Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P33 (07-01-20)
This gospel of God’s grace, of Christ in you and you in Christ, your only hope, is nothing new. It has been preached by the apostles, and by men from generations past. Bob happened to find a book written by a missionary to India around 1929, that his wife Amy found, where the same truth he has been preaching has been preached. It is so encouraging to hear. God raises up men to proclaim truth, teachers na evangelists and missionaries, so that people may know God and His Son, Jesus Christ, to know eternal life.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
When the apostle Paul says that Christ is your only hope of glory, what does he mean? When he is saying Christ is our only hope of glory, he is saying there is no hope for you. There is no way for you and me to have a relationship with the living God apart from coming alive to a living God. Folks, this is not the case of a dogma that we just like Jesus better. It is not saying I like Jesus better than Mohammad. It is the fact you are dead. It is not the fact that you like one person over the other, or you learned about one person more than you have another. That is not the issue.
The issue is what the bible states. If you are lost, you know full well you are dead. You know you are dead spiritually. That is something we all know. There is something missing. If that is the case, and you are dead spiritually, there is only one source of life available to us. God did not create the problem. He solved our problem. He said that there is one way for you to receive resurrected life. If you are going to be living, you are going to have to be resurrected. There is one way to do that, and that is through a resurrected life, a substitutionary death for you, taking away your sins, the cause of death, and through the resurrection, which is able to give you life.
Again, oftentimes, people have not understood this message of Christ. Many have heard a message of Jesus being a door, but then you have to work like the dickens to make sure Christ will accept you, as if it was just a door of good works he opened up. Others think that being saved is getting your sins forgiven, but you have to keep doing good and repenting as fast as you can when you sin, and ask God to forgive you. That is all a false understanding and often from false teaching. Many will acknowledge that Jesus died for your sins, past, present and future, yet then say you have to keep short accounts with God. That is double talk. Jesus said he finished the work, he paid the price of your guilt, your punishment of death, and for the whole world, when he shed his blood on a cross. He will not shed his blood again.
But even then, people will begin to understand the meaning of Jesus’ death on a cross, but have not gone inside to see the empty tomb. They have not accepted the life of Christ Jesus. So they are like walking dead men, having no ability to overcome sin for they have never come alive in Christ Jesus. Being forgiven does not give you life. Life gives you life. If you have come to Christ strictly for forgiveness, you missed the entirety of the dynamic of what salvation really is.
Forgiveness is one thing. Life is another thing. Paul stated it. Without the resurrection, we are still in our sins. That simply means that if all you ever understood about salvation is the forgiveness at the cross, then you have missed the meaning of the resurrection and are therefore still in our sins. Why are you still in your sins? It is only in Him that you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. That is where you receive forgiveness, in Him. What was provided then, 2000 years ago, redemption and forgiveness of sins, is only received in Him.
But being in Christ Jesus is one thing, but you also have Christ living in you. That is the meaning of the resurrection and being born again. You have every spiritual blessing in Christ and you have the mind of Christ living in you. That is why you can reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God. Jesus took away your sin in order to give you life, His resurrected life. You are no longer under the law of sin and death, but under grace, of new life in Christ Jesus. You live under grace, the privilege to walk in the newness of life, the ability to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to walk in the newness of life. You have been given great and precious promises. You have been given everything you need for life and godliness.
Concerning this flesh of ours, we still wrestle with sin-indwelling flesh. But we are full of grace and truth, that which is in Christ Jesus. Truth is what sets us free. You are not dead to sinning, but dead to sin, of its control over you. You have been given the privilege to participate in the divine nature. That is the freedom in Christ, that when you sin, there is no condemnation for you, and when you rely on the Spirit, there is this joy and peace we experience, that is yours, produced in and through you.
