Christ Our Life
{Chapter 9, From the Book - The Way to Eternal Life - Steve Bray}  

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In our service of making God's truth known, we have purposely drawn on the spiritual insight of a number of different writers. This chapter uses some of the lessons provided by Ruth Paxson in Rivers of Living Water.

Our great desire is to open up the real meaning of Christianity. The church in general is not making people aware of what Christ has come to do. The implications of this can be seen in the following example. It refers to young people raised in "Christian families," some of which had ordained ministers as fathers, and who have attended Bible college without ever learning what it means to be saved by Jesus Christ.

A small Bible college has former students who owe money to the school. Attempts to collect the fees are rejected. And yet the majority of these individuals profess to be Christians while spending money that is owed to the school for their own pleasures. Some of them honestly think they have a good relationship with the Lord, even while choosing in self-will not to pay their debt. And yet the Scripture says, "Owe no one anything..." (Rom. 13:8) This speaks of people who are expected to repay a debt and can repay it. Paul would say to them, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived..." (1 Cor. 6:9) And he includes thieves among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. We are amazed at how people can be raised in the church, and even attend Bible college, and never learn how sin separates people from Christ unless they repent.

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord... (Heb. 10:26-30)

Now if we were to stop at merely revealing how God's Word will one day judge sinners for not keeping the laws of God, we would be describing Old Testament standards. But the New Testament teachings raise the standard much higher. When Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and gave His Sermon on the Mount, He went beyond the requirement of obeying outward laws. He insisted that the heart also be right. That being the case, if someone else were to pay the debt owed by these students, or even if they were to pay it under compulsion, they would not gain anything when it comes to being right with God. If the heart is still willing to do something wrong without confession and repentance, it has not been saved from sin by the grace that Jesus supplies. While the law was designed to constrain this kind of sin, the grace and truth that comes through Jesus Christ changes the very nature.

There are many so-called "good people" who do not rob banks. Of course, many of them would take the money if it was somehow put in their hands without anyone knowing it. But they avoid being an outright thief because of a concern for their reputation. They resist this sin without even professing to be a Christian. But when Jesus puts His Spirit within our heart, He changes our nature so we cannot go on sinning.

If people are ever to be saved from sin, they must be taught what Jesus has come to do. And they must not be permitted to think they have become Christians until they have fully submitted to the salvation He offers.

...You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matt. 1:21)

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned {lived by his own will and out from his own resources} from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin {go on resisting the teachings in God's Word}, for His seed {the Son's submissive nature} remains in him; and he cannot sin {he cannot rebel against the light of truth}, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:8-9)

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you {with His submissive nature}—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Cor. 13:5 NIV)

We have already described the various stages in God's work of saving a soul from sin. The new Christian, who has truly surrendered their will to walk by the Spirit, will still lack light on many matters. And we should not be loading them down with unnecessary burdens that come from our personal convictions. The Holy Spirit can be counted upon to lead them into all truth if we will continue to encourage them to remain in this Spirit-directed way of life. But there are fundamental issues of obedience they must be taught if we are ever to keep them from being deceived by the devil when he masquerades as an "angel of light" and by his so-called "ministers of righteousness" he now has working in the church. (2 Cor. 11:14-15)

There is only one Christian life. Receiving into our heart, through faith, the "light of life" that is in the Son is what makes us a Christian. (John 8:12) We receive New Testament justifying grace and the gift of the Spirit when we lay down our will so that Christ may begin to live through us and reveal the same divine nature that He revealed through His mortal body. While there will be some preparation work that needs to be worked out through the power of the Spirit before we are "filled" with His "light of life," we can only remain justified by walking in all revealed light.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another {with God what an awesome privilege!}, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7)

...If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

God in heaven is invisible. But He wants to reveal Himself in this world. Our choice to live through Christ in the heavenly realms provides Him with an opportunity to walk again on this earth. The spiritual blessings that are now residing in the Son—His love, joy, peace, victory, spiritual power, holiness and others—can now be revealed through us when we give Him an opportunity to fill the temple of our body with His Spirit. (Eph. 1:3; 1 John 4:9)

So what does it mean to be a Christian? It means we must submit ourselves in a way that permits the Son to reveal Himself through our mortal body. To be a Christian is to have Christ become for us our wisdom, our righteousness and our holiness. It is a life of faith where we continually look to Him to manifest His rivers of Living Water through us so we can do by nature what the law requires.

