Christianity is ……

Christianity is –

1. God reaching out to man.

2. God providing salvation.

3. The forgiveness of sins and cleansing of man’s nature by the blood of Jesus.

4. The removal of the sinful nature from man and God sanctifying man.

5. The impartation of God’s righteousness to man.

6. The impartation of God’s nature to man.

7. The impartation of the mind of Christ to man.

8. God coming to dwell in man.

9. God fellowshipping with man.

10. Power and authority given to man over the kingdom of darkness.

11. God leading man always in triumph

12. Man overcoming sin, Satan, sickness, curse and the world through God’s indwelling presence and anointing.

13. Man being transformed into the image of Christ.

14. The assurance of Heaven.

15. The resurrection of the body after death.

The sound of triumph and victory permeates Christianity. The Christian is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, he is one who is possessed by Christ, he is in Christ and Christ is in him, he has the answer to the world’s ills. He is saved, healed, delivered, blessed, sanctified, justified, glorified, placed in Christ, established in Christ, sealed, anointed, authorised, empowered, an ambassador of Christ, fully revealing Christ to the world. Now compare Christianity with the other religions out there…..

Advertisements

Between the Ascension and Pentecost

We know that Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after he had been raised from the dead. During these 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus appeared to his disciples and taught them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1). Ten days after the ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

What exactly happened between the Ascension and Pentecost?

1. Jesus took His place at the Father’s right hand. Acts 2:32

2. Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth. Matt 28:18

3. Jesus was bestowed a name that is above every name. Phil 2:9-11

4. Jesus received the keys of Hell and of death. Rev 1:18

5. Jesus received the Holy Spirit and the right to pour out the Spirit upon all flesh. Acts 2:33

6. Jesus became a great high priest and mediator of a new covenant. Heb 4:14, 8:6

7. Jesus began to rule all things. 1 Cor 15:25 , Rev 1:5

8. Jesus became the Head of the church. Eph 1:22

This Jesus is living in you and in me – we are now his dwelling place. He takes possession of us through the Holy Spirit and we become the habitation of God. We are his body and He lives in us, speaks through us, fellowships with us, continues His ministry through us and transforms us into His image – until we all reach the measure of the fullness of His own stature.

Oh, what a salvation! What a Saviour! What a God!

How to abide in Christ

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him or known Him.” 1 John 3:6

He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.” 1 John2:6

As mentioned in my previous article on “Abiding in Christ”, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of abiding in Him but did not really explain to them how they were to abide. We see that John the apostle explains to us how we ought to abide in Christ in his first epistle. Let us attempt to understand “abiding in Christ” in the context of these verses.

The above verses are simple statements of fact and not  promises. Whoever abides in Christ will live like Jesus lived. If we are not living like Christ, we are simply not abiding in Christ. Whoever abides in Christ does not sin. Sinning, here, is consciously committed. It does not refer to sub-conscious or unconscious sin. If we sin, we are simply not abiding in Christ. “Not sinning” is one natural outcome of abiding in Christ, with another outcome being “bearing fruit”. Did I just hear someone protest, “We are not Jesus, we are human beings” and “We are all sinners” and “Is the Christian expected not to sin at all” and “It is impossible not to sin”? Well, just because our experience does not match with God’s word, it does not mean that we can change the meaning of God’s word or skirt these verses. Would that not be eerily similar to what the Pharisees were doing when they twisted God’s word to excuse their own sins?

Obviously then, abiding in Christ refers to an ongoing, daily experience that will enable us to live as Jesus lived and keep us from sinning. Anything less than “living like Jesus lived” and “not sinning” is unworthy of the claim to abide in Christ. If we find ourselves sinning in thought or deed, we have simply not learned to abide in Christ. This verse forces us to rethink our understanding of what it means to abide in Christ. While contemplating this truth, we will find then, that we have settled for an abysmally low level of Christianity and have portrayed Christ in a manner totally unworthy of Him. We will find that we have strained out the gnat, but swallowed a camel by claiming to abide in Christ while still sinning.

What does it mean to abide in Christ?

I believe it refers to the consciousness of Christ’s presence filling and enveloping us – not at a time in the past, but in the present, in the here and now. This consciousness is brought about by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:30 “Of Him are you in Christ Jesus…”. In 1 John 2:27, we see that the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us to abide in Christ. It is the experience of the fulness of the Holy Spirit that brings about the consciousness of Christ’s presence. It is this consciousness of Christ’s presence that will result in us living as Jesus lived and will keep us from sinning. Jesus himself lived by the fulness of the Holy Spirit, for God gave Him the Spirit without measure. Our aim then is not “not sinning” or “living as Jesus lived”, but to simply be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We also read in other verses, of actions that assist us in entering into and remaining in this consciousness of Christ’s presence.

1. 1 John 2:24 Filling our minds with the Word of God.

2. 1 John 3:24  Obedience to Christ’s commandments.

3. 1 John 4:16 Consciousness of Christ’s love. Also, John 15:9 which speaks of abiding in Christ’s love.

4. John 6:56 Partaking of communion.

May God open our eyes to this truth and experience. May we all abide in Christ, for without Jesus Christ, we can do nothing.

