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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christ Our Sanctification # 2

Life On The Highest Plane

The Believer a Saint by Position

So the Word of God answers the above questions by showing us that sanctification is primarily a change in position and secondarily but of necessity a change in condition.

God tells us very plainly when, where and how the children of Israel were sanctified.

Numbers 8:17, "For all the first-born of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast; on the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself."

Lev. 11:45, "For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."

By the blood of the Paschal lamb they were redeemed in Egypt and set apart as a people for God's own possession. By the cross of the Red Sea they were redeemed from Egypt and separated from other people for the Lord's use. Even during the wilderness wanderings in which there was much of murmuring and rebellion they were, as far as their position before God was concerned, a sanctified people.

Just so the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ marks the place of the believer's sanctification; the blood of the Lamb of God is the means; and the moment in which the sinner puts his faith in that atoning blood for salvation marks the time.

Hebrews 10:10, "by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

Hebrews 13:12, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered with the gate."

Acts 26:18, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

God never acts apart from Christ. Everything that God does whether in creation or salvation He does through His Son. And everything that God does in Christ for man's salvation He begins at the Cross. So our sanctification begins there. At the Cross the sinner becomes a saint. Every believer has been set apart for God's own possession and use by the sacrifice of His Son. The believer is a saint by position. As in justification the guilty sinner is accounted righteous through the blood of the Cross so in sanctification the defiled sinner is accounted holy. By the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ he "hath been perfected once for all." In this objective aspect sanctification is absolute and complete. Christ Himself and Christ alone is our sanctification.

Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."

1 Corinthians 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."

Thus we see that sanctification in this aspect is not "a second work of grace" at some time subsequent to conversion; nor a result of any act of consecration or faith on the part of the believer; but that it takes place through God's first and initial work of grace - the death of His Son - and is simultaneous with justification and regeneration. "The primary and fundamental idea of sanctification is neither as achievement nor a process, but a gift, a divine bestowal of of a position in Christ."

In this positional aspect of sanctification all believers share equally: the youngest, weakest, and most immature is as truly and as much sanctified as the oldest, strongest and most spiritual Christian.

This fact we see in the spiritual history of the Corinthian Christians as given in Paul's  epistles. These letters were written to rebuke and correct gross sins, outstanding evils, even fearful immoralities in the Corinthian church yet the Apostle writes to them as those that have been sanctified, those who are "holy in Christ." While he tells them that he cannot write unto them as unto spiritual but rather as unto carnal Christians yet he calls them saints. Even though they are still in the wilderness as regards spiritual experience yet he considers them a people separated unto God for His possession and use. it is because they have been so set apart and given such an exalted position that he reproves them for their unholy condition.

1 Corinthians 1:2, " Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours."

Their position as sanctified ones is the basis of his appeal for a corresponding condition of life. He reminds them that "fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, drunkards, and revilers, shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), and then frankly says, "and such were some of you" in the old sphere when you were wholly separated unto sin and wholly separated from God. But it is all different now for "you are sanctified" and are thereby set apart unto God. Therefore your condition should correspond with your position. You were once in the devil's possession and use but now you are set apart unto God for His possession and use. You are saints; therefore live like saints.

1 Corinthians 6:11, "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

Are you a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Then you are a saint. Have you put your trust for salvation in Christ's shed blood? Then you are sanctified and set apart as one belonging wholly and only unto God. Are you "a new creation in Christ Jesus"? Then you are also "a saint in Christ."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 3 - "The Believer a Saint by Condition")

What's In Your Heart?

So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, and he was still there; and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said to them, "What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?" Then Judah said, "What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord's slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found." But he said, "Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father." - Genesis 44:14-17

What kind of response do you think Joseph was looking for? He placed his cup into the pouch of his brother, Benjamin (the only brother that had the same mother). Did Joseph want to reveal his identity to Benjamin alone or was he testing the hearts of the brothers to see if they had changed after all of these years? Both Joseph and Benjamin were their father’s favorite children because they were born by the mother Jacob loved most. Favoritism does bring about jealousy, resentment and bitterness but the brothers were still responsible for their own behavior before God. After all these years, Joseph probably wondered what his other brothers thought of their actions in selling him. Did they regret it? Would they do it again? Were they treating Benjamin the same way?

