Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P64 (09-14-20)
We are to walk by faith in truth. We are to walk by faith in Christ, who gave his life for you so he could give his life to you so he could live his life in you and through you. Indeed, it is by faith in what Christ alone has done, by his death, burial and resurrection that we have become a child of God. As a child of God you have been given the choice to walk in the newness of life, to choose to participate in the divine nature, who lives in you. As a child of God, Christ lives in you. Everything that is a characteristic of God; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, is in you. You do not have to go get compassion or pray for patience. You already have all of that, who is Christ Jesus, living in you. You access Him. He is already there, in you. You clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. You put it on.
Since we, as a child of God, are a member of the body of Christ, and we know, and God knows, we will mess up, how do we bear with one another and forgive one another? Christ told us to forgive one another even as He has forgiven you. So, what does that look like? It is not like a command to obey, for we are not under the law, and law stirs up sin, but we are under grace.
With the Lord’s forgiveness, it is not the case of “if you do something I will forgive you.” It is the case, “I have already forgiven you, and that is already taken care of that.” I am a forgiven person because the person of forgiveness is living in me. So forgiveness is not the issue. I can say, “I forgive you”, but the fact of the matter is you are forgiven before you ever came to Me. I am going to forgive you, and my attitude of forgiveness is the same as that of Christ Jesus, that there is nothing you can do to keep me, and Christ living in me, from forgiving you.
That is the kind of attitude we form by walking in faith in what God has said is true of us. In Him, we are a forgiven person. We have been made holy, and we are dearly loved. Christ has given us precious promises, so that we believe and act on those promises. He says He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. How so? Christ Himself, who is full of grace and truth, who is full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, is living in you. He is leading you internally, counseling you as you move and have your being. In Him, we move and have our being. We walk by faith in this world. How do you walk in this world? By being set apart, sanctified by God, to live in the mind of Christ, to think with His mind, and by faith, believe what He said is true of you.
When you ponder over all that the cross of Jesus Christ did, what comes to your mind? What scriptures does God bring to your remembrance? No one took his life, but he lay it down for us. He allowed himself to go through horrendous torture and eventual death on a cross. He could have called upon legions of angels to strike everyone dead, but it was the will of the Father that it had to be done this way, to be beaten beyond recognition, as foretold through the prophet Isaiah, to be mocked and forsaken by all men, and to have a spear pierce his side, causing a flow of water and blood, a sign of a broken heart.
His death had to be done in our place in order for what caused our death, sin, to be taken away forever from the eyes of God. He did not atone for sin. He took away the sins of the entire world. This was absolutely necessary in order for life, and not just any life, but eternal life, His life, to be given to us. This eternal life is received by faith, at that moment of new spiritual birth, that you become a child of God, and live in the newness of life. He did this for us so we can participate in the divine nature, in His holiness, in His forgiveness, to walk in His compassion, His love, His joy, His patience, as we allow Him to. So we are told, walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Put on His clothes of righteousness, joy and peace in the Lord.
Now, in knowing this, you say you walk by faith in this truth. That means that to every person, regardless of color, creed or background, there is no man who is bad enough not to receive life and there is no man good enough to receive life any other way except by faith. Faith says, “Lord, I believe what you said about me. I now recognize my condition.” Sins had to be forgiven. Death had to be corrected. I now hear from the word of God that when you announce from the cross, “it is finished#8221; that you dealt with sin eternally, not partially, but eternally. That eternal dealing with sins is what cleared the deck for the divine action of now giving me a life called eternal life. In order for me to have eternal life, you had to deal eternally with what caused death, sin. You dealt eternally with what caused death, sin. And you dealt with that at the cross so that you could offer eternally the kind of life you wanted to give me, eternal life. The reason you have eternal life is because the thing that caused death has been eternally dealt with. Everything is eternal.
When, I, by faith, place my faith in that and say “Lord Jesus I did not realize that.” I did not know this. I did not know this for 36 years and I did not know the fullness of it for some 40 years and I was in church. I was a Protestant. I have got friends who were Catholic and both of us equally lost. You have people who are Buddhist and Muslim, equally lost. Dead is dead. No matter what graveyard you are in, you are equally dead. I did not know that. When I came to understand that whatever I was doing was not working, and that was very clear. Whatever I am engaged in and whatever I thought was going to make me happy is not working. I looked into the mirror many times and that thing looking back at me, saying to myself, “who in the world is that?”“ What is wrong with me?”
Not what is wrong with what I am doing? That is all religion deals with, doing and doing and doing. I knew I was doing wrong but I knew that was not the problem. Even as a lost person I knew that. “Bob George, what is wrong with you?”, not, “What wrong thing are you doing?” But what is wrong with you. I knew that what I was doing was wrong but I knew there was something wrong with me.
