Welcome to National Evangelist Ministries. May the flame of evangelism never go out!
Every Spiritual Blessing Ours in Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph_1:3)
Living day by day by grace is essentially about developing an intimate relationship with the Lord. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We have considered some of the radical extent of that intimacy through the intriguing phrase "in Christ." "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Rom_7:4). Through this profound uniting with Christ, astounding spiritual riches are now ours.
This is why Paul offered grateful praise to the Lord: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul's thanksgiving was for what the Father has given to us: "who has blessed us." Notice, the verb is in the past tense — this has already happened. What is it that has already been given to us? It is "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." Think of it. This truth is staggering in its implications. Every grace resource that heaven has to offer is already ours here on earth. This does not mean that we are fully aware of all that has been given to us. Certainly, it does not mean that we are experiencing all of these blessings. Yet, it does mean that they are all ours to draw upon for fullness of life here on earth!
The reason these rich blessings are ours is that they all reside in Christ. In Christ is forgiveness, righteousness, and wisdom. Also, love, joy, and peace are found in Him. In Christ dwell victory, discernment, and courage. Moreover, compassion, strength, and perseverance are part of who He is. All this and far more is found in Christ. "For it pleased the Father that in Him [in Christ] all the fullness should dwell" (Col_1:19). Now, we dwell in the place ("in Christ") where all of this richness resides: "who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." All these spiritual resources of the kingdom of heaven are now ours "in Christ." "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16).
Dear Father, I too want to bless You for bestowing all of this richness upon me. Lord, forgive me for the spiritual poverty that I too often experience. Teach me to draw upon these limitless treasures of Your grace. I want to honor You with an abundant walk in Christ's fullness, Amen.
Rev. Sarah Garner
1251 85th Ave
Oakland, California 94621
God Enlightening Us about Our Spiritual Resources
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ... the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling. (Eph_1:3, Eph_1:18)
We have seen that all the grace resources God has for us to live by here on earth are already ours "in Christ." Now, our need is to have these comprehensive spiritual treasures revealed to us by the Lord Himself: "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling." In order to draw upon these heavenly provisions, we need the Lord to enlighten our understanding concerning what is ours in Christ Jesus. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit" (1Co_2:9-10). As the Holy Spirit uses the word of God to reveal these matters to us, our faith develops so we might access them by faith. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom_10:17).
The scriptures teach us to pray for such spiritual enlightenment. "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law" (Psa_119:18). In the word of God, we are told of the wonderful things that God has for His people. If we prayerfully seek the Lord concerning His insight into these blessings, the Lord will enlighten us. His willingness to respond is evident in His word. "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jer_33:3).
The Lord delights to give heavenly spiritual insight to the humble of heart, not to those who trust in their own wisdom and prudence. "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes'" (Luke 10:21). This picture of a little one humbly trusting in the Heavenly Father to reveal His ways fits perfectly God's pattern for living by grace: humility and faith. What God has given us in Christ are His grace resources. It takes grace at work for us to even see what is ours in Him. God gives grace to the humble (Jam_4:6), and faith accesses grace (Rom_5:2).
Dear Lord, fountain of every heavenly blessing, I humble myself before You. On my own, I could never discover the richness You have given me in Christ. Please enlighten me by Your Spirit, as I search Your scriptures. Build my faith to draw upon Your grace resources day by day, through Christ I pray, Amen.
Proclaiming Christ for Maturity in Christ
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Col_1:28)
Spiritual maturity is one of the heavenly blessings that is ours "in Christ Jesus." Our heavenly Father desires that all of His children develop in this blessing of maturity: "that we may present every man perfect [mature] in Christ Jesus." As God's people are being built up, the goal is that "we all come... to a perfect [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children... but... may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ" (Eph_4:13-15). Jesus is our standard of spiritual maturity. The Lord wants us to be maturing into the likeness of the character of Christ.
For the saints to mature in Christ requires the proclamation of Christ. "Him we preach... that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Truth about the Lord Jesus Christ is the message that matures the people of God: "Him we preach." We need to know who the Lord is, what He has done, and what He wants to do in our lives, that we might trust in Him as our source: "from whom the whole body" (Eph_4:16).
The scriptures abound with many beautiful revelations of such truths about Jesus. He is the Son of God, divine. "And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God" (Joh_1:34). He is the Son of Man, Immanuel, God coming as man. "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head... Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel... God with us" (Mat_8:20; Mat_1:23). He is the lamb of God. "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! " (Joh_1:29).
This Jesus is our Mediator, bringing us the new covenant of grace. "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant" (Heb_9:15). He is our Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, supplying all we need from start to finish. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" (Rev_22:13). He is our "all in all." "Christ is all and in all" (Col_3:11).
Such truths about Jesus are the ultimate message to mature the saints.
Dear Lord Jesus, I long to mature in Your likeness. There is so much about my life that is immature and carnal. I hunger to see who You are and all that You want to do in and through me. Please reveal Yourself to me through Your word, that I might know You better and be conformed to Your image. This I pray in Your holy name, Amen.
Dear Lord, this extensive call to prayer humbles my heart. I see much room to grow in my prayer life. Yet, it stirs my faith as well. By Your Spirit of grace at work in me, such praying is possible. O Lord, please make of me such a prayer warrior, Amen.
