I AM THE REURRECTION AND THE LIFE

I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
By J. Russell

Are You A True Believer?

For many years now Pastor Terry Reynolds and I have been writing on living in the last days. You see, many people view God as a sort of cosmic bellhop sitting on a damp cloud passing out cheap forgiveness with no need of repentance. Not too long ago I asked my students a question, “What is the Gospel?”  to my surprise not one person gave me a proper biblical answer. A few quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

A few years ago, I asked someone if they were a Christian? Looking rather bewildered the reply came, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, IVE BEEN GOING TO THE BAPTIST CHURCH SINCE I WAS 4 DAYS OLD!”

Without hesitating I smiled and said, “Wow! My cars is more saved then you are because it’s been driving me to church every day for years.” I added, “if your salvation is predicated on how often you go to church, then by virtue of that, if I stand in my garage often enough and long enough, I could become a car.” Folks let me tell you before we go any further, the apostle Paul addressed this issue in the fifteenth chapter of Corinthians verses 1 through 4 when he wrote to them to correct many doctrinal errors.

We read: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”
1 Cor. 15:1-4

There are many people who with no lack of sincerity, a considerable amount of zeal, earnestness and dedication, try to live the Christian life and fail miserably.

Over the years, we have discovered two main reasons why this is a reality for so many professing believers. The first reason is that they are trying to live a life they haven't got!

One man who was certainly not lacking in zeal, charisma, or dedication, for Jesus was at a dead loss because his soul hadn't awakened to the fact that he was born dead. Colossians 3:3

He was a man who tried to live a life he didn't have, made a fool of himself by making a vow to God that he couldn't keep, simply because he didn't know the condition of his own heart. Though he promised the Lord Jesus that if needs be, he would die for him, he ended up, within a matter of an hour cursing, swearing and denying that he ever knew Him.

Don't be shocked, the Lord Jesus wasn't because he knew about Peter what Peter didn't know about himself, that he was born dead. You see, his soul hadn't awakened to that fact, and so he had never repented in true repentance in admitting that he was a sinner and needed exactly what God had in mind when he sent his Son who said when he arrived, I'm here to give dead men just exactly what they need, "life." Jn 8:12

In other words, resurrection life, which of course is the beginning of the Christian life. If you haven't been raised from the dead, then you haven't begun to live the Christian life because, as yet, you haven't become one.

Peter didn't know that and that's why he made promises that he couldn't keep. He was trying to live a life he didn’t have. So, let's turn to John's gospel in chapter 20, and we will talk about two other people, just briefly, who made the same mistake that Peter made.

You see most people assume that because in the gospels these men and women are called disciples that they were Believers. But the disciples, as they are described in the gospels, were not Believers. They were trying to live the Christian life, but without the Christian life to live. There were no Christians until Pentecost, because a Christian is someone who being born dead has been raised from the dead and now shares a life for which man was created, The life that was lost in Adam in the day that he believed the devil's lie thinking he could be functional without God. Humanism!

That is the spirit of the age, that some of you with children are allowing them to be taught day in and day out, week in and week out, that man is nothing more than the end product of an evolutionary process, a big bang.

That is humanism, when man is his own god. Well the disciples were still in that condition. That's why they thought they could live a life they didn’t have. They didn't see the need of what Christ had done on the cross or was then still to do, any more than the vast majority of people today and a large majority of those who will be in church buildings tonight don't realize why the Lord Jesus had to do what he did because they don't know why he did it!

In the 20th chapter of John's gospel, Mary stood at the sepulcher weeping. What was she doing there? What day was this? (Never read the Bible in a hurry.) This was that third resurrection morning when the Lord Jesus was to be alive again. Well, why was Mary at the tomb? Well, she was looking for a dead Jesus. Because, although the Lord Jesus for three solid years had warned them of that purpose for which God the Father had sent him into the world, that he would die and rise again from the dead.
In effect He was reassuringly saying, “Don't panic when you see me hanging on a cross because that's not the end, that's the beginning.”

Mary didn't believe this at the time any more than Peter did or the others. That's why when the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16 said, I am going to the city of Jerusalem and there I will be delivered into the hands of wicked men and be done to death, but the third day I will rise again. Do you remember Peters response?

