TeachingNovember 17, 2023

To Get Beyond Our Self


 The entire focus of the  Scriptures is the good news of how to find a new life that comes into a man when he comes  INTO Christ as a result of “being united” with the death of Jesus. There is no gospel to be found in trying to emulate pious sounding words and a moral “good” guy.

In all 4 gospels Jesus explains how a man must “deny” self to get Him in you (Mt.16:24/ Mk.8:34/ Jn.12:25). Likewise, the apostle Paul, explicitly declares how he was “crucified with Christ” and no longer lives  (Gal.2:20/Rm.6:6).

 Jesus begged the Father “if it is possible let this cup pass from me”  (Mt.26:Lk.22:42). But the work of the cross is essential to reckon the vile  Adam nature dead through repentance. Jesus had this nature in Himself so when He died with it He provided our means to merely “reckon” ourselves to the cross with Him. 

Today, Christians act like there is an option to the cross. They bypass this very crux of salvation. There is an alternative. It is  called “the curse”. It is the grief of sin and a troubled conscience a man lives under as an internal  consequence of self-life (Gal. 3:10-14).

So how do we get beyond this most natural inclination? As a catholic,  I used to think Jesus required a morbid life style of a kind of self-flagellation. Can’t do anything “fun”. Got to read the Bible and be “good”. Boy was my mind blown when I read Romans 3 and John 7:37-38. Joy? Happiness? Say what?  Jesus knows I’m wicked yet loves me and will come INSIDE me? My brother, or sister, we know  Jesus is not complicated, miserable or complex. He says “Let the children come to Me” (Mt.18:3). The 12 apostles, and the common street-folk, who encountered Jesus, did not become sophisticated scholars or religious zombies. They  stayed REAL but were changed by one thing: the dynamic personal  love of such profound intimate LOVE that they joyfully walked away from their selfish lives and into the living Christ.

Meeting Someone Famous

The other day I heard a reporter ask a sad woman what it was like when a famous person spoke to her. The lady said that “he was present” and this simple fact  greatly comforted her. I thought “Wow. That is so simple but profound in helping us understand Being in the Presence of Christ”. It is not some “out of body” experience. It is not a metaphysical encounter that you must wait for “someday” to happen to you. God is present there with you now. It doesn’t require a kind of ooze-woozy religious feeling. BELIEVE!

You and I instantly recognize when someone else is present. Well, this “Someone” happens to be invisible. But He has fully described His Presence in Scripture. So His Presence only requires that we believe He is present and He already is so. But faith will change YOU. It will “quicken” or “reckon” Him to permeate your psyche. This is the miracle of FAITH. My dear friend, please, I beg you, before it’s too late; get beyond the noise within your SELF.  Get present with the living Jesus. Don’t make it complicated.  Faith is the  profound gift an old pagan named Abraham left us from his journey in the desert when he beheld the stars like never before and came into the Presence of God. It’s the the only way to be in Christ.  God cannot lie. His Word is absolutely truth.  If you extend your faith to any of God’s promises in the Scriptures the blessing of His unconditional love will be yours.

So, make it real, for you. True faith will displace all the inner dark noise by the promise of His love (Jn.7:37-38). David says ” He leads me besides still waters”.

When someone is famous we imagine being with them as a sensational experience.  But the famous person doesn’t zap us with his, or her, famousness. They just are who they are. It is we who imagine the specialness. Let’s replace imagination with  FAITH. It is not up to God to impart a hyper-feeling upon our physical senses. It is up to us to believe, beyond all our dark noise. The Scriptural revelation (the living Word of God) imparts the attributes of His Holy Spirit. So when we generate faith we enter His promised love, compassion and personal Presence. We walk by faith not by sight.

I constantly “reckon” all the stress within my self, to the cross, for His promise of Presence;  “My peace I leave with you…Do not be anxious…the peace of Christ will rule in your hearts” (Jn.14:27/ Phil. 4:7/Col.3:15/Is.26:3/Will you read these, now?). Heart obedience to Jesus quickens spirit-life.

