February 24: Jesus Lived His Life in Constant Connection and Dependence Upon God.

Jesus lived his life in constant connection and dependence upon God. And this is how we are empowered to live our lives, by the Spirit (ruach), by the indwelling life of Christ.

John 5:18. This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 

John 5:19. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

John 5:30. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Jesus the divine has always been the eternal Son. He was in the beginning with God, and He is God. Jesus, in his humanity, did not make himself equal to God. He did not commit the sin of Adam in the Garden (“you will be like God”). Rather he declared himself submissive to God.

But in his divinity, he did make himself equal to God, based on his eternal divine nature.

Jesus, in his incarnation, set aside his glory, taking on flesh. He “can do nothing on his own” because of the incarnation- the weakness of humanity. And yet he has retained his divinity THROUGH his submission to the Father. Look at our verses above again (compare 5:18 to 5:19). Jesus is equal to God, even within his incarnation, BECAUSE he is dependent on the Father.

So how did Jesus’ live his life? Jesus lived his life in submission and dependency upon the Father. And this is also how the Spirit lives his life.

John 16:13. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

So if Jesus lives in dependency upon the Father, and the Spirit lives in dependency upon the Son, what do you think that tells us about how we are to live? How does this interpret “to live is Christ” for us?

Why did Jesus humble himself and live an incarnated and dependent life? Because that is the life we were made to live. That is the human life. The worshipper’s life. He did it to do it for us, because we would never do it on our own. He chose dependency out of love. Love for you and for me.

 

February 23: Jesus, Our Example of Dependency, and Our Savior By His Dependency.

We’ve said that Jesus lived his human life for the divine life of the Spirit. But why? Why did Jesus incarnate and live a human life? He was eternal God. So why leave that behind and become a human?

The answer is of course to rescue humanity.

This is important: Jesus came to earth not just to model for us how to live life as a human. He came to live life as a human for us, in our place. This is how he would rescue us. To only live as a model for us would never rescue us. In fact, it would only create an even higher standard than the law, that we could never live up to.

Jesus as our example.

Yes, Jesus came to be our Savior, to do life for us, because we could never do it alone. But does this negate his example? No, in living as our Savior he becomes our example. But our example of what?

The answer to this is our example of how to be a human that images God.

Now we’re back to the Garden. Now we’re back to all the things we said about freedom, love, purpose, work, protecting, impact, intimacy, and desire, in the early entries of this blog. Jesus is showing us how to be a human worshipper of God, who lives from the Tree of Life, in order to master the Tree of Knowledge.

In a nutshell we are talking about dependency. We were meant to live dependent upon God- not independent of God. And that is exactly how Jesus lived his life as an incarnate human. In his eternal state, he has always been God, the second person of the Trinity, dependent on nothing. But as a man, he lived as we are all intended to live, dependent upon God for bios, psyche, and zoe. Dependent upon the Spirit for physical breath and spiritual breath.

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Jesus our Savior.

But here’s the thing- Jesus is my Savior, and I have to live dependent upon him. Without him I fail every time, in everything, in every possible way. I rely on him for every aspect of life. And, he is also my example for how to live in dependence upon God, because he lived that way himself. He is both the God who demands my submission, and the God who lived in submission. He is the source of my life, and the object of my life. He is both the giver of divine life and the receiver of divine life. Jesus is our example of dependency, and our Savior by his dependency.

Here’s where we are headed- over the next few days we will see how Jesus lived dependent upon the Father and the Spirit. And then we will see how the Spirit gives us the life of Christ so that we too can live in humble dependency upon Christ. I hope that you will stay with me as we continue to work out these important truths that make “to live is Christ” possible.

 

 

 

February 22: The Spirit is Better Than the Force, Because the Spirit Loves You.

Ok, I know you usually skip over the videos in this blog, but this time you might want to watch this scene from Star Wars. Here Obi Wan explains to Luke Skywalker about the Force. You can pick it up around the 2:00 mark if you want to.

How does Obi Wan define the Force? He calls it “an energy field created by all living things, it surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”

This explanation of the Force is close to what we might call Pantheism today. All things are alive, and have an energy to them- a divine energy. Therefore all things are divine. Atheism, of course denies an supernatural forces or divine energy. Christianity, and living from the life of Christ, is much closer to pantheism than atheism. Obi Wan’s description of the Force is close to our description of the Spirit and even the indwelling life of Christ. Like the Force, the Spirit is energy that surrounds, penetrates, and binds all things together. But there are two distinctions that we must make about the Spirit of God, that is, two ways that the Spirit is not like the Force.