Peter said, “oh no, say not so Lord”. That's not on our agenda. And the Lord Jesus turned to Peter in his misguided dedication, because he was trying as he thought to defend the Lord Jesus and protect Him from His own stupidity. He wasn't going to allow the Lord Jesus to die. And, because he didn’t know why He needed to die on that cross, he tried to prevent it!

He, in his ignorance, stood between Christ and the cross. And the Lord Jesus turned, remember, in Matthew 16, to Peter and said, "Get thee behind me, Satan. You are an offence, that savor not the things of God.” Your theology is of the earth.

Again, Mary no more believed in the resurrection than Peter did. That's why in the upper room, the apostles after the death of our Lord Jesus suddenly heard noises on the stairs, thought it was those who crucified the Lord, and you can just imagine that Peter probably turned to the others and said, “Here they come. I knew they would. You can't tell me that I didn't try to prevent this. Now we are going to die. Goodbye John, die bravely.”

What a bunch they were. These were disciples, named to be apostles, trying to live a life they didn't yet have. So, Mary was there at the tomb because she didn't believe that Jesus would rise again from the dead, survive the death that she, with Peter and others, tried to prevent. She stood at the sepulcher weeping, and as she wept, she stooped down to investigate the sepulcher. Who was she looking for? Well Jesus of course!

She saw two angels in white, sitting. The one at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. And they said, "Why weepest thou?” In other words, what's your problem?" And said she to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him."

Now, just keep the place there in John 20 and see a parallel record there in the last chapter, the 28th, of the gospel of Matthew. And you need to make a slight amendment to that last verse because the translators have here written what could be misleading.

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. The end of the Sabbath as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.

Well, in the original of course the word Sabbath isn't a singular word it's a plural word. Sabbaths. Because you see there were two Sabbaths in a row. Most people imagine because of Christian tradition that Jesus was crucified on Friday, but of course he wasn't. The Lord Jesus said, "as Jonah was three days three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the tomb."

If the Lord Jesus had been crucified on a Friday, Friday night, Saturday night, risen Sunday morning, first day of the week, how many nights would he have been in the tomb? His body, well two. And neither the Lord Jesus nor the Bible makes that kind of a mistake because God wrote it, authored by the Holy Spirit. The revealed truth that found its consummation in the person of the living word, who implemented the written word.

In the 19th chapter of John, the Jews sent messages to the Roman authorities saying, "please send soldiers to smash the legs of the men who are hanging on a cross." And it tells you in parenthesis, they did this that they might not desecrate the Sabbath. But just in case you and I should think that that was Saturday the Jewish Sabbath, it tells you loud and clear that Sabbath was a high day.
Please don't confuse it with Saturday, the normal Jewish Sabbath. It was a high day. What kind of a Sabbath was it that Friday? The Passover Sabbath.

It just happens to be that the Passover Shabbat then occurred on a Friday and not on a Saturday, so there were two Sabbaths in a row. That's why its only translators who make mistakes, not the one who authored the book.
Friday was a Shabbat; Saturday was a Shabbat. They couldn't work on Friday; they couldn't work on Saturday. That's why they didn't come ‘til the early morning on Sunday with spices and ointment to embalm the dead body of their risen Lord. Crucified on Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night. Three nights His body lay in the tomb. Jesus didn't, because He wasn't there. Christ was never put in the grave, only His body.

When the malefactor, one of those two who was crucified with Him said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Said the Lord Jesus, "verily, verily I say unto you," not tomorrow, not in two days, not in three days, "verily, verily I say unto you, this day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

So where did the Lord Jesus go when he died physically? Not to the grave, but to paradise. I mean it wouldn't have been very good news for the Lord Jesus to say to that malefactor, "I've got good news for you. I'm going to take you today to the grave. Are you excited? You are going to be buried with me! Aren't you just excited?" You see, tradition dies much harder than truth. We are brainwashed into so-called Christian tradition, which is divorced from the reality that God gives us in His incredible book.

In the end of the Shabbat, the two Shabbats, plural, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. “And, behold, there was a great earthquake." A little disturbing on a Sunday morning. "For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake and became as dead men." That was the scenario when the women came on that resurrection morning to embalm the dead body of their living Lord. Were they believers? No. Although the Lord Jesus had told them, don't panic, the third day I will be risen from the dead. Meet me in Galilee. That's the appointment I am making with you right now.

The angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not, don't be frightened. I know that you seek Jesus. I know why you are here; you are looking for Jesus. But you haven't found him because you are making two big mistakes. And the second mistake you are making is as a result of the first mistake. I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. What tense is that? That's the past tense. He said, the first mistake you are making is looking for him in the wrong tense. You are absolutely right, he was crucified.

That's exactly why he came into this world. That's why he declared, "to this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, to lay down my life a ransom for many." You are right, he was crucified. But because you are still looking for him in the past tense you are looking for a dead Jesus.

And because you are looking for him in the past tense, you're looking for him in the wrong place. You see if you look for Jesus in the wrong tense you will be looking for him in the wrong place.

Has the Lord Jesus been relegated to the past? Countless so-called Believers who are ostensibly Christians, are living in the past tense or the future tense, the Jesus who was and the Jesus who will be. The one who died upon the cross, and they give mental assent to the fact that he rose again from the dead, here imagining that all he did that for was to go to heaven and welcome us when we got there. So, they are waiting for the Jesus who will be.

But between the Jesus who was, and the Jesus who will be, they live in a spiritual vacuum. Instead of living in the power of the resurrected Lord, clothing Himself with the redeemed humanity of forgiven sinners. Those, who by virtue of their availability to Him as living individual members of that new body corporate, are letting God loose in the world in which they live.

So between the Jesus who was and the Jesus who will be, they limp through time until finally they imagine they will crawl into heaven on their hands and knees, covered with dust and blisters waiting for Jesus to thump them on the back and say, "Well done my good and faithful servant. You made it." What a miserable concept of the Christian life. Sweating it out for Jesus. Doing your best for God, as though he was in that kind of trouble.

So, because they were looking for Jesus in the wrong tense, they looked for him in the wrong place. Maybe you are doing the same. Maybe your Jesus is still, in your mind, hanging on a cross or buried in the tomb.

At best, you're going to wait for Him until one day he comes again, as indeed he will. And far, far sooner than most of us would dare to believe. We are right on the threshold of that momentous event. He's knocking on the door. Everything around you is saying Christ is on his way. How marvelous is that. I don't anticipate, even at my age, of dying before Jesus comes. I'm not going to go to heaven by underground, I'm going first class, by air.

Said the angel in verse 6 of that 28th chapter of Matthew, "He is (present tense) not here." You're looking for him in the past tense. That's why you are looking for him in the wrong place. But he is not here. He's risen. He's alive. As he said, “come see the place where the Lord lay.” Come with me, said the angel and I will show you where he isn't. And then you go and tell his disciples where he is. In precisely the place where he said he would be waiting for you, in Galilee, after his resurrection. Did Mary believe that? No. That's why she was still hanging around the tomb looking for a dead Jesus after he was risen from the dead.

Now back in the 20th chapter of John's gospel, and the 11th verse, Mary stood at the sepulcher weeping. As she wept, she stooped down, looked into the sepulcher, and saw two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain (past tense).

“Woman why weepest thou?” What's your problem? “Because they've taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him.” And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, saw Jesus standing, but knew not that it was Jesus because she was looking for a Jesus of the past. Not the Jesus of the present: the eternal, timeless, unchangeable I AM. Jesus said, Woman, verse 15, why weepest thou?

Whom seekest thou? And she, supposing him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir if thou had bid him thence tell me wither thou hast laid Him and I will take him away.” If you are the one who has removed the body, please tell me where you have put it and I will arrange for it to be removed.

This is Mary. Did she not love Jesus? Oh yes. She washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. But she clearly did not grasp what it was all about. You see, Peter thought it was a matter of the will. “Though all men forsake you, I won't. If there is one man you can count on, Peter's the name.” Mary thought it was a matter of the emotions. So long as you had a deep, affectionate emotional love for Jesus so that you wept every now and again that was enough.
T
hat's the Christian life. Well, the Lord Jesus might have said to Mary, "if this is your concept of what it means to be a Christian, just be emotionally stirred, go high on Jesus every now and again and have a good cry, then you go your way and I'll go mine. You establish your own Christianity, but please don't call it Christianity. Goodbye Mary." But he didn't. Any more than he said to Peter, "If you think Christianity Peter is a question of your willpower, your go go, your enthusiasm, your dedication, your do it for Jesus, uh, you go your way, I'll go mine.” But he didn't. Any more than he said to Mary, you go your way, I'll go my way. He didn't, because he is the good shepherd. And the good shepherd calls his sheep by name.

