The Life That I Now Live

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.  -Galatians 2:20
  • The life
  • That I
  • Now
  • Live
Christ is the life of the Christian.  For the Christian, to live is Christ.  Christ is what makes the Christian life different. When Christ came into my life I started to live in him.

In Galatians 2:20, the word "I" occurs 4 times and the word "me" occurs 3 times.  Something very personal for each Christian person is described here, by Paul.  It's not general, collective, or theoretical.  It's real, intimate, and personal for each one of us.  You, an individual, singular Christian, have Christ living in your life.  Christ did something profound for you and you did something profound in him when you put your faith in him, and now he animates your life towards God.  God's mission in his son, becomes you and me.  We are now intimately part of that because the power and person that saved us now lives in us and we live our lives through him, to the glory of God.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live."  I died.  It's past tense, but appropriated now.  You don't seek be be crucified or say you are living the crucified life.  That "I" is my self, my sin(full) nature.  If my sinful nature or my selfish self is very much alive, something is not complete in my salvation and I need to die.  When he was crucified, we were all crucified in our sinful nature.  You don't crucify your self.  It is something that has happened and is already made available in Christ, that we step into.  It is something that has happened that we enter into.  Being crucified with Christ, does not mean you are completely dead to self.  It means you are participating in the dying of your self, through Christ.

"But Christ lives in me."  The Christian, "Christ-I-In", life is a new life where my old, sinful nature is taken over by Christ.  When I receive Christ into my life, when I start walking with Christ as his disciple, Christ and his life lives in me.  Instead of sin and selfishness motivating me, I am motivated by Christ.  Through you and through me, Christ touches people and talks to people who don't know him yet.  It is a misconception to say that we will bring people to church to hear of and know Christ, when Christ is living and breathing through every Christian.  People who do not know Christ can get to know him through those Christ lives in.  To say that you can not share Christ because you think that you do not have the gift of evangelism is a deception.  If you have Christ, you have the good news and if you have been a Christian for more than 5 minutes, you have something to share.  If you are a Christian, Christ lives in you and the life you now live is Christ's life.  The Lord Jesus Christ loves to be among people and point them to his father and that's what Christians do too.

"And the life that I now live."  Jesus came to give us a new life to live.  The life he gives us is the 7 days a week life.  Life is now, it is every day, every minute.  Jesus does not make us Christians so that we can now go to church on Sunday, but be miserable, secret Christians during the other six and a half days of the week.  Jesus did not punch our ticket to heaven and leave us.

"The life that I now live", is resurrection life.  Resurrection life is life raised from the dead.  It's still me, but it is me with Christ living in me and the old me died.  This life that I now live is my life that has been to the cross, died, and been raised in Christ. It's now life, present tense life.  Whatever you are going through now, Christ is with you.  He is inside your life, your suffering and your joys.  Life in the "now".  "Now" life. 

"In my body."  "The life that I now live in my body".  In my body is translated "in the flesh" in other translations.  Some people think that any effort made, "in the flesh", is bad, and therefore, should not be made.  "Don't get in the flesh", or "he's in the flesh", we hear.  This idea carries with it a misconception or error that our flesh should disappear or be completely set aside when we are doing ministry, in Christ, or doing things or speaking for God.  People who have this misconception wait for God to  evangelize or disciple or help the poor; because they don't want to act, "in the flesh".  There is another school of thought that is also deception or error that says that since the flesh does not take part in the kingdom and will not go to heaven, go ahead and indulge the flesh in the smorgasbord of sinful activity.

"The life I now live in my body, I now live by faith, indeed by the faithfulness of God's Son."  Paul here says that Christ is now living in the Christian's life, in his or her body.  That life is now a life of holiness and good works.  Christ lives in me and I now live that life.  Live-ing, living is not passive.  I have to get out of bed and make my coffee each day.  I have to love my neighbor with actions.  That getting up, making coffee and actively loving my neighbor all take exertion in my body, my flesh.  That's life, Christ living, in and through the body of me.

Life and live occur 4 times in this verse and are the Greek word, Zao, which, according to Strong's Greek Lexicon, means "to live", as in experiencing life.  It does not just mean being alive, but living; as in experiencing.  Zao has to do with natural, physical life; and it has to do with behavior: how you live.  So this is the how of Christ living in me, it is in experiencing life and in how I behave.

"The life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me."  This new life is incarnational, "Christ lives in me".  It is only through this union with Christ that I can live the Christian life.  The life of the Christian starts with faith and continues with faith, all the way through.  You never stop faith-ing.  It's by faith and through faith.  As Phil Newton states, "Not only are we justified by faith, but we also live by faith. This means that saving faith cannot be reduced to a one-time decision or event in the past; it is a living, dynamic reality permeating every aspect of the believer’s life."

