March 4: The Indwelling Life of Christ Comes by Obedience to Christ’s Command- Believe.

We’ve been seeing from John 14 that Jesus is both equal to and yet dependent upon the Father. This is because he is both divine and human. In his humanity, Jesus lived from complete dependency upon the Father. Beyond this, we have seen in John 14, that Jesus will send the Spirit to manifest the his life to us, his disciples. Now, we too must live our lives dependent upon Christ, just as he lived dependent upon the Father.

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Before we move from John 14 to John 15, let’s look at one more connection that Jesus makes for us as it concerns living from his indwelling life by the Spirit: we receive the indwelling Spirit through obedience to Christ’s commands.

John 14:21. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”  23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 

Now, stay with me- this is NOT teaching salvation by works.

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To understand this, we have to understand what John and Jesus mean when the word “commandments” is used or when he says “keep my word.”

Frederick Bruner, in his commentary on John, points out that the commands of Jesus are       “his twin invitations to believe him and to love one another- in short to want to be                  Christians in our hearts. These simple commands are not onerous conditions. Rather,            they are exciting privileges, that our Gift, the Holy Spirit, our True Friend, helps us to            take seriously as we accept them simply and undeservedly.”

Bruner is essentially pointing out that to keep Jesus’ commandment, and to keep his word, is to simply have faith. Look at how 1 John summarizes it:

1 John 3:23. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

So we are saved by faith. To have faith is to obey the commandment of Jesus. To live out that commandment by loving others is also faith- faith without works is dead.

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Now re-read John 14:21. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. We love God because he first loved us. His love is demonstrated at the cross. “God so loved the world that he gave…” It is this love from God that compels us to faith- to “have Christ’s commandment,” to believe in him, and to love others. Our faith, or our desire to be loved by God and to love others, is the proof that we love Jesus as he first loved us. And God continues to manifest this love in us: And he who loves me will be loved by my Father. Romans 5 tells us that God pours his love into us by the Spirit. John 14:21 says it this way: and I will love him and manifest myself to him. How does Jesus manifest himself to us? By the love of the indwelling Spirit.

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The answer to “Good Judas'” question in verse 22 is the indwelling life of the Spirit. Look at verse 23 again. “We will come and make our home with him.” The Father and Son will indwell the disciple who has placed faith in Christ. How? By the Spirit. That is how the world will see and experience the love of God after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus – through the indwelling life of God [zoe] manifested in the life and love of those of us who claim “to live is Christ.”

John 13:35. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Bonus video- classic Michael W!

 

 

March 3: The Indwelling Life of Christ Produces Peace.

We left off yesterday in John 14. Jesus told his disciples that when he departs, the Spirit will come and bring with him the indwelling life of Christ. “He will be with you and IN you,” Jesus says. Then Jesus goes on to describe the result of the Spirit’s coming.

John 14:25-27. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

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The Source of Life

The source of our eternal life and therefore our eternal peace is Christ by the Spirit. We’ve been exploring this concept for several days now. In verse 26 above, we see that the Spirit will be sent by the Father. And we also see that the Spirit will minister to us the life and work of Jesus. Again, as we said yesterday, the Spirit is Christ-centered.

The Signs of Life

To receive Christ’s indwelling life, by the Spirit, is to receive his peace. “Peace” here is the Greek word eirene, and it is the Hebrew word shalom. This is no small thing. Shalom is more than just peace as the absence of conflict. It is whole life flourishing. Everything “going well” for you. It the Jewish “hello” and “goodbye.” The beginning and end. Jesus doesn’t supply peace by changing the disciples’ immediate circumstance. In fact, life is about to get much worse. He will supply peace by providing the source of all peace, God himself, in the form of his own life implanted by the Spirit. This is far from the peace that the world offers – a fleeting, temporary, shallow, and self seeking peace.

This peace results in a restful heart and freedom from fear (“let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be  afraid”). Imagine how hard this conversation is for both Jesus and the disciples. Remember he is about to be arrested, tried, and executed. The disciples are about to be scattered in fear. They will be the farthest from shalom that they have ever been.

But the absence of peace that night is what will bring everlasting internal peace. A peace that passes all of our understanding. It is a peace that will be accomplished by the cross, not just offered by good will. It is a peace that will be made possible by faith. Faith in Jesus’ commandments, but also faith in his work on the cross.

 

Tomorrow we will look at one last thought from John 14. The connection between love, “commandment keeping,” and the indwelling life of Christ by the Spirit. But for today let me ask you about the your own personal shalom. Do you have peace? Does the indwelling life of Christ produce a daily peace in your life? Or, do you live from a troubled fearful heart? If so come back tomorrow (and for the rest of the year) as we continue to explore how to appropriate the peace of God, through the indwelling life of Christ.

