Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 13

Through the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, everything that pertains to life and godliness is now ours as a free gift, but it is a gift that must be exchanged. He offers us His victorious life in exchange for our defeated ones. We cannot hold on to the old deadness of Adam and eternal life at the same time. Paul expressed it this way, "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:19-20).

Since Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis on the Wittenberg Church door, we in Protestantism have had 500 years of teaching on the atoning death of Christ. What a wonderful truth it is! We are reconciled through His death. Yet we dare not stop there because reconciliation is a ticket to ride. Reconciliation is an invitation to embark on a grand journey. The cross is not the goal, but a door to a whole new life. When you stand on the train station platform with tickets in hand, you waste your ticket if you stay at the station while the train leaves without you. The ticket is the assurance of a destination to be reached, but you must step forward and board the train for that to become a reality. Jesus is the train! Only as we live in Him will we move forward into the glory God has predestined for us.

Jesus prayed, "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:22-24 NKJV). Jesus has given us His glory. It is a gift that is given when we abide with the Father as He abides. Jesus lives in the glory of the Father and has made that same life in the Father available to us with all its glory. Do we dare to believe?

Not only did Christ redeem us from being bad sinners; He also wants to redeem us from the fruitless effort of trying to be good Christians. We did not reconcile ourselves; neither can we save ourselves. Christ's death was required for reconciliation. His ever-present and empowering life is required for salvation. To view salvation as a past event, something that happened to us years ago when we first believed, is a great theological blunder. We are saved moment by moment by His life within us. We are being saved as we are being changed into His likeness by His life. His life in us meets every challenge. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," wrote Paul.

I, George, recently had a conversation with a young college student that almost moved me to tears. She, being a recovering agnostic, had now come to believe that there is indeed a God and that He created everything but having done so, He left and is now watching from afar to see how it will all turn out. All I could initially think to say was, "That is so sad!" But as I pondered her words I realized that they reflected not only the state of her life and mentality toward God, but from her perspective this was the only explanation for the condition of Christendom today. Thankfully, I was given opportunity to share with her what makes true Christianity so exceptional. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us! He is an ever-present help in time of trouble, a Friend that sticks closer than a brother! The words of an old hymn come to mind.

He Lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way
He Lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me How I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

The great earnest of our salvation is the Spirit of Christ! This is the key to everything. We have not been left to see how well we will do without Him. Jesus promised, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:16-18 NKJV).

Christ's Spirit in us is passionate to please the Father. Think of it! God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, Who in the face of horrendous sorrows cried out, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36). The Spirit of God's Son in our hearts still cries, "Abba, Father, your will be done on earth in us as it is in heaven." The Spirit of the Son creates His passion for the Father's will within us. More than earthly comforts, more than physical life itself, the Spirit of the Son seeks Abba's will. This is what is meant by being led by the Spirit. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:14-15 ESV).

Sons of God are led by the Spirit of the Son. We do not labor to be led by the Spirit and so become sons of God. No, God does not give the Spirit of His Son to strangers. He gives that Spirit to sons. ". . . because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" (Galatians 4:6 ESV).This is what distinguishes Christianity from all religions and true believers from mere religious men.

The most basic instinct in man is self-survival. It is this very self-saving instinct, rooted in the nature of the first Adam, that Satan uses to control men and keep them from partaking of divine Life. He is banking on one thing, "Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life" (Job 2:4). This certainly applies to religion that teaches the fear-based idea that you are saved by obedience and if you maintain that obedience long enough God will bless you for yours efforts, and if you fail to obey, God will reject you. The underlying premise here is, "Obey more! Obey harder! Obey and you will live!"

The very first change that occurs when the Spirit of the Son takes up residence within the hearts of believers is that this spirit of fear is vanquished (Romans 8:15, 2 Timothy1:7). Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). The Spirit of the Son doesn't say "obey and you will live," but "live and you will obey." Divine life produces proper behavior, not the other way around. Through death, Christ destroyed the one who had the power of death, the devil, and delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:14-15). The fear of death enslaves, but the Spirit of the Son lifts us up above that cowering existence. We cannot reign with Christ as long as the fear of death keeps us hiding in Gethsemane, asking for our cup to be removed. The book of Revelation records the secrets of the reigning life. "And they [those reigning in Christ] overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Revelation 12:11). The fear of death hinders the overcoming and reigning life that is ours in Christ. We have not received the spirit of fear unto bondage but the Spirit of love and Life in Christ Jesus. That Spirit has set us free. The deeds of the flesh, including the need to survive, are mortified by that Spirit. If Satan can make us fearful he can also make us disobey the leading of the Spirit and forfeit our place of rest as sons of God.