"I live by faith."  Faith is not just belief, but action.  Believing is good, but faith is when you act on your belief.  Faith's A-B-C's:   Faith is an ACTION, BASED upon a CONFIDENCE.  I may have confidence in someone or something, but it is faith when I act.  Wayne Grudem states that, "saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or “belief.” The reason is that we can “believe” something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it."  How's your commitment to and dependence on Christ?  That's trust and that's real faith.

"I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me."  My faith is a trust in him.  My faith is rooted in him, in his faithfulness.  Do I believe in his faithfulness?  What do I see when I see him on the cross?  Faithfulness.

My faith that I live by is his faith.  The life that I now live, I live by faith, Christ's faith.  He was faithful.  I have faith in him.  I live live by him, his faith, his trust and commitment in the Father.  I am now living in this intimate, trusting relationship.  That is the life that I now live.

The Church of The Wounded Healers

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us”
2 Cor. 4:7

He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong. 
2 Cor. 12:9-10

"The main question is not, 'how can we hide our wounds?', so that we don't have to be embarrassed, but, 'how can we put our woundedness in the service to others?'. When our wounds cease to be a cause of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers."

" became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith. I came to see that it was in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong. It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith. It was in the embracing of my brokenness that could identify with others' brokenness. It was my role to identify with others' pain, not relieve it. Ministry was sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing."
-Henri Nouwen

Jesus always calls and uses weak, broken people. We do grow up in Christ, but we don't have to wait until some level of maturity to do, to act, to live, and to be in Christ. New believers can do it all because it is God who does the heavy lifting.

God uses us despite our weaknesses and God uses us through our weaknesses. To deny your brokenness in a schizophrenic way is unhealthy. We journey with our painful broken selves, yes denying it and putting it to death. We don't wall off or deny the process of self-denial and death to self.

"Our self-absorption and self sufficiency keeps us from embracing brokenness." 
-Brennan Manning
Coming to Christ is not an "add-on" to our lives, but an absolute surrender with no conditions. He gets it all. The good and the bad. he takes possession of it. That's good news. he loves us, warts and all.
"In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me."
When we process our pain, when we yield to God's process; we lay hold of and come to posses real truth: heart knowledge. We become a person who has gone to the well and received living water from the Master and we can authentically point the way.  Then we gain authority to talk about painful things or deep things in God because we have paid a price.

There are many young psychologists and pastors that stand before a group and give a talk about growth, but their words ring hollow, because they have not been to the well at the foot of the cross. 
You must be willing to go through God’s wine press where the grapes are crushed...the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else.
 -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His highest, from Dec. 15 entry on 2 Tim. 2:15

The Christian life is where God calls and uses weak people. We have misunderstood this at times, thinking that we cannot fight or minister to others unless we are first healed. This is not true. We can fight and we can minister with great weaknesses in our lives. The key is that our woundedness or our brokenness needs to be open to the Lord.
He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Cor. 12:9
That verse, "My grace is enough for you", was ministered to me by a group of older saints that I was sent to speak to, when I was feeling deep pain in my life and I was crying out to God for an escape hatch.  My heart was crying, "take it away, it is too painful".  God did not take it away, but invited me to take His hand and receive grace to walk through it.

We are meant to be a church of people who are i-n p-r-o-c-e-s-s. A few of us have been healed. Many (99.9%) of us need healing. Many of us are in a healing process.  Some of us have seen a miracle and some of us are miracles.

Having not been healed does not disqualify a person from ministering to others. God can use a deaf person to heal other's ears or a blind person to open people's eyes. God's wisdom defies logic and human reason. 

There are no side-lines, bench, or permanent anaesthetic condition for God's children.

You Have Examined My Heart, Testing Me at Night

You have examined my heart, testing me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely, but haven’t found anything wrong.
My mouth doesn’t sin.

Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night—
You’ll find I’m just what I say I am.  My words don’t run loose.

 -Psalm 17:3 (CEB, MSG)

We live our lives mostly in the day.  No matter how busy out lives are, 99% of us go unconscious and sleep for a number of hours each night.  When we sleep, our guard is down, we can not fake it or put on a mask.

God can see through our masks or defenses and God knows what is in our hearts all the time.  But David had an experience with God and told about it.  God came in the night and evaluated his heart.

God, being God, always knows the state of our hearts.  No wrong or sin escapes his eyes.  But, there is a time, like the time David describes, when God specifically and intimately examines you.  He tests you.  We ought not live like this will never happen.

Is your heart ready for an examination, an inspection, a look-over?  Am I ready for God to come close, when my guard is down, when my defenses are at rest, when my masks are laid down?  Can I say to God, "come and see what is in me and you will find a person who has been processing their stuff with you.".  In other words, do you and I have short accounts with God?  Do we have no outstanding debts?  Are you a forgiver and forgiven?