What was wrong with me was that I was 2/3 whole. I had a body and a soul but I had no Spirit. I had a human spirit but it was devoid of the Spirit of God. I was feeling empty inside. That is because of who you are. Your feelings are consistent with your condition. You are empty of the life of God and that is why you are feeling empty. There are many people listening who are empty and they know it. They are bouncing prayers off the ceiling. They may be religious. They may have been in church all of their life. Something is missing and they are empty inside. The reason you are feeling empty is because you are, if you have not come by faith in the completeness of the gospel. You may have accepted Christ death for you but not His life for you.
1 Corinthians 15:16-18
16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Resurrection is not for one day of a week or just for a special religious holiday. As Paul said, without that resurrection, we are to be pitied of all people and we are still dead in our sins. We have to understand that truth. Without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins. Why? Even though forgiveness has been provided for the entire world at the cross, forgiveness does not give life. Life gives life to the dead.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them.
1 John 2:2
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Even though that is an accomplished fact, that forgiveness provided then is received only in the resurrected life in Christ Jesus. We are streaming people down aisles to get forgiven. We go back to that pew as empty as we left it. We may feel good. It feels good to think I am forgiven. Thank God I went down there and got forgiven. The news is you were forgiven before you ever went down there. You were forgiven even before you entered the church. You were forgiven 2000 years ago when Jesus went to a cross. That forgiveness is not received at an altar call. That forgiveness is received in His resurrected life. If you are going to bring people forward, nothing wrong with that, nothing good or bad about it, but if you are going to bring people forward in an evangelistic crusade, do not bring them forward to get sins forgiven, for they already are. Get them forward to receive that forgiveness in the resurrected life of Christ Jesus. That is why he says that without the resurrection we are to be pitied of all people and are still dead in our sins. Where is that forgiveness provided, received? In Him. Scripture tells us that.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Are you in Him? Or are you still playing church? Are you in Him or are you in the Catholic church? Are you in Him or are you in the Protestant church? Are you in Him or are you a Buddhist or whatever else it might be? Are you in Him? Is He in you and are you in Him? That is the only question that God is ever going to ask. He is already going to know the answer before you ask it.
Repentance is not repenting of your sins. I hear that all the time. “Repent of your sins. Repent of your sins.” “Brother, have you repented of all yours?” That is not the issue. The one sin we repent of is the sin of unbelief.
9 The world’s sin is unbelief in me
We are not born believers. I was 36 when I heard the gospel. I did not know that. I may have heard it. I did not know that. How many times do you hear Christmas songs, “Emmanuel. God with us.” I knew that was Jesus. You put numbers together and that makes nine. I did not come to think that Jesus was God. I did not know Jesus was God until after I was saved. I did not know that. There is a change of mind that took place. One day I heard the gospel and I realized I did not know that I did not know I could be saved. I repented. I changed my mind. This is good news. You change your mind. I accepted that by faith. You accept by faith that Jesus Christ takes residence in your heart through his resurrected life and gave you life. In that life, you received the totality of his forgiveness.
The last segment was said to see that we are a part of the body of Christ, not by being a member of a church but by being a member of His church, which is born again believers. To emphasize the fact that you do not become a born again believer by sitting in church any more than you become a car by sitting in a garage or by becoming a chicken by sitting in a hen house. You become born again by the Spirit. It is a spiritual new birth. As Jesus said to Nicodemus.
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
You are born naturally by water, by a sac of water in a mother’s womb. You are born physically. You also must be born spiritually. There are two distinct things, connected with this life. It is like a caterpillar. The caterpillar is alive. It’s created by God with the capacity to become something different than a caterpillar. If that is the way it worked by choice then I would like to be a butterfly. You tell me I have the capacity to be one. But now you said I can become one. Why would I want to be ground bound when I can fly. I would like to be a butterfly. Through the process of metamorphosis, God weaves a cocoon around that worm and all of a sudden it emerges as a butterfly. It is a new creation. You do not call that a worm anymore. It has been converted. It is called a butterfly. You do not call that butterfly a converted worm. We are not sinners saved by grace. We are saints now created in the image of God, created for good works. I became a new creation altogether. I was an old worm converted. How did I get where I am? I was an old sinner saved by grace. Now I am a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
That is new birth. That is a new identity altogether. As a result of that, we have been placed into the body of Christ. That means when the Spirit of God comes to live in me and places me into His body that every person all over the world who has ever come to Him by faith is a part of this massive thing called the body of Christ. That is the true ekklesia. We are the called out ones, into that body of Christ. There are no Catholics, no Protestants, Jew or Gentile. It is just people, redeemed people. We can gather ourselves and call the local assembly. In the New Testament, the local church did not mean this church on the corner of walk and don’t walk. It meant born again, called out, believers in Corinth, in the city of Corinth. Or called out believers in the city of Thessalonica or in the city of Colossia. Those were born again people set apart from those who were not born again, and assembled in that city. That is called a local assembly of people. Is that any more important than the mass of people? Of course not. It is just a group of people, a member of His body, living in that locale.
