Who we are in Christ, Part II

Today’s entry explores how a person can enjoy, know, experience this fullness, completeness, “second blessing” (and third and fourth), this “so great a salvation”.   1.  He (she) must want it.  Surprisingly, many professing Christians do not, just as many people do not even want to become Christians.  This is pride, self-ness.  2.  Obviously, she (he) must know about it, just as Paul says about believing in Christ.  We must be open, eager to learn more.  Many Christians are happy to be “scarcely” saved.  3. We must ask for it. (Luke 11:13)  Pentecost could have happened the day after Jesus’ ascension, but his disciples had to pray for it, learn what it meant, want it.   4.  We must “search the Scriptures”, soak up God’s Word into our souls, so that automatically we begin to think and act and become like God, who wrote it.  The Bible is Jesus in book form.  There is no quick fix to holiness.  Naaman had to bathe 7 times!  5. We must do all these things cooperatively, with fellow Christians.  I am not Jesus all by myself, nor do I become more like him all by myself (as some hermits think).  Christ is a Body, and I am a part of him, a member of him, through that Body.  6. Quit all self-effort (as in Romans 7).  Ask God to BE your joy, strength, patience; NOT to give them to you.

Questions:  1.  Why has the church been so slow in coming into this?  One reason; the church becomes dead a/c heresies and has to “start all over again” with the fundamentals, preaching the ABCs of the faith (though really, it is not preaching the gospel truly to preach only repentance and forgiveness; think once more of Jesus and Nicodemus).  Second; the church has confused her task of evangelizing the unsaved (by means of “invitation” hymns, amongst others) and her service of worshipping and praising God as his redeemed people.  (So, we use “Just as I am” at the Lord’s Supper celebration!)  2.  Since a Christian sins until the day of his death, why is it wrong to call him a sinner?  For the same reason that it is incorrect to call a person who can carry a tune a “singer”, or a man who changes tires on his car a “mechanic”.  Sinning is not his nature.  3.  If a Christian is a new, perfect person, how come he sins at all?  Paul says, “When I sin, it is not ‘I’, the real Paul.” (Romans 7) It is the momentum, carry-over, like an auto that keeps on moving after the motor is “dead”, out of gas.  Reflexes of the dead man.  4.  Why does the Bible tell us to put on the new man (if we are already new) and put off – put to death – the old, if he is buried?  This is like saying to a grown adult, “C’mon, be a man!” You are not telling him to become one; he already is.  You are saying, “Act like what you are!” (Much like some widows act as though their husbands never died!)  5.  How is it that some non-Christians are sometimes “better” than Christians?  Answer: They would be even better if they became new people.  (And think how worse Christians would be if they were not born again!)  Their so-called “good deeds” are all done by God on them (like King Saul), not in and through them, as with Christians. (Laws, customs, Christian influence control them.)  6.  Can all this be explained in psychological terms? Yes, indeed!  A non-Christian consists (by his own admission) of only body and soul.  The Bible calls this “flesh” (which has a sinful bent to it now), because we inherit it all from our forebears.  The Christian has or IS a third factor, a spirit which is the Spirit of Christ – the same that gave Christ birth (without a human father), thought him, empowered, guided, sustained him.  This new, perfect ego should rule our soul (emotions, thinking, and will), not just to refrain from evil, but to do God’s will before our own, or make ours agree with his.  (This is sometimes hard, and is called “dying to self”, or the sufferings without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God – here and now.)  7.  Is there a distinction then, between heaven hereafter and the Kingdom of heaven now? Yes.  Many people will go to heaven who never knew it here on earth, as every Christian is supposed to.  They are the “hardly saved”. (1 Cor. 3:12-15)  8.  Are all Christian’s “good deeds” really good?  Alas, no.  Many of them are done for flesh, soulish (rather than spiritual) reasons.  On the other hand, many good deeds of a Christian are done so second-naturedly, he doesn’t even realize he does them (Matt 25:37 and John 3:21)  9.  Do all “charismatics” have “full salvation”?  No.  It is possible for Satan to imitate, counterfeit ALL the gifts of the Spirit – miracles, tongues, prophesy.  10.  Does all this have evangelistic value (or just a “thrill” for the already saved)?  This alone is the true gospel.  It alone addresses the felt need of every non-Christian.  He has little sense of sin, and cares little about the hereafter.  But he is basically not happy, is unsatisfied with himself, and wants answers to his problems here and now.  This is the Gospel – Christ in you; His FULL joy, His peace, His mind, His glory.

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