Friday, November 22, 2013

Christ Our Life


Col.1: For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

The faith is commonly called Christianity. Notice that word has “Christ” in it,, and so it should.

Col.3: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Paul goes from stating that Christ should have all the preeminence and now says that Christ is our life. Think about that little but powerful phrase. Jesus the Christ is our life. In fact Paul tells the Galatians that he has been crucified and the life that Paul now lives he lives by faith in Christ. Again Paul says “For me to live is Christ…”. Over and over again Paul reinforces the truth that as Christians our lives should be consumed with Christ. In fact our lives should be a consistent effort to die to ourselves and allow Christ to live through us in the power of the Spirit. The concept is expansive in the extreme.

This is not “try Jesus” and if you like Him give Him some space in your life. This is not just a convenient ticket to heaven and then a few hours on Sunday morning. The Scriptures declare that He is our life. Now those words have a profound meaning. We so often define our faith in terms of dos and don’ts and what we believe, but rarely do we define our faith as us having died and now having our very life in Christ. The enormity of that supposition cannot be overstated. He is our life in all things. And that life begins with the Spirit and the very presence of His Being. That is supernatural and if it is a reality than it translates into human deeds and thoughts and words.

The incorporeal presence of Christ will not be a partner or a co-pilot. We have so taken the sacred and turned it into that which serves us and not surrendered to the mighty power of Christ Who actually lives in every true believer. Again, that is a very great mystery which rarely finds the expression which would authenticate such a mind boggling truth. The Spirit of Christ desires a body upon this earth and that body is yours. But the emphasis continues to be on outward alterations, moral convictions, and changing the culture rather than surrendering to the Christ who lives inside the believer.

And with that misguided focus the church has not only created a group of Americans who are much more American than Christian, but it has grossly misrepresented the Person of Jesus and the faith that follows Him. Professing believers are much more known for what they are against than being a follower of Jesus. We are known for our buildings and our denomination and our moral convictions and our conservative politics. We are known as anti-gay marriage instead of loving gay people. We are known for being against abortion instead of loving pregnant mothers or having a sweeping evangelical movement for adoption. It is because we treat Christ like the CEO of our company rather than our very lives. And at the core of the problem is that the church no longer really knows and understands who Jesus is. Roll that around in your mind.

Don’t get me wrong and assume that I know Him completely and I am speaking from high atop an ivory tower of spiritual insight. No, I am not. What I am saying is that being a believer is more than checking the correct theological boxes. It is more than having a conviction about the deity of Christ. It is more than embracing the doctrine of justification by faith. Those things should be taught and understood by all of us, but being a believer in Jesus is much more than that. In fact the term “Christ follower” is a good term which I often use but in reality also limits the true faith. Yes, we are followers but we should be more than that.

You see the word “follower” seems to indicate we are following behind Jesus to varying degrees depending on your commitment level. But as noble and challenging as that may sound, we are called to something greater and much more challenging. We are called to such a level of surrender that we die and He begins to actually live through us. Now that is some colossal standard which the church has conveniently discarded long ago. How many professing believers awaken each morning and seek communion with Him and determine to die that day and allow Him to live His life through them? That seems like some kind of fairy tale in these days of fast food religion and moral crusades.

But does it not at least make contact with your mind about the wonderful and all consuming prospect of actually dying to yourself and actually experiencing the Person of Jesus Christ living through you? If you really take time to think about that prospect then you surely must see how the church has presented a shallow and hollow and a seriously flawed version of the faith. To say we have lowered the bar is an understatement because in the light of “Christ who is our life” the church has no bar at all. What passes for Christianity isn’t even the true faith anymore. It is a cheap counterfeit.

And since we have learned to live with and practice that counterfeit and have become complacent and content with being a member in good standing within a culture of darkness and death, how can we ever find the desire or the thirst for more? When we have embraced and even reveled in things that have taken the spiritual life out of our walk, how do we find the strength, the motivation, and even the wisdom to begin a search for those things and renounce them? And can we deny self when self is in control and is the keeper of the gate in our hearts and minds? The flesh will fight with all it has to prevent being exposed and having its power threatened. So the flesh controls the mind and the heart and takes all information that it finds objectionable and either modifies it or rejects it. And given that is a conundrum that only fasting a prayer can overcome. As Jesus said, “This kind does not come forth except by prayer and fasting”.

