Jesus Having Come in the Flesh

 

 

Jesus Having Come in the Flesh

By David A. DePra

 Back to the Goodnews

This is the transcription of the audio message by the same title which can be found here:  663-mp3

Minor edits have been made to accommodate written clarity.

 

     Let's turn back to the epistle of Jude again for today.  We have been discussing the epistle of Jude, and more specifically, verses three and four.  I want to begin reading again in verse three.  The title for today is, “Jesus Having Come in the Flesh” -- and we will see what I mean by that in a couple of minutes.  

 

Jesus Christ IS, “The Faith”

 

    Jude, verse 3:

 

Beloved when I gave all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation.  It was meaningful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

     We have been seeing that, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (meaning the body of Christ)” is the fullness of the Person of Jesus Christ.  HE IS, “the faith once delivered,” and of course then all the Truth that is found IN HIM is included in, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

 

     Also we have been seeing that the importance here is that we contend earnestly for, “the faith once delivered,” personally and individually -- before we can even talk about doing it as a leader in the body of Christ on any level.  You and I need to come into an inward realization and knowledge of Jesus Christ -- and we need to ask God to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring us into that knowledge.  And then once God DOES do whatever it takes -- we need to come along with Him and surrender to Him and take up our cross, and lose our life that we may find Christ as our life.  That's what it really means, “to contend for the faith once delivered.”

 

     So if that's happening -- if you and I are in the life of Christ – then not only can you and I help others, but also we can begin to talk about the doctrines that have to do with that.  And so Jude exhorts us, “to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

 

Heresy in the Church

 

     Now verse 4.  Jude gives us a reason WHY we need to do this.  And that reason is that there is HERESY in the body of Christ.  There are people that lead others away from, “the faith” -- away from the person of Jesus Christ.  Jude says:

 

For there are certain men crept in unawares...

 

     We have seen that the Greek in this verse means, “to enter via a side entrance.”  Jude continues:

 

There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation -- ungodly men -- turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

     “Lasciviousness,” can be expressed in CONDUCT that has no moral restraint -- the word, “lasciviousness,” means, “without restraint,” in the New Testament Greek.  But also, if I take the Truth of God in Jesus Christ and turn that Truth into anything that suits ME, or into anything that would make ME popular, or into what would cause ME to get gain -- THEN, in that case, I'm likewise turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.

 

     Don't think of grace as simply a, “thing.”  The grace of God is really EVERYTHING He's given to us in CHRIST.  “Grace and Truth came IN Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:14 and 1:17)  So again -- we are back to the PERSON who constitutes THE FAITH once delivered.

 

     If I take that – the grace of God in Christ -- and turn it into what pleases ME – into something that has no restraint as to Truth; as to holiness; as to reverence for God – then I AM denying the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I'm denying that HE is my restraint – I am denying that my relationship with Him (and my knowledge of Him) defines the Truth – I am denying that He is the source of Truth.  He is my, “restraint.”  It's not a forced restraint.  But if Jesus Christ is the Truth, then HE is the,” restraint,” against error -- if you see what I'm getting at.  Truth always IS (a restraint against error).

 

     Notice that when we talk about people turning the grace of God -- really the Truth of God -- into whatever pleases them – that this was our definition of HERESY that we saw last week:  People picking and choosing what Truth WILL BE – deciding that for themselves.  And of course, then spreading it around.  That's heresy, and that's the makings of a, “heretic.”  And so Jude 3 and 4 makes these statements.

 

Test the Spirits

 

     Now, for today I want to build on this by turning to another passage that in many ways says exactly the same thing -- from a different angle -- and brings in a whole bunch of other Truth that we need to see with regards to this necessity of, “contending for the faith once delivered.”  And that scripture is found in I John chapter 4.  Now -- I'm going to lump everything in this message that I have to say about I John 4 – in the past of given a lengthy series on this passage.  So this is going to be a more condensed version.  But we've got to go over this again for those who haven't heard -- but also because it is absolutely spot on with regard to what Jude is talking about in his epistle.

 

     So let's read here in first John chapter 4:1.  John writes there:

 

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God, because many false prophets are going out into the world.

 

     You will notice that last phrase, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  That is also what Jude is talking about.  Jude is talking about the fact that men, “crept into the body of Christ unawares.”  It's the same principle.  There are false prophets and false teachers everywhere.  There always have been -- but today, especially when communications are at an all-time high and possibility -- false prophets are everywhere.  That is so, not only on the Internet, television, and radio, but in person -- in local churches.  That's why we are to, “test the spirits to see whether they are of God.”

