In our previous message we looked at the presence or the ‘parousia’ of Christ in His saints. The parousia, regularly translated as “coming”, indicates not the act of the Lord’s coming or His arrival, but His present and ongoing existence in His saints. Every child of God can attest to the life of God that resides on the inside. But the measure and power of this life is proportional to its effectual working in us. It is by the inworking of His life that His kingdom is now being established in His saints that it may find its ultimate expression. This ‘inside-to-outside’ increase is a fundamental principle by which God is establishing His kingdom among men. Thus, it is sheer futility for man to attempt to change himself or his environment without first being transformed from within. For the only power that can transform us, our families, our communities and society at large is the inworking and outflow of His life.
In light of this, should not the life of Christ be our absolute obsession? Should it not be the epicenter of our books and sermons? And should we not seek it wholeheartedly; laying aside every distraction and every religious experience we have come into that deters us from a single minded pursuit of His life?
Many of our fellow brothers and sisters today live in the Outer Court of spiritual experience in their relationship and union with the Lord. Despite their loud declarations and continual involvement in religious activities, they inhabit the realm where the natural man fails to understand the things of the Spirit of God. In the comfort of their lifeless forms, empty ceremonies, static dogmas, and repetitive activities, the life of Christ has steadily diminished, usurped by the soulish teachings and activities of the natural man. The religious system has so weakened and sapped away the spiritual vitality of many that in them is evident exhaustion, spiritual poverty and a lack of understanding of the high and holy purposes of God. What can we say of these symptoms? Are these not counted with those in Ephesus who have left their first love?
A return to our first love requires a return to an exclusive dedication to cultivating the life of Christ. Fix your eyes on Jesus and set your mind on things above is the council of the Spirit. Every book we read and every message we listen to is either ministering to the spirit man, causing the increase of Christ or it is ministering to the soul, causing the increase of Adam. “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).
Many of the popular ministers of our day who fill the airwaves with their charismatic sermons, showy programs and motivational books are without doubt ministering to those in the earth realm. The realm of the earth or the soul is a realm of mixture. This is where we find duality, a fragmentary expression of the life of Christ mixed with the gratifications of the soul – the carnal man. Regrettably, the spiritual compass of many who feed on such ministries have not exercised the life of Christ to discern what is of the spirit and what is of the soul. But “solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:11).
Dear precious saint, how we need to reorient our focus, for there is no higher an attainment and no greater an inheritance than His life. Paul’s solitary focus and determined purpose was to lay hold of Christ. He declares: “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” (Phi. 3:8-9). Here is a man who was fully captivated and wholly possessed by the life of Christ. He “resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2 Amp). For Paul, Christ was His only prize and crown.
Is His life not also our inheritance? You may remember that as Israel entered the Promised Land each tribe received their portion of the land. But Levi was not given a portion of the land or a natural possession, for the Lord alone was his inheritance. Thus, the Lord declared: “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him” (Deut. 8:10). The royal priesthood; the sons of God have been separated for a divine purpose; they find no glory in themselves or their natural possession. The Lord is their inheritance. They are bearers of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for they carry within themselves the essence of His life. Oh what joy it is to bear and minister the life of God!
The life of God is God Himself and contains all the attributes found in Him. His life is a state of being which includes His nature, His mind, His will, His wisdom, His power, His glory. All the qualities of love, righteous, peace and joy originate from His life. It is this life which God has endowed within us by the indwelling Christ, for “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 Joh. 5:11). The essence of all the divine attributes of the Father is in Christ. And anything we do that is not an outflow of the life of Christ is the flesh and no flesh can glory in His presence.
Jesus Christ, the pattern Son, is our example in this regard. Every divine action and outward expression was energized and directed by the life of God. Thus He said: “the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (Joh. 14:10). It was God’s life that functioned inwardly that empowered Jesus with divine capabilities. Jesus said: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will” (Joh. 5:21). Thus, Jesus was the very manifestation of all the attributes of God’s life. It is His life which also works in us both to will and to do according to His pleasure. We are offspring of the life of God. He has predestined us to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. This is the “crown of life” we are pressing forward to lay hold of (Rev. 2:10).
But this crown is not without cost. Just as a crown goes to the victor, the crown of life is given to the overcomer. For we read: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the CROWN of LIFE which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jam. 1:12). “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the CROWN of LIFE” (Rev. 2:10). Paul speaks of running and fighting in such a way as to win the prize. What is this prize for which Paul endured? It was an ‘imperishable crown’, which is the crown of the life of Christ (1 Cor. 9:25). In contrast there is a “perishable crown” – signifying the earthy accolades and treasures which moth and earth, time and history will extinguish. To put on the crown of life is to be filled with the life flow of God that possesses within it the power to be as He is and to do as He does.
It is interesting to note that both the means to victory and reward of the victory is the very life of God. For we read that “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). The blood is the life flow of Christ, for the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11). And it is this life which equips and qualifies us for victory. But the reward of that victory is His very life which has equipped us to conquer.
Dear precious saint, may His life be your permanent obsession, for there is no loftier a calling than to apprehend His life. We praise God, for His divine power that has now given us all things that pertain to His life. We need not look outwardly, we need not wait for a someday visitation, we need not lean on the programs of the harlot system of religion. His life is now at work in us and it is self-sufficient. It’s our prayer that it would increase, that its inworking would cause us to turn inward to behold Christ as our life and identity. Surely, He who began a good work in us by the power of His endless life will bring it to completion.
May the grace and peace of God be multiplied to you!