LIVING IN CHRIST
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We must bring the commandments in the New Testament to Jesus to see how they apply to us before we act on them. Otherwise what we have is dead religion.
It is not enough to read the New Testament, observe the many commands therein, and then try to obey them. If we are to walk with Christ as we should, we must ask the Lord Jesus how a given command applies to us right now.
A believer wrote to me recently and asked how we are to respond to the evil that is increasing in America. He wanted to know if we should be a pacifist, or should we fight for what we believe.
For many people, this is a difficult decision.
The answer I sent to him is above: We must ask Jesus if the command to turn the other cheek applies to us in any given situation.
I am of the opinion that Christian leaders and people as a general rule operate as they think God would have them act. When they make plans or carry them out they are assuming Christ is pleased and is with them.
But they do not actually know. They have not waited on Him long enough to receive specific guidance. They act out of duty, or fear, or spiritual ambition, or sympathy, or some other motive of the flesh. They often do not hear from Jesus. Yet He always is available and will respond to those who want to obey Him.
To not wait on Him until we know what He is wanting us to do is dead religion.
I think the general idea in Christendom, and has been from the beginning (after the Apostles died) is that we should found a religion on principles derived from the Scriptures, and then obey the principles to the best of our ability. It appears to me that while there historically have been instances of specific guidance, the bulk of the activities of Christian religion are directed by the wisdom and power of the flesh of religious man.
This accounts for the strife between denominations. Neither one has heard from Jesus, and so they fight to maintain their ideas of what they are supposed to do.
It is obvious that many of the practices of the dear Catholic people are not scriptural. Yet they struggle on, assured that their interpretation of the Scriptures is correct. But the thought of Paul and Peter arrayed in ecclesiastical robes and making symbolic gestures with their fingers would be ludicrous if it were not so serious.
The same is true of Protestant efforts. Teaching people that they need only “accept Christ” and then they are assured of a mansion in Heaven no matter how they live thereafter is equally ludicrous. The Catholic people make some efforts to live in a godly manner—at least they are encouraged to do so.
It seems to one who has been a Christian for many years that we do not know what Christ is saying to us today.
I am positive He is not telling our leaders to don expensive garments and conduct themselves in mystical ways.
I am positive He is not telling the Evangelical leaders of today to preach that they are saved by belief rather than obedience to Christ; or that they are going to be carried off to Heaven in an unscriptural “rapture.”
You may react against what I have just written.
That is fine. Now do this. Go to Jesus and ask Him if I am correct. Will you do that?
On one occasion a group of disgruntled men of our congregation came to my home to discuss their grievances. I said to them: “Please do this. Go home and ask Jesus what He wants of us.” Then come back and tell me. None of them returned.
How often we judge one another. We have this opinion or that opinion of what the other person should do. We further confound our ignorance by telling other believers our conclusions concerning an individual. I wonder sometimes if the spirit of gossip is akin to a spirit of murder. What do you think about that?
Do we ask Jesus what He feels about the individual? Not often. It is more fun to think evil because we receive the assistance of the demons when we do so. But we can cause much harm by rushing to judgment and telling our opinions to others. Have you found this to be true?
What is so difficult about asking Jesus what He is thinking? Why aren’t we living in such close communion with Him that we have only to stop for a moment to inquire of His will, if we desire knowledge or wisdom?
Perhaps this is the original problem. Perhaps Eve and Adam should have gone to Christ, who was walking in the garden, and asked Him about Satan’s advice. Had they done so they would have spared mankind six thousand years of agony. Think of that!
You and I will spare ourselves months or years of agony if we will go to Jesus before we make our decisions and act on them.
How about the Bible. Is the Bible a record of scholars who developed a religion? Or is it a record of holy people speaking by the Spirit of God?
How about Abraham? Did he hear from God, or did he guide his actions by the religion of his day?
How about Moses. Was he a brilliant proponent of religion, or did he hear directly from God?
How about the Prophets of Israel? Were they scholars? Was Isaiah so brilliant that he conceived of the Servant of the Lord and what the Servant would do? Did Isaiah invent in his mind the Kingdom of God?
How about the Apostle Paul. Was he a genius, a religionist who produced the new covenant, or was Paul directed by the Lord Jesus in all he said and did?
Now, we say, the book is closed. When the Bible speaks, we speak. When the Bible is silent, we are silent. Christ does not speak today. The Bible contains all we need to know. The Spirit of God speaks only through the Scriptures.
Such is dead religion. The living Christ is not a part of this attitude nor does He respect it.
It is no wonder so many young people of our day are abandoning the churches. The joy of life in the Presence of the living Christ is not present, only the dead efforts of religious flesh. “Mr. Jones does not meet the Master,” to quote from Peter Marshall. He meets the well-intentioned prelates of religion.
