Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P63 (09-09-20)
So we allow Christ to live His life in us and through us by having our minds renewed with truth, of who God is, so that new attitudes of heart are formed in us, the attitudes of servitude, of humility and dependency that are in Christ Jesus, and modeled perfectly by Christ as He walked on this earth, in appearance as a man, being God, but functioning as a man for our sakes. We imitate His faith, not His actions. Actions are a result of attitudes, a result of dependency on Christ, being internally led by the Spirit of God who lives in us. When you have the Spirit of God living in you, then you can hear His voice like a sheep knows the voice of a shepherd. As a new creation in Christ, we have been given the privilege to participate in the divine nature.
Now, we were not born alive with the Spirit of God living in us. We were born spiritually dead. That is why man feels empty inside, because he is. He has a body and a soul and a human spirit, but his human spirit is dead to God and not able to discern the things of God. We are all born with the natural thinking of the world, with all it’s religions and philosophies, of ideas made up by man.
But all men have this in common. At some point you realize that you do things that are wrong and you know they are wrong. Even having to be taught that you need to share shows you that you are naturally selfish. But then one day you realize that there is more wrong than what you do, or even think, but deep inside you there is something wrong. This emptiness you feel inside you is because you do not have the Spirit of God living in you. So you realize that you not only are a sinner, for that is what sinners do, but that you are dead, dead spiritually. You come to realize that you are dead and in need of life. You are not yet sure what kind of life you need, but you need life that has to come, not from you, but from someone else. You cannot change you.
You then hear a message about what Christ Jesus has done for you. You realize that while you were yet a sinner, he died for you, that he took away all your sins. Sins are not your real problem though. Yes, sin is what caused your death, and so you are grateful for what Jesus did at the cross 2000 years ago. But you still do not know how to live and have no ability to live a new life that you desire to live. You do not have life in you.
So whether you are Catholic, or Protestant, Muslim or a Buddhist, you are just as dead. Maybe you were told to come forward to get your sins forgiven or that you need to repent of all your sins, but that is erroneous teaching. Repentance that God is speaking of is to change your mind of your condition, that you are dead and in need of life, and to realize God’s provision for you, through his death, burial and resurrection for you, that He alone did for you.
Jesus already took your sins away before you ever went to the altar or entered that church building. Jesus died once and for all, for the sins of the entire world when he shed his blood on a cross and he will not shed his blood again. Without sin taken away, the next time you should sin, you would die again. But that was dealt with eternally. Jesus died and took away the sins of the entire world from the eyes of God in order for life to be given. Because sins were eternally dealt with once and for all, and that over 2000 years ago, God, through Jesus Christ, can now do something for you.
You also need to know that because Christ not only died so that your sins were already forgiven before you were even born physically, but He has life to give to you. You allow Him to live inside you. He, who is eternal life, the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus, is to be placed in you. Not just any life, but eternal life.
Since Jesus rose from the dead, and since he lives forever, the same life that raised him from the dead is now offered to you. That life is eternal life. That life is the person of Christ Jesus, who has everything you need for life and godliness. For the life he lived was in a vital relationship with His Father, and that is the same life that can be lived in you. He conquered death and the grave and lived in the righteousness of God by faith as a pattern for you and me. Now that same life is to be lived in you as you allow Him to come to live inside you.
So now you have the gospel explained to you. You invite the life of Christ to come in you, and so you have become a new creation in Christ. You have been transformed like a caterpillar into a butterfly, a sinner into a saint, a person called out to live, not in the thinking of the world, but the thinking of Christ, who now lives in you. You were a sinner saved by grace, but now you are a saint who continues to live by grace, who is Christ in you, full of grace and truth. You are able to function now in the original creation of Adam before the fall, with the Spirit of God placed back in you.
You have been made complete in Christ. You can live in total dependency on your creator who loves you perfectly and has made provision already for everything for you to live, which is Christ in you. To live is Christ, and He produces the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, as you allow Him to, that you could never produce in the energy of your flesh.
When you are born again, you have been placed into the body of Christ. That is, all those who are born again the same way as you, have been made into the body of Christ, where Jesus Christ is the head. Each born believer is a member, a brother or sister, in this new body, the ekklesia, the living church. That is what the church is, not a building on the corner of walk and don’t walk. It is not a place you have to join membership to. You have already been joined by the work of Christ, in whom you put your trust in.
