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All in Christ

By David A. DePra

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. (Heb 11:1-2)

These verses are referring to the report that was given to Joshua by the spies that had been sent into the Promised Land. This, of course, was the second time spies had been sent into the land and had reported back what they had seen. The first time – forty years earlier -- the spies had given an evil, unbelieving report. This time, the second time, the spies gave a report that was the outcome of FAITH.

Note that what the spies saw was the SAME both times. The Promised Land had not changed. It continued to be populated by giants and by formidable tribes. Indeed, the Word of God, and the purpose of God, had not changed. God had always intended for them to enter and occupy the land. But what had changed were the people of God. Forty years earlier they had refused to believe God, and because of that, had given, and accepted, an evil report. But now there was a good report -- one based in faith. And the people believed it.

You will note that the ONLY change in this entire situation was a change from UNBELIEF to FAITH. Or, to put it another way, the land had not changed, God had not changed, but God’s people HAD changed. This, and this alone, was the reason why they now gave a good report. Faith, and faith alone, was why they were now able to enter the land.

Faith changes everything. Not faith that is the product of my imagination, or faith that emerges out of what I want, but faith that is the product of the Word of God. Add the Word of God to what you see – or to what you have always seen – and the meaning of it changes. All of a sudden, what would naturally appear to be worthy of an evil report results in a good report.

Jesus said, "Unless you are born from above you cannot see the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God isn’t a place. The kingdom of God is the RULE of God over any place. There is a principle here. Unless I am born from above – unless my eyes are looking at life from the viewpoint OF ABOVE – I cannot see as God sees. I cannot see anything. In order to see the Truth about anything, I have to view it through eyes that are certain of God’s rule, God’s faithfulness, and God’s purpose. In short, in order to see the Truth, I have to see everything in the light of the Truth Himself, Jesus Christ.

God had said to the Israelites, "I have given you this land. Go in and take possession." Forty years earlier, they had believed the natural circumstances instead of believing God. They had, in effect, called God a liar – because the natural circumstances did not line up with His promise. But now FAITH was added. This enabled them to look past the natural facts and see the purpose of God. Faith was the evidence and substance that changed everything. They now believed God.

The Wilderness

During the forty years that went by between the first and second attempts to enter the land Israel dwelt in the wilderness. Thus, the change that occurred in Israel took place there. It is always the wilderness that makes faith possible.

Why? Because it is in the wilderness that we discover what God has known all along – that in ourselves there are no resources. There is no Truth in us, and there is no Life in us. There is no righteousness in us. How could there be? In Christ alone are these things, indeed, HE IS those things in a Person. Christ is the Truth, the Life, and is our righteousness. None of those elements are found in us apart from Christ.

But you see, most Christian people do not realize this. Consequently, we do not believe it. What we believe is that God has made US righteous. We believe that God has done something TO US – oh yes, because of Christ – but that God has done something TO US to MAKE US righteous. Notice what I am saying: Most of us believe that God has made us righteous IN OURSELVES – we think He has given us a THING, or a status, or a condition, or a legal classification called, "righteousness." We likewise believe He has given us LIFE as a thing – we believe He has made us to come alive. But all of this is WRONG. God has not given us a single thing. God has not given us truth, life, righteousness, or holiness. Rather, God has given us JESUS CHRIST – who is, and in whom, are all these things.

Now, what is it vital to see this Truth? Is it merely a cute argument? Is it only a doctrinal issue? No. It is vital to see this Truth because only if we see this Truth – only if we HEAR IT – can our faith be properly adjusted. Right now there are millions of Christian people who are looking at themselves and unwittingly wondering WHY they can find no righteousness. They are examining their works, their attitudes, and their spiritual condition – they are even evaluating their, "faith" – and concluding that Christ could not be in them. Why? Because they think that if Christ were in them they would not fall short in this manner.

What is the problem? The problem is that we are looking for evidence where God already tells us we will find NONE. We are looking at our flesh and natural man and expecting to find evidence of Christ. Again – this is what we will do if we think that redemption is something God DOES TO US. No. Redemption, salvation, sanctification, righteousness, and all else are NOT things that God does TO US, nor are they things that God gives to us. Rather, redemption, salvation, sanctification, and righteousness are found only in Jesus Christ. Thus, if you want to find these things, stop looking to yourself. Look to the Christ who is in you.

But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

Our problem is that we put our FAITH in ourselves – we may not call it that, but that is what we are doing. It just comes naturally to do so. We put our faith and trust in our own ability – oh, yes, with God’s, "help" – to meet some standard of God. Thus, when we fail, and we will, we say our Christianity is not real. It cannot be – because we failed.

Without realizing it, Christian people put their faith in themselves. We think we are supposed to. We think that God has done something to us, or for us, or in us, and thus, we think it is right to expect that we should be able to take what God has done to us and live the Christian life. It is almost as if we think that God has handed us the tools and expects us to use them to live a Christian life. This is error.

To get to the Truth, it is first necessary for a word here about what it means to be a new creation. If you are saved, it is because Jesus Christ made Himself one with you IN SPIRIT. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." (I Cor. 6:17) Christianity is CHRIST IN US – and the way in which Christ is IN US is through a oneness between His Spirit and our human spirit. That is salvation – it is the seat and core of salvation. T

Now, what that means is this: Practically speaking, we are saved ONLY in our spirit. The rest of us is NOT saved, and in this life will not be. Thus, the new creation in Christ – the new man in Christ – is the union of our spirit with Jesus Christ. All that is OUTSIDE of that union is not the new creation. There is no life elsewhere.

