Does God Need Us?

Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Rom. 6:18 NLT

God does not need us in the sense that he is lacking something. God is sufficient and complete in himself. Sometimes it is said that God created us because he was lonely. God needed a love relationship, and therefore, God made us for companionship. Yes, our relationship with God is one of love, but that love is an overflow of the eternal love relationship found between the members of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God did not create us because he was emotionally needy for he already had a complete and fulfilling love relationship within himself (John 17:23).

The Bible does not directly answer the question, Why did God create anything at all? but it does let us know what some of the most glaringly wrong answers to that question would be. It would be wrong to say that God created because he was lonely, unfulfilled, or bored. God is free from that kind of dependence.

Fred Sanders, Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything.

God needs us in the sense that we are representatives of his kingdom called to reach out to a hurting and lost world (1 Cor. 12:12-13). God needs us to display in our lives and actions the character and nature of Christ (1 John 4:9). God wants to operate in and through us as instruments of his love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness (John 17:25-26).

“Yield your members as instruments” (Rom. 6:18)–your bodies, your bodily members, your mental faculties. God needs your eyes, through which to look out with compassion upon the world; with a compassion that will care enough, it may be, to go, to speak, or to pray. God needs your feet, to carry the message of His concern and the message of His grace. God needs your hands, to toil, and by their touch reveal His love. God needs your lips to speak for righteousness and truth. God needs your heart, to throb with concern and compassion. God needs you. Where are the instruments in the hand of God?

George E. Duncan, “Responsive Surrender to God’s Will,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 322.

 

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.

Past, Present, and Future Forgiveness

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

1 Peter 3:18

Doctrine affects our behavior. Right doctrine promotes, supports, and strengthens the life of holiness. Wrong doctrinal beliefs deceive, mislead, and burden the Christian life. What we believe about God shapes our choices and actions. We must think rightly and Biblically about God or we may mislead ourselves and others concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement.

Several years back, I worked with a ministry that taught that our past sins were covered by the Cross, but our present and future sins were not. This teaching was intended to promote personal holiness by making our behavior a condition for acceptance with God. However, their teaching caused me to lose my joy: the joy of knowing that my salvation was complete in Christ (Gal. 4:15 NIV).

However, I soon discovered that classic Christian doctrine taught otherwise. All my sin and all your sin is forgiven, put away, and overcome in the Cross. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Every sin committed whether in our past, present, or future is forgiven as we look to Christ in faith. All our present struggles and unknown failures are covered by the blood of Christ. We rejoice for the finished work of Christ on the Cross has met our past, present, and future need for forgiveness (Heb. 10:20-21).

There at Calvary the sin of the world is gathered by the Father, who purposes to save sinners; yes, the sins of the past and the present and the future–because He wants to include you and me who are saved in this great transaction–the sins of the past, present, and future are swept by Almighty power, and as the prophet says, they are caused to meet on the head of His only-begotten Son. The Lord caused to meet upon Him the iniquity of us all. This salvation is rooted in the will of God. We can have boldness to enter into the Holiest through the blood of Jesus, and we can come into the presence of God in the full assurance of faith in the Christ of Calvary.

J. A. Motyer, “One Sacrifice for Sins Forever,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 358.

Your Problems, His Concern

But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

Heb. 7:24–25 NLT

Jesus Christ is our continuously praying intercessor (Rom. 8:8:34; Heb. 7:24-25). He is always praying for you and me. Jesus’ prayer life reflects his priorities: Jesus is personally concerned about your personal concerns (1 Peter 5:7). He is not like an earthly priest who tires, lacks knowledge, fails occasionally (or numerously), and can only bear a few burdens. Our high priest, Jesus Christ, never wearies in praying for us, he knows all, never sinned, and can carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Jesus is praying for us and our concerns: without hesitation he is praying that we will make it. Every prayer that Jesus has ever prayed has always been answered by the Father. Therefore, the prayers of Jesus that you will persevere to the end will be answered. You will make through all your struggles while glorifying God the Father. How? Christ is praying for you every day, every hour, every minute. Your problems are his concern.

But I see the basic, wonderful truth here, that day by day the Lord Jesus Christ is ministering in heaven on my behalf, and yours. . . . May I put it pointedly: all the aspects of your Christian life are His concern. Your great high priest is concerned about your prayer life: He knows all about it; He is concerned about it, and His loving concern is that your prayer life might be rich and full.

He is concerned about your spiritual babyhood, if that is true of you. He is also lovingly concerned that you should go on to maturity. . . .

He is concerned about your particular problems. Maybe you think nobody is concerned about your problem: it is too difficult to share with anybody. I say that the Lord Jesus Christ all about it, and He is concerned about it.

He most lovingly wants that problem dealt with; and His whole ministry in heaven concerns you, in all the loneliness of your spiritual problem, which you can share with nobody. You have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Doesn’t that encourage you? Open your heart to Him.