Jesus Christ, Our Great High Priest
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb_4:14-16)
Jesus as our High Priest is one of the magnificent truths that matures us in the faith and draws us more intimately to Him. When we see the greatness of Jesus in this office, our steadfastness is strengthened. "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." Jesus was completely successful in His mission of redemption. He came and died as the sacrifice for our sins. He rose victorious over sin and death. He ascended to the heaven of heavens, seated in authority at the right hand of the Father. Knowing this, we have great cause to remain steadfast in our confession of hope in Him.
Furthermore, our great High Priest is not aloof from our needs or impervious to our frailties. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses." The enemy of our souls threw all of His tempting devices at Jesus. He faced what we face, so He understands our battles in a very personal manner. Another matter of even greater significance is that He never yielded to the tempters attacks: "yet without sin." Thus, He not only understands our plight, but He can also provide victory.
We are hereby given reason to approach God, through our great High Priest, without hesitation or apprehension to find the help we need. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Our God rules this universe from a throne characterized by grace. This grace can only be properly known by those who live under His new covenant of grace. This grace is sufficient to justify and to sanctify all who humbly trust in the Lord. The grace offered here is not for initial salvation. Rather, it is for rescuing the redeemed when they are aware of their inadequacy. We are invited to draw near, approach our God in an intimate fashion, and partake of His fullness in light of our emptiness.
Dear Jesus, my great High Priest, I extol You for Your greatness. You are great in understanding, compassion, victory, and grace. Lord, I have so many great needs in my life. So I draw near to You, anticipating that Your grace is fully sufficient to meet my lack, Amen.
Jesus Christ, Our Only Foundation
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1Co_3:10-11)
Another wonderful blessing in Christ is the foundation that He provides for all who live by His grace. As with buildings, lives also need solid foundations. Our foundation is a person, Jesus. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." By the grace of God enabling him, Paul ministered the gospel of Jesus Christ. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation." In doing this, he was laying the only reliable spiritual ground for living as God intended. So many people attempt to lay other foundations for their lives. Some turn to earthly riches. Others hope in human wisdom. Others put their confidence in personal power and influence. Such vain pursuits are like attempting to construct a building upon shifting, sinking sand.
Our lives need a rock foundation. It has always been the Father's purpose to provide such for His people. David experienced this through his pilgrimage, as he trusted in the Lord. "From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Psa_61:2). In the most extreme situations on earth, when circumstances were overwhelming him, David cried out to His God. He looked to the Lord to be to him a rock upon which he could stand above the rolling waves of impossibility. "He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved" (Psa_62:6). David stood on the Lord alone as his solid spiritual ground. Standing by faith he would not be destroyed.
Of course, the ultimate expression of God being a rock to His people would be in the coming of the Son of God to earth as a man. This great plan the Lord promised through Isaiah. "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily" (Isa_28:16). Jesus is that proven, priceless, and secure foundation. Now, all who stand on Him by faith will not be driven about frantically, searching for solid ground on which to plant their feet.
O Lord my rock, You are the only foundation that I will ever need for my life. I have tried to stand on so many things that proved to be sinking sand. Lord, I want to place all of my hope for spiritual stability in You. When circumstances threaten to inundate me, be to me my rock of refuge in the storm, Amen.
Words to Encourage : I have the Victory!
Christ in Us, Our Hope of Glory
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col_1:27)
We have been considering the wondrous truth that we who believe in Jesus are in Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph_1:3). All that God has for us is ours "in Christ." We can now enjoy the benefits of who Christ is and all that He has accomplished for us, because we are in Him. Our present verse adds another extraordinary dimension. Not only are we "in Christ," but Christ is also in us: "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
God wants to make something known among all the nations: "to make known... among the Gentiles." The message He desires to reveal is glorious in spiritual richness: "the riches of the glory of this mystery." However, it truly is a mystery, in the New Testament use of that term. A biblical mystery is something that can only be known by the revealing work of God. The mysteries of the scriptures cannot be discovered or understood by intellectual investigation or personal experience. God Himself must make them known. The Lord does this through the grace-empowered, Spirit-empowered proclamation of His word. Here, the great mystery God wants to unfold is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
What a grand hope this message brings! Jesus, the Son of God, is willing to come and dwell within us to assure us of making it to glory (heaven) some day. Meanwhile, Christ wants to reside at the very core of our being: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph_3:17). As we are trusting in Him, He is living in, and working through, our hearts. Then, from this strategic point of intimacy and access, He gives us heavenly hope. That confident expectation includes the joyous fact that He is coming again: "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit_2:13). Yet, His return is not our only hope. He, Himself, is our day by day hope: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope" (1Ti_1:1). Jesus is our comprehensive hope!
Lord Jesus, my hope, I praise You for the hope You give — anticipation of Your return, assurance of heaven, and daily confidence in Your working in me. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I place my hope and confidence elsewhere. Teach me, help me to put my hope in You alone, in Your faithful name I pray, Amen.
Living in Christ, Christ Living in Us
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him... At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (Joh_6:56 and Joh_14:20)
In our verses, we again see the extent of the intimate relationship that the new covenant of grace provides. An astounding intimacy is declared in these words: "abides in Me, and I in him." We have not merely come near to Christ, nor has He simply drawn close to us. Rather, we live in Him, and He lives in us! We live by being in Christ (by being related to Him, by being united with Him, by drawing our spiritual life from Him). Moreover, He lives in us and desires to express His life through us.