The church continues to repackage and dilute the Word of God. Preachers teach that giving Christ the preeminence means He is first in your life and then comes your family and then comes your country. That is an incredible misrepresentation of Scriptural truth. Christ is not first in a long list or even a short list. He is our very life, and when that is pursued then all the rest will take care of itself. If Christ is your life then you will be a good father or husband or employee. But we have so many conferences about “How to…” be a wife or husband or be financially wise etc., etc., etc.. So instead of teaching and challenging people concerning the depth of their discipleship we continue to teach people like a booth at a Home Depot.

I Cor.4: 10 We are fools for Christ's sake

What does Paul mean “We are fools for Christ’s sake…”? Here is a startling revelation which when understood correctly should bring us to our knees in repentance. In a culture that is violent, obsessed with sex, hateful, money loving, hedonistic, self righteous, full of addictions, and deeply dark spiritually, shouldn’t a person through whom Christ actually lives appear as a fool? Then why is the church welcomed to the political table? Why are preachers invited on talk shows? Why are preachers famous and well respected among the heathen? How can a politician feel comfortable sitting in a church service looking for votes? Why do so many politicians tout their Christian faith as an asset to their portfolio and millions will vote because of that vacuous testimony? In fact, how can a true believer even care about running for office to say nothing of getting elected?

We have long since ceased being seen as fools. Look at the church signs and if the church is large the pastor’s name is preceded by “Dr.”. We seek the approval and recognition and respect of the world. And if someone called us a fool because of our odd lifestyle we would be offended. But have no fear, we are not in danger of being called fools because our lives are far from being odd. We blend in very nicely with this culture with the major and outstanding difference being we travel back and forth to a building on Sunday mornings.

So when Christ is our life then we have no life upon this earth. We are living sacrifices that die and become conduits for His life. I realize that seems like religious semantics but the essence of the truth is real and sacred and exists in the eternal realm. But it does not come by acknowledging it in a philosophical way. And it does not come by adding fifteen minutes to your Bible reading. It does not come by deciding to attend church regularly. This kind of spiritual experience will only be realized through prayer and fasting. Yes, consume the Word, but without prayer and fasting you are gaining Biblical knowledge in the mind. How many today are so well versed in the Greek and Hebrew and in systematic theology and doctrine, but are they know for the depth of their prayer life?

Prayer, my friends, is the most difficult of all the spiritual disciplines. There are many reasons for this but here are two. First, our lives are so consumed with the temporal cares of this world that we have little time for prayer. Couples who are having marital difficulties are often encouraged to set aside a date night, but how often are they encouraged to set aside a prayer and fasting night? I realize that sounds way too fanatical so another excuse to spend money and eat will have to suffice.

Secondly, prayer is the only piece of omnipotence we are offered. But being a “can do” kind of people we feel very confident in our abilities to create plans and organize and reach our desired goals. But when a believer actually does get serious about prayer and fasting he can be sure to encounter demonic forces. The devil cares little about what you say or what you can do, but he is fearful about what God can do. And God does answer prayer and God does move in the spirit realm when a righteous believer offers a sacrifice of prayer. This kind of prayer sees you staying up later than usual and getting up earlier than usual. This is the kind of prayer that changes your ordinary life rather than seeing prayer as an inconvenience to that ordinary life. In the gatherings on Sunday there is more singing, more talking, more greeting, more announcements, more preaching, more invitation, and just about more everything than there is prayer. That speaks volumes about what the church believes about prayer.

True and sacrificial prayer demonstrates that Jesus is the vine. We as the branches were grafted in by faith but somehow we seem to believe we no longer are dependent upon that same vine. But if we ever really desire to have Jesus be our life and hope then we must have an awakening to the spiritual portal called prayer. And here is where I exhort all of us including and most of all myself. Let us surrender to a life of prayer and even fasting. Have we not yet grown tired of this dry and powerless expression the faith called evangelical? Has the Spirit quickened our hearts and our understanding to see where we now sit and how the Spirit calls out for us to arise and set your faces like a flint to seek Christ and deny yourself.

