…[He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them In Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth.
From the beginning of time Gods redemptive trajectory had only one course and that was into Jesus Christ, or in Christ. Consequently, I believe it is most important for each of us to understand definitively what is meant by, In Christ; not only understand it but to see ourselves in Him, i.e. possess a God given insight, and especially have a Spirit given understanding and knowledge on how pervasive In Christ, and the kingdom is in each of our lives. If there is to be any true spiritual progress, any entering further into the kingdom of God, it begins and ends, In Christ.
Why In Christ, because the Father has raised us up with Him and made us to sit down, with Him, in heavenly places in His kingdom, therefore, In Christ, and our abiding In Him, we have access to the newness of His life, and to a kingdom we were birth into, that has not been made with hands, i.e. uncreated; Christ life communicated to us in all aspects of it; His heart, mind, strength, imparted righteousness, and the abundance of Spiritual blessing in Him, e.g. grace and peace. We have been granted access, In Christ, to Gods kingdom, its powers, authority, and the Fathers love to reign in each of our hearts.
Abiding, or dwelling In Christ, in His kingdom, is the activity and achievement of a God given faith, where in its exertion there is a perceptible assurance and evidence of things hope for and things unseen, i.e., evidence of the present reality of an invisible kingdom and its manifestation and influence in each of our daily lives, and especially the manifestation of the love of the Father in the Son; albeit as we begin to learn, by the Spirit, to abide In the Son.
We understand from scripture that the kingdom of God is both future and present. Present, in that the organic spiritual kingdom has come at the initial appearing and many declarations of Jesus Christ, e.g.…if I drive out the demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has [already] come upon you. In each of the gospels Jesus mentions the kingdom of God many times yet the Church is mentioned but a few times, howbeit, we understand Jesus primary message to be the kingdom of God. Therefore, we have been given faith, at our new birth, which affords us our access to the Lord and His kingdom,
Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.
After Jesus resurrection and ascension, those who were and are born of the Spirit have had their spiritual senses awakened to the Lord and Gods kingdom, and as Jesus indicated, we are born of both water and Spirit where there is a given and continued access for us to this unseen kingdom, and its hidden realities, to include our progressive maturing in all aspects of it, in that we are continually washed. Recognize that the principles of growth and maturity of the second birth are not unlike the first, i.e. we are birth into a new reality where one’s spiritual senses are made alive, e.g. that is, the eyes of our heart begin to open for the first time, our spiritual hearing is awakened to the voice of the Holy Spirit and we take our initial breath of life and partake of a heavenly sustenance, where all are derived from and In Christ.
Although, initially possessing little insight into the kingdom, and possessing little understanding of it, we have to mature in our attempts to enter, where we gradually mature, in it, as it is revealed, and where its realities are understood, that is, in an inward invisible state, in each believer, has to be nurtured and grow; not unlike a seed in soil or fruit on a vine.
Jesus had compared entering and maturing in this invisible kingdom to natural physical things, i.e. to a birth, a seed, to vegetation growing, to the condition of soil, fruit on a vine, or leaven in bread etc. The present kingdom, our entering into it, or seeking it and understanding its hidden mysteries, and certainly its present external and internal evidence is known by us as we mature, i.e. as a seed growing, and as seasonal fruit appearing on a vine, or like a bush in your garden that begins to extend its many branches which illustrates the realities of this kingdom reaching into every area of our inner life. The kingdom reaches into the external world only in proportion to its evidence in our internal lives; thus impacting our external lives and extending to the world around each of us. You know when your making real progress when the kingdom you say your in reaches your family and especially your spouse. When your spouse recognizes the change in your own life then you can say your making progress. Especially is this evident in the Church, a body of believers that is governed by the kingdoms King, with His powerful influences and administrations, and with His love as their primary rule in both their individual and corporate heart, where what is invisible now has an visible expression in this world, and the world begins to recognize it.
Both the present and future kingdom is theocentric and certainly is not a democracy or organization governed by many by-laws according to the rule of men. However, God is the kingdoms focus, its center if I can use that term, and His love-Agape is meant to be the only rule in the heart of men governing their many behaviors, as it governs in the kingdom. Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom of God explains,
The kingdom means the subjection of all temporal affairs, of all ethical activities, of all spiritual experiences to a transcendent life-purpose in God.
Although the present invisible kingdom realities and rule are only understood by those who are born anew, however, the eschatological kingdom will come upon all us suddenly, in a moment of time, at a future date only the Father knows, appearing in a way and manner that all eyes will see its King and His kingdom. However, now the present kingdom begins to reign in the hearts and lives of men who would seek to know it and desire its rule and governance over all of their conducts in this world.
Just a thought: if Jesus, in the future comes to reign in this world, how is it that He would rule amongst those who call themselves Christians if while they walked on this earth did not know Him as its King and ruler in their own hearts? In other words, they exerted little to no effort to access and enter the kingdom. At Jesus coming, and the resurrection of our body, of those of us who previous had died, and in the reuniting of the soul and spirit to our own body, in what manner will we submit to the reign of Him who at His ascension was crown King of Gods kingdom. Therefore, in the present, for Gods kingdom to rule in the church, or world, it first must reign in the hearts of men, who by faith abide In Him who fills all things.
He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).