This unique arrangement for spiritual intimacy is experienced by the one "who eats My flesh and drinks My blood." Although the language sounds strange to the natural mind, the picture is common, that of eating and drinking to find life-giving nourishment. The unusual aspect is that the source of the nutrition is a person. Earlier in Jesus' discourse, He had indicated what this process encompassed. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (Joh_6:35). Eating and drinking of Jesus' flesh and blood involves simply coming to Him in faith. When we come to Jesus, we are counting upon who He was (His person, His flesh, the Son of God becoming a man). When we believe in Jesus, we are also relying upon what He did (His work, His blood poured out for us upon the cross). As we relate to Jesus in this manner, we are finding our spiritual sustenance in Him. Thus, we abide in Him and He in us.
Of course, the Holy Spirit would participate fully in this process. "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." Jesus was leaving His disciples soon, to return to the Father. So, He comforted them: "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also" (Joh_14:18-19). On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured forth in fullness and power. Now, the Spirit would make the very life of Jesus available to all of His followers. As they trusted in Him, Christ would live in and through their lives.
Dear Lord of life, help me to learn to live this way — me living in You, and You living in me. Help me to see it is as simple as eating and drinking. As I trust food and drink for my physical life, I want to trust in who You are and what You have done for my spiritual life, Amen.
Branches in the Vine, the Vine in the Branches
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 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. (Joh_15:4-5)
Previously, we examined these verses to see how the grace of God produces fruit in those who walk in humility and faith (thereby living by grace). Now, let's revisit these words to consider the intimate relationship they describe. It is a profound biblical picture of us being in Christ and Christ being in us. It is like the relationship between a vine and a branch. Jesus is the vine; we are the branches. "I am the vine, you are the branches." He is the source of the life we need. We are the recipients of the life that He alone can provide.
The Lord Jesus wants us, His branches, to be fruitful. "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (Joh_15:8). Fruit is the result of developing life. Branches do not innately have that life in themselves. "The branch cannot bear fruit of itself." Branches must always find their life in the vine. The vine, Jesus, has life. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Our Lord came to share that life with us in abundance. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Joh_10:10). His abundant life is what enables us to bear much fruit.
Such life abundant (fruit-developing life) flows out of the intimate relationship available to us in Christ. Think of the "joined relationship" that a vine and a branch have. The branch came forth from the vine, and is ever after connected to the vine. The life of the vine is available to flow in and through the branch. We came forth from Jesus, our vine, as we were born again by His Spirit through faith in Christ. Now, we are joined to Him forever. "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1Co_6:17). Day by day, His life is accessible to us.
We access that life by abiding. "Abide in Me, and I in you." We depend on Him to be our source of life. He, then, lives in and through us.
Dear Jesus, my vine, You are my only source of spiritual life. I confess that I often try to produce that life on my own. Also, I often think of You as far away, as I cry out to You in my prayers. Actually, You are as near to me spiritually as a vine is to a branch. Please remind me frequently of Your nearness. Lord, I want to abide in You day by day, Amen.
Words of Encouragement: The Peace of God and Love of God Surrounds me.
Christ Living in Us
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. (Gal_2:20)
In these sublime words, we are given profound insight concerning the grace of God at work through our intimate relationship with Christ. This majestic statement begins with our spiritual death, that another might live in and through our lives. Finally, we are told how we are to respond, so this divine arrangement can proceed as intended.
First, our spiritual death is in view. "I have been crucified with Christ." If we are believers in the Lord Jesus, we died with Him upon that cross. The cross of Christ is now our testimony of rejoicing, for by that cross we escaped the dead world of unredeemed humanity. "But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal_6:14). Although the cross is the end of our old life in Adam, that is not the end of our story. "Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) " (Eph_2:5). By His grace, we were raised with Christ. We died with Him, that we now might live with Him. "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him" (Rom_6:8).
The astounding consequence of these truths is that we are not the ones producing our Christian life. "It is no longer I who live." This reality is radically contrary to man's natural thinking. If we are not to manufacture our life with God, what other option could possibly be available? The wonderful answer is: "Christ lives in me." True Christian living is to be Christ living in and through our lives. How can this be accomplished? We still have an ongoing human experience in flesh and bones bodies: "the life which I now live in the flesh." Yes, but this life is to be lived by faith: "I live by faith in the Son of God." As we put our trust in Jesus day by day, He lives in and through our thoughts, our words, our choices, our priorities, our relationships.
Once again, this is God's grace at work through humility and faith. The humility is expressed by embracing this confession: "it is no longer I who live." The faith is expressed by counting upon this truth: "Christ lives in me."
Dear God of my salvation, what a magnificent plan! Thank You for providing a way out of the old life. Praise You for raising me to a new life. How wonderful that this new life is to be Christ living in me. Lord Jesus, please live in me as I depend upon You, Amen.
Christ Being Formed in Us
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you... Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? (Gal_4:19 and 2Co_13:5)
When we take the truth of the gospel to others, that they might be born again, we often enter into spiritual birth pangs on their behalf. They are wresting over issues and questions. We are agonizing with them, that they might embrace the truth they need to become a child of God by faith. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal_3:26).
