March 21: The Life of Faith Is the Life of Beholding Christ.

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Sorry Elle, our faith should never be placed in ourselves, and our faith should never be placed in our own faith. Faith is not something that we muster up from inside of ourselves. Rather, what is inside of us is Christ’s life, and our faith is in that life.

2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Faith is beholding. It’s trusting in something (or someone) beyond yourself.

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There’s an Old Testament story that illustrates this in Numbers 21. The Israelites are in the wilderness and complaining about life, and Moses, and God and everything, so God plagues them with serpents (by the way, grumbling is the opposite of faith). And as the people repent, God tells Moses what to do:

Numbers 21: 8-9. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

Jesus will use this same story to explain faith to Nicodemus in John 3.

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.

The people had to look at something outside of themselves to live, the bronze serpent. And we too have to look beyond ourselves to Christ in order to live day by day. Christians often say, “If only I had more faith.” Or they pray for increased faith. But the answer isn’t in placing faith in our faith. Remember the Tozer quote from yesterday– faith is like the eye that sees everything but itself. We don’t need more faith, we need to behold Christ more. The life of faith is the life of beholding Christ. This means that “to live is Christ” is about a life of this beholding faith. And what exactly are we beholding? Well we are not talking about seeing something physical.

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Our “beholding” of Christ is a spiritual exercise whereby we place our trust in our already accomplished union with Christ. To behold Christ is to see my life joined with his by the power of the Spirit. And, like we said yesterday, it is believing that my union with Christ, by the once for all sacrifice of Christ, is everything I need for life and godliness.

 

 

March 20: Faith Is Trusting In Our Union With Christ.

A.W. Tozer describes faith this way: “Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. When we are looking at God we do not see ourselves– blessed riddance. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.”

As we move forward in our study of the indwelling life of Christ, we will see that faith in Jesus’ life in me keeps me completely focused on him. I am not focused on my own faith, or “spiritual experiences,” for these things are never to be the end- Christ is.

Rather, faith and my spiritual experience IS my beholding of Christ. My looking to him, the author and perfecter of my faith. And of course, this means we are beholding the Christ who is the historic Jesus, the Jesus who incarnated, lived, died, rose, and was glorified. The Spirit is not calling us into any other spiritual experience beside our union with Christ.

Are you placing your faith in anything other than the indwelling Christ who is the indwelling historic Jesus (yes, the one in the Bible)?  Are you looking for spiritual experiences beyond simply trusting in your union with Christ- your position in him?

Listen- THERE IS NO SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE BEYOND YOUR DEATH AND RESURRECTION WITH JESUS. You have already had the greatest spiritual experience possible for a human. And it is available to you all day every day. Do you believe this?

 

 

March 19: Some Thoughts On Union With Christ.

Recently I subscribed to a 21 day devotional entitled “Jesus Centered Life.” Of course I was intrigued because it kind of sounds like this blog’s title – “To Live Is Christ.” Each day I receive an email that tells me how to live a “Jesus centered life.” I’ve received an email for four days so far.

Here was day 2:

Day 2
Pause before starting something new and ask Jesus if he has an alternate idea or diversion. Listen and respond. Repeat all day.

And here was day 4 (today):

Day 4
Write out your to-do list. Now scratch everything off. Ask Jesus to tell you what to do next. Write down whatever comes to mind, even if it seems silly. Then do it.

So I’m not about trying to poo poo other blogs or devotionals…

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..but at the same time I think there is some great misunderstandings about what union with Christ actually means. A “Jesus centered life” is much different than union with Christ. Notice how on “day 2” we are being asked to hear Jesus from outside of us. If I am united with Christ, why would Jesus have a different idea than my idea?

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Now I know your answer- because we are sinful and have wrong ideas. Yes, this is true. But if that is true, why would I trust myself that the “voice” I hear from Jesus, isn’t my sinful voice masquerading as Jesus?

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Now look at “day 4.” I’m supposed to ask Jesus what to do next. But why would my original “to-do list” be worth dumping? Is it full of immoral and criminal activity? And more importantly, if I am united to Christ already, why would I need to have Jesus re-write my to-do list? Wouldn’t it already be good because I am already united to Christ in my thinking?

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And so far in 4 days of having a “Jesus centered life” every bit of advice has been completely separated from the Incarnation, Perfect Life, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification of the historic Jesus. Sure, maybe Jesus wants to re-write my to-do list, but don’t I already have all the information I need in the life of Jesus the Christ (the one in the Bible) to write a perfectly fine and Christ honoring to-do list for my day? What more information will Jesus tell me today, that he hasn’t already told me in his cross and resurrection, in his life and his word?

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Or do we really just want a Jesus who tells us what to do every day like a puppet master apart from faith in his life and death? Where is liberty and love? Where is the sanctification PROCESS. If I’m united to Christ (the historic Jesus, the one in the Bible), don’t I already have access to everything I need for life and godliness?