The Lord Jesus told the women to go and tell his disciples that he would meet them, as he had said and promised in Galilee, because he is a promise keeper, not a promise breaker. And he added, by the way, when you have told my disciples don't forget to tell Peter.

He's the only one who Jesus named of the disciples when he sent the women to tell them to meet him where he was waiting for them. Because you see, he is indeed the good shepherd. Peter had failed miserably, cursed and swore, even though he promised to die for Jesus. He knew that he was broken hearted. When he heard the cock crow a second time, he wept bitterly.

It's a marvelous thing in your life when the cock crows, because the cock crows at the dawn of a new day. And until He's broken your heart, He'll never find it. But He'll only break your heart of course when you wake up to the fact that you were born dead and you've been trying to live a life you haven't got.

The best news I can tell you right now, is that you have never ever been a bigger failure than Christ expects you to be. Isn't that encouraging? Do you know why? Because He knows all there is to know about you. He knows the worst about you and loves you just the same. There is only one who loves like that.
So, said He to the women, "tell Peter, don't forget to tell Peter." Because he probably is in such distress of mind at his failure that he will never imagine that I'll look at him again, let alone talk to him. Tell Peter.

And Peter was there on the day of Pentecost. Said Jesus, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” Supposing him to be the gardener she said, “Sir, if thou have born him away, if you've hidden the body, tell me where it is and I will remove it." And Jesus said to her, vs. 16, "Mary."

And she swung around. He called her by name. You see He is the good shepherd and He calls His sheep by name. She turns herself and said, "Master," and recognized that Jesus was alive. She rediscovered Jesus. No longer to be found in the tomb, no longer to be hanging on a cross. But again. This is the heart of the gospel. Not that Jesus died, that isn't the heart of the gospel, although essential, imperative to man's reconciliation to a Holy God. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. But the heart of the gospel is that this Jesus who laid down his life for you and for me to reconcile us to a Holy God, rose again from the dead that he, having suffered a death like ours, paying the price for our sins, made it possible for you and for me to now share his resurrection. That's the gospel.

That's why Paul in the 17th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, says “if Christ be not risen from the dead my preaching is vain.”

No matter what I tell you about the cross and no matter what I tell you about the blood he shed, no matter you shed your tears as they trickle down your cheeks at the sight of God's dear son hanging on a Roman gallows, if that's all I can tell you, if Christ be not risen again from the dead my preaching is vain, your faith is vain and you are still in your sins.

But now is Christ risen. That's the heart of the gospel. Not that Jesus died, but that Jesus is alive! He’s alive and I’m forgiven… If you are still clinging to an old rugged cross, one of the most pagan hymns in the book, then you've missed it. I love that old cross. Oh, beautiful sentimental song you know you are deeply emotionally moved.

In the 24th chapter of Luke when the Lord Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room they shrieked in terror and thought they had seen a ghost. At that stage they were always seeing ghosts. When the Lord Jesus walked on water they thought they had seen a ghost. And when the Lord Jesus, risen from the dead, appeared to them in the upper room they thought they had seen a ghost and shrieked in terror. And the Lord Jesus said, "Why do such thoughts arise in your heart? Behold my hands and my feet. Handle me and see.”

We are told here, verse 24, Thomas, one of the 12, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. And the other disciples, of course, couldn't wait for Thomas to arrive. They had finally settled with the fact that Jesus was alive, an event that totally revolutionized their lives. For the first time they discovered why Jesus died: not to get them out of hell and into heaven, but to get him out of heaven back into them!

Something took place on the day of Pentecost when they were born again, raised from the dead, restored to life. They were re-inhabited as creatures by the Creator to become the human vehicles of His divine activity so that He could continue to do and continue to teach the things that He had begun to do and begun to teach in His own body. That's what it means to be a Christian: a member of His body. And you can only be a member of His body by sharing His life. These fingers on my hand are not members of your body; they are members of mine because they possess my life. They don't possess yours. My hands don't do what you tell them, any more than your hands do what I tell them. A Christian is somebody who is a member of the body of Christ, because they have been born again, born from above, they've been regenerated, the renewing of God the Holy Ghost. God on his terms, redemption, putting that life back into man for which man was created, lost in the day that Adam believed the devil's lie that he could be functional without God: Humanism.