K. A. A. Weston, “Our Great High Priest,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Years’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 94.

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.

The Filling of the Spirit

 

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Eph. 5:18–20 NLT

The filling of the Holy Spirit is a state of being totally overwhelmed in the presence of Jesus Christ both within and without. To be “filled” for the believer means that he or she is under the controlling influence of the Spirit: the believer is motivated, encouraged, and directed by God.

“Being filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) refers to God’s presence fully saturating the believer’s heart, soul, mind, and spirit. A “filled” Christian walks in union and communion with God. An individual who is filled with the Spirit is dominated in their person by the Spirit’s presence being a description how they live and love (Luke 4:1; Acts 6:3-5, 7:55, 11:24). The filling of the Spirit is to be a life lived in God’s presence.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit is not confined to a one time experience at conversion or just a singular dramatic encounter occurring later in the Christian life. The infilling of the Spirit is a crisis, a one-time encounter, and a process, an on-going experience: sometimes described as one baptism and many fillings.

The filling of the Spirit should be a moment by moment experience of the constant, conscious presence of Christ.  “Being constantly filled,” with the Holy Spirit is freedom to enjoy Christ and his presence on a daily, if not, hourly, and even possibly, minute-by minute basis. The filling of the Spirit is described by the Apostle Paul as a daily “walking in the Spirit” or a “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). The Lord desires something better for us; a continual abiding in the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9) as we perform the daily tasks of life.

The promise of the Spirit is not for great or exceptional Christians, but for any Christian who yields himself to God. Paul addressed everyday Christian believers at Ephesus: husband, wife, parent, child, master, slave. He encouraged all to live lives full of the divine Holy Spirit, full from within.

What this command to be filled with the Spirit meant in Ephesus, it means in England, it means to the one who is writing these words in his study at Cambridge, and to his brother in Christ who reads them, wherever and whenever God has bid him dwell.

H. C. G. Moule quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 158.

Grace: Power Not to Sin

Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!

Rom. 6:14-15 NLT

Grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Grace is a mighty force: Jesus in us freely bestowing to us his power for victory over sin. Jesus being grace is available at any time, in any place, and for any situation to strengthen us to walk apart from the selfishness and destructiveness of sin (2 Cor. 9:8). Grace comes and quenches our sinful desires and extinguishes our immoral passions.

I believe there is not a single desire of the heart that is known to a man to exist, which may not be completely quenched by the grace of God that is given us through Jesus Christ, if that appetite or desire or taste be contrary to the mind or will of God.

I believe the grace of God is able so to put forward the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, so to exhibit the beauty of the Savior, so to attract the heart and the will and the feelings of a man, that he can look up into the face of the Lord Jesus as the sweetest and all-absorbing thing, so that the man has no room for naughty appetite or desire.

H.W. Webb-Peploe, “Grace,” in Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed., Herbert Stevenson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1959), 146.

Are We Enjoying and Experiencing Christ?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

Col 3:1 NLT

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.

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 enjoy and experience them.

‘In Christ’ refers to our status and our position. It is the language of faith.’With Christ’ speaks of our experience and of our enjoyment, and is the language of fellowship. Therefore, the question I think we must ask ourselves is, “How far are we enjoying this fellowship with Christ”?

If you are a Christian you know that you are in Christ. You know that you are accepted in Him, the Beloved. You know that God has forgiven your sins for His sake. But how far are there things real in your experience? How far are you enjoying being ‘with Christ’? How far is it true in your experience that you are living a life that is risen with Christ?

The life which you are discovering day by day is a life that is hid with Christ in God, and you are going to Him and looking to Him constantly to make discovery of the riches of that life. Now that is the dignity of the Christian. To live with Christ, to walk with Christ, to be raised with Christ, and to look forward in hope, and in anticipation to the day when we shall be glorified with Christ.

J. A. Caiger, “The Discipline and Dignity of Life in Christ,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Years’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 365.

 

The Place of Healing . . .

 . . . Is Found at the Foot of the Cross

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Healing from the Cross is a deep and abiding restoration of the soul which transforms our emotions, brings joy to our hearts, and renews our minds. Cross-healing frees us from the penalty of sin, the tragedy of sin, the power of sin, and the pain of sin.

Psalm 51: 10

The way to resurrection is ever through brokenness of the cross; and the place of healing is the place that David found–which foreshadowed the eternal place of healing for all men: the place of of brokenness of heart, at the foot of the cross. And the cross is the answer to the psalm and to the need of David’s heart, and to the need of my heart and your heart. It is through death and brokenness that a resurrection into healing and health and newness of life comes. And God seeks to lead us to that place.

Eric J. Alexander, “A Heart-Cry Concerning Sin,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 293.