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First, the Spirit is the Creator, not the creation. As you recall from the past couple days, the Spirit’s hovering led to his creating. In Genesis 1 and Psalm 33, the Spirit creates living things. In Luke 2, the Spirit gave human life to Jesus himself. In 2 Corinthians, the Spirit makes us the New Creation.

Second, the Spirit is personal. The Spirit is not an impersonal “force.” He is God. And he brings us the life of God through the indwelling life of the person of Jesus. The force is alive and thinking, and feeling, and loving, and living. The Spirit is better than the Force, because the Spirit loves you.

John addresses the “Force” of his day, called the Logos, in John 1:1-5.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Greeks, like Star Wars nerds and pantheists, believed in an impersonal force that guided life. They called it the Logos or the “Word”. But John flips it on its head when he says that the Word/Logos/Force is a personal, living, creator and the light of the world.

As we move forward in our journey to understand what “to live is Christ” means, we will learn more and more about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. The Spirit is God. He is personal and he fills us with the life giving energy of a person- Jesus Christ.

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By the way, this is not an anti-Star Wars blog. In fact I think there are many gospel and redemptive themes in the story.

 

 

February 21: Jesus Lived His Human Life From the Spirit’s Divine Life.

Yesterday we went back to beginning to see that God’s Spirit or ruach is what gives life to all things. The Spirit is the inner life of God. There is no life without the Spirit.

Genesis 1:1-2. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Today let’s explore this truth within the life and ministry of the person of Jesus himself. We’ll look at some scriptures from Luke’s gospel to guide us.

Luke 1:35. And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”

Notice the connection of this scripture to Genesis 1:1-2. In Genesis, the Spirit overshadows the “formless and void” earth. At Jesus’ incarnation, the Spirit overshadows the “formless and void” womb of Mary the virgin. In both cases he brings life from where there cannot be life. Jesus’ human life was directly generated by the Spirit (pneuma in Greek). Jesus is the New Creation. The Creator has become the creation by the Spirit.

 

Luke 3:16. John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [pneuma] and fire.

God’s desire is for all of humanity to share in the divine life (zoe) by the Spirit (pneuma). Jesus will baptize, all who believe, in the Spirit, and thus they will receive his life.

Luke 3:21-22. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit [pneuma] descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Here again, the Holy Spirit is hovering over the Creator, Jesus Christ, and descending upon him to empower his human life with divine life. The Father’s love is connected to this life. He declares his love over his son. Love brings divine life. The divine life is love.

 

Luke 4:1-2. And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

Luke 4:14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee

Jesus moves through life by the direction of the Spirit. From temptation in the wilderness, to ministry in Galilee, the Spirit’s divine life guides Jesus’ human life.

Ok, you get the idea, and we could go on and on through the rest of the book. So what’s our point today? Jesus is living his life as a human (his psyche and bios) by the life of the Spirit (zoe). He is the model of the new humanity- living humanly by divine power.

“To live is Christ” means that we too live by the life of the Spirit. The Spirit brings life to the lifeless “formless and void” place inside of each of us. He brings life where there is death. He brings the zoe of Christ into our hearts in the form of the love of Christ for us. A love demonstrated in his living and dying. And just as the word of God released the ruach of God at creation, the Word of God (Jesus) releases the ruach of God (Holy Spirit) into our newly created hearts.

Won’t you stay with me over the next few days as we see what living by the Spirit meant for Jesus, and what it means for us.

*The pictures in today’s blog are from artist Daniel Bonnell.  Check him out.

 

February 20: The Spirit Gives God’s Life.

“To live is Christ” means that we live from the indwelling life of Christ. But we cannot begin to understand this concept apart from understanding the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit?

Yes, the Holy Spirit.

But why?

Because the Holy Spirit is the out-flowing agent of the inner life of God (his zoe). Put another way, the Holy Spirit brings God’s life.

Genesis 1:1-2. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

You probably know what happens next. God creates all kinds of life. Plant life. Sea life. Air life. Creatures. Creepers. Mankind.

But what (or who) brought about this life? Genesis 1:2 tells us it was the Spirit. The Hebrew word for “spirit” is ruach. This is the same word as “wind” or “breath.” In fact all of creation comes by the ruach of God. In Genesis 1, God will speak 10 times, each time resulting in a creation. God’s word releases ruach.