 

     How many see that right here, in verse one, John is telling us that behind false prophets are evil spirits?  In fact, later we are going to read in this passage that behind false prophets is the spirit of antichrist.  That is what he is saying here.  He is saying, “test the spirits,” because we NEED to test them -- BECAUSE many false prophets are gone on in the world.  Do the math.  Those spirits; evil spirits; the spirit of antichrist -- are IN what these false prophets are preaching, teaching, and doing,  And so John immediately brings us into a very serious situation and possibility.

 

     Now note -- the first phrase of this passage that I’ve read:  “Beloved, believe not every spirit.”  I think that I'm correct in saying, at least generally speaking, that in the body of Christ today, and certainly in some of the local churches – many of which are along the charismatic line; the Pentecostal line; also some of the other churches that may not be along that line -- I think that I'm perfectly correct in saying that most of the people DO believe every spirit, and almost no one actually tests the spirits to see whether they are of God.

 

     One of the things I want to emphasize for today -- and we will get to this in a moment -- is that reason that people today do not really test the spirits -- to see whether they are of God -- is because they do not understand what John is saying here IS THE TEST.  He is going to tell us how we can know the spirit of God in verse 2.  But people read this and explain it away as something that applies to the first century, or they just don't understand what John's talking about.  And if that's the case, how are you going to use the test, “to test the spirits?”

 

     Now again -- and I'm still talking about verse 1 – if John is saying, “believe not every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God” – can we see two things from this verse that are very important?  Number one:  John's exhortation to test the spirits would be absolutely ridiculous and senseless unless it was possible for evil spirits to be in the church -- trying to do damage, and trying to deceive people.  Can we see that built into this exhortation is really a WARNING?

 

     We talked last week about the fact that God will allow heresies; He will allow false teachers and preachers in the body of Christ to be spreading heresy.  He will allow it so that you and I can be, “proven genuine” – really, so that you and I can have proven IN US what is genuine -- in other words, the faith once delivered:  Jesus Christ.

 

     God is allowing this -- but He's not allowing it in the sense that we are at the mercy of these false teachers and preachers that God allows to come into the body of Christ.  No.  For He is telling us right here -- as He does in I Corinthians 11:19; as He does in Jude 3 and 4 -- He is telling us again that false prophets will be in the church – but He is exhorting us; warning us -- to test the spirits.

 

     So it is possible – God is telling us that there could be a false prophet right in the pulpit in your church, or in your midst in the church, or on Christian TV.  That shouldn't be surprising.  If you can't recognize the heresy that is on Christian TV, my goodness, get on your knees and cry out to God for discernment.  The possibility of evil spirits mingling in with the body of Christ – evil spirits behind false prophets and teachers – that possibility is given right here.  That's the first thing.

 

     The second thing we need to see from out of this verse is that if we ignore this warning and do believe every spirit -- and don't test the spirits -- do we actually believe that in the final analysis, when all is said and done, that we are not going to be deceived – and that God is going to somehow protect us?  Do we believe that we can ignore the word of God, let alone the inward conviction of the Spirit of God -- do we believe that we can ignore these things and these warnings and that everything is just going to be fine? 

 

     But I have to tell you that I think most people DO ignore these warnings.  I don’t think most people read I John 4:1, and this passage, and actually discern that this is a fundamental Truth that John is giving us -- and that it is a fundamental way in which we can know what is of God, and what is not.  Most people are not even aware that this scripture is that important – let alone know that this scripture is even in here.  I've heard very few sermons on this.  Yet here is John saying, “This is how you can know whether the Spirit of God is confessing -- versus whether it's the spirit of antichrist.”  I would think that to read a passage like this would get our attention.

 

     People ask all the time:  “How can I know what is of God, and what isn't?”  Well, here it is.  This not the only place in the Bible that this is directly stated -- there are a few others.  Really the whole Word of God is a test for Truth – isn’t it?

 

Jesus Having Come in the Flesh

 

     Well, let’s get back to the passage:  “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try to spirits to see whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”  So John is giving us a warning and exhortation -- and really it's God's way of giving us protection against deception.

 

     Verse 2 -- this is the verse from which I got my title today of, “Jesus Having Come in the Flesh.”  Verse 2 says:

 

Hereby we know the spirit of God:  Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ having come in the flesh is of God.

 

     Now, I read that as the tense reads in the New Testament Greek.  This verse is not merely referring to a past event.  It's inclusive of that.  But it is likewise inclusive of the present results -- the present ongoing results of, “Jesus having come in the flesh.”  The tense here speaks of a past event with present existing and ongoing results.

 

     That's important to know.  Most people, when they read this verse 2, think that it's talking only about the fact that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God who became a man.  They think that John is referring ONLY to the Incarnation -- and they limit the meaning to that event -- of Jesus Christ entering this world as the God-man.  But as I said, that is the past event -- that's included in what John is teaching -- but there are present results of this. 

