8. The Way of Triumph
The living way is the way of Triumph.
8. The Way of Triumph
You may well have noticed before you arrived at the end of my last letter, “The Way of the Cross,” the obvious reality that I did not notice until I had nearly completed that letter.
God never ever says, “The way of the cross.” That phrase is almost as familiar to most Christians as the phrase, “to be saved means we 'go to' heaven.” God never says either one. The one time in the Bible when God uses the word “way,” and the word “cross” near each other, He places the cross MOST DEFINITELY on the outside of that way.
And you . . . He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
Because of Adam, the law entered into the way of man – God on the outside in the form of instructions, which man attempts to follow. But through Christ, God took the law back out of the way where it did not belong.
You see, the way Jesus walked was the way flowing out of His heart, the way of being, step by step that was He walking through this world. The cross was something done to Jesus from outside of Him. The cross was part of that which pressed against His way, as well as the darkness and the death. Yet Jesus Himself walked with God in the way, and there is no death in God.
To those looking from the outside in, the whips, the thorns, the jeering, the cross – all seemed to be part of “the way.” But to us who look out from Jesus' eyes, we see two things only. We see thankfulness for all the weakness of the flesh and all the difficulty of the circumstances, and we see the mightiest expectation of life, resurrection life, ever to beat in the heart of any Man.
Yet, I will not change the title of that letter. Because the phrase is so familiar, it may well lead some into the truth. But God calls it the new and living way, not the way “of the cross.”
There is only one way by which we are led into life. God always leads us in Triumph.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, . . .Hebrews 10:19-20
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14
The living way is the way of Triumph.
Jesus said, “I AM the Way.”
Triumph is a very specific Roman word. It does not mean “victory,” though triumph is very much the result of victory. Victory comes first; triumph comes second. They could be seen as two sides of something even larger:
Glory has two specific and distinct parts. The first part of glory is victory. The second part of glory is triumph. Here is our relationship with glory.
Christ in us is our hope of glory – We shall appear with Him in glory. – He is bringing many sons to glory. – We are crowned with glory.
Glory is the end result of the Covenant for man. Glory is what we want; glory is what we get out of this bond we have entered with God.
But more important for our understanding is this line from Romans 8.
. . . the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed (apocalypsed - unveiled) in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing (apocalypsing - unveiling) of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Now, here is Victory, also in Romans 8.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors (victory) through Him who loved us.
Notice how victory is found inside the “pressed-in way.” And that the glory to be apocalypsed, unveiled within us is far greater than any measure of that difficulty which presses against the way. Apocalypse means the glory is already there in all fullness for those who see by faith. Taking the cover off means we see with our fully restored spirit-eyes what was true all along.
And they overcame (victory) him (the accuser who presses against the way) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11
Remember – there is only ONE death. Christ died once for all; Christ dies no more. Either His death is acceptable to us, finished and complete, either His death WAS (not is) our death, or we remain separated from God in the darkness of our own minds.
And just as there is only one death, so there is only ONE glory.
But I see, in these verses, a third ingredient in glory. Doxa: Nike – Apocalupsis – Thriambeuó
Glory: Victory – Unveiling – Led in Triumph. But that's not how God works it; God works it backwards. Glory: Led in Triumph – Unveiling – Victory.
Thriambeuo was a Greek word altered to fit the Latin word Triumphus.
Both refer, as Paul intended, to the Roman Triumphus or victory parade. That parade had two parts. The first part was a regal carriage in which Caesar rode with the victorious general at his side and surrounded by the Praetorian Guard. The crowds lining the victory way honored both Caesar and the general as one. The second part was the conquered foes marching in chains, showing to all the proof of victory, the evidence of the general's great work.
Thus the Greek word “Thriambeuo” is found also in Colossians 2:
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
God always (the Greek word means “always”) leads us IN triumph.
That is, God always leads us as Caesar led the general, leading us in all ways as equal sharers in the victory and acclaim of Jesus, and showcasing the defeated enemies in our lives. If we are being led in any other way than to exult boastfully at all times in the victory of Jesus filling every part of our humanity, now, while we do not “see” it, then it is not God who is leading us. God ALWAYS and only leads us in triumph.
Two more thoughts, first, John 1:14, Luke 9:29-31, and 2 Corinthians 4:6 and second, Ephesians 6:12 & 5:30-31.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. – As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening . . . Peter and those with him . . . when they were fully awake, saw His glory . . . – For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. – For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones . . . and the two shall become one flesh.