When the Apostle Paul took the gospel into the region of Galatia, he labored in this manner on behalf of those who would become believers in Jesus Christ. Later, he is writing them, telling them that once again he was in spiritual labor for them. "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again." This subsequent agonizing was not concerning their initial salvation. They had already been born again through faith in in the Lord Jesus. Now, he was laboring "until Christ is formed in you."
It is the will of our Heavenly Father that we invite His Son into our lives. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (Joh_1:12). Furthermore, it is His will that we allow the life of His Son to be expressed in and though our lives. As we face life day by day, we become engaged with issues, opportunities, challenges, responses, ideas, relationships, values, priorities, etc. The Lord Jesus Christ died for us in order to live with us through all of these aspects of living. "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that... we should live together with Him" (1Th_5:9). In every situation of life, the Lord Jesus is with us, dwelling within us, wanting to express His life through us.
Although this great reality is described in many places throughout the word of God, many of God's people seem not to know it. "Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? " Either they have not heard it, or they have forgotten it. What a great privilege it is to share these grand truths with others. The process will not be without difficulties. "To this end I also labor, striving [agonizing] according to His working which works in me mightily" (Col_1:29). However, though we may experience spiritual birth pangs for others, God will see us through, as He touches their lives.
Lord Jesus, my indwelling Savior, please express Your life in and through me. May there be no area of my life that is just me doing my best or me fulfilling my will. Also, Lord, be my strength, enabling me to share these great realities with others, in Your mighty name, Amen.
Words of Encouragement: Genesis 12:3 Destroy my enemies! Cancel his assignment against me and turn it unto him and his household.
Enriched with Grace by Christ
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge... you abound in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us. (1Co_1:4-5 and 2Co_8:7)
As we have seen, the new covenant of grace is essentially about developing a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God desires to impart His grace into our lives through this acquaintanceship with His Son: "the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus." This phrase ("by Christ Jesus") points once again to the intimate relational aspect of living in Christ by grace. God's grace flows into our lives "by Christ Jesus." It might be helpful to restate this truth. God's grace comes into our experience by means of another person, the Lord Jesus. The limitless grace of our great God available to us on the basis of who Jesus is and all that He has done for us. It is accessed whenever we humbly, dependently relate to Him.
The resources that continually await us are so rich. The believers at Corinth found this to be true. "You were enriched in everything by Him." Two areas of God's rich grace are mentioned here: "enriched... in all utterance and all knowledge." God's grace had enriched them with a great capacity to know the things of God and to put the wonder of those things into appropriate words.
When Paul wrote these saints on a later occasion, he elaborated upon the richness of grace that had become their personal experience. "You abound in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us." Three aspects are added to the previous list here: "faith, diligence, love." By the grace of God at work in them, their capacity to trust in Him had been enlarged. By the grace of God at work in them, their attentive perseverance had grown. By the grace of God at work in them, their loving concern for Paul and his missionary team had developed further.
When Paul prayed for other disciples of the Lord Jesus, he prayed in a manner that fits this picture. He prayed that their lives might be "filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phi_1:11). Righteous fruit, such as the Corinthians were enjoying, comes from Jesus Christ imparting His grace into our lives.
Heavenly Father, I again see that Your grace enriches my life by means of Your beloved Son. Lord Jesus, I humbly depend upon You to fill my life with Your righteous fruit, in Your holy name, Amen.
Eternal Life and Knowing God
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (Joh_17:3)
This statement by the Lord Jesus begins in a very profound manner: "And this is eternal life." To complete such a statement requires comprehensive truth. If the statement had started with "this is included in eternal life," many non-comprehensive matters could be used to finish the statement. One could rightly state that forgiveness of sins is included in eternal life. One could properly say that escaping hell and securing heaven are included in eternal life. Likewise, one could say that meaning and purpose for living are included in eternal life. Additionally, one could state that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit are also included. Furthermore, one could say that fellowship in the body of Christ and new understanding of the scriptures are included. Nevertheless, none of these individually, nor all of these collectively, are sufficient to complete the statement: "And this is eternal life."
To finish that profound beginning, one must add an all-encompassing truth. One must speak of the full dimensions of eternal life. What is large enough to complete that majestic opening? Only the one reality of knowing God would be adequate: "that they may know You." Yes, knowing God is what eternal life is all about. It is only through meeting the Lord that forgiveness is found. It is only by being in Christ that we escape hell and secure heaven. Then, it is only through getting acquainted with the Lord that meaning and purpose for our lives are made real to us. Also, it is only through a growing intimacy of trust in Christ that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit can properly mature. Furthermore, it is only through an increasing acquaintanceship with the Lord that Christian fellowship and biblical insight are appropriately developed.
These truths certainly concur with those prophetic words of old that promised a new covenant of grace to replace the old covenant of law. "I will make a new covenant... not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers... But this is the covenant that I will make... I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people... they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (Jer_31:31-34). Heb_8:11 makes it clear that these words are for us today. "All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." The new covenant provides a growing, intimate acquaintanceship for all who will walk in its terms of grace.
Dear Father, I confess that I often think and behave as though eternal life is less than knowing You. Help me to understand and to live the very essence of Your new covenant of grace — Your provisions for allowing me to grow in knowing You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.
Words of Encouragement:3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
The Excelling Value of Knowing Christ
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... that I may know Him. (Phi_3:8, Phi_3:10)
We can easily underestimate the great value of getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Other concerns from the world, or even within the church world, gain our interest and allegiance. Paul clearly saw the precious treasure of knowing Christ.