Abide in Christ, by faith
“….that He (God the Father) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
The compulsion of our God given faith, working in each of us, is that it activity pursues its place of origin. In other words, it originated in Christ and seeks to return to Him and not unlike the parable of the talents where it was given in purity through sacrifice, where the expectation had been to not only return it in the condition it was given, but also with gain, i.e. not only to reimburse the giver but provide Him with increase. Our faith characteristically has a single purpose and focus and that is Jesus Christ, and if it is working properly, because of our investing in it, it will not only find its way into Christ, but in Him will bring increase.
One aspect of increase, where your faith is exercised toward the Father, is as Paul stated, that He, the Father, would grant us strength that our inner most places would be alive with the “might” of His glory. God the Father grants us “might-inner strength” according to the riches of His glory, through His Spirit, that our faith might be alert, alive, and perceptive or discerning of Christ in whom the Father placed us. Not only by faith do we have a peace with our God, in that He has forgiven us, i.e. an active faith in what God has accomplished in terms of our redemption through Jesus Christ; His cross, death, burial, and resurrection, but also access, by faith, to newness of life, through and In Christs ascension. Our means to those things from above our new position is via the cross of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit in us who teaches us regarding the impact of the cross in our redemptive lives but also as our means of application of the cross in our daily lives. Why faith in regards to the newness of life, because this new life, in Him, affords us a means to His divine nature which is imparted to us (II Peter 1) and can only be imparted in our new position.
When we were birth into the kingdom one primary characteristics of this new birth had been a given faith, a God given faith which now is part of our spiritual DNA. This faith finds its nourishment in God. For example, we get up in the morning and seek the Lord, and why do we do this, for many reasons, however important one is for heavenly sustenance, as the Psalmist describes that…God be merciful and gracious to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us and among us…and when God shines upon us, with His glory, we are certainly made alive in our spirit from His splendor and brilliance, for is not His glory, full of His eternal life, therefore, our inner most being is made alive and is strengthened by His life. Consequently, according to Paul’s word that… He (God) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man…holds true in most of our personal experiences in seeking Gods face to shine upon us, and He does as He sees us abiding In Christ, abiding by the very faith He has given us all, and where He sees that we are truly investing in it.
Spirit’s first object is to acquaint us with what is in view in our spiritual education; namely, that He is to reveal Christ in us and then afterward to get to work to conform us to Christ. To learn Christ we must first see Christ. T. Austin-Sparks.
Not unlike the power the Father exerted in raising Christ from the dead He communicates to us that we might be raised from our lifeless condition in our inner man; made alive unto Christ. Why alive? That faith might be healthy in us, alive to God and alive unto resting or dwelling in Christ. However, we also hear the Palmist saying, Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.
What is most interesting to me are how many attempt to miss-use faith, believing it is something that affords them an opportunity to twist the arm of fate, or move what is unseen as if it were something they had control over by their exercising of their faith, however, because many attempt to use faith for their own purposes and self-centered desires, much of what they do fails; they do not know the Lords shinning. In other words, faith fails simply because it only finds its sustenance in God. For example, the whole idea of seed faith, or the suggestions to sow a seed of money to the various ministries, and if they exercise their faith in this manner God will heal them, or give them a new job etc. No, God heals or gives a job out from His mercies found in Christ. However, we need to understand from where our faith has come and its primary purpose, that is, our daily access to Jesus Christ to apprehend an abiding union with Him. As the Father sees us in His Son so He is pleased.
You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity…
You cannot put a round peg in a square hole, so it is with faith apart from its resting place In Christ. If faith is not residing in the place it had been created for it will attempt to propel us on until it finds its organic habitation, In Christ. If we attempt to exercise faith or steer on any other trajectory than into Christ, it becomes powerless until it again finds its intended course, for how can our inner man be strengthen apart from God working in us by faith. Again let me repeat Paul’s statement to the Ephesians,
…that He (God the Father) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Where we can see what exactly is the Father doing, isn’t He as I mentioned steering us along one specific trajectory in that He is exercising His glory toward us (His face is shining upon us) that we might be strong in our inner man for one single purpose and that is that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith
In addition, one particular characteristic of faith is that it only begins to be fully and dynamically functional in the weak and desperate souls of men; i.e. it remains somewhat dormant and powerless in the self-assured, independent Christian soul, thus, it finds its highest expression and usefulness in one who is dependent, trusting, and in those who possess a childlike demeanor, and certainly faith remains feeble in one who is independent, self-willed, self-assured, overtly ambitious, or spiritually arrogant. One who is dependent, and weak in themselves, are those who will seek to be strengthened by Gods might, that they can be found In Christ, i.e. those who have transitioned from a dependence upon their own strength in attempting to know and do Gods will, to those who see themselves as spiritually poor apart from heavens help are those who will begin to know Gods many spiritual blessings, In Christ. Andrew Murray explains,
As we seek to humble ourselves and renounce all wish and all hope of being or doing good ourselves, as we yield all our human ability and energy to the death in the confession that is nothing but sinful and worthy of death, God’s Spirit will make the power of Christ’s death to sin work in us, we shall die with Him, and with Him be raised in newness of life. And the new life will be the little child that receives the Kingdom.
