“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”
Abandonment to God is the result of knowing we belong to Him wholly. It is in the secret place that the tendrils of His Spirit enfold our hearts. It is often a quiet and hidden work deep within recesses of our own being.
Few in our land comprehend how near is the day of the Lord. The enemy is arising and many of God’s people are unaware of his wiles. In this darkness God is preparing a people for Himself with lights shining, hearts ablaze, and a growing passion for the King of kings. There is the pulse of a new faith within those in whom His fire burns.
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness…”
The light that is arising is upon those who are walking in the obedience of faith. There is a dynamic of Christ beating within their hearts. God will not leave this darkened earth void of a vibrant witness.
The full abandonment to Him is coming. Even now it is growing in those who are upright of heart. The purposes of God to every generation have ever been fulfilled by the faithful.
“So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple. “
“Go forth today, by the help of God’s Spirit, vowing and declaring that in life – come poverty, come wealth, in death – come pain or come what may, you are and ever must be the Lord’s. For this is written on your heart, ‘We love Him because He first loved us.”
– Charles Spurgeon
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.”
The emphasis in many Christian circles is one of assuring one another of God being with us. We live our lives as we see fit and then seek confirmation from our leaders that He is there to bless us, rescue us, and guard us against the repercussions of our wrong decisions. Very little consideration is given to our obedience to Him. The real question of Life is; are we abiding in Him, is His will becoming our own.
The truth is, He is to have preeminence in our lives. We are to follow Him while much of the Gospel preached today is one of God following us. He does in great love watch over His Own but His Own are to hold Him within their hearts. They live to serve Him, honor Him, and give Him their life on a continual basis.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
“The greatest mistake any Christian can make is to substitute his own will for the will of God”
“Jesus of Nazareth always comes asking disciples to follow him–not merely “accept him,” not merely “believe in him,” not merely “worship him,” but to follow him: one either follows Christ or one does not. There is no compartmentalization of the faith, no realm, no sphere, no business, no politic in which the lordship of Christ will be excluded. We either make him Lord of all lords, or we deny him as Lord of any.”
― Lee Camp
“Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect…”
The work and wonder of God within our lives is a mystery. He shapes and orders our steps as we follow His leading. There is a contingency to our birthright in Christ. Many years ago I was struck with this verse:
“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God…”
The emphasis of the Spirit of God to me personally was the word “become”. I realized at that moment that the purpose of Christ coming into my life was not that I simply believe in Him, but to grant to me His power to become a life that glorified Him which was only possible by receiving that power. In that moment of revelation, I realized my inherent poverty to affect this genesis in my own life. All the forces and willpower of self would be utterly impotent to realize the Call of God to grow into something which would honor Him.
The concept of becoming has implications in our lives. The mystery of this call is wrought with ambiguity and perplexity which can be a source of angst and discouragement at times. Yet there is an indomitable faith that presses through the obscurity to where the mystery becomes an adventure. As time passes the heart no longer needs to understand the journey; it is enough to know the wonder and simplicity of obedience. We see doors of opportunity open before us. Rivers part as we step into them, and we feel His joy in us. It is called the “Joy of the Lord”! It is His Joy filling our hearts and in those moments His Joy becomes our own.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared…”
1 John 3:2
The becoming is a work in progress but the press of God within the hearts of those who feel the spirit of adoption pursue Him through the power of Him at work within. John goes on to say this of those who have this press of God burning within their hearts:
“And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as he is pure”
1 John 3:3
The validity of this living hope within is revealed in a growing purity of heart. To simply believe in Christ without a passion to be pure is incongruent with His Life.
“As many as received Him…”
To them gave He power, the right, the privilege to become. The verity of His Life within is a quest and longing to “…know Him and the power of His resurrection”. A religious person is content with believing; the true child of God hungers and thirsts for actual righteousness which is ours in Christ.
“But now we see not yet all things put under him… But we see Jesus…”
There remain obstacles to our becoming; pride, brokenness, and the carnal things of our nature are not yet fully “put under Him”. Nevertheless, in the beholding of Him we do not grow weary, nor do we settle for a compromise in our lives.
“Everyone” who has the living hope of Jesus burning within “purifies themselves… even as HE is pure”! Perseverance is the pulse of the Holy Spirit. All who have received Him have the power to press into the battle of faith until every enemy of our heart is brought under the feet of Jesus. God has an answer to the mountains of self which stand before us.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
Our hope is not in a grace which is a sentiment; our hope lies in a grace which is the power of God. Let us not grow weary. Let us not allow our hearts to become complacent, apathetic, or lukewarm. Rather let us encourage and exhort one another to finish the race with God as our chief joy and purpose in life.