Paul had advanced greatly in the religious culture of Israel. He was "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Phi_3:5). He was a prominent Pharisee, a leader among the nation of Israel. Nevertheless, he forsook all of that cultural and religious advantage in order to follow Christ. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ." He considered knowing the Lord Jesus as far greater than his privileged personal position.
Furthermore, Paul continued to consider other matters as loss, as compared to the supreme value of knowing his Lord better. "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Now that Paul had a relationship with the Lord, he considered any thing that would interfere with or diminish that relationship as being a spiritual loss. Sometimes, we are tempted to engage in matters that seem to bring some blessing or advantage. Yet, when we see the impact it might have on our relationship with the Lord, the apparent gain is actually a loss.
Paul knew Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Still, he was aware that more of the blessings of Christ were yet to be experienced, if his relationship were to develop into more depth and intimacy: "that I may gain Christ." Thus, he repeats his two-fold renouncement of anything that might interfere with this desire. First, a look at the past: "I have suffered the loss of all things." Then, a confession of the present: "and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." This term ("rubbish") refers to garbage, to waste, to dung.
These convictions left Paul with one great goal is his life: "that I may know Him." Paul realized that this goal was the excelling value in all of the universe: "the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
Lord Jesus, knowing You is the most precious treasure of my life. Yet, I admit that I do allow other concerns to interfere with our relationship at times. Lord, help me to view as rubbish anything that would keep me from growing in this wonderful acquaintanceship with You, Amen.
Words of Encouragement:And my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
The One Necessary Thing
That I may know Him . . . Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do . . . one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. (Phi_3:10, Phi_3:13, and Luk_10:42)
Paul's goal in life was to grow in intimacy with the Lord "That I may know Him." He wanted to know the Lord so well that his life would be transformed into "resurrected living" in this spiritually lifeless world. He humbly admitted that he had not yet reached such spiritual maturity. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended." Thus, in light of his own need to grow, coupled with the excellence of the goal, he had a single focus in his life: "one thing I do." This one thing was his ongoing quest to know the Lord more and more.
This focused quest is similar to the heart that Mary demonstrated, as recorded in the gospel of Luke. When Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha, Mary "sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word" (Luk_10:39). Martha was functioning as a busy hostess, desiring to bless her Lord. However, her busy labors distracted her from the one she was attempting to serve. "But Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luk_10:40). The solution was obvious to Martha. She would insist that Jesus send her sister to help. "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me" (Luk_10:40).
How startled Martha must have been when Jesus indicated she was the problem, not Mary. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things" (Luk_10:41). The many concerns of Martha's ministry were causing anxiety and inner turmoil. Her desire to serve the Lord had deteriorated to self-pity and irritation. Then, Jesus offered an astounding revelation that put everything into perfect spiritual perspective. "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luk_10:42).
What an amazing truth: "one thing is needed." That one necessary matter is Jesus. Mary chose Jesus. She was at the feet of her master, getting to know Him, listening to His words of truth and grace. This was Paul's heart: "one thing I do . . . that I may know Him."
Dear Lord Jesus, shape in me a heart like Paul, like Mary. Stir in me a passion to know You better. May this become the consuming goal in my life. Forgive me for allowing busy service to eclipse You, the one I desire to please. Help me to spend frequent quiet times at Your feet. Then, when I rise up to serve You, may my heart always remain at Your feet, abiding in You, Amen.
Pressing on to Know the Lord
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phi_3:13-14)
We have noted that humility is one of the relational realities that God wants to develop in our lives so we can live daily by the grace of God. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jam_4:6). Here we see evidence of the godly humility that had developed in the Apostle Paul through the years. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended." When these words were written, Paul had been walking with the Lord for 25 to 30 years. Yet, he admits that he had not "fully arrived." He confesses that he did not know the Lord so completely that his entire life was a demonstration of resurrection living. Consequently, he had one great goal that directed his life and service: "one thing I do." His all-consuming passion was to get to know the Lord more and more: "that I may know Him" (Phi_3:10).
One of the significant issues that keeps believers in Christ from knowing the Lord better is their past. Many Christians focus their attention on their past. Failures of the past plague them with condemnation. Wrongs done to them in the past tempt them to self-pity or bitterness. Past successes give false assurance that things must go well today. Past blessings distract them from seeking the Lord's fresh work in their lives now. Paul gives us all a wonderful example of how to deal with the past: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead." Things of the past need not dominate our present. God's grace can cover past failures and pains. Today, we need to look forward to the next work of grace that He wants to bring forth as we walk on with Him.
God wants us to move forward, looking upward. "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." The goal is to get to know the Lord better. We are to press toward that goal, exerting all of the spiritual strength and energy that God's grace supplies. This is our reply to God's heavenly call to seek Him, to know Him. Along the way, we will partake of the prize that comes with that goal. The prize is every blessing that results from getting to know Him better. Let's press on to know the Lord!
Lord Jesus, help me to forget things of the past that would distract me from You. I want to press ahead to get to know You better. Please reveal Yourself to me through Your word. I humbly ask You to demonstrate Your grace to me in and through my life, in Your name, Amen.
Spiritual Insight for Knowing the Lord
Making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Eph_1:16-17)
This new covenant of grace by which we relate to God is designed to bring us a growing, intimate knowledge of our Lord. However, this growing in knowing God requires that He reveals Himself to us. This is why Paul prayed for other believers to this end: "Making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."
