I read a line from Milt Rodriguez’ book New Day today, that has stopped me in my tracks.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death…(Philippians 3:10)
What a beautiful and rich desire Paul had and what a powerful indicator this verse is, of where our lives as believers ought to be headed.
There’s two aspects of this verse that I would like to write about and I’ll do it as a two- part series. Firstly, ‘The Power of His Resurrection’ and secondly, ‘The Fellowship of His Suffering’.
The Power of His Resurrection
More and more in reality and experience, not just in theory and head-knowledge, I am seeing that this Christ we love and serve, truly is a risen Christ. I’ll say it again…He’s a risen Christ! That’s everything! That means, He died and He rose from the dead. (How can we even comprehend such an event unless the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to this reality?! It is too mighty for us).
Incredibly though, there is something even greater about Christ than this. His being risen from the dead is one thing. An astounding thing. An incompressible thing unless the Spirit enables us to believe. But we have read accounts throughout scripture and even in modern day times, where people have been raised from the dead. So we accept that God can and does raise people from the dead, to His own glory. However, even those who have been raised from the dead, whether in scripture times or present times, still eventually die. But not so with Christ!
Christ is beyond risen, He is living right now and forevermore!
I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:18).
Jesus said to Martha;
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;(John 11:25)
So there is much more than the miracle of people being raised from the dead on the earth only to one day again die and await the final resurrection with all God’s children. There is much more to Christ having been raised from the dead. Christ remains and lives forever as a resurrected one, as no other before or after Him (until all who belong to Him are resurrected in that final day). There is now, in Him, a resurrection life to live by, for all who are in Christ, right now!
But what did Paul mean when he said he wanted to know the power of His resurrection life? How can we know this power?
I suppose the obvious answer is the precursor to this phrase in what Paul said in Philippians 3:18 and that is to ‘know Him’, to ‘know Christ’. It seems that to truly ‘know’ Christ enables us to know the power of His resurrection life. To know this power of Christ’s resurrection life, is to know and partake of all the abundance of Christ which through His death and resurrection has been made available to us right here and now. But without knowing Him, how can we partake?
Christ’s resurrection life is a type of life. It’s a quality and type of life that is not of this world. It is a life that has overcome death. It is a life by His Spirit. It is not just ‘a’ life, it is HIS life. It is in fact, Christ Himself! Paul, like us, wanted to know the ‘power’ of Christ’s resurrection life. That means that His resurrection life is one of power, doesn’t it?
Do you feel like a Christian who lives with power? What power are we talking about, then? We’re not talking about power to live out our own will, lives, passions, desires, wants. We’re not talking about a power to serve ourselves. No, we’re talking about Christ’s life! We’re talking about the power to live out HIS life here on earth! It’s His Life, by His power.
So how do we do this? How do we partake and appropriate His resurrection life in all its power that has been made available to us?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. … (Ephesians 1:3)
As fellow-blogger Cheryl McGrath (Bread for the Bride) so beautifully describes, this ‘heavenly realm’ mentioned here in Ephesians 1 is not a physical locality, but a realm in which we as believers now live, in Christ. We are not waiting to die and go to heaven to then have every spiritual blessing! We have every spiritual blessing in Christ and Christ is now! He is the Living One, and we are in Him.
Milt Rodriguez (The Rebuilders) once described this partaking of Christ’s resurrection life as like taking food from a fridge. When we need something to eat or drink, we who live in first world countries, go to our fridge and open the door and take from the shelf. We don’t look at the fridge and wish and hope and pray that the food that is inside the fridge will suddenly become ours. We open the fridge door and we reach in our hand and we ‘take’ what is available.
This is like Jesus. Christ’s resurrection life is readily available to us. And just like opening the fridge door and taking what is there for ourselves, we, by faith, take what is already available to us in Christ. This is called partaking of His life and this is called appropriating what we know to be true.
It is an act of faith to live by HIS resurrection life.
How does this play out practically, you might ask? Well, I’d like to share an experience I had recently that has really encouraged me in this practise of appropriating (putting action to) my faith in this way.
I’m not a person who loves confrontation, in fact I tend to shy away from it unless I feel very passionate about the situation and then I’m bold to go right in, though often with shaking hands and quivering voice. I recognise however, that over the years, I have mostly confronted situations…people really…out of my own strength. I’ve done it out of my own set of values or preferences or sense of right and wrong. I know when I’ve acted on my own volition, or out of my own soul-life and not led by the Spirit of Christ within me, because I’m left with guilt or pride, no peace and generally the situation has only worsened.
Recently, I was presented with a situation where one very dear to me was being verbally attacked by another. Both are Christians. And the one who is very dear to me, well, I’ve witnessed her life and I believe I know her heart as well as anyone could know another’s heart. Things had been pretty dreadful between both parties for a long time but on this latest attack I felt something rise up within me, to speak up and defend her. I had the peace of God to do so and even after the event, that peace remained.