Raised up with Him, our new dwelling place
And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Not only do we need the Lords might but we need knowledge and understanding because like any place of dwelling (abiding) we have to become familiar with our new abode and specifically in terms that we might maintain it. Our new abode is not natural to us and requires the Holy Spirit to help; instructing us in our means and method to remain and mature in this new dwelling place with Christ. However, because we dwell/abide with Him who is above all, a celestial King, crowned with glory, the Son of the supreme and transcendent God who is holy and righteous, it is not long, in our new dwelling place, that we become uncomfortable with our many differences; especially all our ill behaviors, i.e. all our unrighteousness and ungodliness that becomes apparent in the light of His presence. There can be no compromise or concessions on our part, as we attempt to dwell with the Lord. Either we learn to dwell with Him who is righteous and holy, or we have to find a new place of dwelling; which is not a new place, but are those many religious imitation and substitutions that most organized religions excel in; providing those who are its many members a false sense of growth and security as each follows the many activities and demands that are doled out. There are no substitutions for knowing and being In Jesus Christ, either you understand what it means to abide in Him, and mature in this abiding experience unto fruitfulness, or you don’t. Otherwise you are simply going through the motions, saying all the right religious things, and attending to all the acceptable and social behaviors that are expected of you, however, you still remain distant from Jesus. We have to understand that we were born into a new realm individually, however we are joined to a living body of believers that has one head, heart, mind, and love where the body is sustained by His life, otherwise if not alive with and In Christ, knowing His heart and mind in all things, one has to organize, put things in a row all in an attempt to make this body cosmetically acceptable, yet it is dead. Asking ourselves this question, if the body has one head, heart and mind why all the confusion and disunity. Jesus, as head is not leading everyone is a different direction, is He; of course not, there is much disunity because of the self-life that is leading.
Are you saved, sure you are, are you going to heaven certainly, and are you In Christ, yes, however without consequence or the evidence of your new position, but as far as possessing the realities of your union and communing with the Lord your experiences are only hearsay.
Consequently, if we chose to dwell with Him by faith, there are many things we have to know, partake of, share, sacrifice, put aside, put off, and put asunder, and deny, that is if we want to continue in our new dwelling place. Because we have much practice and comfort from dwelling solely with ourselves it is only through Gods intervention and work that we can begin to exercise our faith in seeing, remaining, and maturing in our new heavenly position, In Christ.
Gods intervention in this manner, that is, a Godly frustration, which is a product of our many attempts to walk in Gods Will can be our friend, in that, if we allow it to do its complete work will press us into another Life, in us, where there is rest and peace and freedom from our many attempts and subsequent failures; failures from striving to live a life that is higher than any of us, therefore, in this manner our faith begins to mature and begins to find its abiding place unto a new heavenly glorified life. In other words, we begin to understand the promises of the Lord in that He said He would reveal Himself, if we obey His commands. Otherwise, we find that we have come short of Him. Paul admonishes both the Corinthian Church and every Christian,
Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?
Christ Reveals Himself in us
… just a little while now, and the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you.
Jesus begins to reveal Himself, and in the light of this revelation all that He is begins to arise, as a morning star, in each of our hearts. In this manner our lives begin to change and certainly this change is not according to the instructions of men but is according to the sovereignty and instruction of our God In Christ.
Any abiding on our part presupposes that in doing so we might in the many activities of our faith progressively possess more knowledge and understanding of Christ. If are faith is alive and spiritual active we find Jesus actively communing with us on a personal level, i.e. He begins to manifest Himself to us, and what we need to understand is that in His revealing Himself it is not just one dimensional, but multidimensional, i.e., in terms of all that the Father has blessed Him with.. All [things that are] Mine are Yours (the Fathers), and all [things that are] Yours belong to Me… we have access to… May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!
For example, the Lord communes with us and shares with us His many spiritual blessings, i.e., Spiritual wisdom and understanding, the Fathers grace, His strength, peace, gifts, ministries and calling, and righteousness to mention a few all are those things from above, communicated from the King and His kingdom. Recognize that prior to Christ coming into your life that all of these things were nonexistent and foreign to all of us, thus they proceed from Christ, from above, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Certainly these many spiritual activities are determinant upon the Fathers working; working according to His sovereignty and are not our labors. In other words, what possible human effort can we possibly exert, or what imaginable expenditure of the minds innate abilities can we exercise that would allow us in the slightest to know Christ, possess a knowledge of Him apart from what God has already accomplished and apart from His continual working in us? We recognize the Fathers work in that He is the one who establishes in Christ.
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Paul recognizes the source of such a great revelation of Christ when he explained,
But when He (God), Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased To reveal (unveil, disclose) His Son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles…
There is no greater treasure to be found in heaven or on earth than to know Christ, all our efforts and energies of life, especially in our religion, should be directed toward and compelled by one thing, and that is, to seek by faith to know Jesus. Recognize that all of our eternity will be a continual unveiling of His glory and majesties. Some I believe think that their eternity with God will be one of having their own mansion where we occasionally go and visit Jesus, or He will visit us or something like that. However, this is simply thinking of heaven in terms of earthly things, and dragging its transcendence and superiority down to what is of this earth however, we need to understand and meditate upon the words of God given to the prophet Isaiah,
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
All of our eternity will be consumed with knowing more of our God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in all there grandiose and regal and His unfathomable attributes, mysteries, and unending wonders; why else would you want to go there. For if heaven is simply having a mansion, how is this any different than what we know here, are you going to reorganize your mansions furniture for all eternity? Not only do we do grave disservice to the revelation of the Lord, when we compare heavenly things to what is in found in this world, also we do immeasurable damage to the revelation of the Church when we think of it only as a body of believers, or as an organization; a society of believers that host many activities and social events all in the name of unity and service. Paul gives us a look into the transcendent nature of Christ Church when He says,
….that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
We have to truly give much consideration of Paul’s words and allow the Holy Spirit to give us insight into them. No organization on this planet, either past, present, or future, is filled with such things as Paul describes them whereas, as Christ body, we can know the fullness of our God, however, only in Christ do we begin to know them.
