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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Is A Christian? # 3

What A Christian IS (continued)

2. "What Will Thou Have Me to Do, Lord?"

The second thing -in Paul's case, as in every true Christian life - is represented by one sentence: "What wilt Thou have me to do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10).

This represents a new position and a new relationship. How very different from that of the old Saul! Hitherto his life and activity had been out from himself - what he thought he would do, what he proposed, purposed, planned, determined, and desired. Self-determination had been his way of life, although he would have said that it was done in a good cause - even done for God. What an example Saul was of the fact that a man's very best intentions and devotions, in what he believes to be God's interests, may yet be doing God the greatest disservice - and he himself be totally blind to the fact. We shall speak of this again later.

We see here, then, that one thing is a clear evidence of a life truly acceptable to God; it is the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. Paul first used that word, "Lord," at his conversion; it came out spontaneously when he realized that Jesus lives From that moment Jesus was his Lord, his Master. We know from his life afterward how utter was that surrender and change of government. Everything from that hour was on the basis of "What wilt Thou?"

Yes, it is the hallmark of a true Christian life when, with the same inward realization and abandonment, we say to Jesus, "Lord," and thenceforth have our whole lives governed by Him as Master.

3. "Christ In You"

There is one more indispensable mark and feature of the Christian life to which we will point at this time. It is shown in the words addressed to Paul by one Ananias: "The Lord Jesus ... hath sent me that thou mayest ... be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17).

The consummation of this basic work, by which we become Christians in the true sense, is that everything which is true of Christ is made an inward thing with us. Up to this point, although everything has been very real and deep changes have taken place, it has been mainly as in an outward relationship with Christ. But it would have been fatal to have left it there, however great the discovery. We cannot live upon something which happened at a certain time. We cannot meet all the tremendous forces of evil which will oppose us, in the strength of a mere memory, however vivid. We shall never live triumphantly, or serve effectively, or satisfy God truly, on any basis of what is merely outward and objective.

The fact is that only Christ can really satisfy God; only Christ can do God's will and God's work. Only Christ can overcome the spiritual forces of evil. Yes, only Christ can really live the Christian live. Hence, the one great inclusive and crowning reality of a Christian is - Christ Himself WITHIN! Paul later put this in these words: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).

This becomes true by a definite act when we believe. The Holy Spirit takes possession of us in an inward way. This indwelling of Christ had never been known by any man in history until Christ had died and risen and been glorified. It is therefore the peculiar wonder and glory of the Christian. It is this very thing that explains the New Testament term - "born anew." There is nothing like it before.

So, then, in a word, our question, "What is a Christian?" is answered in three initial things.

a. Realizing that Jesus is alive.
b. Enthroning Him as absolute Lord.
c. Having Him as an inward presence and power by the Holy Spirit.

The testimony of a true Christian must ever be - 

"He lives! He lives!
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me, He talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!"

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "What Is A Christian?")

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