Now, that God had given Joseph the upper hand, Joseph patiently and wisely tested his brothers to discern what was in their hearts. Judah said, “God has found out the iniquity of your servants.” In other words, he was acknowledging that the brothers deserve to be treated as slaves for the sin they had been hiding all these years in selling Joseph as a slave.

Because God exists and He is just, what goes around, comes around. We truly do reap what we sow and these boys knew it firsthand. God is willing to forgive and we find Joseph acting like the God he trusts in.

I pray that we all may have the heart of both types of men:
Joseph – being willing to forgive

The brothers – being willing to openly and honestly confess and repent for wrongdoing against God and others.

God tests our hearts because He wants us to know what is in them. He already knows and He is so gracious to forgive as soon as we are willing to confess.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Christ Our Sanctification

Life On the Highest Plane

A People for His Possession and Use

The Christian is a new creation, in a new sphere with a new sovereign, living a new life, all of which speaks of differentiation and distinctiveness. The Christian is a marked man or woman. There is a distinct line of cleavage between the man "in the flesh" and the man "in the Spirit." There is a definite boundary between "the world" and "the heavenlies" and the man who through redemption has stepped over that border line is thereby a sanctified man. Christ, the Saviour, has become his Sanctification.

The necessity for sanctification will be clearly seen when we remember that man was created for God's possession and use but through sin he fell into the possession and use of satan. In sanctification God recovers His own and fits him for communion and cooperation with Himself.

Sanctification, as Scripture reveals, has a very vital relationship to the believer's calling, position and condition. This is typified in God's redemptive dealings with the children of Israel. Through His call to Abraham God chose and set apart a nation for Himself. With them He made a covenant by which they were to be separated from all other peoples upon the earth and were to become a holy people who would show forth the praise and glory of His name among the heathen nations. The children of Israel were set apart as God's peculiar possession, under His sovereign control and for His exclusive use.

Deut. 14:2, "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."

But the children of Israel were sold into the bondage of Egypt and became the subject - slaves of Pharaoh. That He might repossess His own God redeemed them and brought them out of Egypt and into Canaan. In position as well as by calling they became a separated people; God's own possession.

Lev. 20:24, 26, "But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey; I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people. And ye shall be holy unto me, for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine."

Numbers 3;13, "Because all the first-born are mine; for on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast; mine shall they be: I am the Lord."

Then God commanded them to live as a people who belonged wholly unto Him. The separateness which He had wrought through their changed position was to be manifested through a changed condition. As a people in covenant with a holy God they were to live a holy life in the midst of altogether unholy nations and were to be God's instrument in the conquest of the promised land.

Lev. 20:7-8, "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord which sanctify you."

The Believer a Saint By Calling

In the New Testament God says that believers are a chosen, called, and separated people. In Christ the believer was set apart as God's own peculiar possession even before the foundation of the world. Every believer is chosen in Christ to be holy; he is called to be a saint; he is set apart to show forth the beauty, glory and holiness of His God.

Ephesians 1:4, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."

Romans 1:6-7, "Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints; Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

Thus we see that every believer was chosen and called to be a saint and that  saint is one set apart as belonging to God and as separated unto Him for His use. Throughout Scripture this is invariably the meaning of the words "to sanctify" or "sanctification" whether used in connection with things or persons. That which is sanctified is something wholly set apart for God's possession and use and when God lays claim to anything and separates it unto His use it is by that act "sanctified." God's undivided proprietorship of the believer lies enfolded in the very heart of the truth of sanctification. In the eternity of the past God called us to be His own possession. He said, "Thou art mine."

The Believer a Saint by Position

When, where, and how is the believer sanctified? At what point of time, at what stage in spiritual experience, and through what means is the believer wholly separated unto God and set apart as the special possession of the Lord? There has been much confusion on these points that has led to bewilderment on the part of many and even delusion on the part of some.

But God's Word is crystal clear on this theme as on all others connected with salvation if we keep to the Scriptural meaning and method of the spiritual experiences God intends we should enjoy. Let us never forget that God is infinitely more concerned about our entrance into the fullness of our inheritance in Christ than we can possibly be. How hurt and harmed is the separate, holy Christ by the mixedness and unholiness in the lives  of Christians. Then surely He would take great care that this wondrous truth of sanctification should be made very plain.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 2)

A choice in the Matter

 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 9:17)

After hearing the voice of Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul (later to become Paul) was left blind. He was led to the home of a man named Judas in Damascus, and he had no idea what would happen next.

