Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P9 (10-21-20)
If you are wondering if there is a God, just take a closer look at nature, such as the birth of a child or even an animal. So you can conclude there is a God, and that is a good start. But to know God exists is one thing, but to know He wants to have a relationship with you is quite another. God wants to communicate with you, for you to know Him, to know He loves you, that He is kind and gentle, patient and merciful, and full of loving kindness. That is exactly why God sent His Son Jesus, to dwell among us, to make God known to us. He came to show us what it means to be truly human, as God intended man to function, when He breathed into Adam the breath of life, the very Spirit of God living inside him.
So Jesus as God chose not to use His rights as God but became totally dependent on His Father, so we who are not God, would know how to truly live. So in doing this, man can know his condition of spiritual death and desire to have this new spiritual life he observes that is in Jesus. Jesus came to offer His life, the very life of God, to mankind, to live in Him forever. For what was once in Adam, the Spirit of God living in him, was lost due to sin, so God sent Jesus to restore that relationship back to mankind. For when Adam sinned, all of mankind was born in sin and ultimate death, not just physical death but spiritual death. God came to offer new spiritual life to mankind, and that is what salvation is.
God came to make man complete in Christ. When you are complete, there is nothing to be improved upon. You cannot improve upon Christ’s work within you. He said He has given you everything you need for life and godliness. There is nothing more you need. You cannot make yourself more holy than who is already in you. He who called you has made you holy. Your actions might certainly be sinful, but you are not a sinner saved by grace. You are a saint who is to live under grace, who needs your mind renewed. You were made into a new creation, a child of God, transferred from the law of sin and death into the law of liberty in Christ Jesus, liberty to live in the new way of the Spirit that God has called you to live.
As a child of God, your actions proceed from living in dependency upon the Spirit who lives in you. There is a dynamic relationship by which you say, “Thank you, Jesus.” You overflow in thankfulness because you are the recipient of all that is in Jesus. You access what you already have.
What do you have? First of all, you are a forgiven person. You cannot get any more forgiven than you already are. God has said He will remember your sins no more on account of Christ, what He did when He shed His blood on a cross. Second, you will not be any more holy, separate from the world, than having the mind of Christ in you. When Jesus rose from the dead, He promised the Holy Spirit to be sealed in you forever. He told you and me, who are in Christ Jesus, that no one can snatch you out of His hand.
When you have Christ, you have His righteousness imputed to you as a gift when you placed your faith in Him alone, by what He accomplished for you through His death, burial and resurrection. God is the initiator and we are the responder to His love, mercy, kindness and grace. You cannot get any more complete than that. There is nothing else to seek. You cannot seek more than what you already have, which is the eternal Spirit of God living in you. You cannot get more forgiven than what you already have. That is why it is not walking in faith to ask God to forgive you when you sin. You can certainly ask Him, and should, and would want Him to, to renew your mind with truth, so you may walk in the new life He has given you. That is why scripture says the righteous shall live by faith. We never had any righteousness of our own. That is why we needed His.
As a matter of summary, we were discussing Christ’s claims about Himself. This is a vitally important subject because if Jesus is who He claims to be, God, then it is important to hear what God has to say about Himself.
I was talking to a lady the other evening who is involved in more of a religion around Hinduism, at least the roots are there in Hinduism. As you look at God as the eternal being, it is almost like a thing up there. But you realize that God has a name. It is not just a thing up there. It is a name. How can you have a relationship with an it, a thing or a force? There is no way to have a personal relationship with a force. There is no way to know its name, who it is or what it is. It is just a thing up there.
It is like the illustration that I gave to that lady. It is as if, in some religions, they believe that God is so awesome that you cannot even give it a name. It is like a child who was told his father is so awesome that you do not even give him a name. So you sit at the breakfast table and look at this sitting over there, and certainly be aware of the fact there was an it in the house but I cannot talk to him. He is too awesome to talk to. There is no relationship at all. It is just some acknowledgement that someone is there. That is a little less than satisfying to the human heart to realize someone is just there.
Nature itself shows you that there is a God. All you have to do is watch the birth of a child or the birth of an animal. To deny there is a God is ludicrous. I can look at a tree. A child can look at a tree. You can ask him, “Who made that?” The child will say “God”. “Who made the table?” A child will say “daddy” or “some man did”. A child can identify what is of God and what is of man. That is a wonderful privilege to acknowledge there is a God.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
So it is vitally important, first and foremost, that this place did not get here by accident and, yes, there is a God. Yet people will call this a thing or an it or a force, or whatever it might be. That is at least a first step for such a person. But it is less than satisfying to the human heart. But just to acknowledge that He is does not tell you anything about Him. Just because a tree is beautiful, the ocean is beautiful or the sky is beautiful, it still does not tell me whether God loves me or not. Neuman Marcus makes beautiful clothes but I do not know if he loves you or not.