You do not follow a man, or man-made doctrines or religions or philosophies, but Christ Jesus, who is your head, and has given you His word, the scriptures so you may know Him better. A mature believer might be further along in understanding and you assemble together in a local place in your city. You do so for each other’s mutual encouragement and growth. Yet each of you respond to the head, who is Christ, and each of you with a unique function, just like a hand, a nose or a foot, but all of you, the born again, are part of the church, all over the world, who have been born again the same way you have.
Turn to Philippians 2:5-8 as we continue on this topic of attitudes of love.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
You see three basic attitudes that are characteristic of the Lord Jesus Christ. First of all is the attitude of servitude, then an attitude of humility and then an attitude of dependency, that we would, therefore, call obedience. We are told in Philippians that your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. Many times, we are talking about trying to act like Christ Jesus but it does not tell us to act like Christ Jesus. It says our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. In other words, to mold our attitude to fit the attitude of Christ Jesus, who the Spirit lives inside of us. That is the purpose of the work of the Holy Spirit in us, is to form our attitude in conformity to His. So that we are participating, as it says, in that divine nature and thinking as He thinks.
2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 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.
When you think as He thinks, then you will do as the Lord instructs you to do. Not as He did, but as the Lord instructs you to do. So many times, people are walking around with WWJD bracelets (What Would Jesus Do), and I appreciate the thought of that, but that is a very, very frustrating thing to hang on your arm, because it is not what would Jesus do, because God did not tell Jesus to do the same things as He tells you and me to do. If you saw someone in the grave, then raised him from the dead. That is what Jesus did, so is that what we should do? I appreciate the thought, but it should be clarified. It is not to do what Jesus did, but what was Jesus attitude toward that guy.
The attitude of Christ Jesus is what brings about the action of Christ Jesus. There again, as we discussed before, Christ, as he walked on this earth, walked in total dependency on the Father, even though God is always the dynamic of his own actions and the cause of his own effect, speaking things into existence as if they were. That is God’s prerogative, not ours.
Even though he is God, and took upon himself our humanity, being in very nature God, and did not consider equality with God something to be held onto. Jesus, in essence, said, “I am not going to hold onto that. I am going to take upon myself their humanity and find myself in the very likeness and nature of man, and being in appearance as a man, I am going to humble myself and walk in dependency on my Father.” Jesus, being God, he could have been the dynamic of his own action and the cause of his own effect. That is God, the way God behaves. But he said, “I am going to lay that aside. I am not going to hang onto that, because if I do that, I am not going to teach man anything. I am here to teach man what man is to be like from God’s perspective, just as I created Adam, indwelt in Him, to walk in dependency upon me, God. I am going to show you how to do that. So, Jesus walked in total dependency upon his Father. So the attitudes of Christ is the attitude of servitude, the attitude of humility and the attitude of total dependency.
We talked last week on attitudes as it relates from receiving from God, that we are no longer to be conformed to this world and to the pattern of this world, to the thinking of this world, to the concepts of this world, but to see ourselves in the world but not of the world. If I am going to be in the world, I am going to see there are patterns, concepts and philosophies of this world. I cannot escape from being in it, but I am not going to be of it. Being of it means I am not going to think like the world thinks. That truth, truth by itself, is going to separate me from the world. That shows us the condition of the world, full of error.
What separates you and me from the world? We talked about being sanctified. Being sanctified is not the way we act. It is not having a bun on our head and not how we wear our clothes. What separates you from the world is your thinking. It is how we think. Our thinking is what separates us from the world. If your thinking is not separate from the world, then you are in the world and of the world. When you have heard the voice of God, you have heard the voice of God. When you hear that voice, then you have heard truth. It is truth. Truth is living in you and you will know the truth. You will hear His voice.
We celebrate, as an example, the resurrection of Christ. You see where the lamb of God took away the sins of the world. There is that picture of lambs and sheep and a shepherd. Let me retell a story that was told me about a shepherd and his sheep.
