Jesus Christ IS the Life of the believer. This is a glorious reality and is what I call the Grace Walk. Here is an attempt to briefly summarize what that means.
Of course, all Christians know the gospel to be the forgiveness of our sins and the saving of our souls by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. But after coming to Christ for salvation, many of us are told to live our life FOR God in the best way we could. This is quite familiar language in the modern church, but the concept of “living our life for God” is actually quite foreign to the New Testament.
Dead With Christ
The New Testament gospel was not simply a gift of forgiveness followed by a self-improvement plan. Rather, it was a self-REPLACEMENT plan – the death of one life and its substitution with Another.
Much of the body of Christ has a comprehension of the blood of Jesus releasing them from their sins. But too few have an understanding of the cross of Christ releasing them from themselves – their Adamic nature. We are accustomed to hearing about the cross as the place where Christ died for the forgiveness of sins. And that is wonderful and true! But there is more to it than that! Much, much more!
The cross is also how we died WITH Christ, so that we could walk in the newness of His resurrected life. Without an understanding of the cross severing us from our first birth, our flesh-life, and bringing us into a union with the resurrected life of Jesus, we can spend years living our lives FOR God, rather than becoming vessels of His Life.
Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”It is not a STRIVING to transform the old nature; it is a crucifixion of that old nature:
Rom. 6:6: “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with” and a filling of our earthen vessel with something (Someone) entirely new.
Eph 3:19: ”… that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Gal. 4:19: “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” This is why we are called “new creations,” and are told to put on the “new man.”
2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Eph. 4:22: ”… lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit…and put on the new self…”
The Gospel is not about an IMITATION of Christ’s works; rather, it is the IMPARTATION of Christ’s life,
2 Pet. 1:4: “you have become partakers of the divine nature,” so that His life could have full expression through His body (the church).
2 Cor. 4:11: “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
It is not flesh becoming spiritual (that’s impossible!)
John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing;”
Rom. 7:18: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh…”
Christ Through Us
But comprehending the finished work of the cross, we can know (Rom 6:6) and reckon (Rom 6:11) our Adamic nature dead, and abide in the Life of Jesus.
John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
And abiding in Christ is essentially synonymous with “walking in the spirit;” i.e. living out of the place of union with Jesus Christ; living in, and drawing from, the life of Another.
1 Cor. 6:17: “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Gal. 5:25: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
And so, the New Testament gospel is not really concerned with us (our flesh) bearing the fruit of our works for God.
Is. 64:6: “And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment”Rather, we are brought into participation/union with the life of Christ, so that God bears fruit through us – just as a branch is merely a living conduit for the sap of the vine. It is the sap that both gives life to the branch and produces fruit on the branch.
John 15:4: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
Of course, we are not becoming Jesus. A branch does not become the vine! But it is grafted into a joyful participation with the life of the vine, so that ONE LIFE can have expression in and through the many branches.
Christianity is not about many people imitating one Life. Quite the contrary! It is about the expression or manifestation of that one Life through the many. And so, Paul’s main concern was not the disciplining of our flesh so that we would act more like Christ.
Col. 2:23: “self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, are of no value against fleshly indulgence”
Rather, he was laboring in prayer until Christ’s very life was formed in the body.
Gal. 4:19: “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.”
The purpose of any body is to give expression to the life dwelling within it. God calls us “the body of Christ,” and thus our eternal purpose is to become an expression of His life.
Understanding Christ as the LIFE of the believer is the good news that the cross has brought about an exchange of life, wherein we can both partake of, and make manifest, the glorious life of Jesus Christ.
AND THAT’S A SUMMARY OF THE GRACE WALK!