The party who was verbally attacking of-course responded to me and I felt somewhat attacked but it didn’t matter. Now, normally, this sort of thing would leave me feeling sick with anxiety and upset. As I was being tempted to focus my thoughts on the dialogue that had gone on between us, and being tempted into imagination and thinking the worst, I remembered the fridge.
I turned to the Lord and held out my arms as a display of embracing all that He is, all that is His abundant supply available to me right now. I declared that in faith, I take Your calmness Lord, I take Your patience, I take Your peace and Your ability to let it go into Your hands. In and of myself, I cannot let it go so I take Your capacity to let it go.
Miracle of miracles. I let go.
Miracle of miracles. I am sitting in the peace that surpasses all understanding, spoken of in Philippians 4:6-8 which reads;
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…
I appropriated by faith what I know to be true and I partook of Christ’s resurrection life, and it has become power to me. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I know what I can do and at the best, I can self analyse and apply some positive self-talk and pray. No, Christ’s resurrection life overcame the temptation to indulge in fear, anxiety, upset, judgement and sin. The angst and upset of the situation lost it’s power like a bucket with holes in it drains of water.
I believe this has been a lesson 101 for me, in learning to know the power of Christ’s resurrection life. This resurrection life of Christ is the power to live by His life. Can I encourage you to turn to the Lord and take for yourself, all that He is for you in every situation, by faith. Draw from His life. This is power for us to live by His life in every situation because He is the Living One. He was dead but now He is alive and lives for ever and ever.
God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ. (Colossians 1:19 NLT)
Do not take these as just words. Do understand that in every fragment there is this truth: In the dispensation in which you and I are now living God has come to us in all His fullness. There is no more to be added. In His Son we have the absolute fullness of God, and it is out of that fullness that He speaks to us in His Son. God has only one Son in that sense – His only-begotten Son, which means that there is no one to come after Him. Therefore, God’s last word is in His Son. The Son brings both the fullness and the finality of God. It is that which gives the solemnity to this whole Letter. It says: “If you fail to hear the voice of the Son there will never be another voice for you. God is never going to speak by another voice. God hath spoken in His Son, and He is never going to speak by any other means.” Hence this Letter contains this word of warning and of exhortation: “Because this is the fullness and this is the end, be sure that you give heed….” To come into touch with the Lord Jesus is more than coming into touch with a teaching: it is coming into touch with a living, active Person. “It is God with whom we have to do.” It is a glorious thing to come into touch with God in Christ – but it says here that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”(Hebrews 10:31). No, it is not a book, a teaching, a philosophy: it is a living, positive, powerful Person….
Perhaps this is just like a window opened into heaven. If you get the right window you can see quite a lot. You can see great things and you can see far things. But the best that I can hope is that this has just opened a window, and that as you look through it you are seeing one thing – how superior is Jesus Christ to all else, and how superior is the dispensation into which we have come, and how superior are all the resources at our disposal to all that ever was before!
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The On-High Calling – Chapter 10
In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ. (Colossians 2:9,10 NIV)
We have said that Christ is a heavenly revelation, but Christ is also a heavenly fullness. If God has revealed His mind, His thought in Christ; if all that God intended has been brought to us in a personal revelation: God has followed that up by the fullest provision in Christ for its realization and its attainment. So that every need of ours is supplied according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. In Christ there is not only a standard set, but every kind of provision for attaining to God’s standard. All the secret resources of God to reach His end are there in Christ for us. If He has come out with the mind of God in fullness, He has also come out with the resources of God in fullness. All the fullness dwells in Him, and we are made full in Him (Col. 2:9). God could never judge us at the end by His standard of revelation if He had not made all provision for our realizing of that standard….
By T. Austin-Sparks from: That Which Was From The Beginning – Chapter 1
This Christ is so deep that His riches are unsearchable!
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8)
This Christ is so enormous that He fills the universe!
And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself (Ephesians 1:23)
This Christ is so magnificent that the FULLNESS dwells in Him!
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Colossians 1:19)
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)
This Christ is so beyond our wildest imaginations that He lives beyond death!
I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev 1:18)
This Christ is so mighty that all things are held together in Him!
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17)
This Christ is so wonderful that He continues to increase!
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever (Isaiah 9:7)
This Christ is so vast that He is the beginning and the end!
“I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8)
This Christ is so amazing that God chose us in Him before creation!
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes (Ephesians 1:4)
This Christ is so loving that He gave His life for us to be reconciled back to the Father!
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16,17)
This Christ is so high that His rule and dominion reigns over all other powers and authorities of the heavenly realms!
…who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:22)
This Christ is so rich that His mercies are new every day!
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:23)
This Christ is so creative that nothing that has been made, was made without Him!
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him(Colossians 1:16)
…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (Hebrews 1:2)
This Christ is so unconditional that He gives His life to whoever believes in Him!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)
This Christ is so full that He is the Head and the Body of the Church!
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12)
THIS CHRIST IS UNLIMITED!!