With an artificial limb, would it be a member of my body? No, no more a member of my body than that boy, girl, man or woman who has simply been christened, confirmed or baptized, man or woman, is a member of the body of Christ simply because they've been through a ritualistic process which is purely external to that miracle that takes place in spiritual new birth.

That fabricated part, that imitation finger, could only become a member of my body by a miracle whereby it suddenly becomes inhabited by my life, and is related to my head, as every other member of the body, and does as it is told. If I just had an artificial half of that finger stuck on the end, then you could tread on it all day and I wouldn't complain. But if you were to tread on my little finger, I would say, "Pardon me, you are treading on me."

And you might say, "No, I'm not. I am only treading on your little finger." And I would say to you, "I really could not care less whether you are treading on my finger or my face. Get off!" And if you didn't get off, I would mobilize the other members of my body and give you some assistance.

Well, these rubber dummies that I have been talking about, that was the disciples before Pentecost. Before they enjoyed that resurrection, whereby a man passes from death to life by the once crucified but risen Lord, come to reinvade their humanity in the miracle of spiritual regeneration. Listen, not by any works of righteousness which we have done. According to God's mercy He saves us by the washing of regeneration. The renewing of God the Holy Ghost. The coming back of somebody to live in somebody.

That's what happened at Pentecost when the church was born. That was the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ that Paul talks of in the 12th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians. You can't be baptized by the Holy Ghost after you have been born again because new birth is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you haven't been baptized into the body of Christ by becoming the recipient of His resurrection and life, you're not a Christian; you are still dead. Little wonder then that when Thomas finally, one of the 12, called Didymus, verse 24, who was not with them when Jesus came and the other disciples all excited waited for him to arrive. They were going to tell him the fantastic news Jesus is alive! They said, "we have seen the Lord." But Thomas said to them, "except that I shall see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Was he a Christian?

Peter didn't want the cross and didn't believe in the resurrection.
He said, Not so, Lord. That's not gonna happen to you! Mary didn't want the cross and didn't believe in the resurrection. That's why she was still hanging around an empty tomb looking for the dead body of our risen Lord. Were they Christians? Can you be a Christian and deny the need for the cross and repudiate the suggestion that God raised Him from the dead? If you can become a Christian on that basis then we're wasting our time.

You need to get that new Bible, published by the Oxford University Press. But you won't have Christianity; you will have another religion called Christianity. Thomas, he thought that seeing was believing. Where God in His Word constantly tells us that believing is to see. You see, he thought it was a matter of the will. Mary thought it was a matter of the emotions. Thomas was now convinced it was a matter of the mind, that he had been led astray into the idea that Jesus, who was the Messiah, died for his sins and rose again from the dead.

He said, forget it! I pitted my life on that idea, but it all came to an untimely end on Roman gallows when the one in whom I put my trust died ignominiously like a common criminal. I will believe nothing, not now! Not unless my mind can grasp it. Unless it's compatible with my intelligence.

Thomas, trying to live a life he hadn't got. He wasn't lacking in dedication. When the Lord Jesus insisted that he was going to the city of Jerusalem where He said, I'm going to suffer, it was Thomas who said, "If you must go, I'm coming with you." That was sheer dedication. To somebody who now he repudiated, I will believe nothing unless I can see it; unless I can put my fingers into the print of the nails, thrust my hand into his side. Unless it's reasonably intelligent to my mind. Nothing, I will believe nothing!

After 8 days, again verse 26, Thomas was with them. This time when the Lord Jesus came he was there. A bit of a shock for a man who will believe nothing that can't satisfy his intelligence because the Lord Jesus came through a door that had been shut. That must have been quite a surprise. Then came Jesus, middle of verse 26, the doors being shut. He walked straight through it, a closed door, and He stood in the midst and said, "Peace be unto you." And then there was a sort of icy hush as the Lord Jesus quietly moved across the room with eyes for nobody but Thomas. He stopped in front of him. Said He to him, "Reach hither thy finger.

