Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | Chapter 9

Having descended, Christ is now ascended far above the heavens and has given graces for one specific purpose and that purpose is central to everything. "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:10 KJ2000). This is the real message of Ephesians chapter 4. Not that a select few are called to rule over the many, but Christ desires to fill each member of His body until they collectively stand in His stature, that in the end, even the world itself will be filled with His glory.

Everything is accomplished by Christ's fullness in the believers. He is our Wisdom. He is our Sanctification. He is our Redeemer and our Redemption. We have not been called to a purely legal redemption but to a living participation with Him who is our redemption. Paul made this very clear when he wrote to Greek believers who were raised in a culture of arrogant intellectualism and humanism, "But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, 'He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord'" (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 WEB). Such words must have sounded foreign to such a people who, all their lives had been taught the glory of human potential. God has not chosen the mighty, noble and wise. "God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 WEB).

Contrary to popular opinion, we are not called to work for God or even live for God. Neither of these expressions can be found in the New Testament. We are called to be vessels through which He can live and work. God's will for all believers is that they would be the containers of an endless source of His living water, springing up unto eternal life. "'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water."'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39 NASB).

We have been conditioned to think of the gospel as the story of Jesus' life and death, accompanied by a salvation message. Though this is part of the gospel, there is much more to it than this. The gospel is the story of the resurrected Christ, and the good news is that He desires to take up residence in the believer and fulfill all righteousness in the believer. This was a vital part of the gospel that Paul preached among the Gentiles.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29 NKJ)

What was the mystery or hope of glory that God desired to make known among the Gentiles? Was it Christ in Paul or Christ in Peter or John or Apollos or in some other holy man? No! It was, is and always will be "Christ in you!"

Webster defines hope as, "The highest degree of well founded expectation of good."

Everyone hopes in something or someone. What is it that we believers put our hope in? As Christians, what do we hope will bring about the fulfillment of all the promises of the Gospel? Great glory is promised to every believer. (See Romans 8:30.) What we trust in to bring us into the realization of that glory is our hope of glory. Herein is the great religious fallacy. Religion offers many hopes. God offers only one. Religion promises man that if he will just practice certain disciplines hard enough and long enough, the heavens will eventually open and God will say, "Well done." But God puts within man the incorruptible Seed, Christ himself, who transforms the believer from the inside out.

Religion promises much glory but delivers little. About the time people weary of one hope, religion offers them another. This temporarily excites and distracts the weary believer, giving him just enough hope to continue on for another year, when another hope must be introduced or the poor worn out Christian will give up. It seems that someone always comes up with a new hope just in the nick of time. WWJD, Promise Keepers, the Third Wave, the Prophetic Movement, the prayer of Jabez, the Purpose Driven Life, G-12, the Emergent Church--who knows what will be next? With great fanfare, religious man introduces his new hope, selling his books and promising the people of God that if they will just persevere in this methodology, great glory will result. A year or two later theses hardbound albatrosses appear by the hundreds in used book stores, their hope proven false and the weary fingers that turned their pages all the more weary. It makes us tired just thinking about it.

Amos prophesied of these times saying, "Behold, the days come, says the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it" (Amos 8:11-12 KJ2000). Let us assure you that Jesus satisfies the longing of our souls, but the church today has become a collection of conference junkies, always running from place to place or to the latest, greatest mega church to arise in their area. We have become addicts in search of another hit. Jesus also saw this coming when He said, "Take heed that you be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: go not therefore after them" (Luke 21:8 KJ2000) Note: He did not say that they would say that they are the Christ, but that He is the Christ. This is the open door to all of Satan's most effective delusions. He uses the appearance of things being "Christian" to entice the seeker with his latest web of delusion.

Isaiah saw this same sin in Israel as she chased after her many lovers, falling victim and becoming captives to their false hopes,

The captive exile hastens that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the LORD your God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth, and I have covered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may establish the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, you are my people. (Isaiah 51:14-16 KJ2000)

Like Esau, the saints of God are selling their great birthright as His people for a cup of pottage that cools faster than they can eat it. We need to heed Paul's warning, "But the righteousness which is of faith speaks thus, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what says it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach" (Romans 10:6-8 KJ2000). This verse exposes the futility of all religious hopes. We can no more bring down the presence and power of Christ through religious discipline than we could resurrect Christ from the dead. Yet religion continues to look for that magic formula that will bring down the glory of God. If we are truly His people and do not belong to another, His word is in our mouths and in our hearts and if we to look further than that it is an affront to the Spirit of God. We quench the place of the Spirit in our inward lives.

The good news to the weary is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is not Christ in politics--getting more Christian representatives in government seats, or Christ in our schools or Christ in any facet of our daily societal living. Even Christ seated in heavenly places alone is not our hope of glory. No. It is much closer to home than that. Christ in you, inside you, emanating from you, manifesting through you, is the only hope of glory. Lasting change and work are accomplished only through the fullness of Him who fills all things. Though he might convince himself otherwise, anyone who offers any other hope, whether in men (the fivefold) or programs, is not perfecting the saints but misleading them.