I believe that I have assembled on these pages the heart of the Covenant – look carefully at all the phrases of all the verses above again. The meaning and reality of God in these few lines is far, far more than we could possibly contemplate right now.
The flesh is the place where the glory is revealed; I have never heard anyone acknowledge that Paul said we do not fight against the flesh – to fight against the flesh is to fight against Christ, it is the rebellion of Adam. Jesus did not “fight against” His flesh, He gave thanks for His weakness and He expected God. Those who magnify the flesh watch it become larger and larger until it consumes them. Those who see Christ alone, watch Him become larger and larger until there is nothing else to see – revealed through our mortal flesh.
Gold (God) is the covering inside and out, but wood (flesh) IS the structure of the Ark that contains the ever-abiding Covenant binding God with us and we with God.
Flesh, our human weakness and insufficiency, our quirks and personality, our likes and dislikes, our hopes and dreams, containing the glory of the Person of God Himself within and the light of His glory upon our face, upon the face of Jesus Christ, is forever. And all these things are present tense, right now.
Triumph is the capstone, the completion of glory. But triumph is where God ALWAYS leads us. It is not the way of “the cross,” it is “The Way of Triumph,” this path we walk.
Now, this letter is actually the second half of “The Way of the Cross.” I was past my limit of eight pages, and I still had not arrived at the main point.
The word translated “the way,” does mean a way or a path. But the word is also translated “a journey.” Even when it is used to mean a literal path, that path is always figurative as well, it always symbolizes, rather, a journey. I like that – because journey is an essential part of story. The way is where the story takes place.
Every hero goes on a far journey, leaving all comfort behind. On that journey he gathers friends and companions who walk with him out of the deepest love. Eventually the hero returns where he faces the enemy and reclaims his kingdom. The companions are always a part of that victory, devoting their lives “to the death” for their friend.
Look at Timon and Pumba in The Lion King. They are silly, irresponsible, and for awhile, a distraction. Yet in the midst of the final climax, in the moment where everything is at stake – they devote their lives without question to Simba's victory.
The horror of Peter Jackson's movie version of The Lord of the Rings is that he stripped the returning king of his heart and glory and almost eliminated the incredible love-bond by which his companions gave their lives utterly to his heart. Thirty men, three elves, and one dwarf, with thirty-five horses followed Aragorn through the paths of the dead, untouched by any fear or death, though death pressed close around them. They followed him entirely because of the fierce determination of his heart and their unbreakable love and loyalty to him. And all thirty-five rode day and night, day and night, without ceasing, that the king might save his people from destruction. And all of their strength, men, elves, dwarf, and horses, flowed out of Aragorn's heart and the fierce determination of his love. The dead did not come to Aragorn's city to save it, but the living. Forgive me, but story, the Great Story of God, brings me to tears.
Because most people who rejoice in grace define the purpose of grace according to the false paradigm of “go to” heaven, they have no concept of the DESIRE and intensity of Jesus' heart.
“That THESE whom You have given Me may be with Me where I am, they they might behold My glory.”
This is a Spirit word. Jesus was NOT talking about going to some place, sitting in great bleachers, and looking at something. “God, deliver Your people from the evil of separated thinking.”
Every part, nuance, and element of Jesus' way, His journey, His victory, His unveiling, His triumph, His glory, He is determined that we share it with Him and He with us in all fulness. We share it all right now.
We ARE His flesh. Our bond with Him and His with us is the bond of the Covenant.
Jesus is right now seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting in full expectation for His enemies to be made His footstool. It is in this way that God shares the glory of Jesus with us. If there are no defeated enemies in our parade, we cannot know His glory.
Every moment of my life is Jesus sharing His fullness with me. I live entirely in perfection, that is the place of God's revelation; I have never lived anywhere else. I am bound to Him by heart, and the strength of His heart commands all of my life.
There is a false idea held by almost all Christians, that we are being delivered out of the kingdom of darkness. And those who are presently discovering the incredible joy of grace, because they still hold to that false idea, imagine that it is by grace that we “are being delivered” out of the kingdom of darkness. Thus, they have eliminated the place of the believer to share Jesus' glory by standing in the battle.
But that idea, that we are in the process of escaping darkness, is itself darkness. When Jesus said, “Here am I. I and the children whom You have given Me” – note that He said specifically, “I AND the children – Here WE are,” in that moment you and I were removed utterly from every element of the kingdom of darkness. When Jesus said, “And the children,” He revealed our pre-existence inside of Him centuries before we were born.