When I came to Jesus I was totally bewildered and intrigued by the idea of whether this “dead” historical Figure could be alive today. Must I follow a past historical icon, rituals and laws constituted by men or could I  find personal touch with a living Jesus (Mt.11:27ff/Jn.6:37)?  Glory to God. Jesus came to earth so we could come to His living Person. Not mere 2nd hand knowledge of christian theory), but  BEING IN HIS SPIRIT (an intimate relationship- Lk.24:49).

The No. 1 misery of the curse is a troubled conscience over sin. The enormous work Jesus did on the cross is the only way to engage the retroactive endeavor of dying and rising that washes the conscience clean with the Spirit Whom Jesus imparts when a man fully surrenders his carnal life to Him. When I was born again in the football stadium of Notre Dame a phenomenal catharsis washed away all my guilt, that I didn’t even realize weighed me down.

The Father sees that we are all slain within. Our body, mind and soul is absolutely ruined with wackiness. As descendants of Adam we inherited a cursed human nature of sin. So the Father and the Son did everything to reconcile: “ONCE FOR ALL” (READ: Rm.6:10/Hebrews 7:27, 9:12-28,1 0:10/1 Pt.3:18).   The “Word”became flesh, put sandals on His feet, and walked on earth to explain how to leave this “Adam-nature” and  come “INTO” His Spirit.  Recognize and appropriate His living Word in you by faith. Faith is the only way to  “see” God  (Jn.1:18,14:9,6:29/Rm.1:17/Jn.1:1-18 Greek – LOGOS – revelation of God).

Think of someone who loses their legs, sight or some essential component of existence. They weep. They fear. They hurt. They come to their end. The self within them is crushed.  They enter a deep calculation;  “If I do nothing, then nothing will change”. Sooner or later, most learn a kind of “death to self”  to go on. In Christ this point of calculation and desperation crystallizes  the  WILL to believe and  die to self.

You can leave yourself behind by faith. You can establish Jesus. A thousand failures mean nothing. It’s the one real touch of Jesus where salvation finds foundation. This is the gospel; the good news; “Come to Me…abide in Me…”.  Jesus is ‘over the top’ in His blunt mission statement; “I did not come to call the righteous, but the wicked”. (Jn. 15/Mt.11:28/Mark 2:17). In His eyes all our sin, no matter what or how often, is not an obstacle but  rather the recognition necessary to qualify us for His mercy as our only hope.

Don’t you think it’s about time you quit making excuses? Most people go to the grave never being in Christ. They are too busy being in the chaos of sin.  Without Jesus a man cannot withstand the powers of  sin. They work from the inside out and will bring your end into hell. No game. Jesus subjected Himself to all our sin. He left us with no excuse. He became sin, died with our self-obsessive human nature, then rose again and walks over to you, right now. He is waiting to breath upon you and say “…receive My Spirit” (2 Cor.5:21/Jn.26:22/Acts 1:8).  His Word, as documented, so long ago,  in the Scriptures, is  living and active today, for you right now  (Jn.6:63/Heb.4:12).

Every job, venture, talent and hobby in life requires discipline and focus. Train your mind and will. Change your life. How seriously do you believe the Scriptures contain access to the actual divine Presence of the living God? The Bible is the only inroad to God to escape sin. Jesus shall not speak to you in an audible voice or swoop down as a white dove.  God’s Word is not a literary challenge but a heart venture. Can you get beyond black letters on white pages into the Presence? The living Jesus is the only One BEYOND yourself. The only way “into” Christ is through His revealed Word.

Few people ever take this seriously. Today, the Bible is a source of occasional inspiration and a tool for men to enhance self-image. But the gospel is not a school of self-help knowledge to merely offer “Christian” thinking. There are two definitions of righteous: 1)  One credited by God as a gift in exchange for personal  faith 2)  One gained by human efforts to do what is right. Paul said he wanted nothing to do with the first one, “derived” from trying to obey the law (Phil. 3:9).

How  living are the Scriptures to you “I will give you rest” and “My Father and I will come to you and make Our abode (place-home) within you” (Mt.11:28/Jn.14:23). King David said “He leads me besides still waters” (Ps.23). And again, and again, “Lord, You have been my dwelling place..” and I dwell in the shelter of the Most High…My refuge and my fortress (castle) (Ps. 90,91).   “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Rev. 22:12-13