Posts Tagged ‘identity in christ

12
Jun
08

The rest of the Gospel

If I had to pick one book that has really challenged and changed me within the last year, it would have to be Dan Stone’s The Rest of the Gospel. It’s a small book from a small publishing house by an unknown author, but it is a masterpiece. Nothing more. Nothing less. I have just given away my only copy of it to a friend of mine who wants to know more about who he is in Christ, but I intend to buy a bunch of them and have them to give to people who truly want to know the truth about how life in Christ looks like.

Here are just a few quotes from the book. May they challenge you, maybe make you buy the book and read more (?), and may the Holy Spirit show you more of who you are in Christ if you’re already a believer. If you’re not a believer, I would still encourage you to read the book and get a taste of the life and freedom that Jesus Christ has bought for his children.

You are not waiting to become holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:22). God sees you as holy and blameless and beyond reproach before him right now. When he looks at you, he sees the nature of his son. He sees you as love. He sees you as joy. He sees you as peace. He sees you as righteous. He sees you as redeemed. He sees you as justified. He sees you as perfect. He sees you complete” (page 103)

It is an affront to God to keep talking about how unworthy we are. It’s a statement of unbelief. “I really don’t believe what God says about me; I believe what I think about me”. We’re never going to anywhere that way. It isn’t being humble. It’s a false humility. It’s the teaching of tradition and the flesh, because it appears humble. What’s truly humble is agreeing with what God says about you. Nothing more. Nothing less. We are the righteousness of God (2. Corinthians 5:21). We don’t look it all the time. We don’t feel it all the time. We don’t think it all the time. But we are” (page 104)

Any activity that’s giving you your identity is an idol and is only contributing to the false self. Our false self thinks it needs external things or activities to give it life. It wants the stroking, the external affirmation, the place of authority, or the the public place to make pronouncements. We are dangerous living out of our flesh, because we’re using others to validate us. But when we no longer need those externals – when we are in Christ and who he is has become foundational truth in our life – then we can handle externals, because we don’t need them for our identity. God will take us through situations again and again to bring us to the place where he is our total life, where we are living out of our true identity. Once we are, he can give us back the external things” (page 107)

Even if we’re messing up, we’re not a liability, because he’s (God) going to use it somehow in our life or in somebody else’s life, or both” (page 111)

This is why we have to fail (in our attempts to please God through with our religious activities). God couldn’t be God and let us succeed in the flesh, or we would never know Spirit life. We have the Spirit – we do contain the living God – but if we don’t live out of him in our daily experience it’s like we don’t have him in us at all. Our failures at living the Christian life press us into knowing him as our life” (page 123)

Amen, brother!

Torben

28
Mar
08

A sense of wonder

This week’s quote comes from the ancient church father Gregory of Nyssa who said this interesting and deep sentence that has been challenging me ever since I read it a few months ago. He said:

Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything
 
Some readers might be thinking “bum, bum…..I have no clue what this fella is talking about..”. Let me try to unpack it a little bit though not too much, because then I haven’t understood the wisdom of the quote either….
 
The idea is, as far as I can see, that far too often we end up making idols out of the different ideas we find important. We tend to explain things so much and write books (and series of books) so that the idea ends up disappearing in the midst of it. An example could be love. Who can explain love between two human beings? It’s a mystery, it’s a wonder, and yet scores of authors and song writers have tried to explain love, and the sentence “I love you” have been watered down because it’s used about anything from a favorite color to a spouse. The wonder of love disappears if you try to put it in a formula. The same thing applies to grace. If you think you have figured out God’s grace, you are destroying the mystery and the wonder of it. God’s grace towards us is truly Amazing Grace
  
When I meet people who are madly in love with Jesus, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few of those, I am instantly attracted to them and to Jesus. They can’t explain what’s so awesome about Jesus, but on the other hand they can’t stop talking about him. They are in awe of Jesus. They see the wonder, the mystery, the miracle of Jesus. They want to capture it, but they know they can’t, so they just share freely what they see of Jesus while always wanting to see and experience more. That’s wonder. That’s understanding that the greatest things in life can’t and shouldn’t be put in a formula.
 
I have been challenged by this quote because as a teacher I’m always tempted to make concepts out of the things I’m excited about. This last year has been so much about Identity in Christ for me. I have learned some about it, and I want to learn more about this mystery that a union took place between Christ and me. That Christ is in me, and I am in him. It’s a mystery, it’s something to wonder about. And yet, it’s tempting to put it in a formula, write it down to some simple sentences, write some books on “10 steps to understand your identity in Christ” – but the minute I do that, I have misunderstood the mystery of my Identity in Christ! I am heading towards making an idol out of something that was never meant to be able to be explained so it would make complete sense with my mind. It’s a matter of revelation (Ephesians 1:17), and it’s all dependent on God! 
 
I hope and pray that I won’t lose my sense of wonder when it comes to thinking about my identity in Christ. I hope I will continue to be in awe and to celebrate the wonderful mystery of Christ in me. 
 
What makes you, dear reader, wonder? What do you stand in awe of?
 
Torben – have a lovely weekend! 



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