In order to increase in the knowledge of God, one must be given heaven-sent spiritual insight: "that . . . God . . . may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation." God cannot be seen by natural sight. "Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:16).
God cannot be known by natural wisdom. "The world through wisdom did not know God" (1Co_1:21). The things of God must be revealed to us by the Lord. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1Co_2:9-10).
Jesus rejoiced in the divine wisdom of this plan. "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight'" (Luk_10:21). Jesus also encouraged those who humbly received God-given insight into spiritual realities. "And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven'" (Mat_16:16-17).
Jesus taught His followers to rely upon the teaching, revealing ministry of the Holy Spirit to know the things of God. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth . . . He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (Joh_16:13-14).
Dear Lord, I long to know You more and more. I humbly confess that I need You revealing Yourself to me. As I prayerfully read and study Your holy word, I pray that You would give to me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, Amen.
Word of Encouragement: No weapon formed against us shall prosper...Isaiah 54:17
Fully Supplied through Knowing God
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (2Pe_1:2-3)
Our lives are blessed whenever the Lord adds any of His blessings to our experience. Yet, there are times when we sense a need for God's blessings to be multiplied to us. Well, God desires to intensify His working toward us. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you." Drop after drop of refreshing water may encourage the thirsty soul. However, our hearts' true need may be for fountains of living water. God loves to pour forth in abundance. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). God's grace (His undeserved resource for living) is available in multiplied measures. God's peace (His heaven-sent spiritual tranquility) can be partaken of in magnified portions.
The process for partaking of these multiplied provisions simply involves growing in knowing our Lord. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."
Another astounding truth about believers in Jesus Christ is that we have already been given everything needed for abundant Christian living: "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness." This is not to say that we are aware of what is ours, or that we are experiencing all that is ours. Nonetheless, God has already given us every spiritual provision needed to live as He desires ("all things that pertain to life") and to grow in Christlikeness as He wills ("all things that pertain to . . . godliness").
The process for accessing these comprehensive resources also involves getting to know the Lord better: "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him,"
It is by grace that we initially come to know the Lord. As we get to know Him better, grace is then multiplied into our lives. When we first met the Lord, He gave us everything that we needed to live as He intended. As we grow in knowing Him, we access for living all that He has already given to us in Christ.
Dear Lord of abundant blessings, I praise You for Your bountiful grace. So frequently I underestimate Your goodness to me. What a staggering thought that You have already given me in Christ all that I need for a godly life. O Lord, I long to grow in knowing You, that all of these heavenly realities might be manifested in my life, for Your glory and honor, Amen.
Words of Encouragement: With his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Experiencing the Lord's Goodness
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psa_34:8)
The scriptures clearly declare that the knowledge of the Lord is for developing a relationship, not merely cataloging correct information about Him. Grace and peace are to be "multiplied to" us (2Pe_1:2), not just memorized by us. "All things that pertain to life and godliness" (2Pe_1:3) are to be drawn upon for godly living, not merely listed to validate our orthodoxy. As we get to know the Lord, His goodness is to be experienced in our lives.
Our present verse is quite forthright concerning this point. "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good." The Lord is good. He is merciful, kind, gracious, and patient. The scriptures abound with declarations of God's goodness. "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psa_107:1). This goodness of God is to be experienced by God's people. "My people shall be satisfied with My goodness" (Jer_31:14). We are to "taste and see" God's goodness, not only to hear of it and talk about it.
How does a person experience the goodness of the Lord? "Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" God's goodness is available for our personal experience whenever we trust in Him. "Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men! " (Psa_31:19). When we rely upon the Lord, His goodness brings forth peace in our lives. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). When we depend upon the Lord, His goodness brings forth rejoicing in our lives. "Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name" (Psa_33:20-21).
It should not be surprising to us that faith in the Lord is the pathway to experiencing His goodness. We have noted in a number of these meditations that faith is one of the relational realities that allow a child of God to live by His grace. Faith accesses grace (Rom_5:2). "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him" (Lam_3:25).
We trust in the Lord the more we get acquainted with Him. We trust in the Lord the more we allow Him to demonstrate His faithfulness. "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You" (Psa_9:10).
Lord, You are so good! Too often I fail to experience Your goodness, because I do not trust in You. forgive me, Lord. I long to taste of Your goodness. Teach me to live in dependence upon You, in Jesus name, Amen.
Living as Jesus Lived
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works . . . As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (Joh_14:10; Joh_6:57)
We are to live by trusting in the goodness of the Lord. "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (Psa_34:8). Jesus is the ultimate example of living by such trust. When we think of being like Jesus (or we ask, "What would Jesus do?"), the biblical perspective is far more profound than prevailing opinion might provide.
Jesus lived by depending upon the intimate relationship He had with the Father: "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." When Jesus spoke or took action, it was not on His own initiative or by His own resources. "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works." Although Jesus was God coming to earth as a man, He did not live by exercising His deity. "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 servant" (Phi_2:6-7). Jesus lived as a dependent human servant, trusting in the Father to work in and through Him. The prophets of old predicted this path, as they recorded the confessions Messiah would make about His ministry here on earth. "For I [that is, the Messiah, Jesus] shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength . . . The Lord God will help Me [that is, the Messiah, Jesus]; therefore I will not be disgraced" (Isa_49:5; Isa_50:7). Jesus would depend upon the Father.
