CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY
EPHESIANS 3:16-19 & 20 -- "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God."
"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,"
I want you to notice what he asked. He didn't say, "I ask that you might have nice meetings." No, he asked that our inner man be strengthened, and that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith.
Where does Christ live?
In our hearts, by faith. That is what it means to be in the kingdom of God. Jesus is the King, and He comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. We are joined to Him in spirit so that He rules our hearts. We are to be subject to His government in our lives and He is our Lord and King. This is the kingdom of God
Paul went on to say, "That you may be filled with all the fullness of God." To be filled is to have Him inside you; just as the water in a full glass is inside the glass, not on the outside.
Then he said, "Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us."
Where does this power work? It works in us.
Paul's message was very simple. It was very down-to-earth, and applied to everyday life. In our theologies and teachings we become too idealistic and try to scale the peaks of high mountains. But Paul starts where we are, with the little things of life.
His gospel was really good news because it concerned how to live. It was about living today, and tomorrow -- the ordinary, everyday life that each of us must lead. He summed it up in one clear statement: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." This is what the new covenant is all about.
Essentially, the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant is that the old covenant worked outside of people, whereas the new covenant works within.
With the old covenant they had to read it in a book and try to do it.
But the new covenant is "I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be My people" JEREMIAH 31:33. The laws God wants us to live by are internalized like a built-in guidance system. NOTE: When I speak of His laws within I am not referring to "The Law", I am referring to His inward commands that He gives us in our daily live.
Ezekiel expressed it this way: "A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a new heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them" EZEKIEL 36:26-27.
We don't have to try to do the new covenant; God, by His grace, causes us to do from within. It is an internal urge like listening to your intuition or conscience. The Spirit is in us, in the new heart, and impells us to walk in God's way.
Jesus expressed it very clearly to His disciples. The Spirit "dwells with you," He told them, "and shall be in you." In You! From Pentecost on, the spirit is within.
In the Old Testament, they spoke more usually of "anointing" rather than filling. This was because the Spirit moved upon people from outside to accomplish His purposes. He only visited people. So with the old covenant, the term was anointing.
Now in the new covenant it is not a visit. He comes with all of His luggage, to stay, to abide. So in the new covenant we speak of "filling" more than anointing. He is inside of us.
"If any man thirst, let Him come to Me, and drink. He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water." JOHN 7:37-39
Where does this Spirit of living water come from? Not from outside, but from within the believer! He is in us. This is the new covenant -- Christ in us, the hope of glory.
We don't need to study to learn how to seek the Lord. We don't have to try to pull Him down from heaven to come and anoint us. We don't have have to pray Him down from the ceiling to come into our meetings. He has already come to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit, and He seeks to flow out through us. We need to learn how to release what we already have within us.
This is a completely different approach from the attitude many of us have had. We have been trying to seek God, trying to get fresh outpourings of the Spirit from up in heaven. But the Bible presents Christ in us not as a goal to be attained, but a fact to be realized.
When we continue to think of Christ as being outside of us and needing to come and fill us, we are denying what the Bible says. We are making the Bible into a lie, because the fact of Christ being us by the Holy Spirit is the greatest and clearest promise of the Scriptures.
We pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." His kingdom comes to our hearts. He enters into us and becomes one with us so that He can rule our lives from our command center - the new heart.
Where is this risen Lord?
Perhaps you think of Him as beyond the clouds, or beyond the stars in a place called heaven. But according to Scripture, where is He? Here, within us. He has come by His Spirit to make His abode with us, to take us residence in us, to eat and drink with us. He shares our everyday, ordinary lives with us -- all of the things that we do throughout the day and night.
People think that to live a spiritual life is to live a life that is not normal. They think it is to go to meetings in the church building, or to spend a great deal of time locked away in a room studying the Bible or on their knees. To be spiritual is thought of as being something different from ordinary life.
No, to be spiritual is to live the whole time with Jesus. It is to be in union with Him -- to be one with Him -- and to let Him guide you in all the things that you do. So you live a normal life, but it is all under the control of King Jesus. That is what it is to live in the kingdom of God -- to live a full, whole physical life under the internal direction of the King. This is accomplished by praying without ceasing, or simply talking to Him as a friend throughout your day.
This is what Paul was referring to when he prayed that we might "be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...that you might be filled with the fullness of God...according to the power that works within."
Christianity is not an external matter, like religion. It is an "IN" thing and it works by faith. We believe that He is within us. We don't have to depend on outer feelings because we know for a fact that Christ is within us.
I close for now, but will continue with this understanding of the new covenant next time.
Until then, may the Lord open the eyes of your understanding, may He make His internal presence known to you in a very real way, and may He fill you with His peace.
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