Christianity is Christ. Jesus Christ lives! He is risen from the dead! Historical objective evidence proves that beyond a doubt.
After Jesus died on the cross Pilate made sure from the Roman executioners that Jesus was dead. They certified to him that Jesus Christ was dead. Nicodemus and Josephus took the body of Jesus and "bound it in linen cloths with the spices," as is the burial custom of the Jews. As they wound linen "bandages" round His body, they sprinkled the powered sticky spices into the folds. A separate head wrapping was used for His head. Then they laid the body on a stone slab which had been hewn out of the side of the cave-tomb.
Let's suppose that we had been there in the sepulcher when the resurrection of Jesus actually took place. What would we have seen that night? John R. W. Stott writing in Basic Christianity helps us to visualize it. He writes:
Should we have seen Jesus begin to move, and then yawn and stretch and get up? No. We do not believe He returned to this life. He did not recover from a swoon; He had died, and He rose again. His was a resurrection, not a resuscitation. We believe that He passed miraculously through death into an altogether new sphere of existence. What then should we have seen, had we been there? We should suddenly have noticed that the body had disappeared. It would have "vaporized", being transmuted into something new and different and wonderful. It would have passed through the grave clothes, as it was later to pass through closed doors, leaving them untouched and almost undisturbed. Almost, but not quiet. The body clothes, under the weight of 100 pounds of spices, once the support of the body had been removed, would have subsided or collapsed, and would now be lying flat. A gap would have appeared between the body clothes and the head napkin itself, because of the complicated crisscross pattern of the bandages, might well have retained its concave shape, a crumpled turban with no head inside it.
The apostle John arrived at the tomb on Easter morning. He saw the cloths "lying" (John 20:5, 6). "He saw, as they were lying (or collapsed), the linen cloths." The next thing he saw was the head napkin was "not . . . with the linen cloths but . . . in a place by itself" (v. 7). As Stott observes, "Not that it had been bundled up and tossed into a corner. It still lay on the stone slab, but was separated from the body cloths by a noticeable space." The napkin was "not lying . . . but wrapped together . . .” It was twirled. The rounded shape which the napkin still preserved was intact. "The stone slab, the collapsed grave clothes, the shell of the head–cloth and the gap between the two. Jesus had passed right through it. No wonder they 'saw and believed.' The grave clothes "had been neither touched nor folded nor manipulated by any human being. They were like a discarded chrysalis, from which the butterfly has emerged."
The angel said, "Come, see the place where He lay." He is not here. He is alive! He is alive! Christ Jesus is alive! He is risen from the dead.
That message is good news. It is revolutionary. That truth changes lives. Everything we are and do as Christians depends upon that glorious truth.
At the very center of Christianity is our union with Christ. We use various expressions to describe this intense intimacy with the risen Christ such as personal union with Christ, oneness with Christ, "in Christ Jesus," communion with Christ, etc.
The apostle Paul gives expression of this great principle of Christian living when he wrote, "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Yes, Paul is saying the same Christ who was crucified, and rose from the dead, "lives in me." That is what makes Christianity different from all the religions of the world.
The true nature of our Christian life is the unfolding of Christ's character within the believer. It is a growing in Christ–likeness. It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). The apostle Paul had in mind a Christo–centric man, i. e. Christ enthroned in the center of the believer's personality. Christ in you as prophet, priest and king. The stress is on our vital union with Christ. It is a life in fellowship with Him.
We see this illustrated in the relationship of Jesus with God the Father.
JESUS' RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER
When Jesus came to this earth, He became in the very fullest sense of the term Man. He became man as God fully intended man to be. There was no discrepancy between God’s will and Jesus’ manner of life. Jesus came and lived daily in an intimate relationship with the Father. He lived a life in the way God originally intended man to live.
Although Jesus was essentially one with God and in the form of God, He did not think this quality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped and snatched away. He appeared in human form and assumed the guise of a servant. Everything Jesus did, every word He spoke, every act, every thought He did as a man, even though He was God (Phil. 2:5–8). He was God–man.
Jesus was totally, unreservedly available to the Father.