So we have to come to grips with those things. So even though God is certainly revealed in nature, His character is not revealed in nature. I do not know. Does He love me? Is He loving? Is He kind? Is he forgiving? If he is God and knows all things, he certainly knows what is going on in my heart. Knowing that, I need to know whether he is forgiving or not, loving or not, or merciful or not.
All of us know in the depths of our heart, regardless of how we con ourselves or set ourselves aside to be holy, we all know we have fallen short of the glory of God. If any man is honest with himself, he will come to grips with that. What I want to know is if God is merciful.
The questions the natural man asks, “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from?” or “Where am I going?”, those things cannot be answered by looking at a tree. It has to be answered by revelation by the one who made that tree. That is why it is so vitally important to come to grips with the way God revealed Himself to man, in His love and mercy and kindness, how He chose to restore His creation back to true humanity, doing so by His own being. Therefore, sending God the Son to this earth to walk on this earth, taking upon Himself and clothing Himself with our humanity and walking on this earth as a human being in total dependency upon the Father in order to show me how to walk on this earth as a man in total dependency on the Holy Spirit of God, who lives in me today, Christ Jesus in your heart, your hope of glory, but as God intended as man to be. He also showed me what man was like but in so doing, He showed me what God was like. In so doing, not only did Jesus Christ come to this earth to show me what man is like, as God made a man to be, not as the pitiful representation we have become, but as God intended a man to be. He also showed me what man was like but also in so doing showed me what God was like.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
Jesus Christ was a total reflection of God Himself and at the same time being a total reflection of what God intended man to be. So a dual revelation took place. A revelation from God as to what man was like, a man as God intended man to be, and therefore a revelation of what God was like, so man could know what God is like and therefore also know what he is to be like. So from God’s vantage point, God intended His creation, from day one, to be able to walk in dependency upon His creator. That was ultimately the plan of man, God in His creation, therefore, manifesting God to His creation. It is a marvelous plan when you see it totally unfold in front of your eyes.
So Jesus came to this earth in order to show man those two things about Himself and about God, and of course, did so. So Christ claimed Himself to be God because if He was not God then what authority would He be teaching with. It is like the Jews said. He did not speak like other people who were just merely quoting the opinions of others. He spoke with authority.
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
That does not mean He had a strong voice. It meant He was the authority. He is the origin of this activity. It is like Jesus saying, “I am not quoting someone else. I am the origin of it.” The authority Jesus spoke with was not the authority of the way He spoke but the fact of who was doing the speaking. “I am here representing God Himself because I am indeed God Myself.”
That is what we have been studying in regard to the deity of Christ. It is an exciting thing when you realize Christ’s claims about Himself. Again, to reamplify the fact the people He was talking to were not misunderstanding what He was saying at all. They understood Him to be saying He was God and picking up stones, not for the miracles He was doing, but because He, a mere man, was proclaiming Himself to be God. He made it loud and clear what He was saying to reveal His person.
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 We are not stoning yo for any good work,”, they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
In other words, thankfulness is not just something you say to be overflowing. I will say thank, thank you and then will be overflowing. Thankfulness is a result of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. Thankfulness is a result of a knowledge that Christ Jesus is alive, living in me, of a knowledge that He will never leave me nor forsake me, of a knowledge that He is going to complete the work He began in me, of a knowledge that even if the whole world might be against you, God is for you and if God is for you, who can be against you, of a knowledge that greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world, of a knowledge that I am totally loved. How much more of a demonstration than God could have demonstrated that He came and laid down His life for me, so raised from the dead, He could give His life to me, so that living in me, He can do what I cannot and that is live His life through me. I do not know how much more of a demonstration of God’s love that one would need than that.
