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I want to speak, this evening, about the life that Christ lives in us. You have it here in the parable of the vine. What can be closer or more intimate than the union between the vine and the branch? How the very same sap that is in the vine is to be found in the branch. We have very many kinds of grapes, but in each case the juice that is in the vine is the very same juice that is in the branch. And so the very same life and Spirit which is in Christ is to be in us. This is the great lesson we want to learn tonight. Read John I5: 1-12. Our life is to be a life of perfect union with Jesus. Let us join in prayer and ask God to reveal to us something of the wonderful glory of the life that we have in Christ Jesus, and let us believe that He can, even now, give us definite blessing.
We want to have a clear idea of what we, in our Christian life, aim at. The question is, what is the work that Christ does to bring us nigh to God? In what way does He enable us to live as God wants us to live? I said, this morning", that we too often think of Christ as an outward person here on earth, who hears and helps us. A man may come and give me $10,000, and so be my helper, but there is no further union between him and me. The man may be a great benefactor, but there is no organic union between him and me. I may never see him again. Many people look upon Christ as such a separate, outward Savior. They never can fully enjoy His salvation. I must believe that even as Christ is in heaven, so He is here in me. His branch. He comes into my inmost life. He occupies that life. He lives there, and by living there He enables me to live as a child of God. Some think that when Christ dwells within us He comes somewhere in the region of the heart, and He lives there. We are two separate persons, Christ one and I one, and somehow He works in me at times. No! That is not the way. Christ comes into me and becomes my very life. He comes into the very root of my heart and being. He comes into my willing and thinking and feeling and living, and lives in me in the power which the Omnipresent God, alone, can exercise. When I understand this, my soul bows down in adoration and confidence toward God. I live in the flesh, the life of flesh and blood, but Christ dwelling in me is the true life of my life.
The words which I want to speak are very simple and well known. Gal. 2: 20, ''Christ liveth in me. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Now, the point to which I want to direct attention, this evening, is that if Christ is to live in me He does not live in me by a blind force, nor without my knowing it. He calls me to come and see what His life is, and so, if I desire His life, I must give up mine. I must also give up all wrong ideas about what the life of Christ really is. I cannot have the life of Christ, in power, in me, unless I seek to know truly what the life is that He lived. Oh! Come, and let the living Christ live in you. And to that end, seek to know the life He has set before you in His example. Not that we are able to imitate Christ. But because Christ lived His life for us, and imparts it to us, therefore we can do it. What folly it would be for a child of three years to say. All that my father can do I can do. And how can I say, I can live as the mighty Christ did? What folly! To attempt to walk as Christ did. And yet, the Bible tells me I must do it. The Bible also tells me I can do it, because "Christ liveth in me." If I allow the living Christ to take possession of my will and desires, I can walk even as He walked. Let us come to the life of Christ, and try and find out what is that life that He lived on earth, with His Father. There are not two Christs, only one, the Christ that lived on earth is the Christ that lives in my heart. The great mark of Christ is that He lived in the deepest humility and dependence upon the Father. He said, "I can do nothing of Myself'" In everything He had His life from God. Note five points in His life.
Take His birth. There He received His life from God.
Take His life and walk on earth. He always waited upon God. He lived His whole life in dependence upon God alone.
Take His death. He gave up His life to God, even unto the very death.
Take His resurrection. He received His life back again from God the second time.
Take His ascension. He was taken up to heaven to find His glory with God.
Don't you see, from the beginning to the end, God was everything in that life. If I understand that, that the Christ who is going to live in me is the Christ that honored God in everything. He will work that same disposition in me. And that will be the beauty, blessedness and strength of my life, when I learn, like Christ, to know that in everything God is all, and when the motto of His life becomes mine: ''For God, to God, through God, are all things." Look at the birth of Christ. What does that mean? God gave the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and it was by the almighty power of God that Christ was born, as a child, in Bethlehem. He was the workmanship of God. God sent the Holy Spirit to form Him, and to work everything in connection with His birth, in the Virgin Mary. Christ always remembered that. He always told the people His Father sent Him. He was not His own master. He acknowledged that He had been sent by God. He always acknowledged that He had His life from God. The Father hath given all things into the hands of the Son. The Father hath given unto the Son to have life in Himself. That was Christ's starting point. My life comes from God. I come from God. I have nothing of myself, and everything I get I must get from God.