He was completely available all the time to God the Father. Therefore, as a man, Jesus had available to Himself all the inexhaustible provisions of the Father.
There was never anything Jesus said, or did, that was not of the Father's will. Jesus was the man God fully intended man to be. Jesus said, "He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him" (John 8:29).
Jesus was available to the Father for Him to do in and through Him He desired. He did only that which pleased the Father. Jesus was a man wholly available to the Father for every moment of the thirty–three years He lived on this earth.
Moreover, Jesus was in perfect obedience to the Father's will.
Jesus gave His total being––body, mind, spirit––in unyielding dedication to the Father's will. He was ever obedient to the Father’s will.
In obedience to the Father's will Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for my death penalty. "He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a). He died my death so I could be set free. Jesus was "obedient unto death, even the death on the cross."
This is clearly the preaching of the New Testament church. In the greatest sermon Peter ever preached he declared this great fact in Acts 2:22–24.
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
God the Father declared amen to the finished work of Christ by raising Him from the dead. He is alive! Christ is alive! He is risen from the dead!
Jesus was approved by the Father.
He was "a man attested to you by God." He was "accredited" to you by God. His miracles verified who He was.
Furthermore, on three different occasions history records God the Father saying, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Jesus was in perfect submission and in total dependence upon the Father to accomplish total obedience to the Father.
Everything Jesus did He did through the eternal Spirit. He walked, He talked, He moved and had His being in full dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Everything Jesus did was in and through God the Spirit. He was the one man absolutely yielded to the Father to allow the Father through the Spirit to will and do whatever He chose to do in and through Him.
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
What was the secret of Jesus' effectiveness in doing the will of God?
The night before His death Jesus was reassuring His disciples, preparing them for His death.
Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves (John 14:9–11, author's italics).
What was the secret of Jesus effectiveness in doing the will of God? He states it twice. "I am in the Father, and the Father in is Me." Did you catch the emphasis Jesus made? "The Father abiding in Me does His works." Jesus taught His disciples the same idea on another occasion.
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes (John 5:19–21).
Jesus simply did what the Father was doing. He was not running independent of the Father. He wasn't running ahead of the Father, nor was He dragging His feet behind the Father. Whatever the Father was doing, the Son also did. He joined in with His Father to accomplish His eternal purpose.
What was Jesus doing?
He was giving life. He was giving eternal life.
How did He do that? He made Himself available to His Father. “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Everything the Father was doing Jesus was doing on the earth. Everything Jesus did was in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Major Ian Thomas beautifully paraphrases Jesus' words. "I have presented My body to the Father who indwells Me, that He may do His works in My body; and My Father does His works through His Spirit by whom He indwells Me, and through whom I have offered Myself without spot, faultlessly, to My father." (The Saving Life of Christ, p. 147).
Everything Jesus did was the Father doing it through Him.
"What I do, My Father does! What I say, My Father says! What I am, My Father is!" (Ibid, p. 147).
I like the way The Amplified Bible captures the thought of Jesus in John 6:57. "Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live by (through, because of) the Father, even so whoever continues to feed on Me––who takes Me for his food and is nourished by Me––shall [in his turn] live through and because of Me."
Just as Jesus has life in the Father, so the believer has live in Jesus. Note the abiding relationship Jesus has with the Father and the believer with Jesus. Observe the intimate love relationship between the Father, Son, Spirit and the believer. The Father "abides" in the Son (14:10), the Spirit "abides" on Jesus (1:32), and believers "abides" in Jesus and He in them (6:56; 15:4). "Because I live you also shall live."
THE BELIEVER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
Jesus stresses the same principle to His disciples.
"He who believes in Me the works that I do shall he will do also." Just as Jesus was busy doing what the Father was doing, He says the believer is to busy Himself doing the same thing. Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father. We are, likewise to occupy ourselves with the Father's will. Jesus was at the center of the Father's will one day at a time, every day. When we are at the center of the will of God every day we cannot help but be at the center of His will all the time.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:12–15).
Jesus gives us His kind of life.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24). When do we get this eternal life? We get it the moment we are born again. We have it now if we are saved. He has already passed from the realm of death to the realm of life (v. 24). He will not face judgment in the future, because he has already passed from death into life.
