Isaiah says: "In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee" (Isa. 26:1-3). In these inspired words, the gospel prophet assures us that the gates into this "strong city" are thrown open to all those who keep the truth, and that those who picture themselves (see margin, v.3) as being kept safely within God's appointed "walls and bulwarks" of "salvation" will be kept in "perfect peace." Again we read from Isaiah's pen: "Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.. . the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory" (Isa. 60:18-20). The Psalmist says: "Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise Thee: for Thou art become my salvation" (Ps. 118:19-21). "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Prov. 18:10). "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my Deliverer... He is my shield. my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; Thou savest me from violence . . . He is the tower of salvation" (2 Sam. 22:3,51). See also Ps. 18:2; 144:2, etc.

This picture of an individual or of the church dwelling securely within the mighty walls of an impregnable fortress is carried over into the encouraging imagery of the book of Revelation, where the great struggle between the forces of good and evil is so graphically and so realistically portrayed that some, not discerning the moral purpose of the symbolism employed, think that a military war is therein depicted.

The best way to memorize is to reduce to a symbol that which we desire to commit to memory, and by the law of association that symbol brings to the mind all that is associated with it. Symbols present truths in the most arresting and most informative form. Mighty truths are thus condensed and made simple and clear. For this reason the Great Teacher presents the vital teachings of the Apocalypse in symbolic form.

The reader is urged to cultivate the symbol-picture of the soul as a fortress: when surrounded and assaulted by many enemies - pride, selfishness, envy, jealousy, greed, dark, negative thoughts, etc. - seeking to obtain an entrance into the citadel of the soul, the dark invader is repulsed and victory is won through King Jesus - the Light and Live-giver - dwelling within. To inculcate this teaching in the minds of His children, and to enable them to grasp these soul-stirring facts of salvation, is the moral purpose for which the Lord inspired John to present the symbolic pictures of the Apocalypse: they present Christian realities.

A widely-read author, who consistently applies the martial imagery of the Apocalypse as descriptive of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, employs the same Biblical imagery we have presented to teach that the individual's victory over sin depends upon the indwelling Christ.

"When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan . . . The only defence against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness." ("The Desire of Ages," p.323).

In another book, this writer employs the same imagery in describing the power of the church to withstand the assaults of her enemies:

"The church is God's agency for the proclamation of truth. and if she is loyal to Him, obedient to all His commandments, there will dwell within her the excellency of divine grace. If she will be true to her allegiance, if she will honor the Lord God of Israel, there is no power that can stand against her." ("The Acts of the Apostles," p.600.)

Individuals and the church are likened to "a city that is set on an hill" (Matt. 5:14). The Christian church and individual believers are represented in the prophecy of Ezekiel (chaps. 40- 48) as a temple built upon "a very high mountain." Jesus said: "Upon this rock [Himself, "the Rock of Ages"] I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The New Testament teaches that the church is now God's Zion, His city Jerusalem, and that prophecies concerning enemies being destroyed when attacking Jerusalem and God's people have their moral purpose in relation to the victory of each individual believer in Christ and of the church as a whole.

In the book of Revelation, the storm center of the ages is the city of Jerusalem, the name of which means "foundations of peace"; Jerusalem, the city of "the Prince of Peace." To correctly understand the Revelation, Jerusalem must be interpreted as the center of the battle between good and evil. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem was the center of national Israel, and many of Israel's national enemies came against Jerusalem the city of "peace." Though foes were without, peace reigned within the city when Israel was faithful. In this we see typified the church as a whole, and also each individual. Through their allegiance to the God of Israel, the church and individual Christians become the center of attack by foes who are stirred to ''war'' against the Holy Son of God within. But, while spiritual enemies gather outside the walls of "the holy city" (Rev. 11:2, etc.), the heart is at peace with God.

Enemies of the people of God who literally gathered around and attacked ancient Israel's literal city of "peace" are brought into the spiritual imagery of the Revelation as types of the enemies who spiritually gather around to attack the spiritual city. The Revelation carries this representation through until the end of the millennium; then, all the resurrected literal enemies of ancient Israel and all the enemies of the church will literally gather around the literal city (Rev. 20:8, 9) in which reigns the visible Son of God, the Destroyer of the evil which makes "war" on Him and His people. In Joel 2:32, deliverance from the foes without the city is vouchsafed to "the remnant" within Jerusalem: "For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom - He shall call." As we have already seen, it is from this prophecy that Peter, in his Spirit-filled address, quotes on the day of Pentecost and applies it in connection with salvation through King Jesus, Who is "both Lord and Christ." Instances are given in the Old Testament where national Israel found deliverance within Jerusalem through the power of God (see 2 Kings 18:17-37; 19:1-37; Isa. 37:32-36, etc.). At the end of the millennium, when the enemies of God and of His people gather to attack "the camp of the saints," "and the beloved city" (Rev. 20:8, 9), they are destroyed through the almighty power of "the King of Righteousness,"' the Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns within.

All the proper names, places and designations of the Revelation are employed in a symbolical sense until the Revelator's description of the holy city - New Jerusalem - at the end of the millennium. Thus the Lord shows the principle to be employed in 'rightly dividing" the Apocalypse and other parts of the Holy Scriptures. The millennium is the dividing line between the application of the spiritual and the application of the literal, just as the cross terminated the literal, national, typical system, and introduced the period of the antitypical, spiritual, or church application. The Revelation clearly reveals the triple application of the things of Israel, but as we have dealt with that theme in another book, we will not discuss it further here.

As the history of ancient Israel is applied in the New Testament as types or symbols depicting the experiences of the church, and as the church is represented as having taken the place of national Israel, even to its geographical setting in Palestine, so, in the Revelation the Lord has described the present-day experiences of His church in symbolical terms. Though buffeted by many foes, the church, "on the mount Sion" (Rev. 14:1, 20; Ezek. 40:2; 43:12; 47:1, etc.), as a mighty fortress, impregnable to the assaults of the enemy, will be "more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37). "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).

The great controversy between the forces of good and evil over obedience to the Law of God will culminate in "the final conflict." To vividly portray this spiritual battle is the moral purpose for which the graphic symbolic pictures have been given in the Revelation.

Back ] Up ] Next ]