 

     Now the most obvious present result is salvation for those who would receive Jesus.  But look at the context and ask yourself, “HOW are we saved by Jesus?”  We are saved because the Lord Jesus joins us to Himself -- He comes to dwell IN US.  So in other words, yes, in the past, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man -- but the present, ongoing results of that today is that Jesus is CONTINUING to come and to dwell in the flesh and blood human beings.

 

     Can we now see the full meaning of this phrase, “Jesus Christ having come in the flesh?”  It's talking about, yes, God become man in Jesus Christ.  But it is including in this the present reality of, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27) John is talking here in verse 2 about the very definition and meaning of Christianity:  He is talking about, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” – about the fact that Jesus Christ, because He became a man, and worked redemption, NOW comes to dwell in flesh and blood human beings.

 

     You'll notice that it says that, “Every spirit that CONFESSES that Jesus Christ is coming, or having come, in the flesh is of God.”  We do need to get it clear in our minds as to what this word CONFESSION means.  John is saying that the spirit (of God) will confess, “Jesus Christ having come in the flesh” – how many know that this confession is more than (merely saying) words?  In fact, evil spirits could actually SAY these words and still be USING them for the purpose of either redefining them, or leading people astray into something else.  The WORDS are not what are vital here -- although yes, we need to say the words according to the Truth.  But it’s not the words.  This is talking about the Spirit of God REVEALING Christ – but not just revealing to us that Christ OUGHT to dwell in us; not just revealing that this IS CHRISTIANITY; that this is God's purpose – no.  Rather, I’m stating that the spirit of God will reveal Christ Himself IN US.

 

     In other words, He is talking here about not just the statement of Truth -- but also the experience of it.  Jesus Christ today -- if you and I are saved – HAS COME -- on the basis of His incarnation and redemption – to dwell IN US, and us in Him.  THAT is the core of Christianity:  Christ in us, the hope of glory.  John is saying that the purpose, and the functionality, of the spirit of God today will be not only to reveal that this IS the purpose of God, and that God does want to do this, but the purpose of God today will be to ACTUALLY REVEAL CHRIST IN US -- so that we may personally and individually KNOW HIM and have Christ formed in us.  The spirit of God will reveal Christ -- such that we can come into an inward realization of Him.

 

     So this is the, “confession,” that the spirit of God will always make.  We limit that word, “confession,” to somebody saying something.  No, this is talking about a full revelation of not only what God wants to do, but it's talking about the actual act of God DOING it – of God revealing Jesus Christ.  This is what the Spirit of God was given to God's people to accomplish.

 

     If you read John chapter 14, 15 and 16, you will see that Jesus Himself said that when He came to dwell in people -- by the spirit of God -- and that happened in Acts 2 -- that this would be the function of the spirit of God in us -- to reveal HIM; to testify to HIM; to unfold HIM.  And of course just read the New Testament, and you will find that that is the purpose of God stated everywhere.

 

     And so John is stating outright:  This is how you can know the spirit of God – “every spirit that confesses -- reveals IN people -- that Jesus Christ having come in the flesh.”

 

     Now, I often like to say this way -- it kind of covers all the bases -- that it is the purpose of God by His spirit to reveal the Person of Jesus Christ TO US, IN US, and then ultimately, THROUGH US.  It does cover all the bases.  That's what God wants to do through our resurrection union with Jesus Christ.  And that's what John is saying here – that is the, “confession.”

 

God Is Speaking to Us Son-Wise

 

     I'm reminded of that passage in Hebrews chapter 1:1-2 that says that, “God is today speaking to us IN HIS SON -- speaking to us SON-WISE – this is the Greek.  That is a CONFESSION – right?  Hebrews uses the word, “speaking.”  But what do we think that means?  That God is just saying, “Jesus…Jesus…Jesus?”  No, of course not.  God is REVEALING Christ in us.  He's revealing the Truth TO US, IN US, and THROUGH us -- by revealing CHRIST.

 

     How many know that when Jesus said, “I am the Truth,” that this means that we cannot know ANY Truth unless it's revealed in Him?  He IS the Light.  You think you can have LIGHT as a, “thing,” without having the LIGHT, the Person?

 

     Now it's almost like talking in a foreign language to share some of these things in a lot of churches today.  I'll don’t say that to be critical or demeaning.  I simply say it is a fact -- that folks today are blinded to the fact that Christ is to be in them, and that the Christian life is an unfolding of Christ IN THEM -- the Person.