“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it”
Jesus the Christ is our Zerubbabel! What He has begun in us He will surely finish!
When Christ came, He enlightened the world with the breath of heaven. His “Life is the light of men” (John 1:4). His Life in us is the only hope for this ever-darkening world. More importantly, His Life through us is the wisdom of God. This fragile earthen vessel is the means He has chosen to reveal His grace.
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
2 Corinthians 4:5-7
Discipleship is the placing of our life into His hands. Our words without His breath, His Spirit, and His Life are powerless and ineffective. There is a life of confinement, a place of discipline and circumspection, through which we discover the unction and the power of the Holy Spirit. We are afforded glimpses in the scriptures of the early disciples as they grew in their sensitivity to His leading. This was no casual affair of their hearts with Him; He became the center and core of their lives. They walked in the “breath” of God and from this place of abiding they spoke the Words of God.
“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.”
Words without life produce lives without change; it is the bane of religion. His Spirit alone can affect the human condition. Without the placing of ourselves into His hands we will remain unfit and unprepared for His work on the earth. Like the loaves and the fishes in the hands of the young boy, we will remain insufficient to feed the multitude. It is only in our being broken and blessed in His hands that He takes the weak things to confound the wise, and the inconsequential to bring the power and glory of Jesus to this lost world.
“They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.
They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work”
In our submission to Him, we are made fit and able for His work. Left to ourselves, we are bereft of the ability to make Him known. He is our inspiration and Life; we are but the vessel through which His light shines. We are simply the filament in a light bulb. Without His power flowing through us, there is no intrinsic ability to shine. In Christ alone, we live.
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:5-6
“By the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain… “
1 Corinthians 15:10
“The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining from God’s perspective those things that sound so humble to men. You will be amazed at how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they are to Him. We say things such as, “Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint.” But to say that before God means, “No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.” That may sound wonderfully humble to others, but before God, it is an attitude of defiance.
Conversely, the things that sound humble before God may sound exactly the opposite to people. To say, “Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,” is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility. It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true. Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not. But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all.
There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes, and yours may be that life.” – Oswald Chambers
There is nothing in the New Covenant concerning salvation, that can be known or held apart from Christ. The boundless riches of God are “hid in Christ” and in Him alone. Eternal life is not a decree; it is not a commodity that can be had apart from Christ. It is not to be had by merely a confession, a statement, a rite of passage, or some religious formula that has been agreed to. It is ours only by virtue of relationship.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life”
1 John 5:11-12
Eternal Life is nothing less than the LIFE of the Son dwelling in our hearts. Eternal life is to produce in us an abiding in Him who is the Life. It is crucial that we comprehend the Parable of the Vine in John 15; Christ is the Vine, and we are the branches. The branches only have access to the Life of the Vine by remaining joined to and abiding in Him. The key to our growth, to partaking of His grace, and His peace, is a current ongoing relationship with Christ ruling and reigning in our hearts. Religion reduces the living wonder of this salvation to confessions or beliefs separate from a living reality. The difference between those who live by confessions and statements, and those who know Him deep within their being in their daily lives, is enormous. Peter expressed this difference quite succinctly.
“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner…”
1 Peter 2:7
To those who know the necessity of Him living within “He is precious”. They recognize the importance of obedience to Him to maintain the ministrations of His graces by which they can live a life that pleases Him. His presence in our lives becomes the atmosphere in which we live and breathe. But to those who are disobedient, He is disallowed; His graces are shunned and lost. The disobedient are those who hold their salvation in confessions alone by which they negate the need to obey Him. Their salvation is not contingent upon His Life being in them and therefore He is not precious to the point of necessity. This lack of the inherent need of Christ is revealed in lukewarm living and faith devoid of works. The confessions ofHim replace the inherent need for Him. They may honor Him with their words and may even teach good things yet walk independent of His life.
It was the Church of the Laodiceans which declared: “I am rich… I have need of nothing”. Our need for Christ determines how precious He is to us. How quickly we tend to move from the essentialness of Christ into a life lived outside of His resources. Too often we live uneventful, unremarkable, and impotent lives resting on promises which are only ours IN CHRIST.
“For all the promises of God IN Him are yea and IN Him Amen…”
2 Corinthians 1:20
The promises of God are YES and AMEN IN HIM. I have no access to the promises of God apart from Christ. To have victory over sin I need His Life daily. To know the power of grace enabling me to live righteously I need to be held by His Life within. To know experientially His Peace, I must abide in Him who is the Prince of Peace. Left to myself I am bereft of any hope. I dare not rely on any other means than Jesus Christ alone.