Behold my hands. Reach hither thy hand. Thrust it into my side.” You said you would believe nothing now that would be a challenge to your intelligence. Okay, satisfy your intelligence. Stick your finger into the print of the nails; put your hand into my side. And be not faithless but believing. Thomas, you've got your feet on the ground now. You believe that Christianity rests upon academic excellence.

That only what satisfies the intelligence and the mind of man can possibly be true. Okay, we'll say goodbye. You go your way and I'll go my way. You establish your own religion that doesn't need a God who created the universes and put them into space or upholds them by the word of His power. You don't need somebody beyond human intelligence to be the foundation for your new religion, but please don't call it Christianity. We'll say goodbye. But He didn't say goodbye, because He is the good shepherd, and He calls His own sheep by name. Knows the worst about them and loves them just the same. Only one who loves like that.

Jesus, verse 29, said to him, "Thomas," He called him by name, “because thou hast seen me thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." They don't demand to be smarter than God, the Creator, to practice their religion. And Thomas answered and said to Him, verse 28, "My Lord, and my God." And on the day of Pentecost Peter was there and Mary was there, and Thomas was there.

What happened on the day of Pentecost? That's when they were risen from the dead. That's when they became the recipients of that life that the Lord Jesus laid down, the Father restored to Him so that He might restore by His presence, that life to them. He tells us about it, Peter, in the first of his two epistles. Let's just have a glance at that. 1 Peter, chapter 1.

First, Peter had to discover the absolute necessity of that that he tried to prevent. The 18th verse. This is Peter's testimony, because something has happened to Peter. It happened at Pentecost, according to the promise of the Father. The gift of life to those who were born dead. Regeneration, the renewing of God the Holy Ghost. God reinvading a man's humanity on the grounds of redemption based on a repentance, that recognizes the fact that he was born dead and needs that which Jesus came to give life.

For the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God, that He alone has the right to restore, is everlasting life. It's all through Jesus Christ, Our Savior. For as much then, he says, 18th verse 1st chapter of Peter's 1st epistle, For as much then as you know that we were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold from our vain behavior according to the traditions of the Father, a dead religion, a religion that was apostate, the theologians of whose day crucified Jesus.

Who claimed the right to reinterpret the scriptures so that they would say what they thought ought to have been said? Said the Lord Jesus; "You search the scriptures. In them you think you have eternal life. They are they that testify of me, but you will not come to me that you might have what my Father sent me to give: life." Said the Lord Jesus to these the theologians of his day, who constantly boasted of their academic excellence and biblical knowledge of all that Moses had to say He said, had you believed in Moses you would have believed me.
He wrote of me. But He said, how can you believe in me if you don't believe in Moses? All you do is spend your time thumping each other on the back and congratulating each other on your academic excellence until the day when you nailed God's incarnate son to a Roman gallows and incited the crowd to say, "Away with him. Crucify him." Heal our aches and pains? Yes. Fill our stomachs any day. But reign over us, never!

Well Peter has learned something since then. For as much as you know that we were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold or anything that money can buy, for in your vain behavior received only by tradition from your fathers. We are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish. Verily foreordained before the foundation of the world. I thought He was drifting to disaster.

I stood between Him and the cross and said, Not so, Lord. But now I realize that He was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. That He didn't drift to disaster, He was born conceived of the Holy Ghost, dead on schedule. Lived that sinless life to the Father's total satisfaction. The one alone of all mankind since Adam fell of whom He, God, could say, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."

Good, very good. My beloved son. Not bisexual, son. Verily foreordained before the foundation of the world. Manifest in these last times for you who now do believe in God who raised Him from the dead. Something's happened to Peter. He's proclaiming the shed blood of Jesus, a death he tried to prevent. And now he's declaring Him to be raised from the dead by God himself that He might be manifest for our salvation. Something's happened to Peter. Who by Him do believe in God that raised Him up from the dead, verse 21, and gave Him glory that your faith and hope might be in God. Being, verse 23, born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible by the living word of God. The word which lives and abides forever. The everlasting, ever living word.

A divine. Something that God had to say then wants you and me to know now, that was brought to its glorious consummation as the written word of God in the person of the living word of God. The lamb. Said John the Baptist, "behold, the lamb that taketh away the sin of the world.”