 

     I had somebody, not long ago, state to me in an email, that they had actually never heard of, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  They said they were actually raised in a Baptist church – they are there today -- and that they had been in church, studied the Bible, and heard thousands of sermons, but they had never heard that Christianity was, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  They said that they were always taught that to, “know Jesus,” was simply to be saved.  They were always taught that to carry the cross was nothing more than, “putting their faith in the cross.”  What they were really saying was that their Christianity, in essence, was not really an experiencing of Christ; not really a coming into an inward realization of Christ -- no.  Rather, it was all doctrine.  It was all letter of the word.  It would seem, in the case of this person, that pretty much all of this Truth that God has in the New Testament, for them, was a redefined on a lower level -- to where they had never heard that Christ is to dwell in us, and that God's purpose is the unfolding of Jesus; is the revealing IN US of the Person of Jesus Christ.

 

Spiritual Blindness

 

     Now I use that as an example -- not to demean this person -- because I think they really wanted to know the Truth -- and don't we all start out blind?  My goodness, I can't even imagine where I would be if God didn't love me, and have opened up some Truth to me.  And so when we talk about Satan blinding people to the reality of Jesus Christ within -- please understand that by definition, to be BLIND is that you don't know, and you don't realize the Truth.  Now, there is a self-imposed blindness that is a matter of closing your eyes to the Truth.  But that is not what I’m talking about here.  I'm simply saying that in the church today, most people have been blinded to the Truth and the reality of Christ within -- and that blindness is so complete, and so total, that we don’t even realize what is happening to us.

 

     How many understand that if you are truly blind -- you don't know you are blind?  You think you see.  You think what you do see IS the Truth.  That is blindness; that is deception.  So this is NOT so much a matter of people REFUSING the truth -- in most cases -- it's a matter of people being blinded to it -- and then being offered a substitute. 

 

Not Confessing Jesus Having Come in the Flesh

 

      This person may have wanted the Truth, but they had never heard of this at all – Christ in us, the hope of glory -- in their entire Christian life.  I bring that up because John is actually telling us in verses 2 and 3 that blindness is a possibility – and he tells us what source that blindness is from -- even with regard to good sincere Christian people.

 

     He says – again -- verse two, “Hereby you will know the spirit of God:  Every spirit that confesses, reveals, and unfolds Jesus Christ having come in your flesh, and in mine, is of God.”  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  But the notice in verse three, he says:

 

And every spirit that confesses NOT that Jesus Christ having come in the flesh is NOT of God.  This is that spirit of antichrist.

 

     Note what John is saying here because it is a really easy to miss.  Note EXACTLY what he says, and you will notice that in verse 2 -- that after telling us that the spirit of God will always confess Jesus Christ having come in the flesh -- in verse 3 he does not tell us ANYTHING that the spirit of antichrist will confess.  Does he?  He does NOT list out a bunch of heresies -- that if we hear – will make us to know that the spirit of antichrist is a work.  No.  What he does say is that, yes, the spirit of God WILL always confess Jesus having come in the flesh – but the spirit of antichrist will NOT confess this Truth. 

 

     How many see this is important?  John is telling us, in essence, that it really doesn't matter what IS being taught, or what IS being preached, or what IS being, “confessed” – he is saying that it really doesn’t matter what IS being confessed – because if what is being confessed IS NOT, “Jesus having come in the flesh,” then antichrist is at work.

 

     Can we see that he is simply saying that if the Truth that is the foundation of Christianity -- Jesus having come in the flesh -- Christ in you, the hope of glory – he is saying that if that is NOT your core Truth; if it is NOT the Truth that is being preached and taught as the core of Christianity -- and if it is NOT what you are experiencing -- Jesus Christ in you – he is saying that it really doesn't matter what you ARE experiencing, or what IS being preached -- if this Truth IS NOT being preached then BY OMISSION you can be sure that antichrist is at work.

 

     Now, again, I’m not saying that where the very Person of Jesus Christ as our life; as having come in our flesh – I’m NOT saying that where this is omitted that people are doing that on purpose.  Again, it's a BLINDNESS.  As to the personal accountability of people, as to whether they could know, or should know, or did know – that is up to God to judge that.  But the simple words of scripture are that the spirit of God ALWAYS confesses and reveals Jesus having come in your flesh, and in my flesh.  That's talking about the revelation and inward realization of Jesus -- and of course all of the life of Christ that we will then walk in -- or that is not Christianity – and the spirit of antichrist is at work.  People have been blinded -- because this is what God is doing and revealing by his spirit -- through ministry, through people, and in people.  

