|THE VICTORY OF THE BELIEVER'S COUNTENANCE
John A. MacMillan
I AM REVEALED
Feb 04 2012
Three times in Psalms 42 and 43 before us, there occurs a refrain in identical language. It varies somewhat in the
Authorized Version where the translators have employed different words. In the first instance of its use (42:5), the last
three words have been attached to the following verse, having probably been so arranged in some manuscript in order
to remove what to some scribe seemed an abrupt transition of thought.
The following rendition applies in all three instances (42:5, 11; 43:5). It is quite literal:
And why art thou disquieted in me?
Await God, for I shall yet praise him
- The victory of my countenance - and my God.
God is here revealed not merely as the Deliverer of the soul of the psalmist. In the existing circumstances of spiritual
oppression and physical depression, that would have itself been a splendid achievement of faith. Jehovah is
represented in a larger way, as the Giver of victory to the countenance of the psalmist, so that his enemies fled before
his face. The Lord had endued His servant with His own authority from on high so that, as he went forward in the name
of God, opposing circumstances should give way and spiritual enemies would flee apace.
This is a New Testament truth in an Old Testament setting. It is one with which every saved and sanctified believer
should be familiar. The purpose of the Father provides that each child of His may be a sharer of the throne and the
authority of His risen and exalted Son. Over all the power of the enemy this authority extends. It is the believer's right
to bind and loose in the name of Him who has appointed him. As the psalm states it, God is Himself the Victory of the
believer's countenance so that he fears neither man nor spirit nor opposing circumstance.
The Way of the Cross
It is the duty and privilege of every Christian to understand and enter into the divine desire for our perfecting and to
claim the place with Christ, both in His cross and resurrection and ascension, that the Father has appointed. God has
reckoned each believer in His Son to have died with Him at Calvary. "Know ye not," demands Paul (Romans 6:3ff), "that
so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" Alas, it is a truth of which very few who
claim the saving grace of our Lord have any practical knowledge, but it is of vital importance. All of our growth into the
stature of the risen Son of Man depends upon our identification with Him. "Our old man," the apostle goes on to say (6:
6), "was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be annulled" (its power over us destroyed completely and
forever). We enter into the experience of this through faith: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed
unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (6:11). Then, as we positively present ourselves unto God
as alive from the dead and withdraw our members from the demands of sin, we shall find ourselves through the action of
the Holy Spirit, who carries out within us the action of faith, realizing the truth of the promise (6:14), "Sin shall not have
dominion over you."
The way of the cross is the appointed path to the realization of the experimential sitting with Christ, which the Father has
ordained for the believer. Our blessed Lord died at Calvary, and the bands of death being broken, He has been
exalted to the right hand of the throne. There is no other way for the disciple than to be as his Lord. It is not a method
of fleshly works of self-denial, but the firm belief that God does as He says, as we walk in the light of His truth. Our part
is the simple entering by faith into that which has already happened at the cross, the tomb and the resurrection. We
yield ourselves unto God that the Spirit may work in us that which He has revealed in His Word as His divine purpose, a
purpose which He can only fulfill as we abide in the faith that He is working in us to will and do of His good pleasure. We
have died with Christ; we were buried with Him (not in the mere symbolism of water baptism, but in the apprehension of
that work of the Spirit which baptism symbolizes); we were raised with Him in His resurrection out of that tomb in which all
our sins and the old man, the root of all, were buried; and we have been made to sit with Him in the heavenlies, at the
right hand of the Father. It is in the realization which this faith brings that we come to know that the Lord has Himself
become the strength of our countenance as we see a new power working in us and through us in our ministry.
The saint who has learned that the Lord Himself is the victory of his countenance confronts calmly and fearlessly
whatever situation may arise, knowing that naught can prevail against the will that is linked with God. A firm and positive
refusal that the enemy shall have any right to work in the life or the body or the circumstances will bring the foe to a
standstill. And, as this attitude is maintained in quiet faith, a change will come, and the attacks will lose their force.
However distressing the assaults, it is possible for faith to ask of his inner life, "why art thou cast down, O my soul, and
why art thou disquieted in me?" and to calm itself with the certain assurance, "Await God, for I shall yet praise him - the
victory of my countenance- and my God."