So what we have is this clear distinction: There is the new man in Christ -- which is the union of our spirit with Jesus Christ. But then we have everything else about us which is outside of that, which is the old man, or natural man. That is NOT the new creation.

So here is the problem: Not knowing this, we continue to expect to find newness of life in the old man. We look at our flesh and try to find Spirit. We look at our natural man and seek to discover righteousness. But all of this really adds up to putting our faith in ourselves – to basing our standing before the Lord upon that which God already says is dead by virtue of the Cross.

Jesus Christ is to be the object of our faith. We all know that. But let’s define that a bit more. Yes, our faith is to be in what Christ has DONE. And yes, our faith is to be in Christ right now. But where IS Christ right now? Well, He dwells in us. In short, our faith is to be in the Christ who dwells in us – that HE is our righteousness, and that HE is our sole Mediator unto God. Not us. Not anything about us. Not because God did something TO US. No. This is about who Jesus is IN US.

Thus, despite the fact that there is nothing in us for spiritual resources, there is everything in Christ. So our faith must be in Christ alone – in Christ who is IN US. This is a simple Truth, but we so often misunderstand, and redefine it, to the point where we live in that which is contrary. Again, and this must burn into our understanding:

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

How does the WILDERNESS figure into this? Well, it is in the wilderness that this Truth is proven IN US. In the wilderness it is proven beyond a doubt that there is NOTHING in us. But that there is everything in Christ. That IS the Truth that is proven. Thus, it is in the wilderness that our faith shifts on over FROM ourselves TO Christ.

God has FREELY given us all things in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 8:32) Get that. FREELY. But we don’t believe that – usually because we cannot seem to apprehend that which is freely given. Thus, we think that it must not be free. So we hunt and search for the right thing, the right teaching, the right good works, or the right group. But the Truth remains – God has given us all things freely in Christ.

The reason we cannot seem to possess everything that God freely gives is because we haven’t come to see we have nothing. Get that. You have to see you have NOTHING in order to receive EVERYTHING freely. But why?

Well, this isn’t a matter of God sitting down and inventing a religion that includes a tenant that demands that we see we have nothing before He will give everything. No. This isn’t about a religious hoop we have to jump through. Rather, it is this way because God is God. It is this way because the only possible relationship with God is one where He gives all and we receive all – with nothing to give back. In short, grace is not merely a doctrine. Grace is the Truth.

God never created man to be able to give back to Him. What could anyone give to God that He is not the source of to begin with? No. Rather, God created man to RECEIVE from Him. But you see, this is – if you know what I mean – dangerous. For to receive from God requires that I do the will of God with what I receive. To receive from God requires that I glorify God. To receive from God means that I cannot use what I receive for my own purposes. Of course, the moment I do right by what God gives me, I experience untold blessings. But the point is, those who would operate in the authority of God must be under HIS authority. Those who would receive ALL must be surrendered to Him IN ALL.

This is why we cannot just receive everything from God just for the wanting – even though God wants to give all more than we want to receive. We cannot receive FROM God until we are surrendered TO God. And whether we believe it or not, as long as we are trying to offer God something, merit something from God, or trying to bargain with God in any way, we are NOT surrendered to God. We are not walking in the Truth.

There is only ONE Truth. And the Truth is, we have nothing and we are nothing. That is not a put down. In fact, it is not even the result of the sin of Adam. God never made us to live apart from Him, or to have to offer back to Him. The result of the sin of Adam is that we try to live apart from Him, and try to offer back to Him. Thus, if we want to walk in the Truth, we will see we are nothing and that He is everything. We will also see that He wants to give us everything. And we will let Him do whatever it takes to make us able to receive it. This is the ONLY POSSIBLE outcome of walking in the Truth. What else would we expect? He is God. What do we think that means? That we could ever have anything to offer Him?

God will put us in a wilderness which is geared to showing us that we cannot live from OUT OF OURSELVES. This may be so materially – God may prove that – but He will certainly prove it spiritually. He will prove to us that there is nothing in our natural makeup that can live like Christ. He will prove to us that we have no righteousness. But all of this will be for the purpose of showing us how to put our faith solely in Christ AS all of those things.

The wilderness is the place – IF we yield to God – that unbelief is exposed. It is where WE are exposed as a useless object of faith. The wilderness will prove to us that we are nothing. But it will likewise prove in us that Christ is everything.

So we see that to see that you are nothing and Christ is everything isn’t merely an exercise unto itself. Rather, it is to show us the TRUTH – and to MAKE US TRUE -- so that our faith might rest upon Christ, rather than upon ourselves.

The Promised Land is representative of fullness in Christ. Israel could not enter in as long as they were, "full of themselves." Being, "full of yourself," is not necessarily a matter of being arrogant. I am full of myself when I rely upon myself – when I present what I am to God as the basis for my faith. When I approach God on the basis of anything about myself, my faith is in myself. It is not yet solely in Christ.

Faith in Christ completely bypasses myself. Rather than be based in my merits, true faith is the result of seeing I have NO merits. Faith rests in Christ to the complete disregard of myself. This is impossible through human effort. That is why God puts us in a wilderness. All of this has to be proved in us. Then we will see we have nothing and be able to receive everything.

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