Bible Study for April 23: Life in Christ

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Luke 9:18-26
Bucky Kennedy, evangelist

“The fact is, only one person ever lived the Christian life; it was Jesus, and He did so to the pleasure and glory of His Father.”
~ Luke 3:21-22; 9:28-35

Having fleshed out the perfect life in undeviating obedience to the will of God, ‘He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him’ (Heb. 5:9). After effecting that eternal salvation through the blood of His cross and the power of His resurrection, He ascended to heaven to impart His life, through the Holy Spirit, to all who believe His gospel and receive His full salvation. So the Christian life is nothing less than ‘the outliving of the indwelling Christ’ on the principle of dependent faith.

The Apostle Paul sums it up in the words that are the theme and thrust of this book: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).”
Stephen F. Olford. Not I, But Christ (Kindle Locations 72-78). Kindle Edition.

In my opinion American Christianity has neglected the truth that Stephen Olford shares in the previous quote from his book. Much of today’s preaching seeks to domesticate (the flesh) what scripture tells me is dead by my unification with Christ in His death and my identification with Christ in His life (Romans 6).

The absence of this reality plays out before us as church attendance decreases, evangelism struggles, and immorality and indifference are seen as characteristics to be accepted in order to be culturally relevant with the understanding that we are all sinners and nobody has the right to judge another. Many preachers are trying so hard to prove their relevance to culture that they have lost their relevance to Christ.

In this text Jesus describes our life in Him to His disciples.

The Person – Luke 9:18-21

Before His disciples could know who they were, they had to recognize Who Jesus was. Matthew gives us a little more information as to how the disciples, and specifically Peter, came to this revelation, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (Matt.16:17, NASB95).

Without the work of the Holy Spirit introducing us to Jesus as God’s only Son and our only hope for forgiveness and eternal life, then we are most likely to make a choice based on deductive reasoning and not on divine redemption.

Again, I refer to Matthew because after Peter identifies Jesus, Jesus identifies Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter.” I will never know who I am until the Holy Spirit reveals who Jesus is.

The Principle – Luke 9:22-23

“[S]aying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day” (Luke 9:22, NASB95). “The Son of Man must” – with Jesus, obedience wasn’t an option, it was a mandate.

In doing this, Jesus is submitting to the life of His Father in Him (John 17:21). Jesus is interceding for His disciples and all those who would believe when He said, “… that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You.” Jesus is fully aware of the life He is calling us to in Him because it is the life He lived in His Father. It was the life of surrendered will. But we must recognize that Jesus lived this life willfully and deliberately.

In John 6:38, Jesus tells us, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My Own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Salvation is not positioning and equipping me to live my life with better habits on earth. Salvation is living the exchanged life in which, by faith, I possess what grace provides. God’s will is done in my life by the life of Jesus in me through the Holy Spirit.

In verse 23 Jesus informs His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” The same faith that saves us is the same faith we appropriate in surrendering to the life of Christ. It is living in awareness of my complete dependence on Jesus to live His life in and through me. In following Jesus, I unite with Jesus in His death so I can identify with Jesus in living His life.

Every day I willfully and deliberately die to my flesh for Jesus to live in me. This is a life of humility and brokenness, but it is also a life of fruitfulness and blessing.

The Promise – Luke 9:24-27

In verse 24 Jesus tells us that real living only happens when we willfully die to ourselves. If we try to live without dying, we only put off the inevitable and die. In verse 25 Jesus puts it in perspective by asking, “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his soul?”

Let me ask the same question another way: “Is having the whole world for a few years worth an eternity of agony?

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