March 15: To Live Is Christ Is To Live From Christ’s Perfect Life of Suffering.

We cannot separate “to live is Christ” from the historic and human life of Jesus. It is his life that indwells us. The divine Christ is also the man Jesus. We have been showing over these past days that the life of Jesus that indwells us is his Incarnation, Perfect Life of Suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification.

Incarnation.

Perfect Life of Suffering.

2 Corinthians 5:21. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It is Christ’s perfect life that indwells you. God not only became human in Jesus Christ, he also lived a perfect human life. He kept the Law perfectly and completely. He satisfies all of God’s requirements of righteousness for us. The resurrection is the proof of his righteous life and record. He has been judged as righteous. Now abiding in Christ’s life means resting in his perfect life. This indwelling righteousness takes the pressure off of us to be perfect– he did it for us. At the same time it empowers us to live righteously. When our lives are free from striving, we are able to live purely from a love that leads to righteous choices.

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Romans 8:17. …heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

It is also Christ’s suffering life that indwells us. We should not expect our “best life now,” but instead we should rest in the perfection of Jesus and embrace his suffering. As he suffered, we will suffer. To live the Christian life IS to suffer. It is to accept a life in this world where we constantly long for the next world- the heavenly realm and the presence of God.

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Yes, Christ indwells us, but we do not yet fully experience his presence in its fullness. We are not yet fully like him. We “groan” for this (Romans 8) until the day we are with God in his presence. And like Christ, we are made perfect in suffering.

Here again, we must understand that we can never separate the life of Christ from the “Man of sorrows acquainted with grief.”

“To live is Christ.” And this life of Christ is BOTH perfect righteousness and righteous suffering until the return of Christ.

 

 

March 14: To Live Is Christ Is To Live From Jesus’ Incarnation.

To live is Christ. We live from the indwelling life of Christ. But, as we learned yesterday, we cannot separate the eternal zoe giving Christ from the human Jesus.

The key to living by the indwelling life of Christ, is to apply the truths of Jesus’ life (Incarnation, Perfect Life and Suffering, Death, Resurrection, Glorification) to our lives; to see our lives unified to and abiding in his historic life. We’ve got to keep going back to these truths or we won’t make any progress in the Christian life. It will be a “Christian life” without Christ, based rather upon a system of self salvation.

Incarnation

Incarnation was Jesus’ first substitutionary act. He took our place in humanity. He came in the flesh to represent us in the flesh, and to fulfill every requirement of righteousness.

Romans 8:3-4. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, God  condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us

God became man. Jesus stepped down from the privileges of heaven and humbled himself so He could be known by us and know us. He understands us and sympathizes with us. Jesus came to make us truly alive, truly human. The incarnation tells us that when we can’t understand life, we know that God understands us.

God understands our problems. He has been tempted just like us. He has felt pain, agony, rejection, heart break, loss, hunger, sorrow, joy, relief, anger, love. Jesus was willing to go to great lengths for this love he has for us.

“To live is Christ” means we live an incarnated life. We enter into life with others. We support them, care for them, bear burdens with them, and walk with them. In short, we empathize with others. We feel what they feel. We see as they see. We enter into their pains and their joys.

Joseph incarnated into the life of the Egyptians, Moses incarnated into the life of the Hebrews, Daniel incarnated into the life of Nebuchadnezzar, and Jesus incarnated into the life of us humans. Each of these examples chose to connect their lives to the lives of others- even others who didn’t accept them at first or who were just plain enemies. This is what the indwelling life of the incarnated Christ allows us to do.

But this first step for Jesus will actually be the last step for us. We cannot begin to understand Jesus’ substitutionary act of incarnation, until we first understand his substitutionary act of Life, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification. These will give us the power to incarnate into the lives of others.

And this one has nothing to do with Jesus, but it just kind of made me feel thoughtful.

March 13: We Can’t Separate Christ From Jesus.

To live is Christ. That is obviously the name of this blog. We have been exploring the big idea that we live from Christ’s indwelling life, and the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ.

But before we move forward together in this journey, we have to pause and make an important point: we can’t separate Christ from Jesus. The Christ that indwells us by the Spirit is the historic Jesus. Jesus the man, is the Christ, and the Christ is the man Jesus. Many today want to separate the two. The life in Christ is often described as one that looks and sounds nothing like the historic Jesus. The power of Christ is often sought apart from the weakness of the cross. The two cannot be separated.