The word of the Lord', verse 25, last verse of that 1st chapter, 'endures forever." And this is the word. Redemption for the blood He shed new birth by the gospel which is preached unto you." When was Peter born again? When was he raised from the dead? When did he receive that newness of life? Well he tells us in the 1st chapter, verse 3. The same chapter, the same epistle.

"Being born again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." I love the way it's written in the Amplified New Testament, very accurately translated. "By God's boundless love we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Born anew into an inheritance which is “beyond the reach of change and decay." New birth. When was Peter born again? Well he tells us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It took His death upon the cross to redeem me, but it took His resurrection to regenerate me. Don't confuse being redeemed with being born again. To say I'm redeemed is not to say I am born again.

To say I'm born again is not to say that I am redeemed. You cannot be redeemed without being born again and you cannot be born again without being redeemed because they are simultaneous in time. But one demands the death of Christ for us; the other demands the life of Christ in us. How can they be the same thing? His life in us was the result of His death for us.
Because it is only His death for us that cleanses us from sin that qualifies us to become the recipients of His life in us. Regeneration is that purpose for which

Christ died. Born again by His resurrection from the dead. He explains that in the 2nd of his 2 epistles. Look at it.

Verses 3 and 4 of the 2nd of Peter's 2 epistles. According as God's divine power has given us. You can't earn it, you can't deserve it, you can't be educated into it, it is something which God by His divine power gives. According as God's divine power has given to us all that pertains to being alive. What would you say pertains to a man being alive who is born dead? Well the gift of life.

That which pertains to being alive, being a Christian. Not becoming one, being one. It's the gift of life to those who were born dead. Resurrection. And that which pertains to being alive – the gift from God to us of that life man lost in Adam is that he continues in the same verse is that which pertains to godliness.
According as God's divine power has given to us all that pertains to being alive, and that life that pertains to being alive is that which pertains to being god-like. Because the fruits of righteousness are by Jesus Christ for the simple reason that in that moment of redemption something wonderful happens whereby is given unto us verse 4 exceeding great and precious promises that by these, we might be partakers of the divine nature.

Doesn't that baffle you? Doesn't that blow your mind? That in the moment you came as a guilty sinner self-confessed as one born dead of a fallen heir of a fallen Adam and said Thank you Lord Jesus, that as my Creator God you are prepared to be born a human being, emptying yourself, humbling yourself, making yourself of no reputation.

The New English Bible says, "making yourself nothing" so that as man you could do what, as God, you could have never done, you died. Took my place on the cross so that risen from the dead on that day of Pentecost I might become a partaker of the divine nature in the gift to me of the one through whom the Father then lived in you and through whom now the Holy Spirit, you Jesus live in me. What an incredible salvation.

A Christian is somebody living in somebody. Christ living in your heart. Colossians 1:27, your only hope of being restored to glory. Image, likeness. Because that gift of life, Christ living in your hear,t is your only hope of god-likeness. Righteousness not to be achieved, that's beyond our reach. But He has made us unto Himself wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

A forgiven sinner, little boy, little girl, man or woman out of any nation, kindred, tribe or tongue, race, creed, class or color, re-inhabited by the Creator who by His presence put back into man what it takes to be functional. Christ was functional because He allowed only the Father as God to clothe His deity with His sinless humanity. And as my Father said, He has sent me, and I am going to send you. You and I are functional only in the measure in which others can see us today and reflect the glory of Jesus, as others looking at Him then, saw the Father. That's what it means to be a Christian.

The measure in which you are functioning as a Christian isn't how much you are engaged in some Christian activity, how many Bible verses you've memorized. The measure of your spiritual maturity, how much you have grown up, is the measure in which others, your mom, your dad, your children, your work mates, your fellow drivers on the road, know who's behind the steering wheel. That's Christ in action. The coming partakers of the divine nature.

So, what's the potential clothed in the redeemed humanity of any little boy, girl, man or woman who has become on the grounds of redemption by a spiritual new birth a partaker of the divine nature, God in a man. What's the potential? It's as big as God. In other words, every time a little boy, girl, man or woman receives Christ as Redeemer, God places a divine seed within the soul. It's a story waiting to be told.

That's why Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 to 10, the two verses 8 and 9 are well known. The third, the most important, is hopelessly neglected. By grace you are saved. God's riches at Christ's expense. Grace. By grace you are saved through faith. In response in God's faithfulness to your faith that says, I know I need exactly what you came to do.

