Tom: In this part of our program, we’ve been talking about the Gospel, and, Dave, we will never run out of things to say about it. It’s such a wonderful—profoundly wonderful—subject. But we've been dealing with some aspects of the Gospel with regard to believing and how one’s saved and so on. But today I’d like to talk about the benefits of salvation. Jesus said, in John:10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” But the word I want to key in on today is “life”—life in Christ. Colossians:3:4: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” But Christ is our life, and it’s an abundant life. What does that mean, “life in Christ”?
Dave: Well, the scripture says that we are dead in trespasses and in sins. Every human being is. Now how would you explain that in relation to our father, Adam—our parents, Adam and Eve. God created man in the image of God, Genesis 1: “…created he, him; male and female, created he them.” Chapter two tells you how God formed man out of the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; man, became a living soul. So, life comes from God. It’s not something, as the atheist or the evolutionist would try to say, rises spontaneously from matter when it becomes…the molecules become complex enough—I mean, they can't even begin to explain that!
So, human life comes from God, and I believe that all life comes from God, but man being made in the image of God has a form of life, a kind…I don't know even know the words to express it, because we can’t even explain what life is. But the life that “animated,” you could say, Adam and Eve was God himself, His Holy Spirit living within their spirit. I believe the Bible teaches man is body, soul, and spirit. I like the way Andrew Murray put it many years ago: “The body is the seat of sense consciousness, the soul is the center of self-consciousness, and the spirit is the center of God consciousness. In other words, it was in the spirit that God—the spirit of God—dwelt, and it is through the spirit that man knows God—can know God and experience His life.
Now, obviously, then, when Adam and Eve rebelled, they disobeyed God, and they were cast out of the Garden; they lost that fellowship with God. The Spirit of God left the spirit of man, and there was a separation between God and man, and this is why Paul, in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, says that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation—that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. This is through the gospel, and we find that reconciliation, first of all, is in Jesus Christ, who is God, who, through the virgin birth became a man, but he didn’t cease to be God; He never ceased to be man. He’s the one-and-only God-man. So in Jesus Christ, God and man have been brought together in a way that is even superior to what it was with Adam, although Jesus is called the second man and the last Adam.
Now, when Christ comes to live in us, which we call…we’re born of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. But the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, because Jesus is God. So now, when the Spirit of Christ comes to live within us, we have a new life, and it’s not even a restoration of what was lost in Adam. It’s something even better, because Adam and Eve—they experienced God walking in the cool of the evening coming to them when they dwelt in the garden. No, but the Spirit of God left them, and they were cast out of the garden! But we are told that He that indwells us, He will never leave us, nor forsake us.
There is a new indwelling of the Spirit. In fact, Jesus, in John 7: “On that last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink, and out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” And then, John, who’s writing it in his Gospel, gives this commentary: he says, “This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him should receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Christ had not yet been glorified.” Now, although the Holy Spirit came upon—and I presume even could indwell—the saints in the Old Testament like David or Abraham. But yet, David prayed in Psalm 51, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” But now we have a new presence of God on this earth: the Holy Spirit within the believer since the day of Pentecost, never to leave us or forsake us, and so Christ has become our very life.
Now, this is a life that must be lived by faith.
Dave: I’m still in this old body of sin, and there is a conflict, the scripture says, between the flesh and the Spirit—not between the flesh and my spirit, but between the flesh and the Spirit of God dwelling within. And now, my spirit has been brought to life by faith in Christ. Now, I am to walk in faith. So, Colossians chapter 2 says, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk in him.” Well, how did I receive Him? I received Him as a helpless, hopeless, wretched sinner, worthy of hell, who couldn’t save himself. Now that Christ is living in me, now, I have to walk in that way, too. I'm still a wretched, hopeless sinner, but I’ve been saved by God’s grace.
Tom: And you have an active vehicle of communication with Him. You have a spirit, now, that has been born again.
Dave: Well, He’s living in my spirit now. He’s indwelling, me, but I still have the power of choice, I still have this body. Paul says, “O wretched man that I am! [this is Romans 7] Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ.”
And ultimately, we have deliverance at the resurrection, when we have new bodies of glory like His body, but in the meantime, I walk by faith, not by sight, so that really the Christian life is not a struggle for me somehow in my own strength to overcome temptations, grit my teeth, and somehow live a sanctified, self-denying, sober and sad Christian life. But it’s allowing Christ to live in me. So the secret of the Christian life is the Galatians:2:20: "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Dave: So this is the Christian life now, and it’s something new, and it’s wonderful. And I think, Tom, you can remember, and I can remember, when I was saved, when I opened my heart to Christ, over 60 years ago now, there was a transformation! There was something new within. And to be led of the Spirit of God, and to see God guide our lives in so many wonderful ways—it’s thrilling!
Tom: You know, for some people, it’s very dramatic, but for others it’s just a solid development. I'm thinking about some of—well, we started with John 10-10: Jesus said He came that we might have a more abundant life, and...
Dave: No, no! That we might have life.
Dave: And then “more abundantly.”
Tom: And have it more abundantly.
Tom: But that life... I'm thinking about Galatians:5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…
Tom: Temperance. Right. Dave, these are things we were talking earlier about: psychology, psychotherapy.
Dave: Do I dare to say it's not the fruit of therapy—it’s the fruit of the Spirit…
Dave: …and it is thrilling, Tom.
Tom: And this is the abundant life that Christ offers for us—not in heaven “someday,” but right here and now!
Dave: Mm-hmm. “Therefore,” Paul can write, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.” He didn’t say, “Rejoice in the Lord—unless you happen to be depressed; unless you can't do it.” He says, “In everything give thanks.” He doesn’t say, “…unless, you know, you just don’t feel like you can do it, you’re under such a burden.” So there is a victory in Christ: “Thanks be to God, who always giveth us the victory in Christ and always causeth us to triumph.” So that in prison—they’ve been beaten with a cat o’ nine tails, Paul and Silas. They’re lying on their backs in the muck—their bloody backs—in this prison cell, with their feet in the stocks, and they are singing praises to God! Now, Tom, that’s…
Tom: Well, that’s not a positive mental attitude.
Dave: No, it’s not a positive mental attitude.
Tom: That’s the reality of Christ living in them.
Dave: Absolutely. Absolutely. And this is for every one of us. They didn't need to go to a psychotherapist to somehow build up their self-esteem, and help them to feel good in these circumstances. They were rejoicing! In fact, the early apostles, remember? They were beaten, they were in prison, then they let them out, they beat them, and they said, “Don't preach in this name anymore.” They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ! So there is a joy!
I remember Richard Wurmbrand, whom I knew very well many years ago. You know, he was tortured for his faith—solitary confinement for many years, and so forth—fourteen years, totally. And he has told me, privately, that there were times, even…he’d been tortured with red-hot irons, burning…I've seen the holes in his body, burned by these red-hot irons, and yet there were times when the presence of Christ was so real in his cell, when he is in horrible pain, that he danced for joy!
So, this, I would say, is “the abundant life…”
Dave: …that is available to us in Christ. Not by works or our efforts, but through faith in Him.
Tom: Right, not just the Apostle Paul, not just Silas, not just Richard Wurmbrand—for everyone who is in Christ.