It is not unusual to hear a modern Nicodemus say, "How can these things be? How can I live such a life in my home where I receive ridicule rather than help and where I have experienced so much spiritual defeat? How can I live this kind of spiritual life in a place of business where everyone around me is living for self? How can I find the highest plane of Christian living when I remain unfed in a church filled with worldly-minded people?" But Jesus still has an answer for every Nicodemus. He has an overcoming life that makes human beings in this world "more than conquerors," regardless of their circumstances.

Let us remember that the life is in Christ. We should not be thinking in terms of what we can and cannot do. "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son {through His shed blood}, much more, having been reconciled {a past event}, we shall be saved {from our self-willed nature} by His {indwelling} life." (Rom. 5:10) We also know that Christ has previous experience in manifesting this very life in a world where evil surrounded Him. He continued to reveal the divine nature, even when He was misunderstood and maligned. The people ridiculed, scoffed, opposed and finally crucified Him. But His spiritual life held up. The heavenly "light of life" continued to shine.

Christ has a spiritual life that is able to reign over the most difficult conditions. If you find yourself failing to manifest His righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit in any situation, it simply means that you are not currently filled with His Spirit. "Those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:17)

Christ's first disciples were also perplexed about how they would get along after Jesus was no longer with them in the physical realm. But He insisted that their spiritual life would be improved when He came back in the power of His Spirit to dwell within them. His indwelling Presence within the soul is better than having Him physically present in the room.

It is now possible to come into a far more vital and real relationship with God than the greatest saints of the Old Testament. The Life of the Vine can now become the very essence of the life of the branches if we will choose to live through the Son. We can now become "perfect in one" as we share with Him in His life. (John 17:22-23, 26)

And all these {the greatest saints of the Old Testament}, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Heb. 11:39-40)

These truths about living through Christ were the center of Paul's teachings. He wanted everyone to understand the riches of the glory that was now available to the saints. He had but one aim in everything he did—that Christ might be formed in every believer. "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Gal. 4:19) His whole being was given over to the work of furthering this eternal Kingdom-life in the hearts of those who would listen to him. "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present ever man perfect in Christ Jesus." (Col. 1:28)

Christ is in the heavenlies. While He is the Head and the Source of what His Spirit-led disciples are doing, He is the invisible part of the church. His followers here on earth are to be the visible part of His body. This is a staggering thought. It plainly implies that you and I are to bring Christ down from heaven to earth so that others may see His eternal life.

The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us {by sharing in the same life}; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:2-3)

True Christianity involves entering into this fellowship that takes place within the Trinity by sharing in the eternal life. It was this sharing with the Father and the Son in their life of love that led to such a rapid spread of Christianity in the first century. And if we are to continue drawing others into this true Christian life, we too will need to become vessels of the same "light of life."

Perhaps you are saying, "The truth regarding this life on the highest plane is Biblical, but it does not match my experience or the experience of most other Christians. It therefore seems to be impractical and beyond the realm of possibility." But our response is to exhort you to take your eyes off people and begin looking to the Word of God and His teachings. The fact that only two of all the Jews that came out of Egypt were prepared to enter the life of promise does not mean that it was impractical and beyond the realm of possibility for the multitude. It is unbelief that prevents God from fulfilling His promises. "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." (Heb. 3:19) "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27)

In the same way that refusing to come to Christ to be justified is the great sin of every unbeliever, refusing to look to Christ for His abundantly full spiritual life is the great sin of those who are in the church. God does not hold us accountable for our inability. He will however hold us accountable for not using the provision He has provided. Christ shed His blood so that we could live through His sanctified life. He has provided a salvation that makes it possible to consistently live in true righteousness and holiness all the days of our life.

