The Ever-Abiding Christ
Christians are the most blessed people on the face of the earth, or they should be if they are appropriating their blessings and are functioning in the church as Christ instructed.
When our Savior was about to be crucified, he huddled with his disciples and gave them instructions and promises that all believers were to share. This perpetual intercourse between Christ and his Body sets the Christian apart from all other people on the earth.
I desired to accept Yahweh’s words as my reality, his promises as my benefits, and the keeping of his Commandments as my privilege. But when I tried that, I found it to come strongly against my nature; it was impossible without a nature change.
Commandment keeping is the key to power and happiness. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love,” John 15:7-10. When we deal with Yahweh’s words, his admonition and commandments, we are speaking of principle, attitude, or spirit. Abiding in his word entails sharing his conviction, philosophy, goals, and his conduct.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” This statement implies the opposite is true when we are not abiding in Yasha’s love. Abiding-faith, trust or believing, is not something that pops out in an emergency and does not show up again until another crises. His words, which are Spirit, must abide and develop into a life standard. They must become our principle or outward reflection of character.
Yasha’s words are simple, but their potential is great. This promise puts the commandment-keeping Christian in a position that is more than a cut above all other people on earth, that is, if he can deal with all the ifs. “If you keep my commandments you shall abide in my love.” What could be greater than abiding continually in our Father’s love?
In reviewing his promises, we are always confronted with the big ifs. If Yasha’s statement is true, and we should harbor no doubt that it is, we must assume that there is an abiding place outside of his Love. But to the world, this is an out-dated statement.
We all understand that where an “if” is involved, there is always a condition to be met. This particular condition involves commandment keeping. “If you keep my commandments.” However, this “if” does not stand alone when we begin to consider the whole discourse. If commandment keeping is thought to be an outward action that does not make demands on our flesh, we have missed the whole message. Love for Yahweh’s principles must come before true commandment keeping can become a reality.
“Yasha answered and said unto him, ‘If’ a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loves me not keeps not my sayings: and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” Yasha makes a strong statement here, “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” Again the opposite must be true, if we do not keep his words our love is superficial.
We all love to have Yahweh’s comfort. We love to feel the electrical currents of his anointing sweep over our being. We love the peace and joy that bubbles up in our hearts, and we may think that alone is proof that we love him. That is proof that we love to feel his blessings. Of course we love his blessings, why shouldn’t we?
The acid test of our love for Yahweh is, Do we want to adapt to his method of coping with problems and dealing with our enemies? That is, do we feel that the very best response to those who are persecuting us is to love them, pray for them, and turn the other cheek when we are smitten?
When someone makes false statements against us, assassinating our character, and is rude or hateful, can we respond as Christ bade us to respond? Do we rejoice in persecution? Can we pray for the Father to bless our enemies? Are we willing to bless them with our spiritual and natural substances? Are we willing to turn the other cheek?
Do we give to those who ask of us without expecting something in return? What is our reaction to those who ask for our substance and demand that we go with them more than the second mile? The answer to this question, for most of us, is we do not follow the Savior’s instructions, at least, with our heart.
Our Lord knew that it was impossible for the natural man to fulfill the law of righteousness before he experienced a conversion, which can be experienced only through Christ. Do not confuse the new birth with conversion. The Messiah, in dealing with a devoted disciple that had ministered beside him with signs following for three years, said, “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen thy brethren,” Luke 22:32. Did Peter need a conversion after three years of successful ministry? He very obviously did, as do most of our successful ministers do today.
The words the Savior spoke to his disciples, the first Christians, were positive and unlimited: “Yasha said unto him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes,” Mark 9:23. The truth is, most Christians do not believe this scripture. They do not believe that Yasha has given us power to do all things that he did as a flesh man. The reason they do not believe the Savior’s words is because very few modern day Christians demonstrate supernatural power. Most Christians have accepted and adopted the world’s status quo, that is, no power beyond the physical.
Of course, as Christians, we each have a measure of faith; we do believe some of the things the Savior said, and the measure we do believe is made evident by our limited circumstances and power. Every Christian has supernatural power at his or her disposal; however, most people are unaware of their potential, and among those that are aware, very few understand the operation of the Kingdom and its power.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes 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 And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If you love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:12 -15.
The Lord spoke positive words of our potential in him. But he knew that we would never utilize our potential without his presence and support; therefore, he made provision for our lack of faith, saying, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (why would such powerful people need to be coddled?). Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you will see me: because I live, you shall live also. At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
“Judas says unto him (not Iscariot), Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself unto us, and not unto the world?
“Yasha answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loves me not keeps not my sayings: and the word, which you hear, is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you,” John 14:18-26.
The Holy Spirit is a guide, comforter and teacher; therefore, his abiding presence is essential to our progress and well-being. But we cannot narrow his importance down and limit him to our needs only; there are many reasons why it is essential that we give him preeminence in our daily lives. One very important reason is, unless his supernatural power is present in the Church, the Church is reduced to human effort that does not have the power to convict transgressors of their sin and bring them to true repentance and Spirit birth. The life and power which emanates from Christ is the life of the assembly. We also need the supernatural foresight that only the Spirit can supply. But if the individual members will not submit to Yahweh’s power, their particular congregation will remain lifeless.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more,” John 16:7-10.