By Watchman Née; (emphasis mine)
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star. Revelation 22:16
The book of the Revelation is the unveiling , the apokalupsis, of Jesus Christ. It draws aside the curtain to reveal Him.
It’s object is not primarily to enlighten us regarding coming events – the antichrist, the supposed revival of the Roman empire, the rapture of the saints, the millennial kingdom or the final downfall of Satan. John’s remedy for our ills is not a matter of so many seals and trumpets and vials. It is not in fact designed to satisfy our intellectual curiosity at all BUT to meet our spiritual need by revealing Christ Jesus Himself in fullness, that we may know Him.
For Christ is the answer to all our questions.
Get clear first about Him, and we shall know all we need to know about “things to come”.
He is the risen and victorious King of kings. All the events that follow, are the outcome of His being that.
A really vital truth and reminder of that truth……please read on…
By T. Austin-Sparks from: God’s Supreme Interest in Man – Chapter 3
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10 NIV)
Christ Himself, when He was here, never failed to let people know that when they entered that door, or that straight and narrow way, they were in for trouble. Now that may sound like a very terrible thing to say, especially to you young Christians who are not far inside the door, but be perfectly clear about it; the Lord Jesus never deceived anybody about this, never at all. He let people know that to “follow Him,” as He put it at that time, involved them in difficulty and suffering and persecution and trial and a lifelong thing. There is a cost here, a great cost. And we shall discover that while there are the compensations, for there are undoubtedly the compensations in this life and the mighty compensations for eternity, this is a way which is not easy for the natural man by any means. This work of the Holy Spirit is drastic, exacting, and very trying to the flesh. Make no mistake about it; it will take all the energy that the Holy Spirit Himself has to accomplish this work. It really will. So the Lord Jesus has not left us in any doubt about this.
But note, and I am glad the Apostle Paul puts it like this, because it is so true to experience, “The new man who is being renewed.” Notice, first there was a precise and definite transaction, “Ye put off” and “ye put on,” but now the work that is going on is not a single act of a single moment and a single day, but it is something that is going on in us.
Over the past number of weeks I have had certain thoughts drop into my spirit, that have been along similar lines so there seems to be a theme forming. The theme has something to do with only living by the life of Jesus Christ within me (us) so I thought I’d share these with you in the hope that you might be encouraged.
One thought was that when it’s very tough to keep going in our Christian life, instead of returning to the mantra ‘I must continue on’, we realise that we must NOT continue on. Only Christ in us must continue on. Anything other than Christ and there will be no moving on at all!
The second thought was concerning those times when we experience life to be very heavy and difficult. Often there are no natural surrounding circumstances to warrant the heaviness and difficulty we experience in our minds and hearts. It’s not depression, anxiety or any type of disorder, there is just a difficult time or season to endure.
I was thinking of how at these times we can only just walk through – we don’t race through with banners and flags flying and victorious trumpets blowing but we just make it – we just walk, one step at a time. Then I thought at other times, a crawl is the best we can do. And yet at other times still, we actually lie down in God’s stretcher and He carries us over the line. But whatever way, it is only because of His Spirit living in us, that we get over the line at all. In fact, because His spirit lives in us, we ALWAYS get over the line. And then we are shown again, that is only Christ’s life in us that can go through.
The third thought was a meditation resulting from a daily reading that I get on my email called Open Windows, A series of exerpts by T. Austin Sparks – found at Austin-Sparks.Net. (It’s a free daily subscription which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to know Christ more deeply and richly). It was an exerpt from Features of Zion, Chapter 4.
In this exerpt the Spirit of God through Sparks reminded me that I need never be spiritually thirsty or hungry because Christ is my spiritual food and He lives in me. I can’t write it any better than he did so I’ll just quote him here;
Now it is not what we are. I am dead; He is alive. I can never be other than dead, but He as the Life can become Life in me in my death, if only I believe. I am hungry, spiritually starved; He is Bread, and I need never hunger; although I shall always hunger in myself, yet He will become the Bread to supply me. Think of it! I need never hunger, I am down there in the country, isolated, getting no fellowship, no food; I am away in some place where there is no spiritual bread, and He says, “He that eats Me shall never hunger.” Is that dependent upon where I am, what my situation and circumstances are as to available spiritual meat? No, it is Himself, not a place; it is Himself, not circumstances. But how can it be? – “He that believes.”
This got me thinking further about those times of apparent spiritual dryness. You know the ones, when it feels like your prayers are hitting an invisible ceiling and you are so heavy that you can hardly lift your head? It takes all your faith and strength to just say His name. Sometimes it appears that the Lord even hides Himself, as we read about in Song of Songs of the Old Testament. But I realised this morning after having the opportunity to meditate on this through sharing with a sister in the body, the Lord’s hiding Himself is only for a greater unveiling of Himself in a time that has not yet come.