The conflicts in our churches, in which neither party will give way and which lower the spiritual power of the assembly,
may be controlled by prayer and authority directed against those evil principalities and powers, whose working foments
and continues the trouble. Individual lives, taken in the snare of the devil, depressed and hopeless, may be restored to
their place of assurance, peace and joy in God. Attacks on physical health, on social relationships and on financial
matters may often be traced to unseen workings and thus overcome in the name of the Lord.
In a wider outlook, the international tumults which threaten the ministry of the gospel through blocking access to needy
fields and tying up the sources of financial support must also yield to the faith that directs the weapons of God against
the satanic barriers. The countenance of Joshua was given such victory by the God of Israel that no man was able to
stand before his face all the days of his life. Our wrestling, unlike that of Joshua, is not with the seven nations of
Canaan, but their spiritual counterparts. These are the forces that are responsible for every opposing world issue.
They, too, shall fall before the Church of Christ when her people, inspired and energized with a new vision of Calvary,
shall rise in the name and authority of the Lord to refuse all interference with her world mission.
Princes with God
it was said of George Mueller of Bristol, in his later years, that he bore himself like a prince of God. So confident had
his faith become through years of asking and receiving, so intimate was his communion with God from uncounted hours
spent in audience with Him, that his whole bearing manifested the dignity of a member of the royal household of
heaven. The society in which we move inevitably leaves its impress upon us. This is the more true when it demands
the putting forth of our highest powers to walk worthily among its members, and when we further realize that it expects
us in every situation to be an honor to it. We have been made through the ministry of our gracious Lord, "kings and
priests unto his God and Father." If we believe this and walk in the conscious light of the Lord, there cannot fail in time
to be seen in us what was said of the brethren of Gideon: "Each one resembled the children of a king" (Judges 8:18).
Victory over the Church's Foes
Among the spiritually significant stories of the Old Testament, there are none that contain deeper teaching for the
individual overcomer and the whole militant Church of Christ than those of the outflow from the smitten rock at Rephidim
and the ensuing battle with Amalek, recorded in Exodus 17. The lessons are so practical, they enter so deeply into the
nature of the great conflict that is being fought in the heavenlies, they reveal so simply the technique of the warfare with
our unseen foes, and they speak so confidently of complete and final victory that there is little left to be said on the
subject. There are other incidents in the Word which deal with differing phases of the same subject, and all are of
value. But this gives the most comprehensive outline of the spiritual struggle involved, and it closes with a statement of
the eternal purpose of God regarding the cooperation of His people in securing present and final triumph.
Our Heavenly Possessions
Israel had come into a great and priceless possession. Out of the smitten rock, rivers of living water were flowing. They
were a gift direct from the throne, abounding in life and blessing. They made possible the very existence of the people
of Jehovah in the wilderness journey. The whole nation drank and was revived. There was no lack for either man or
Rabbinical traditions speak of the streams following the host as it moved onward, the water flowing up the hills and down
the valleys and gathering in pools at the places of encampment. To these traditions the apostle refers (I Corinthians 10:
4) when he speaks of the people drinking of "that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." In doing
so, he does not give authority to the stories; his purpose is to direct attention to the second Person of the Trinity who
accompanied the nation, providing for its every need and graciously protecting it in danger. The fact that a second
time, toward the end of the wilderness wanderings, the rock was again smitten (Numbers 20) indicates the necessity for
a further supply of water and reveals the falsity of the tradition.
For us there is a wealth of spiritual meaning in the record. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:
37), the Lord still cries unto His people. Christ at Calvary is the Smitten Rock of the New Testament Church. From His
opened side flows the divine supply that satisfies every heart longing. So abundant is the fullness of the risen and living
Lord, who dispenses that heavenly grace, that there is added to the invitation a wonderful promise: "He that believeth in
me...out of his belly [from the depths of his inner life] shall flow rivers of living waters" (7:38). That is to say, the believer
who abides at that Rock and drinks continually of its outpouring becomes himself a channel of blessing to other thirsty
THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER, by John A. MacMillan, Copyright 2007, WingSpread Publishers.
|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES