Every morning, especially the last few days, I have been trying to help you understand that our Heavenly Father wants you to know Him, to come and fellowship with Him, to join Him in the celebration of a new life. He isn’t holding anything from you, the invitation is to anyone and everyone who will come! But sadly, we are told that few will answer that invitation.
To the Corinthian church, Paul wrote,
“If a man [who accepts the offer] is in Christ and becomes a new person altogether — the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new.”
That’s right! He grants repentance, gives faith and creates a new life. Mankind is completely unable, by themselves, to do these things which are necessary to enter this relationship. Paul explained in his letter to the church in Ephesus,
“Before the foundation of the world, he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children [what intimacy!] living within his constant care [Wow!]. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ — that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son.”
Salvation is by God’s will and pleasure for His glory. But you already knew that. Well, go back and read those verses again, but this time, I want you to read them in the light of our Father’s desire for fellowship and an intimacy which was no longer available to His creation.
Paul wrote that God called him and “set him up in the ministry to proclaim a mystery, and to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations . . .”
You are not going to find this explained in the Old Testament. It was experienced there, but it was never explained. In another letter, Paul wrote that if the evil powers HAD known — they would never have crucified the Lord! Of course not! They signed their own death-warrant when they crucified Jesus.
Paul explained that this mystery has been kept in the dark — kept secret — for generations and centuries, but now (Man I love that phrase: That was then, but now!) But now it is out in the open — revealed to his own holy people. God wanted everyone to know. He had been telling his story since the beginning of time — but no one could see the message — you doubt that? Look in the sky. The story of Redemption is told in the constellations! Look at the wonders of nature. Nature itself is crying out the Glory of the Creator! Hey, think of Jonah. Didn’t God instruct him to preach salvation to the unbelievers in Nineveh? If God wasn’t interested in their safety, why did he send Jonah? The is true with Noah and every one of the prophets! God wanted everyone to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out. In a nutshell, this mystery is just this: Christ is in you! Huh? He lives in you!!! Now you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It is that simple!!! That is the substance of the Message He is offering you.
Thank the “Evangelist” you see standing on the soapbox in the middle of downtown is proclaiming “Christ in you“? No, he is shaming and condemning people. God so love the world that He gave His Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. That’s right. God didn’t sesavend his Son into the world to condemn them, but to them. He went on to explain that those who do not believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son. But the important message is that those who do believe in him won’t be condemned!
Look, if I drive down a road and just around the bend I discover that the bridge is out. I slam on my brakes because if I don’t stop, I will tumble down into a raging river! Holy moly! Well, of course, I will run back down the road and warn everyone about the bridge being out and that if they do not turn off this road they will surely die.
Now do you understand why you were brought into this new life?
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
Really, Christ is living in me? There must be more to this! We must be missing something! Nope. Paul was jumping up and down shouting his message — “Christ lives in you!” What do you see in the elements of our communion celebration? “This is my body, eat. This is my blood, drink.” You can’t get any more intimate than that!
This is the supreme declaration of the Christian church. You have never preached the Gospel until you have told men that not only will their sins be forgiven when they come to Christ, but that he, himself, will live within them — No, it’s not spooky or anything, it is so He can do through them everything they are expected to do. He died for us so that he might live in us. This is the full glory of the Christian Gospel!
Look at Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him:
— that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realize how great is the hope to which his is calling you.
—the magnificence and splendor of the inheritance promised to Christians
—and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.
. . . That power is the same divine energy which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead and gave him the place of highest honor in Heaven — a place that is infinitely superior to any command, authority, power or control, and which carries with it a name far beyond any name that could ever be used in this world or the world to come . . . (Ephesians 1:17-21)
So what does Paul do about it?
We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message — we tell everyone about Christ . . . We teach in a spirit of profound common sense (so even the simplest among us could understand) — with all the wisdom God has given us . . . so that we can bring each person to maturity—presenting them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ . . .
To be mature is to be basic. Christ!!! No more, no less.
Where does the energy come from? This amazing apostle, with his indefatigable journeying night and day, through shipwreck and hardship of every kind, working with his hands, laboring, traveling up and down the length and breadth of the entire Roman empire, is ceaseless in his endeavors. Where does he get the energy? Would you like to know? He says:
. . . Striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires with me . . . with all the energy God so generously gives me . . . I labor unto weariness, striving with the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me . . .
Oh wow! That same superhuman energy will be generously given to us, as well!!!! Why? Because our Heavenly Father desires an intimate fellowship and communion with you.
Christ in you! The hope of glory. That is why I say that if Christians would begin to understand what it is that God has made available to them, they would never be the same again. We could end the struggles with addictions, the struggles with lust, the struggles depression . . . We would never have to plead with people in the church to take on needed enterprises, ministries, or teaching Sunday School. We would not be met with the excuse, “Oh, I just don’t have the strength to do it. I don’t have the energy.” You see, here is a source of energy, Paul says, that is constant and consistent and which flows through him, created by the Spirit of God indwelling him. As he saw the task, he moved to meet it with energy which God gave. That is resurrection power!
Then Paul admonishes,
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you have been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him — Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, go on living in him: in simple faith . . .
Huh? Simple faith? You mean it’s not complex or confusing? No, we are the ones who complicate the message of Redemption and walking in the Spirit. Have I been complicating the issue, as well” If I have, I apologize. I try to make the message of Christ so simple and basic, but I admit that I get rather passionate as well as, fascinated with the Scriptures.
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I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.