The temptation during these times of dryness is to stop eating of Christ, and to wallow in self-pity, discouragement and the worst of all – introspection. But the Lord wants us to know that He is our spiritual food and satisfaction at all times, in the dry and wet seasons of our Christian walk, for He is ever with us. We are to trust Him in His faithfulness to carry us through to a greater sighting of Him. How important it is that we keep turning to Him and how hard that can be during such times. This led me to another thought which is what inspired this post.
I used to run a lot, you know, as in training for fitness and small triathlons. There’s a point in running where the mind (more than the body) begins to become overwhelmed with reasons to give up. There is no resource left from which to draw the motivation, will-power and energy to keep going. The reasons for giving up are logical, reasonable and great in number. They seem to overwhelm any reason for continuing on. BUT if one doesn’t give in to those thoughts, and just keeps the legs going, keeps running, at some point (undefined) something mysterious happens. That ‘second wind’ kicks in. It is as though a life that is not our own, takes over and we are carried along on a magical wind that energises and pushes us in an almost euphoric way to complete the race.
This is so much like those seasons in our christian life, where we feel we just simply cannot keep going. There is every logical and reasonable reason to give up. The purpose even begins to lose its shine under the heaviness of the weight that seems piled upon us. BUT if we simply just keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other (spiritually speaking), we find another Life at work in us, that carries us through. We find it is in fact the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us that takes us on, it’s not us at all.
That spiritual ‘one foot in front of the other’ I’m talking about is the continuing to turn to the Lord. Sometimes the most I can muster out of me is to say His name “Jesus”, yet I realise that is His life in me that is enabling me even that far. That’s the one foot in front of the other. Then the Holy Spirit enables me to say His name a second time. Then I find I might be able to sing a little song of praise that He puts in my heart. I might be able to sit in quiet and focus on the Lord’s goodness. These may only seem like very small and momentary things, but they are Life – a life that is not mine – they are HIS Life IN me in spite of the God ordained season of apparent dryness and also in spite of seasons of heavy spiritual opposition.
And this is the endurance. This is the perseverance. This is running the race. HE is the second wind. He is the supernatural energy that brings us through and over the line. He is the Life in us to look at Him and eat of Him. He is the source of Life.
I pray that as you read the following well-known scripture verse, that you will see it with different eyes, through spiritual eyes.
…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Romans 5:3-5.
The notes I have written beside this verse in my bible read; The Holy Spirit is the seal of our adoption – our assurance and our hope. He is our motivation.
So there is the Holy Spirit, the Life of God in us, through Jesus Christ, as our Second Wind, our Motivator to keep walking, one foot in front of the other. He is the Life in us that carries us through the times of suffering, even apparent spiritual dryness. He is the One in us who enables us to eat of Christ at all times and there we find our hope that does not and indeed cannot disappoint.
Lord, may Your Life ever increase in us, that we might see as You do, living only out of You.
What’s ‘church-hopping’ all about?
“Don’t be a church-hopper” I was always hearing. “Oh you know them, they’re church-hoppers, they never stay in the one place for long….”people would say. “They’re not stayers….they’re always moving around”.
*By the word ‘church’ in this context, I am referring to the building/denomination where you attend a Sunday or Saturday service to hear a sermon and sing worship and praise songs etc, in the company of a congregation where there are positions of authority and programs and man-made traditions.
I realise there’s a myriad of reasons why people ‘leave’ or ‘change churches’ and many of those reasons are let’s say, less than Christ-like. Things like, not liking the music or some of the people there or there’s not enough activity for the children or there’s a disagreement with someone and so on. Jesus and His apostles teach us in the Word of God to love our enemies, to daily encourage one another in the brethren, to bear with one another in patience and forgiveness, and to love others as Christ has loved us and we could go on. I myself, am guilty of ‘changing’ churches for such reasons. But is there a right reason to leave church?
In my humble opinion, the best reason to leave church is because you are dissatisfied with your spiritual growth. Brother or sister, do you feel like you need to leave church for good because no matter how many different churches you ‘check out’ or ‘sow into’, as they say, you remain spiritually dissatisfied? Are you at your “this is my last try” and find you have not experienced any significant spiritual growth?
A lack of personal spiritual growth might be interpreted through not finding the sermons meaty enough, finding the worship shallow, feeling controlled by the leadership, feeling stifled in being able to move freely in the Spirit, feeling unable to contribute, feeling you just don’t fit in, having a sense that all is not well in the church but feeling it must just be you with the problem. All these things can be indicators that you are not growing spiritually and would leave you feeling that this church thing just isn’t working. At that point, many up and go and look for another church congregation to see if they offer something more (note the emphasis on ‘my’ needs) and hence the term ‘church-hopping’.
However, if you are of the conviction that you are not growing spiritually in church life as you’ve known it and have a deepening holy dissatisfaction, and if you are sensing that it is in fact the Lord who is calling you out, (though many you fellowship with would contend this – especially those in leadership) then I’m excited for you! I am excited for the Lord and for the whole body of Christ! Because that calling out will ultimately lead to a calling in! And the ‘calling in’ will be into the Life of the Body of Christ that fulfils the Father’s deepest desire – the full expression of His Son through the Church!