This grace we have does not make you want to sin all the more. By no means! You have been made into a new creation with new desires. Your heart has been changed. You can freely choose to love Him, and you do so because He has first loved you. It is a matter of a changed heart, which is far greater than a law. You have surrendered control of your life to Him who perfectly loves you, to a perfect Father, whom you have adopted as a child of God. The law has no love to it. It is rules and regulations that are in conflict with the flesh. But the Spirit lives in you to conquer the desires of the flesh. That is the difference. Love is the fulfillment of the law, and God is love, and He has been poured into your heart. God is full of grace and truth.
God works in so many different ways. Amy was looking through some boxes, and came out with a little book I had seen, or maybe even read at one time or another. If I did, I certainly did not understand the depth of it’s content. It was a little book written by E. Stanley Jones, who was a missionary in the 1920s. In this book, in the opening cover is my dad’s name and my mom’s handwriting. Obviously, she had given this to dad one time or another in his life. So I pulled it out and dusted it off. I just sat there in amazement because of the concepts that this man is proclaiming are the very same ones that God has opened up to me in my own personal life and to this ministry and teaching. So this is not a new message. There are certainly other people through the ages who have come to understand these truths and apply them to their lives and to their teaching.
It was written so well in the introduction, so I thought I would share this to our listeners today. As we venture through our lesson, we are speaking about hope for today. In that chapter, we started off reading Colossians 1:27-28.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
It is not only Christ in you but it is us in Christ. It is that combination is what true salvation is all about. So E. Stanley Jones is talking about the idea that you have heard me say many times. I recall my dad would teach to bring things to a single common denominator to keep things simple.
By E. Stanley Jones, 1927, a missionary to India
I wanted to come up with some concept that would reduce the whole life to utmost simplicity. If you have that, you are in. If you do not, then you are out. By in, I mean life. By out, I mean out of life. I felt I had found that concept in the phrase, “in Christ”. If you are in Christ, you are in life. If you are out of Christ, you are out of life. If the proposition is true, then it cuts down through all the veneer, all seeming, all make believe, all marginalism, all halfway-isms through everything, and brings us to the ultimate essence of things. If you are in Christ, you are in life. If you are out of Christ, you are out of life, here and now and hereafter.
Obviously, this concept goes deeper than being interested in religion. You may be interested in religion and not be in Christ. You may be in the church and not be in Christ. You may be in orthodoxy and not in Him. You may be in the new birth and not be in Christ. For the new birth may be in the past and only faintly operative now. You may be in conversion and not be in Christ. For the conversion may have ceased to convert him.
The phrase “in Christ” is the ultimate phrase in Christian faith. It locates us in a person, the divine person. It locates us in Him, here and now. It brings us to the ultimate relationship in. Obviously, this “in” brings us nearer than near Christ, following Christ believing in Christ, or even committed to Christ. You cannot go further or deeper than “in”. What would be involved in becoming in Christ?
Some are in self. They are determined by self interest, primarily It is the driving force of their life, to get, and to get on for self is the compelling motive. Some are in the herd. Before they act, they look around and they do not act. They only react to what the herd does. Their roots of their motives are in what people will think. Making self or the herd our God is a sin, the chief sin.
To be in Christ means to pull up the roots of every nestle of every life from the soil of sin and self and herd and plant them in Christ. He becomes the source of our life and the source of our thinking, our feeling, our acting, our being. This obviously involves self surrender, not merely the surrender of our sins or bad habits or wrong thinking and our wrong motives, but of the very self behind all of these. All of these are symptoms. The unsurrendered self is the disease.
The phrase “in Christ” is not only the ultimate concept but it demands the ultimate act, self surrender. The only thing we own is just ourselves. We do not own our money, our property and not even the house we live in, for we will leave it behind, all of it some day. The only thing we will take out with us is ourselves. It is the only thing we own. The one thing we own, self, is given back to the giver, with an act of supreme self surrender, with words like this. “I cannot handle this self of mine. Take me as I am. Make me as I ought to be. I give up my self, my sins and my problems to Thee, but myself first and foremost. I have been in myself and now I am in you.” We lose ourselves, and in our astonishment, we find ourselves. We live when we live in Him.
