Abiding in Christ


Real Victory

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37

The deeper Christian life is a victorious, holy, faith-centered, Spirit-empowered, Christ-dependent, surrendered, fruit-bearing, broken, overcoming, sustained life. Abiding in Christ is another way of describing the deeper Christian life: a life of an on-going conversational relationship with Christ. This “life abundant” is maintained by faith through gratitude in the midst of life disappointments, dependence on the Spirit, and acknowledgment of our numerous weaknesses and failings. The deeper Christian life is daily experiencing the presence of Christ by allowing him to live his life in and through us. Christ lives the Christian life in us because by our own efforts we cannot imitate Christ’s love and selflessness.

It is by the grace of God that we can be conquerors. To be a conqueror, one must allow God to live His Life in and through us. Again and again he has to break us; that is to say, He breaks the things in us that protect and maintain “self.” We must surrender totally to Him, and let Him do all that is necessary. Thus he gets more and more room in us. He does not want only a part of us, but to fill our whole heart with His power; to fill us more and more with Himself. That means a closer fellowship with Him. That is glory!

Corrie ten Boom quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 240.

 

Fruit Bearing Is the Overflow of the Life of Christ in You

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

John 15:8

Fruit bearing is the overflow of the life of Christ dwelling in us. Fruit producing is attempting to live the Christian in our own power. Fruit bearing is the result of faith: fruit producing is striving and struggling. Fruit bearing abides in Christ bringing rest and peace. Fruit producing is rules and self-effort never knowing if one has done enough. Fruit bearing produces good works that last for eternity. Fruit producing is short-lived and only gives the appearance of true Christianity. We are called by Christ to be fruit-bearers not fruit-producers: fruit is borne when we allow enabling grace to work out the life of Christ in us (John 15:1-5; Gal. 5:16-24).

Fruit is not what we do, but who we are; not our activity, but our Christlikeness; not our relationship to people, but the condition of our character. Do you remember what James said in his epistle? “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). The “spirit” there means breath, and a body without breath is dead. Stop breathing–and folk will bury you! In other words a living breathing body breathes, and a living faith breathes with divine action. A living faith breathes with the activity of Jesus Christ. That is why the Lord Jesus, in John 6:29, said. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

That is the work of God. It is your living faith in the adequacy of the One who is in you, which releases His divine action through you. It is the kind of activity that the Bible calls “good works,” as opposed to “dead works.”

Major Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ/The Mystery of Godliness (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 25.

Struggling vs. Receiving

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jer. 2:13

Striving is living the Christian life by our own effort: laboring, straining, and sweating to make something happen in our walk with Christ. Striving is our vain attempt to earn Christ’s approval, love, and forgiveness. Striving endeavors to earn God’s good graces, achieve God’s promises, and fulfill God’s vision all in our timing and in strength.

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacy keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have an outcome that will last for eternity.

Abide in Christ: so will you bear much fruit. Not a vine is planted but the owner thinks of the fruit, and the fruit only. Other trees may be planted for ornament, for the shade, for the wood–the vine only for the fruit. And of each vine the husbandman is continually asking how it can bring forth more fruit, much fruit. Believer! Abide in Christ in times of affliction, and you shall bring forth more fruit. The deeper experience of Christ’s tenderness and the Father’s love will urge you to live to His glory.

Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, Chapter 19.

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Union With Christ

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

1 Cor. 1:30 NKJV

The phrase “in Christ” or its corresponding idea is used one hundred and seventy-two times in the New Testament with the Apostle Paul alone utilizing the phrase ninety-seven times in his letters. To be “in Christ” is to receive all the benefits of Christ’s saving work on the Cross, to walk in all the blessings of Christ’s life and resurrection and to enjoy all the favor of Christ’s inheritance from the Father’s favor. To be “in Christ” is to be located in the Divine Person—all that Christ’s has done, received, or achieved is ours to be enjoyed.

The phrase, “in Christ” is the ultimate phrase in the Christian faith, for it locates us in a Person-the Divine Person-and it locates us in Him here and now. It brings us to the ultimate relationship-“in.”

E. Stanley Jones, In Christ (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1980), 4.

Nothing is more striking than the breadth of application which this principle of union with Christ has in the gospel. Christianity obliterates no natural relationships, destroys no human obligations, makes void no moral or spiritual laws. But it lifts all these up into a new sphere, and puts upon them this seal and signature of the gospel, in Christ. So that while all things continue as they were from the beginning, all, by their readjustment to this divine character and person, become virtually new.

