The Progressive Life – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 8

The Reigning Life

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne.” — Rev. 3:21

And now we come to the climax in the overcoming life. This is the same convert who became a pillar, but now he is sitting, which implies rest after toil, and authority after coronation.

The mother of James and John requested for them a seat, one on His right and the other on His left hand — the highest dignity of which she could conceive. The twelve Apostles are also spoken of as sitting upon twelve thrones. But here Christ offers a yet higher honor; namely, to sit with Him on His throne — placing us in the closest relationship with Himself and exalting us to His own glory. Think of it! “Once a sinful, but now a glorified man, may share in common with Him who was man and who has so exalted humanity as to render such a condition and such a position possible.” All hail the power and glory of Jesus’ name!

No doubt, there are a few important chairs at your home, indicating comfort for those who are worthy. There in that cozy corner, beside the stove we find these chairs, one for father and one for mother.

In like manner if we overcome and perform our tasks faithfully, there awaits a golden age when we shall feel pain and toil no more, but sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob under the evergreen trees of life.

Did you ever attend a grand review of old soldiers, younger soldiers and Boy Scouts? It is a grand occasion and for the time being every crippled and wooden-legged soldier forgets his hardships and sufferings as he passes by the grandstand. Here are important seats for dignitaries and officials, but there is one chief seat for the Governor or President. As the great parade is about to begin. I see one vacant seat next to that all-important one. A late comer who is compelled to stand asks impatiently if he may occupy that vacant chair; but he is chagrined and humbled when he is informed that this particular chair is reserved for him who is a little late because of his loyalty in performing duties for his Commander-in-chief. In like manner will it not be worth while to be faithful here and endure all kinds of privations and solitude if a chair — yea, a throne — is reserved for you or for me in that grand review of the universe?

“In every single place where reigning with Christ is spoken of there are terms used which indicate something more than justification, terms strongly expressive of being dead to sin, of being purified, made white, and tried.” “If we suffer (are crucified) with him, we shall reign with him.”

“When the Lord Jesus, as a glorified man and the crowned heir of David, shall sit on His throne as the King of this world, He will institute the great est and most glorious and most diversified empire ever known to human mind. All the kings that have ever existed. in this world in their most perfect state of glory will be in comparison with the theocratic Kingdom of Jesus only as a feeble glowworm to the splendor of a noonday summer sun.”

Think of it! Adam Clarke informs us that the last of the seven churches, Laodicea, “was the lowest and worst of all, yet now is promised the most eminent honor of them all. This shows that the worst of sinners may repent and overcome and finally attain to even the highest state of glory.” Praise be unto our adorable Redeemer! But, as every promise has a condition, here we find a key word, though very small. If we would sit with Him in His throne we must overcome even AS He also overcame. And how did He overcome? We have heard many times how He overcame hostility in meekness and forgiveness. When He was buffeted and reviled He answered never a word; when He was spit upon and smitten in the face with the palms of their hands, He answered never a word. When He fell under the cross and bruised His tender knees, “As a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off o ut of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence neither was there any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief.” Never before nor since has the world seen such a manifestation of meekness. He who could have spoken and the earth would have swallowed up His enemies; He who could have called and presently twelve legions of angels would have fought for Him! Yet in His gentleness “He opened not His mouth.” No marvel then that He has a right to a throne. And how cheap would we feel to sit beside such a Being if a single soul could point an accusing finger at us on that great day!

We find this same key word again in that remarkable prayer of our Lord, John 17:14, 16. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” This was said of the disciples before Pentecost, before they received heart purity. They were evidently quite dead to the customs and fashions of the world. Friend, can this be said of you? Does justifying grace work such a change in your heart that you do not talk, walk, dress, vote or do business like the world?

I fear this is why so few get the real baptism with the Holy Ghost. They are not proper candidates. In appearance and behaviour they look and act too much like worldlings. They are not a silent rebuke to compromisers. In fact, they seem to feel at home with jokers and smokers. Oh, that Christ could say once more of His professed followers, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Then, and not till then, will we get back to the slaying power of Pentecost.

He not only overcame hostility, but likewise popularity; we do not hear much about this. Nevertheless He knew what it was to be very popular.

Turn to Mark 1:32 and read: “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, “All men seek for thee.” In other words, “Master, here is your golden opportunity. Here is an entire city ready to bow down, ready to build you a throne, ready to make this the capital of your kingdom upon earth. Master, Master, what are you doing in this lonely place, early in the morning praying with the dew upon your locks? Why not seize this opportunity that comes only once in a lifetime to be an earthly, yea, universal king?” Such is the reasoning of poor fickle humanity. But listen to His answer! He said unto them, “Let us go into the next town that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.” How unlike the politician; how unlike one who pulls wires and seeks votes to become a bishop! But He knew what was in man, that perhaps in just a few days the same crowd would be ready to shriek out in madness, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Paul must have likewise known something of the meaning of death to human praise and censure. Hear him: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not my own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time until the Lord come who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” Did you hear that? Paul had grown in grace to such an extent and become so much like his lovely Lord that with him it was a “very small thing” that he should be praised or censured. Friend, have you overcome like this — so that you would not turn your hand over for the difference between the one who comes up and flatters you, and another who comes up and slanders you? What does it all amount to in comparison with the inner consciousness that you aim at only one thing — not self-interest or self-seeking, but the glory of God.

Oh, to overcome from infancy to old age even as He did. If so, an entrance shall be made for you into that everlasting kingdom that shall have no end.