In the end, the quality of what we have done will be determined by why we did it
– 1 Cor 4:5
A servant’s life is “in” his master. A servant has laid aside his life to do the will of his master.
Jesus did the will of His Father. He said “I only do the things I see the Father do” and “I only say the things I hear the Father say”. He also said “I am in the Father”.
Now Jesus is our master, and as we lay aside our lives to do His will, we find our life “in Him”. And we also find that as we live in Him, so He also lives in us. Jesus said “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” and “it is the Father living in Me who does the works”.
Speaking of the life of a believer, Peter says “…so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by human appetites and desires, but he lives for the will of God.” (1 Pet 4:2)
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
Is not the confession unto salvation “Jesus is Lord”?
There hasn’t been much preaching or teaching in recent years about Jesus’ return; it seems to have faded into the distance over the last few decades. But to the early disciples, it was a major facet of the gospel that was preached.
When the gospels and epistles were written, the church seemed to believe that Jesus would return at any moment. And even then, there were a couple references to the thought that His return might not happen in their lifetime. And since then, whenever there has been a massive move of the Spirit amongst His people, many have had a similar awareness that He is coming soon. And the truth of it is that He is returning soon.
As people who live within the boundary of time, “soon” has a different meaning than when the Eternal One says “soon”. And yet, from a dispensational perspective, His return is the next major event in the plan of God in the earth, and so, in that regard, His soon return is a positional state of being and always accurate.
But perhaps most importantly, its what His soon return means to us here and now that matters most.
The parables of the ten virgins and the steward of his Master’s household servants illustrate to us that we need to be ready for when He returns. Furthermore, the epistles speak much about not slumbering, but remaining awake and watchful, awaiting His return.
When Jesus returns, He is coming for His bride, and Eph 5 talks about the church being cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word so that He may present her to Himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such blemish.
In 1 John it speaks of Jesus return, stating that when He appears, we shall be like Him, and it is because of this hope that we purify ourselves. And there are numerous references in the epistles of being found blameless, spotless, complete and unreproachable when He is revealed from Heaven.
When you know you will stand before Him and give account for your life, whether He returns now or at the end of your earthly life makes very little difference, except that you have a few years down here to grow in holiness and fruitfulness, fulfilling His will for your life. Holiness is being ready.
Retrace the steps of each denomination in the Body and you will find that it started with someone who got a hold of truth. And that truth produced an experience, and that person came to know Him more through it. They came to know Jesus the Saviour or Jesus the Sanctifier, or Jesus the Baptizer in the Holy Ghost. And then they spoke that truth to someone else, and that person also came to know that truth (as it is in Jesus). But as more people came into the experience, more clarity and definition were required by men. And with definition came doctrine, which later brought division. However, if it was Jesus we were following, we would not let doctrinal differences divide us. Someone who knows Jesus wouldn’t let another person’s doctrinal differences stop them from loving them, praying for them and ministering to them…in humility. Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.
The reason men fight over doctrine or separate themselves from other believers is because they only know doctrine, not Jesus, the Truth. For example, the doctrine of healing can bring division to the Body because there are some that don’t believe in healing, or believe contradictory things about healing. But if I live that truth and pray for you and you are healed, I doubt very much that doctrine will divide us. The fact is that if our doctrine can’t be lived and demonstrated in our lives then it holds little to no value. And a gospel that can’t be lived isn’t the Gospel.
If there’s no power or life in the message we preach then preaching just interesting sermons and supposedly deep revelations is like placing a more attractive label on an empty can. Or like decorating a tomb. The way to get power and life in the message you preach is to live the message you preach. How can you preach Jesus to someone when you don’t know Him yourself?
For example, preaching a poverty doctrine to me and trying to convince me that money is evil will not sway me. Why? Because I believe in a prosperity doctrine? No. If doctrine was all I knew, I may feel the need to argue and may end up confused or even swayed. But the fact is that I know Him as my provider. I’ve already experienced the truth of His provision. “A person with an experience in God is not at the mercy of a person with a theory” (quote souce unknown).
Separating ourselves over doctrine or thinking we know better than the other guy, only proves our own spiritual immaturity. Knowledge puffs up (and divides) but love builds up. “Speaking the truth in love to one another, we will grow up into Him”
I’m not so much interested in the newest revelation coming to the Body, or even the next move of God’s power, as much as I am interested in us as a Body growing up spiritually. The goal isn’t wisdom or power; Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God. I’m interested in Him and being like Him.
I don’t want my life’s work, built on the Foundation, to burn up in the fire on the day He comes. If all I’ve got to show is some interesting theology and a few acts of power here and there, then that certainly won’t stand the test. But if I know Him and I’m like Him, then whatever work I have done that proceeds from knowing Him will stand the test and be worthy of His reward. I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant”, don’t you?
Doctrine can’t be lived out in a person’s life without producing legalism, self-righteousness and division within the Body, if it’s lived out by one’s own strength, according to one’s own understanding. But when Truth is lived out in a person’s life, it will produce humility, freedom and love. Truth bears this fruit in a person’s life because Truth is revealed to someone by the Spirit and is worked into their life by His grace; and that person will realize that if the Lord didn’t show them, they wouldn’t have known, and if He didn’t help them live it out, they couldn’t live it. It’s from that humble place that you will treat others with grace, loving them and building them up.
The letters in the New Testament are divine instructions, instructing us to be who we are in Christ Jesus.
The NT letters are saying to us “you have been made righteous; therefore, act as righteous people. This is how righteous people act. This is how Kingdom people live”.
The NT letters are expressions and precepts of righteousness – righteousness as expressed through the lives of each NT writer, inspired by the Spirit of God.
There is only one commandment, because all righteousness is summed up in it. This commandment is summed up in the nature of the new creation in Christ Jesus. It is the nature of God’s own divine life – a life that cannot be confined or limited to rules and laws, but finds its expression in a righteous life