{The Messiah came} To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies {everything that causes sin}, might serve Him without fear {of the carnal nature}, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. (Luke 1:74-75)

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4)

The Father and the Son are now prepared to come and make their home within our eternal soul. They have prepared a banquet feast that is to take place within us forever. "All things are now ready." Since the provisions are now ready, we can expect to be held accountable for refusing their invitation.

...If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev. 3:20)

Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.'{His property was more important.} "And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.'{His business was more important} "Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come {His wife was more important to him than the will of the Lord.}...For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper." (Luke 14:16-20, 24)

God has set a feast before you, but He cannot compel you to eat. He has opened the door into His life in the heavenly realms, but He cannot compel you to enter. Do not permit the things you have invested your money in, or your plans for a career, or the house you have planned, or even your family to keep you from entering into this heavenly life today. "But seek first the kingdom of God {His heavenly Kingdom-life} and His righteousness..." (Matt. 6:33) If you make excuses and put it off today, you can expect to be turned away from His Presence in the day of the Great Feast.

The basic principle that governs whether or not we will share with Christ in His spiritual life is control. The Holy Spirit must bring each one of us to the place where Christ is given sovereign control over everything we do. Those who will yield unconditionally to Him, which entails permitting Him to be the Head who directs their every step, will become filled with His Spirit.

It is not enough to simply believe in some Bible truths. Andrew Murray said, "We are too easily content with the thoughts suggested by the words of the Bible." For example, Christ's Sermon on the Mount sounds good in theory. But these words often remain in the abstract and never become an innate part of the Christian's life. We do not mind having Christ as our hero and thinking highly of His teachings as long as we can remain in control of our own life. But we will one day learn that singing praises to the Lord on Sunday and living for self the rest of the week will result in being turned away from heaven.

We are now coming to the fundamental reason for so much confusion within the Christian church. We have developed hundreds of individual religions that consist of varying beliefs in mere words. Each one has a little different emphasis on which "words" it stresses. And because there is so much confusion about who has the correct words, everyone seems to think they have a right to believe whatever they want. No one seems to realize that the kingdom of God—the Kingdom-life that needs to be established within the heart-"is not in word but in power." (1 Cor. 4:20) It does not matter what words we believe if Christ does not come to us in "the power of an endless life." (Heb. 7:16) He is the One who determines if we have truly submitted ourselves to be a vessel of His life.

Jesus has provided an exact pattern of how His true disciples are to walk. "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:40) True Christianity comes from studying the spiritual image that Jesus revealed through His mortal body, and fully yielding ourselves to the same divine life. This is the only way to enter into the full salvation of the Lord. He will manifest within us whatever we truly yield to with our whole heart.

Once we begin to understand these truths, it becomes easier to see why people are not being saved from sin. What keeps Christ from revealing His heavenly life through the multitude of people now filling our churches is their unwillingness to fully yield to the light that Jesus revealed. Since He is the source, it has nothing to do with inability. Of course, we also need to realize that most of them have never received these teachings. They do not know that Christ is waiting to reveal His eternal zoe life within their mortal bodies.

Our greatest need today is not more preachers. What we need to see is Jesus Christ walking up and down our streets and living in our homes. How will He do it? By individual believers choosing to walk by His Spirit! There must be a real death to the old self-originated form of life {the independent and self-sufficient nature that Satan fostered on the world}. "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Gal. 5:24-25)

This is where many of Christ's disciples turn back and follow Him no more. The devil convinces them that their life is their own and the requirement to die to their psuche life is too much to ask of them. They say to themselves, "Do we not have an inalienable 'right' to have freedom to do as we please? Is that not what freedom is all about to provide personal liberty to pursue life and happiness from the world as we desire?"

