The key to new life in the church in this season is not finding some new version of church. The key is to live in the new covenant and totally leave behind the old. This is Christ our life.
The Body of Christ is fortunate to have the teaching and the writing that is found in ‘The Power of Right Believing’ and ‘How New is the New Covenant? This teaching is of course found in the Bible but inertia and obfuscation by the Enemy has seen the church robbed of its power. Yet this life is ours and accessible to all.
‘But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises’ Hebrews 8.6 NIV.
It’s surprising that so many live in what Father left behind at the cross. Amazing that many give their attention to the anointing and the gifts when the fundamental issue is living in the new covenant instead of the old. The new covenant is the seed-bed of our Holy Spirit life and the reality of our union with Father.
‘Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant’ Heb 7.22 NIV.
Old covenant living is basically living in the law. Either the law of Moses or the more subtle ‘law’ of the knowledge of good and evil. The latter includes living from Christianity rather than from Christ our life. Paul’s phrase, ‘Christ our life’ does not mean us striving to live the Christian life. It’s way better than that! It means that Christ lives His life in the person and the church.
‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.3,4 NIV.
We and the church will appear glorious when He is our life in the present and at the end of the age.
In the old covenant - in religion- we can live a respectable yet humdrum, circumspect life giving out a few drops of water even though we have access to rivers of living water. These rivers of life are able to flow from the throne through us and into our day to day experience when we are aligned with the new and living way. While always our heritage they are only our possession when we are worshiping in spirit and in truth. This is defined as the new covenant living way of Christ our life.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.16 NIV.
This morning as I lay in bed I was thinking of people who say they have a faith. Sometimes they are public figures, journalists or politicians. Very few say Jesus is their life and Lord. Possibly this not thought to be credible or cool - so they advertise that they have a philosophy or a belief system. Or maybe this is all they have - a shadow rather than the reality. Unlike the girl who won the recent Olympic marathon and said ‘My only drug is Jesus’ or the Fijian team who celebrated winning gold by singing a hymn. Maybe the former know no better, having been socialized into eating the package rather than the contents. There is no life in religion. Not even in Christian religion. Yet by simply trusting Jesus we have the trinity come and make their home in our being. Here we are mentored by the Spirit of Christ and coached into becoming our potential and real selves. When the church as a whole does this the glory of Jesu is realized in us.
To live ‘in a faith’ minus a personal Jesus is like participating in a war with no bullets in your gun with all your ammunition back in the underground magazine. There is a personal Jesus who is personal to all. The only real Christ is a s personal Jesus. Christ is either our life or we are not alive.
In Jesus we are connected not only to the fullness of God but to the wholeness of the universe. Joined to heaven we are agents of spirit and life. We channel eternity into temporal situations. Filled with the Spirit and His power from on high we are equipped to undo all forms of stagnation, disarray, confusion and death. Some of us will heal the sick and raise the dead.
Jesus said. ‘Unless we have the open-hearted trust of a little child, we cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ The Kingdom of Jesus is seen through the eyes of the humble and the daring. Unless humility is ours we will be too self-assured to lay down our favorite notions and unless we are brave we will decide for conformity rather than life in the Spirit of Jesus. As a result we will trudge through life as a semi-anaesthetized religious clone rather than striding out in our potential as son/daughter of God. There is a way in which we can be totally alive and totally ourselves without rebelling against God as a sinner. This is the new and living way in which Jesus is our life. It is the new covenant life. Paul expressed this in Galatians. The new covenant is simply Jesus’ life lived by Him in you!
‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ Gal 2.20 NIV.
In my recent post I wrote of the huge benefit of living from Jesus rather than from His stuff, from Christian disciplines and routines. The essence of a personal life lived to the full is the core of our Kingdom. Now the church is seen as Christ come in us all.
This is incarnation, life in the Spirit and Christ our life. There is nothing insubstantial or impractical about this. ‘Christ come in the flesh’ is Jesus manifest in our person wherever we happen to be. It is you and Father are one.
But it is not just personal. This is where it starts. Together it is manifest as the church. Now it is the advancing new creation Kingdom of God. This is the rock that came from heaven and fills the entire earth. The rock, the new creation is heaven come to earth through the church. It is Jesus writ large in society.
You don’t have to be a holy Joe or a spiritual elite to live this way. Simeon and Anna who perceived their Lord as a baby when His parents brought Him to the temple were ordinary folks whose hearts had sought the Lord. Life in the Spirit is fellowship with Jesus and union with Father and the Spirit. This is ‘a now life,’ a present reality in which the manifestation of Christ among people is you! Here you are alive in the Spirit of Sonship with a living union with God rather than a theoretical or theological substitute or shadow of the real. Why? Because you desire Jesus and that is enough.
Here any teaching you give or sharing you engage in will be more than a Bible study or a statement of doctrine. It will be the expression of a lived life that is yours and our Father’s. For example I have heard people speak on the Spirit of Sonship. Some study up the topic and present a Bible study. Others speak from a lived relationship of Father and Son. The former may contain a few drops of life. The latter is expressed as a stream of spirit and life. This is the difference between old and new covenant ministry. In one we are not competent to minister the kingdom of life. In the other we are ministers of spirit and life.
‘But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him’ 1 Cor 6.17 NIV.
Last night, some hours after I had written the previous post, as if by chance, but not really by chance but by the One Spirit, my daughter mentioned the following. She works as chaplain at a university.
She shared with me a conversation she had with her boss - on a similar topic. “There are people who think that if they have not had their daily devotions, they have missed out on God that day,” she said.
(I know what she meant and how such people think, because I have lived like that myself - before I had become schooled in the truth of the incarnation and the adventure of life in the Spirit. I mean the mode of living where Christ is always in us and with us as was Jesus’ Father in Him) Sorry for the massive parenthesis!
‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘But in doing that people live in the shadows when the reality is Christ. They are living from their discipline. Those routines are not Him. They are us,’ I said.
My daughter responded, ‘Less mature Christians can use routines that serve to draw them to God. But if they persist, Jesus will reveal to them that they are already in God.’
‘Yes’ I agreed. ‘Our privilege in this new testament age is union with God.’
We need to live from this position, to live from what Jesus has earned for us and rest in the satisfaction that hidden in Christ, we can be ourselves, involved in our daily duties, releasing streams of living water. But this not because we are doing specific acts that are a contrived ‘witness.’ Not at all. They are a spontaneous expression of our life as sons - sons who are the living expression of our Father in the world.
‘Not only this,’ she said, ‘But a life with Jesus is real and is worship itself. We need not be religious since we are in union with Jesus. He Himself is our communion with God and His presence.’
My daughter was referring to the vicarious humanity of Jesus which is the foundation of new covenant living. Jesus is all things us towards God. It is because Christ is our life that this new covenant life is the new and living way - the way in which our hearts, souls and bodies are alive because He is our life. This fullness of life in Him has a name: You are a son/daughter of God and a ministering priest of His Kingdom. But not because you are trying hard. Because this infinite eternal life that is Jesus simply gushes out of you!