One would expect this ultimate concept of Christianity, in Christ, leading to the ultimate human response, self surrender, would be embedded in the New Testament. Is it? It is far more deeply embedded in the New Testament that many things upon which we built whole denominations, the new birth, conversion, baptism by the Holy Spirit, justification by faith, baptism by water, apostolic succession, presbyters, bishops, forms of church government, inner light, absence of forms, the phrase in Christ, where it’s equivalent is found 177 times in the New Testament. It is found in every book except the synoptic gospels and the epistles of James, Jude, and 2nd and 3rd John. Why the phrase “in Christ” is not used in the places in the New Testament, we will take up later.
Paul, the greatest interpreter of Christianity, fastens upon the phrase “in Christ” and uses it in his epistles 97 times more than all the rest put together, with deep insight. He saw that this was the ultimate phrase, dividing all humanity in two classes, in Christ and out of Christ. So the world was not divided by B.C., before Christ, and A.D., “anum Domini”, but “I see” and “Oh, see”, in Christ and outside of Christ. Those in Christ have life. Those outside of Christ have death. This is the ultimate division. Each person is placed, not arbitrarily, but by facts, on one side or the other, on that line, in Christ or outside of Christ. Humanity is divided into two classes, in Christ and out of Christ.
That is an interesting concept because we look at the world today, and our calendars are divided by B.C. and A.D., the year of our Lord. I said so many times that from God’s standpoint, He divided humanity at the cross, because you have the Old Covenant, and you have the New Covenant. B.C. is really before the cross, and laughingly says A.D. is a Latin word for “after d’ cross”. Once we have understood that, we are on this side of the cross under the New Covenant today.
Really, what I think, very humorously saying, the world is not divided by B.C. and A.D., but “I see” and “Oh, see”, that is in Christ and outside of Christ. Those in Christ have life and those outside of Christ have death. That is the ultimate division. Each person is placed, not arbitrarily, but by facts, one way or another, by that line, in Christ or outside Christ. This is the division and the only division that divides. It reduces life to total simplicity. Every thought and aspiration, every act, every reaction, all once possessions, all one’s relationships are either in Christ or outside of Christ. If they are in Christ, they have eternal life. If outside Christ, they have eternal death.
The angel said to the writer of the book of Revelation, write what you see. Mr. Jones said, “this I tried to do. I have written what I see in scripture and what I see at work in life. They are both the same”.
Mr. Jones writes. “A non-Christian chairman in one of my meetings in India, commented at the close of my address. ‘If what the speaker said is not true, it does not matter. But if it is true, then nothing else matters’“. “If the thesis of this book is not true, then it does not matter. Forget it. But if it is true, then nothing else matters and you cannot forget it”.
What an inspirational book to me, and I wish we were able to offer this to our listeners. But that was printed about in 1927, and is totally out of print. We have no idea how to obtain additional copies if we could. Quite an inspiration to us to see a man back in those days, a missionary to India, who came through trials and tribulations of his missionary work, to come to the understanding of truth, the simplicity of the gospel; Are you in Christ or are you out of Christ? It is not are you a Christian or are you not a Christian? That has no meaning at all to us today. It is, are you in Christ or are you not in Christ?
26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch; and both of them stayed there for a full year teaching the many new converts. (It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called “Christians”.
It is interesting, if you are in Christ, people in those early days, in Antioch, they called people in Christ, “Christian”. Today, you can call yourself a Christian and not know the Lord from a lamp post. It is quite a difference isn’t it?
I love the expression. I love what was stated at the end. Again, as he said by this non-believer, where he was speaking, that if what is said is true. I believe that is true as we quote the word of God and as we go into teaching today. If what is being said is not true, then it does not matter. But, if it is true, then nothing else matters. It is like sharing with someone who is lost and is doubting what is being said, to say to them, “If what I am saying is true, and if it is not true, it does not matter. But if what I am saying is true, then nothing else matters”. That is a very true statement.