I suggest that no one who does that will ever regret it either in this life or in the life to come.


Anonymous said...

This is so awesome. Thank you Lord. I'll have to read this over and over, there's so much to draw from.


michael said...

I want to spend a bit of time but succinctly responding to this post.

First I want to underscore Hebrews 6:3! Here is a reality that sometimes brings an unwarranted frustration with the misbehaving and immature brother and sister we are called to cover and care for! How many times a day are we to forgive them? Hopefully you can cite chapter and verse what Jesus taught?

Now, for the maturing True Believer, here's the raw stark reality of what we will increasingly face as we die to self that Christ might have His voice through ours.

Peter said a very hard thing, here:

Acts 3:23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.'
24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.

Notice verse 23? There simply is no wiggle room being offered there, is there? And this is GOOD NEWS?

Why yes if you want to dwell for the rest of eternity in the Kingdom of the Gospel Peter preached that day!

Now one more thing that becomes obvious to the True Believer in this corrupt and fallen world. Having been to all continents and most major cities around the world I can attest to the fact that evil is abounding on the streets of these cities and being an honorable decent parent who wants to raise their children in true Christianity will be difficult in any country these days!

Consider this prophetic word written by Peter, here:

2 Peter 3:3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
4 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation."

You will be scorned believing in second coming of Christ. You will be humiliated for this Faith! Your life in Christ will be subject to the morally and politically correct police!

Think about what God was saying to Joshua, here:

Joshua 5:9 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

How is it that Egypt was still scorning the Children of Israel after forty years? They must have been following them by reports coming to the Pharaohs since crossing the Red Sea! In any event there must have been something in the camp that The Lord wanted addressed or He wouldn't have mentioned it to Joshua that day.

We live in perilous times now and they are not going to get less so especially as the True Church emerges from the riff raff of what is the so called church to actually represent Christ to the people of the world.

Jesus said an amazing thing to His disciples that is as much a reality of Truth today as the day He said this to them back then:

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,[fn] but now they have no excuse for their sin.
23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'

You can bet if they hated Him without a cause then they will be hating Him in you without a cause these days too!

Rick Frueh said...

How is that a response to this post? It seems like your own post.

michael said...

I'd step back and comprehend what you are saying with this post and maybe ponder some on what I posted inspired by it, Rick.

The Apostle Paul probably is the best example of a Bible Student/Disciple we have to draw from to understand what it means attaining to any life remotely like Christ. Here is as succinct an expression of what we will experience as we too die to self and let Christ live His LIFE through ours:

2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Anonymous said...

I think as Rick aptly writes that we need to rediscover the word prayer. Let's recall that it was precious to our treasured Lord. Let's not neglect what eternal God prizes highly!



Cherie c. said...

Okay, I will ask the question many might be a bit shy about asking.

There may be many of us that are thinking, how exactly is the right way to fast and pray?

Yes the Bible mentions it, yes the Bible even says how to act when fasting, but how do we do it 1) in a way that honors God, 2) that it is effective.

I fasted last year once or twice for a whole day when I was listening to my sister and keeping the Sabbath. I used the sunrise and sunset to gauge how long to fast. But I had very little time to pray. No, I'm not a sabbath keeper, my sister is in error. I still don't know if I did it correctly. No one knew because I read the passage where it said to "wash your face" .......

Do we set a side a time when we can do both at once? Is it for one meal or half a day or a whole day? This is where the men of the church needs to instruct the body.

It would be appreciated if guidance in this area was provided. I don't think anyone is expected to be an expert, but some teaching on this would be a great help.

A few quotes by Leonard Ravenhill on the subject, if you please.

“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...

I will post about fasting in the near future. Thank you for reminding me.

Cherie c. said...

Thank You Pastor Rick!

your sister in Christ Jesus and hungry for the truth of the Word,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 17:21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
Mark 9:29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."