Enter an unsung hero named Ananias. God appeared to him in a vision and said, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight" (Acts 9:11–12).

But Ananias said, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem . . ." (verse 13).

I can understand the reticence on Ananias' part. The idea of Saul's becoming a Christian would not even be believable or plausible.

Yet God was unmoved by Ananias' protest. He said, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel" (verse 15).

So Ananias obeyed, and Saul received his sight. Everything happened just as God said it would.

Sometimes God will ask us to do something we may be reluctant to do. But we have a choice in the matter. We don't have to obey God. When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to them, he went—in the opposite direction. And eventually Jonah ended up doing what God wanted him to do.

So you can be a Jonah, or you can be an Ananias. You can say yes, or you can say no.

Man has his will, but God will always have His way.

~Greg Laurie~

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Perfect Oneness Effected

Life On the Highest Plane

Christ Our Life

The spiritual history of a believer could be written in two phrases, "Ye in me" and "I in you." In God's reckoning Christ and the believer have become one in such a way that Christ is both in the heavenlies and upon earth and the believer is both on earth and in the heavenlies. The Church without Christ is a body without a Head; Christ with the Church is a Head without a body. The fullness of the Head is for the body and the body is "the fullness of him that filleth all in all."

Colossians 2:9-10, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full who is the head of all principality and power."

Ephesians 1:22-23, "And he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."

Could God tell us more clearly that in His divine purpose He means for the fullness of Christ to be the fullness of the Christian? It is a staggering thought! Its plain import is that you and I and all other Christians are to bring Christ down from Heaven to earth and to let men see even in us who He is and what He has done and what He can do in a human life. It is to have Christ's life in such a perfection of likeness that men see Him in us and are drawn to Him in faith and love. It is to be such a oneness of life that one's human personality is but a vessel in which the beauty, holiness and glory of the Lord Jesus shine forth in undimmed transparency.

But here I hear the murmur of a doubting Thomas, "Except I see this Christ life more perfectly in my fellow-Christian or experience it more fully in my own life I will not believe it is possible!" All I can say in answer to this is "I believe because I have seen." For six weeks I lived in a Heaven upon earth in a Chicago boarding house, incredible as that may seem. It was run by a little woman who weighed about eighty-five pounds and who was kept from falling into a heap upon the floor by a brace which was worn night and day. She had lived upon the third floor for two years with no outlook but the blue sky above and a patch of green grass a few feet square below. But her eyes shone like stars, upon her face was a smile that intense bodily suffering, straightened financial circumstances, few social contacts, limited opportunities for enjoyment of God's great and wonderful world, had not been able to remove, and mirrored in that face was a light that one never seen on sea nor land except where the Light of the world dwells in undimmed brightness. Christ was Life of her life.

A young Chinese man who had been a Christian less than two years came one day for a bit of Christian fellowship. From a godless life he had been very marvelously converted and transformed. Christ had in deed and truth become all and in all to him. After he left the house that day a gentlemen who saw him for only a brief moment said, "Who was that young man? I never met any one who so instantly compelled me to think of Christ as did he."

A Christian business man lay dying in a hospital. Friends called to comfort him and they left feeling that they had not only been taken to the very door of Heaven but even that they had seen the King in His beauty. Christ had been the Life of his life in health and continued to be so in sickness.

A young woman of nobility and wealth was on the  road that led into worldliness and ease, when she met her Lord. Captivated  by His mighty love and power, even as was the apostle of old, she too said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The answer was, "I would go through you to carry the Gospel to China." For nearly thirty years she has been there without a furlough, working and praying through the cold of winter and the heat of summer, with only an occasional vacation of a week or two. In more than twenty places are groups of worshipers of the true God and many hundreds have been eternally blessed through that life crucified, buried, and risen with Jesus Christ. You say, "She must be old, worn and haggard." Far, far from it. In her beautiful face is all the joyous gladness of youth and yet all the wondrous peace of the twilight years of a life lived in the constant and conscious presence of the living God. Even a stranger immediately recognizes in that life something more than human; something that belongs to another world than this. Christ is the Life of her life.

