Thursday, 13 October 2011

Are you living in fullness of life?

Jesus said that He came "that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

In order to understand what He meant with fullness of life, I believe we need to go back to the creation account in Genesis.

The creation of Man

When God created Man, He created him in his image so that Man would be like God (Gen. 1:26). Being made in God's image meant that Man was originally godly.

God also created Man to do the work He purposed for man - to be fruitful and look after His creation (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15).

Man was also created to live in fellowship with God and to walk with Him in unhindered intimacy (Gen. 2:25; 3:8-10).

God therefore created Man to be like Him, to do His work and to live in fellowship with Him.

The Fall

When Man disobeyed God, he became separated from God, causing him to no longer be like God, no longer walk in fellowship with God and no longer able to fulfill God's will for Man.

God's original plan and purpose for Man's life was interrupted. The fullness of life that God had breathed into Man to fulfill God's purpose for his existence was stolen, killed and destroyed by the enemy! Consequently Man became separated from God's life and could no longer fulfill God's original purpose for him.

God's Solution

God's solution was to restore mankind to divine life and God's purpose for Man by sending His Son. Jesus came to model fullness of life as well as to restore Man to fullness of life.

Jesus demonstrated a completely human life, filled with the life of God, the Holy Spirit. The Son of God laid aside His divine rights and self-sufficiency to demonstrate a human life in complete dependency on God (Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 3:14; Acts 10:38). Jesus always emphasised His complete dependency upon the Father to demonstrate how His followers were to live their lives (John 5:19,20; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10,31; 1 John 2:6).

Jesus, therefore lived in fullness of life - a life joined to God that revealed God's nature in true holiness and godliness (John 14:9); a life that revealed unhindered fellowship with God (John 14:11) and a life that demonstrated the work of God (John 4:34).

Man restored

As the last Adam, Christ not only came to demonstrate true humanity as God intended it but also paid the price to restore Man to God's life - fullness of life! What the enemy had stolen, killed and destroyed, Jesus returned, resurrected and rebuilt through His death, resurrection and complete victory over the enemy (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:21,22, 45; Col. 2:9-15).

Through faith in Christ, the believer is no longer separated from God but is joined to Eternal Life - fullness of life (Eph. 4:18; 1 John 5:11,12,20). The believer is therefore given fullness of life in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 2:5; 2 Peter 1:3; 1 John 4:15).

Fullness of life

Those who are in Christ are called and empowered to live their lives in true godliness and holines as they reveal God's nature (Eph. 4:24; 1 Peter 1:15,16); live in unhindered fellowship with God (Eph. 2:18; 3:12; 1 John 1:3); and do the work of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:10; John 14:12).

Those who are in Christ Jesus have been conformed to the image of God's Son so that they can live in fullness of life as God intended it for mankind (Rom. 8:29).

Glory to God for His indescribable Gift to us who believe and for fullness of life in Jesus Christ!


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Whose kingdom do you belong to?

Everyone belongs to a kingdom. The question is, "Whose kingdom do you belong to?"

A kingdom is made up of a king and that which he rules over. Those who belong to a kingdom are subject to their king and that which he commands. The kingdom each person belongs to is determined by who is king and who he obeys.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords even though not everything has surrendered to His rule and reign yet. In the letter to the Hebrews we read,

"In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him." Hebrews 2:8

3 Kingdoms

Every person belongs to a kingdom, whether it is a self-created kingdom, someone else's kingdom or Christ's Kingdom. A self-created kingdom has self on the throne and lives in a realm that is governed by self and does what self desires. The self-created kingdom lives according to self-created values, beliefs, and standards.

Who is king?

The moment a person responds to the offer of eternal life through Christ, the believer surrenders his life to Christ. In other words, the believer gets self off the throne and invites Christ to take His seat as King in his life. What was once ruled by self is now ruled by Christ (1 Peter 3:15). However, the believer only truly lives as a subject of Christ's Kingdom if he is living in obedience to his King!

Whose Kingdom?

Many Christians would say that Christ is King in their lives but their lives bear the fruit of their belonging to another kingdom!

Jesus confronted the religious leaders concerning this very issue in John 8. Jesus even went so far as to say that the Pharisees were of the devil because they did what the devil desires (John 8:44). The religious leaders had created a kingdom for themselves that operated according to self-created values, beliefs and standards. When Jesus exposed who was on the throne of their lives and whom they were subjecting themselves to, they took offense.

The revelation of God's Kingdom offends the self-created kingdom!

The religious leaders responded to the revelation of God's Kingdom by taking offense. They could have chosen to repent of living according to their own, self-created kingdom but they took offense and rebelled against God. They chose to disobey and live according to their own kingdom.

Daily surrender

Daily, every believer faces the choice between living according to the old, self-created kingdom or God's Kingdom. That is why Jesus tells His followers (His subjects) to take up the cross and deny themselves daily (Matthew 10:38).

When God reveals truth to the believer, the believer always has a choice to either believe and obey or disobey. Either we believe God and submit to our King's will or we disobey Him.

Excuses, excuses

Most believers would never blatantly disobey what they know to be God's will. So the only way to avoid submitting one's self to God's will or standard is to create another standard that can replace God's standard. In other words, the believer creates an excuse not to have to obey God's will. By creating another standard for himself, the believer no longer feels convicted to obey God's revealed will but rather has peace, living according to another "godly", self-created standard. The word excuse literally means free from accusation. If the believer can create a standard that does not accuse him, he can fool himself into thinking that he is still doing God's will! This is the essence of self-righteousness - living according to self-created values, beliefs and standards (see Phil. 3:7-11) to be justified before God.

Deceptive excuses

Let me give you an example of this deceptive process. The believer reads God's Word which says, "I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44,45). Immediately the Holy Spirit brings to mind who one's enemies could possibly be. Perhaps it is a neighbour or a relative or a brother or sister in Christ. The moment the Holy Spirit puts His finger on an area in our lives that needs to be aligned with God's truth, the believer has a choice. Either he will repent by obeying God and changing his attitude toward that person and praying for him, or he will disobey God's will. No believer would say, "I am not going to do what God clearly says!" That would be blatant disobedience and sin.

The believer rather begins to reason with God by creating a new standard. The self-created standard can sound godly but it is still disobedience! The believer may think something like this: "I don't need to love that person because of all he did to me. And anyway, he doesn't accept me and love me either." This form of reasoning makes an excuse so that the believer can live with his disobedience. A self-created "godly" standard is created that seemingly justifies one's disobedience (see 1 Samuel 15)!

Just as man can replace the King with his self-created king,
so he can replace the Kingdom with his self-created kingdom!
(See Romans 1:18-32)

Still itching?

The believer who lives in disobedience by living according to a self-created standard is still living according to his self-created kingdom with self ruling on the throne. It is these people who enjoy listening to teachers who agree with their self-created standards, who reject the truth and those who preach the Kingdom! Paul warns us in his letter to Timothy where he says,

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:3

God is calling His people to absolute obedience to further His Kingdom! Disobedience furthers every other kingdom but God's Kingdom! We must stop making excuses and stop living according to our self-created righteousness - our kingdom!

Ask the Lord today to search your heart and to expose any disobedience in your life. Don't allow your self to make any excuses but rather repent and obey. Self desires what is contrary to the Spirit. They are in conflict with one another (Gal. 5:16,17). Who will you obey? Who is seated on the throne? Whose kingdom do you belong to?