I believe these to be one of the commandments of Jesus.

John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

Being persistent in prayer should be my goal.

Genesis 32:26 And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"

If you need a New Testament reference.

Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
:2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.
:3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.'
:4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man,
:5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' "
:6 Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said.
:7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?
:8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"


Rick Frueh said...

Good comment, Joel.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, thank you for the stern exhortation of reading thru the New Testament in November. That is how the comment came about.

The two verses from Matthew and Mark have been in the front of my mind for a sometime now. With this ongoing Staph infection that seems to be the only way I am going to be rid of it. The infectious disease doctor I have says that these staph infections can reoccur for up to two years. I really don't want to be sick every other month for that long. Up to now I have taken at least 81 days of anti-biotic this year, very strong ones.

Since I have been reading like you said to it seems that it is up to me to do what the scriptures command me to do. Some forty years ago I rode rodeo rough stock. One of those in particular was bulls. Now you take a flat braided rope and wrap it around the girth of the animal. Then as you’re seating yourself on his back you can feel the muscles of the bull flexing and hear the snorts of anger coming from his nostrils, tightening the rope and grasping it with one hand. You are also aware that that bull is thinking that when he dismounts you he will stomp a mud hole in you. The ride lasts for eight seconds. So if I did these sorts of things why is it that I cannot wrestle with the Lord for at least eight hours? The outcome will be much better don’t you think. A little limp for the rest of my days couldn’t be all that bad.


Anonymous said...

Can we say this about "Christ-Followers", that the simplicity of our calling is to -

- Imitate God and love as Christ loves us

- Love our enemies

- Do good to those that use us and persecute us

- Do unto others as we desire them to do to us

- Treat others as better than ourselves

- Forgive and never hold in account a wrong suffered

- Look unto other's needs

- Rejoice when others are blessed

- Look unto the lost as Jesus looked unto us, while we were yet His enemy, He died for us

- See ourselves dead and allow God to do His good pleasure through us and in us...

- To continually mature in Agape Love (perfect love)

1 John 2:5
But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity).

I'm very thankful God's grace allows mistakes on our journey towards maturity...

Christ our Life...Amen Pastor Rick...

May our lives be Him, Agape Love...may we emulate Him, personify His Word in us reflecting Him, showing the world a "true" testimony of the Living God and Who He is (Agape Love) isn't something we do, love is something we are, God's love, shed abroad in our hearts...

And if we walk in the Spirit, we won't carry out the deeds of "legalism", religion without Love...

Anonymous said...

God's love is shed abroad in our hearts but this doesn't make us love for only God is love! Christians do do acts of love!

Anonymous said...


I have to disagree...

2 Corinthians 5:15 - And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake.

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.

We "Are" the Body of Christ, baptized into the Body by the Holy Spirit...our life is hid with Christ in God, the acts we do our not our own acts, but God doing His good pleasure through us, His body...

He gets "all the glory" and all the preeminence, He's the one loving through us, not as the world loves, a higher, truer, perfect love, a love we are to do our best to become by yielding to the inner man made in His image, in His likeness, producing the fruit of God (Agape Love)...

Anonymous said...

Yes! Producing the fruit of love but that will not make us love for God alone is love. We unlike God sin which makes us very different from Him.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous -

Do you understand there is an outer man (sin) and an inner man (born in the image of God)?

The outer man is wretched, the inner man is the righteousness of God...

It's the inner man that is just like God, not the outer...

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

Romans 8:10
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Romans 4:8
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 5:13
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Colossians 1:21-22
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you "HOLY" and "UNBLAMEABLE" and "UNREPROVEABLE" in his sight:

We are the Body of Christ, we are the Righteousness of God, the body is dead but our Spirit is alive and has right standing with God...

God "IS" love and that is who we are, His children, redeemed...

You must "run" from the sin conscience and see yourself as the scripture says...

The works we do are Him working through us, Agape Love...

Prayer in the Amplified -

Ephesians 3:17-19

May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,

That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];

That you may really come] to know [practically, [a]through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses [b]mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] [c]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and [d]become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!


Anonymous said...

Thqnk you.