Now, if Christ took that stand, I wish that we could be brought to take that stand, and to say, in deep truth, "This new life is a life that I have from God. God gave it me. I have got a work of God right in my heart, by the Holy Ghost, in regeneration. I have got a new life from God." And what will you then think ^That life that God has given? Who is going to maintain it? God, alone, can maintain what He has begun. He must work it out to completion. He must perfect it to the very end. So my life is given by God. The life of Christ and the life of my soul are both given from God in heaven, received from Him, and must be kept day by day', in deep consciousness, it belongs to God. God, alone, can keep it right, maintain it. It is the highest folly for me to think I can keep it myself. Have you ever studied that? I have received, from the living God, the living Christ in me, and I am not to try and live out that life, but I am to take it to God and acknowledge, "My God, Thou hast planted it in me; Thou, alone, canst keep it." Do this if you want to realize what that dependence is, how Christ lived His whole life in dependence upon God's will and God's strength and God's might. He said, regarding that question of strength, "The Son can do nothing of Himself."
Was that really true? Yes. He said, "The words I speak, I speak not of Myself, but as the Father showeth the works, them I do." He said in regard to His will, ''I came not to do my own will." I cannot trust my will. I do not know what I ought to do. I wait fully, that the Everlasting God might work out what is right. If Christ, the Holy One, needed to say that, don't you think you and I need it ten thousand times more? And that is what we want Christ to come into us for, to breathe in us that very disposition, and that is what I speak of. The very highest virtues of any Christian life is only to let God have His way. Oh to give God the opportunity of doing His work in us, and coming day by day, hour by hour, to the place of absolute dependence upon God, and to learn one lesson. ''Oh! God, I have nothing. I do not know anything, I am nothing, nothing, and I can only do what God makes me." And now, how is Christ to bring me near to God? He cannot bring me near to God in any other way than the way He came Himself. What was that way? The way of the deepest self abnegation, the way of the most entire surrender to God. He was forever expecting God to work in Him, to look to God for strength. He prayed to God for guidance. He cried to God in His trouble. God was everything,^ everything to Him, and Christ was content to be nothing. Are you willing to have this Christ to come into your life?
Dear friends, I cannot speak it out plain enough in words. The great reason why our Christian life does not advance more, is: we try to do too much ourselves. We are far too self active and self confident. We, perhaps, never learned the simple elementary lesson that the only place for me before God is just to be nothing and God will work in me. Look at the angels in heaven, the seraphim and cherubim. Why are they such bright flames before the throne of God? Because they are nothing, nothing in them to hinder God, and He can let the glory of His presence burn right through them. And why was Christ so perfect, and why did Christ gain such victory^, and why did Christ please God so It is this one reason. He allowed God to work in Him from morning until night, and every step was just in dependence upon God. He said, ''Father, guide me," ''Father, I wait upon Thee,'' "Father, work in me," and when Christ comes to live in us, do believe me and God's word, the first and chief thing He wants to work in you, is an absolute dependence upon your God. Christians, have you not to confess, I have never seen that right. I have not lived it out. I have not understood that, from morning to night, I must let God work in me, I must do nothing. You may say. How can we do our work? Was Christ also inactive? Was the Apostle inactive? With a restless activity he traversed the world, and yet, all the time, he says, "I am nothing." Waiting upon God won't make us inactive. It will give us a higher activity.
Pray to God to teach us that Christ in us needs a life of absolute, entire dependence upon God.
Look at the death of Christ. What does that mean? It means that the life that God had given He gave that up entirely to God, and that means this: He said, "I have no wish to regard my life as my own property. If God wants it, however much suffering", however much shame and death, it costs me, if God wants it, I give it up to God." That is fair. That is right. If I have everything from God then everything ought to return to God. Thus with Christ. That had been His whole life through, for His death was nothing but the completion of the spirit that had indicated all His life. When He was only twelve years old, remember, He said to Mary, ''Know ye not I must be about my Father's business?" And time after time He said My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work”, "I am not come to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.'' And so He went down to Gethsemane, where He said to the Father, 'Not my will but Thine be done." I am afraid we have never acknowledged the right that God has, and that we have never understood, every power I have comes straight from God, my whole life comes from God, and every moment of my life ought to go back to God, and every strength I get in the spiritual life comes from God, just as the sunlight comes from the sun, and everything ought to go back to God, and every action will be to the glory of God.