Our eternal life is God's gift to us that we accept by faith. It is not something achieved through self–effort. It does not come by some spiritual exercise, but God's self–revelation. God imparts this new life to us. You don't go through some emotional exercise. You make yourself available to Christ. "As many as are led by the Spirit they are the sons of God."
Most assuredly, I am saying to you, He who habitually hears my word and is believing the One who sent me has life eternal, and into judgment he does not come, but has been permanently transferred out from the sphere of death into the life. Most assuredly, I am saying to you, There comes an hour and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those having heard, shall live. For as the Father has life in himself, so also He gave to the Son to be having life in himself. And authority He gave Him to be executing judgment because He is a son of man (John 5:24-27 Wuest Expanded).
Eternal life is that quality of life that you possess right now, at this very moment in your physical body because of the spiritual birth that took place when you believed on Christ. Christ is that life. Eternal life is not a feeling, or emotional experience. It is not what you get when you die and go to heaven. It is God's kind of life. It began when you were born again spiritually. You can have God's kind of life today. If you have been born spiritually, you have it right now. It is your life in Christ today.
Christ is formed in you.
The apostle Paul described that life with these words. "Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:14). He is "formed." The word means to give outward expression of one's inward character. It is a change from the inside out. The Holy Spirit brings the inward change to a person's life. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to fashion Christ in the believer.
Our body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit. God has chosen to indwell our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19–20; 2 Corinthians 6:14–18). If you do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, you are dead spiritually. If you have never been born again you do not have the Holy Spirit living with in you (Romans 8:9). If you have not the Holy Spirit, you do not have Christ.
Since you have eternal life, you have Jesus Christ, and the life you possess is of Him. You are now alive in Him. We who were at one time dead in trespasses and sin have been made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
Christ is our life. The apostle Paul was clear about this new life in Christ. “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).
Christ is the believer's new environment.
Paul describes our intimacy with Christ in the expression "in Christ." It is more than a confession of faith. It is a declaration that Jesus Christ is a living, present Spirit, whose nature is the very nature of God and He is now the environment of the believer.
Paul uses the expression "in Christ," or its cognate expression "in the Lord," "in Him," etc. 164 times. Jesus taught His disciples "abide in Me, and I in you" (John 15:4). On occasions Paul seems to use "in the Spirit" almost interchangeably with "in Christ." It is the Holy Spirit who makes Christ real to us. He mediates Christ's gifts and presence to us. You are "in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (Romans 8:9).
Christ is the Christian's new environment. Paul sees the believer as living and moving and having his being in a spiritual environment that is the very breath of life. The redeemed person has been placed in a totally different sphere, the sphere of Christ. He has "made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5). He who was "dead in trespasses and sins" has "raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus" (v. 6).
The entire epistle of Ephesians breathes this atmosphere of being "in Christ." The believer has been transplanted into a new soil and new climate, which is Christ. "To me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Moffatt translates, "Life means Christ to me." The controlling and directing factor in his life is Christ.
Paul speaks of our normal experience as "hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). It is a daily, ever renewed communion with Christ. It is not something transitory but abiding. This is eternal life.
Neither is Paul teaching dissolution or suspension of the believer's personality. Our personality does not cease to exist. The man whom Christ indwells does not cease to be himself. Indeed, the Christian experience heightens every individual power you have. He sets you free to let Christ live within you. "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me." "The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).
The indwelling of Christ is anything but a blurring or obliterating of the believer's personality. Every quality of the personality is set free and lifted to new heights of vigor.
We have a vital union with Christ in His death.
Paul stresses that we now share in the experiences of Christ's death and resurrection. We are united with Christ in His death. To be "in Christ" is to identify with the substitutionary death of Christ by faith. It was a victorious death when Jesus shouted; "It is finished." The curse of the Law no longer held Him in its control.