A little girl of eleven years of age lay dying. She deeply and dearly loved her Lord and as He came to take her home she seemed fairly transfigured. She called father, mother, brothers and sisters to her and with the very love of Christ filling and flooding her little heart she plead with them to meet her in Heaven. An older sister who loved that child as she loved no one else went from that room crushed but with her heart steeled against her sister's Christ. Out into a life of reckless worldliness she went but ever haunted by the face of Christ and the voice of Christ as she had seen and heard it in her little sister. Two years passed by but the vision of His face and the sound of His voice were not dimmed and finally that cold, resisting heart was melted into such love of the Lord Jesus that she joyously accepted Him as her Saviour, and her life was marvelously transformed. Christ was the Life of that eleven year old child.

Is He the Life of your life? Could this be said of you?

"Not I, but Christ be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ in every thought and action,
Not I, but Christ in every look and word."

The thought of living such a Christ-life could well make us tremble and fear did God not make it so clear that He does not expect us to live it in our own strength and power but that in the gift of the Holy Spirit. He has made ample provision for our growing conformity into the image of His Son and for a continuous renewal of Christ's life within us. It is the Holy Spirit who brings the fullness of Christ's life in the heavenlies into our life on earth.

2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit."

Ephesians 3:16, 17, 19, "That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; ... That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

"There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me,
He's pure and He's holy,
Triumphant and free.
He's wise and He's loving,
Tender is He;
And His Life in the Glory,
My life must be.

"There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me,
He overcame satan;
From bondage He's free.
In life He is reigning,
Kingly is He;
And His Life in the Glory,
My life must be.

"There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me,
In Him is no sickness:
No weakness has He.

He's strong and in vigor,
Buoyant is He;
And His Life in the Glory,
My life may be.

There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me.
His peace is abiding;
Patient is He.
He's joyful and radiant,
Expecting to see
His Life in the Glory
Lived out in me."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 1 "Christ Our Sanctification (A People for His Possession and Use")

Who Is Increasing?

He must increase, but I must decrease.
-John 3:30 (King James Version)

I said a few weeks ago, right here on the blog, that it seems like
Christianity is more of a competition than a cooperation. It 

seems like there is more competition between churches, 

ministries, pastor's, and the like, than there is a working 

together to advance the Kingdom. A good friend of mine who 

has a online Bible teaching ministry has said many times that 

something is a "kingdom work." I think He is right.

In today's scripture, John the Baptist said this, "He must 

increase, but I must decrease." What was he talking about? 

In verse 26 we read, " And they came unto John, and said 

unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to 

whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, 

and all men come to him." His (John's) disciples came to John

 and told him that Jesus was receiving more people to baptize 

than he was. It's almost like they are telling John to "get up and

 get moving! Jesus is getting more people!" Then, in verse 30, 

John comes back with his "He must increase, but I must 

decrease" statement. John is saying that the ministry work of

Jesus must get bigger and bigger, while I must decrease. But, I 

think there is something more here.

As we go on living in the Christian life, as we read and study 

and apply the Word of God into our lives, Jesus must increase.

 As we spiritually grow, Jesus must increase. The attitudes of 

Jesus, the work of Jesus must increase in our lives. While our 

attitudes, our wants and desires must decrease. 

Are you becoming more like Jesus? Is your wants & desires 

decreasing, and the desires of Jesus for your life increasing?

~Think About It~

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Perfect Oneness Effected

Life On the Highest Plane

Christ Our Life

Christ Jesus was made like us that we might be made like Him. In the incarnation there was the union of Deity with humanity that in regeneration there might be the union of humanity with Deity. When the Holy Spirit begat in the believer a new nature He opened the door to a living, organic union between Christ and the Christian which will exist through the ages upon ages to come. Christ and the Christian are eternally one. The exalted Christ lives now to bestow upon us in all of its fullness His own triumphant, joyous, holy life.

