Our Tremendous Riches (pt 3 of 3)

When we were dead; when we were hopeless; our Creator did something. When there were no other options, our Creator acted and Paul was attempting to explain this to us. Yep, Yahweh took action and broke through. And through His sacrifice, He was able to break the spell of evil and set us free. All of this, as you know, becomes available to us when we believe in Jesus Christ. And what happens at this point, is what Paul is stepping in to help us understand.

Now stop and think about this. Have you ever wondered what happened when you believed? Have you ever wondered what God did to break our pattern of destruction? How in the world does this work?

As I told you, if we don’t clearly understand this, we will never be able to enter into the riches that are ours in Jesus Christ. We will always be groveling around, trying to live a good Christian life, struggling and discovering a few helpful things here and there, while the whole time, we are watching others go on into freedom and liberty and joyfulness and beauty of character! But we never seem able to discover the secret. How come? Well, we must thoroughly understand what has happened to us.

First, Paul says, God “made us alive together with Christ,” and, in parentheses, he reminds us, “(by grace you have been saved)” — the grace of God, it is not something Oprah can help you fix. It is not something yoga is going to resolve. There is not one thing which our human effort can add to this work of redeeming broken human lives, not one thing. It is entirely and solely by grace! And, once again, as I have told you, think of Grace being “God’s ability to do, what you cannot do.” Can you save  yourself? Nope. Can you fulfill your own redemption? Nope. But His Grace sure can.

Okay, so the first step is for us to be made alive together with Christ. Again, your best friend can’t do it for you. Your exercise buddy can’t do it for you. You; and you alone; must confess that Jesus is your Lord. And, believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised to life again. And now, He is reigning beside His Father. After you have done that, then you can experience the second step: “raised up with him,” and the third: “made to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

In our church, we know this from Watchman Nees’s phrase, “Sit, Walk, Stand.” “Sit” being our position in Christ: “God . . . made Him (Jesus) to sit . . . and He made us to sit with Him . . .” “Walk” being our life in the World. Once we are firmly seated and established in the reality of our position in Christ, we can walk out our faith. Walking being the practical outworking of our Heavenly position here on Earth. “Stand” to be our attitude toward our enemy. Each of us must be prepared to stand in conflict against attacks of our foe.

In other words, we must know how to sit together with Christ in Heavenly places, and we must know how to walk worthy of Him down here. But we must also know to stand before our enemy.

Now be careful here, because these are not merely religious philosophies. No, they represent what has already happened, and which we desperately need to understand.

We will take only the first of them in this Morning Message. I want you to examine with me the phrase “made us alive together with Christ.” In Greek, it is only two words. One word gathers up “made us alive together with” — all one word: he enlivened us, with Christ. Yeah, poor grammar, but that is the central secret of the Christian life. We were made alive in Christ!

Go ahead, say it again: We were made alive in Christ! It happened the moment you believed in Jesus. I don’t know what your feelings were like at that moment. It doesn’t matter. Your feelings are irrelevant on this. In fact, I would say that most people don’t experience very much when they become Christians — yes, others experience some significant things. Me? I was kneeling on my basement floor with my arms raised. I felt, for lack of a better description, cold rushing water flowing through my body. It began in my feet, filled my body, my head and through my upraised arms. The moment it exited my fingertips, I started speaking in tongues!

As I said, sometimes it is quite significant. Others have testified feeling a quiet peace, a sense of peace they had never experienced before — maybe for you, it is a slight sense of calm, perhaps a little release of your emotions, something you hadn’t experienced before. With some, there is a sense of joy, but usually, it is not at all dramatic. I have had the joy of leading many to Christ; and seen many different reactions. But mostly it was very, very quiet. But none of that matters because it is still a tremendous thing that has happened! It is all the difference between death and life!

If we had a corpse lying in front of us, and it had been dead for say, four or five days, we should realize they were utterly dead and that they had lost all ability to think, to react, to communicate, to move, or to live in any sense whatsoever.

Now, if we had the power to lay hands on them and bring that body back to life again, it would indeed be heralded all over town with headlines in all of the papers, right? All of us would be pretty weirded out at such a miracle. And yet, that is precisely what occurs in the spirit of man when he passes from death to life. That’s right, when he believes in Jesus Christ, that same dramatic condition occurs within us. It is instantaneous. In a nanosecond, we pass from death to life! Suddenly, we are alive in Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God imparted to us.

There are all kinds of similes in Scripture to help us understand these things: One of them is the whole process of birth. Becoming a Christian is compared to being born again. But when does birth start? We know that it doesn’t start when a baby enters the world. It begins at conception. And for a quick biology lesson, conception occurs in the act of love when the ovum and the sperm join. However, the mother doesn’t know anything about it — she doesn’t feel it. Still, a remarkable thing occurred within her body, something which she doesn’t sense, but which, nevertheless, is going to change her life. That is exactly the kind of thing Paul is trying to explain to us. When we are born anew in Jesus, we receive life from him. We are made one spirit with him. We are no longer dead, no longer unresponsive to our Creator. No, we are united to both Jesus and His Father. His Father becomes our Father. Jesus becomes our brother! We are instantly made alive in Jesus Christ!