The power of sin is broken over the person who is one with Christ in His death. At the cross God condemned sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3). Because the believer is united with Christ in His death sin cannot control him any longer. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ" (8:1). There is a complete break with sin. By being united with Christ in His death the believer is pictured as being nailed to the cross with Christ. Paul is bold when he tells us to die to sin just as Christ died. Death is final, and you have died with Him. Sin has no more claim over the believer because the believer is legally dead in Christ.
Paul tells us to "reckon" ourselves to be dead unto sin (Rom. 6:11). Realize what has happened at the cross. You are no longer what you once were––you are dead to sin and its consequences. There is now this impassable gulf as wide and as deep as death between what you were in trespasses and sins and what you are now in Christ. If you have died with Christ then reckon yourself dead because that is what you are. Therefore, become in your daily practice what you are in Christ.
All of these verses speak of our being dead in Christ (Colossians 3:8; 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 5:24; Philippians 3:10; Galatians 2:20; 6:14).
The death of Christ on the cross is all–sufficient. Our redemption is an accomplished fact. Christ paid our debt in full when He died on the cross for our sins.
James Stewart said, "With Christ I have died, with Him my former self has been crucified; but every day I live I must seek to deepen my surrender, every day I would fain grow in conformity to Christ." The idea of complete Christ–likeness is far beyond me. I still fall short in my daily practice of identification with Christ in the death He died to sin. Paul admonishes us to die to sin, to reckon ourselves dead and buried. It is to be identified with Christ's attitude toward sin. It is to oppose sin as He does. It is to judge sin as God did at the cross.
"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).
We have a vital union in our burial with Christ.
What a dynamic way the apostle Paul brings out the finality of the break with the old life that occurred when we were born again. We are crucified, dead and buried with Christ. We are dead to sin and the old life was buried.
Baptism, in the moment of immersion down under the water is a beautiful picture of the old sin nature being dead and buried in union with Christ. It pictures the reality of our severance with the old life.
Our union with Christ is an absolute radical transformation. We are dead and buried.
We have a vital union with Christ in His resurrection.
Paul gathers up this new victory in Christ and calls it "life." The believer enters a vital relationship to God and is "alive" to Him.
This new daily life is full of the romance and wonder of fellowship with Christ. The carnal person is dead while he lives (Romans 8:6). The spiritually alive person has the life of Christ Himself (Colossians 3:4; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Romans 8:2; 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
This is a totally different life. Christ imparts a new supernatural quality of life to the believer. Indeed, it is a new creation. This new life bears the quality of eternity. It is God's kind of life.
The new convert begins to live in the sphere of the post resurrection life of Christ. It is eternal life now. It is our present possession in Christ. Death now has as little power over the inner life of the believer as it has over Christ. Colossians 2:12.
Christ's life is yours now. You begin to live eternally now. The privilege is yours now because you are in Christ. You are risen with Him. You have passed out of the old relation with sin and into the new relationship with the Spirit. "Reckon yourselves alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).
The believer now brings all his relationship and obligations to a new reality (Colossians 3:1).
We want to obey Him because we love Him. It becomes the passion of our lives.
To be "in Christ" is to be supplied with the power to live the Christian life. He not only is the new environment, but all the energy to empower the new life in Christ. "I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Since the new spiritual environment is Christ, the soul draws its strength for daily living from the constant supply of power from the risen Christ (Colossians 3:1-4).
Does this abiding in Christ mean we are now perfect? Does it mean all struggling and striving against sin is over? No, but we are to grow in Christ. Because of conversion, we have entered the sphere of eternal life. The new life in Christ is a progressive, growing in Him toward maturity.
We will not be perfect until the day when this body is exchanged for the new spiritual body when Christ comes for us. Then we will experience the full liberty that will be ours in Christ.
In our vital union with Christ we have before us a taste of what we shall be like when Christ comes.
Our vital union with Christ looks beyond this present life.
All our experiences here in Christ look forward to something more wonderful and blessed when Christ returns. Our life in Christ now causes us to yearn for a more intimate relationship with Him.
We enjoy eternal life now as a present possession, but one day we will be freed from the shackles of this frail body and experience a deeper intimacy with Christ.
A day will come when our daily practice and walk with Christ will be flawless and complete (1 John 3:1–3).