Life is still of God, but it has this new dependency” in Christ.” ” Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30). The obligation to labor remains unchanged, but a new motive and a new sanctity are given to it by its relation to Christ. “Forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). The marriage relation is stamped with this new signet, ” Only in the Lord.” Filial obedience is exalted into direct connection with the Son of God. “Children obey your parents in the Lord.” Daily life becomes “a good conversation in Christ.” Joy and sorrow, triumph and suffering, are all in Christ. Even truth, as though needing a fresh baptism, is viewed henceforth ” as it is in ‘Jesus.” Death remains, but it is robbed of its sting and crowned with a beatitude, because in Christ. ” Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”

A. J. Gordon, In Christ or The Believer’s Union with His Lord (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 12.

Our union in Christ is not just a theological theory, but a reality to be lived and enjoyed moment-by-moment. Christ lives in us by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. As Andrew Murray stated, “It is through the Holy Spirit that we have Christ in our hearts-a mighty force stirring, enlightening, and filling us.” [Daily in His Presence (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2004), Feb. 6th.] Christ encourages us each day to trust him, to love him, and to live through him. As we trust him, all the benefits of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection can be experienced now in us. The Holy Spirit makes these truths known, reveals them to our hearts, and enables us to live them.

Christ’s own words to His disciples explain this best. Just as the Father lived and worked in Him, so Jesus lives and works in us. The Son expressed the Father. We are to express Christ. The Father worked in the Son, and the Son gave expression to that which the Father brought about in Him, Christ works in us and enables us to carry on His work. This is His gift to us.

Andrew Murray, Daily in His Presence, Feb. 5th.

Christ’s gift to us was himself–nothing more was, is, or will be needed for us to live the Christian life. Christ is our joy, blessing and victory.

God’s Presence

For in him we live and move and exist.

Acts 17:28 NLT

The constant conscious presence of the Lord creates a healthy fear of God. The fear of God is a silent wonder, a radical amazement, and an affectionate awe of a God who became incarnate in human flesh, died in our place, and rose again. This fear is not a fear of punishment, but the dread of hurting or breaking God’s heart by disappointing his plans for us. The fear of the Lord is an awareness that God is present always and that we are conscious of the fact that he is watching us (Prov. 1:7, Psa. 33:18).

The fear of the Lord begins with the revelation that God is all-knowing, God is all-powerful, and God is everywhere present. He knows all that we do. Nothing misses his vision. He is powerful and he can affect anything and everything that we do. God is everywhere. He is always involved in our lives. God never sleeps, he is never caught off-guard, and never surprised by our words, choices, and actions. When we recognize that God is constantly present, we become conscious of his power, grace, and love.

Godliness is God-consciousness, an all-pervasive sense of God’s presence. It will mean that never do we think, or speak, or act, without the undergirding sense of God’s presence, of his judgement, of our relation to him and his relation to us, of our responsibility to him and dependence upon him.

John Murray, The Collected Writings of John Murray (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976–1982), 1:183.

HT: Miscellanies

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord.”

Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race : A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year, electronic ed. (London: Oswald Chambers Publications Association, 1968).

Communing With God

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Abiding in Christ (or communing with God) is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacy keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have an outcome that will last for eternity.

Communing [with God] is doing the right thing in the right moment in the right way. Once we get out of communion, we cannot get anything right.

Edward Dennett quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 364.

It’s Good to be at the End of Your Rope

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Matt. 5:3 (The Message)

God is sovereign. No sincere Christian debates that significant biblical truth (Dan. 7:14). However, it is difficult for us to believe that God is actively working through people and circumstances to deal with our selfishness and pride. Day-by-day, moment-by-moment, our Heavenly Father is cutting away those aspects of our lives which are inconsistent with Christlike character.

The Lord wants us to be great receivers. Therefore, he cuts away our self-sufficiency, self-centeredness, and self-absorption. He wants us to give up our striving and struggling. He wants you and I to give up and depend on the Holy Spirit.

The pruning work of our heavenly vinedresser is not an instantaneous process, but a gradual on-going work of God (John 15:2). Patience is required. Patience is an enabling of the Spirit to take trouble from life and wait till God, the heavenly vinedresser, works his perfect pruning process in our lives (Gal. 5:22). We are able to wait for we know that our Lord loves us and is working Christlikeness into our lives. We rejoice for Christlikeness is our heart’s desire (Rom. 8:18).

We can be patient in our circumstances because we know that God is up to something good in our delays, detours, and unexpected disappointments.

[God’s] grace purposes to expose and free you from your bondage to you. His grace is meant to bring you to the end of yourself so that you willing finally begin to place your identity, your meaning and purpose, and your inner sense of well-being in him.

