Permanent change! Every believer I have ever known, including myself, desires to become more and more like Jesus. Most of us have done our best through self denial and discipline to try and become more like Him. We have all heard hundreds of messages saying things like, "You must love more! You must be more forgiving! You must be less selfish! You must have more faith!"
The problem is, seldom are we told HOW to accomplish those things. We know Jesus loves and forgives. We know that He is unselfish and has perfect faith. We want to be like Him. Not knowing any other way to become more like Him, we have tried through "our" best efforts to be more like Him. The bible, however, gives us the only way of becoming truly, permanently, progressively transformed to be like Jesus Christ:
2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
I would do you no service if I concluded this letter now by saying, "You need to behold the glory of the Lord more." Again, HOW do we do that? In order to answer that question, we have to back up a little. One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was so we could "know" the Father. In fact, Jesus said the very definition of eternal life is to "know the Father" and to "know Jesus Christ" whom the Father has sent:
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Jesus is the "express image" of the Father. If we want to "know" the Father, then we have to look at Jesus Christ:
Heb 1:1-3a God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person …
It is for this reason that Jesus told Philip:
John 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
I say again, you cannot "know" the Father except by observing Jesus Christ. The worst sin of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of the day, was that they rejected the Son who had come to reveal the Father. By rejecting the Son, they were also rejecting the Father. Jesus said:
Luke 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
Most people think they can know Christ better by spending more time observing Him in the four gospels. No, the more clearly that you see Jesus in the four gospels, the better you will know the Father. It is the Father that Jesus came to reveal. Jesus "declared" the Father unto us:
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
What does all of this have to do with permanent change? Remember from 2 Cor 3:18, we are changed into the image of Jesus Christ as we "behold His glory." There is an important clue given to us by the apostle Paul in this verse:
Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
All believers who have given themselves to bible study know quite a bit about Christ as we see him walking through the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We marvel at the wondrous things we see Him doing when He lived in His own flesh and blood body. Most of our sermons revolve around the accounts of those miraculous works that are recorded for us in the gospels.
But the thing we know very little about, the thing that remains a "mystery" to us, is how that very same Christ intends to continue doing the same marvelous works through us NOW THAT HE LIVES IN OUR FLESH AND BLOOD BODIES by His Spirit. Jesus Christ never intended that His ministry should come to an end once He was glorified and left this earth to be seated at the right hand of the Father. On the contrary, He intended that His ministry be multiplied thousands of times over through the born again spirits of believers all over the world. That's why He said,
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Paul was certainly correct when He declared "Christ in us" to be a mystery, wouldn't you say? We hardly know anything about it. Now here is the sad truth. As the religious leaders in that day rejected the Son who had come to reveal the Father, so the Church (for the most part) has rejected the Holy Spirit who has come to reveal the Son in us! Jesus plainly told us that ONLY the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, was qualified to teach us concerning Christ in us:
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
Next month, we will begin discussing in detail the various ways that we can sit in the classroom of the Holy Spirit in order that He can teach us concerning the mystery of "Christ in us."
Thank you for your gift to GCM. Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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