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin,” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. How else could he do this effectively except in a congregation that is Holy Spirit energized? Christ established a spiritual kingdom, or government, on earth. I say spiritual, not mystical, but spiritual because its subjects are the born from above people that have experienced a new birth, they are known throughout the world as Christians; they are the firstfruits of the new creation.
The power that controls Yahweh’s Kingdom is a supernatural power and cannot be interrupted by the intellectual and domineering political systems of the carnal mind. There are spirit beings (angels) that operate in this system. It is the everlasting Kingdom spoken of by Daniel that will subdue all other kingdoms (Daniel 2:44).
We have seen what the Christian’s potential is according to Christ. We have also witnessed the limited confines of their present development and growth in Christ. We each have been given a measure of faith, as we are told in Romans 12:3, “…according as Yahweh has dealt to every man the measure of faith.” It is up to the leaders to yield themselves to Christ so that his energy is present in the congregation and activating the members to use and expand the measure that has been given.
In his discourse with his disciples, just before his physical body was taken from their midst, our Savior instructed them to return to Jerusalem and wait for the fulfillment of his promise to return to them in Spirit, saying, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.” This was ten days before the Feast of Firstfruit (commonly called Pentecost, or Greek, fifty). The disciples, being Israelites, no doubt, understood the meaning of the Feast of Firstfruits and expected the new covenant to be ratified on that day. That is not to say that they had full understanding of how this operation would take place, but I am sure they expected Christ to manifest himself as the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit. The new covenant entailed the writing of the law in their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:8-10). This must have been a day of great expectation.
The book of Acts 2:1-47 gives us a glimpse of the glory of that day. However, little is revealed about the actual operation of the new administration until Paul pens it in his famous letter to the struggling assembly at Corinth (1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 13). In this particular passage, there are nine gifts mentioned. Three are intellectual gifts: wisdom, knowledge and discerning. There are three communicative gifts: tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. And as we should expect, there are three action gifts: miracles, healings and faith. These gifts are to operate through the members of the Body.
Through the three manifestations of Christ in the congregation, all needs confronting the Church would be met. The intellectual gifts help us to know what is the will of the Lord or what is wrong and what to do about it. The communicative gifts give us the ability to instruct and to make others aware of the problems in the church body. The action gifts give us power to remedy problems.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of limited power; yet we know the Master spoke of unlimited possibilities. This sounds contradictory; yet it is not. While Christ dealt with our potential in maturity, Paul ministered to the infant Church in its reality. None of us will reach maturity without experiencing growth. (Scriptures with reference to growth can be found in Ephesians 2:21; 4:15; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:3).
When Christ spoke of his achievements, he connected it to his humanity, calling himself the son of man because he was identifying with the human family and their possibilities and position in Yahweh as adult sons (see Matthew, 9:6; 26:64, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24 9:1, 10:19, John 1:12, Acts 1:8, and 1 Corinthians 2:4).
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are often called the five-fold ministry gifts, while the nine spiritual gifts are for the lay members only. But the operation of the nine spiritual gifts in the Body are for all the members and operates through lay members as well as those who are functioning as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, directors, and helpers. These are all parts of a fragmented whole.
The ministry gifts are often used by imperfect beings, which demonstrate very limited vision and power, but the spiritual gifts are available to these individuals to supplement that which is lacking. Though double honor and the deepest respect should be shown to those in leadership positions, they are yet a part of the Body and should at all times recognize this fact and yield themselves to the head of the Body, which is Christ. Pity the congregation that is under leadership of any individual that does not recognize himself as a recipient under the headship of the Holy Spirit with total dependency in his resources.
This administration that Christ set in his Body that functions through the different Body parts (wisdom, knowledge, discerning, faith, miracles, healings, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation) enables some of the immature members to function as apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, and teachers.
The gifts, whether ministry or spiritual, were set in the Church to be administered by the Spirit and used by the members. The nine spiritual gifts are often used by new converts very effectively because the Spirit is doing the work through the Body. These gifts are the children’s bread (not toys); they nourish and strengthen; they sustain and build faith. They enable the members to bond with one another and unite the Body as a whole. But no one member possesses the whole.
The gifts are perfect, but each member receives only a part. Each member functions in a limited measure so that he or she is forced to recognize his or her dependency on the Body. This member need to become united with the Body; while at the same time Yahweh is allowing his amateurs to explore the possibilities. As we leave the twelfth chapter, we leave the part realm and advance on into the thirteenth chapter where we learn about the more excellent way: the Love administration.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect (complete) has come, then that which is in part (incomplete) will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things,” 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:40.
We understand that Paul speaks of leaving his childhood behind as he reaches manhood. Surely we are not to assume that the gifts are childish activities; by no means are they inferior in quality, but inexperienced children are using them. Many people use the above text to prove the legality of the powerless state of the modern church, but few of us are willing to do away with dialects and knowledge while trying to eliminate prophecy. We must reach maturity by growth, and growth leads us into the more excellent way, which is Love’s administration.