 

     Now, I don’t know about you, but THAT gets my attention.  I’m not sure that God could be more clear about this.  But again, this is one of those passages that nobody talks about.  Verse 2 clearly states that the spirit of God will confess, reveal, and bring us into the experience of, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” -- that Christ is dwelling in flesh and blood human beings just like you and I.  That's what the spirit of God preaches, teaches -- and that is the work of the spirit of God does.  Where that is not happening, it doesn’t matter what IS happening – where that is not happening, the antichrist is a work; the spirit of antichrist.

 

Substitutes for Christ in Us

 

     From a practical standpoint, what really happens where the reality of Christ in us is not preached or taught is that the spirit of antichrist -- having blinded people to that Truth and reality – will then -- once people are blind – bring in a substitute that will be then be defined AS Christianity.  It is another gospel -- in other words -- another Jesus.

 

     And that's really what John is saying here.  He's saying here that, “every spirit that confesses NOT Jesus having come in the flesh” -- in other words, every spirit that hides that truth; that omits it -- every spirit that blinds of people to this Truth -- every spirit that blinds people to the reality of Christ in us, the hope of glory -- what he is getting at is that what will be brought in as a substitute will be a REDEFINED Christianity.  It will be ANOTHER gospel.

 

     I’m mentioning, “another gospel.”  Paul told the Galatians they were under, “another gospel.”  They had become blind.  This was a shame because Paul clearly states to them that they had known Christ; that they had been walking in the Truth.  They had let that slip; they had failed to, “contend for the faith once delivered.”  And they had gotten into what we call today, “legalism.”

 

     How many understand that this is a good example?  The Galatians had become -- Paul said, I think it's in chapter 3 -- they had become, “mesmerized,” or, “bewitched,” by teachings that were geared to getting them to maintain their own righteousness – legalism.  They had become bewitched or mesmerized by these false teachings.  And this had acted to blind them to the reality of Jesus Christ as their very life.  And what came in as the substitute was that legalism.

 

     I can give a thousand other examples.  There are a lot of things today that are presented AS Christianity that are lies; that are substitutes; that are what the antichrist --  the spirit of antichrist -- uses to keep people from seeing the Truth.  Emotionalism is happening in a lot of places.  People go to these worship services and prayer meetings and it's all emotionalism.  It's all in the SOUL realm – “the feel goods;” the EXPERIENCES, and so forth.  And you cannot even suggest to them that it is not of God; that it is not the Truth.  They don’t read this passage and take it seriously.

 

     And there are other places where it's all intellectualism -- where you would swear that Christianity, to these people, is nothing more than a big Bible study, and a matter of sorting out the meaning of Bible verses.  To them, that's what Christianity IS.

 

     There are other people to whom Christianity is all about simply preaching the gospel.  In other words, evangelism -- and God knows that evangelism is a wonderful thing.  But it's not the full gamut and the fullness of Christ.  (Evangelism) is just a matter of preaching the Truth and getting people saved.  But you have to come into a realization and a fullness of Christ for yourself – and then you've got to teach people.  Jesus didn't say, “Go ye therefore into all the world and just get people saved.”  No.  He talked about making DISCIPLES – which, by definition, is one who is taught of God; one who learns Christ.  THAT is what the holy spirit DOES and CONFESSES:  The holy spirit confesses and speaks to us IN HIS SON. 

 

     And so we have all these substitutes for the work of the spirit of God.  Some of them are more obvious than others -- as far as being error.  Some of them are very subtle.  But the word of God is very clear:  “Every spirit that confesses – reveals -- that Jesus Christ having come in the flesh -- every spirit that is revealing Jesus Christ -- right now -- in you and I, who are flesh and blood human beings -- that's the spirit of God.

 

     How many understand that even though we have some language here that may be a little bit strange to us, that what John is teaching is very clear?:  It is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  And every spirit that OMITS that; hides it -- that blinds people to Him in favor of some other presentation, or another gospel -- is NOT of God.  “And this is that spirit of antichrist, John says, “whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.”

 

     Now read with me verse 4, because in verse 4 we read a phrase which proves -- because were still on the same subject -- which proves that John is, in fact, talking about, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” as the definition of Christianity, and as the work that the spirit of God will always be doing.  Verse 4 -- which is after this exhortation and warning as to how you can know what is of God -- he says, “You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them.”  Why?  “Because greater is HE THAT IS IN YOU than he that is in the world.”  How many see that, in context, that John is talking about, “Christ in us, the hope of glory?”  Verse 4 is an affirmation of that.

 

Ministry

 

     Now, if you gather all this up that John is talking about here in I John 4 -- it gives us a clear line of demarcation.  It tells us that Jesus Christ having come to dwell with in flesh and blood human beings -- it tells us that the spirit of God is going to be at work revealing that Christ IN us and TO us.  The spirit of God is going to be working to build us up in Jesus.