Again, our Christianity is about one person and our new dwelling place in Him, either individually or corporately Christ is its center piece and especially the Love of the Father in Him is the Churches continual abiding place where this same love, God’s love, is but a continual unveiling and where its depth are boundless, infinite, never-ending. If the Church is going in every other direction than into Christ and unto the realization of the width, length, depth and height of His love then where is it really going? God meant for His Agape Love to not only rule and govern in heaven, but also is meant to be what governs and rules in the hearts of men, and especially as they interact with one another on this planet as this transcendent, supernatural, supreme kingdom matures in this earth; only in proportion to its maturity in Gods people as this body of believers finds its way into Christ. The self, devil, and even sin troubles the Church with all kinds of distraction so that it will not see in which place it is to be going, and that is the love of God In Christ. If Christ love reins in any Church this same Church needs no other governance in all its activities and behaviors.
Once our heart is touched by His love we are spoiled in that no other thing in this world can bring that level of comfort, security, and satisfaction to our souls than to know more of His revealed love- this should be a clue as to what our eternity is to be……His love shed abroad on our hearts. If the things of Christ possess us and we possess them it should not only be self-evident but evident to those who we interact with each day. In other words, Christ in us lives, and because He lives, is resurrected, so we are alive, alive with the newness of His life, in us, recognizing that His life in us is not self-centered, or self-promoting but it is a holy, godly, devoted, and passionate for the Father, filled with the fruit of righteousness. If we are daily feeling distant from our God, can’t pray, are not hearing His voice, distant from His grace, it is simply because we are not alive with the newness of life in our most inner parts.
Recognize that this new life is not full of itself, is not a charismatic personality, nor is it religious- in the pejorative sense, or overtly outgoing with a lot of smiling; I know that the Pentecostal movement over emphasize the joy of the Lord to their own hurt, but this new life is categorically more majestic than any other, a life of love, a love that is characterized by these specific virtues and it behaves toward all men in this manner: it endures long, is patient and kind it never is envious nor jealousy not boastful or vainglorious. This life of love does not display itself haughtily, it is not conceited, and it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.
This new life in us does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. This quality of love bears up under anything and everything that comes is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. This God given love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. Therefore you can see that if this Agape is the rule of our heart there is no other governance of behaviors in the Church. The newness of life is much higher and richer in character than a smiling “happy” Christian and in terms of a love that we can manufacture, His love in us is superior.
Our life should be a consistent and continual unveiling of the Sons life, in us, unto much fruit bearing, as we learn to abide in Him by faith. If, as we age, the thing that is filling our inner life is mainly centered in upon ourselves and consequently what people are experiencing as they interact with us is more representative of who we are, and not Christ, i.e. our many inconsistencies, odd personality, weird anomalies, our idiocentric obsessions, or worst, our hidden sinfulness, this is not the true Christian life; it is not what Christ sacrificed His life for, nor is it the Fathers Will in placing us in Christ. If so, we are but as a withering branch that has not matured on or in the Vine.
If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.
BTW: I don’t believe that “fire” is hell, but simply illustrates a life apart from Christ’s, and its uselessness in terms of not abiding.
A word about Following Him, in His Presence vs. abiding In Him
The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
Jesus, during His earthly ministry, said follow me however, in the upper room, at the last supper, and as Jesus prepared the disciples for His death, He explained to them in the manner He would be returning to them, and if they were going to realize this unique return, and in what new way they would be with Jesus, where He is, He no longer is available to physically follow, but now tells them to abide. I’m sure that at the time the disciples did not understand what Jesus had been explaining to them but later, upon the sending of the Holy Spirt, and as they matured in their new inner life of dwelling, or abiding, as taught by the Spirit, they understood the meanings of what it meant to abide in Him, and especially did the Apostles explain to others that we are in Christ and to abide in Him. Yes, after Jesus resurrection, He revealed Himself to the disciples and others however, after His ascension into heaven did those who by faith in Him begin to abide through and by means of the Holy Spirit who was sent into their lives. Consequently, in a new and living manner does the Church, as a body, know their God, in Christ, as they begin to abide in Him from whence comes unity and true headship. Therefore, in a true spiritual and organic sense the expression of the body can begin, in true worship of the Father, as a temple built not with hands, worshipping the Father, offering up spiritual sacrifices. In this manner does the Church transition from an lifeless expression of a self-life, religious, heartless, because these expressions of organized Church fall sorely short of Gods expectations of worship, where those expectations are only realized in one person who unites all in one place, and that is in Christ life, where now He calls them a living temple in whom God dwells,
…for we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…
Following Christ had been physical, geographical, and was based upon physical laws and senses however, abiding is spiritual, and is known via spiritual senses, and requires a God granted knowledge of Christ and certainly requires an steadfastness and patience on our part to embrace and learn of our new dwelling place; recognizing that abiding in Christ is a place for our daily living, and suggests that one is willing to make the required sacrifices to dwell there.