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Mark 8: 27-32. And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. 

Peter only gets the question half right. Yes, Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King, the Hero. But he is also the King who must suffer, be killed, and then rise again. He is the Christ of eternity, and he is the suffering Jesus of history.

 

We have a historic savior, and we must never separate him from history and from his actual physical life. As we move forward looking at all kinds of passages in the New Testament Epistles about the Christ, and the indwelling Christ, we must never forget that our indwelling Christ is the man who lived sacrificially and dependently. His human life is what gives “to live is Christ” it’s meaning for us. Over the next few days, we will break down the life of Jesus into 5 truths that are applied by the Spirit to our lives: Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification. I hope you’ll stay with me on this amazing trek into understanding the union of Christ and Jesus and the union of Christ and us.

March 12: Dependence On the Spirit Is Dependence On the Son and His Cross.

Jesus has shown us in John 14-16 that his abiding life is the zoe life of God given to us by the Spirit of God. He is the “Spirit of Truth” who ministers the truth of Jesus and his life to us. Remember, the Holy Spirit never glorifies himself, he glorifies the Son, who in turn glorifies the Father. The Holy Spirit will always call you to have faith in the life and work of the Son. He calls us to dependence upon the life, death, and resurrection of the Son.

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Therefore, dependence upon the Spirit IS dependence upon the Son. And more specifically, dependence upon the cross. Look at how Paul emphasizes the cross in his life and ministry:

Galatians 6:14. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

1 Corinthians 2:2. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

The Spirit’s mission is to make you more and more aware of your need for Jesus and the cross. The path to the Spirit’s power is through the weakness of the cross. The power and wisdom that he gives is the weakness of the cross and the foolishness of the cross.

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The Spirit allows us to cry alongside Paul, “I want to know him” (Phil. 3:10). To be Spirit filled and Spirit led is gifted to us at salvation. There are not other requirements that have to be met or special yielding to the Spirit that needs to occur. If you have the indwelling life of Christ, then you have the Spirit in all his fullness.

Faith compels us to depend on Christ’s cross, and this faith allows the Spirit to flow out of us as the cruciform life- a life of sacrificial love and righteousness.

March 11: The Spirit of Truth (Christ’s Life) Empowers A Life That Glorifies The Father, Not Ourselves.

In John 14 Jesus promises us the coming Holy Spirit. In John 15 Jesus tells us to abide in him. In John 16 Jesus returns to the coming Holy Spirit.

John 16:7. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Having the Spirit is better than having the physical presence of Jesus. Why? Because by the Spirit, we all can have the indwelling life of Jesus, which transforms us into the likeness of Jesus from the inside out. Without it we are doomed to a life of chasing things to fill us up inside.

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John 16:13-15. 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. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit fills us with the truth of Jesus. John 16:13 could be translated -“he will guide you by means of the truth.” In other words the Spirit guides us by means of Christ and his indwelling life. Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). The Spirit gives us the life of Jesus, and this is a life of truth. But what is the truth?

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Or better yet, WHO is the truth? It is the truth of who Jesus is that guides our lives. Jesus is reality. He is true goodness. True love. True righteousness. He is not a theory or a guess. He is the true Logos. And he is true forever.

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This is how we must see the Spirit’s ministry. It is not more or less than a ministering of the life of Jesus to our lives. Notice in verse 14 “He will glorify me.” The Spirit never glorifies the Spirit. He only ever glorifies the Son, just as the Son glorifies the Father.

How does the Spirit glorify the Son? Look at verse 14 again- “He will take what is mine [the life, ministry, death, resurrection, glorification] and declare it to us” in our own spirit by our union with the Holy Spirit. And we complete this as the Spirit indwelt community. We declare the life and work of Christ to each other and thus minister it within our spirits to each other. This is WORD ministry, or Gospel ministry- declaring the gospel to each other, so as to receive grace and release the Spirit in our lives.