When God visits you, he looks at you, inside and outside.  If you are full of hate and anger or bitterness or lust or greed, to give a few examples, God is going to look at those things inside us that motivate or behavior and speech.  Do these types of things drive you, while you put on a good face?  You can't hide ungodly inner motivators, what drives you, from God.

It is part of the human condition to control our selves in a socially acceptable way, even if we have attitudes and desires in our hearts that are sinful.  The way that the believer is different is that he or she not only controls their selves and is in training to say no to sin, but they also do not allow sinful thoughts and attitudes a nesting place in their hearts.

David, who wrote these words, says that he believes that when God visits him in the night and examines his heart, God will find nothing wrong.  David immediately then says, "my mouth doesn't sin", or "my words don't run loose".  Jesus said, in Matthew 15:18 that, "what goes out of the mouth comes from the heart".  

David had been through a lot of painful, disappointing, and very offensive experiences.  Yet, David can say that when God examines his heart, inside him with nothing hidden, that nothing will be found out of line.  Do you need to evict something that is living in your heart?

David suffered murder attempts, slander, hunger, injustice, and confusing and chaotic circumstances.  In spite of all this, David maintained a heart that was not bitter and rage filled.  Some would say that David had reason to be bitterly disappointed in his heart or angry at certain people.  But, whatever was in his heart, it did not cause him to sin with his mouth.  Do you need to be cleansed of things in your heart that cause you to sin with the things you say?

We can be honest about our situation and not sin.  The Bible does not teach us to be in denial.  Denial of self and denial of reality are two different things.  David did not deny the reality, but he dealt with it in a godly way.  There is a way to deal with suffering that leads to life and another way that leads to death.

David was a person of worship and prayer.  David had a developed relationship with God, for many years, before he penned Psalm 17.  

Worship and prayer is when we ask God to come into our place and change it.  Worship and prayer are also when we ask God to take us into him and change us.  

Those of us who want and who need God's intervention in our lives, have we done our house-keeping?  Are our inner hearts Christ-like and what does that look like?  It might include love, faith, forgiveness, meekness, humility, graciousness, patience, forbearance, hope, and gentleness.

Change my heart oh God, make it ever new.  Change my heart oh God, may I be like you.
You are the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.

I hear the Savior say,“Thy strength indeed is small; Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

In That Day (Prayer)

In that day, you won’t ask me anything. I assure you that the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Up to now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive so that your joy will be complete.   “I’ve been using figures of speech with you. The time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in such analogies. Instead, I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I’m not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
-John 16:23-6

 "In that day." 

What day is Jesus talking about?  He is talking about the day when he has been raised from the dead.  He is talking about the day when he ascends to heaven.  He is talking about the day when he makes you one with the Father, just as He is.  He is also talking about the day when He sends the Helper, the Spirit of truth, to us.

"In that day", is the day that the disciples were going to be going into soon. How do we walk in, abide in that day today?  By walking in the resurrection life of Jesus.

Resurrection is preceded by death and burial.  Christ-followers, in life, must go through death, burial, and resurrection; in Christ.  We cannot skip death and burial, but we must go through them, in how we live our lives in order to walk in or abide in Jesus' resurrection life.

To get to resurrection life, we must lose our lives, take up our crosses and follow (Mark 8:34-5).  We must share in his sufferings (Phil. 3:10-11).  Resurrection life is a life that is hidden with Christ in God (Col.3:3). 

"In that day, you won’t ask me anything."

Our spirits don't have questions, because in our spirits we are one with God.  Our minds, our fleshly minds that are in the life-long process of dying and being crucified and being renewed and sanctified; these minds of ours, the same mind we use to make choices in our lives - that mind of ours has many questions for God and many things are hidden from that mind.

"I assure you that the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."

God will give us whatever we ask in Jesus name.  We have learned to tag our prayers with, "in Jesus name, amen", whether we're praying before a meal or praying for someone who is sick.  You probably realize that saying, "in Jesus name", is not magic. Then, what is praying in Jesus name?  It is to be immersed in Jesus.  One with Jesus.  Intimate with Jesus.  Unified with Jesus.  Congruent with Jesus.

"Ask and you will receive so that your joy will be complete."

Praying in Jesus name means that the person praying is immersed in Jesus.  It is descriptive, not  prescriptive. It is more something that we are, something that Jesus wants us to become, rather than a password. Jesus is saying that this is the place in prayer that he has for us.

"In that day" prayer, prayer "in Jesus name", are Jesus' prayers.  I am one with Jesus and I have his mind in my heart, resonating with my spirit and I pray Jesus' prayers.  What is Jesus interested in praying through me and in me?

