One can be a member of a church and not have much interest in Jesus. One can be an active church member and be the same. Many of us are content with a routine church life that permits a token badge of Christianity. But there is infinitely more available to those who have a passion for Jesus.
The latter passion is not usually gained without a lot of pain and loss. I’m reading a book called Touching Heaven. Dr Chauncey Crandall, a surgeon remarks that many in the west are satisfied with a Christianity that has little of Christ because they are absorbed in their life without Him. What suffices for many is an absorption in our life with a dob of Jesus added. Yet grace offers an opportunity to enjoy the extravagance of God for all. The Spirit of God works tirelessly so that all may enjoy the limitless life of God. I mean a life that is in you and with you and authorises you to perform miracles in His name. Don’t expect to have much impact on the world if all you can offer is the perpetuation of your local church or new ways of doing church.
I’ve heard testimonies of ‘How Jesus changed my life.’ But what they have is a church life rather than the life Jesus has and made provision to be multiplied through us. Jesus did not come to multiply church. He came to multiply Himself in you. ‘Heal the sick, raise the dead and cast our demons.’ This is His church and because of this authority it is His Kingdom.
‘Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father’ John 14.12 NIV.
Why are the works Jesus has been doing so needed today? Because as kind as we might be in works of charity they cannot illustrate the power of God. When the sick are healed and demons are cast out non-believers exclaim. ‘Your God is real!’
‘But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him’ 1 Cor 6.17 NIV. Just so you know, you don’t have to join yourself to the Lord. He has joined you already.
Grace is infinite. Nothing you can do can separate you from God. We have been made one. Separation is finished. We are graced to belong. Graced to grow. Graced to be sons and graced to flourish and impart life as ourselves because now we are in Father and He in us. Grace is more than a means of covering sins or an environment for self-improvement. Grace draws us into the presence of God and imbues us with His spirit and life. Grace means we belong. We belong in God in Father’s Heart. Live from here!
The overarching expression of grace is the vicarious humanity of Jesus - which means that He stands for all of us and is all of us. Jesus is even our relationship with Himself. Beat that! You can’t lose when He is your life!
Just as the life of the trinity is the life of each member, so your life is firstly the life of Jesus and primarily the life of God in you. Many have assumed that because Israel had a law, there is an eternal law, to which even God is subordinate. Books have been written in which it is claimed that Jesus lived to fulfil the law. But He did not. He lived entirely from His Father. In doing so He pleased Him and revealed Him. In any case the Ten Commandments were exclusively for the Jews and had an expiry date: The replacement of letters on stone with Jesus by the Spirit in our being.
None who live from the law will ever please God. Living from His Son is pleasing to God.
What we see in Jesus is the Son living from His Father. There is no law that is separate from God. God is Himself the logos and the entity in which all things hold together. In this sense the new covenant restores the ancient ways in which Adam and Eve were one with God. In Jesus all of us come to live in God. By the One Spirit we are one with God and one with creation. And just as importantly one with ourselves. When Christ is our life we and life are one. This is a dimension far above the acts of doing, Christianity and sin management. This is fullness of life. Life so overflowing with itself that it is infinite. Grace is not about sin management. It's about our marination in life. The religious Christian is limited by his ideas of sin management and performance in his grid of right and wrong. The sons of God flourish in God’s life.
‘And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal [infinite] life, and this life is in his Son’ 1 John 5.11 NIV.
As a youth the text 'Faith without works is dead' was often used as a reason to live a life of ‘worksy-law.’ Such legalism is pedantic and deceitful giving the illusion of righteousness where there is none. A pastor steeped in law came to pray for my hospitalised wife. I felt sorry for him because his utterances were pedantic and powerless. Quite unlike the flow of spirit and life that gushes from a Believer for whom Christ is life. Zeal and holy fervour may impress the religious but has no life. It is misguided and disjointed. The fact is, works are dead. They are without spirit and life which is the indwelling of Christ in you.
Here's the truth. Behaviours do not make us a better person. Either Christ is our life or we are not alive and can never produce the fruits of life.
Linked to the law we can have a measure of life due to grace. But this life comes in drops rather than rivers and is more a dead tree than a live oak. Where the Christ of God is there is life without limit. The big advance in real Godliness comes when we seek Jesus for Himself; when by the Spirit He becomes our life so that who we are and what we do is the expression of His life as ours. This is grace and this is the Spirit of Sonship. It's the difference between religion and life, between Adventism and a cunningly devised fable.