 

     Now, along that line, turn to Ephesians 4 -- because Ephesians 4 is going to tell us what the ministry of the spirit of God is -- as worked out through those who God uses.  In Ephesians 4:11, I want to start there, he says:

 

God gave some apostles and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastor/ teachers.

 

     That's what it says in the Greek -- it's one word – “pastor/teacher.”   And then he tells us in verse 12 what these gifts have been given FOR:

 

For the equipping of the saints unto the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ.

 

     That word, “edifying,” means, “to build; to build up.”  And so these, “offices” -- some people like to call them,” offices” -- I don’t like that word because it sounds as if we wear, “badges.”  All of these descriptions here, i.e., apostles and prophets, and so forth, they are not a badge or an office that you and I occupy.  It's who you ARE in Christ.  And how many understand that if these were real today that we would not be in the mess we are in?

 

     Well, let's move on here.  God has given all these gifts, “for the perfecting, or equipping, of the saints unto the work, or FOR the work, of ministry -- which IS the edifying of the body.”  Now notice what all of this is UNTO – again, a description of what the Spirit of God does through people:  Until we all come unto the unity of – what?  “THE FAITH.”

 

     Now, we have been talking a lot about what. “THE FAITH,” is -- and it's very clear that THE FAITH is the fullness of Jesus Christ and all the Truth that is IN HIM.  And so the work of the Spirit of God here would be to bring believers into the unity of the Person of Jesus Christ -- that all of us may have a common life:  HIS LIFE.

 

     How many understand that this is a description of Christian unity and fellowship?  The practicalities, of course, of walking together (emerge from that), but the very foundation of Christian unity is, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”  HE IS the foundation of that unity, and HE IS, “the faith.”  His life is (the faith), and the Truth of Him is (the faith).

 

     And so the work of the spirit of God is -- again -- going to be to, “speak to us in God’s Son -- is going to be to unfold Jesus Christ in individuals, so that there may be a unity between those individuals in that Person of Christ.  And so he says, “Until we all come unto the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”  He wants to bring us into a knowledge, or an inward realization, of Jesus.  That's the work of the spirit of God.  That's the reason why Christ is in us.  And all of this is supposed to be unto a perfect or mature man unto, “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” 

 

     In other words, what is this all about?  We really ought ask, “WHO is it all about?”  It is all about CHRIST -- it's all about Jesus Christ having come to dwell in flesh and blood human beings.  And because He has -- then bringing those flesh and blood human beings into a unity with each other, so that we -- not only individually; that's vital -- but also as a body -- may be an expression and a witness unto Christ.

 

     I don't think in this age we are going to see a whole lot of the witness of Christ coming through the body of Christ.  I think that God is building that now.  I don’t think it was ever His intention to have this big, worldwide body of Christ -- bringing the world into revival like some PEOPLE prophesy.  That is not going to happen.  People are wasting their time waiting for that.  Prophesied in the Bible is APOSTASY -- not end-time REVIVAL.  But there can be spot revivals here and there.

 

     The point is that God is building a body, so that in the ages yet to come, He may have that body as a full expression of Jesus.  But the work of the Spirit of God in THIS age -- preparatory to the eternal ages -- is to form Christ IN individuals; to form Christ and reveal Christ IN US.  That is what the spirit of God is doing, and anything else that is preached is NOT OF GOD -- as we have read in I John 4.

 

Paul’s Prayer Inspired by God

 

     Now let's read something else here in Ephesians.  I want to read, once again, this prayer of Paul that we find in chapter 1.  I read it pretty often.  I love it because it's really a clear statement of God's desire and purpose for his people.  Paul is telling us right here -- under the inspiration of the spirit of God – he is telling us what he prays.  Therefore, I would submit that this is God's desire.  That's why he inspired Paul to tell us this.  Paul says:

 

I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of himself.

 

    There it is again:  Christ in us, the hope of glory.  All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found IN HIM.  He says:

 

So that the eyes of your understanding might be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

 

     I could certainly go on with this, but the purpose of God is clear:  Christ in us, the hope of glory -- and THEN to make Christ our life; to bring us into the fullness of Jesus; to bring us into an inward realization of Jesus.  And of course, to accomplish that, God's must bring us under the work of the cross – we must lose our life in order to find Christ AS our life.  But this is what the purpose IS – and it is what the spirit of God will be doing.  But where that is not happening – and it does not matter what IS happening -- but where that is NOT happening -- by omission – well, at the, “very best” – and I’m being a little facetious and saying it this way -- at the, “very best,” the spirit of antichrist has BLINDED people to the Truth.  And of course then therein comes the substitutes -- and often, grave heresy is the substitute.