We bought that church idea that is the whoopy of Christianity. That is not the case. The dynamic of Christianity is the born again all over the world. I can go to China, Australia, Europe and go into the presence of born again people and feel like I have known them forever. They are my relatives. We are children of the living God. That is the dynamic. Those people have to meet at some place if they are not to forsake assembling together. So we meet somewhere. That is no big deal. That is a convenience for believers. We made that to mean something God never meant it, that one church is more important than another, whether fellowshipping in Dallas or at Charles Swindoll’s church over there, as if I follow a man’s church.
If you are amongst born again believers, you are fellowshipping with them and with God. It is amazing. That is why I do not have a membership. To me, membership is not a biblical thing. I do not necessarily see anything wrong with it. We are members of the body of Christ. We do not join that. He joins Himself to us. We do not join Him. What we have done now is saying, “this is my membership.” “This is my group.” No, it is not our group. It is God’s group It is His church. We are just stewards. We call it sometimes, “This is Tim’;s church.” It is not their church. This is Christ’s church. We are just stewards there. Is that not amazing how the apostle Paul dealt with that when they were man followers.
1 Corinthians 3:1-5
1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task.
Can you imagine that. That would be to the denomination to think Peter was their pope. Paul said they were nothing.
1 Corinthians 3:6-8
6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
He said there, “quit being a man follower. You are not here to follow Apollos, Paul or Peter. You are there to follow Jesus Christ.”
We have got this all messed up, just like mankind does. We put our emphasis just on our little group. “This group here must be the best group there is.” No, we have born again believers all over the world at the same time. To me, that is the most dynamic, marvelous thing in the world, members of the same body over the whole world. That is where he says we are members of the same body.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We are going to talk now about our attitudes to the body of Christ and about our attitudes toward forgiveness to one another. Would there be any need to forgive one another if one another did not mess up. I believe God knew that we were going to mess up, choosing dumb decisions, and making dumb decisions, all the things we do in interpersonal relationships. As a part of the body of Christ, we belong to one another just as an arm belongs to your leg, and your leg belongs to your gizzard, and all these farts. They all belong to each other. So do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but forgive one another.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
You are God’s chosen people. So by faith, I know something. By faith, I am God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. That tells me something else and I have to accept that by faith. By faith, God has made me holy. By faith, I know something. I am dearly loved by God. I am a chosen person. I am holy in His sight. I am dearly loved.
What is a chosen person? For anyone who comes to Christ by faith will be His child. Who does He choose to become His children?
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
“Anyone who comes to me by faith.” That does not mean, “I choose you but I do not choose you.” It means to the whosoever wills, “anyone who comes to me by faith. I chose that the Jew can come to me by faith. And I chose the Gentile to come to me by faith.” That was all predestined in the mind of God. “So to any Jew or Gentile that comes to me by faith, I have chosen them to be my child.”
“I also chose you to be holy in my sight. I did this by the holiness of My Son.” You are dearly loved. You are not just loved. You are dearly loved. As a result of that, clothe yourself with something. To clothe yourself means to put it on. It means to grab a hold of what is already in your closet. It would be another way of saying the characteristics of God are already in you since Christ is in you. These are the characteristics of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
That compassion of God lives in you. You do not have to go get it. It is there. He is kind. His kindness lives in you. You do not have to go get it. You do not have to pray for it. You do not have to beg God for it. It is there. Put it on. Clothe yourself with it.
How do you make yourself humble? You cannot. A good start is to look at who you are in relation to who He is, and that will do it. But you cannot. You have to clothe yourself with His humility. But His humility is already in you.
He is gentle. His gentleness lives in us. His patience lives in us. All of these, again, is just another way of mentioning the fruit of the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
All of these things, at the moment we came to Christ by faith, indwell us. They are available to us. It is not somebody saying, “I cannot be compassionate.” Yes, you can because God’s compassion lives in you, if you are indeed born again. I did not say if you were Catholic, Baptist, Presybterian or a Charismatic. I said, indeed, if the Spirit of God lives in you, for the Spirit of God is full of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. So it is whether I want to draw upon or participate in that divine nature or do I want to give into my earthly nature.