Abiding in Christ, the newness of life is penetrating and where His life permeates into the most inner parts of our soul and spirit. Therefore, if we are going to abide, we abide moment by moment until His life infuses into ours, recognizing that in this unique infusion fruitfulness is eventually realized, i.e. Christ peace, love, joy, patience etc. Christ life begins to meld into our spirit and eventually our souls, and is based upon our personal union with Him by faith. In other words, our union with Him which results in an impartation of His life into ours, where as He is, so we become… He who says he abides in Him, the Apostle John explains, ought himself also to walk just as He walked. I said patience and steadfastness because for all who desire to dwell in Christ there is a work of the Father, where He, by His power, placed us in Christ via His resurrection. If we are not dwelling in Him it is because we have removed ourselves from Him and basically is due to the defilement of our self-centeredness or sin. Jesus explained that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles us, but what comes out, and proceeds from an evil unbelieving heart, where He mentions all the malevolent and sinister evil thoughts that flow unhindered from each of us, and as we put our mind upon, or put our walk to, will despoil ourselves from abiding.
Certainly, today, there is much Christian rhetoric about walking, following, and serving the Lord, however little is taught, from a day to day perspective regarding what this relationship with the Lord truly is and means to each of us personally. There are few among us who actually have a genuine and practical experience in knowing the Lord in the manner He would have us know Him; any personal experience spoken of is usually hearsay. Why is Christ in you so very important, because, apart from Christ we can do nothing, i.e. apart from Him all that we do in terms of bearing any real fruit is nothing and of no eternal value, consequence, or reward. One, who has engaged in the most minimal task, e.g. giving a glass of water, via the grace of the living Jesus, in Him, has more reward in heaven than the one who has done great exploits without it. You can attempt to clean up your self-life making it more devotional and religious thus engaged in much Christian activities however; you still remain apart from God’s communicated grace in Christ.
In addition to “following” Christ, many explain that not only are they seeking to follow Christ but also seek to know His presence; which is desirable, but it is external, therefore, to know Jesus as we ought, and is more in line with scriptures, we must transition from looking out for Him to looking in, where He abides by His Spirit, in us. Yes, I like to know Jesus presence, a presence so real in our assemblies sometimes we can almost see Him however, and after His presence leaves, it is only a memory of Him that we have, it is not unlike Moses coming off the mountain and the glory begins to fade from His face. However, as Paul explains…
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Pursuing what is external, works little change in us, therefore those who continue to seek after His presence in this manner has to wait until the next assembly, hoping Jesus will again manifest Himself. Nevertheless, there is always the real possibility that as many exclusively seek this supernatural experience they become vulnerable to every kind of inordinate experience, not of the Lord, where many have been led astray.
I listened to a high profile preacher explain to his audience that he had been swimming with Jesus, explaining that the Lords presence had been so manifest to him that as he was swimming in the ocean he felt the Lords presence with him. He also explained that he did not know if Jesus was walking on the water beside him, or if Jesus was swimming next to him. We have to evaluate all claims to what could be described as an abnormal experience against what is written in scriptures. I only see the manifestation (His manifest power) of the Holy Spirit in the context of building or edification of the external Church. His work and power in us, however, is profitable for personal change, unto holiness; it is the Spirit, in us, that maintains our daily communion with the Lord and our union with His resurrected life.
Abiding primarily is the work of the Father
For they (Israel) got not the land [of Canaan] in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your countenance [did it], because You were favorable toward and did delight in them.
Sometimes I have to believe that many Christians believe that because they are born of the Spirit and after this experience there is no other thing the Father is asking of us, i.e. many forget sanctification, or our being set apart from all unrighteousness, sinfulness, or ungodliness that as long as we don’t commit any of the big sins we have Gods favor and He delights in all we do. If this were true, then I would ask why all the problems if we have Gods favor and His delight? Going into our weekly assemblies is not where the real problems of our life arise, it is in our daily life, i.e. in family relationships, at work, in our free time, in our driving times, with our many bouts with boredom or depression, our obsessions, worrying over every other thing, how we speak to others and they speak to us, our many attitudes and personal behaviors both internal and external, or our personal selfishness, or self-centeredness, and the many temptation we face each day, or at times our outright sinfulness where in all these we can see that we have not been truly set apart nor cleansed of all our unrighteousness.
We are daily reminded of just how far away from Christ life we really are. It is God; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are attempting to work daily, in us, unto a personal victory over all those things that confront us in order that we might live a holy and righteous life before God thus knowing His delight and favor. It is only as we walk through each day abiding in Christ will we know victory. Outside of Christ there is no victory, in Christ there is victory and favor and from where comes resurrection power. From my experience there are days when I feel far from God, and His communicated grace. However, there are other days where His grace occupies for spirit sufficiently where these aforementioned daily occurrences are as water off a ducks back and I truly recognize Gods delight and favor. Why would bad behavior expect Gods favor and delight? If the Father rewarded such behavior with His favor would not that just encourage more bad behaviors?
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.
Therefore, any real change, working in us, is through Jesus abiding grace, the Spirits daily teaching and mentoring us in the things of Christ, the Fathers granting wisdom and understanding to live by, where insight is given, conviction of sin, also the light of the Lord is given that we might address a dominant self, or all those daily occurrences of unrighteousness and sin in our life. Not only does the Lord forgive us however He does not leave us in a state to sin again He also cleanses of all unrighteousness.