Well 13 years ago I was called out too! And after some years in the ‘wilderness’ (ie not going to or being part of any church fellowship yet deeply desiring to know God more) and then being called in to an organic expression of Jesus Christ amongst other believers, man, things have changed for me. Or should I say, ‘in’ me.
Someone asked me the other day, has my view of Jesus changed since leaving the organized or institutional church system 13 years ago. My answer was an unequivocal and resounding yes!
So here are just four ways I see Christ differently now, since He called me out to call me in.
1.I used to see Jesus as external to me.
I saw Him as the Son of God, my invisible friend and I loved Him because He was God’s Son and I loved God.
Now I see Jesus as this Christ who lives in me and through me. He expresses His own life through me and He fills my being. He lives and breathes through every believer! So I have millions and millions of brothers and sisters who He lives in and through as well! He is no longer external but has become this Life giving spirit who indwells all believers, His church, His body of which I am just one member. I see Him as enormous and filling all things with Himself, and whose life, peace and government will continue to increase throughout all eternity! (Isaiah 9:6-7) He is huge!!
2. I used to see Jesus as a figure
Now I see Jesus as a person, the Son of Man as well as the Son of God, and a person whom I know very well but am still getting to know and to whom there is no end. We are in relationship with one another. He is closer to me than anybody could ever be and we are intricately connected as one! We can’t get any closer than that! He knows me completely and because He dwells in me, He knows me from the inside out! I now see that this person Jesus Christ, is my purpose, my whole heart and my whole reason for existence.
3. I used to see Jesus as God’s Son but not much more to God than that
Now I see that Jesus is God’s obsession! He is God the Father’s consuming passion and desire! The Father is captivated by His Son and wants all things for Him. The Son is equally captivated with the Father and wants all things for Him! The two are inseparable! They are completely one – as Jesus has now made me (and you, believer) one with Him! (John 17…)
4. I used to see Jesus as the middle ranking member of the Godhead
Now I see how the Godhead dwells inside Christ! It pleased the fullness to dwell in Him! Christ contains the Father and the Holy Spirit, they are both inside of Him and it is their pleasure to have it this way. I see now that they are not separate from one another, there is no hierarchy because their relationship is love and this love is giving their lives for one another. There is no jealousy within the Godhead, they love to dwell inside the Son and the Son loves to dwell inside them – just the same way that Paul describes us as being in Christ and Christ in us! The whole of the fullness of God dwells inside the Son and the Son dwells inside the fullness – they are One!
Brother or sister, I share this with you to encourage you. If it is the Lord who is calling you out, you can be assured that it is to call you in. He will take you through a wilderness experience more than likely (it seems to be the way of every believer I know who has walked this path) and He will eventually but in His good time, bring you in. What will He bring you into?
Just like the Israelites, which are a shadow and type of the church, they were brought out of Egypt through the wilderness and into the Promised Land (though only two of them remained faithful and received the Promised Land – yes, the Wilderness is a time of testing our faithfulness). This place the Lord is calling you into is the Promised Land of His Son Jesus Christ.
Whilst you and many others you may be ‘in church’ with, are already in this Christ since you are born again, there is a mystery that is this gospel we live by and that mystery revealed is Christ in you (that word ‘you’ is plural, it’s corporate), the hope of glory! We have a Promised Land to inherit, the mystery of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God the Father, Christ indwelling His body, His church, and we therefore can live by His indwelling life. This is more than attending church services and singing 3 fast songs and 3 slow ones! This is an indwelling Lord living in and through His church! Now, that’s a vast expanse of land flowing with milk and honey!
A holy dissatisfaction with where you are should lead to a desperate heart and intentional pursuit of the Lord, to seek to see Him and know Him more. There has to be a ‘seeing’ before there is a ‘knowing’. This desperation will delight the heart of the Father because it is His desperation in you. It is the Father’s heart-cry! God the Father, wants more than anything (it is His ultimate intention and His eternal purpose) to have you, me and everyone who is called, see and know Christ the Son of God, the Son of His love in His fullness and this life of Christ in His Church. In fact the scriptures tell us that the church IS the fullness of Christ!
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything FOR the church, which is his body, the FULLNESS OF HIM who fills EVERYTHING in EVERY way (Ephesians 1:23).
Wow!! Is that our experience of the church?
So once again, may I encourage you brother or sister, that if you sense the Lord is calling you out of church as you’ve known it, with its hierarchy, traditions and programs, He has put a cry in your heart for the very thing that is the obsession of His own heart and that is for you to see and know Christ Jesus in His fullness.
There is a holy exodus, people, and those who thirst and hunger for the Promised Land, remaining in Him, will find it because it is the Father’s good pleasure to reveal His Son in us. It is not about us, it is about CHRIST IN us. Amen.
Be bold and courageous!
Please go to this link to read more on this same exciting subject with great richness of insight from a sister in the United States at 3rd Race.