To be a Christian is nothing less than to have the glorified Christ living in us in actual presence, possession and power. It is to have Him as the Life of our own life in such a way and to such a degree that we can say even as Paul said, "To me to live is Christ." To be a Christian is to grow up into Christ in all things: it is to have that divine seed which was planted in our innermost spirit blossom out into a growing conformity to His perfect life. To be a Christian is to have Christ the life of our minds, our hearts, our wills, so that it is Christ thinking through us, loving through us, willing through us. It is increasingly to have no life but the life of Christ within us filling us with ever increasing measure.

But I can hear some modern Nicodemus say, "How can these things be?" How can I live in such a life in my home where I receive no sympathy nor help but rather ridicule and scoffing, and where I have for so long lived a sinful and defeated life? How can I live  a truly consistent Christ-life in my social circle where there is scarcely a person who ever gives Him a thought and were His name is never mentioned? How can I live "in the Spirit" in a place of business where I am surrounded by those living altogether "in the flesh" and where the very atmosphere seems surcharged with evil? How can I even learn to live the life more abundant when my membership is in a thoroughly worldly church where little is given to feed and strengthen my spiritual life?

As we are in Christ in the heavenlies so is He in us on earth. CHRIST IN US can life this life anywhere, and that is what He longs to do. This truth our Lord gave in germ in His last conversation with His disciples on earth. He had told them that He was going away from them and they were wondering how they could ever be true disciples apart from Him. The burden of this last conversation was to assure them He would be with them in a spiritual Presence far more real and vital than the relationship they had with Him up to that time. The same Life that was in Him as the Vine would flow through them as branches.

John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing."

It was likewise the burden of our Lord's High Priestly prayer on that last night.

John 17:23, 26, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know that thou hast sent me; and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me ... I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it; that the love thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."

"I in them" - these three simple but significant words close the prayer with that little inner circle in which He breathed forth the passionate desire of His heart for His own on down through the centuries. Now as well as then, it is the consuming desire of Jesus Christ to reincarnate Himself in the Christian.

The Apostle Paul in the revelation given him laid hold upon this precious, glorious truth and it is woven into the warp and wool of his experience, his preaching, and his missionary service. "Christ liveth in me" was the very acme of his personal spiritual life.

Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Phil. 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ."

"Christ liveth in me" so that "To me to live is Christ" - there was nothing beyond this for Paul. Having the glorified Christ as his very life was all inclusive in Paul's spiritual experience. This to him was life on the highest plane. 

"Christ in you" was the heart of his message to the churches. It rang out with clarion clearness in all Paul's teaching and preaching. A cross section from any of Paul's Epistles would reveal this truth written in capital letters.

Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory."

"Christ in you" was the very passion of his missionary service. Paul might employ different methods in his service for God, he might be all things to all men, but the end, the aim, the goal of it all was just one thing with him - that Christ Jesus Himself might be formed in each one who heard the Gospel message.

Galatians 4:19, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."

To be a Christian is to accept Christ as Saviour and to crown Him as Lord. But there is one step more: it is to appropriate Him as Life. As the works within the watch are the real life of the watch so the Lord Jesus within the believer is the real life of the believer. "The Christian life is not merely a converted life nor even a consecrated life but it is a Christ-life." Christ is the Chrisitian's center; Christ is the Christian's circumference; Christ is all in between. As Paul has put it "Christ IS all and IN all."

Co. 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 1 - "A Perfect Oneness Effected")

Jesus Withholds Us From Sinning Against Him

I also withheld thee from sinning against Me - Genesis 20:6

As we review our lives, we can see many occasions on which our feet had well-nigh gone - our steps were on the very brink of the precipice. Another inch, and we should have brought shame on Christ and lasting remorse to ourselves. To what can we attribute our escape but to the grace of God, which withheld us, even though we failed to recognize it?
He does not withhold us from temptation. - He could not do so without serious and permanent loss. The waves of ink will surge up against the white marble palace of the soul. To us, as to our Lord, fresh from under the opened heavens, the tempter will come. What the fire is in fixing the color on the porcelain vase, that temptation is in rendering permanent the lessons and impressions made by God's providence and grace. He does not withhold us from occasions in which it would be easy to transgress. - Abimelech was not hindered from taking Sarah into his palace. The door of occasion and opportunity stood open before him; but he was withheld from the fatal act. We must never infer that occasion confers license. The fact of an opportunity being present does not warrant indulgence in wrongdoing. If God withheld Abimelech, who did not seek His special help, how much more those that seek Him! - You are not insensible of the perils of your life; but wait earnestly and persistently on God. Are you more eager to be kept than He to keep? Did He not implant that desire? Will He not do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or think? Is not the good Shepherd strong enough to keep one poor trembling sheep? Begone, unbelief! My God whom I serve is able to deliver, and He will! (Dan 3:17).

