Christ Enthroned Within
There is nothing higher or deeper in human experience than to be God possessed — a temple of the Holy Ghost. This is the climax of the Atonement. It is the very cream and marrow of Christianity. The Apostle says this mystery has been hidden for ages and generations, but is revealed in the last days to the saints. This mystery is Christ formed with in you, the hope of glory; not merely Christ with us or for us; not Christ in prophecy or Christ on yonder cross, or Christ in the heavens, as wonderful as that is, but Christ enthroned in the human heart, reigning, ruling, controlling the affections, conquering the will, bringing every appetite and passion of the soul and body under subjection.
The Apostle Paul had this double experience in his own life. On his way to Damascus he had an outward revelation of Christ which prostrated him and transformed him from a bloody persecutor to an humble follower of Jesus. But we read in the first chapter of Galatians and the sixteenth verse that after he was called to preach he says, “It pleased God to reveal his Son in me”. This was something entirely different from the Damascus experience. In the latter Christ was enthroned within him. We may get the life and sayings of Jesus from the four Gospels, but it takes the Holy Ghost to reveal the inward heart, life, tempers and disposition of Christ.
Peter, in the Second Epistle, first chapter and nineteenth verse, says: “Until the day dawn and day star arise in our heart.” Jesus calls Himself, in Rev. 22, “The bright and morning star,” and then tells us, in Rev. 2:28, that this star experience is given to the overcomers.
When we put all these Scriptures together it means Christ within our hearts; not only as our Sanctifier, but a Divine Person, a Comforter, Guide and Heavenly Guest.
Notice, Peter mentions two things — the day-dawn and day-star. We know that the day-dawn means the eternal morning where there is no sorrow, sin or Satan, but the day-star is quite different. The stars shine in the night! We are living in the night age of this dispensation. Jesus is compared to the sunrise in His second coming, but long before the sunrise and day-dawn takes place we are to have the day-star hidden away in our hearts as the harbinger of the eternal day.
Again, this double blessing was beautifully illustrated in the Pillar of Fire and Cloud that led Israel. First, we see its presence in the heavens leading, hovering over, and protecting them from their enemies; but there came a day and time in their history when that fiery cloud became an inward as well as an outward presence.
We read in the fortieth chapter of Exodus that when that beautiful structure known as the tabernacle was complete — the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, the candlesticks, the table of shew bread and golden altar in the Holy Place and every curtain hung — that Moses and Aaron dedicated and anointed it with oil, took hands off, and that fiery Presence in yonder heavens began to descend, and a cloud filled the whole tent, and the fiery glow entered the Holy Place and the holy of holies, and between the wings of the cherubim and the mercy seat the glowing Shekinah finally rested. From this on God spoke to Moses, not from the mount, but from the tabernacle.
In the New Testament our bodies become God’s temple. When we give this temple over to the Holy Ghost; with all its faculties, the “old man” is cast out, self is slain and Christ enthroned within.
The best saints of the ages have testified to this double revelation of Christ. Dr. Daniel Steele, the noted Greek scholar, says: “The Man of Calvary, the Son of God, treads all the avenues of my soul, filling its emptiness, melting its hardness, cleansing its impurities and pouring upon my head.
Blessed unction from above,
Comfort, life and fire of love.”
Dr. John A. Wood, noted for his deep piety, after his wonderful baptism with the Holy Ghost, says: “Some of the precious results of the cleansing power of Jesus in my soul have been —
1. A sacred nearness to God my Savior. The distance between God and my soul has appeared annihilated, and the glory and presence of Divinity have often appeared like a flood of sunlight, surrounding, penetrating and pervading my whole being. Glory be to God, that even the most unworthy may be ‘brought nigh by the blood of Christ!’
2. A sense of indescribable sweetness in Christ. The fact that He is the ‘Rose of Sharon,’ ‘The Lily of the Valley,’ ‘The Bright and Morning Star,’ ‘The brightness of His (the Father’s) glory, ’and is altogether lovely, has at times so penetrated my soul as to thrill it with ecstatic rapture. Oh, how glorious and lovely has the dear Savior appeared to my soul, and how strong the attraction my heart has felt toward Him! Often His glory has shone upon my soul without a cloud.”
Dr. B. Carradine tells the following: “A very superior Christian lady was seeking the blessing of Sanctification at an altar in a California city during one of our meetings. She had been instructed what to do, and had obeyed. All was on the altar. She was believing that the altar sanctified the gift, and stood looking upward as if watching for the descent of the Blessing. The writer felt moved to say to her, ‘My sister, look into your heart and tell me what you see.’ She closed her eyes, introverted her gaze, and in the next instant opened her eyes with a look of joy in her face, and a rapturous cry that we can never forget: ‘Oh, He has come! Christ is in there!’ Then followed, for nearly a half hour, a torrent of spiritual eloquence from her lips as she ‘prophesied’ before a spellbound audience. Months afterward we met her in another city, when, with a smile of unutterable rest, she said, ‘He is still in there.’ Speaking of it afterward, she said, ‘When you told me to look within, I did, and the instant I did so I saw the Savior, and oh, He did smile upon me; and now whenever I look within, He is still there, always with the same sweet smile. . . . Thank God for an inward revelation! Not all have it. We can tell it by the faces of the people. Such a secret possessed by the soul could not but flash in the countenance, gleam in the eye, ring in the voice.'”