That being said, let's consider again Paul's words in Romans 8:9-15.

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:9-15 ESV)

Everything that God hopes to accomplish in your life He intends to do through His Spirit Who dwells in you-the Spirit of adoption-the Spirit of His Son. The deeds of the flesh are put to death by the Spirit. The Spirit is death-dispelling. The Spirit is life! (Romans 8:10). Paul wrote to the Galatians, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16 KJ2000). We are saved by his life-by His working within. The riches of the glory of this mystery is this, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Not Christ in your clergyman, but Christ in you!

Jesus promised that out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living waters. Is this not being saved by His life within? This speaks of abundant life, not only enough life for you, but a life that is infectious to those around you! In every situation the correct response flows out from His throne through our innermost being to others. Do you struggle to love that difficult brother or sister with little or no success? Christ in you is our hope, not that old Adam. Christ in you is longsuffering and kind. Christ loves! Walking according to this rule frees us from constantly missing the mark. Only the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can free us from the law of sin and death. The sooner we see that we cannot live the Christian life, the closer we are to walking in His victorious life, where Christ lives out His passion for the Father's interests through us.

When we understand that we died with Him, were buried with Him and were raised with Him, there is still one more revelation to come. Having accomplished all this on our behalf, has Jesus now left us to reign without Him? Not hardly! It is crucial that we understand the "with." We are called to reign with Him! This is what it means to be seated with Him in heavenly places. Seated implies the end of all work. "It is finished!"

When we finally realize that we are crucified with Christ, we quit trying to live the Christian life and give Christ permission to live out His resurrected life through us. Only then are we buoyed up by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus far above the realm of law, sin and death. The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus ends our struggles, for "now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6 NASB). "But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Galatians 5:18 KJ2000).

Today is the day of salvation. We now are free from the law. Today we have life everlasting. We live by His life. We are saved by His life. Satan doesn't tremble at our faith in God's ability to act sometime in the future. What he really dreads is the rise of that woman, the Church, who will walk in the salvation that brings the presence and power of God into every situation in every moment of every day. He seeks to create a general climate of unbelief that expects nothing of the Lord's presence and power today. And so the new and living way is systematically assaulted by theological unbelief, which sounds like this, "Yes, believers will have everlasting life but this only applies to the afterlife, 'the sweet by and by,' and has little to do with our daily existence. The days of miracles are over, so for now we just try our best to live a good Christian life and everything will be fine in the end."

This limiting mentality was reflected in Martha's response to Jesus when He first told her, "Your brother shall rise again." She immediately did the acceptable theological thing. She put everything off into the future. "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus' answer was designed to take Martha's eyes off the sweet by and by and put them squarely on the present. "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:23-26 KJ2000). This is the question, isn't it? Do we believe this? I am certain that most Christians believe that the dead shall live again, but do we believe that living believers will never die, that their life is eternal life? Do we believe that eternal life is available for every believer right now in each moment of every day? Do we participate in this Resurrection on a daily basis?

Only moments later Jesus demonstrated the nature, scope and reality of the Christian life. He stood before the tomb of Lazarus and commanded, "Lazarus! Come forth!" At His word, all that science deems certain, fatal and irreversible was overruled, and he who was shut away in the grave in a decaying body beyond all hope of human intervention came forth alive and healthy. Talk about violating the second law of thermodynamics!

Today in a theological environment that only dares to believe that God has acted in the past and may again act sometime in the future, Jesus invites all who have the courage to believe Him to join Him in a life that is every bit as miraculous as the resurrection of Lazarus-a life that transcends the ordinary. This life lifts you above the droning dirge of contemporary dispensational theology that limits all the power of God. He who has life in Himself (John 5:26) bids us to come forth from our religious tombs, shed our theological grave clothes and partake of the Resurrection and the Life today. We are saved by His resurrected life, not theology.

Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 13

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