April 2, 2013
“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)
This past weekend many heard the Good News that Jesus died and rose again for our sins that we might live forever in resurrection power with Him. Have you ever heard of the Gospel in reverse? The verse I quoted above sounds like a funeral dirge because it begins with Paul’s announcement that he is crucified with Christ.
But, actually in this verse Paul exclaims three times that he lives! He lives by faith in the Son of God. He lives because Christ lives in him, and he lives because he is crucified with Christ. To summarize and paraphrase, in this verse Paul is declaring the Good News that Christ died so he might live and now it’s his turn. Paul must die so Christ might live His life through Paul.
When our holidays roll around we hear that it should be Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter every day of the year. If you want to have a perpetual Easter, realize that what was true of the Apostle Paul can be true for you and me.
Jesus consistently challenged His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9: 23). In addition to the literal meaning this could have had in that culture, by application to take up your cross daily means to “crucify” all the personal hopes, ambitions and plans you had for your life asking Him to have His will for your life.
Christ died that you might live. Now it’s your turn.
May 4, 2012
“… your fellowship in the Gospel…” (Philippians 1:5)
When you read the first words of Paul’s letter to his favorite church they show you the passion of Paul and the heart of this church he loved. The bonds that made them so remarkably one in heart are expressed in the repetition of one word: “Gospel.” Paul writes that the things he has experienced have fallen out to the furtherance of the Gospel. And that he has them in his heart because in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel they all are partakers of God’s grace.
As Paul continues to repeat the word “Gospel” he expresses his heart’s passion when he describes what he calls “the faith of the Gospel.” He precedes that with the concept of behavior that becomes the Gospel. Paul is describing the purpose and function of a church when he calls their church “a fellowship of the Gospel.” The context in which the Gospel is to be believed is that fellowship of the Gospel.
Paul is in prison when he writes these words and he doesn’t know if he will be released. In verse 27 he writes his ideal for his ideal church. His great Gospel prescription is: “I want to hear that every member of your church is a Christian; every Christian is Christian and Christians are Christian together in a way that results in other people believing the Gospel!”
Paul’s plan for filling this prescription for his ideal spiritual community is to “Stand fast in one Spirit with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel!” (1:27) That Church in Philippi is to act as if they have one mind among them because in fact because they do.
It is the mind of Christ.
December 16, 2011
“So the Word became human and made his home among us…And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (John 1:14 NLT)
God became human and made His home among us so we could see and not just read what He wrote in the 39 books of the Old Testament. We should find a Christmas challenge in the words of the Apostle Paul which tell us “… that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4: 11).
One of the reasons God did Christmas was because He felt that a written Word was not enough. He wanted us to see as well as read His Word to us. Everything Jesus was, said, and did was one great spoken Word from God to you and me (John 1: 1, 14, 18).
It is the plan of God that unbelievers in this world today should see as well as read His Word through your mortal flesh and mine. That truth, which is clearly articulated by the Apostle Paul, moved me to make an important decision in my ministry as a Bible pastor/teacher. In the early sixties I was praying about accepting an opportunity presented to me to be a radio Bible teacher. Those words of Paul were used by God to direct me to be the pastor of a church where people could see as well as hear the Word of God in my mortal flesh.
“We’re writing a Gospel a chapter each day by things that we do and things that we say. Men read what we write whether faithless or true. Say, what is the Gospel according to you?”
That should be our Christmas challenge all year long.