A Christian who has Christ in him, will be a man truly sacred and given up wholly to God. Is that easy? No. Why? Because self is in us so strong. The curse of sin has brought us into that fearful condition, that instead of considering it an honor and a privilege to be nothing and to do His will, we have come to look upon it as hard. We have come to look upon it as a high attainment, indicating that we cannot attain to it. If a man gives up himself, and will come to God, he can live this life of Christ living in him, or else the Bible cannot be true. Paul, writing in the Epistle to the Colossians, prayed for the Colossians, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Col. 4: 12. Beloved! listen, Christ only lived for God's will, and do you want that Christ in your hearts, or do you want to try and live a little for your own will? Do you want the living Christ, the Christ that reveals God, the living Christ, who gave up everything, do you want that Christ? Oh! come now. If there is any man who has a right to say it, it is Christ. This is what I want, such a Christ to live in me. A Christ that will enable me to live in dependence upon God, and in surrender to God.
God gives you this Christ, if, from the heart, you give up your life, time and will to God to do that very special thing in me. What does it mean? It means a great deal. There was that beautiful, perfect life of Christ, without one sin. Was it necessary to give up that life? Yes. Because that life of Christ was connected with us and Adam, who were in the power of sin, and God said if He wanted a life of everlasting glory, the life with us, connected with Adam and sin, must be laid down in death. Christ said, "What shall I do? I want to be glorified with the Father." He had prayed, ''Father, glorify Thy Son." He felt, I cannot have the two lives. I cannot take this life, that I got from the flesh, that is in the likeness of the flesh, to heaven. It cannot be. So the question came, Will you give up this life that you have from Adam, under the curse of sin. Will you give it up if God will give you a life of everlasting glory. Christ said, Yes. Christ says, If you want Me to live in you, you must do what I did your own life must be given up to the very death, unto the death of the cross, to be crucified. I must die to self, I must die to the world, I must be an actual partaker of the death of Christ. ''If we are planted in the likeness of His death, we shall be raised in the likeness of His resurrection." I must say to God, I must seek to lose my life, and I want to die to self, and I want Him to come into me with His death, and to take me down into it.
Fourth step. Resurrection. What does that mean? It means that when Christ laid down His life into the grave, that God gave it back to Him in double glory. When Christ had gone down into the grave and into death, God lifted Him up and gave Him a new life, infinitely higher and better than the life He laid down. That teaches me this: That if I am willing to lay down my evil life, my evil will, my heart and its affections, all my power in this world, to give it all up to God, to die to it, and to give up myself wholly to trust and wait upon God, God will give the new and resurrection life of Christ, in my heart, here on earth. Christ the Living One, who was raised from death, will come and live in my heart. ''As He was dead, and is alive, for evermore." Study the grave of Jesus.
What does it mean? Christ gave Himself up unto death, utter helplessness, to be nothing before God, and there He lay, just allowing God to take His time to do His work. When He was in the grave, in darkness, in death, He left it to God, to do what might please Him. What did God do? God fulfilled His promise, and gave Him a life a thousand times more glorious than that life sacrificed on Calvary. Listen, if you want Christ to really live in your heart you want that Christ who went down into the grave. He had trusted God and was raised by God again. You want Christ, with the resurrected life, to come into you, and be one with you, the Christ who was dead and is alive for evermore, and comes and brings the power of His death in me, so that everything dies to self and sin, and brings the power of His life, so that everything in me can live with a new life from God, even Jesus Christ that wants to live in me. I do beseech you, do not let yourselves be deceived with some thoughts about the presence of Jesus. Just think of Him specially in me. Trust in Him. Let it become a reality. Let Him become a live presence. Who is this Christ who lives in me? He is a man who received His life from God, who lived that life in intimate dependence upon God, a man who gave up His whole life and will to God, the man raised from the dead by the almighty power of God. This is the Christ to live in you.
Last. After His resurrection He ascended up into heaven. It means that God took Him up into the place of power, to share with Him in His throne of glory, to make Him partaker of that divine power, by which the Holy Spirit is to become a blessing to cry, How can I be a blessing to my fellowmen? How did Christ become a blessing to the world? He gave Himself up to God, and He died to Himself and to His own natural life, and waited for God to raise Him up. And because He did so God lifted Him up to the place of blessing. He gave Him the fullness of the Holy Spirit to give you. You want Christ. He is in heaven, but, oh! my brother, you cannot have Christ until you have learned the lesson of depending upon God, to die, and then you must learn by faith to claim Christ in the resurrection and in the ascension, and thus, as Jesus Christ lives in you in your earthly life you will become a sharer of the glory of His heavenly love. The whole Christ life in you, the Christ dependence upon God, the Christ given up to God, the Christ raised up by God, and the Christ exalted above, with God, this Christ wants to come and live in you. If Christ is to bring me near to God then it cannot be as an outward person. He up in heaven and He dwelling and living in me.