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These are the questions I’m asking every day. What questions are you asking about your union with Christ?

That is not the indwelling life of Christ.

This is a bit more like it (or at least just a fun song)…

March 18: To Live Is Christ Is To Live From Jesus’ Glorification.

“To live is Christ” means to live is Jesus- the historic Jesus. The one who Incarnated, Lived Perfectly, Died, Rose, and was Glorified.

Incarnation.

Perfect Life of Suffering.

Death.

Resurrection.

Glorification.

Jesus set aside his glory in order to incarnate into our world. He entered our world as the servant of all.

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He did not consider “equality with God something to exploit” (Phil. 2:6). Rather he lived a life of dependency upon God, in order to fulfill the human mandate of imaging God, and to fulfill all righteousness. But Jesus also lived and died knowing that one day he would return to glory.

John 17:1. ..he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you..”

John 17:4-5. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

And not only himself but he would also bring us with him into glory.

John 17:22. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 

John 17:24. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 

This gave him great joy. Jesus’ ascension and glorification seated him next to God in a position of great honor. He is still human, yet perfect and gloriously holy. One day Jesus will be completely victorious over all sin and death.

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Ephesians 1:20-23. [God] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:25. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 

Our life is not reduced to this life. There is much more to come. And God is looking forward to us being fully in His presence. In the meantime, Jesus and the Spirit are praying for us and pouring His character into us, transforming us into his likeness and preparing us for the day of our glorification with him.

But our glorification is not only a future event. It is a present event. We are already glorified. We are already being transformed by the glory of God through the presence of Christ. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places– now! Not just someday. This gives us the greatest of hopes for the future. And immense joy in this life now!

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Romans 8:30. ..those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Ephesians 2:6. [God] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

To live is Christ means that just as he is already glorified, so are we. Our present, on going glorification must be rooted in the reality of our already accomplished glorification, just as our present, on going salvation is rooted in the reality of our accomplished salvation. And when we learn to trust in this indwelling glory, all other lesser glories fade into the background. They begin the disappear in the light of his glorious grace.

 

March 17: To Live Is Christ Is To Live From Jesus’ Resurrection.

To live from Christ’s life is to live from Jesus’ actual historic life (the one in the Bible). We cannot separate Christ from Jesus. This means that we want to understand and appropriate the Incarnation, Perfect Life of Suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification of Jesus.

Incarnation.

Perfect Life of Suffering.

Death.

Resurrection.

Christ was raised from the dead to new life in a “spiritual” body. In this apocalyptic act he was vindicated by God. His sacrifice for us was accepted, and he was judged as righteous. The sin he once bore has been forgiven and paid for, once for all time.

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In Jewish thought, the resurrection happens at the end of time just before the judgment. But in Christ, it has already happened. The future is already set and guaranteed. He has already been raised and judged. He is not guilty. His perfect life out weighed the curse of sin that he took upon himself at the cross.

Romans 4:25. [Jesus] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Romans 6:4. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:9-11. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Our union with his resurrection brings us this same new life. Because of the resurrection we can have the zoe life of God- NOW. The power of sin is broken by our new life in Christ.

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His life is now ours through faith. We are completely loved and accepted by God. Now the power of all idols can be broken by resurrection power. Beyond this, we also have received the power to love and live for him and by him in this world. In Christ, we have everything that has been given to Jesus after his resurrection.

The resurrection doesn’t just guarantee our physical resurrection some day. It guarantees our union with Christ right now, today! It is because of the resurrection and it’s immediate spiritual effects that we can say “to live is Christ.”

 

March 16: To Live Is Christ Is To Live From Jesus’ Death.

The indwelling Christ is the indwelling historical real person of Jesus. A person who incarnated, lived, died, rose, and was glorified. To understand the implications of “to live is Christ,” we must learn to apply the life of the historic Jesus to our spiritual zoe life today.

Incarnation.

Perfect Life of Suffering.

Death.

Jesus incarnated and brought God’s divine zoe life down to earth into his human life. He lived perfectly and yet suffered. His suffering proved that he was worthy and able to be our substitute for sin. It is for us that he died. Jesus died as a human. He took the punishment for sin that we deserve: death and separation from God. His blood covers every sin that we have ever committed.

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1 Peter 2:24. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Beyond Jesus dying FOR us, we died WITH Jesus. In our union with Christ, we have been united to his death on the cross. On the day he died, you died. You have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Our union with his death kills the old man inside of us. Your death with Christ makes it so that you are free to not sin.

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We are forgiven of every sin by Christ’s death for us. And by our death with Jesus we are freed from the desire to keep sinning. We are no longer slaves to sin. Our own death on the cross, and our daily death to the deeds of the flesh are what bring real resurrection and glorification.

 

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.