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How can Jesus let the Spirit glorify him without being an egocentric glory hound? Look at verse 15. Everything Jesus has he received from the Father. He lived dependent upon the Father. When the Spirit takes what is Jesus’ and declares it to you, he is really declaring the Father to us. So Jesus’ sending of the Spirit to glorify himself is really a glorification of the Father.

Have you been looking for the Holy Spirit to do something for you other than reveal the life of Jesus to you? Are you asking him for a glory beyond that of Christ’s? A glory that comes from some sort  of super spirituality rather than through the fellowship of Christ’s dependency and suffering? Do you live your life for your own glory? Or like Christ, do you live for the glory of God? “To live is Christ” is to live from the truth of Christ- the truth that even he lived for the glory of God not himself. That’s real life.

March 10: The Life of Christ Brings Fullness of Joy.

Abiding in Christ is union with Christ. And abiding in Christ brings us his life. And this life brings with it one of the greatest signs of life possible: joy.

John 15:11. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Does this statement by Jesus seem to be unrealistic and elusive and almost ridiculous? It might, especially when we remember that Jesus is talking about fullness of joy literally a few hours before he dies on a cross.

Jesus did not call us to abide in him so that he could load us down with all kinds of rules and regulations that steal our joy. He didn’t die for us to pile on the guilt and shame and leave us joyless. He is full of joy, and so abiding in him will result in a joy filled life.

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But how precisely is he full of Joy? And how are we going to be full of joy? The answer in John 15 is by keeping his commandments: believe in Jesus and love like Jesus. These two things bring the fullness of Christ’s joy to our lives. We find joy in trust and in love. We find joy when we put Christ and others before ourselves. We find joy in abiding in eternal love and then sharing that love. We find joy in knowing that Christ gave everything for us.

Nothing causes more joy than to be loved. And with Christ’s life in us, we know that we will always be loved.

Are you loved? The cross says you are, and the indwelling life of Christ says you are. And if you are, then life should be a joy filled ride. Not free from all hurt, and suffering. But joy filled because it is free from guilt, shame, burden, doubt, and fear. The joy of the Father over of the Son guarantees His joy over you. So find joy in being loved, not in your circumstance. Find joy in “to live is Christ.”

 

March 9: Living By Christ’s Life Is to Love Others as Christ Loves You.

Jesus said “abide in me.” Paul said “to live is Christ.” These are essentially the same thing. We live from Christ’s indwelling life. How? By knowing, receiving, and trusting in the love of Christ- “abide in my love.”

It is this power of the indwelling love of Christ that allows us to obey the second command of Jesus in John’s gospel- “love one another, as I have loved you.” You may remember that in John’s theology, Jesus gave us two commandments. The first is to believe in Jesus, that’s faith. And the second is to love one another, that’s living by faith.

 

The Source of Life

John 15:9. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

The source of our love is Christ himself. Just as the source of his love was the Father.

John 15:10. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 

Again, this verse is not saying that we earn Christ’s love by commandment keeping. When we recall that Christ’s commandment is to believe in him and then love others, we see that we abide in Christ’s love by faith not works.

The Sign of Life

John 15:12-13. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Here now is the second of Christ’s commands- love one another. The sign of Christ’s indwelling love is to love one another, even to the point of sacrifice, laying down your life for your friends.

So this is a summary of everything we have sen in this blog this year. To image God is self sacrifice. This is humanity. This is to be alive. This is impact and intimacy. This is desire fulfilled. It is glory. It is zoe. It is freedom.

And it is Christ. Notice his words again- “this is MY commandment.” This command flows from his own life- “as I have loved you.” The power for unconditional love is to be unconditionally loved. We cannot manufacture this love on our own. We can’t “try to love.” We must first be loved deeply and purely.

And don’t let the word “friends” fool you into thinking that I only have to love people that I like and that like me. Jesus is telling us to love others who don’t deserve it, the same way he loves us who don’t deserve it. Ask yourself this question: “Who did Jesus lay down his life for?” Answer: Everyone in the world. Therefore he is calling everyone, even his enemies, his friends. We see Jesus live this out when he calls Judas his friend:

Matthew 26:50. Jesus said to him [Judas], “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

Tomorrow we will look at some more signs of abiding in Christ. But for today ask yourself “who do I love?” “Am I first trusting in Christ’s love for me, so as to empower me to love others?”