So all these things through Christ Jesus we learn about the totality of the character of God Himself. So thankfulness is an overflow of that truth. So many times, we see people with a zeal for God but not in accordance with knowledge. Therefore that zeal for God is giving people formulas. All you say thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, and that will do something inside you. But the fact of the matter is what is going on inside of you enables you to say thank you Jesus. Not with words but with your heart. It is an overflow of the human heart that has come to grips as Christ as life.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
In many instances there are people, who today, are functioning by Christian tradition. The basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. As a child of God, we neither live by the law nor do we live by principles. You live by a life. If His life was not given to us, to tell somebody we do not live by law or by principles, “Oh my goodness, you are just out there on your own” that would be true if it were not for the fact Christ is alive living in us, which is our hope of glory. Until that event does occur in our lives, where Christ becomes real to us and we truly have accepted Him into our hearts and come to realize Christ is our life. As Paul said.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Until that occurs, you have to live by law, and principle and by formulas. But we have to realize formulas are for babies, not for grown ups. God came to make adults out of us, not to keep us feeding on the milk like a baby, on formulas, principles, or laws. No, He said, “I came to give you life. I came that you might have my life living in you. If you have My life living in you, then you do not have to depend on yours any more for yours is not worthy of dependency anyway. But you have the unbelievable privilege of walking in dependency upon Me for your life and, therefore, being a reflection of God who lives in you.” That is the life that Christ lived.
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
<sup21< sup=””>Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
So we are told, therefore, all the fullness of God was living in Jesus, in bodily form.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
24 “God is Spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
God came and took upon himself our earth suit to dwell on this earth in bodily form so we might be able to know, not only what God is like, but to know what man is to be like.
10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
You have been given, not will be, but have been given fullness in Christ, or completeness. That means God has made you complete. You have been given completeness in Christ. It is like walking to an apple and saying, “Apple, you have been given the completeness of life of the vine. Obviously, the branch you came out of has been abiding in the life of the vine and there is a by-product of that, and the branch reflects in you the very life and nature of the vine in which a branch is abiding in.”
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Now folks, it is an interesting thing because the kingdom of God is what Jesus is talking about. We are living in the era today, the king is in exile and his body is here on this earth. That is the mystery. It is like a plant. The dynamic of a plant is underground, where you cannot see it. It is in the root system. Those roots are not growing above ground. If the roots are above ground, you are not going to get much fruit out of it. It is down under the ground, invisible, where nobody sees what is going on. The only way you know when something is going on is when it is beginning to bear fruit. When you see fruit being born then you realize that is what took place under the ground, where nobody can see. It is operable and in effect, otherwise you would not see fruit born. But it is underground.
That is the work of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is living in me. I cannot see that, but He is living in you. You cannot see that. It is kind of underground. People cannot see the kingdom of God. It is invisible. It is being reflected by the fruit of the kingdom of God. The dynamic of the kingdom of God should be reflected in us, who are abiding in that vine. In other words, the life of that vine is in the root system.
And we do not understand why it works that way, but it works that way. It is invisible and yet the result of it is visible. And so, if Christ was all the fullness in bodily form, receiving all of his resources from God the Father, then it says you and I have been given that completeness and fullness in Christ. We have become attached to the vine with an unbelievable privilege of abiding in the vine, who derives all of its life from God Himself. Therefore, we become the recipients of that life and there is a by-product of that. There is an overflow of not only thanksgiving, but there is an overflow of what is called fruit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, <sup23< sup=””> gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
That is a result of the life of the vine. We have nothing to do with that except be bearing that fruit, an unbelievable privilege we have of walking on this earth and allowing the living God, who lives in us, to live his life through us and for us, to be a reflection of that love to people. Of love, of peace and patience, kindness, goodness, and of long suffering, against these things there is no law.
You see man says, “if I abide in the vine, I will not be doing this and this and this.” The concentration of religion is on what you will not be doing and there is no concentration at all on what you will be doing, if abiding on the vine. Of course that is a deception, plugged into the wrong vine. The emphasis on the New Testament is not if you are abiding in Me, what you won’t be doing, but the emphasis is, if truly abiding in Me, this is what you will be doing. Of course, if you are doing something, you are probably not going to be doing something else.
So I say when you are truly abiding in the true vine, which is Jesus Christ, not a vine of religion, or of tradition or not being, as Major Thomas said neither an ape or a parrot learning who to act as you are supposed to act, putting on clothes you are supposed to be putting on, going through all the motions and singing all the songs, singing “Amazing Grace” with fervor or a parrot over here learning how to parrot some verbiage, which has no reality to you, but you learned how to parrot so they think you too are spiritual. But what the result is, the by-product of abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ, is that love will be produced in you and you will be bearing it. That love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
This fruit is patience and kindness to other people. Kindness would never do something to harm another human being intentionally. Kindness is very opposite of that type of behavior. It is long suffering. It hangs in there with people. It keeps no records of your wrongs. In other words, someone having on their little computer everybody’;s wrongs. That is in total contrast to what love is. There is no way to be abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ and keeping records of somebody’;s wrongs. No way to do that. You are abiding in another vine. It is not the true vine. It is another one you are plugged into, someone else’;s. It is not Jesus, but someone else.