If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Know that God is always moving us in one single direction and that is holiness and righteousness of life, In Christ- this is our safe and enduring place we can daily be attentive to as the things of Christ are worked deep within our spirit and heart, thus we are becoming as He is unto knowing the Father favor and delight.
As mentioned, and if we can think of our new birth in terms of a new born baby who is totally dependent upon their parents as it’s enter into their new world we can get a good picture of the Fathers work in our life; in other words, we are totally dependent upon Him for our survival in His kingdom. Jesus, in the gospel of John explains that we must be born again to see the kingdom of God. As a newborn opens its eyes for the first time, to this physical world, it sees many strange faces and objects around them, however, it only response to this new world and the new environment is to cry, crying for its first breath. Additionally, the newborn has no understanding of this new world it has just been born into; the new born is physiologically insulated from their foreign environment basically because of their undeveloped understanding and knowledge of it, i.e. they just don’t know what they are seeing nor can they put thoughts or reasons to what they feel, smell, or tastes. Not unlike this new born, all of us born into a kingdom we have no experience with or in it. Our eyes are open for the first time, our spiritual senses are awakened, yet as a new born, we have no understanding of the new world/realm we have just been birth into by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have a direr need to learn, however, it is in a childlike manner that we turn to our Father for understanding and knowledge of His kingdom. We need eyes to see and ears to hear to hear, and cleansing to enter this kingdom. Also, as we mature we have to walk, and not only walk, we have to walk differently than previously, and we walk according to a new law, the law of the Spirit of life. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Why have not many known more of this kingdom they have been born into? It is because they have not matured in spiritual things, and what I mean by this is simply say you cannot separate the kingdom from righteousness. If you know the kingdom it is because you know and walk in His righteousness. The kingdom of God is a place where all creatures behave righteously.
…you must be born of the water and Spirit to enter into the kingdom
Jesus words are our cleansing agent. We understand that we have been granted through Christ an imputed righteousness, i.e. through His cross and death; however, we also see an imparted righteousness in scripture. It is the Holy Spirit, though the Fathers direction, who sanctifies us, or sets us apart from all unrighteousness in order that His righteousness might be imparted to us. Just in the setting apart from unrighteousness we are walking in righteousness. We must get up each day and pray Lord sanctify me body, soul, and spirit, and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. After that pray we turn to the Holy Spirit, His voice in us, that we might not walk by the dictate of the flesh but of the Spirit. Setting our minds and hearts upon things above where in doing so we begin to walk in this world differently and we enter further into the experience and realities of Gods kingdom where all righteousness exist.
For some unknown reason we might be tempted to think that this imparted righteousness is something that will one day fall upon us, or we might suppose that in some manner we have the means through self-efforts and much discipline to somehow, and someday, find that we are walking more righteous than a year ago. Neither of these suppositions is correct, it is only as we arise daily; commit our lives to asking the Lord to clean us of all unrighteousness and listen, hear, abide, subject, and are trained, by the Spirit, do we begin to move toward living a more righteous life? For how do you know what is unrighteous and what is righteousness in your life, unless it comes to us from above? It is through the Spirit communicating and revealing the words and things of Christ, in our spirit, that we can truly know ourselves and to discern righteousness from unrighteousness. A.W. Tozer, Man – the Dwelling Place of God explains,
…the deep-in human entity of which we speak is called in the Scriptures the spirit of man. For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him… even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God (I Cor. 2:11). As God’s self-knowledge lies in the eternal Spirit, so man’s self-knowledge is by his own spirit, and his knowledge of God is by the direct impression of the Spirit of God upon the spirit of man.
Therefore, we grow up only in proportion to the degree that we are abiding in Christ, the begotten Son of the Father. In all the Fathers efforts does He want for us to mature into a son, however, from His Son does our divine DNA come, and if we are maturing in the manner we should, unto holiness and righteousness, it is according to the life of His Son, in us, that we draw deeply from in maturing into a new son where it is this son that the Father finds delight and gives favor to.
… May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!
The Churches problem
Remember that in Jesus Christ, there is that which went through all corruption untainted, and it is still possible, oh blessed be God, it has proved actual again and again for a child of God to walk in white raiment in the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah. Where Satan’s very seat is, you may find saints walking in purity. It’s the marvellous miracle of the Christian life that we can be subjected to all the filth and all the horror, all the corruption and pollution of this world around us, and still go on unstained, untainted. It’s a miracle! The miracle of the Christian life. T. Austin Sparks
If we have faith and we know to abide, why all the problems in the Church, if in fact we are, as the scripture explains, in Christ, why all the disunity, sinfulness, immaturity, selfishness, arrogance, divisions, false teachings, miss understanding of scriptures, in other words corruption? I believe we can see what the problem might be in Jesus statement,
Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
Jesus life is incorruptible; it cannot be corrupted as demonstrated during His life on this planet. If the Church and its many members are to walk upright, if its teaching is going to be above reproach, if it is going to please the Father then all have to abide in Jesus incorruptible life.
…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever
The primary reasons the current as well as the historical Church has made so many twist and turns in its making progress is because it is ignorant of its abiding place or its inability to abide in the life that is incorruptible. Corruption of life eventually infiltrates every individual life or the collective life in those who have not, through God’s grace, discovered Christ life and is established in it.