The heartbeat of every true ministration of Christ should reverberate with this One desire. We are not here to enlarge “our” church or “our” congregation; nor are we to seek selfish gain or the approval of men. Our only desire must be to see the influence, the impact, and the fire of God filling His people with the overwhelming Love of God.
Paul was not satisfied with the status quo of his relationship with Christ. His life was one of pressing, seeking, and pursuing a greater depth of “knowing” His Lord. Those who truly “taste and see” the vastness of God’s Being cannot be complacent in their walk with Him.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
Too many have contented themselves with a belief, comfortable in knowing their sins are forgiven, all the while moving through life isolated and insulated from the battlefield of faith. Their hearts remain untouched and unmoved by the immensity of God’s beauty and the Love He holds for all creation. It is the one who in truth had “found” the ONE Pearl of Great Price who sold all to acquire its beauty. His “works” were to forsake all for Christ. His heart had no room for other things.
Love without passion, love without fervor, and love without sacrifice are impossible. Those who have seen the Christ cannot help but speak of Him and live in the joy and the desire to make Him known!
Peter and John, when threatened by the religious leaders of their day, declared with unflinching words:
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
The unction and power of Christ within His own selflessly desires to see the people of God enlarged. Paul’s plea to the Church at Corinth was for their enlargement; that their faith would go beyond lukewarm living and apathetic confessions of faith. The Spirit of God is looking for firebrands, motivated by the pure love of God, who feel the same indebtedness to the ONE who first loved them.
“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also”
The question becomes – what is in us? What is the fuel that ignites and burns within our hearts? True ministers of Christ have no interest in propagating themselves, their church, their ministry; they live to make Christ known. They plead with, they admonish, and they exhort the people of God toward the same heart as the merchant who in finding the Great Pearl sold everything to acquire its beauty. His desire is to so move in us that we become the full possession of Christ and He becomes our own.
“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”
Song of songs 6:3
“For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake…”
2 Corinthians 4:10
There are scriptures that are particularly impregnated with power and the sharpness of the “sword of the Spirit”. They are cutting, filled with the wonder of God’s thoughts concerning the life we live and the choices we make. The early church had a different set of values than we do now. Paul’s definition of those who are alive in Christ is drastically different than the general message we hear today in the church in our land.
“For we who are living” – those who are alive in Christ are “always” delivered unto death. His Will is being worked out in their lives through the choices made and the obedience expressed. Paul concludes this scripture with the promise of LIFE to those who walk in true discipleship:
“…that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our dying flesh”
2 Corinthians 4:10 (LSV)
In other words, those who are the “living” demonstrate by their walk a corresponding revelation of the LIFE of JESUS! Much of what we define today as being “alive” in Jesus would fall short in God’s estimation.
God’s Word to the Church at Sardis:
“These things says He who is having the Seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I have known your works, and that you have the name that you live, and you are dead…”
The early church considered those who were “alive” to be those whose faith was pressing them into a life of identification, causing them to know the truth and cost of discipleship. The Cross of Christ can never be carried doctrinally. We will never touch the pulse of His Life in our daily lives by glibly quoting scriptures. By its very nature, His Life in us must render an effect upon the lives of others.
“..that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh”
2 Corinthians 4:11 (KJV)
Our life is not to be evaluated by our confession; it is to be measured by the impact of Him on others through our frail and fragile earthen vessel. If He does not have His Way IN us, He will not have the means to impact the world THROUGH us.
Are we alive? Is the life of Jesus touching our families, our workplace, our brothers, and sisters in Christ? Do others see and feel Him radiating from our unpretentious life?
Paul prayed earnestly for Philemon:
“That the communication of thy faith may become effectual* by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
Philemon 1:7 (* cause an effect)
Let this stir our hearts; “…that the communication of THY faith may become effectual”. In other words, may our faith influence others. A faith that is in word only, though true, will not impact the lives of those around us. An ineffectual life is a disobedient life. Faith, to be faith, must communicate JESUS. To whatever measure He is residing, to whatever degree His death is being worked in us through obedience, is the depth to which the power of His Life will be known. It is impossible to know the power of the Cross except through the medium of OBEDIENCE.
The Call in Christ to Discipleship
“For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
2 Corinthians 4:10 (KJV)
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”
1 Peter 1:7
The faith which is purified will make sure Christ is Glorified.
“No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”