It doesn’t stop there! Our attitude instantly changes. We are no longer the same person. From the moment we make our confession, everything passes away. Old things become new. And it begins to show almost immediately. Many times I have seen, within moments after surrendering their life to Jesus, the person’s self-centeredness ends. At least momentarily, and they begin to think of someone else. Each time, the person will say, “Oh, I have to tell my brother,” or, “I wish you could pray for my parents.” Their thoughts immediately turn away from their great experience to someone else with whom they can share the experience. That is a sign that they had come alive in Jesus.

When I began talking to a person, all they were concerned with was themselves: “What’s happening to me?” “Where am I going?” “What’s going on in my life?” But almost immediately after they receive Christ they start to reach out to someone else. That is passing from death unto life.

Their attitude toward Yahweh, instantly changes, too! Have you noticed that non-Christians are afraid of God? They don’t want to come near a church because they see people enjoying the presence of God and it makes them feel uneasy. That is entirely reasonable — they shouldn’t be expected to come to church to find God. He reaches out to them, where they are. How? Through His people! But they are afraid of Him. All because they are afraid of death. Non-Christians don’t even like the thought of their mortality. Watch them at a funeral. They are restless, uneasy, nervous, hoping to get the whole thing over as quickly as possible so they can get back to whatever is familiar: a ballgame, a bar, their home, or anyplace where they can escape the thought of death. Why don’t they like death? Because they know that it introduces them to the presence of God, and they are afraid of God. They are uneasy even thinking about death because they will then have to face God. They don’t want God. He is too restrictive, too Holy, too pure. They are hiding and running away from Him.

However, when folks surrender to Jesus, everything changes. God is now their Father. They have a sense of belonging. And now the one person they want above all others is God, and they cry as did the Psalmist, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O Elohim” (Psalms 42:1). “Yahweh is my Shepherd. I am never in need” (Psalms 23:1). Immediately there is a hunger for God. That is passing from death to life. They are beginning to live as God intends every man to live.

But, the greatest thing of all, of course, is that great, central fact, the most important truth in all of Christianity, which is stated right here: “We are made alive together with Christ.” Did you ever notice that Paul says “with Christ” three times? “We are made alive together with Christ.” “We are raised up with Christ.” “We are made to sit with Christ.” The greatest fact of all is that we joined with Jesus Christ! He has come to live inside us. And more than just coming to live in us, He has joined himself to us, we are one person with Him. That is the most important fact on which we can build all the rest of Christian faith and experience — this great, tremendous statement that we are made alive with Jesus Christ, joined with him.

Do you remember how the Lord taught that? He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). Can you tell where the branch ends and the vine starts? Nope. They are one plant, sharing one life together. So from here on our identity is no longer “in Adam,” but it is “in Christ.” We are no longer just ordinary human beings. We are new creations, a “new species of being that never existed before.” Completely linked with the life of Jesus Christ. And that is our identity from then on. Hallelujah!! How can you remain seated? Get up and run around the room a couple of times!

Remember that later in this letter Paul compares the Church to a body of which Christ is the head. Have you examined your body lately? Notice that your fingers don’t come off if you merely twist them a half-turn and pull? They are connected to the body. They share the life of the body. They are not attached by some mechanical process. They are an organic part of it. All of these figures are held up before us to show us the intimate way we are united to Jesus, to tell us that he is our life. And that is who we are, from here on.

Lord, I love to call You holy,
for holy is what You are.
Lord, I love to call You Father,
Father is what You are

Oh I so love to sing about my Good, Good Father

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

’cause you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

My dear friends, never think of yourself in any other way! The whole work of the enemy is to get you to disbelieve, to go back to thinking that you are just an ordinary individual, struggling on through life, trying to make it the best way you can. He loves it when you need to mobilize all your human resources just to try to get ahead of the garbage he is throwing at you, to achieve as much of the fulfillment of life as you can. Anytime you believe that trash, you will go right back to acting as you once did and living seven times worse! Back to the misery, back to the heartaches, back to the loneliness, back to the emptiness, back to the despair. The only way you can escape is when you return to this central truth — we are alive in Jesus Christ!

All of these verbs are in the past tense. It is something which has happened, not something which will happen. When you turn your life over to Jesus, your life becomes new. You don’t have to work toward it. It is not something which great saints achieve after years of effort. No, no. It is something which is already true, and every believer has this experience.

We were made alive in Jesus Christ. We are not the same. We cannot be the same again. We cannot go back to living the way we once did. Even if we try, we won’t be able to. Which explains why I tell people who get discouraged with their Christian life, “Well, quit then, go back, try not to be a Christian, see what will happen.” They can’t do it, and they know they can’t because they are new creatures, made alive in Jesus Christ. A new man has begun.

Hey, we will continue to dig deeper in this. But, in the meantime, never let yourself forget the great fact that you are changed, that you are a new creation, that you have begun a new relationship. There is no way you can erase it, and no way you can lose it. You are made alive together with Christ, and that is the basis of all your experiences from this point on! Stand up and be victorious! Onward, Upward, Excelsior!

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

This entry was posted in A Life of Prayer, A Perfect Heart, A Time of Elightenment, Daily Thoughts, Ephesians. Bookmark the permalink.

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