Jesus eventually applied this kind of dependent relationship to us. The structure of His teaching was "As . . . so." As it was between Jesus and the Father, so it is to be between Jesus and us. Jesus lived His life by depending upon the Father. Without ceasing to be God, He lived as a man, showing us how man is to live. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father." Jesus lived by trusting in the Father to work in and through Him. We are to look to Jesus to do the same through us. "So he who feeds on Me will live because of Me." Jesus taught that feeding on Him involved coming to Him in trust. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (Joh_6:35).
Lord Jesus, my hope and my strength, I want to live in true Christlikeness — facing all of life as You did. I want to learn to depend upon You, even as You depended upon the Father. Teach me, Lord, I pray in Your name, Amen.
Growing in Knowing the Lord
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. (2Pe_3:18)
The new covenant of grace (at its very core) is a covenant of relationship. God's grace is available to enable us to grow in spiritual intimacy with our Lord. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Here, grace is linked with growing and with knowing the Lord. As surely as grace was for spiritual birthing, grace is also for growing. The most strategic area of spiritual growth is progress in a deepening relationship with the Lord. Paul prayed in this manner for the saints: " that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him . . . and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col_1:10).
This process of growth necessitates consistent intake of the word of God. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1Pe_2:2). It is through the scriptures that we learn of the grace of God. The word of God is "the word of His grace" (Acts 20:32). Also, the word of God has the Lord Jesus Christ as the constant, primary subject. "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luk_24:27). Of course, the Holy Spirit is the one who is to guide us into all of these great truths of the Lord Jesus. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth . . . He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (Joh_16:13-14).
God wills for our lives is that we might live in His word. This allows us to grow in His grace that we might know Him better. This is what is to delight our hearts and change our lives. "Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the LORD' " (Jer_9:23-24). So many people (sometimes, even the people of God) chase after human wisdom, earthly power, or material riches. God desires that He becomes the delight of our hearts and the goal of our life: "that he understands and knows Me." So, let's respond with joy to Hosea's call: "Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of [the knowing of] the LORD" (Hosea 6:3).
Dear Lord God, I want to press on to know You. Forgive me for chasing after human wisdom, earthly power, or material riches. Nothing compares to knowing You. By Your grace, through the light of Your word, let me grow in knowing You, Amen.
Words of Encouragement: Good Morning and God Bless you God loves you and so do I an there is nothing you can do about it.
Characteristics of Living by Grace
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant. (2Co_3:5-6)
When we live by the new covenant of grace, God impacts our lives. He makes us sufficient by sharing His sufficiency with us. "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant." This impact is from His grace at work on us, in us, and through us. This process produces spiritual characteristics in our lives. A brief reflection upon the workings of God's grace will provide a helpful context as we begin to consider these characteristics.
The grace of God is brought to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth" (Joh_1:14). When Jesus came to earth as God's incarnate word to man, He came overflowing with the grace of God. This abundance of grace in Christ is to be our ongoing spiritual provision for living the Christian life. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16). One work of God's grace built upon another work of His grace is to mark our pilgrimage day by day.
This constantly-available grace of God is able to justify and sanctify lives. "And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance" (Act_20:32). God's grace, held forth by His word, offers us new birth by grace. When we believe on the Lord Jesus, we are justified (declared not guilty, righteous in God's sight). Thereby, we obtain the spiritual inheritance of the children of God: "the word of His grace, which is able to . . . give you an inheritance." This same grace of God then becomes our heavenly resource for growing sanctification (that is, growing in godliness): "the word of His grace, which is able to build you up."
Part of growing in godliness involves being set free from the dominating influence of sin in our lives. God's grace provides this liberating reality. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). As we learn to live by God's grace, instead of by our own best performance, the grace of God is working deep within us, bringing spiritual stability to our inner man. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Heb_13:9).
This working of God's grace in us marks us with distinctive spiritual characteristics, which will be examined in the passages of scripture that lie ahead.
Lord God of abounding grace, give me spiritual eyes to see and a humble heart to receive all the ways You want to mark my life by Your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.
Triumph Living Even in Difficult Situations
When I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ. (2Co_2:12-14)
Triumphant living is one of the characteristics that God wants to develop in us by the work of His grace. Even when we are in difficult situations, the Lord wants us to learn to walk in the victory that is available to us in Christ.
The Apostle Paul encountered a very difficult situation in Troas, as he traveled on one of his missionary journeys: "When I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit." As Paul arrived in Troas, it was apparent that the Lord had granted an open door to preach the gospel. Nevertheless, Paul was distressed within his heart. The reason for the turmoil within was the absence of a key ministry partner. "I did not find Titus my brother." In some situations, ministry cannot be conducted properly, if all of the strategic parts of the body of Christ are not fully engaged. So, Paul left that city, leaving Troas for another time. "Taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia."
Circumstantially, this looked like a defeat. Yet, Paul had a more profound perspective than what the eyes of man could see or what the mind of man could conceive. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ." Paul gave thanks to the Lord for a truth that was greater than the obviously difficult situation that he had just experienced. Whenever we allow the Lord to be the one leading our lives, He "always leads us in triumph in Christ." Paul was rejoicing in the fact that he was yielded to Christ as His Lord, his leader. Thus, he knew that the Lord was leading Him in triumph, because when Jesus is counted upon to lead us, He "always leads" us triumphantly.