Everything Paul did he did to insure that the glorious Christ found full residence and expression in everyone he met. Was Paul an equipper? Did he do the work? No. He made this very clear. "I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. Yet not I but Christ . . . Christ lives in me." Who was doing the work? Oh, we realize that this may sound a bit extreme to some but is it really? We would have to literally tear the New Testament out of our Bibles to believe otherwise, because the more we read it the more we realize that this glorious hope is found on virtually every page.

God was working in and through Paul mightily. This is not a trite figure of speech. Paul did everything according to the grace that was given to Him. Tyndale reminds us of the limitation of Paul's ministry by translating according to (kata) as "as far forth as" implying measure and limitation. Paul had received a metron of grace and all that he did was as far forth as that grace would allow. Paul went and worked as far forth as God worked in and through him. He had no sufficiency of his own.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers (servants) of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV)

Everything is according to grace, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13 KJ2000). Everything is done by His might. This understanding was a vital part of the gospel that Paul preached. Consider the following passage.

Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV)

When it came to the perfecting of the saints, Paul put no hope in human agencies. There is not one reference to human merit anywhere in the above passage. Paul prayed for something well beyond his capabilities to produce. This is why he prayed for God to act. His faith was in God, who fulfills "the work of faith with power" for the stated purpose that "Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him." Paul is not the equipper here. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The treasure is Christ. The work of God is Christ living His life and doing the will of the Father through us--going with the aid of our feet, reaching out to others with the aid of our arms and hands. The riches of the glory of this mystery ought to be the only hope of ALL of God's Children!

Jesus spoke of this Christ in you mystery a number of times as he prepared to go away to the Father. He used the example of His relationship to His Father, who did the work through Him. He wanted His disciples to believe that the Father was in Him doing the work so that they could participate in that same mystery.

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:10-14 NKJV)

We are convinced that Paul's words, "that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him" reflect a deep and abiding understanding of the mystery Jesus spoke of in John 14. In that light, let us carefully consider Jesus' definition of belief in this passage. He is not speaking of belief in creeds or a body of doctrine or even belief in the scriptures. He is calling His disciples to the highest level of belief, a participation in the riches of a glorious mystery, which begins with the well-grounded belief that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. The implications of this belief are clear. The Father who dwells in Jesus speaks and does the works.

Contrary to modern thinking, a man lives out what he truly believes, not what he just gives lip service to. What we believe determines what we can and cannot be engage in. Jesus went on to explain the outcome of ones belief and involvement in this mystery, "he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." Didn't Jesus just say that He didn't do the works but that the Father that dwells in Him did the works? Yes, the Father dwelling in Jesus spoke and acted. This is belief of the highest order; clinging to, relying upon and trusting in the Father. When Jesus said, "the works that I do he [the one who believes that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him] will also do," it was a clear reference to His previous statement "the Father who dwells in Me does the works." Though Jesus said, "greater works than these he [the believer] will do," He goes on to explain who is really doing these greater works by qualifying, "I will do it."

We see this clearly in Mark's account. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen" (Mark 16:17-20 KJ2000)

Did the believers heal the sick? Not really. The Lord working with them healed the sick. The believer is not totally passive here, but he simply declares the good news and the Lord does the work.

Consider Jesus' words,

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for whatsoever things he does, these also does the Son likewise. (John 5:19 KJ2000)
I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who has sent me. (John 5:30 KJ2000)

Here Jesus defines what it means to be sent by the Father. Those who are sent of God can do nothing of themselves. They are not sent to act on their own good judgment or to do those things that they think the Father would do were He there. God does not sent representatives who act according to some code, but vessels through whom He is present and active. True sent ones engage only in what they see the Father doing. They don't seek their own will or glory but the will and glory of the Father who sends them. Anyone who speaks of themselves, advancing their own fanciful position and power, is not true and the love of the Father is not in them. Later, Jesus qualified, "He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18 KJ2000). What did Jesus mean by "speaks of himself"? Did He mean that anyone who talks and talks about their ministry, their place, I, I, me, me, my, is false? We feel strongly this is only symptomatic of the infidelity that Jesus was addressing here. The word translated of in this passage is the Greek preposition apo, which speaks of a state of separation--the separation of a part from the whole.

Thayer Definition: apo

1) of separation
1a) of local separation, after verbs of motion from a place, i.e. of departing, of fleeing, ...
1b) of separation of a part from the whole
1b1) where of a whole some part is taken
1c) of any kind of separation of one thing from another by which the union or fellowship of the two is destroyed
1d) of a state of separation, that is of distance
1d1) physical, of distance of place
1d2) temporal, of distance of time
2) of origin
2a) of the place whence anything is, comes, befalls, is taken
2b) of origin of a cause

Anyone who is sent by the Father and remains in union with Him does not speak on his own initiative but out of a living participation with the One who sent him. He abides in a union through which the Father speaks and acts. Anyone claiming to be sent, who is speaking and acting on their own, independently, has either broken fellowship with the One who sent him or has not been sent at all. He is untrue his ambition separates them. He is not passionate for the Father's glory. We see much of this unbelief today. Men are going around speaking of themselves, speaking of their ministry in grand terms, fabricating guidance and faking miracles. What passes for prophesy in their company is without doubt the fanciful fruit of their separation from the Origin. They speak of themselves and their unrighteousness has resulted in a field day for the press. Everything they do and say seems to bring further disgrace to God and His people. They continue to supply the media with all they need to vilify the saints, depicting them as mad, money-hungry megalomaniacs. There is only one thing that will silence the critics and convince the world of the legitimacy of Christ's claims.

