Christ Permeating You


In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

1 John 4:9

At Lamb of God: A Three Streams Church, we talk much of the indwelling Christ who is present in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Christian growth comes by trusting the Christ who lives in us. Jesus is grace in us–a person not a quantity. Christ in us is freedom from performance-driven Christianity. The question is not what would Jesus do if he were here, but what is Jesus doing in us at this moment. Jesus is the moment-by-moment, minute-by-minute, constant, conscious presence of God. Christ in us is the freedom to enjoy God now in this life at this moment in this very place.

Again, Christ lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Christ is in the gospels, all that Christ is as the second person of the Trinity, and all that Christ is as Lord now lives in us as believers. Since Christ lives in us, we are never alone. Since Christ lives in us, we have the power to live holy lives. Since Christ lives in us, we can respond (not react) to every life situation according to the will of God. Since Christ lives in us, we can daily experience Him intimately and powerfully. Therefore, we desire all of Him in all of us all the time.

Unbelief says: Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us. Faith says: Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us! With our feet on the ground, and our head cool, but with our heart ablaze with the love of God, we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey. God wants to work through you!

A. W. Tozer, The Counselor  (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 122.

 

Whereas I Was Blind, Now I See!

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On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:20

The secret to living the Christian life is no secret at all, it is the mystery of Christ in you (Col. 1:27). The indwelling Christ is our hope of intimacy with the Father, he is our joy and forgiveness in the Son, and he is our holiness in the Spirit. As we trust Christ by faith, he gives us the power to love the unlovely, the freedom to walk apart from sin, and grace to experience God’s presence moment-by-moment (Gal. 2:20). The indwelling Christ is joy, liberty, and fullness in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:20).

J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), founder of the China Inland Mission, reads a letter from John McCarthy on September 4, 1869. McCarthy is a fellow missionary in China and a man who hungers for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. Upon reading McCarthy’s letter, Hudson Taylor declares that he has entered into the “exchanged life.”

McCarthy wrote to Taylor:

I do wish I could have a talk with you now about the way of holiness. At the time you were speaking to me about it, it was the subject of all others occupying my thoughts, not from anything I had read . . . so much as from a consciousness of failure—a constant falling short of that which I felt should be aimed at; an unrest; a perpetual striving . . . .

Then, while reading that same letter, the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of the indwelling Christ to J. Hudson Taylor. Taylor describes the experience:

Abiding, not striving or struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power . . . resting in the love of an almighty Saviour, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin”—this is not new, and yet ‘tis new to me. I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy . . . Not a striving to have faith . . . but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity.

After reading McCarthy’s letter of September 4, 1869, Taylor tells a Mr. Judd,

Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a new man! Wonderful was the experience that had come in answer to prayer, yet so simple as almost to baffle description. It was just as it was long ago [at his conversion], “Whereas I was blind, now I see!”

Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (Chicago: Moody Press, 2009), 156.

Filled to Overflowing

 

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Col. 2:9-10

Fullness is being completely filled to the full, nothing lacking, complete in the character of God, but not in the nature of God (Eph. 3:19). Fullness is having all that Jesus was and is living in our hearts now. Jesus indwells our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit and this fullness is available for any need, any ministry, any godly purpose. We lack nothing that we need as live the words of Jesus and trust the Father to perform the works of Jesus.

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is a continuous supply from Jesus Christ himself; a moment-by-moment faith in a moment-by-moment filling and a moment-by-moment cleansing. The moment I begin to believe, that moment I receive, and as long as I go on believing, praise the Lord! I go on receiving.

Charles Inwood quoted in Alan Redpath, “Full of Faith  . . .Grace . . . Power,” Keswick Week 1957 (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1957), 155.

For Christ To Be in You

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

2 Peter 1:3-4

The truth of “Christ in you” is the theological fact God has most used to bring freedom, peace, joy, rest, grace, strength, etc., in my walk with him. Without the knowledge and experience of Christ’s personal presence, I would have quit the ministry, given up on the church, and forsaken all hope for victory over sin. The Spirit of Christ makes Christ’s hope available when I feel downcast, he assists my feeble attempts at ministry, and he is my constant knowledge of God’s love. Faith is the channel by which his his presence is made known and the avenue by which his life is manifest. Christ in you and me is our righteousness (acceptance before God), sanctification (Christian growth), and redemption (blood-bought freedom from slavery) (1 Cor. 1:30).