Are you looking for meaning in your life? Are you wanting to know why you exist? Are you desperate for understanding in making decisions and what direction to take in your life?
Well, before reading on, if you’ve never heard or read about this vital truth, which is knowing What is the Eternal Purpose of God, please read through the New Testament books of Colossians (focuses on Christ) and Ephesians (focuses on the church). These books have been greatly overlooked but hold the answers to eternity past before creation and to eternity future. If you don’t have a bible you’ll find them linked on the two names of the books and to continue reading the chapters just click on the tab in the bottom right corner that will have the next chapter number.
Might I suggest praying before you do so, even if you’ve never prayed before, and ask the Holy Spirit to bring alive the scriptures to your heart, giving you insight and understanding into the knowledge of Christ through what you are about to read there. I pray that the Lord will grant you and me, and all of us, a massive revelation into the knowledge of Jesus Christ in whom we find all meaning.
Now – to the blog post………
Today I simply just want to proclaim Christ to you.
When the Lord was pleased to reveal His Son in me, I was done. Done like a dinner. Done like Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus – fell off my horse so to speak, and was never the same. When He gave me just the tiniest glimpse into the fact that He has only ONE purpose, only ONE will, only ONE object of His whole heart, ONE purpose and intention behind all of creation including my puny little life and that this ONE everything for God is the exaltation and increase of His Son Jesus Christ ….. He answered everything for me.
Recently Derek and I listened to a message by Frank Viola on the Eternal Purpose of God, and in it he gave a little illustration but one that for me, captured God’s ONE purpose beautifully. Imagine for a moment, a mum of toddlers. You may be one, so this will be easy for you. This is the general gist of what Frank said – You mums know that with your child, you are inseparable. You cannot separate yourself from your child, your child is completely part of you and who you are.
I’ve never had my own children but I have the privilege of witnessing a shadow/type of this obsession that God has with His Son, through the lives of some mums I share life with. Just this week, I told a friend that I would be at a certain place baby sitting for another friend and invited her to come over for a cuppa. Her immediate response was that her son would love to play with the kids I would be baby sitting! My friend’s first thought, her complete desire and heart was for her son. She was looking at the invitation in light of her son’s pleasures, needs and fulfillment and to see these met in him would give her the greatest joy. And so it is with God.
Let’s think about that for a moment.
God looks at everything through the lense of His Son. Everything we do here is to be for His Son, but led by Him, born out from Him, done in Him, for Him, to Him and by Him. It is to be Christ’s life through us. His Son Jesus is the object of God’s ONE will, desire and purpose and the increase of His Son is established through the church!
How brilliantly freeing it is to know that God doesn’t have multiple wills, desires and purposes! In the old days I remember pining for knowledge into what God’s will was for my life – as though every individual that ever existed had an individual specific will set for their lives by God and had to search it out with a fine tooth comb as though it were some mystery hidden from them.
There’s millions of books in Christian book shops tackling the subject of how to know God’s will for your life on this basis. You might have even read some of them. But to know God only has ONE will for my life, your life and the life of every person who ever did and ever will live, is something so profoundly simple and liberating for the believer that changes our lives forever and takes my breath away.
With Christ as our compass, our Bethlehem star, our True North, our whole life is given absolute direction and clarity of will in every single circumstance from the seemingly insignificant decisions to the seemingly most paramount ones. In all things, we only need ask ourselves and ask of our brethren, will Christ be exalted and magnified through this or through that?
Imagine for a minute, the sport of orienteering. Orienteering is a sport centered around the skill of navigation using a map and a compass.Imagine yourself with your compass and map in hand, making every move in accordance with a deference to True North and finding your way to the treasures. Well Christ is the treasure and that True North! He’s the way there and He’s the destination.
When it is given to us to see that Christ and Christ increased through us IS the Eternal Purpose of God, (and it is given, it is not something we can see by our own spiritual or intellectual capacities, lest we boast, and I certainly do not profess to have full revelation because Christ is way too big) we realise that we can align our every move in life to the will of God. Again, is Christ being exalted and magnified through this or through that?
Every choice, decision, move is to be made with the understanding that the essential goal and purpose is to see Christ made manifest, increased and expressed as He desires. And this often requires denying our own soulish preferences, giving up or bearing the cross. In fact, it pretty much mostly requires this. Our lives become completely given over to Him and His needs, His desires, His wants, His intentions, His heart. Even our fellowship with other believers stops being about meeting our wants and needs and becomes simply about meeting His needs! (go figure). Beautiful stuff.
Knowing that Christ is GOD’s everything, just like the example of my friend with her son (not that her son is her everything, but you get the example) answers all my inquiries in life. All my questions and problems of where I live, how I live, what I wear, how I carry myself, where I go, where I don’t go, what I do, how I speak, where I work, how I work, if I work, career aspirations, what I study, how I fellowship, what I sing, how I sing, how I manage my finances, how I pray, how I handle a faith crisis, how I read the scriptures, what I permit in my life as entertainment, how I eat, facing depression, anxiety, fears, incompetence, weaknesses, failures, what are my goals, ambitions, dreams and desires….EVERYTHING is answered in Him.
