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Christ, Our Life
By David A. DePra
What IS eternal life? Most Christians have been taught that eternal life is a THING God gives us, or a classification of, "being forgiven," or simply a future thing called, "going to heaven." But despite the fact that true eternal life includes these suggestions, they all miss the point. Eternal life is not a THING God gives us. Rather, God gives us HIMSELF – and HE IS LIFE PERSONIFIED. The result is HIS LIFE in and through us. That is eternal life.
What this means is that you cannot divorce eternal life from God Himself. The only way to have eternal life is to be ONE with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, you and I have NO life in us. We can’t. Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, and THE LIFE.
This, of course, is just one reason why Jesus is the only way to God, the only Savior, and the only name under heaven by which we can be saved. He is all of those things because He alone bore the sin of the world on the Cross – indeed, bore US – and died and was raised. In Him alone there is life. Thus, only if you are IN HIM do you have life.
All of the arguments about whether there are many ways to God, etc., find their resolution in Christ. He alone is God become man. In Him alone there is life. Thus, you can argue all you want, but the question comes back to whether you have LIFE – His life. Get that. It is not a matter of whether you have religion, are a good person, or lived a nice life. The question is whether you have LIFE.
And how do you receive HIS LIFE? Well, by relinquishing YOURS. You have to repent of possessing your own life, and take your place in the Cross of Jesus. Then, because by doing this you ARE believing, you are raised WITH HIM to newness of life. You relinquish your life and become one with Him in HIS LIFE.
This is obviously why any gospel that denies, side-steps, or waters down the need for repentance is heresy. The fact is, as long as you possess your life you possess death. The only way to HIS life is by repenting of that sin – THE SIN of owning yourself – and passing through death and resurrection in Christ. Then you will be one with Him forever. And because of it, you will be alive in Him.
Note those last two words – "in Him." You will find them repeated over and over in the NT. God never speaks of eternal life as a THING handed to us independent of union with Christ. No. Rather, again and again, eternal life is said to be IN CHRIST – and we are said to be alive only because we are IN HIM. There is simply no other Truth on this matter.
So what IS eternal life? Well, eternal life is the life of Christ. Thus, if Christ is in us, we are alive in Him. If Christ is not in us, we are dead.
Have we realized that every human being on this planet is, right now, either alive or dead? That every one of us is either dead in Adam, or alive in Christ? There is no in-between condition, for you cannot be halfway born again!
God wants all men to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the Truth. He wants us all alive. That is why Jesus died – that we might die in Him, and be raised in Him to newness of life.
This IS Eternal Life
Eternal life is not merely a term that is descriptive of a LENGTH of life. So many of us, when we hear that term, think of eternal life as a life that never ends. But despite the obvious truth to that thought, it misses the point completely. In the end, eternal life is a KIND of life, rather than a LENGTH of life.
But what KIND of life? God’s kind. We will never be God. Anyone who teaches that we are really, "little gods," or, "little versions of Christ," is in error. No. We, as redeemed humanity, are made ONE with Christ through death and resurrection. At that point, we have HIS LIFE – because HE HAS US!
I mentioned earlier that you cannot make eternal life a THING which God hands us, "because we believe." Rather, eternal life is a Person. God doesn’t give us a THING called, "eternal life," but gives us HIMSELF through His Son. Thus, we now see why eternal life is God’s kind of life. It is CHRIST IN US through the Holy Spirit. We have eternal life because we are experiencing, and are one with, God Himself.
Christianity is CHRIST IN US. Oh, how we need to see this Truth. If there is one Truth that has been distorted, misrepresented, and at best, turned into dead doctrine, it is that Truth. Christianity is not a religion, merely a list of doctrines, or just a nice life lived in anticipation of heaven. Christianity is LIFE ITSELF – HIS LIFE IN US. Christianity is CHRIST IN US – and the impact of everything that means.
Once we realized that Christianity is CHRIST IN US, and begin to understand what this really means, the Bible takes on new meaning. All of a sudden we begin to understand that we really ARE born again new creations – we are now one with God Himself. We begin to see why there is a big difference between soul and Spirit; the flesh and the Spirit; and the old man vs. the new man. And if we would see this great Truth of Christ in us, we would also realize why any Christian who is moving on with God is going to encounter so many great difficulties from everything that is contrary to eternal life, Truth, and to His union with Christ.