By grace you are saved through faith. That salvation that is God's gift is not of works lest any man should boast. Nobody will be able to flex his muscles and say, "God I made it. You've accepted me because of my performance on earth." “There is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” But by grace we are saved, through faith. The salvation that we receive through faith is not of ourselves. It is God's gift. Recreated in Christ, verse 10, unto future good works, a program which God has before ordained that we should walk in.

In other words, the moment by faith claiming the grace of God His loving kindness expressed to guilty sinners there is placed within you a divine seed, a divine nature. God places a story within your heart, waiting to be told.
When that divine seed was clothed with His sinless humanity, when that little baby boy was born at Bethlehem, there was a story waiting to be told. There was brought to its glorious consummation in the day that on the cross the Lord Jesus cried, "finished", "Tetelestai", "paid in full”, Father, mission accomplished. I'm coming home. A story that was perfectly told.

On the cover to this little blog there's an oak tree. Before it was a tree it was an acorn. An acorn is essentially an oak tree nut.

Like other nut trees, each species of oak produces its own unique acorn, and individual acorn characteristics differ depending on species of oak. And don't forget the basic principle, that in planting anything you must have fertile soil. I've got in my pocket a story that's never been told. You may or may not be able to see it. But that's a story that has never been told. It's an acorn and wrapped up in an acorn is a mighty oak. Every leaf and twig and root is wrapped up in the seed that God by creation planted within this acorn, creating each after their kind to reproduce after their kind. Genesis in chapter 1. But although God planted that seed in this acorn it's a story that's never been told. You may, as I have done, gone to California and you've looked at those giant redwoods, one in particular 3,000 years old. Where did it all begin? In a seed, smaller than an acorn. But it's a story that's being told for 3,000 years, and still being told.

When you were born again you became a partaker of the divine nature; so that indwelt by the Lord Jesus, added to the Lord as an individual member of his new body corporate, He might continue to tell the story of man's redemption. For you and I represent that humanity through which the Lord Jesus continues to reach out to a lost world. It could well be that you have a life that you've never lived. Here is potential that's never been released. A story that's never been told. Wrapped up in that tiny acorn, the massive oak. It's a miracle and a mystery. But it's a miracle and a mystery that was never made manifest. I can hold it in my hand and hide it because the story has never been told.

When were you born again? When claiming redemption did Jesus Christ God creating come to live within your humanity so that He could implement the plan for which He first made you and has now redeemed you and indwelt you? Are you a story that's never been told?

Growing up I was totally untaught, reared in a religious home where Christianity was Christ less; religion was without the Holy Spirit. I was totally unaware at that time of all the implications. I didn't realize that when Jesus came to occupy my humanity, He came to tell a story that has reached now to the uttermost ends of the earth.

Jesus said to a young man named Andrew in the 12 chapter of John’s gospel "except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone." It lives on, but never becomes more.

We have it hear for our inspection.
20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would to see Jesus.22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again, Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.23 And Jesus answered them, saying, the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it dies, it bringeth forth much fruit.25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

You see Jesus remembered in the feeding of the 5000 the theses young men had forgotten the miracles they had witnessed earlier and in effect wanted Jesus to stop preaching, go into town and buy food.

In effect Jesus was saying to them that the whole world would (wants) to see Jesus and unless you die to your self-seeking, self-serving ways no one would ever see Jesus through their lives.

How is it with you? Can you look back to the day when Christ, the divine nature, came to occupy your humanity, to tell that story that He began? Or in the end will you be nothing more than an acorn? Potential never realized. A life received, but never manifest. Potential that was never released. A story never told. I am talking about being a Believer, not becoming one.

Being one, that's a story being told. This acorn is a story that has never been told simply because it was never willing to die to what it is. So that in God's timeless purpose it might become what it was intended to be. So, as you picture an acorn in your mind, you are not looking at an oak, you're looking at life encapsulated from which it could never escape because this seed was never willing to die.
Once again I ask you, when claiming redemption did Jesus Christ, God creating come to live within your humanity so that he could implement the plan for which He first made you and has now redeemed you and indwelt you?  We are living in the very last days and our Lord will soon return to take us up with Him. Are you Ready?

On behalf of Pastor Terry Reynolds and the whole family at Agape Chapel, remember He Has Risen!
Jeff Russell

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