In fact, personal goals, ambitions, dreams, desires, career aspirations, study aspirations, interests etc, have pretty much gone out the window, except for Him! Some folk would find me incredibly boring I’m sure! Like I said, I’m done. He did me in. He did me in at Calvary, and this came alive to me when He was pleased to reveal His Son in me in 2010 even though I entered His kingdom in 1973 (see Psalm 116). He did it. He has done all of it. I can’t even explain how He’s done it. I didn’t even do anything to warrant what He’s done. It’s all Him.
If I look back over my life, I can see how God’s ONE desire, purpose and will for me has always been wrapped up in His Son. God’s ONE Eternal Purpose is in His Son and has determined who I married, when I married, where we’ve lived, our career paths, our interests, who we do life with and how we live on a daily basis.
If you look back over your life to this point as an observor, can you see the same thing? Even if you feel you’ve failed in areas, like I definitely have, can you see that even those decisions seeming to be failures are still caught in the net of the greatest fisherman that ever lived, that Fisher of men? (Luke 5:1-11)
Since time began people have asked the question “What is the meaning of life?” If you knew that answer, what impact would it have on you?
What if you were to answer that question with Christ? Can you see the impact on one’s life when the good Lord reveals Christ as the all consuming passion of God’s heart? How all encompassing is this Christ, how all consuming, how unfathomable, giant and vast, how deep and wide and eternal is He? How amazing it is that everything is summed up in this Christ? That this Christ is the ONE desire, passion and intent of the Father for all time past, present and future? And….that we are in Him??!! Whoa!!! No wonder God loves us so much, we’re in His Son!!
Seriously, we have to ask ourselves, what other purpose could God possibly have outside of His own Son?
Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to love? But He gave us Christ who IS the complete object of His love!
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)
… Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen (Luke 9:34-36).
Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to see that the gospel is preached? But Christ IS the gospel!
God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you (Romans 1:9).
…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God,… I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:16-19).
Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to reveal His glory? But Christ IS the glory of God!
… “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (John 17:4-5).
Or could we say that God’s eternal purpose is that we would know Him? CHRIST is the way we know God. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life! No-one comes to the Father except through CHRIST!
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves (John 14:5-11).
And how profoundly and extravagantly loving and gracious is our God, to invite us INTO this Christ, His only begotten Son, and to make the way for Him to live and dwell inside of us? So now we are included in this heavenly, glorious relationship of love between the Father and His Son.
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)
And now because of Christ and who He is and what He has done, the church is the display of the manifold wisdom of God to the powers and principalities of the air. This is our purpose people, this is why we exist. We exist to increase this Christ. Christ is to be given the room to express Himself fully, to be displayed to the heavens and to the shame of the opposing powers of the air, for Christ alone is to be exalted. And how will He be exalted if we do not exalt Him? How can He be increased if we do not decrease in our own self-life.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10).
The increase and exaltation of Christ answers every desire and need in humanity. It directs our every path and at every cross road. It is our True North. It is the glory and delight of God. It is our very purpose.
Christ is the reason we live, breath, walk, talk, move, sing. We sing of Christ, of who He is. We declare and proclaim this Christ in our words, songs and deeds.
One day ALL things will be summed up IN CHRIST. Doesn’t that say it all?
When Jesus says “He is our life, joy, peace, love, compassion, grace, truth, strength……(fill in the blank), do we believe Him?
For example, Jesus is the Prince of Peace, right? So if we have Jesus Christ living and dwelling inside of us, do we not have the Prince of Peace living inside of us and therefore have peace dwelling in us? Or do we hear/read the words that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and then because of our circumstances feel that we have no peace and begin to pray for peace in our lives and for the Lord to change our circumstances so we can cope?
Let’s face it. Sometimes our environment is anything BUT peaceful, that is for certain. When that is the case, do we become overwhelmed with the chaos around us and forget altogether that we already have the Prince of Peace living inside of us in that very moment? If Jesus is the Prince of Peace (and He is) and He lives in us (which He does) what should that look like for us? Does it mean that we are in a bubble of peace 24/7 in the midst of chaos, war, violence, annoyance, arguments, abuse, tragedy, our own or someone else’s mental breakdown? (Would we even have a mental breakdown?)
Jesus said to His disciples “…Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” John 14:27.
I know that for me, someone who has experienced mental breakdowns in the past, long bouts of depression and anxiety, I have not always felt at peace and at times I have had little if any peace in my mind. Also, when the environment around me is chaotic, sometimes if not all of the time having been orchestrated by the subtle movements of the enemy, I have felt as though I am going to go crazy and cannot cope. I have become desperate for ‘peace’, as though it is something external for me to grasp after.
But if Peace is a person, the Person of Jesus Christ the risen Son of God, and He dwells in me, then peace is not an external thing for me to grasp after. I am not called to live by feelings but by faith in God, who indwells me through Christ Jesus! There is no longer any room for being led by feelings for the child of God who is led by the Spirit. For those who are led by the Spirit shall be called the sons of God (Romans 8:14).