 

Christ, Our Life

 

     Now, I John 4, and these other scriptures that I have read, very clearly tie into our passage from Jude.  We are to earnestly contend for THE FAITH; for the faith of Jesus; for the reality of Christ in us.  That is what we are to earnestly contend for.  I mentioned last week, that this does NOT mean that we are deceived – that this is why we need to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered.  No.  What is being said there by Jude is that God has revealed this Truth to His people.  He has revealed Christ as THE FAITH – and has delivered that to His people:  The body of Christ.  So whether you already know it, and are standing in the Truth, you are to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered -- that you may grow even more; also that you may maintain and be a witness unto Christ;  But if you have been deceived -- if you are simply now discovering this – you are to earnestly contend. 

 

     And as I said at the beginning of this message you earnestly contend by refusing to settle for less than the fullness of Jesus Christ and His will -- which starts with the Person of Jesus IN YOU.  And we can do that right now by handing ourselves over to God, and telling him to do whatever it takes – and when God does do whatever it takes – pick up that cross and let Him do his work by His spirit.

 

     Now this is what the Spirit of God, “confesses:” God is revealing His Son IN people, and all ministry is unto that end -- preaching, teaching, fellowship, the witnessing, the conduct -- all the things that become part of an expression of Jesus Christ.  Gather all this up and what it means is that Christ is to become OUR LIFE.  “Christ, our life,” Paul says in Colossians 3:4.  We are to live by faith IN HIM, and out FROM Him, as our life.  We are rely on Him for everything.  We are to do that individually, and we are to do that as a church – IN THE TRUTH – edifying each other in Christ.  That's what the Spirit of God is doing, and so, if the spirit of God is working through ministry doing a work in us, that is what is going to be happening there.  And where that is not happening, well, we are not in the Truth -- and we need to go on to find the Truth and discover Jesus.  And that's what it means, “to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered.”

 

     Now WHY does the spirit of antichrist, backed by Satan, want to blind Christians to the experience -- to the reality -- of Christ in us the hope of glory?  Can we see that it is because it is through Christ that God is doing everything -- and that Christ is not only to be our ALL, but that Christ is to BE OUR LIFE?  If you are blinded to that, how far are you going to get in the Christian life?  If you are blinded to the Person who said, “I am the Truth, I am the life, I am the light, I am the way,” and so on – if you are blinded to that Person -- how far are you going to get in your Christian walk?

 

The Travail of God

 

     Now, people, of course, scoff at this -- and we think that if we know the Bible verses where Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” -- we think that if we know the Bible verse that says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” -- that somehow we've ARRIVED – and we have, “IT.”  I’m not talking about knowing the Bible verses.  I hope we do know them.  But I’m talking about encountering and experiencing Jesus Christ Himself -- in us.

 

     That's what Paul's great cry was – “I travail,” he told the Galatians in Galatians 4:19 – “that Christ be formed in you” – “that you come into an inward expression and realization of Christ” -- is what the Greek means.  THAT was Paul's travail.  Is it OURS?  Like I said, I would hope it would be -- but unfortunately we are so blinded to the reality of these things, and we have reduced Christianity down into a religion of tenants, statements of faith, and various religious practices, and we have forgotten that it was always about CHRIST IN US – His life; His will; His glory. 

 

Meaning of Antichrist

 

     There is nothing that the spirit of antichrist wants to do more than blind people to the Person of Jesus Christ as their life.  We need to look up some Greek words -- like the word, “antichrist.”  We will find that it means, “instead of Christ.”  It is not just, “that which is against Christ.”  It certainly ultimately gets to that -- but it is talking about that SUBSTITUTE that's brought in once Christians are blinded to the Person of Christ.  It is ANYTHING, “instead of Jesus.”  That is antichrist -- and that is why any spirit that does NOT confess, “Jesus having come in the flesh,” IS antichrist -- because if what is being confessed is NOT the reality of Christ, it doesn't matter what IS being confessed – it is of antichrist – it is an, “instead of Christ,” spirit.

 

In Jesus Christ is All

 

     I want to turn to the epistle of Paul to the Colossians for the time we have left today,   just to see how thoroughly Paul the apostle pounds home the Truth that ALL is in Christ, and that if Christ is in us, then HE IS OUR ALL.  This is the great Truth that John the apostle said that antichrist wants to blind us to -- is the great Truth that constitutes, “the faith once delivered.”  And Paul certainly affirms that without apology. 

 

     In verse 27 of chapter 1 in the epistle to the Colossians says that, “the great mystery of God” -- a mystery that he says, in verse 26, was hidden from ages and from generations past, but now is made manifest to the saints -- he says this great mystery is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  You'll notice the great mystery is NOT a list of doctrines -- and I trust that everyone understands that the doctrines are essential because they tell us what were supposed to experience; they tell us what the Truth is.  But the doctrines are not the PERSON whom we are to experience. They simply tell the Truth about Him.  And so, Christianity is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Christianity is, “Jesus having come in your flesh and in my flesh” -- and so this is what Paul establishes is the great mystery.