Psalm 33:6. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath (ruach) of his mouth all their host.

More specifically, Genesis 2 describes the creation of mankind by the breath of God.

Genesis 2:7. Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath [neshama] of life, and the man became a living creature.

Note: The word for breath here is not ruach. It is neshama. But notice here in Job 33:4 how these two Hebrew words are used interchangeably.

Job 33:4. The Spirit [ruach] of God has made me, and the breath [neshamah] of the Almighty gives me life.

Man is dirt and ruach. God “formed” us, like a potter does with clay, from the dirt, but it was the breath that gave life. It was God’s breath or spirit, the Spirit, that made us into “living creatures” (nephesh chay).

 

Psalm 104:29-30. When you hide your face, they (all living creatures) are dismayed; when you take away their breath [ruach], they die and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit [ruach], they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

As I heard Tim Mackie say the other day, “we are living on borrowed ruach.” Psalm 104 reminds us that God controls life as he controls breath. And he controls all breathing as the Spirit. God creates life by the breath of the Spirit, and he takes life away by taking away the breath of the Spirit.

 

So what is my point in all of this?

Before we move further in our study of the indwelling life of Christ, we have to understand the role of the Spirit. If we just jump into the New Testament texts concerning the Holy Spirit, we are likely to land with some very bad theology concerning his nature, function, and ministry. But if we can gain a biblical understanding of the Spirit beginning with the Old Testament, we can see what we should see- the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God’s life. Without the Spirit, there is no life. By the Spirit, “to live is Christ.”

 

February 19: Jesus’ Life Gives Us the Freedom, Love, and Purpose We Were Made For.

Early on in this blog, we connected life to imaging God and having freedom, love, and purpose. We traced these big ideas, and others, through the early pages of Genesis. But how does the person of Jesus offer these things to us? God wants us to have freedom, love, and purpose, but why is it only Christ that provides these things in their fullness?

Freedom

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Jesus’ life unites with our life, offering freedom from sin. We are given his righteous record, and his righteous desires. We now are truly free to either sin or not sin. One day when we are totally transformed to his likeness, we will be free yet unable to sin. Why?Because our desires will be perfectly pure.

Love

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Jesus is the full manifestation of God’s love in the flesh. His death on the cross is the greatest display of unconditional love for an enemy that the world has ever known. But he not only models love, he IS love. His life in us is a life of love. To have his life is to have the unconditional, never ending, love of God, and that is the life. There is no eternal life without eternal love. When we receive this love and life by grace it frees us to love him and others from a pure heart, rather than from trying to reciprocate, or earn that love. And when our desires are changed, the outflow is love to others and to God.

Purpose

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Jesus is the king of the universe, and his purpose is to bring the world to the Father as worshipers and image bearers. When this mission is accomplished, perfect shalom, and justice are achieved. Because his life is in us, his purpose is now our purpose. His goal is to reign over all things and then place all things at the feet of his Father. Our purpose is to be used to bring everything under Christ and place them at his feet (our lives, families, communities, churches.) Our partnership with Christ gives us the greatest purpose in the universe.

 

February 18: Jesus is the Source of Eternal Life, and the Object of Eternal Life. 

Jesus is the source of eternal life, and the object of eternal life.

John 17:1-3. ..glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life [zoe] to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life [zoe], that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 

Once again, we have an amazing claim. The life of this human being (Jesus) IS the knowledge of God. This is because the glory of God has been made known in this human life. Jesus manifests the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:6. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

To know Jesus is to know God the Father; to have his life is to have God’s life. The Trinity’s life.

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Recently we have spent much of our time showing how Jesus claimed to be the source of eternal life – his many claims, his “I Am” statements. But here, in John 17:3, we see him also as the object of eternal life.

Now we are also able to put together the pieces of the puzzle from the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the “Tree of Life,” offering eternal, spiritual, divine life to all who receive. But John 17:3 allows us to see that Jesus is also the true “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” By his life we have the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God allows us to discern the goodness of God, and thus reject the evil of the world.

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When we have the life of Christ given to us freely by grace, we no longer need to fear the knowledge of good and evil. Rather, now that we no longer use this knowledge to earn eternal life, we desire it as the result of knowing God and his true goodness. This knowledge of God, by union with Christ’s life, gives us the knowledge of goodness and evil that can now guide our lives deeper into Christ’s life.