Let’s go through the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 reads;
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”.
Who is the Spirit? The Spirit of God of-course. Who is God? God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit – the three are One. That being said, what does that mean for us to keep in step with the Spirit? Jesus said in John 15:4;
“Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”.
Just prior to this, in John 14:23 Jesus said;
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him”.
So clearly, if we love Jesus, He, His Father and The Spirit all dwell inside of us for they are not separate from one another, they are One. Therefore, all the fruit of the Spirit dwells inside of us also, to be an expression of Him through us. Therefore, Jesus as love, Jesus as joy, Jesus as peace, Jesus as patience, Jesus as kindness, Jesus as gentleness, Jesus as goodness, Jesus as faithfulness and Jesus as self-control, dwells inside of us. Did you get that? How incredible is this Jesus?
But here’s the thing…..Jesus said; “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”. So I would say, that remaining in Him is the ‘keeping in step with the Spirit’ mentioned in verse 25 of Galatians chapter 5.
So in light of the above scriptures, if I’m not remaining in Christ, therefore not keeping in step with the Spirit, I am going to be overcome by circumstances and my environment and find myself grasping for peace, joy, patience etc., as in the past. However, if I am remaining in Christ and therefore keeping in step with the Spirit, in spite of my environment and circumstances I will remain in love, joy, peace, patience etc.
Therefore, God’s word, and Jesus is the Word, is true when Jesus says to us that He is our peace etc. These are not things to grasp, but they are characteristics of Christ, the Christ who indwells us. So to draw upon Him in those times of turmoil and havoc, is where we will find peace, joy and so on. But we can only draw upon Him if we are remaining and abiding in Him.
The fact that Christ calls us to remain, makes it very apparent that we are prone to leave. Personal experience confirms that for me. It is my human Adamic nature to leave and return to my own resources which fail me and therefore I am overcome at times by the circumstances of life. However, if I am to believe all that the Lord Jesus tells me, I am assured that my Adamic nature has been crucified and that I live by another life now, that is the life of the Lord Jesus Himself (Galatians 2:20).
So therefore, I am in reality (the true reality of the Spirit) not overcome at all! If I believe I am overcome, I have believed a lie! Christ is the overcomer and in Him, I am more than a conqueror, because of Christ who lives in me (Romans 8:14). For in me, dwells the Lord’s life, that life that is peace itself and all those other aspects of Him that we have mentioned.
The enemy might throw all kinds of distractions and seemingly natural events my way to convince me that I have no peace and that I have no joy in these circumstances, etc. But the very opposite of that is true. Whilst noise, distraction, arguments, mayhem and even hurt goes on around me, my spirit is at peace. Not because of me and my ability to practise breathing exercises and quote scriptures and mantras, but because of He who indwells me and who He is.
It seems at times however, that circumstances are too big, too loud, too overwhelming and it is an impossible task to draw upon the Lord’s peace in those moments. But is it? If that were so, would that not mean that His grace is actually not sufficient for us? If circumstances were too big, bigger than Christ, wouldn’t that mean that our faith is pointless and in vain? So we come to that question at the beginning of this post….when Jesus says He is our (fill in the blank), do we really believe Him?
If we don’t believe His words are true about Himself, then we will be overcome because then we are not by faith remaining in Him and not keeping in step with the Spirit. We are in fact being hoodwinked into living again by that Adamic nature that has already been crucified. Basically, we’re being deceived. But if we do believe Him, by faith, we abide in who He is. We are safe there, He is our hiding place, our fortress, our mighty strong tower into whom we run and we find we are abiding in Him who is the Prince of Peace.
So, all that I have written so far has been on an individual level. What if we take all this and put it on a corporate level? Let’s change all the references to an individual’s experience and make it about the corporate body of Christ, which of-course it is anyway, but for so long we have lived and interpreted scripture according to an individualistic Christianity. Let’s look at the circumstances and events that surround and impose themselves upon the corporate body of Christ. This might be the local ecclesia or the wider body of Christ all over the world. Let’s look at He who indwells us – all of us – together! What an incredible Christ we have!
As the corporate body of Christ we are facing all kinds of trials, tribulations, persecution, harassment, distractions, suffering, hurt, pain, sacrifice, torment, pressures and so on. And the world we live in but don’t belong to, is going through perilous times of unrest, no peace, war, fighting, terror, fear, poverty, displacement. But let’s look at this mighty Lord who indwells us corporately and just meditate for a moment on what He brings to the world and the witness He is to the powers and principalities of the air, through His Church! – This Lord who is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, SELF-CONTROL – this Lord whose grace is sufficient for us. This Lord whose life we corporately live by. This Lord who is Head of this body we exist in.
May the church abide and remain in her Lord, as the branch remains in the vine, that He by His Spirit will be free to express Himself who is all these things and more, to the glory of the Father.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).