I have said things to people. I shared with a person struggling with alcohol. He was struggling with whether to go ahead and surrender his life to the Lord. I said to him, “Look if Jesus is not real, if this is just a ghost up there somewhere, then you will be doing nothing but praying to the air and it does not matter. You are just praying to air. If God does not exist and you are praying, you are just praying to air. On the other hand, if God does exist, and your heart is pure in what you want to do, then your whole life will be changed. What kind of gamble is this? If he is not there, you are praying to air. If he is there, your whole life will be changed. What kind of a gamble is this?”
So you say to people, what are you holding onto? If Jesus is truly real, truly alive, and says, “You are dead and I want to give you life”, what is there to lose? What are you rebelling against? What are people sitting out there saying, “Well, I am not sure”. If God says you are dead spiritually, you are out of Christ, dead. And if you are in Christ, alive, and you are sitting there knowing you are not in Christ, why would you want to remain there? “I am not sure?” Well, why don’t you test Him? Why not say, “I am not sure, Lord, about all of this. But one thing I do know, if what you say is true, that I am dead and you are life, I do not want to remain dead”.
So you say, “I want life”. Is this your attitude? “If that is true, and if you are alive, and you can come make me alive, I am asking you with the most sincere heart that I know how, to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior”. If he is not there, you are just praying to air. That would just be one more dumb thing I have done in my life, I just prayed to air. On the other hand, if what he is saying is true, then your whole life, your eternal destiny is in the hands of that decision. Am I going to remain in my death, out of Christ, or am I going to choose life through the only life available to us, and this is Christ Jesus. It is a very simple decision.
In our lesson now, chapter seven on the hope for today, we just talked about Colossians.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
The only hope you and I have is in Christ Jesus. What does that mean? Let’s say somebody in New York called me and said, “Bob, I have got this interview in New York that is just going to be a terrific opportunity to proclaim Christ Jesus”. I say, “Gee, that is fantastic”. There is only one problem. You have to be here in 5 hours. My only hope in being there in 5 hours is if I can get on an airplane. My only hope of arriving in New York in time would be to find an airplane leaving immediately and I can get on it. That will get me in New York in that time. Outside of that you would have to say, “no hope”. When we were stranded in the airport in Northern, California, with a conference at 7:00 o’clock in the evening, and we were sitting in the airport in San Jose at 6:30, there was no hope of making the meeting. The only hope would have been if we were able to be translated some way like Philip from one location to another (Acts 8:26-40). Outside of that, no hope.
When he is saying Christ is our only hope of glory, he is saying there is no hope for you. There is no way for you and me to have a relationship with the living God apart from coming alive to a living God. Folks, this is not the case of a dogma that we just like Jesus better. We like Buddha. Or we like Jesus better than Mohammad. It is the fact you are dead. It is not the fact that you like one person over the other, or you learned about one person more than you have another. That is not the issue.
The issue is what the bible states. If you are lost, you know full well you are dead. You know you are dead spiritually. That is something we all know. There is something missing. If that is the case, and you are dead spiritually, there is only one source of life available to us. God did not create the problem. He solved our problem. He did not give a bunch of sources. He did not need to. He said that there is one way for you to receive resurrected life. If you are going to be living, you are going to have to be resurrected. There is one way to do that, and that is through a resurrected life, a substitutionary death for you, taking away your sins, the cause of death, and through the resurrection, which is able to give you life.