So he places you in a comprehensive relationship with another flawed person, and he places that relationship right in the middle of a very broken world. To add to this, he designs circumstances for you that you would have never designed for yourself. All this is meant to bring you to the end of yourself, because that is where true righteousness begins.

He wants you to give up. He wants you to abandon your dream. He wants you to face the futility of trying to manipulate the other person into your service. He knows there is no life to be found in these things.

Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, p. 51-52.

The Christian Life Is Impossible

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Col. 2:6-7

A dear friend used to say, “We all are the failures we were meant to be.” In other words, our attempts at living the Christian life in own power were always meant to fail. God never intended for us to succeed by self-effort, self-motivation, and self-striving. We were never designed to live holy lives without trusting the Christ who died for us. In short, we cannot live the Christian life without Christ. Only by grace through faith is Christian growth achieved (Gal. 3:1-5).

When we attempt to live the Christian life in our power, we find it impossible. We grow frustrated. Our up again, down again experience of momentary victory and devastating failure proves exhausting. The cycles of perpetual self-confidence/pride and shame/guilt leave us wondering if we are really saved. Then, we realize that our sense of desperation and defeat is what God is waiting for; he wants us to come to the end of ourselves.

God is waiting for us to admit our struggle, repent of our self-sufficiency, and pray for divine help (2 Cor. 12:8-10). It sounds a bit cliche, but God desires for us to stop trying and to start trusting. He wants us to give up striving and struggling to allow Christ to do the impossible: give us liberty and victory over our on-going struggles with sin (2 Peter 1:3-4).

The Lord’s purpose and goal is to allow his Son, Jesus Christ, to live his life in and through us (1 John 4:9). The only person who ever successfully lived the Christian life was Christ himself. Therefore, we need to allow Christ to live his life in and through us for victory over sin, power over temptations, and anointing for ministry (Gal. 2:20).

“It is not difficult for man to live the Christian life,” somebody once said, it is a sheer impossibility!”

A sheer impossibility, that is, without CHRIST but for all that He says, you have all that He is, and that is all that it takes!

The Christian life can only be explained in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it!

Major Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ/The Mystery of Godliness (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988).

The Glorious Fact: Christ as Divine Love Fills Your Soul

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Eph. 3:15-19 (NLT)

My last few blog posts have focused on the theme of the Indwelling Christ; my favorite subject to teach and preach. The truth of Christ living in you is understood by illumination, grasped by faith, enjoyed by abiding, and experienced by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christ manifesting in and through is intimacy with God, freedom over sin, and joy in tumultuous times. The Holy Spirit makes real in us all that Christ has done for us on the Cross. Thus, we can find strength in weakness, victory over temptations, and grace to respond like Jesus in every life situation. The Indwelling Christ is grace being in us the desire, ability and power to live the life of Christ.

Seek to grasp the glorious fact that you may have Christ as Divine love filling your soul. Just as the alabaster box was in the house, and its presence may not have been known, so Christ has been a long time with many of His disciples, and they have not known Him ; that is, they have been comparatively ignorant of His glorious fulness. But no sooner was the box broken, and the ointment shed abroad, than the odour filled the house (Luke 7:36-50).

So, when the love of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost when the infinite treasures of Divine love stored up in Christ are disclosed, revealed in us, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost their subduing, liberating, and transforming influences begin at once to be seen and felt. Their cleansing and purifying effect on our thoughts and desires are realized. We begin to learn then what our blessed Lord meant when He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8).

Evan Hopkins, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life (Philadelphia: Sunday School Times, 1952), 60.

What God Really Wants?  He Wants Us to Trust Him

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Heb. 11:6

Faith is a response of the heart which receives what God has already done for us in Christ. Faith is relying on God’s character, standing on God’s promises, believing God’s Cross, and obeying God’s Spirit with a certainty that surpasses physical sight and human reasoning.

In our hearts, we are assured that God’s faithfulness will bring God’s Word to pass in our circumstances, intervening in our lives, and meeting our needs. Faith believes that God not only works on behalf of others, but he is ready to meet my needs as well.

All that God wanted man to do was, to believe in Him. What a man believes, moves and rules his whole being, enters into him, and becomes part of his very life. Salvation could only be by faith: God restoring the life man had lost; man in faith yielding himself to God’s work and will.The first great work of God with man was to get him to believe.

This work cost God more care and time and patience than we can easily conceive. All the dealings with individual men, and with the people of Israel, had just this one object, to teach men to trust Him. Where He found faith He could do anything.

Nothing dishonored and grieved Him so much as unbelief. Unbelief was the root of disobedience and every sin; it made it impossible for God to do His work. The one thing God sought to waken in men by promise and threatening, by mercy and judgment, was faith.

Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants (London: Fleming H. Revell, 1898).

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