Exerpts from the theme message at the 2011 West African Singles Conference in Ivory Coast…
CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY
What an assurance! What a wonderful message!
How does Christ live in us?
Romans 8:9 – (You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ).
Who is this Jesus (by the way)?
Colossians 1:15-23 – (He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile Himself to all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation-if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.)
This is not about an inactive/inert hope. Instead it is a living hope.
1 Peter 1:3 – (Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…)
New Birth implies a passage from the old life into a new life of obedience to Christ.
We must remember that without Christ, we are incapable of obeying and pleasing God.
Romans 8:7-8 – (The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God).
Right from the fall of Adam and Eve, God already had a plan for His people. God has always wanted to be in the midst of His people in order to guide, to protect and provide for their needs.
Exodus 16:12/Deuteronomy 1:30-33 – (The LORD said to Moses, ‘’I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God’.
(The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you way until you reached this place.)
In the desert, he fed about 2 million people without mentioning their uncountable number of cattle. We can imagine that for 40 years, it took tons and tons of manna, of meat, millions of litres of water on a daily basis to meet their need for food and drink.
This is a living illustration of what the Eternal God, the same God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob does through His presence in the midst of people.
What’s will then happen with us in whom God’s Spirit lives?
What is God not going to do in us and for us?
Romans 8:32 – He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all-how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
Can we grasp this kind/manner of grace, as sinners?
We need to understand that God’s plan in living in us is first and foremost in order to transform us in to the image of His beloved Son Jesus and to enable us experience the same Glory like Him.
We need to understand this plan, accept it and desire intensely to see it’s fulfilment in our lives.
As from now on, our lives should reflect Christ.
But how is that possible? We will see how in three points:
1) With Christ in you, you can’t conform to the world
2) With Christ in us, the Christian walk is possible
3) With Christ in us, we should walk in a way that’s worthy of our Lord.
1st Point: WITH CHRIST IN YOU, YOU CAN’T CONFORM TO THE WORLD
Romans 12:2 – (Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.)
A renewal of the mind to live according to the criteria and principles of God
Without a renewal of the mind, you can’t understand Scriptures like
Romans 8:28 – How can a tragedy turn out to be for my good?
Matthew 23:11-12 – How can the least among us be the greatest?
Proverbs 15:33; etc
(And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose)
(The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted).
(The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honour).
We need to understand like God, see like God, think like God.
(1 John 2:29, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:18)
2nd Point: WITH CHRIST IN US, THE CHRISTIAN WALK IS POSSIBLE.
Colossians 2:6-8 – (So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ).
The Christian walk should be progressive and has three stages: we are born, we develop roots and we get established in the faith.
At what stage of the Christian walk are you? It’s important to know at what stage of the walk you are, especially after so many years.
You can’t say I can’t walk the walk because Christ in us can help us to do it.
– We all go through the first stage of New Birth at Baptism (Acts 2:38)
– We have to get rooted in God’s Word (Psalm1:1-3).This will further open up our minds to the mind of God.
– We also need to get established because trials and difficulties are all part of life. (1 Peter 5:9)
The Christian walk is not a solitary/lonely walk. It’s a collective walk. It’s one that is done in fellowship with a worldwide community of believers. (1 Peter 5:9)
With Christ in us, we need to live lives that honour God and experience fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We need to be conscious of Christ’s permanent presence with and in us.
3rd Point: WITH CHRIST IN US, LET’S LIVE IN A MANNER THAT’S WORTHY OF OUR LORD
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Brothers and Sisters, if we are truly conscious of the permanent presence of Jesus in us, we should adapt/tailor/match our behaviour to His presence. I wouldn’t speak as if He is absent, I wouldn’t behave as if He wasn’t around. Are we like those Christians who think that Jesus is with them when the Christians are around but when they are with non Christians, Christ is absent? And because of that, they behave the way they want?
That’s where faith comes in to play or plays a vital role.
As Christians, we need to learn to look, to see with the eyes of faith. Even if our physical eyes don’t see Him, He is permanently in us and He is the same Jesus and still deserves to be honoured.
1 John 1:5-10 – This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Our hope of Glory lies in the fact that Christ is in us according to God’s Word. It’s a fact, an assurance and it’s glorious because Christ lives in us with all of God’s majestic glory. Because of this fact, we have what it takes to lives according to God’s standards.
Colossians 2:9-10 – For in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Christ lives in you.
His energy is working powerfully in you.
He wants to transform you. He has the ability to transform you if you don’t stop Him with your lack of faith.
It’s your faith that will allow God to accomplish a glorious work in your life.
Let’s grab this wonderful plan.
TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY!!!