During one of the wars over in Israel, some of these Turkey soldiers came down, and there was a shepherd out there who was asleep and they stole the sheep and they escaped with those sheep. The shepherd woke up and when he woke up, clear across the valley, and now up into the mountains were the soldiers with his sheep. Well, there is no way I am going to get my sheep. They have guns and I just have a little pole in my hands, and the distance is so much that I would never get caught up with them. So what did he do? He has a certain gutteral sound that is only recognized by the sheep, So he stood on the cliff and made that sound. All of a sudden the sheep stopped. He made that sound again. Then they all turned around and scampered back to where he was, leaving the soldiers dumb-founded as to what happened to those sheep.
Why did they come back? They heard his voice. You can be a rebellious sheep, a misled sheep. You can think these guys are nice guys, but what separates you from all other sheep is not what you are doing, but do you hear the shepherd’s voice? Do you recognize His voice? Or, do we hear His voice and say, “I do not believe it. I think the psychiatrist has more sense than what God does.” Or I believe this false doctrine is contrary to what God is saying, and this sounds better to me. “I would rather feel good than to know something.” That can go on and on. But if you are of His flock, you hear his voice. If you do not hear his voice, it means you are of another flock.
The scripture talks about there being other flocks and another shepherd. All of them looking good and with a twinge of truth to them. But the way you know if you are in His flock is, “Do you hear His voice and recognize His voice?” That is being conformed to, by the renewing of your mind, by the word of God, rather than being patterned by the world and its philosophies.
Having talked about our attitude toward the word of God in comparison to the patterns and philosophies of this world, last week we also turned our minds towards the body of Christ, toward one another. We talked about the fact, again of attitudes toward members of our body of Christ.
So many times, we run into these situations where people think that being a Catholic is synonymous with being a Christian. Or being a Protestant is being synonymous with being a Christian. Nothing can be farther from the truth. We talked about how certain churches will come in and have their rules and regulations. For example, “if you are not baptized into my church then you are really not saved.” That is heretical teaching. The same thing, that “if you are not a member of this church over here then you are not saved. Maybe there is a way you can be saved apart from it, but if you really want to be saved, you need to be here to be sure.” “If you are going to get married, then you have to get the person you are going to marry to be married in our church.” “And you have to raise your children in our church.” That is really all that is, a program of either Catholic or Protestant is totally irrelevant. It is totally erroneous. That is not the church. The church of Jesus Christ is born again believers. You are not born again by being a Catholic or a Protestant. You are born again by being a child of God. You are not born again by being a Jew or a Gentile. You are born again by being a child of God.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
You do not receive God through a wafer. You receive God through faith in Jesus Christ. You do not receive God by getting sprinkled or by being immersed. You receive Christ by faith. What faith is is pointed upwards. Obedience is pointed outwards. Faith is pointed upwards. What faith is is in what He has done, not what I am doing or in the amount of faith of what I can get God to do. Faith is in what He has already accomplished for me. I put my faith in that, my dependency in that.
When my faith and dependency is based in Christ Jesus, in what He accomplished for us in His death, burial and resurrection, I am born again. I am not born again by being a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew or a Gentile. I am born again by being a child of the living God, who by faith has trusted not only in what God says about himself, but equally important, in what he says about me. He said I am a sinner, that I had sins that had to be forgiven in order to go into the presence of the living God. We all know that. What we do not know is what He said about our condition, that we are dead. You are born a dead person. I do not care where you parked your body on Sunday, whether you are a dead Catholic, a dead Protestant, a dead Muslim or a dead Buddhist. It makes no difference in the world. Dead is dead. It does not matter where that graveyard is located or the name of it. It does not matter if it is a Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Buddhist graveyard. It makes no difference. That is where dead people live. When you recognize the truth of your condition, dead as a hammer, then you hear the provision of God saying, “I came that you might have life. Unless I have got brain damage, I can figure that out if I am dead and I have an offer of life, why would I want to remain dead? I am not talking about becoming religious. I am talking about becoming alive. I am not talking about changing how I stinketh. I am talking about changing my death. It does not make any difference whether you stinketh a lot or stinketh a little. You are dead.
Your sins are not the issue, but that you are dead and in need of life. Sins had to be taken away for the whole world in order to give life to the dead. No one is made alive by joining a church or belonging to a church or belonging to a religion or the giving into certain doctrines and to certain types of rules and regulations. Life comes from outside of the dead person. Death cannot generate life. Religion cannot generate life. Only life can bring life to the dead.
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 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.”
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