here are three responses to the salvation God has sacrificially given us. Because our eternal future is secure, we can volunteer our lives and take active steps to sacrifice our present life and our bodies for the sake of Jesus, His people and the world, orBecause our eternal future is secure, we can avoid and resist sacrifice and enjoy our present life and try to improve it and make it last as long as we can, orBecause our eternal future is secure, we can enjoy our present life until God "forces" us to sacrifice for His and others' sake. #3 is where many sincere Christians are. They aren't proud of it, but that's the way it is. God is going to have to force them out of their present non-sacrificial lives. He may send messengers, encouragers, rebukers and warners, but in the end, He's just going to have to force it to happen. Here's the deal. When this whole hearted lack of commitment, loyalty and faithfulness was the situation in several of the churches described in Revelation that Jesus wrote to, He didn't force them to change. He just left them. Sincere Christians should fear that far more than sacrifice, loss of comfort, pain or death. It's far more disastrous to the sincere Christian to lose the fellowship and the presence of Jesus in their life or in their church than some kind of corrective discipline like persecution, etc. would be. Or at least it should be.Those who seek to gain their life in this world will lose the "life of Jesus" in themselves. It won't happen overnight but gradually and at first imperceptibly. I am of the camp that He won't leave completely but any loss of Him in real fellowship should scare the heck out of a born again lover of Jesus. It should.Count the cost of the three choices of eternal life above. One is true gain. The other two are real and God ordained loss.
Clearly the first path is the one laid out for us in the Bible and by the life of Christ Himself. Yet such a life seems impossible, I have tried and tried. To quote L.E Maxwell;Christ's requirements are indeed unattainables--that you must learn first of all. In His demands Christ goes far beyond the natural. He asks for no mere initiations. On the one hand He well knows your incapacities; on the other hand He demands the utterly impossible. And the necessary shock that has to come to the believer is that Christ's standards are completely beyond the reach of the flesh. Who naturally loves his enemies, rejoices in persecution, hates himself,and goes the second mile? Yet these things are native to the true Christian life. We are at once indicted and hopeless. There is an impassable gulf between the humanly possible and the requirements of Christ. The flesh profiteth nothing. F. J. Huegel, in Bone of His Bone, rightly summarizes our failure thus: "We have been proceeding upon a false basis. We have conceived of the Christian life as an imitation of Christ. It is not an imitation of Christ. It is a participation of Christ."Indeed we are to be partakers of the divine nature; and the doorway into such an experimental participation of the life of Christ is through identification-identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.-from Born Crucified by L.E. Maxwell
Hi Brother Ron,The beauty of the New Covenant is that the impossible is clearly possible and within our reach. The life of Jesus by the Spirit is there for us to experience by faith as we surrender our bodies to Him for His use as His instruments of righteousness. I know you know this but the article makes sacrificial love seem still hard to attain or distant from us. Peter said we have all we need for godliness (Christ in us) which seems so reassuring and within reach. Jesus said the Father will gladly give us His Spirit ( in a practical and lived out sense given the Lord's prayer that that promise is connected to) if we will ask. The life of Christ that loves sacrificially is almost something we have to say no to in order to not have it in terms of these premises. Finally, one thing I've learned as a Christian and as a missionary, is that we always do what we want to do if we have the resources to do it. At the end of the day, if we don't do something God has called and commanded us to do, it is because the desire to do it is not as strong as the desire not to do it. I know that sounds simplistic, but the life of Jesus is ready. willing and fully able to do in us to will and to do all that the Father commands. As Augustine prayed, Father give what thou commandest. He is a good Father and He will and He does. In 1 John 3, loving the brethern sacrificially is discussed strictly in terms of the born again nature we have in us already. The Holy Spirit says that God's seed abides in us, that we are children of God, that the love of the Father is in us IF we love the brethern sacrificially. The described capacity to love sacrficially is at its root established by the New Birth and the New Covenant. We can do what God has called us to and that I find very reassuring. The article you quote is right. We aren't parrots struggling to mimic perfection We are new creatures struggling to believe who we are and Who lives in us and out of us.
Robert: You are absolutely right. The only way to have the life of God is to die. Without death of self, there is not regeneration, there is no life of God in and through us. We cannot retain our own life and have his. It is one or the other.
The truths of identification with Christ in Maxwell’s excellent book are absolutely essential for the disciple of Christ to comprehend or we will be striving to crucify an old man that has already been dealt with at the cross. There is the denying of self and taking up of our cross daily that is an absolute demand to be a disciple of Christ.The self life is the greatest hindrance to a life of fruitfulness.Thank you brothers for all that you have shared!