Friday, February 10, 2017

True Christianity: The Life Of Christ In YOU

by Andrew Nelson
copied with permission from
March 4, 2014

Christianity is not about rules and regulations. It’s not about good moral teaching. It’s not about doing our best in life so that we get on God’s good side. It is not ultimately even about us at all.  Jesus did not come here to make bad people good. He did not come simply to be a good moral teacher. He did not come to show us how to get on God’s good side by our own strength. He came to give us the greatest gift of all: Himself. Jesus, who is life itself, came to give us His life. Eternal life.
So often we throw around Christian jargon about how people need to “give their lives to Christ” so that they can be saved. We have all heard preachers call people forward to “surrender their lives to Christ.” But really, honestly, is this what saves people? Let’s think about it. How would me giving God my totally fragile, broken and sin-filled life bring about my forgiveness and promise my ultimate deliverance from death? Sorry, I don’t have that much magic to offer.
The reality is, nowhere in the New Testament will one find any letter or book urging people to “give their lives to Christ.” This mindset is simply absent from scripture. But what is encouraged is people believing and receiving His eternal life as a free gift. Such is the promise of Romans 6:23.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus is life. Whoever believes in Him has eternal life, His life. As John says in His letter “Whoever has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11-12). And such is the miracle of the gospel: the life of Christ becomes our life. We cannot be saved by simply giving our lives to Jesus and surrendering all to Him, whatever that really means. We can only be saved by trusting in His sacrifice for our sins, recognizing that He is completely and totally enough for our right standing with God, and that we cannot ever do anything to be right or stay right with Him. It must be a free gift from God. It must be grace.
So many teachers have made Christianity a game of surrender to God, where its adherents must constantly surrender any and all areas of life to God. While there is truth in letting God reign in us through His Spirit after salvation, following Jesus is not about making a list of things to surrender. It’s about letting His eternal life have its way in and through us. The gospel is not just a set of facts to believe. It is a person; a living, breathing God who laid His earthly body down to save us, and who offers us union, intimacy, and a Life that has no end.
We often quote verses like Luke 14:27 that state that we must deny ourselves and carry our cross to be Jesus’ disciples. But the reality is Jesus’ message was to those who followed Him during His earthly ministry. This was not some eternal truth that we must daily wrestle with, denying our needs and desires and “surrendering” them to God. Jesus’ cross led to His death, burial, and resurrection. So where does our cross lead? The same place!
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Paul did not consider Himself to be carrying any cross. He considered His old self to be dead. If we carry our crosses correctly, they lead directly to our own Calvary where we are crucified with Jesus, our own private tomb where we are buried with Him, and our own front row seat to that glorious resurrection where we are raised with Him. It’s His life that saves us (Romans 5:10), and our lives that are totally and completely, irrevocably intertwined with His.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3
Our old life is gone and our new life is one with Christ’s life. We live because He lives. His life is our life. What a gift that simple faith brings! As we understand our salvation in a deeper way, it becomes less and less about “giving things up,” and more about being who we really are: brand new, God loving creations who have been given the Life of Christ.
Sound too simple? It was never meant to be complicated.
Sound too good? It must be the gospel.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5: 11-12
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