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
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.