Christ leads us in triumph; we do not win it for ourselves. This triumph is a spiritual victory that belongs to us by being in Christ. "Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ." Jesus won the victory at His death, burial, and resurrection. Now, He wants us to look to Him to lead us in that victory day by day.
Dear Jesus, my victorious Lord, how often I attempt to be the one who directs my life. I confess that when I lead, victory is not the result. Lord, help me to count on You to lead me in Your triumph, even in the difficult situations that I frequently encounter. In Your triumphant name, I pray, Amen.
More Than Conquerors Even in Impossibilities
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Rom_8:35-37)
When considering the triumphant Christian life, we may wrongly think that victory depends upon getting out of impossible situations. Actually, we are already "more than conquerors" even while we are in the midst of the impossibilities.
For us to be ultimately defeated, we would have to be separated from Christ's love for us. We would have to be cut off from the loving care of our victorious Lord. Can any foe or any situation accomplish that? "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? " This question is answered in Rom_8:38-39. "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
No spiritual foe can enforce such a separation. Neither can any circumstance of impossibility separate us from our loving God. Rom_8:35-36 list some of the impossibilities that make us feel as though we are being defeated. "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter' ." When troubles and pressures arise, when we are attacked or are lacking resources, we may be tempted to think that victory is no longer available. When our experience is like a lamb being led to the slaughter, we may think that victory could never be ours. Nevertheless, the truth is that "in all these things we are more than conquerors."
Yes, right in the middle of the impossibilities of life, we are already more than a spiritual victor. Actually, we have already been made participants in a mighty, eternal, abundant victory, the victory that Christ accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Our victorious position in any situation is not circumstantial. It is relational. We are united by faith to the victorious one, the Lord Jesus Christ! "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co_15:57).
Dear Father, I praise You for the constant provision of victory through Your triumphant Son. Lord, help me to view spiritual victory as a relational matter and not a circumstantial one. I thank You that through Christ I am already more than a conqueror right in the midst of my present impossibilities, Amen.
A Fragrance of Christ to God
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge . . . For we are to God the fragrance of Christ. (2Co_2:14-15)
In addition to the characteristic of triumphant living, God also wants to mark our lives with the fragrance of Christ. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge."
Just as there are physical fragrances that can be noticed by our physical senses, there are also spiritual fragrances that can impact us spiritually. If a person partakes of food that is heavily seasoned with garlic, others will notice the fragrance of garlic. If a person consistently presses on to know the Lord, others will be impacted by the "fragrance of His knowledge." This is described as the "fragrance of Christ." This is that spiritual aroma that wafts forth from the lives of those who are getting to know the Lord. It is a validating reality that the Lord Jesus Christ is dwelling in their lives and is being evidenced through their lives.
As we are getting to know the Lord more and more, this spiritual aroma of Christ is even impacting God Himself. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ." Yes, God is the first one who is impacted by this Christlike fragrance. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ ."
Our ministry and testimony is always primarily unto the Lord. We who believe in Jesus Christ are called to be "proving what is acceptable to the Lord" (Eph_5:10). We are not here on earth to please ourselves. "Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Gal_1:10). We are here to please our God. "Brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God" (1Th_4:1).
What ultimately pleases our heavenly Father is His beloved Son. When the Father looked down from heaven at the baptism of His Son, He exclaimed, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mat_3:17). When our Father looks down today upon our lives, He wants to enjoy the fragrance of His Son emanating forth from our lives. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ."
Heavenly Father, I long to bless You by the fragrance of Christ through my life. I am sorry that the stench of selfish flesh is what often emanates from me. Lord, help me to get to know You more and more, so that the knowledge of You can produce the aroma of Christ in and through me, in Jesus name, Amen.
A Fragrance of Christ to Every Person
Now thanks be to God who . . . through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life. (2Co_2:14-16)
The fragrance of Christ is one of the great characteristics that God wants to build into our lives by His grace. "Now thanks be to God who . . . through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge." This spiritual aroma, which results from getting to know the Lord, blesses the heart of God. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ." The Father loves to see the life of His Son being expressed in and through our humanity, even though this requires our dying to self. "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2Co_4:11).
As we are getting to know the Lord more and more, our God is not the only one who is impacted. This spiritual aroma of Christ impacts every person we meet. "God . . . through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." This includes both the saved and the unsaved. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."
This fragrance affects those who know the Lord: "the fragrance of Christ . . . among those who are being saved." For those who are enjoying life in Christ, that heavenly scent in our lives is "the aroma of life to life." Christ's fragrance in us draws them to seek in abundance that life which they have entered.
This spiritual scent also influences those who do not yet know our Lord: "the fragrance of Christ . . . among those who are perishing." To them it is "the aroma of death to death." They are dead in their sins, and this aroma makes them more aware of their deadness, more aware of their need for Christ.
When this fragrance is emanating from our lives, we are not the cause. God is the active agent, working in and through us to bring forth this heavenly scent. "Now thanks be to God who . . . through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge." This work of God's grace is available to us every day we live and every place we go: "the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."
Father God, I long to know You more and more. I want to have this fragrance of Christ emanating up to You and out to every one I meet. I praise You that this a work that You do by Your grace. So, I humbly bow, trusting You to work in me this way, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.