Eternal life is Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is not OF US. But through death and resurrection, we become one with Him. Thus, the war is on. Yet through faith, and over our lifetime, the victory is already won.
Light and Life
You and I are born into this world completely void of Truth, light, and life. Now, we easily give assent to that fact, but few of us really believe it. Indeed, I would dare say we cannot believe it until God begins to deal with us. Before that, we do try to maintain ourselves as respectable as possible. Especially if we have been raised in a nice church or Christian family. There are people who cannot remember a time when they did not believe in God or have a certain faith in Christ. But none of this is really light or Truth. It just isn’t. It is usually nothing more than a learned religion.
Now, I’m not putting that down. But that which is born of flesh is flesh. And Jesus stated plainly that until you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God. Thus, the things we THINK we see and know, may not be the Truth. They may be our understanding staring back at us.
It is only after God brings conviction to us, and we respond by repenting and believing, that we can begin to know the Truth. Why? Because before that, there is no Truth in us – because there is no JESUS in us! This should be obvious. Before we are born again there is really only one Truth we can know: That we are sinners who need to turn to Christ. The rest of the Truth is found in Christ Jesus. And unless He is in us, we aren’t going to know it.
Don’t misunderstand. It is entirely possible for a natural, religious man, to learn Christian doctrine, to parrot it, and even to impress others with that knowledge. Sure. In fact, you can even be ordained into the ministry and have no life in you. But when God brings the conviction of sin into a life, we must respond by bringing ourselves to the Cross. Only then is new life possible. And if we don’t do it, we have NO life, cannot really know the Truth, and certainly are not one with Christ.
Now, when I use the phrase, "know the Truth," this often is misinterpreted by Christians. They think I am talking about knowing Bible verses, or about knowing doctrines, or about knowing FACTS about Jesus Christ. That is NOT what I mean by the term – although I would not put any of those things down as meaningless. We ought to know and teach sound doctrine. What else would God want us to teach? Error? I hope I’ve made this clear: Doctrine is vital. But the point I’m making here is that to, "know the Truth," means far more than knowing facts, information, or doctrine. To, "know the Truth," actually means to KNOW CHRIST HIMSELF.
Of course. Didn’t Jesus say, "I am the Truth?" Sure. But wait. Start putting together everything I am saying about eternal life, Jesus, and the Truth. What conclusion arises in your heart? Just this: That if you have CHRIST IN YOU, you have eternal life in you – yes -- but you also have TRUTH in you. Yep. Why? Because it is ALL JESUS. He is the Way, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. You cannot divorce the Truth and eternal life. The two are as one, because they are both IN CHRIST.
Jesus directly stated this:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
This statement might sound strange if we really didn’t understand that both the Truth and eternal life is a PERSON. We might misunderstand and think that knowledge was the key to eternal life -- that the more you know about doctrines and facts, the more eternal life you actually had. But no. Jesus is saying that HE IS THE LIFE. And the more there is a release of His life in us, the more we will know Him. In effect, He is saying, "This is eternal life – this is the impact of my life in you – that you will know God and know Me."
Herein we see a great principle that is so seldom taught or even realized today: The principle of, "The Light and the Life." Remember how John wrote, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."? (Jn. 1:4) There is a great Truth wrapped up in this. John is saying that you cannot divorce the light, which is TRUTH, from the LIFE. Or to put it another way, the more of the LIFE of Christ that there is freely operating in a person, the more TRUTH such a person will see and know.
This only makes sense. Imagine if Truth were a THING – information, facts, and intellectual understanding. You wouldn’t really need LIFE. You really wouldn’t. But we would easily become arrogant and proud of ourselves. Count on it. It ‘s just the way we are. But once we see that Truth is a Person, and Light is the SAME Person, and that both are found only in Him – and that the only way in which both Truth and Life can arise in us is through DEATH TO US – well, then everything changes. The fact is, you cannot have Truth and Light unless it is carried in HIS LIFE. And you cannot have HIS LIFE unless you die to your own.