Of truth, we have never actually known the kingdom of darkness inside of what is us and inside of any part of our way. You see, we thought we were just people; for years we thought we were sinners saved, or being saved, by grace. But from our conception to our present moment we have shared His journey and His glory. Yes, darkness presses against our way, as it pressed against His, but there is no shadow of darkness inside all the way of our lives.
Grace is NOT God doing something for us; grace is God sharing Himself with us. That is, sharing with us all the glory of Jesus every step of the way in which we walk.
It is as C.S. Lewis said. When we know the revelation of Jesus Christ in fullness, we look back at every moment of our lives and see that it was, after all, entirely Christ alone; it always was He. But those who never see Christ as their life, in the end, see nothing but darkness. I have been impressed lately by the importance of our seeing. Those who see sin in the flesh MUST BE consumed by sin in the flesh, and those who see Christ alone are consumed by Him.
If God, then, is not “getting our attention,” or “bringing us to the end of ourselves,” or “cleaning us up,” or “bringing us to the full death of the cross,” then what is happening to us? Why do we go through difficult things?
Jesus spoke a number of commandments to us concerning our relationship with Him. The first and most important commandment in the Bible is “Abide in Me and I in you.” But other phrases also fit inside that larger picture: “Come to Me,” “Believe in Me,” “Follow Me,” “Eat of Me – Drink of Me.” But there is one that is unique and most precious. He said, “Learn of Me.”
“That I might know Him.”
The way of Triumph IS the way of learning Christ. Things press against our way that we might learn of Christ. We share in His sufferings that we might learn of Christ.
You see, God is VERY serious about answering Jesus' request. When Jesus asked the Father that we might be with Him where He is, that is, IN the Father, that we might behold His glory, God highly regarded Jesus' request. God has never thought about anything else. And when did He answer that request? From the moment Jesus asked it of God, we were inside of Him. From that moment on, we share His glory. When He said, “I and the children whom You have given Me,” we were already fully inside of Him.
God always leads us in triumph; He never leads us any other way. He loves Jesus too much ever to deny Him the JOY that He won. And the fragrance of His glory goes out from us into every place.
And thus, everything we go through, every step of this journey we tread, is God in us reconciling the world to Himself. Why did I just pass through a few weeks of pressed-in-ness that felt very much like darkness and God-far-away? God was in no way “far away,” and I never thought He was, in spite of what I felt. No, God was ever in me, reconciling the world to Himself, causing me to share in all parts of the glory of Jesus.
Learn of Me.
When I came out of that pressed-in-ness, I happily began writing “The Way of the Cross” in a Spirit of joy and hope. Then I thought, “I wonder what I said in those previous letters on Gethsemane.” So I listened again to my audio, “Altar of Incense.” I was amazed at the difference in seeing between those articles and the present. You see, after writing the article, “Gethsemane,” some comments made in a discussion on Facebook bothered me, so I answered, to a large extent out of my own not-seeing, in my own frustration.
Here is what I realized listening back. God gave me that way of seeing for the articles on Gethsemane, but I was taking it too far. I was wanting to argue for murder inside of God! Can you believe that? We get funny ideas in our heads sometimes.
After posting my “argument” on Facebook, I got frustrated at everyone and everything, utterly embarrassed at what an idiot I've been to write all this stuff, to present myself as if I “know” something! Waiting for the darkness to pass before I could write again, I forgot about everything I was thinking of writing. Then, after a few weeks, suddenly all the joy was back, and I wrote again new and present thoughts out of that joy, “The Way of the Cross” – there is no death in God. I had forgotten entirely that I was even thinking of that other stuff.
Oh, it's a gristmill all right, this way of Triumph. But to know Him! To learn of Him! It is joy unspeakable and full of glory. And you know what, precious ones have written to me sharing how the Lord Jesus showed Himself to them through my article “The Way of the Cross.” It is the glory of Jesus. And if I must be squeezed to know that glory, then let me be led in the way of Triumph.
God did not “correct” me. He pressed me into a chute of His design where He could show me His glory and then allow me to share in the beauty of others seeing that same glorious Jesus inside of them. I behold His glory. The very fact of my “looking further” than God wanted me to look in that Gethsemane way of seeing He had placed upon me was the trigger that allowed Him to show me what I never would have seen otherwise.
Now – we looked out from Adam's eyes, we looked out from Abraham's eyes, we look out of Jesus' eyes always and forever, but let's look out from our own eyes (His eyes as us), now, to see this Covenant walk with God by which He has bound Himself to us and we to Him.