 

March 2: We Depend On Our True Friend, the Spirit, For Christ’s Life.

Jesus lived his life from complete dependence upon the Father. In this way he imaged God as a human, and showed us how to do the same. But even Jesus didn’t do this from his own strength. He did it from the indwelling life of the Father, by the life giving power of the Spirit. The Spirit applied the life of the Father to Jesus’ human life so that he could live from the life giving love of God at all times. This is precisely how we are to live.

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In John 14-16, Jesus is explaining life to us before he goes to the cross. Yesterday we saw that Jesus’ life and the Father’s life were united, and yet submissive (Jesus submitted to the Father). Today we will see Jesus introduce the Spirit into the equation.

John 14:16-17. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

The word “Helper” [paraklete] means “The one who comes alongside,” encourager, advocate, counselor, comforter, or even true friend. Jesus is their current Friend. The Spirit will be their new Friend. We depend on the True Friend, the Spirit, for Christ’s life. The Spirit will serve in the same way as the Son. And notice what Jesus says, “he dwells with you and will be IN you.” Now that’s even better than what Jesus was to them. Jesus in the flesh was WITH them, but not IN them. This new True Friend, the Spirit, will be with and in them “forever.” And in this way, Jesus will too.

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The Spirit is also “the Spirit of [the] truth.” This takes our minds back to John 14:6, where Jesus calls himself the Truth. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ Jesus. The Spirit is not Spirit-centered. He is Christ-centered. It is his goal to apply the life of Christ to our lives.

John 14:19-20. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live [zoe], you also will live [zoe]. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

“You will see me,” Jesus says. He  is predicting his resurrection. And then notice his next words: “Because I live, you also will live.” Because of the resurrection, you will have my eternal, divine, zoe life. But how? How does Jesus’ resurrection secure for us his spiritual life? By the Spirit. Jesus was resurrected and then glorified. This allowed for him to then disperse his life into ours by the Spirit (more on that in future weeks).

John 14:25-27. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper [paraclete], the Holy Spirit [ruach], whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. 

Here Jesus makes it explicit. The Spirit is the Helper.

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He is sent by the Father, and he will minister to you the life and teachings of Jesus. The Spirit comes in Jesus’ name- his authority, and character. Just as Jesus came under submission to and dependence upon the Father, the Spirit comes in submission to and dependence upon the Son. And as we depend upon the Spirit for Christ’s life, we learn “all things.” Not all things about all things. Not physics and chess. All things about how to live as an image bearer, how to love, how to have peace, how to live in dependency.

And the result is peace.

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More on that peace tomorrow.

 

March 1: The Union of Father and Son Is the Model For Our Union to Christ.

“To live is Christ” means that we live from the indwelling life of Christ. And this life comes from the Spirit. Over the next couple days let’s journey through John 14-16 to see how Jesus connects his life to dependency upon the Father, and our lives to dependency upon him, through the Spirit.

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Today will be mostly review, but that’s OK, we all need to hear things more than once, right?

John 14:6-7. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

If you know Jesus, you know the Father. If you have Jesus’ life in you, you have the Father’s life (zoe) in you. You have union with God.

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And, as we will see in John 14-16 tomorrow, by the Spirit we have the Father’s life and the Son’s life in you, if you have by faith received this life.

John 14:10-11. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Jesus again appeals to his union with the Father. This union of Father and Son is the model for our union to Christ. Jesus says that he never speaks of his own authority. Jesus is dependent upon the Father, just as we must live dependent upon the Son.

Are you aware of your own dependence upon Christ? Do you desire him like air? Like water? Do you desire Christ more than a solution to whatever problem you will face today? Do you realize that without him you can do nothing. You have no authority in this life. Even each breath you take comes from his approval.

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Jesus submitted to the Father’s authority and approval. Even though he is equally God, he humbled himself in submission and was obedient. Why? Because that is humanity. That is life. That is image bearing. And that is how our relationship to Christ works- we submit in dependence to him.

Tomorrow we will see Jesus connect his life of dependency to the Spirit.

 

February 28: Jesus’ Life Is the Spirit’s Living Water That Satisfies.

Yesterday we looked at Jesus’ conversation about life (zoe) with Nicodemus. Today let’s take a look at his conversation with the Samaritan woman, commonly called “the woman at the well.” The story is found in John 4.

The story has Jesus travelling through the region of Samaria, a place that no self respecting Jew would ever travel through. Jews and Samaritans hated each other, disagreed on theology, and in general avoided each other. When Jesus stops at a well in the middle of the day, he meets a Samaritan woman there who is drawing water, and he asks her for a drink. She is shocked at his humility in lowering himself to ask for something from her, and she questions why he is talking to a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that.