Jesus prayed to the Father that His disciples would have the same relationship with Him that He shared with the Father. "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me . . . 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" (John 17:21, 23 NKJV). Talk about the perfecting of the saints! Nothing but the collective manifestation of Christ in the believers will convince the world. Just as God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:19 KJV), Christ is now in the believer, working to that same end.

The whole notion of "doing the Lord's work" is a fallacy. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that we spend our lives attempting to do what only God can do and in the end bring only reproach to His Name. If it is not God working, it is not God's work. God needs no one to work for Him. He is well able to work for himself! What He wants are vessels who will cooperate with Him in this great mystery, who will present their bodies as living sacrifices to prove His good, acceptable and perfect will in and through them. In the light of this great New Covenant truth, this is our reasonable worship (the only worship that makes sense).

Those who understand the implication of this great mystery, and become partakers of its riches, do not make haste or act presumptuously. Their days of religious experimentation are over. Others may but they cannot. They stand by as the many new oxcarts, promising to bring the ark of God's presence and power back to Zion, stall along the way. Their obvious lack of enthusiasm when the trumpet blasts, calling all to rally around the latest new hope, is a great source of consternation to those who act and speak on their own initiative. When they say, "yet not I but Christ," they are not repeating a mindless mantra. They are describing what has become a reality to them. They view themselves as earthen vessels, containers of the Divine. The indwelling Christ does the work. This is the key to the fruitful Christian (Christ indwelling) life. All else is so much smoke and mirrors. He who lacks this faith, this belief, is doomed to a life of religious rigor.

God wants every believer to be able to say, "I do not speak on my own authority; but Jesus who dwells in me does the works." Isn't this what Peter meant when he wrote, "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11 NKJV).

Only those who, through this belief, realize the answer to Christ's prayer, "I in them, and You in Me . . ." can have any part in those greater works that Christ spoke of, for they are not performed by or at the discretion of the believer but by God who is in Christ in them. The gift is the indwelling Christ. He who has the Son also has the Father for the Father is still in the Son and is still doing the work through Him.

We see that this Christ in you mystery is inseparably connected to the grace of Christ--the gift of Christ Himself. We are many broken pieces making up one Loaf, all with a metron of His grace. In this reality He is filling all things with Himself. One of the chief obstacles to the realization of this is our preoccupation with gifts and titles. How can we truly love one another when we want to be exalted above them by honorific titles? We don't find one example of Jesus taking titles to Himself other than the son of man, and this one He used to show His lowly place of servant among us all. In fact, He insisted that his disciples refrain from calling Him by one title that was rightfully His, Messiah. He told them to tell no one, and yet we go around spewing titles like a king's cousin twice removed. Jesus was not impressed with men because He knew what was in man. We should take His lead.

I (George) have had many opportunities to be proud of my oldest son but none can compare to this one instance he recently shared. The leader of this Christian group he met with went around the room asking each one, "What is your ministry?" Having real issues with the current concept of "ministry," he shared what he was thinking in that moment and how he prayed for an appropriate answer that would not affirm them in their error. He listened as people answered, "I am called to be an Apostle . . . I am called to be a Prophet . . . I am called to be an Evangelist . . . I am called to be a Pastor . . . I am called to be a Teacher." When the question was finally put to him, "What is your ministry?" God's answer flooded his heart. "My ministry is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and do only those things that He prompts and empowers." He went on to share with them his concerns that all these titles interfere with true service toward God and one another.

This is the point exactly. Let's stop all the fruitless talk about what our gifting is for we are in all reality none of those things. Christ in us is the Gift. He is all of those things! He does the work! Just be faithful, as He was, to do only those things that you see the Father doing. This is where the riches are found. This is where the hope of glory gives way to the realization of glory. This is where true sonship is actualized. "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Galatians 4:6 NKJV). Acceptable obedience to the Father still springs from the Spirit of Him who cried out in the garden of Gethsemane, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will" (Mark 14:36 NKJV). All Jesus' hopes rested in the Father's will for Him regardless of the momentary cost.

Paul found this same hope in "the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" and expressed his unwavering belief in the outcome of that hope, "that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death" (see Philippians 1:19-20). Everything is brought into conformity to the image of the Son by the Spirit of the Son within. No white-knuckle, grit your teeth Christianity here. Religious disciplines are as hopeless as they are numerous. Everything required for the magnification of Christ is found in Christ in you. He is magnificent. He is altogether lovely and as He is allowed to live out His devotion to the Father through us, our lives take on that beauty that is Him. Thus He is magnified in our bodies. The excellence belongs to Him. The beauty belongs to Him. The work is done by Him and the credit certainly goes to Him. Why all this boasting in gifts then? Why do we take the credit for what we have not done?

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