Our union with Christ is a growing relationship.
"Christ in me" is Christ bearing me along from within. Christ is the motivating power that carries me on. Christ is the one who gives my whole life a poise and spiritual lift. He gives me the energy to keep on going when my circumstances dictate my giving up. He gives our burdens wings upon which to soar (Isa. 40:28-31). "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). To be "in Christ" is to have Christ within. It is to be born along, the release and liberty, life with an endless song in its heart. Our goal in life is "to glorify and to enjoy Christ."
Paul sees our union with Christ as a vital union with God. Romans 8:11 reminds us that to be united with the risen Christ was to be united with the God who raised Him. "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Colossians 2:12 tells us you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead. Moreover, we are "hidden with God in Christ" (Colossians 3:3).
"When the apostle speaks of being ‘in Christ,’ of having ‘Christ in me,’ it is nothing other than union with God that he is experiencing. . . All whom Christ has truly possessed have known beyond a doubt that it was God who was possessing them. For the soul which is united to Christ by faith is united to the living God" (James Stewart).
It is this faith, utter abandonment to God revealed in Christ, that begets the deepest and most intimate of all personal experiences, our union with Christ. It is not some work that we do. It is God in His grace that accomplishes this great feat. "You are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). Faith is the principle of union between the believer and Christ. Christ is the sphere in which faith lives, moves, grows and operates.
Our faith union is an unconditional surrender to Christ. It is being overpowered by Christ. We need a makeover of our whole person and that is what He does. It includes everything that enters into a vial personal relationship with Christ. It is falling in love with Christ. It is utter abandonment of self with an overflowing love for Him. Only the risen “Christ in you” can accomplish that radical change. He is alive in you! And you are alive in Him!
What will happen when we die? The apostle Paul wrote, to be "absent from the body" and "present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). When we leave this present physical body in death we go to Christ. You go to be with Christ, whose resurrection life imparted to you by the indwelling Spirit of God you now enjoy.
We are now enjoying His resurrection life. When Jesus comes we will be "caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." We will go "to Him." It is just a change in location. Our life in Christ will continue; it will just be in a different location. The eternal life that you now have that began when you were born again is both of Him and to Him. Our life in Christ does not stop; it just continues in another dimension.
We live, serve, and have our total being in Christ. He has His inheritance in us now.
How do we live this eternal life now?
We live it the same way Jesus lived it when He was here in His incarnate body. Jesus made Himself unreservedly available to the Father. We make ourselves unreservedly available to Christ.
Paul said we are "His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10), and His workmanship can only be accomplished in the energy and power of the One who indwells us now by His Spirit. You cannot accomplish His workmanship in the carnal mindset. It is hostile to the things of God. You can accomplish His workmanship only as you abide in the Spirit.
Jesus said of Himself, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:19), and of you He says in John 15:5, "without Me you can do nothing."
What can the missionary or pastor accomplish without Him? Absolutely nothing. What can you accomplish without Him? Absolutely nothing. You and I cannot even live the Christian life without Him.
Everything apart from Christ profits nothing. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life" (John 6:63). How tragic the thought, but we can spend a whole lifetime serving God and doing nothing. That is frightening. Why? Because we did it in our own flesh and not in submission to Him.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father" (John 14:12).
"For to me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).
Make yourself available unreservedly to Christ and let Him live His life in and through you to His glory. John 14:12–15 Amplified:
I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if any one steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father. And I will do––I Myself will grant––whatever you may ask in My name [presenting all I AM] so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in [through] the Son. [Yes] I will grant--will do for you--whatever you shall ask in My name [presenting all I AM]. If you [really] love Me you will keep (obey) My commands.
This message has addressed the need for those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior to appropriate by faith the new life they have in Him. It may be that you have never come to the place of acknowledging your need of Jesus Christ as your Savior. You can put your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior right now. Confess to Him your need for Him to forgive you of your sins and believe that He died in your place on the Cross. Ask Him to be your Savior right now. If you need help in becoming a Christian here is A Free Gift for You. All you have to do is receive it.
Title: John 14:12-14 Alive in Christ