But Christ Lives In Me.
But Christ Lives In Me.
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 12th August, 2018
Do you ever wish you could have started out in life with the understanding and wisdom that you have now – with all that knowledge and insight that you’ve accumulated over your lifetime? I guess that’s a question that’s mainly applicable to us oldies. But I sometimes think I could have saved myself a whole lot of frustration, heartache and pain if I understood what life was about a whole lot more at the beginning.
I wish I had really known Jesus more as I was starting out in life. I knew church! I knew there was a God in heaven! I knew the catechism! I knew the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. I never did learn when to stand, sit and kneel. I just followed the crowd.
If I wasn’t in church, you probably wouldn’t even know that I was a Christian. Was I even a Christian? I doubt it. I was pretty religious. I went to Sunday School, then went straight into teaching Sunday School…
No wonder I didn’t know when to kneel and stand… I was rarely in a service.
I had a sense of moral conviction about what was right and wrong. I prided myself in being a good person.
But everything changed when I met Jesus. Personally met Him. Felt Him come into the room. Became overwhelmed with His love for me. Felt myself being made clean and whole on the inside. Experienced forgiveness and acceptance like I’d never known it before.
Venese and I had very similar experiences only weeks apart. It was incredible. It changed our lives completely.
In a way, I can relate to what happened to Paul. Well, some of it anyway! He said:
Philippians 3:4-6 (NKJV), “…If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
I could easily have said – going to Sunday School and church? Religiously. Being a good boy? Self righteously. Serving in God’s House? Proudly.
But then comes the Damascus Road experience. A wallop over the head by the Holy Spirit – and a personal and intimate meeting with Jesus.
Paul goes on to say:
Philippians 3:7-11 (NKJV), “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
It’s amazing how when you find Jesus, everything else in life pales in comparison. In fact, like Paul said, it all becomes loss. It all become rubbish. When you come to know Jesus, you soon realise that you have nothing of your own merit and goodness to even bring to the table.
Self righteousness stinks. Religious pride is nauseating. It all counts for nothing.
It’s interesting how God often confirms His Word to me as an encouragement.
Clint shared with me a few thoughts that a friend of his had written following a recent conference he went to. Basically, the guy who was preaching at this conference said he wanted to talk about nothing.
It didn’t help much when he then said: Nothing really matters.
He went on to say that in the beginning there was God and there was nothing.
Of course God includes the Father, the Son (who is also known as the Word). And the Holy Spirit. Three in One. They were there together in the beginning. But apart from that, there was nothing.
John 1:1-4 (NKJV), “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
So Jesus went on to speak into life and into creation, speaking into being everything that is part of this Universe that we live in. Do you know they are still discovering whole new galaxies in outer space? All of that came out of nothing. This earth we live on came from nothing. Your body came from nothing.
At least that’s probably one thing that we could agree on with the evolutionists! Everything we see came from nothing. But that’s where the similarities stop! It’s the Big Bang verses Jesus!
One thing we will never agree on with the evolutionists is that our life came purely from the breath of God into our lungs. Absolutely incredible and mind blowing. And it’s His breath upon us even now that fills us and revives us day by day… moment by moment.
And it’s the breath of God that is going to breathe upon His Church in these last days and we are going to see and experience creative miracles… things that never existed are going to be created supernaturally.
So Jesus loves doing stuff with nothing, and creating new life and hope out of nothing.
There’s the story of Elisha and the widow. The creditors were coming to take her sons because she had no money to pay her debts. Elisha asked her what she had in the house and she said nothing. All she had was a little bit of oil in a jar. You could say, well, she did actually have something. But to her, it was equivalent to nothing at all. She saw no real value in the little that she had.
But God moved in her situation and soon she had filled all her jars with oil and all her empty vessels plus all she could grab from her neighbours. God’s supernatural provision was flowing in abundance.
And that’s what happens when God gets involved in your situation. And as we enter these last days, it will be as Joel prophesied:
Joel 2:24 (NKJV), “The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.”
He is speaking of God’s provision and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is the new wine and oil flowing through His people.
There was the time Jesus came to Simon in his fishing boat. He said to Simon, cast out your nets. But Simon said, we’ve been out fishing all night and caught nothing. Nevertheless Simon did as Jesus asked, and they hauled in a multitude of fish. One minute there was nothing. Jesus comes along and all of a sudden there’s an abundance. So much so that it required not just one boat, but two boats to carry it all to shore.
When Jesus sent out the disciples two by two, He said when you go, take nothing with you. No bread, no money, nothing. And they went preaching about the kingdom of God and healing people with the power of God.
The point is, when we come to Jesus and say, I can’t do it, I’m not qualified, I’m not talented, I’ve got no money, I can’t even speak properly, I have nothing to offer… He says – awesome… I can use all that nothing to My glory. Let’s just see what that nothing can do to spread the gospel message and bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.
Galatians 2:20 (NKJV), “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
It’s when we are willing to lay down our whole life – to die to ourselves – to say, in and of myself I have nothing good to bring… then God says, Great, I can do amazing things through someone who is willing to die to self, and then live for My sake.