~F. B. Meyer~

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Reign of the "Old Man" # 6

Life On the Highest Plane

Christ Our Lord

What, then, should be the Christian's chief business in life? To possess his possession in Christ Jesus that in daily life and service he may realize and utilize to the full his spiritual inheritance. How may this be done?

1. Through spiritual apprehension of our riches in Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:12, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the  world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things that are freely given us of God."

We could never know of ourselves but the Spirit knows and indwells us that he may illumine us regarding our riches in Christ.

2. Through spiritual aspiration for our riches in Christ.

Colossians 3:1-2, "Seek those things which are above ... set your affection on things above."

Not only through the Holy Spirit's illumination but also through His impelling shall we possess our riches in Christ. The indwelling Spirit creates within us the desire for all our spiritual inheritance.

Through spiritual appropriation of our riches in Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Faith lays hold on our inheritance in Christ and appropriates that which God has so prodigally provided. We are energized by the Holy Spirit to take these things by faith.

The New Sovereign - Christ in the Believer

Through the new birth the believer enters into the Kingdom of God where God's will is supreme. The life of every loyal subject is lived wholly in the will of God. The government of God has spiritual laws which operate beneficently for the well-being both of the individual and of society in every department of life. Wherever these laws are implicitly obeyed, there the will of God is done on earth as in Heaven, and peace, rest and unity prevail. Through the new birth the believer enters into the family of God where the Father's will is supreme. The life of every filial child is lived wholly in the will of the Father.

Self-will is the corner stone upon which satan's kingdom is built and he constantly tempts the Christian to disobey. No man in his on strength is able to resist. Only one Man ever has wholly resisted it and refused the control of satan over his will. Now as Head of the new creation He s absolute Lord in the new sphere.

By virtue of entering into that sphere every believer acknowledges Christ Jesus to be the Lord of his life and accepts the will of God as his rule of life. When Christ is thus crowned as Lord, then the responsibility is His to keep the believer from falling and to enable him to resist every temptation of satan.

John 13:13, "Ye call me Master and Lord and ye say well, for so I am."

Romans 14:8-9, "For whether we life, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore or die we are the Lord's. ... For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living."

To many Christians the most difficult thing they have to do is to consent willingly to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their whole being. They are loath to admit the necessity of the absolute dethronement of "the old man" and the perfect enthronement of the Lord Jesus. As some one has very aptly said, "I was quite willing that Jesus Christ should be King, so long as He allowed me to be Prime Minister." But Christ shares His Lordship with no one and unless "He is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all."

But the perfection of God's grace meets even this weakness and inability in us in His gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us by His inward working to crown Christ Lord.

Thus Christ Jesus establishes His throne at the very center of the new creation and from there rules to the circumference of the believer's being. He becomes Lord of all.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 1 - "Christ Our Life - A Perfect Oneness Effected")

The Comforter

Today we are going to look at the fifth "C" of soul winning, and that is the Comforter.  Many times when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, He referred to Him as the Comforter.
In Acts 1:4-5, after the resurrection, Jesus said something to the disciples that was very intriguing,

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

He had already told them to go into all the world, but then He said, "Hey, you need to wait for something.  There's some equipment you need before you go.  Don't go start a Bible study, don't go pass out a tract, don't do anything.  You need something first.  You need to be baptized with the Spirit."

Then look at what He said in verse 8,
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The Holy Spirit gives us power to be a witness.  There is something beyond even living a life of integrity.  There is a supernatural, captivating element when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit that makes the witness of the gospel even more inescapable.

Jesus was so strong on it He said, "Look, don't leave Jerusalem without it."  God has given us His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to empower us to reach our generation for Christ.

~Bayless Conley!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Reign of the Old Man # 5

Life on the Highest Plane

Christ Our Lord

This relationship of the believer to the Lord Jesus determines his position, his privileges and his possessions. To be in Christ is to be where He is, to be what He is and to share what He has.