So when talking about trusting the best, hoping the best, all those qualities talked about in 1 Corinthians 13, which is love, that is what will be being produced. Finding out what kind of fruit is hanging out of us, is not determined by what you are not doing but is determined by what you will be doing. You will be bearing fruit of God Himself. If not bearing fruit of God Himself, of love, joy, peace, and you cannot have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding until you have the peace with God and you cannot have peace with God until you are abiding in the vine, resting in Him. You cannot do that by self effort. Your mindset is not, “I am going to be a Christian and go out desperately to get everybody to love me.” For now your concentration is on me and what people think about me. You do not have time to be thinking about what they are thinking about, Jesus, when they are thinking about me.
All these are attitude adjustments that God has to work in our hearts if we are ever going to be what God wants us to be and that is a reflection of the divine nature that is living in us. You and I have been given completeness in Christ, who is God over every power and authority.
When we are talking about the fact of abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ, all of that process begins at a point in time in history, in your history, when you came to understand your total inability to ever achieve salvation in and of yourself and to accept the offer of God through His Son Jesus Christ for that salvation. And this is what the conflict with religion has been for thousands of years and ever since the coming of the Messiah where he came to present Himself to His own people.
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
In other words, we will come in and fellowship together, to be friends. And, of course, His part was there of knocking and our responsibility then is to merely open the door and ask Him in. That is not a work. That is just a natural response to understanding that Jesus wants to enter our hearts. So that becomes our responsibility, that is by faith and faith alone. Responsibility is really nothing more than my response to His ability. That is what response-ability is. So He has the ability and I have the response. I can either respond by saying, “I do not need you. I do not want you.” or I can respond by saying, “Thank you Lord Jesus. I want you to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.”
You will see a contrast to a response to His ability.
30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Paul goes ahead to say since his people of Israel did not know the righteousness that comes from God, they sought to establish their own.
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Christ in His righteousness offered man an offer of right standing with God, not based on what they are doing, but based on what He did. That goes quite contrary to the religious mind, who is still bent upon establishing a righteousness of their own, not realizing the righteousness that comes from God and seeking their own righteousness. That is, of course, what religion does.
The religious person says, “This is how you are righteous in the sight of God. If you do not cut your hair, wear clothes a certain way, attend church three times a day, go to prayer meetings on Sunday”, and whatever else it might be. Nothing wrong with those things but if you think that is creating righteousness, you missed the whole point of Jesus Christ. You have stumbled over the stumbling stone and worshipped at the feet of tradition and religion rather than being able to be dwelt by the living Christ.
There would be many people who would identify with John Wesley, who was a missionary for fifteen years yet never sure of his relationship with Jesus Christ and went over here to America, who testified he would save the Indian in hopes of saving his own soul. In other words, if I do enough good works and good deeds to save the Indian, then maybe God would reach down and save me as a result of how good I have been. John Wesley became so disillusioned, for that is exactly what religion will do to you. It will dilusion you.
When you are out working for acceptance from man or from God, you will end up being one frustrated human being because if indeed I am working to try to be accepted by you, then I am going to have to set some standards as to what that acceptance would be like. I will have to have some rules and regulations out there if you act like this. “If you pat me on the head for this, then I will know you have accepted me. That is how I will know you have accepted me. If you do this and this and this, then I know you will accept me. God knows I want you to accept me.”
You just put yourself in bondage and also put me in bondage because if I have any clues as to what those laws are, which I don’;t, then I will be in bondage to try to perform for you, to keep you from having a nervous breakdown. It is an absolute bondage that we put ourselves in when we are in bondage to try to earn acceptance, not only from God, folks, but from one another. Man is continually out there striving for acceptance from one another, not realizing the fact that in so doing, you just got yourself back under law and you are doomed to an absolutely frustrating existence and because you will have to make some determinations in your mind what that would amount to. In other words, what that person needs to do for me to know I am accepted.
We do the same thing with God. I want God to accept me. How would He accept me? Surely He would accept me if I was good. Surely He would accept me if I did this or that. So what do we do? We set out to do those things so that God will accept me.
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