Because only when we have laid down our own life can He raise it up again into newness of life – into resurrection life.
I believe our Heavenly Father still wants us to live out of our unique personality, with our unique sense of humour, our unique talents and abilities, our unique dreams and visions for life… All of those things He has placed there in the first place. He created us – He was looking over us even in our mother’s womb. He had a plan for our lives even before we were conceived.
But this sinful and broken world has tainted that God ordained identity we were meant to walk in. Nevertheless, the blueprint has always remained.
So the dying to self and living for Christ is all part of the redemptive journey we are on.
1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV), “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
It’s all about Jesus Christ.
John 15:5 (NKJV), “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Without Christ – we can do nothing! With Christ, we can do anything.
And here’s the thing… you can’t strive and work hard enough to live as a Christian. It’ll never happen. Being a Christian is not all about attempting and striving to live a good Christian life…
We can never perfectly fulfil the requirements of the Ten Commandments – especially when Jesus says if you even think about certain things… if you even say you hate your brother for example, and carry murderous thoughts in your heart, you might as well have committed murder. If you even entertain lustful thoughts toward someone, you might as well have committed adultery.
We just don’t have it within ourselves to walk with such purity of heart…
The only true way to live this Christian life is to allow the indwelling Christ to live in us and through us. And for that to happen, we have to die to self.
We talk about our faith in Jesus. But we have to remember it’s not about faith in how good our faith is… it’s about Who Jesus is.
We talk about our joy in the Lord. But it’s not about how joyful we are. It’s about Jesus.
The nineteenth century theologian and preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said this:
“Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is
not thy joy in Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ,
though that is the instrument – it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not
to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to
Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand
devils cannot throw thee down.”
I love that… ten thousand devils will never throw you down when you live out your life in Christ – when you know your true identity – when you lay down your old life and take up the new one that is Christ Himself.
Of course faith is vital. Of course we need to carry hope and joy and expectation in our heart.
But the source of it all is Jesus.
Spurgeon also said:
“If you leave out Christ, you have left the sun out of the day, and the moon out
of the night, you have left the waters out of the sea, and the floods out of the
river, you have left the harvest out of the year, the soul out of the body, you
have left joy out of heaven, you robbed all of it’s all. There is no gospel worth
thinking of, much less worth proclaiming, if Jesus be forgotten. We must have
Jesus as Alpha and Omega in all our ministries.”
In fact Spurgeon often made other similar comments, and said if Christ is not mentioned in a sermon, it should be the preacher’s last, and no one should ever attend that ministry. And he said that leaving out Christ is like taking milk from a baby.
The Christian life is nothing more and nothing less than Jesus Christ Himself.
Romans 7:18-19 (NKJV), “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” This is Paul, the great Apostle.
Romans 7:24-25 (NKJV), “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!…”
Our part is the dying… that’s our choice. That’s the bit that only we can do.
Watchman Nee said, “What is lacking most in lives of Christians today is not a
better way of living, but a better way of dying. We need to die a thorough
And death can be a really unpleasant and difficult process. It means dying to the need for other people’s accolades and approval; dying to self centredness, dying to offence, dying to unforgiveness, dying to judgements, dying to control… there’s a lot to let go of.
But when it comes to the bit about living in resurrection life – that’s God’s part… that’s the Holy Spirit’s part… He empowers us to live in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Remember the time Jesus went to Mary and Martha’s house, where Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the dead?
He said to Martha – “I am the resurrection and the life.”
So this is the power and authority and presence that we live out of as Christians. If Christ lives in and through us, then resurrection power and life lives in and through us. This is who we are as new creations in Christ.
And here’s just a couple of examples of what that looks like in real life:
When we pray – we are able to speak resurrection life into the very situation we a praying for. We can call those things which appear dead and hopeless and non existent – to life.
In our marriages – particularly for us men – the bible says that we can love our wives as Christ loved the church, and gave up His life for her. We can only do that effectively because of Christ living in us. Everyone who is married knows that there’s often a call to die to self… husbands and wives. It’s only when you are both giving 100% that a marriage flourishes.
Philippians 2:5-7 (NKJV), “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
This speaks of a life of humility and servanthood. You can only be truely humble and lower yourself to serve in the most humble of ways, when you know and are secure in who you are. When you know you carry Christ – when your mind is in Christ as the scripture says, you can be a humble servant in any role and know that is doesn’t take away one little bit from your true identity in Christ. In fact, it can only add to your true worth.
John 3:16-17 (NKJV), “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
And I think this is a great scripture to finish with as it reveals the unsurpassed generous heart of God and Christ.
God gave His Son. The Son gave His own life – for you and I.
The only reason we can experience resurrection life is because Jesus Christ gave His life for us.
This heart of sacrifice, generosity, unselfishness, grace, and more than anything, love… is what we also can demonstrate as ones who life in and for Christ.
It doesn’t mean we are called to give our literal physical life for others – but it does mean laying down our old life of self centredness, pride, and all those things we’ve already heard this morning… and living out of the resurrection that is within us.
In that place of allowing Christ to live through us, there’s nothing that we can’t do. Without Him, we can do nothing. With Him, there’s nothing we can’t do.