The believer in Christ is where Christ is. Christ is in His Father's immediate presence, He is at the Father's right hand, He is in the Father's sight; so is the believer in Christ.

Ephesians 2:6, "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ."

Colossians 3:3, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

Christ has left the earth as His place of abode and now dwells in the heavenlies. The believer is in Christ, therefore even now while still on earth his real citizenship is in Heaven and he is a pilgrim upon earth for his real life is in Christ.

Phil. 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 13:14, "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

Therefore the believer's heart is set upon heavenly things; he values and seeks heavenly things more than earthly.

Colossians 3:1-2, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."

Do I hear some one say, "This is too high a standard for me; it is not only impossible but unattractive. I am on the earth and in this world, therefore why should I not live as though I were and enjoy what this earth and this world have to give me and leave the enjoyment of Heaven until I reach there?" Such is the reasoning of vast numbers of Christians and their lives are in full harmony with their reasoning. As some one has aptly said they have become Christians much as a man takes out a life insurance policy - something that does not in any way alter one's manner of living but will be of use after death and is maintained with the payment of a yearly premium. With many a person becoming a Christian has made little if any difference in either his character or conduct. He is still of the earth earthy.

Is it not conceivable that God would have us become acclimated to our eternal home in Heaven with Christ during our transient stay on earth? If the atmosphere of Heaven is stifling to me here what will it be to me there? If the heavenly pleasures and pursuits are unattractive to me now, what will they be to me then? There is music in Heaven but it is not jazz or rock; there are pleasures there but they are not the pleasures of the ballroom, the card table, the drinking party, or the cinema; there are pursuits in the Glory land but not that of making money or a name or a place in society. Death is both an exit and an entrance all in one. For the believer it closes the door on earth to open one into Heaven. There is not one instant for preparation for that higher altitude. If my heart can't stand it here how will it stand it there?

Or is it unthinkable that God would wish to open a window into that blessed realm of light and life to some wayward, worn traveler on the road of darkness and death through the Spirit-filled lives of believers on earth? In fact is that not one of His most effectual ways today of making known the beauties and excellencies of that other world? Does He not want to bring Heaven to earth that He may woo earth to Heaven? And how else can He do it but through Heaven-born, Heaven-filled men and women?

Again is there one so selfish, go grasping, as to wish to get all from God and give nothing to God? Is there one who would accept a pass from earth to Heaven provided only through God's matchless grace and marvelous love, who still will spend all his time and substance in pleasure-seeking or totally involved in worldly pursuits?

No, God means that life down here shall be in harmony with life up there; that even while sojourning on earth we shall live a life partaking of the nature of Heaven, a life holy and heavenly in character and conduct.

In Christ Jesus the believer is what Christ is in the reckoning of God. Christ, the Head, and the believer, a member of His body, are one. Through this wonderful identification God looks upon us as joint heirs with Christ, entering into and occupying the same position and enjoying the same privileges as His Son.

Romans 8:17, "And, if children, than heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

We are enfolded and environed by the Lord Jesus that God cannot see Christ today without seeing us. This moment as God looks upon His Son at His right hand He sees you and me if we are in Christ Jesus.

"Near, so very near to God
Nearer I could not be;
For in the person of His Son,
I'm just as near as He.
Dear, so very dear to God,
Dearer I could not be;
For in the person of His Son,
I'm just as dear as He."

In Christ Jesus the believer shares with Christ all His possessions. Every spiritual blessing is ours, in Christ. Dare we believe it? All things are ours in Christ. Dare we act as though we believe it?

Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."

Romans 8:32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

1 Corinthians 3:21, "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours."

God says in these and many other passages that the possessions of the exalted Christ are the possessions of the one united to Him by faith. Identification with Him in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension includes identification with Him in all the gain and the glory, all the privileges and possessions gained by Him through His passion. Christ's victory over satan and all the forces of evil is ours and His present life of rest, peace, and joy is ours.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 6)

Character Counts

So far we have learned about the first three "Cs" of soul winning in the last few devotionals.  Today let me share the fourth "C"—character.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27, particularly verse 27, tells us the importance of character in witnessing to others,

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus:  not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight:  not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Paul said he was temperate in all things, that he disciplined his body.  He would bring it into subjection, meaning he had problems keeping his body in subjection, just like you and I do.
Every one of us has a propensity toward certain sins.  It is important, though, that we rein in our flesh and that we are temperate in all things because our lifestyle affects our message.