And if this were the last letter I could send out (I hope it's not, I'm working on the next already), then I ask God to give me the words to convey possibly the most important thing I will share with you – how we walk through the next few years and forever out from this Covenant Bond we share with God and God with us. How we walk just as Jesus walked.
First, we must always see ourselves in the place where God always leads us – in the chariot of celebration, standing side by side with King Jesus, His hand holding ours high. All the multitudes of heaven and earth are cheering us on as the King points to us and then points to the defeated foes in chains behind us. King Jesus proclaims for all to hear: “This is Daniel; he belongs to me, faithful and true. He defeats every foe, overcomes every obstacle. He is My Glory!” And the crowds cheer with all the acclaim of the universe.
This is now. This is the only way in which God leads us. If we are stumbling along in unbelief, seeing flesh and evil inside ourselves and inside our way – and not all the victory of Christ revealed in us now – we are not being led by God. From the moment Jesus asked the Father, we have shared His glory in all ways.
I am well aware that many fellow believers suffer persecution at the hands of their enemies throughout the world, whether in the Communist realms (including Israel) or the Muslim. The sad thing is that for every Christian persecuted by Muslims, at least a dozen Muslim families are destroyed, usually burned to death, by “Christians.” We know all about it when Muslims act violently, but we deliberately make ourselves ignorant of the unfathomable violence committed against Muslims by “Christian” thugs in uniform.
But I do not read magazines or reports such as Voice of the Martyrs. Besides a heavy whip of legalism that seems to pervade these reports, it seems as if all the writers can see is the kingdom of darkness. They hardly know Christ.
Paul was very blunt. He said that suffering persecution outside of the exaltation of Christ's love carrying us and flowing out from us is totally worthless, a big waste of time.
We walk through ALL difficulty that presses against our way, whatever it might be, including persecution, carried utterly in a bubble of glory, just as Christ walked. Out from us flows an unstoppable love for our enemies. It makes no difference whether we “feel” anything. Christ fills our hearts, therefore He loves our enemies through us as He loves Himself. Our every step wins those who are afflicting us to glory.
And the love that just won't stop flowing out of our hearts swallows up all who hate us in the Salvation of Christ. That's just who we are. We are sons of God, and His glory flows out of our bellies setting creation free.
God took the core of believers from Hudson Taylor's ministry in China into prison, including Watchman Nee. They walked in glory, and out from that glory came the largest church in the world, the church in China. Here is one report I heard; I have no reason to suspect that it was anything other than the truth.
A woman from Hudson Taylor's church in Shanghai found herself in solitary confinement in the depths of a Chinese prison. She saw no one. Her only contact with humanity was the hand of the guard who passed her meal through a small hole in the door once a day, in complete silence.
God spoke to her, “Love your enemies.” She asked, “How, Lord, there are none whom I can love?” He said, “Love your enemies.”
Day after day she stood by the food door when it opened and said, “Is there anything I can do for you? May I serve you? Could I clean your room for you?” For a long time there was no response. But finally, the guard opened the door and led her to his own room, a nearby open cell. He asked her to clean it for him while he stood guard duty. She did so thoroughly. Her act of love won the man's heart for Christ, and then another, and another.
When the entire prison, guards and prisoners had yielded their hearts to Jesus, the Communist officials realized they needed to do something about the “problem.” They moved the sister to another prison. By the third prison won for Jesus, guards and prisoners, they realized they had better let her go.
We are sons of God. God always leads us in triumph, and rivers of glorious liberty are always flowing out of our bellies.
But how do we know that? We know it to be so by walking in the bond of the Covenant, just as Jesus walked.
Right foot forward: “God, I am so very weak. Thank You, Father, for the way You created me; thank You that I am weak.” Left foot forward: “God You ARE my strength. I expect You, not to “give me” strength, but to be strength, Yourself, in me.” Right foot forward: “God, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. I thank You that my way is pressed on all sides by lack. I am content in Your goodness.” Left foot forward: “God, I expect You to move all provision my way, to open doors of favor, to fill my cup to overflowing. God, I don't want you to “give me” the means of supply, You ARE my supply in Person in me, and out of Your hand flows all things richly for me to enjoy.”
We do not ask God to fulfill the terms of the Covenant; we expect God. He has spoken; He has bound Himself by His word; He has given Himself no choice in the matter.
This expectation of God IS the highest honor we can give Him; it is the highest form of worship.
Now, fit these words into your own language and your own situations. Some may call this a “formula”; I call it the obedience of faith. God says, “Speak.” We speak, not to “make something happen,” but that we might believe God within us. That faith is the eternal relationship we share together.