Let us notice what is meant by Christ being enthroned within. It means purity. He will not dwell in an impure temple. The first thing Christ did when He entered the Jewish temple was to cleanse it. Three years later He cleansed the temple the second time, which has its spiritual meaning and fulfillment. We are told that on His second entrance He came riding on an ass, which is the symbol of humility. All strut, swagger and egotism leaves the heart in which Christ dwells. Here we see also Divinity on top of the animal. Sanctification is that blessed work which puts the physical on the bottom and the spiritual on the top. Again, on His second entrance to the temple, we are told the people began to rejoice and shout. If there is anything that will start the shouts of Hosanna! Hallelujah! and turn loose a Heavenly choir in the soul, it is when Christ enters the temple in His cleansing, sanctifying power to take up His abode.
On His second entrance to the temple, the people spread their garments in the way. Here we see the dress question settled. It is put under Christ’s feet. It seems to take the Second Blessing to properly adjust the dress question. Many a costly, showy, stylish garment comes off when the Savior comes in.
We are told that, as He entered, the people cut palm branches and spread them in the way. The palm branch has always been a symbol of victory. Here the soul begins its victorious march onward and upward. Isaiah says, “And thy mourning days shall be ended; sorrow and sighing shall flee away; and thy sun shall go down no more.”
Thank God for a never-setting-sun experience which refuses to be discouraged! The hand drops the weeping willow which stands for defeats, failures, sorrow and sighing, and lays hold of the palm branch and waves it over Satan, sin, doubt and fear, and presses its way onward to another mountain peak. How can the soul be defeated with Christ reigning within?
Christ crowned within means constant victory over temptations. Just as a red-hot stove will throw off cold water and a live wire is its own protection, so Christ enthroned in the heart wards off the assaults of Satan and holds the soul steady and calm in the midst of conflict and fiery temptations. The beauty of being sanctified and cured to the core is such that when Satan comes with evil suggestions and makes his appeal to the appetites, passions and affections, there is nothing on the inside that wants to respond.
As long as sin is in the heart it makes it easy for the devil to get in his work and disturb the peace of the soul. The difference between the temptations of the converted and that of the sanctified soul is that, in the sanctified experience, the battle has been transferred to the outside. Sometimes the most severe battles with the unsanctified are caused by the inward foe that wants to open the door to the tempter. Inbred sin is the seed and root of all sin. The writer to the Hebrews calls it the sin which doth so easily beset us — that weak place in one’s character where he is more likely to fall.
Judas’ besetting sin was that of covetousness, which was the weak point in which the devil found gateway to his soul and caused him to turn traitor and go to a devil’s hell. Sampson’s besetting sin was an inordinate affection and undue love for the opposite sex. It is said that we are no stronger than our weakest point, but God’s plan is to save us and crucify us to the fleshly life and enthrone Christ within, that right at the point where we have been the weakest we shall have complete victory. The ancient Parthians believed that the strength of every enemy they defeated went directly unto them. Suppose this was true. How could we stand before such a being? Spiritually this is true. With every triumph over a foe there is a growing strength and power until the soul learns to take from conquered difficulties the strength they sought to take from us.
Christ within you, the hope of glory, makes dying easy. St. Paul refused to use the word “death” in regard to his home-going. He used the word “depart,” which was an old word used in connection with a ship leaving one port for another. A ship was not made to tie up at a port, but to sail the deep and plow through the storms, ride the billows and come in on the other side with a full cargo. The soul was not made for this short life. There are longings and cravings that will take all eternity to unfold and develop. The Apostle Peter, in his second epistle, chapter one, speaks of the abundant entrance given to those who have escaped the corrupt nature — which means the depraved nature — and are made partakers of the Divine nature, and have added all the Divine graces to their experience. He says they shall have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom. This is something more than scarcely being saved, which is applied to a class in I Peter 4:18. The only comment we would make on this verse is that we see this acted out in a great many of our revivals every year. Some just barely get saved a few days before death. Here is still more light on it. Numbers, for the lack of light and teaching on Holiness, put off getting sanctified until near death’s door. On account of the remaining carnality in their hearts there is a shirking from going into the white light of eternity. They are prayed with and dealt with until, at last, they say they are reconciled to go.
Dr. S. A. Keen, the noted evangelist, said that 75% of the professed Christians of his day, whom he was called to visit in the dying hour, were unprepared to die. The testimony of all the saints down through the Church age was that Christ enthroned within robbed death of its sting and the grave of its gloom, and made leaving this world the “Saints’ great Coronation Day.”
Some years ago the writer read of a ship that was overdue. The crowds had been anxiously waiting for some news for days. At last the telegram announced that she had been sighted at sea. A later one said she was in the narrows and nearing the harbor. Finally, she came steaming toward her moorings, covered with ice, her boats swept away in the storm, one engine broken down; but, in spite of all, she had locked in with the storm, mounted ten thousand billows, and had come in with hundreds of passengers. Amidst the playing of bands and the boom of a cannon she received a glorious welcome. If the approaching of a ship will draw multitudes to welcome her, who can doubt but that Heaven’s shores will be lined to welcome those who have braved the storms, and have mounted thousands of billows and kept their heads above the waves. What does it matter if they were misunderstood, slandered, wrongly attacked? They are nearing Home, while angels shout and all Heaven gives them welcome Home.