Sorry. But that is just the way it is – thank God. Otherwise, as mentioned, we would become arrogant. If you think not, you need only observe the untold number of Christian leaders today who possess any number of degrees in theology and ministry, and who carry credentials enough to impress anyone, but who know absolutely NOTHING about God. And many are, in fact, arrogant. Take issue with them and you won’t get far before they wave those credentials under your nose. Not everyone is like that, mind you, but many are. They have much knowledge – or what passes for it – but little Truth. And I would suggest that since God is not a respecter of persons that the reason any of us lack the LIGHT of Truth is because we lack the LIFE that carries it. And we lack the LIFE because we won’t DIE.
And so we come back to the key: If you want the light, carry your Cross. I’m not talking about SIN here, as much as SELF. The SELF must take it’s place at the Cross. Then LIFE – His life will find a greater release in you. And with His life will be the Truth.
Can we see that all of this comes back, not to THINGS, not to religion, not to following laws and principles, but to a living relationship with Christ Himself? God wants us to KNOW HIM – personally. And the way to enter into such an experience is through the same death and resurrection that stands at the foundation of everything in the Christian experience.
To know the Truth is to know the Person of Jesus Christ. But again – even though we might think and talk and reason about Christ using facts and information, to make it understandable – knowing the Truth goes beyond that. Knowing the Truth means the Truth governs you. You have been, as it were, reconstituted and adjusted, from what you were towards God, over to the Truth about Him. Or to put it another way, knowing the Truth has made it possible for you to function in a relationship with Jesus Christ – on HIS terms.
Now, there is a lot to that, certainly more than is going to be discussed here. But again – we need to rid ourselves of the mind set that this is all about THINGS, rather than a PERSON. God hasn’t handed us a list of laws and principles to follow. He has given us HIMSELF. Sure, that will mean obedience and holiness, but not as the satisfaction of law. We obey God because it is result of a relationship of Truth with Him. If I am one with Christ, walking in the Truth, what else would I do but obey Him?
True Christian freedom is the result of knowing Jesus Christ. Sure. The Truth sets us free, and the Truth is Christ. But what is this freedom? Well, first the negative. It is freedom from all of the LIES ABOUT GOD HIMSELF that are structured to keeping us away from Him. Lies about God always make us afraid of Him and paralyze us in our relationship with Him. The Truth, however, is a revelation that shows us the one true God – as revealed in His Son. It frees us up to walk with God because it removes those lies.
Now, again – and I cannot say it too many times – just as the Truth is not merely a list of Bible meanings and doctrines, neither are the lies. It is quite possible to know every doctrine of the Bible, and to know them accurately, but to be in total bondage because you don’t know the Truth. You can understand doctrine with your mind, but somehow, there is still no impact of Truth in you that adjusts you over to oneness with Jesus Christ.
The sobering reality is, if we are bound by lies, it is because we are bound by some facet of death. And we are bound by some facet of death because we have not come to a surrender of it to God. Just as we saw before, that OUR DEATH = HIS LIFE = LIGHT, so it is that OUR LIFE = DEATH = DARKNESS. In effect, what I’m saying is that if we are blind and in darkness, the reason is FOUND IN US. The problem is NOT a lack of brain power. It is not that we have yet to find the right Bible verse. If we are in darkness, it is because we have not seen Jesus in a way that will bring light. And this always goes back to not dying the death that will bring the LIFE.
What is the solution? Well, there is NONE we will find in ourselves. You and I cannot manufacture the scene of our own martyrdom, or try to nail ourselves to a cross, hoping to solve the problem. If we try, we will fashion something FROM flesh to deal with flesh, and end up more deceived than ever. No. God MUST and WILL do this. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all Truth. Only the Holy Spirit is able to penetrate into the depths of what makes a man tick and get at the root. Thus, the solution is to ask God to do whatever is necessary, and then to yield to Him when He does. You want LIGHT? Then die this death. The LIFE of Christ will eventually arise in you, and with it, HIS LIGHT.
Knowing Jesus Christ is the only solution for any of us. We cannot really function as sons and daughters of God, or be witnesses unto Christ, unless we KNOW HIM. And we cannot know Him unless we belong to Him. The life brings the light – both are HIM.
