TO LIVE IS CHRIST

27 08 2018

 

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of facilitating a graveside for a dear friend who deeply loved the Lord. He was kind-hearted and full of love for his family. The feeling was mutual. At the graveside, his grandson, son, daughter and grand nieces all spoke of how they were influenced by him to either believe or were strengthened in their faith in Christ.

When the grandson stood he cited Phil.1:21 where Paul confessed that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He went on to state that he believed that his grandfather was like Paul, undecided as to what was better, to go on living (as hard as it was for him to endure the pain in his body) or to be with Jesus? Obviously, to be with Jesus, as Paul admitted, is far better but the point is that either way it was all about Jesus.

To stay in the flesh means simply to let Christ be seen in our lives. We are His vessels, His branches, His temples to let the world see who He is. God cannot be seen, nor can Christ anymore as a historical person. But God says that we are now His manifestation ( 2 Cor. 4:10,11). This body of flesh is God’s showcase to reveal His likeness and image (Eph. 5:30). There is no other purpose for man’s existence than to be the expression of God. When this grandfather showed patience, compassion, and love, who was that? It was Christ. What better way to know Jesus than to see Him in each other?

When our time comes for our bodies, God’s vessels, to be “destroyed” (2 Cor. 5:1) we are transported into the full presence of Jesus in our spiritual bodies. Living in the realm of heaven, we are no longer seen in the world. We have been taught that heaven is a perfect place and is splendid beyond measure. But one thing is lacking there – people don’t have their incorruptible bodies yet. Until they/we all receive our new bodies no one can see us or God. That is why Paul thought about staying in this worldly realm a little longer so that he could reveal Christ to world a bit longer.

What a thrill to hear this man’s relatives give him praise because they saw Christ in him. We can tell people about Jesus all day long but how much better to demonstrate who He is through our humanness.

Christ is your life, you have no other life (Gal. 2:20).

Be Jesus





Are you what you think?

26 07 2018

thWUEWMK6EThe most powerful fact in the “good news” of Christ is that people are not what they think or have been told that they are. We have heard countless pastors and teachers tell us that we are not yet what we should be and need to work on developing the character of Christ. But, according to what God says, man is already the image of Christ (Rom.8:29; Col. 3:4). Man doesn’t need to try to be like Jesus, he already is!

But against that truth, we hear a common objection, “If that is true then how do you account for behavior or character that is not a reflection of Christ? From what we have read and know about Jesus He is perfect, sinless. If we are really in His image then how do we account for the character and behavior that doesn’t match Him? This leads many to conclude that we must actually be two different people at the same time – the Christ, the perfect person in us versus our person that is “fleshy” or imperfect. We are told that we need to “kill” or deny that fleshly side of our being in order to become more like Christ. Read the rest of this entry »





Jesus has become me?

4 07 2018

adult attractive contemplating face

 

Have I become like Jesus or has He become like me?

For most of my life it was my desire to become like Jesus. I was told that this should be my greatest desire. Countless discipleship programs have been written (including writing my own) to help fulfill this ambition.

I discovered, shockingly, that my intention was nothing short of practicing Old Testament Law. It was based on my effort, my own pursuit of Him. I was excited to learn the full truth of the Gospel that Jesus has instead, become like me. The Law says “ try to be”. The grace of Christ says, “I already am”. God doesn’t say, “Try to be like Christ”. He says that I already am “perfect in Christ”, that “Christ is my life”, “to live is Christ”, “I have no other life”. (1)

How did that happen? How can it be true considering that I am just a human with weak flesh? Read the rest of this entry »





What is a Christian?

24 05 2018

not-a-fuller-brush-manIn season 2, of Netflix’s original series “The Crown” Billy Graham is pictured preaching to a curious Elizabeth II and her family in her private chapel at Windsor. Graham’s topic is “What is a Christian?”. He uses Colossians 1:27 as his text to define a Christian as someone who has invited Christ into his life (1). What he spoke about is the central truth of the Christian faith. But while this truth has been the core of our faith it is also the most misunderstood. If you ask most brothers or sisters to explain it you will get a variety of answers that still miss the essential meaning.

Traditionally, Christianity has held to the doctrine of a Jesus removed from earth by the resurrection and is somewhere in heaven “seated at the right hand of the Father”. The only time that we will see Him again is when He returns to earth to judge everyone (2). In the meantime, the Holy Spirit, who is Himself relegated to nothing more than a “power” or an impersonal force, has been sent to help man until man is transported to heaven. This has made Christianity nothing more than a belief system offering man a promise that if he keeps the faith, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he will get to join Jesus in heaven someday. Thus, most believers are dutifully “holding on” until that day. “Christ in you” is nothing more than having a “deposit” on the future.