Take just a moment and do the following exercise.  Imagine you are an employer.  If you wanted to hire an efficient, competent, trustworthy employee, would you hire yourself at your present salary?

Or let's say that you were going to have to spend the rest of your life with someone just like you.  Would you look forward to it as a great opportunity and privilege?  Or not?

If your character is out of whack, people are going to have a hard time hearing what you have to say.  Character counts!

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Reign of the Old Man # 4

The Creation of the New Man - Co-resurrection with Christ

Co-crucifixion opens the door into co-resurrection. Death is the gate to life. Identification with Christ in His death and burial is but the beginning of the believer's union with Him in endless life. Death is both an ending and a beginning, an exit and an entrance.

Romans 6:5, "For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness  of his resurrection.

Romans 6:8, But if we died with Christ we believe that we shall also live with him."

Identification with Christ in His quickening, resurrection and ascension, takes the believer into the new sphere of the "Spirit" and begins the life of "the new man."

Ephesians 2:4-6, "But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

Ephesians 4:24, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

"Together with Christ" on the Cross, in the tomb, in the heavenlies! Thus would the exalted Lord of glory, Head of the new creation, share with every believer the glorious victory of His death, the mighty power of His resurrection, and the regal bounty of His throne.

"If Christ would live and reign in me,
I must die;
With Him I crucified must be;
I must die;
Lord, drive the nails, nor heed the groans,
My flesh may writhe and make its moans,
But in this way, and this alone,
I must die.

When I am dead, then Lord to Thee
I shall live;
My time, my strength, my all to Thee
I shall give.
O may the Son now make me free!
Her, lord, I give my all to Thee;
For time and for eternity
I will live."

The New Sphere - The Believer in Christ

The moment a penitent sinner puts his faith in the atoning blood of the crucified Christ that moment he steps out of life "in Adam" and enters into life "In Christ." Forever after he is ensphered and environed by the Lord of Glory. He is "In Christ Jesus" and will be through the ages upon the ages to come. All that he is and has he is and has "In Christ." In God's reckoning the believer has no life apart from His Son. Christ is the ground in which he is rooted and planted. Through the new birth the believer became a new creation with a new nature which demanded a new environment, a new atmosphere, as it were, where the new could mature into an ever deepening conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. This new environment is "In Christ."

Let us read a few passages out of scores in the Bible in which this expression "In Christ" is used to show that from the eternity of the past through our present life on into the eternity of the future God thinks of us who have accepted Christ as Saviour only in this relationship to His Son.

Ephesians 1:4, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."

Ephesians 1:6, "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved."

Ephesians 2:13, "But now, in Christ Jesus ye, who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

1 John 2:6, "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."

Phil. 3:9, "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."

Romans 16:10, "Salute Apelles approved in Christ."

Col. 2:7, "Rooted and built up in him and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."

2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

2 Corinthians 2:14, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."

1 Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."

Colossians 2:9-10, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him which is the head of all principality and power."

Colossians 1:28, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."

That every reader might be lead into a clearer apprehension of this marvelous truth I would commend the reading of the late Dr. A. T. Pierson's book "In Christ." To whet the appetite for it I would quote the following from the introduction:

"A very small key may open a very complex lock and a very large door and that door may itself lead into a vast building with priceless stores of wealth and beauty. This brief phrase "In Christ," a preposition followed by a proper name, is the key to the whole New Testament. Those three short words, "In Christ Jesus" are without doubt the most important ever written, even by an inspired pen, to express the mutual relation of the believer and Christ. They occur with their equivalents over one hundred and thirty times. Such repetition and variety must have some intense meaning. When, in the Word of God a phrase like this occurs so often and with such manifold applications, it cannot be a matter of accident; there is a deep design. These two words unlock and interpret every separate book in the New Testament. Here is God's own key whereby we may open all the various doors and enter all the glorious rooms in this Palace Beautiful and explore all the apartments in the house of the heavenly Interpreter from Matthew to the Apocalypse, when the door is opened into Heaven."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 5)