Soul and Spirit
As long as you and I are here in this world, we are going to have Christ in us. We are going to be the earthen vessel in which the treasure lives. And part of the job of the Spirit is to separate between the two.
One of the biggest problems we have is that we do not see that eternal life is not our life. Now, that sounds SO trite and elementary, doesn’t it? But it is the Truth. We are NOT BORN into this world with eternal life. If we are born again, we have received from OUTSIDE of ourselves something eternal – Christ Himself – and He has come from the OUTSIDE of us INTO US. Eternal life is simply NOT OF US. It is of God.
But what happens is that we continue to look at our natural selves and assume that it is there that we are going to find evidence that we are born again. It is almost as if we monitor ourselves to see if we are functioning in accordance with our expectations for a Christian, and if we are not, well, then we go to pieces, doubting our faithfulness of God, if not our salvation. But need I quote the numerous scriptures that expose the folly of this error, such as Romans 7? God has already told us that there is nothing good in us, that is to say, in our flesh. There is only CHRIST IN US. And despite the fact that we are one with Him – we are NOT one with Him in our bodies or even in much of our natural makeup.
Do you realize this? Or do you actually believe that, for example, your body is saved? Your body is not yet saved. Are you aging? Salvation comes only after death – life is through death. Has your body yet died? No. So your body cannot yet be saved – which, incidentally, is why healing is never guaranteed in this life. Healing is in the atonement. But your body has yet to die and be raised, so full healing isn’t guaranteed. It remains possible only because God chooses it for you. How about your mind and emotions? Are THEY fully saved and redeemed – in the sense of functioning in eternal life? Nope. Not unless your emotions always operate in absolutely accordance with the Truth, and your mind thinks and operates only with the thoughts of God. Do you know ALL Truth? Or do you sometimes doubt, fear, and react in ways contrary to the Truth? I think we all know the answer.
Christianity is CHRIST IN YOU. There is still a YOU. And for this age, that YOU is going to be natural and fleshly. Sure, the Holy Spirit seeks to bring the natural and flesh aspect of us under control for obedience and holiness. But this doesn’t mean your body is going to all of a sudden be translated into a spiritual body before Christ comes. No. You will have to live in, and contend with, yourself, and your natural man. Read Ephesians. Paul talks about putting OFF the old man, and putting ON the new. Silly language if the old man was going to be completely obliterated in this life time.
My point is this: Despite our weakness, our physical, and our natural, we nevertheless have CHRIST IN US. He is not US, and we are not HIM. But we are one with Him. How? In our spirits. The seat of eternal life is our union with Christ in our spirits – "He that is joined (cemented) unto the Lord is one spirit with Him. " (1 Cor. 6:17) It is there that Christ dwells. The rest of us needs to be brought under control of that union, which is holiness. But the rest of us is not where we are to look for the Truth. Christ is the Truth.
This ought to be good news, because it tells us that WE are not the source of Truth. We need not look to ourselves, to how we function, to how we think, or to whether we succeed, in order to find the Truth. No. In fact, everything about us, at least at first, is contrary to the Truth. But we can look to Christ, as revealed in the Bible, yes, but also as revealed in US. He is the Truth.
Seeing this division is vital because once we begin to experience the dividing of our soul and spirit, we will no longer be tripped up looking at OURSELVES to discover the Truth, but will realize that in Him alone is the light and the life.
Christ in Us
If you have Christ in you, you have TRUTH in you. Absolutely. Thus, to know Jesus is to know the Truth. To have LIFE in you means that potentially, you have TRUTH in you. This is all finished through the Redemption. The process remains, wherein God must tear down our thinking and kingdom, and build up His.
The results of eternal life in a person includes ALL that is of God, because ALL that is of God is found in Christ Jesus. There is no need to look for, "a second blessing," or some further experience in addition to Christ. YOU ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST HIMSELF.
This was the entire point of the epistle to the Colossians.
Of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Col 2:3-10)
All things that pertain to God are IN CHRIST. And He is in US. What more could be said? The key to happiness, peace, joy, and fullness of identity is found only in Christ. These are not THINGS that God hands us independent of His Son. They are IN HIS SON – for they are aspects of eternal life. Eternal life is Christ in us.
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