God, I thank You that I have no money to pay the bills; God I expect You to provide all that I need. God, I thank you that my disability limits me in this particular way; God, I expect that You ARE the compensation matching my inadequacy. God, I thank You for my inability to see rightly even though it causes me to speak unkind words to my wife; God, I expect that Your honor arises in me to speak only words of honor and tenderness to my precious companion.
God, I thank You that I'm feeling awful; God, I expect You to arise in joy in me. God, I thank You for the sickness afflicting my body; God I expect You to heal me. God, I thank You that this door just slammed shut in my face; God I expect You to open Your door for me into favor.
God, I thank You, that I live in a world gone mad; God, I expect You shining out from me as a Light in the darkness, as Peace in the midst of violence. God, I thank You that 10,000 people just dropped dead all around me; God, I expect Your keeping power in Person surrounding me like a mighty fortress wall. God, I thank You that starvation surrounds me and cannibals stalk the streets; God, I expect the food You are right now sending me to come right through that door. God, I thank You that they have thrown me into prison; God I expect Your love in me to envelop all of my enemies. God, I thank You that precious dear brethren were just martyred for Your glory; God I expect that I will live and not die and that You show Yourself mighty through me.
God, I thank You that you made me weak, timid, and limited; God, I expect You to speak through me in all boldness Your Word that confronts all evil acts and sets creation free. God, I thank You for a planet in need; God, I expect rivers of living water pouring out of my belly.
You see, it is a very simple relationship, the very thing God intended from the beginning and designed us so carefully to be. At the core of this relationship is Covenant. The Covenant is so very important. The Covenant raises us up to be equal with God in person, heart to heart. It assures us that all that is God belongs wholly to us and all that is us belongs wholly to God. And the bond of that Covenant is an unfathomable love; it is a shared heart.
Now, there are critical elements about this relationship we must know. I will share some in outline form here, but I will likely expand on them in a letter titled, “The Bond of the Covenant.”
1. In this Covenant Bond we must be utterly weak; we certainly are NOT responsible for ourselves. If our heart must be to run after God, then He must share His heart with us to do so. I cannot pretend that I love Him. Our weakness is forever.
2. God fills us with all, with every part of Himself. And He fills us to utter saturation in Person. God fills, in Person, every particle of our spirit, soul, and body, our flesh, mind, and will. And He fills every part of us with ALL that He is.
3. Our bond together, God and us, is a bond of friendship, of mutual relationship. We share heart with God. There is no dictate in God. Though He often takes the lead because He has so many wondrous things up His sleeve, yet He conforms Himself to us as well. God follows our lead quite often, and He does so with delight.
4. Everything that is important to me is important to God, and everything that is important to God is important to me.
5. Inside this Covenant bond, we enjoy intimacy with God beyond belief. We share hilarious laughter. We share the deepest of sorrows for those in need. We bear their burdens together. We share pleasures indescribable. We share breath-taking adventure. We share the joy of co-creation. We share the deepest intimacy of heart.
6. You and I take no glory for ourselves, what are we? We're just along for the ride. God shares all glory with us. No one ever sees God; they see only us. We look like God because God is always flowing out of us in rivers of living water. Yet when the creation sees us, they are truly seeing God, for He reveals Himself to them through us. Yet there is never a moment that anyone would assume that it is not God Himself they are seeing. Yet we are not mere “vessels,” the price God paid for us establishes our supreme value.
7. Even the “us” part of the equation is also “Christ as us.” He truly is living as us in this world and forever. Our union is complete. To God, we are always the Son of His bosom, the body of the living Christ, honored above all the heavens.
8. Every element of this Covenant Bond that we share with God, we share also, fully, in all ways, with one another. Christ is a many-membered body. The same intimacy that binds our hearts with God binds our hearts together, one with the other. Every joy, every burden, every task, every adventure that we share with God, we share with each other. Our union with each other is as complete and as forever as our union, together, with God.
Now, this relationship with God, this living way in which we walk, is God's intention for us from the very beginning. God expects to walk with us in the same way that Abraham walked with Him and in the same way that Jesus walked with Him. This is not an expectation of obligation, but of joy. It is what God does as Himself in us and as us in Himself.
At the present time, we do go through the motions of speaking this relationship, yes. But here's what I find. This way of walking with God is so in tune with His Person that it isn't long at all before we walk in this way in all things, in all boldness, just naturally, as simple and constant as breathing.
And all shadow of separation is gone forever.