To be in Christ–that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you–that is sanctification! To be in Christ–that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you –that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ –that changes yours destination; but for Christ to be in you–that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home–the other makes this world His workshop.

Major Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ/The Mystery of Godliness(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 22.

O’ To Be With Him!

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Col. 1:27

A number of years ago, the Holy Spirit graciously revealed to me the beauty and grace that is the Indwelling Christ. After numerous attempts to live the Christian life successfully in my own strength, the Lord brought me to the end of my striving. Frustrated, angry, and depressed, God revealed to me His Son in me. I understood that Christian growth is just as much by faith as when I first believed Christ’s death and resurrection for my salvation. Edward Dennett, a Plymouth Brethren teacher from the 19th century, describes the life that is lived by faith in the power of the Indwelling Christ.

Christ in us, Christ our life, as set forth in Colossians, is to be followed by the display of Christ through us, in the power of the Holy Ghost. For this we need to be much in His company; for the more we are with Him and occupied with Him, the more we shall be transformed into His likeness, and more certainty will the savor of His good ointments be spread abroad. And this will be a mighty testimony to what He is; for in this case His name will, through us, be an ointment poured forth; the sweet savor of the name of Christ will flow forth from our walk as well as from our words.

Edward Dennett cited in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 212.

The Christian’s Very Life

 

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:20 ESV

Christ lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Christ is in the gospels, all that Christ is as the second person of the Trinity, and all that Christ is as Lord now lives in us. Since Christ lives in us, we are never alone. Since Christ lives in us, we have the power to live holy lives. Since Christ lives in us, we can respond (not react) to every life situation according to the will of God. Since Christ lives in us, we can daily experience Him intimately and powerfully by faith. Therefore, we desire all of Him in all of us all the time.

The Lord Jesus is the Christian’s very life, and the Holy Spirit dwells within our spirit to manifest Him, to work out all that is in Him and to reproduce Him in us. We must remember that there is something in the sight of God that is higher than work. There is Christ-likeness. That is our Father’s purpose, and it is His work.

Andrew Murray cited in His Victorious Indwelling: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Christian Life, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan,1998), 42.

Walking in the Spirit

Keep in Step with the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Gal. 5:16 NASB

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

Gal. 5:16 NLT

Walking in the Spirit is finding Christ more beautiful and desirable than any worldly attraction, fleshly indulgence, or sinful desire.  Walking in the Spirit is enjoying the constant, conscious presence of Christ day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. Walking in the Spirit imbibes the grace of God as the power of God to overcome the world, flesh, and devil.

“To keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25 NIV) means being so satisfied in God’s great grace and unfathomable love that we are freed from the idols of self. Walking in the Spirit is preferring God’s will over and against the fleeting, false promises of this life. Eternity is valued higher than the passing pleasures of this life as we are led by the Spirit.

When we walk in the Spirit . . .

The Holy Spirit changes our motivation: we yearn for holiness instead of demanding our wants and desires to be met now.

The Holy Spirit frees our hearts from the fear of retribution for our sins.  In its place, the Spirit gives us hearts that yearn to please our heavenly Father.

The Holy Spirit renews our hearts to prefer and refer everything in our lives to the power of God and his holiness.

Living in the Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This life is completely different from the life I would naturally live of myself. Each time I am faced with a new demand from the Lord, I look to Him to do in me what He requires of me. It is not a case of trying but of trusting; not of struggling but of resting in Him.

If I have a hasty temper, impure thoughts, a quick tongue or a critical spirit, I shall not set out with a determined effort to change myself, but, reckoning myself dead in Christ to these things, I shall look to the Spirit of God to produce in me the needed purity or humility or meekness. This is what it means to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you” (Exod. 14:13).

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1957), 176.

 

Holy Spirit Sweetness

The Holy Spirit Is With You

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13

The sweetness of the presence of the Holy Spirit is hard to put into words: deep peace, love engaged, hope imparted, and faith encouraged. The Holy Spirit’s job is take all that Christ did on the Cross and make it known to us. Not known in our heads as information, but truth taken, illumined, revealed, and applied. The Holy Spirit makes Christ available to us, in us, and through us. He can make the sweetness of Christ’s presence known to us every minute of every day.

