Summary: What do I need to do for Christ to be living in me.
TSL and Café Church TSJ 04-01-2014
Illustration: A story is told about Robert Louis Dabney, who was an outstanding Presbyterian theologian during the mid-19th century.
He served as a minister, as a chaplain and finally as chief of staff to the American Civil War General Stonewall Jackson before becoming a Theological College professor.
He also helped to set up a theological college in Austin, Texas.
As he got older, Dabney began to worry about his impending death, and he expressed his fears in a letter to a former student and theologian, C.R. Vaughan.
Dabney’s fear was about his ability to die honourably and to hold on to his Christian faith.
Vaughan replied: “Dear friend, let me advise you now as you often have me.
If you were about to cross a deep chasm, and there were a bridge over it, would you stand there looking in at yourself, wondering if you trusted enough in bridges to be able to cross?
Or would you not rather go and examine the beams and timbers of the bridge and the quality of its construction, and determine whether the bridge were trustworthy, and then pass over it in confidence?
Our faith is in Christ; spend yourself focussing on Him and His sufficiency, rather than on yourself.”
With that in mind, I have recently been mulling over a verse form Paul’s letter to the Galatians
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 New King James Version (NKJV))
As we begin a new year, it is time to take stock.
And I’d like to ask the question: Do I live the life which I now live in the flesh - by faith in the Son of God.
And I have been asking myself – am I doing enough to live my life to be living “by faith in the Son of God”.
And then I realised I have been looking at the wrong question.
The emphasis is not on me but on Christ.
If Christ is going to live in me – then it is Christ who is the important one – not me.
We can depend on having Christ live in me – because of who Jesus is – not because of whom I am.
He gave a clear promised in Jn 1:11-13
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
It is not what I do but what has given me.
He has GIVEN me the right to become a child of God – and that is how Christ lives in us.
I was trying to earn it – but the Gospel was telling me
It is not earned – it is a gift.
The question therefore is: Is Jesus dependable?
And so we need to consider who Jesus is:
And it is John’s Gospel which tells us a lot about who Jesus is:
William Carter summed this up very well when he wrote:
The other gospels focus more on parables and stories about Jesus.
And such stories can lead us to ask: "Who is this, that wind and sea obey him? Who is this who feeds the multitude on a couple of loaves and a few fish?"
But in the Gospel of John, there's never a doubt who Jesus is, because he tells us.
Usually he does so with a statement that begins with the words, "I am."
Put Jesus in a situation and he will clarify who he is and what he has come to do.
1. You can put him in the desert surrounded by people who are chronically unsatisfied, and Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).
2. You can put him in the midst of people who are confused, people who ask, "Who are you, Jesus? What makes you different from all the other gurus, rabbis, and religious leaders?"
And Jesus says, "I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture" (10:7, 9). It is an act of self-definition.
3. You can put him at graveside, in the midst of grief-stricken people, and Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live" (11:25).