Simply stated, the Church is not dwelling in Christ as it is called to, therefore there is all kinds of weird stuff that goes on that damages the churches repetition and health in this world and certainly does not represent the Son. Due to the gross immaturity that exists in many churches today I don’t believe even Jesus wants to come in. He goes where He is invited, and where people want Him and respect Him and who would deeply desire to be as He is. Where Jesus is not consequently churches have to come up with many substitutes.
Ian Thomas, the Indwelling Life of Christ, explains,
…to be entirely honest, I know of nothing quite so boring as Christianity without Christ. Countless people have stopped going to a place of worship simply because they are sick of going through the motions of a dead religion. They are tired of trying to start a car on an empty tank. What a pity that there are not more people around to show them that Jesus Christ is alive.
These days there is a great deal of attraction to the sensational, the emotional, and to the high profile cheerleader preachers, or the many mega assemblies than seeking, knowing and having a sincere one-on-one personal relationship with, and in, Jesus Christ, i.e. rather than knowing and understanding His abiding mind, heart, and love, from whence comes His governance in each of our lives, and His love and single minded devotion to His Father, consequently, many alternatives and substitutes are sought after these days, and certainly are many of these surrogates unbiblical. In place of the Holy Spirit, who communicates Christ gifts, ministries, life and grace to the Church, many alternatives are put in place that only mimics the absence of the kingdom of God and it’s King. Why mimic, simply because what is truly of the Spirit and Heavenly might not be recognized that it is absent or missing in our assemblies, and in place the Spirit and reverential worship there is a lot of loud music, large TV monitors, video bites, drama, charismatic cheerleading preachers, or selected pinpointed man oriented messages lasting but a few minutes. Rather than your spiritual life being edified it is the self-life that is where I think that the more that the word of the Spirit is absent in one’s preaching the more emotional and vocal the messages become. Either God is giving increase to the extent that there are many Christians filling the seats of those assemblies where there is a compromised gospel being preached or people are filling these seats because they no longer can tolerate sound teachings.
Unfortunately, what happens with many Christian journey of faith, is that on the way, they lose sight of where they are going. That is, where the Holy Spirit, along this path has been attempting to move them to their place of rest; rest from all the churches confusion, religious activities, organizational demands, errors, and divisive teachings. No, it is the Lords will that we find a peaceful place in Him, however, to do so means that we know what it means to abide in Him. In our abiding all crooked ways are made straight, our “post-traumatic church syndrome” is healed. That is, in Christ, we discover our true place and Gods intention along the way into His Son. If one is not made aware of these things, along the way, given spiritual understanding will fall prey to the snares to self, the world, and the evil one, all of which will keep us from knowing our God given place in Christ; it is a long journey, therefore requires patience and faith.
We usually think in physical terms about God and Christ placing some distance between Him and us. We have said or have heard others say that they are far from God, but in what are really far from God, and as scripture explains,
These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me
However, we must realize that we have a heart and spirit and in terms of the nature of spiritual things they are not physical and are without space and time. God created our bodies to interact with the physical world, however He created our spirits so that we might interact with Him. God is a Spirit therefore we have access to Him and His nearness because His kingdom is without any distance from us who are near Him in spirit.
Jesus has removed any barriers that formally existed i.e. the chasm between Him and us are removed because Jesus has bridged the gap. In addition, the Holy Spirit in us, that is in our spirit, instructs us in spiritual matters removing the idea or concept of distance and continues to unveil the Fathers and the Sons nearness to all of us who are born anew and seek to abide in Christ. Therefore we are far from God not physically, for God fills all things. We are far from Him in our heart. A heart set upon Him will know just how near He really is. If the Church is going to know its true dwelling place In Christ and Gods nearness we must attend to the Holy Spirit.
As prophesied by the prophet Joel “…I will pour out My Spirit in those days” the early Church began with an initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit where His provisions of power and grace facilitated many being saved, healed and delivered as He acted upon each seeking and believing heart. However, as time passed this initial outpouring begins to ebb and subsequently many start to see letters from Paul, Peter, and John showing up at the door step of local Churches where each letter contained a common theme and message of encouragement, insights, exhortations, corrections, and at times discipline. In addition, each letter contained a variety of reminders of Gods many promises and spiritual riches, In Christ, where I believe the intent had been the maturity of faith and life which can only be realized in terms that the Apostles explained in each of their letters to the Churches, i.e., In Christ.
After the Holy Spirit moves, as the wind, unseen, yet visible in that His power is felt, where grace, faith and gifts are dispensed, the love and peace of God initially excites the heart, and where many are born into His kingdom having their eyes opened, their ears sensitized, and their heart passions stirred to seek an invisible king and kingdom and Gods righteousness entering in further into it. However, after a period of time, many go out to do the work of the Lord but in their going, and after many years, what had been given in purity begins to wane and the hearts of men begin to lose sight of Him whom gave these gifts. It is not long after the purity of Jesus given things are compromised, via man’s self-ambition, independence, arrogance, and spiritual ignorance that the Lord has to send His chosen messengers to correct what is going amiss, either externally or internally. We see some of Jesus messengers in the book of revelations whom Jesus sent to the seven Churches to correct, rebuke, complement, or exhort. Not unlike what had been spoken of in the first few chapters of the book of revelations today Jesus must again send in His Prophets to restore what has been tarnished and damaged by men who have gone their own way. God send your Prophets.
What restoration does any church require or what we might require today, it is always the same, no matter where in history you might look; when men, local churches, organizations, or movements have gone off course it is always because they have forgotten in whom the Father, by His power, has placed them, in heavenly places, that is into Christ the source for the newness of life.