We are living "in that day", the day after the cross, the day after the resurrection, the day after the ascension, and the day after the day of Pentecost.  Today is the day of abiding prayer.

If we are not in Christ, we need to go to the cross, maybe again.  The cross is the way in.  The cross is also the way on. We might need to take up our crosses.  We might need to die to our selves.  We might need to go to the ascension and we might need to experience Holy Spirit baptism, perhaps again. 

We Need A Biblical Worldview

The Lord’s Instruction
   -the law, the torah, the revelation of God,
    the teachings of the Lord

Is perfect
   -is complete, is whole.

   -refreshing, converting, restoring, renewing, pulls together

One’s very being.
   -the life of the soul, our lives.

The Lord’s laws
   -The testimony of the Lord, The decrees of the Lord,
    The Lord's instruction, The signposts of God

Are faithful
   -are clear, are trustworthy, are reliable, never fails,  are clear

Making naive people wise.
   -making wise the simple, making the ignorant wise,  pointing out the right road.

-Psalm 19:7

The Bible holds the answers to everything.  The Bible gives us God's views on everything.  Reading and believing gives us a biblical worldview.  Worldview is how we view the world.  I would imagine that a believer in God and a believer in Jesus Christ as savior would also believe the whole Bible.  But, there are people who identify themselves as christian who believe only some of the Bible and do not hold a biblical worldview.

A biblical worldview is:

Believing that absolute moral truth exists.
Believing that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.
Believing that Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic.
Believing that a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works.
Believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.
Believing that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

The most current research (2009) from The Barna Group indicates that only 9% of adults in America have a biblical worldview, described above.  Not all people who identify themselves as christian also identify themselves as being born-again, defined in the survey as, "said they have made a personal to commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and that they are certain that they will go to Heaven after they die only because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior".
Of those Christians  who self identify as being "born-again", only 19% also have a biblical worldview (defined above).

Americans by and large, do not hold a biblical worldview and possibly 81% of born-again people do not hold a biblical worldview.  How can this be and why is it so?  People are either not reading the Bible or they are reading it, but not believing it.

In another survey of clergy members, The Barna Group found that only half of Protestant clergy members have the biblical worldview, as described above. In churches with a senior pastor with a biblical worldview, usually only one out of seven congregants have a biblical worldview.. 

The Barna group report advises that if the clergy-people who hold a biblical worldview would, "strategically and relentlessly assist their congregants in adopting such a way of interpreting and responding to life, the impact on our churches, families and society at-large would be enormous".

The Return

She will go after her lovers, but she won’t catch up with them; she will seek them, but she won’t find them.  Then she will say, “I will return to my first husband, for I had it better then than now.”
  -Hosea 2:7

God doesn't forget you when you forget Him.  God doesn't stop caring when you do.  If we make a promise to God and can't keep it, God still honors that promise, even though we don't.

When a person goes wayward, becomes a prodigal, breaks their vows to God, and becomes a spiritual adulterer; God still loves them and cares for them and has plans to restore them.  That is the message of the book of Hosea.  God is merciful.  Our holy almighty God is merciful.

God knows that a life of sin, living away from God's cleansing power, living a cross-less life, without ongoing transformation and fellowship with God; God knows that life will not satisfy his child.

In the midst of rebellion and disobedience, God sees that a time will come when the person will come to their senses and set about returning to God.  God does not make them think this, but God engineers circumstances to help the person see their way back to Him.

The verse above is a snap-shot of a much more involved story.  I imagine that Gomer felt a profound lack of mutual love from her other lovers that did not satisfy her longing to belong and be held in relationship.  Like many people, Gomer may have been a person who had issues of life that needed healing and her way was always to act out and do things to get attention, rather than let herself be loved and cared for.  God starts a relationship with people where they are.  You don't need to get it together when God comes to you, but just accept the invitation.

That is the way it was with Gomer and it is with everyone.  God reaches out to a person living in sin and takes us just as we are, to live with him.  But sometimes, we return to that same sin life.  But something is now different.  We belong to God, but we are walking away from God and not in God's ways.

What we learn from Hosea is that when this happens, God goes to work.  God watches over the person who is actually a spiritual adulterer.  God cares and brings care into the person's life.  But God also allows pain and dissatisfaction to come into that person's life.  In God's mercy, God allows the person to suffer pain or heartbreak.  What a person gets themselves into will bring heartbreak and will not satisfy.  The key is that God is watching and waiting.  While we are still far from God as far as intimate connection, God is watching us.  The moment we change our mind, God sees that and comes running to meet us (Luke 15:17-20).

All God wants is our change of mind, then he will help us change our ways.  There are people in this place right now, who are going to return to God.