The truth is that Jesus is not somewhere in heaven chatting with the Father until He is told to come for us. He is HERE NOW! He didn’t die on the cross to make a path for us to heaven but to make a home IN US for the Father and Himself (3). The whole purpose of the cross and the resurrection was not to take us out of the earth but for He and Father to come live in us in this earth. “I go to prepare a place for you” is not referring to yours and my personal, celestial palace, it’s God’s home in us (4). God’s home address is your heart and mine, not left of some obscure planet.

To claim to be a Christian means that you are the embodiment of Christ, not just the owner of a free ticket to heaven. He is a living person, residing in your human flesh. You are His temple, His vessel that displays His person. Jesus and you are one with Him and the Father (5). To deny any part of that truth is to deny the ultimate desire of Christ, to make your life His life on this earth. This is the central truth of our faith. It may be hard to explain and maybe accept but no less the truth.

It’s time to “be Jesus”.

 

(1) Netflix: “The Crown”, Season 2, Episode 6.
(2) See the Nicene Creed
(3) Jn 14:23
(4) Jn. 14:3
(5) Jn. 17:21-23





TheTragic Illusion

4 05 2018

 

God and manWhen someone declares that their life is really one with and as Christ they often get a common response from their Christian brothers and sisters, “That is hard to believe”, or “That’s just not true.” It’s akin to the same reaction that Jesus Himself received from the Pharisees when He declared that He and the Father were one. They cried out, “Blasphemy, Crucify him!”

As Jesus was facing His last hours before His crucifixion He prayed this prayer, “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 have sent me.” (Jn 17:21). Was that prayer ever answered? It depends on what viewpoint you are using to interpret what God says, the tree of knowledge or the tree of life.

Read the rest of this entry »





Is Resurrection Life just for dead people?

9 04 2018

paul-apostle-of-christ

Recently one of our men joined me in viewing the movie “Paul the Apostle”. I can’t say that this film should be on your “must see” list but there are some things about it that may be of interest to some.

The film portrays a dark and fearful time in early Christianity near the end of the first century. Emperor Nero of Rome was making it his mission to stamp out the followers of Christ by capturing any Christian he could and making human torches out of them at night. It is in this environment that Paul himself was a prisoner, waiting to be tried as a terror to Rome. According to the film, Nero had conveniently blamed him for the fire that nearly destroyed the city in 64 AD.

The key point of the film is about suffering and death especially as a martyr. In fact, it is dedicated to the many Christians who have been martyred over the years in countries around the world. The film’s writers created an interesting plot through which Paul and Luke impacted their Roman captors with the great truth of the gospel – resurrection life. The last scenes are especially touching with Paul and the other martyrs being seen again with Christ.

But a question remains, why is the resurrection life only seen as after death? Read the rest of this entry »





Stephen Hawking – conflicted genius

25 03 2018

 

HawkingOne of the great mathematical geniuses of modern time died recently. Having been diagnosed with a form of ALS at 22, Stephen Hawking wasn’t supposed to live another 54 years. But he defied the odds and died March 14th, ironically on Einstein’s birthday and Pi Day.

Having lived much of his life as an invalid Hawking made an interesting statement concerning his human condition. He said, “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.” He also stated what he believed as to the existence of a divine creator. He declared, “There is no god. I am an atheist.” Isn’t this a contradiction?

While Hawking may have had a different definition for man’s spirit he evidently did recognize there is something intangible in a man that can influence the quality of his life. Man can withstand many challenges but if he does not have a good spirit, his life is unsustainable.

What is the human spirit? Aside from whatever Hawking believed, the spirit of man is the nonphysical, supernatural reality of his being. It has no beginning and no end. It is the essence of his life and without it there is no life. If the spirit leaves the body, it dies.

But where does the human spirit come from? From the creation story we see it was God who breathed into the “dust of the earth” or dirt, and the result was a living being manifesting the image of God Himself. Every human born after Adam is then God’s Spirit living in a house made of dirt.

This makes man the best example for the existence of God. He is the best manifestation of the Spirit of God. We could say that without God man has no life, he could not exist. Man is not just dirt, or physical matter, he is foremost a spirit being.

It would appear that Hawking was conflicted in his understanding of the spiritual reality and of God. He did prove we can discover much about the physical nature of the universe, but the reality of the spiritual world was another thing. We know that life is not just about the physical but more about the spiritual. As Hawking professed, it is what transcends our physical handicaps. Perhaps Hawking realizes there is a God by now.












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