When Jesus and His word are neglected we lose our unique privilege and opportunity to know Him in the manner He wishes to know us, and manifest Himself. Therefore, to reveal Himself in terms of how He will bless each of us with His unique and coveted fellowship we must learn to abide. If fellowship with Jesus is not at the forefront of a churches goal, or at the hearts of its members desires, that is, unto knowing the height, depth, and breadth of His love, each has moved away from where the Holy Spirit had been leading and guiding them, i.e. faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love (Gods love in you). There is no other place that we should be pursuing, for did not Paul give us this vision, that is, the fullness of God culminating into His love; which is both the rule and reign of heaven and earth. For did not the Father graciously share with us His love to rule in our hearts as it rules in heaven.
However, instead of Christ life, in us, regrettably, we see another life raising its ugly head in the Church. Today a self-life is alive and well in our churches and is reigning without restriction or confrontation; not that it has not in previous generation, however, in the contemporary Church it has reached a pinnacle of existence, and rather than being confronted from those who know better it is encouraged, told to self-express, and encouraged to excel in all of its human abilities to imitate Christ, and abide in His word apart from Gods intervention; as if that were possibly.
Rather than preaching repentance from sin and Christ crucified and through humility and poverty of spirit one can know Christ in His kingdom, most preach self-actualization as a means to please the Lord. Andrew Murray explains…there seldom was much blessing until there had first come a great breaking down and Christians had been brought to feel how much there is wanting in their life. When the Church has not found its way to Christ, and to abide and dwell in Him it has to find imitations and substitutes.
It is only as the Father gives each individual and the church a spirit of repentance will it understand how far it has fallen and see its true poverty therefore calling upon the name of the Lord. Consequently, the Father begins His work in us, to reveal, encourage, granting wisdom and understanding unto a full knowledge of Christ to not only gather us all into Him, as the scriptures point out, but to gather us in the present kingdom where we can know, through personal experience, the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and their oneness.
In addition, Jesus has given ministries to the Church, those who are supposed to be attending to that which is working in them, that is, to mature the body unto a perfect man whose measure of statue is according to Christ, and why is this? That the Church is not distracted or deceived into believing there is any other direction that each individual or the Church as a whole should be moving toward; and that is simply In Christ.
… till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…
For to long the Church has been overly concerned with one dimension of the fullness of Christ, and that is a horizontal one, where it also, and most importantly, should have been attentive to a vertical and personal relationship with Him. In the churches preoccupation with only one element of the fullness, its growth and maturity has been compromised where it remains ignorant of those things hidden in the Lord for their edification, e.g. His many mysteries of abiding unto having a personal and corporate relationship with Him as well as knowing the kingdom of God in its present realities. Therefore, because there is a persistent ignorance among Gods people, as Paul explained to the Ephesians, the Church is tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine,
So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.
Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].
We are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine of men because we have not received or understood Jesus complete message which can simply be said is to lay down your life, and love your brother. In every manner of corruptions that has ever existed in the Church has been a result of men who have disregarded Jesus message in the upper room and who have not known the depth of the manifest love of God as the rule and governance in their hearts. If we are not moving in the direction to know and love our God in this manner that has been spoken of by the Lord; we have to ask ourselves where exactly are we going?
Therefore, today many Christians flippantly explain that Jesus is their friend, based upon Jesus words to His disciples in the upper room, where He explained,
No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]
The disciples walked with the Lord for several years where He called them servant however, now He calls them, in His last words to them where He refers to them as His friends; which is highly relational. Notice that over three years many followed Jesus, however many left Him to return to their lives, albeit, the disciples continued with Him into the upper room on Passover. In many places, both publicly and privately did Jesus teach the disciples, yet now He explains that He now has revealed to them all that the Father gave to Him, notice the all. In addition, recognize that Jesus explained that if the disciples kept His commands that they were His friends. Also take a look at the circumstance that Jesus calls them friends, i.e. there had been only 11 of them who were receiving His final message, from the Father, no one else had been there with Him in the upper room, He only brought up the 12 where one left. What I think we also need to think about is the atmosphere in which the disciples received Jesus last message, one filled with that atmosphere of heaven where peace, enlightenment, much grace and power filled both the room and the disciples hearts. Yes, we can pick up our bible at any time and read John 15 but I bring up the atmosphere recognizing who had been teaching them, i.e. the Son of God and not your local bible teacher. I’m sure what Jesus had been instructing them in was burned deep into their hearts which they carried with them the rest of their life. We are Jesus friends when He, like in the upper room, begins to instruct us regarding all the things the Father gave Him, i.e. His secrets. Like the Psalmist explained,
What man is he that feareth the Lord? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
Again from Andrew Murray…As we make confession that we have not given God His glory, that we have sought our own will and honour and pleasure, that we have given self and the world a place in the heart where Christ wanted to dwell alone, God’s Holy Spirit can so show us the sinfulness of our Christian life, as to leave us no rest until we have said with full purpose, and the assurance of divine approval: I accept the whole Christ with my whole heart.
God placing us in Christ has a multitude of blessings for all of us however there can be no higher blessing than to know fellowship with Him where He would call us His friend and show us His secrets. And not unlike the disciples Jesus message and the authority He gave His final message will also burn deep into our souls and in doing so we can never be the same for our eyes will always be upon Him who not only fills heaven and earth but also fills our hearts.