There has just been a presidential election in the United States (2012). God-fearing people are upset. It seems like Satan has won. Those who sponsor abortion and homosexual behavior are in charge. Good people have done their best to put a person in the office who espouses familiar American values. But to no avail.
This is not a time to be analyzing statistics. Rather it is time to go to the Lord Jesus and ask Him what is going on. He alone has the power to put people in power, so we need to ask Him why He has done this after God-fearing people have done their best?
What is Christ saying to us Americans?
Christ has turned over America to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. It is as simple as that. We are worshiping money, sexual lust, and pleasure. The godless practice of abortion on demand is continuing. Sexual perversions that are an abomination to God are being legalized. Ours is an arrogant culture that is daring God, if there is a God, to show Himself.
Also, a foreign god, Allah, is being worshiped on American soil. The agents of Allah are determined to impose their values on the American people. They well may succeed, unless there is a turning to God in America.
There will be no repentance and turning to God in America as long as lawless grace and escape by rapture are preached.
How could there be? If God sees us through Christ; if the laws of righteousness are waived because we have “accepted Christ,” of what are we to repent?
Destructive doctrine has been and still is being preached. The consequences of our sinning are coming upon us and still shall come upon us.
President Obama is being referred to as an “apostle.” If he does not renounce the viewpoint that he somehow is another christ, his end will be similar to that of King Herod.
If my words seem misleading to you, then I suggest that you do not judge them but go to the Lord Jesus and ask Him if I am correct. Do not try to figure it out, ask Jesus directly. He will answer you if you are patient and your heart is sincere.
The pundits are saying that the American way of life is over. They are correct. If a new candidate for president in 2016 insists on the old values, he will be defeated. The election just completed reveals that in the multicultural fabric of America, each culture will seek its own benefits, with only a minority agreeing to a return to the customary moral standards.
If our nation is not going to repent, if the governmental leaders insist on righteous behavior only to their own defeat, when then do we do?
As I have been preaching for a year or so, we must seek to save ourselves, our loved ones, and anyone who will listen to us. The way we save ourselves is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
We seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by pressing into the Life of Jesus. We read our Bible every day. We set a time aside for prayer each day. We gather on a regular basis with fervent saints, not with those who are teaching that Jesus did it all and there is nothing we are to do.
We look to Jesus all through the day and night, talking to Him, asking His help, giving thanks for answered prayer. This is the eternal dialogue between God and man. Think of the agony mankind would have been spared if Eve and Adam had been in a dialogue with God when Satan spoke to them!
Nothing in our life should be done apart from Christ. All must be brought before Him so that He may guide us. In all our ways we are to acknowledge Him, the Bible says.
Sorry to say, our political leaders, and sometimes even our religious leaders, are not in such communion with Jesus. Consequently their well-intentioned plans and action do not accomplish the desired ends.
Anything done apart from Jesus has no lasting value, no eternal value!
The title of this briefest of essays is “Living in Christ.” As we read the Bible and we come to a command or promise, we are to look up to Jesus to see how the command or promise applies to us personally. To not do this, and to attempt to obey the Scriptures apart from the eternal dialogue, is dead religion.
The Bible says, “Let the younger women marry, bear children, guide the home.” Does this apply to all young women? I know personally of a girl who from a young age felt a call to go to India as a missionary. When she became old enough, she obeyed the call on her life. Was she to ignore the Divine call because the Bible says she is to marry and bear children?
The Bible says wives are to obey their husbands. What if the husband refuses to let his wife go to church? She then is to go to the Lord and ask Him how she is to respond to this command.
The Bible commands us not to lie. How about the German Christian who were hiding Jews? How should they respond to the authorities?
How about those courageous ministers who smuggle Bibles into hostile countries without notifying the authorities? Are they to tell the truth when they are asked if they are carrying anything into the country?
The Bible commands us to obey those who have the rule over us. Are we to disobey God, or are we to ask the Lord when an issue arises?
How about the command to pray for the leaders in government? Are we to pray for those who commit abominations, or are we to ask the Lord Jesus what we should do?
Are we to go to war in the service of our country or be a conscientious objector? Hadn’t we better ask Jesus what we should decide?
When we do not go to Jesus with every issue, and just try to do what the Bible says, we are practicing dead religion. We do not have a living relationship with our Lord.
We are entering chaotic times in America. We as individual need to hear from Jesus about every aspect of our life so we can save ourselves and our loved ones.
We can survive and help others to survive, but only by learning to live by the Life of Jesus; only by participating in the eternal dialogue.
“See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:16,17)
(“Living in Christ”, 3504-1)