“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
“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)
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me”
It is important for us to reacquaint ourselves often with the words of Jesus during his earthly walk. Let those words reverberate within our hearts and pierce through the rhetoric. There is something so uncompromising about His Call. May we meditate upon these words of His and allow them the full and undivided attention of our hearts. The solemnity of His Call to us is not to a mere forgiveness of sins (as overwhelming and precious as that is). His Call is to Himself. Our redemption is for His glory and the following of Him. His whole design is to bring forth a people who are no longer their own, but rather “As He is, so ARE WE in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Look at the depth of His conversations with those who heard His Call:
“He said to another, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.”
“But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God’s Kingdom.”
“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house”
“And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
There is power in the Call of Christ that defies logic. There is a stark contrast between then and now; between the perception of Jesus in our day and the Jesus presented to us in the Gospels. The Call of Christ is to the “whole” of us, not just a portion. Our response is not to be a casual one where we fit His Call into our daily life as if it were a part-time occupation. The Call is to Him; to sacrifice and to a determined relinquishment of all that we are.
Paul reiterates this in his plea to the Church at Rome.
“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”
There is a pleading in the ministration of the Call of God that this becomes an experiential truth. The things we allow in ourselves, and in the lives of those who claim to know Him, reveal our ignorance of His claim upon us. Sin no longer disturbs the majority. We look lightly upon the issues of others because we look lightly upon the issues within our own hearts.Lethargy is contagious; as contagious as any pandemic with eternal implications far beyond the loss of life here on earth.
Paul left no doubt with the Church at Colosse as to the purpose of the true ministry of God.
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”
What did this intensity of heart look like?
“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily”
The mighty working of Christ within is revealed in a life of labour without; it is the exposé of His claim upon us. There is no place for the lethargy and indifference men and women display to the Call of God.
We Are Not Our Own
We may declare such things, we may present our claims of following God, but the reality of the life we live may reveal something different. The works of a life reveal the faith of the life. In Revelation God declared unto every location of the Church in that day, “I KNOW THY Works”. God is ever beholding our works for by them He knows our faith.
The validity of our love for Him and the power of Him working within us is readily expressed in our interaction with our brothers and sisters. Paul sums up his expression of the workings of Christ within: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom…”. If mere confessions of faith were sufficient (as is commonly taught today), why did Paul express warnings, admonitions, and exhortations to the people of God? To the church at Ephesus, one of the crown jewels of the early church, Paul declared:
“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears”
The deception and lethargy of a confession-based gospel has produced the slumbering church of our day! It produces a blindness to the magnificence, grandeur, and enormity of His Holiness. We have reduced Him to professions which require nothing more than a mental assent which consequently requires nothing, costs nothing, and correspondingly produces nothing. A confession without sacrifice leaves people without resources to face what lies ahead. Ministries must heed the Call of God to build up His Church and to prepare His people for the storm which is about to engulf our land. He is coming first of all to judge His church to the intent that in righteousness He may then be free to judge the world.
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
1 Peter 4:17-18
The time IS COME upon us! Let those who have ears to hear tremble and seek Him afresh that we may be found “doing” when our Master returns. Take no comfort in confessions and doctrines which do not produce the Fear of the Lord, that do not bring forth a growing holiness and purity of heart. Forsake the delusion of heart which enjoys hearing the word, discussing the word, while yet refusing to obey the word.
A New Ministration of Mercy
It is a day to seek a new ministration of His Mercy; a mercy which produces sacrificial living and bringing forth of a new worship which is costly, pure and holy.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…”
The true mercy of God enables men and women to give themselves wholly unto God, not to comfort them in their sins and rebellion.
May we as His redeemed rise up to respond wholly to the Call of God in Christ!
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power”
2 Thessalonians 1:11
“Unless we are willing to pay the price, and sacrifice time and attention and what appear legitimate or necessary duties, for the sake of the heavenly gifts we need not look for a large experience of the power of the heavenly world in our work”
– Andrew Murray
“And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.”
For the disciple of Christ there is purpose in the storms of life. God’s design for His Own is never random and without intent. Nothing is haphazard or arbitrary. The storm in which the disciples found themselves was intended to enlarge their comprehension of the majesty of Christ. It was also an opportunity to experience this wonder in their own lives. The main beneficiary of this “lesson” was Peter. Peter had a desire to identify with the living Christ; his heart was not content in seeing Jesus walk upon the water! There was an inherent need within him to walk as Christ walked; to step into the storming seas of life because faith propelled him. True Faith can never find contentment in seeing Jesus only. It will inevitably compel the one in whom it resides to invest in the experiential life of identification with Christ.
The wind will cease, and the storm will become calm once the vital lesson is learned! How glorious is the inspired Word of God: “and when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased”! Let the “they” impact our hearts and stir our souls to greater faith and larger living. When Jesus and Peter step back into the boat, Peter is not the same man he was moments before. His understanding has been transformed by stepping out of his current knowledge of Christ into a larger revelation of the power of Christ.
The storms of life are designed of Him to not simply be endured, but to be the very instruments of our enlargement and growth. While many cling to the “safety” of the boat there are those who see Christ upon the waters and have the passion to walk as He walks, to overcome as He overcomes; to know within that a greater life is available. May the Lord work within us that faith that sees beyond the confines of our experience and propels us to walk outside the scope of human possibility.
“Carrying the cross does mean following in Jesus’ footsteps. And in His footsteps are rejection, brokenheartedness, persecution and death. There are not two Christs – an easy going one for easy going Christians, and a suffering one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are we willing to follow His lead?”
– Hudson Taylor
“Sister Pasqualita spoke at the “Mexico, I Love You” Congress. She had suffered severe ostracism in her small town in the very southern part of Mexico because she had become an evangelical. Other Christians had already been forcibly driven from the town.
One night a group of her persecutors surrounded her grass-roofed home setting it on fire. As she opened the door, someone fired a gun at her. A co-worker shares her story in his own words:
“When she was sharing her testimony she was crying. She said, ‘I thank the Lord that only twenty-one ammunition bits touched me.’ She had been shot all over her body and even in the neck. She was still able to run and fell into a hole where her persecutors couldn’t see her in the dark. She was losing blood quickly but some other townsfolk who appreciated her testimony somehow took her out through the mob to another nearby town’s clinic. She survived but three other family members in the house were murdered.
“She complained to the Lord saying, ‘Lord, why now that I’ve given you my life and my family am I suffering this way?’ The Lord reminded her of a song that she used to sing very often, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.’
“She continued, ‘Then I understood that when I decided to follow Jesus, it was in the midst of any situation, any persecution. My life now belonged to Him. I gained strength in that song. I am preaching again and I am encouraging the rest of the believers that when we decide to follow Jesus there is no turning back.’”
Today Pasqualita continues to be a strong Christian leader and teacher in her community and she still loves to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.”