The Holy Spirit makes grace (i.e., Jesus) available to empower us to live the Christian life: make righteous choices, overcome temptations, receive gifts for service, strength in spiritual warfare, and an anointing for evangelism. As believers, we can be assured that wherever we are, the Holy Spirit’s sweet presence goes with us making Christ known to the hurting of this world.

Wherever you have to go, whatever you may have to do, however isolated your life may be, the Holy Spirit is with you and in you to make you aware of the presence of Christ. Christ reveals himself to you thus; and every time of awareness, every time of recollectedness, is the direct result of the operation of the Holy Spirit in your mind bringing you to think about, recollect, and to respond to the presence of your Lord.

Whatever you have to do in the shop, or office, or factory, or home, on the street, or as you travel, as you in these varied senses and occupations recall Jesus Christ, it is the Holy Spirit who is enabling you to do it.

In the special circumstances of life, you may be cut off from Christian fellowship. But you face all such loneliness in the calm confidence that the Spirit of God is always within you to remind you of the presence of Christ.

Christian fellowship is a glad and happy thing, but it is not the chief thing in a Christian’s life. The chief thing is to have Christ Himself. And that gracious presence is ministered to you through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

Thus in every of temptation or difficulty the Holy Spirit is ready to reveal Christ as the answer to all your problems and the Savior from all temptations.

J. Russell Howden cited in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 12.

“He Came to Make Us What He Teaches We Should Be”

The Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:3 NIV

It’s just impossible! Absolutely impossible! I thought to myself as I read the Sermon on the Mount for the first time. I can’t, and no one can, live and obey Jesus’ directives in this sermon. Three chapters of loving those who hate you, laying down your life for those who persecute you, and forgiving those who have used you. Not only are Jesus’ words difficult to keep, but also, these admonitions should be obeyed out of love with a joyful heart. This sermon is impossible to live. But, that’s the rub.

We can’t live the Sermon the Mount in our own power. We must be poor in spirit desperately needing God’s strength in our weakness (Matt. 5:3). We must be mourners, a people who grieve the state of our fallenness yearning for help (Matt. 5:4). We must hunger and thirst for righteousness for we have no means within ourselves to overcome the world’s influences, sin’s grip, and the devil’s temptations (Matt. 5:6). The Sermon on the Mount is lived not by being adequate, but by being available. That is, available to Christ’s all-powerful and sufficient grace (2 Cor. 9:8; 12:9).

The Sermon on the Mount can only be lived by trusting Christ to live his life in and through us (1 John 4:9). Only Christ successfully lived the Sermon on the Mount and he can do it again in us (Col. 1:27). By summary, the Sermon on the Mount is what our lives look like when Christ is having his way in us.

Beware of placing our Lord as Teacher first instead of Saviour. That tendency is prevalent today, and it is a dangerous tendency. We must know Him first as Saviour before His teaching can have any meaning for us, or before it can have any meaning other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. Fancy coming to men and women with defective lives and defiled hearts and wrong mainsprings, and telling them to be pure in heart! What is the use of giving us an ideal we cannot possibly attain? We are happier without it.

If Jesus is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalise us by erecting a standard we cannot come anywhere near. But if by being born again from above  we know Him first as Saviour, we know that He did not come to teach us only: He came to make us what He teaches we should be. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us (emphasis mine).

Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, electronic ed. (Hants, UK : Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996), 10.

 

Simple Faith

Simple Faith Pleases

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Heb. 11:6 NLT

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. Faith ignores bad circumstances, negative feelings, or discouraging thoughts to stand on God’s word and walk in his ways (Isa. 55:8-9). In short, faith simply believes what God says is true.

Just as salvation is by faith, so also is the exchanged life. Just as we accept the Lord Jesus by faith as Savior, so by simple faith we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Just as we took the Lord as our sin-bearer, we take the Holy Spirit as our burden-bearer. Just as we take the Savior as our penalty for sins that are past, we take the Holy Spirit for power over indwelling sins that are present.

The Savior is our atonement, the Holy Spirit is our advocate. In salvation we receive newness of life, by the Holy Spirit we find life more abundant. In each case the appropriation is by faith, and by faith alone, wholly apart from any feeling on our part.

V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret: Twenty Lives That Reveal a Touch of Eternity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 152.