The things of the Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:14 – “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

1 Corinthians 2:  – “but He has revealed them to us by His Spirit.”

Ephesians 3:19 – “……to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge”

Philippians 4:7 – “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”

1 Corinthians 14:14 – “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my understanding is unfruitful.”

God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than our ways and thoughts. Paul says that God’s judgements are unsearchable and his ways are past finding out.

If you look at the verses of Scripture above, you will recognize that the things of God can only be spiritually discerned or, in other words known by revelation and experience. Similarly, the love of Christ can only be known by revelation and experience. It is beyond our natural minds to comprehend the love of Christ. Likewise, the peace of God, the joy of God, the power of God  and the righteousness of God can only be known by revelation and by experience.

The infinite wonder of God’s salvation is known as God progressively grants us revelation from His word. Our union with Christ, our being in Him and He in us, our transformation into His image – these and other wonders cannot be known and understood by the natural mind – God must reveal them to us and grant that we experience them. Paul speaks of the mysteries of God having been revealed to him; the fact of Christ living in us is a great mystery that was revealed.

Jesus said that man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God – food for the spirit of man is revelation from the Word of God.

In order for us to receive revelation from the Word of God; for God to speak to us by revelation, we need to be in a place where we can receive revelation. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Recognizing our poverty of spirit is crucial to receiving revelation from God. We need to come to God recognizing our great need for Him, recognizing that only His presence can truly satisfy – we must have more than an intellectual study of the Word; God must show up and fill us. We come to him, having confessed our sins, with a willingness to repent, to set right broken relationships, to make restitution as God leads. Recognizing our sinfulness leads to the recognition of our need for a Saviour; recognizing our lack of power leads to the recognition of our need for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Prior to John receiving revelation from Jesus, he was brought to a place where “he fell down at Jesus’ feet as though dead”; he recognized the poverty of his spirit and the divinity of Jesus.

Will you come to God in this manner today? Refuse to dwell in the outer fringes of God’s dealings; press in to the place of revelation, experience and transformation.

Consciousness

Hebrews 10:1,2 – For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.

The Word tells us that the sacrifices and the blood of bulls and goats under the old covenant were imperfect and therefore left a reminder of sins although they were offered year after year. The worshipper was still left with  a sense of sin or a consciousness of sin. However, through the perfect sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the worshipper can be completely cleansed of sin and the consciousness of sin is removed.

The Bible tells us that only an imperfect sacrifice would leave the worshipper with a consciousness of sin. A perfect sacrifice – that of Jesus Christ will both cleanse all sin and remove the consciousness of sin. In fact, a few verses below, we read that by his sacrifice, Jesus has perfected us forever.

With this truth in mind, is it not a travesty that Christians live with such a consciousness of sin? Are we not silently proclaiming that Christ’s blood is not enough to cleanse us from sin? Is’nt that counting the blood of Jesus a common thing (vs 29)?

While it is true that there is not one who is without sin, it is equally true that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from ALL sin. Not only are we cleansed from all sin, the sinful nature, old man, body of sin has been removed and we have received a new nature, the divine nature. I firmly believe that as Christians. we need to come to the place where we receive forgiveness of sin as well as a removal of the consciousness of sin. Until this happens, we will be of all men, most to be pitied.

Once the consciousness of sin has been removed, we need to enter into the –

1. Consciousness of righteousness – We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. We have been made holy and perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the blood that He shed on the cross. While it is true that we are being transformed into Christ’s image and that we are being sanctified while on earth, it is equally true that we have been made righteous – as righteous as Christ Himself. May God enable us to live each moment conscious of His righteousness in us.

2. Consciousness of Christ’s presence in us – 2 Corinthians 13:5 says – “Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” Paul speaks of God revealing Jesus Christ IN him (Galatians 1:15). He speaks of this fact of Christ in us as God’s great mystery that has now been revealed (Colossians 1: 26,27). Not only is Christ living in us, we are in Him. He is mine and I am His. I possess Christ and Christ possesses me. A blessed life is one that is lived in the consciousness of Christ’s presence in us, a consciousness of His glory and power in us. A consciousness that Jesus and I have been made one in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), that He possesses my spirit, soul and every cell in my body, a consciousness of dominion. John Lake speaks of “Man in God and God in man – one mind, one purpose, one power, one glory. The unifying of the nature of man and God is the crowning achievement of Jesus.”

You will notice that Jesus Christ freed us from our sins by His blood and made us kings and priests to God (Revelation 1: 5,6). He redeemed us to God by his blood and made us kings and priests to God (Revelation 5:9,10). These two verses show us that one purpose of our being freed and redeemed and cleansed is that we might rule on earth. Chapter 5,verse 10 in the NLT says that as a result of being made kings and priests, we are reigning on earth. Romans 5:17 says that as a result of receiving grace and the gift of righteousness, we can reign in life through Jesus Christ. Jesus was restoring us to a place of dominion.

“It is this spirit of dominion when restored to the church of Christ, that will bring again the glory triumph to the church of God throughout the world and lift her to the place, where, instead of being the obedient servant of the world, the flesh and the devil, she will become the divine instrument of salvation in healing the sick, in the casting out of devils and in the carrying out of the whole program of Jesus ministry, as the early church did – John G Lake.”