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John 4:10. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the [free] gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

First, Jesus says that the life made available to the woman is free. Zoe is free. Living water is free. The Spirit is free. Christ’s life is free. And what God has made free, may we never make costly.

Notice what Jesus says next, “if you knew…who it is that is saying to you give me a drink.” Of course he is talking about himself. He is connecting himself to the free gift. He IS the free gift. The free gift is himself.

And the free gift is the “living water.” The water, as we saw yesterday, is the Spirit himself. So the “free gift” is the Son and the Spirit. They’re a combo package. The Father freely gives us the Son, and the Son freely gives us the Spirit.

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John 4:14. The water that I will give [to the person who drinks] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life [zoe].

When you trust in Jesus, you get all the Spirit you are ever going to get, and all the life you are ever going to get. It is Christ’s life made to gush out of us like a spring of water. And we will never thirst again- every desire is satisfied by Christ’s indwelling life. “To live is Christ” is that soul satisfying life. A life where every thirst is quenched.

This is the life that the woman needed. Having been through 5 husbands, she sought satisfaction in all kinds of things in her life. But only true worship could satisfy her. Only eternal hope and love could bring her peace. Only Christ could quench her thirst and ours.

On the cross, Christ cried out “I thirst” so that we might never thirst again.

And a bonus video just because it needed to happen.

February 27: Being Born Again By the Spirit Gives You the Life of Christ.

Jesus lived his life dependent upon the life of the Father- that is, the Father’s divine, eternal life or zoe. And this divine life can only overtake a human life (including Jesus’) by the Spirit (ruach) of God.

Over the next couple days let’s take a look at a couple conversations Jesus had with people about life. The first one is found in John 3 with a religious leader and teacher, a Pharisee, named Nicodemus. If you’ve never read this story, go ahead and read John 3 now.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that his life is not what he thinks it is. He is a rich, powerful, educated man. But according to Jesus, he is also spiritually dead and dying. To use a word from John 3:16, he is “perishing.”

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John 3:2-3. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus flat out ignores Nicodemus’ opening statement, and gets to the heart of Nicodemus’ real problem. He must be born again. “Born again” literally means to be born from above. It cannot mean to find religion, because Nicodemus already has religion and he is still not in the Kingdom of God.

John 3:5. Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Not only does Nicodemus need a new life, he needs it from a new source. He must be born of “water and the Spirit.” This is most likely a way of saying the same thing twice. Jesus is quoting the prophets, who often combined the water and the Spirit (or wind/ ruach) when talking about God’s restoration of his people. For example:

Ezekiel 36:25-27. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Nicodemus is stumped. He is a teacher of Israel, an expert in the Old Testament, but he missed what God had said so many years earlier.

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John 3:14-15. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life [zoe].

New life is needed by the Spirit. We are all dying like the Hebrews that got bit by snakes in the wilderness (read about it in Numbers 21:6-9). Nicodemus’ religion, status, power, money, and morality cannot save him. What does he need?

Here’s where it gets good. Do you see what Jesus does? In verse 5, he has told us that what we need is rebirth by the Spirit. Then in verse 15, he says that we need to believe in the Son. He has made the Spirit and the Son one. The rebirth of the Spirit is by faith in the Son. And what is the result? Eternal zoe. Christ’s own life.

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And don’t miss the way to this eternal life in verse 14. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Jesus will be lifted up on the cross, carrying sin and death- the death of the serpent. On the cross, Christ will be exalted to glory, the glory of the sacrificial life. The glory of the self giving God. The glory of bearing the image of our eternally loving and merciful Father. Because he was lifted up on the cross, we can receive his life from outside of us, into our lives by the Spirit, so that now “to live is Christ.” 

 

 

 

February 26: Jesus Lived From the Power of the Praise and Glory He Received From the Father.

Jesus lived in dependency. He was dependent and desperate for his Father. His model is what “to live is Christ” means. We too must live from dependency and desperation. We do this by relying fully on our union with Christ, the way he relied fully on his union with the Father.

John 8:28. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

“I do nothing on my own authority.” What an amazing statement from the Creator of the universe, the second member of the Trinity, the eternal Word. He has set aside all authority and submits to the Father. And again, this is all for us. Not only to bring forgiveness, but to bring the restoration of the image of God in us.

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Philippians 2:5-8. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Jesus’ faith and trust in his Father and his love, allowed him to empty himself, deny himself, and live in dependency upon the Father. He didn’t have to live from his own authority, he lived from the power of the praise and glory he received from the Father. As a result he was able to live a sacrificial human life- one that imaged the loving sacrifice of God.

And that same power for living is available to us through the shared life of Christ. The praise and glory he receives from the Father is the same that we will experience on the Day of Christ.

John 17:22. The glory that you have given me I have given to them.