What?! "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price..." (1 Cor 6:19-20) The kind of freedom that is in your mind the kind that gives you a "right" to find life from the world comes from the spirit of this world. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15 KJV) And if you do not renew your mind and choose to be a vessel that Christ can use as He pleases to display His life and works, you will end up separating yourself from Him forever. Jesus only gives His eternal zoe life to those who listen to His voice and continue to follow Him wherever He leads. (John 10:27-28)

We pray that "the many" will begin to see the hypocrisy of trying to be a Christian while living by self-will. "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing." (Jer. 10:23-24 NIV) We must be converted from the lawlessness of a self-directed life to a Spirit-directed life before leaving this world.

Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." (Matt. 7:22-23)

If we are to separate from lawlessness, there needs to be a crisis point where there is a definite, voluntary transference of the control of our life to Christ. Even though Christ has already purchased the vessel to be used for the display of His glory, each individual believer is required to deliver the property to Him. Purchase gives title to property, but it requires delivery to provide possession. Let us therefore fear coming before the Lord on the Day of Judgment as a thief who refused to give Him full possession of the property that He had purchased with His own blood.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)

This absolute yielding to God includes everything within—intellect, heart, will; and everything without—home, children, business, possessions, friendships, time, money and every future plan. Let it be clearly understood that God is able to see into the heart. And He will not accept a blemished offering. He will not fill the temple with His glory while anything is being held back. Whether the refusal is little or great, it is still an act of rebellion against God. If Christ is to be Lord, He must be Lord of all.

Again, the banquet feast has already been prepared. We can now live in the Presence of God and dine with Him. But He will not make Himself known within our inner being until the door has been opened through absolute surrender. It is impossible to be a true follower of Jesus if we are refusing to follow Him in His way of the cross.

The devil has deceived many into thinking they can direct their own steps through life. It has cut them off from the life of promise. As Jesus has said, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Only the few are now enjoying the banquet feast that Jesus has prepared.

Some may say at this point, "As far as I know I have yielded my whole life to Christ, yet I still seem to be living on the natural plane." We will find that yielding alone is not enough. Many have failed to begin looking to Christ with the kind of expectant faith that believes He will do what He has promised.

Full surrender says, "Lord, I am no longer my own. I present my body a living sacrifice for your exclusive use." Faith says, "Christ is my life."

Faith is what enables us to rely on Christ to reveal Himself through us. Whatever we see in Him, whatever light He opens up to our understanding, we must then look to Him in expectant faith to reveal the reality of that life within our inner being. In other words, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God..." (Gal. 2:20)

Many seem to think they must make themselves right after presenting their body to Christ. Like Abraham of old, they attempt to help God produce the life of promise. But these efforts will never produce anything more than another Ishmael life. It always falls short of the life of promise. We cannot develop the eternal zoe life through our human efforts. The life of true righteousness comes from Christ. He is our righteousness. As Paul went on to say, "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law {trying to obey written commandments through our own efforts and strength}, then Christ died in vain." (Gal. 2:21)

We all have access to a life of consistent spirituality. But this heavenly life must be appropriated by faith. Grace supplies the life, but faith must receive the life. Faith makes real what grace has made available to every believer. "According to your faith will it be done to you." (Matt. 9:29)

Andrew Murray says, "Abiding in Him is to consent with our whole soul to His being our life, to depend on Him to inspire us in all that we do, and to absolutely surrender everything for Him to rule and work in us. We rest in the full assurance that He works in us what we are to be and He enables us to maintain that perfect surrender in which He is free to do all His will."

Mr. Murray helps us to see how our part is in the surrendering and in the looking in faith for Christ to do what He has purposed to do. Everyone who remains in this kind of yielded walk of faith will find that Jesus is able to begin manifesting Himself through their mortal body. The power truly comes from God.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us...that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor. 4:7, 10)