It is not a dogmatic thing. Like we have so much on television, talking about the Christian life and ethics. That is not what this is about. What this is about is, are you dead? If you are dead, do you want life? This is not talking about joining our ethics. Those preaching that do not have any more than anyone else. The issue is there is a deep problem out there called death. Many do not approach it that way. Many approach it as, “Come get your sins forgiven. You are okay. You just need your sins forgiven. You just occasionally mess up, so you need a little forgiveness. So, you are basically okay”. That is nonsense. When you are dead, you are not okay. So people go through religious activities. What we reduced Christianity down to, which is nothing more than getting your sins forgiven and doing right and just do. But that is not the issue. The issue is, are you alive or are you dead? If you are alive, then you are going to be rejoicing in how you go to be alive. That is when you come to realize that Christ in me is my only hope of glory.
I have been in Christ for over 20 years. There is not one thing in Bob George that could stand before a pure righteous God and say, “You accept me because of how good I am”. Not a thing. I do not think I am that unique. When we realize that God sees our hearts, how can we be talking about this action when God looks on our hearts. There is nothing in us that we could present in and of ourselves to God that would make Him say, “come spend eternity with Me”. A pure, holy, living God talking to an unholy person, no way. He made me holy. He made me righteous. He made me alive. It is none of me. It is all of Him. Religion does nothing but camp on what you are doing. In so doing, never allowing people to see how dead they are. We are a bunch of corpses out there trying to act good. Just like an old corpse dressed up in a casket, with people walking by saying, “looking good”.
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.
The apostle Paul, remember when he stated that without the resurrection, we are to be pitied of all people and are still dead in our sins. What a statement. Romans 5 also tells us this.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Are we teaching salvation through the life of Christ or are we teaching salvation through the death of Christ? Unfortunately, I have to say most teaching is the latter rather than the former. Jesus is the door and Jesus is the gate. What is the gate to? Himself. He is the gate to life. Many times people understand the gate to mean I stand there at the cross but never go in there to the empty tomb. Being forgiven does not give you life. Life gives you life. If you have come to Christ strictly for forgiveness, you missed the entirety of the dynamic of what salvation really is. Forgiveness is one thing. Life is another thing. Paul stated it. We just talked about it. Without the resurrection, we are still in our sins. That simply means that if all you ever understood about salvation is the forgiveness at the cross, then you have missed the meaning of the resurrection and are therefore still in our sins. Why are you still in your sins? It is only in Him, we are told.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Where is the forgiveness that was provided 2000 years ago on the cross received? In Him. It is not received there. It is received in Him. In His resurrected life is where we come to Him for life. In life or out of life. In Christ or out of Christ. We come to Him for life. It is there that we then receive redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Where is it? In Him. That is why he is saying Christ in you is your only hope of glory.
1 Peter 1:3
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
New birth is coming alive. Birth is alive. Where is the hope that we have, this living hope? Through coming alive through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Now folks, then how does all this spell itself out in human experience? Now that I am in Christ, what now?. Like the apostle says, “I do not understand what I do. The good I want to do, that I do not do and the things I hate to do, I do anyway ”. Paul says there is a reason for this and there is a solution to this.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I am in Christ. Christ is in me. But I am also still in this body of mine. What he is saying to us is this. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” His answer to that is very simple. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ my Lord.”
25 So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
In my mind, in my body, I can be a slave to God’s law but it does not do me any good because of the sinful nature. In my flesh, I am a slave to the law of sin. I can think I am under the law, but my body does not respond to it. He is talking to the solution. The solution to this is being dead to the law. Romans 6 answers that.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin
Reckon yourselves dead to sin. Does it say dead to sinning? No. What does that mean to me? It does not have to master me anymore. Why? It tells us that in verse 14.
but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
What does that mean? When you are under the law, sin is your master. You have no relationship at all with grace. Until you died, my friends, to the law that kills, you will never come alive to the grace that gives life. There is the difference. You cannot be alive under the law. You do not come to life under the law. The law came to kill. Jesus came to give life. We have to reckon yourselves dead to the law that brings about death. Reckon yourself dead to sin, dead to sin and the law of sin and death.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
You have been freed from the law of sin and death by the law of life in Christ Jesus.
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