 

     And in verse 28 he says, “This is what we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may” --- and here is the purpose – “present every man mature in Christ Jesus.  Whereunto also we labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily.” 

 

     And so Paul says that he has this great desire to, “present every man mature in Christ.”  How does that happen?  It happens if, “God speaks to us in His Son,” and we hear him.  It happens if God does form Christ in us.  It happens because the work of the spirit of God is to, “confess Jesus,” or, “reveal Jesus,” as having come in our flesh and blood human existence by the spirit.

 

     “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him,”  (I Cor. 6:17)  That is salvation.  That's HOW Christ dwells in us.  But how many understand that this happens in a flesh and blood human being in this age?  It is a bit of irony, but it speaks of the separation between soul and spirit in each one of us -- that we are flesh and blood human beings here in this age, but we are joined to the Lord IN SPIRIT -- Jesus having come to dwell in our spirits; Jesus having come to dwell in flesh and blood human beings -- and so this is, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

 

     Notice how Paul goes on here, he says, for example, in verse 3 of chapter 2, about Christ:  “IN WHOM are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  In other words, all wisdom, all knowledge is found IN CHRIST.  You want wisdom?  You want treasures of wisdom and knowledge?  You cannot have it unless Christ is unfolded to you -- because ALL is found in Christ.

 

     God Almighty has given us ALL things freely IN His Son.  (Rom. 8:32)  He has NOT given us all things freely IN ADDITION to His Son.  He has NOT given us all things freely merely BECAUSE OF Christ -- in the sense that He has tacked on things to the Person of Christ, or given us subsequent experiences that we need to have -- or has withheld stuff from us that we need to drag out of God by praying real hard.  No.  God God has given us ALL -- everything He has to give -- in Christ.  And if Christ is in us --  then potentially we already possess all that God has to give in Christ.  Now it's just a matter of God unfolding and forming Christ in us.

 

     Paul is saying that ALL is in Christ.  Notice in verse four:  “And this I do say lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”  In other words, lest anyone should lure you away with arguments and religious philosophy; lest any man should lure you away into something else that is offered as a resource for you INSTEAD of Christ.  This is happening everywhere in the church today.  Christians are getting into psychology.  They're getting into healing programs.  They're getting into all kinds of, “twelve-step programs” -- where they think that they can plug into these things and THEN Christ can minister to them.  How many understand that you and I need CHRIST?  NOT – Christ PLUS.  NOT Christ in ADDITION to something else.  We need Christ.  Paul is getting at that here:  “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”  We need to read that, and meditate on it, and ask God to open up the Truth about it.

 

     Down in verse 8 he says, “Beware lest any man carry you off as spoil through philosophy, which is vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and after the rudiments of the world, and NOT after Christ.”  One way to understand this is that the world’s ways -- really the world's thinking -- has infiltrated the church.  You look at most churches today and all you are seeing there is an exact duplicate of any corporate structure that you might want to find in the world -- except that the name of Jesus is pasted on it.  Even the way people attempt to grow their church is the same way that marketing techniques are practiced in the world. 

 

     That's one way of looking at that -- but it's also the idea of being lured away from Christ as your life; Christ as all that you need -- into different versions of religion; into different ways to get from God what you need.  And that's offered everywhere.  Everything from giving money in exchange for God's blessings, to submitting to authority, and all these different things people have come up with.  No.  You need Jesus.

 

     Now, let's wrap it up with this passage here starting in verse 9.  Paul just told us NOT to go those ways because they're not, “after Christ.”  They are, “after the ways of the world.”  And he says, “For in Christ dwells all the fullness of Deity bodily.  And you are complete IN HIM, who is the head of all principality and power.”  I don’t know how much of an absolute complete picture -- and a picture of finality -- that God could give us.  Jesus Christ is our life.  We are complete IN HIM - in Him ALONE.  Our problem is that we don't believe.  Our problem is that we won't pick up a cross so that God can bring us into the reality and the Truth of the Christ in whom we are complete.  How many understand all these things being the case -- Christ dwells in us, we are complete in Him, we have all that God has to give, it is all in Christ -- but now we must LEARN CHRIST – now we must discover Him and have Him formed in us -- which again is what the spirit of God CONFESSES, does, reveals, and brings us into.  HE IS, “the faith once delivered.”  And so, “Jesus Christ having come in the flesh” -- that is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  And this is something that if you are born from above that is IN you and I right now.

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