2 Peter 1:4
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
I got a choice. He says those things are there. So clothe yourself with them. Put them on.
Bear with one another. That means to hang in there with one another. Realize we are not the same. That comes to grips with us when you think of a man and a woman. We are trying to make a woman a man and a man a woman. We are different. Most of us guys are nuts. The fact is we are to bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have with one another. Does that sound like God is just really shocked when there is a grievance with one another? No, I do not think so. He knew there would be grievances, and He says to forgive one another. How are we to forgive? As the Lord forgave you. How did the Lord forgive you? Totally.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
As a matter fact, with the Lord’s forgiveness, it is not the case of “if you do something I will forgive you.” It is the case, “I have already forgiven you, and that is already taken care of that.” I am a forgiven person because the person of forgiveness is living in me. So forgiveness is not the issue. I can say, “I forgive you”, but the fact of the matter is you are forgiven before you ever came to Me. I am going to forgive you and my attitude of forgiveness is the same as that of Christ Jesus, that there is nothing you can do to keep me, and Christ living in me, from forgiving you.
Would that not be wonderful if that was able to be practiced and we really knew the truth of that, and that forgiveness is there, regardless. I think you would have a lot less lying going on, and a lot less sinning going on if people come to grips with that. Because the power of sin is in the law. When I realize I am forgiven regardless, there is something that takes the fun out of sin with that knowledge. That is why God expressed that to us. You are forgiven. The question is, “Are you going to live in the newness of life?”
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
We are going to take some time in the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians is a parallel passage of what we just studied in Colossians 3:12-14. I would like for us to contemplate these truths for a while.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We look and that and say, “Okay, I need to forgive one another.” But folks, that would be obedience. But what about faith? Faith is not what I do to you. But faith is what I have in what God has done for me. And what He is saying is that until we have faith in what God has done for you, how are you going to carry that out to someone else effectively? And the answer is you are not going to.
Let us pause for a moment about what the cross of Jesus Christ did. When we realize that Jesus went to a cross, and said, “no one takes my life from me. I lay it down for my friends.”
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
I said, many times, about the soldiers that mocked Jesus. “Okay, you saved others, then why do you not save yourself.” I imagine Jesus saying back to him, “Oh, you poor delusional soul. If I saved myself, I could not save you.”
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which said, “And he was numbered with the transgressors.” 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The cross was an absolute necessity for you and me to ever be saved. For you and I to ever be offered eternal life, that cross was an absolute necessity. What did Jesus do at that cross, when he allowed himself, at the hands of his own creation, to beat himself half to death?
13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him –
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness –
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
A crown of thorns was crushed on the top of his head and that would be enough torture for the average man, to beat that stick into his skull. To see the Roman soldiers, they were big, bulky men, putting a hood over his face and hitting him as hard as they possibly could, and mocking him and saying who hit you this time, if you are a prophet. Beating him and plucking out his beard, torturing him and keeping him down in a hole. When he was kept overnight, he was put down into a tunnel of some kind. The torture that Jesus went through for us was unbearable. Then finally after all of that, and in his unbelievably weakened condition of having his back ripped open with a whip and a bone to the point where the bowels and sinews were exposed, the blood all over him and then putting his cape back on and then later on ripping it back open again, bringing a lot of the pain back to bear. All of those things took place as punishment on him that was due to you and me. Then, ultimately driving stakes into his hands and his feet and jamming him down on a criminal’s cross, and allowing him to suffocate to death on that cross. Ultimately, stabbing him in his side with a spear, and out comes blood and water, which medical people will say is a sign of a broken heart.
33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
Now he did that so that you and I would be able to have life. Let us contemplate what the scripture says about that death.
1 Peter 3:18
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
Christ suffered for the unrighteous, which is us. How come? To bring you and me to God so that we can be made alive in the Spirit.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
He took away all our sins so that we may receive forgiveness of sins, so as to have a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Everyone who believes in him. We come to Him by faith, the entirety of Christ, and when we do, in Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins.
1 John 2:12
12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
Remember John the Baptist who identified Jesus when he saw him coming toward him.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Why isn’t he coming back to bear sin? He has already done it, once and for all. He was sacrificed once to take away the sins of the entire world.
1 John 3:5
5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.
Atonement covered sin. Jesus took it away.
1 John 2:1-2
1 My little children, I am telling you this so that you will stay away from sin. But if you sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, the one who is all that is good and who pleases God completely. 2 He is the one who took God’wrath against our sins upon himself and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world’s.
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