How is Christ going to bring me near to God? Only one way. Christ must live in my heart. He must live in me by united harmony and oneness of faith towards that God. This is a spiritual mystery, but God is a Holy Spiritual Being, and I cannot draw nigh to Him by my thought nor by thinking about a certain locality of heaven. Being brought to God means that Christ comes into me and lives His life in me, and leads me up into personal fellowship with the Living God. Now the great question that stirs the church is: Why are Christians so feeble? And the great question with many is: What can we do to get the full Christian life, to live as God promises we can live? What can we do to become just such children of God as the Father is able to make us, branches of the Living Vine, to the glory of God. My beloved Christians, let me bring you to the point. What have you to do? First of all, we must look upon this Christ, and ask ourselves. Am I willing to give up everything, that this Christ can live in me? You saw and know how Christ lived in Paul. Why, it was as if Christ had become incarnated in Paul. I The same zeal for God, same love for souls, and same readiness to sacrifice everything. Everything great in Paul was the complete Christ life in him.
There have been Christians since that day, that you could see the very form of Christ in them. Now, are you willing to have such a Christ? Suppose this were possible, if God were to offer anyone of us, that were willing for it. Suppose you were to be as poor as Christ was, as persecuted as He was, and suppose God were to say. My children, I am giving the highest glory to man, to allow the Christ to come and live in him and live this suffering: life that He lived. How many of us would say. Yes, Lord, I would give anything that Christ might take possession of me? How many would say. Here, in Chicago, I cannot do it. It would cost too much in business, to take Him in me that way. Oh! friends, God comes to us with that question, Are you willing to have my Son, Jesus, as you find Him in the word, in His humility, in His dependence, in His submission and obedience, in His surrender to death and the grave, in His waiting upon God to raise Him, are you willing to have that Christ live in your heart? Some men want life to study. They never get enough wisdom. They long for knowledge.
Are there none willing, tonight, to ask God to make them willing. I feel that it is time to be trusting Jesus. My life is so unlike Jesus, and yet, He gave His blood for it. Are there not here some who are willing to say. Lord God, help me, I do desire to have this life and this Christ in me. Is there someone trembling, perhaps? I had a note from someone this morning. They said they were afraid they were not willing to take the step God requires. They said, would I pray that they might be willing. Well, I do not know whether the writer is here, but I know that there is someone that feels, I am afraid I am not willing to let the real Christ, just as He lived on earth, live in me. I am not ready to live a life of real dependence upon God, every minute in the presence of God. I am not willing to give up all my pleasure and will. Are you willing? It looks hard, but are you willing to come? If you cannot say that, are you willing to say that you are willing to be made willing to come? I say. Do you will to be made willing? Very well, do it. Say, We can come. I would to God that every one here were willing. Oh! come, though your heart is so feeble, say, I do want that Christ to live, completely, His own life in me, and just reproduce His own life and make me exactly' like Himself, to live for man, in Him. He is ready. Beloved, you have often and often heard the gospel and heard the gospel of sanctification and consecration and obedience, but have you understood and have you accepted this truth, that it just means letting go everything, and letting Christ have all?
Are you willing? Are you willing to pray, God make me willing, tonight? Your life can be changed, and then comes the second question, if you are willing are you going in fully to trust God, tonight, to take you and to begin this great work in you by letting the life of Christ have perfect dominion? Are you willing to say, I want to become all Christ can make me? I want to please God in everything. I do want Christ to do His best in me, I want to give myself to Christ, to let Him have everything. Will you not, tonight, believe an Everlasting Almighty Christ is waiting and willing, ready and able, to take possession of you? Yes! Shall I not, tonight, claim Christ as my indwelling Lord, and say, Son of God, why wilt Thou not take me wholly for Thyself? It looks hard, and dark, and impossible, but I am going to trust Thee, Thou Lamb of God. I long to be brought into the very closest union. Oh man and woman, you are Christians; do not be contented any longer with a halfhearted Christianity. Saying, 'I am saved, and pardoned. I have got a little of Christ, I do my best. " Oh! come to the full life that God offers you. Let Christ take entire possession." Let Christ come in. The Humble One, the Obedient One, the Suffering One, the Divine One, the One who lived in dependence upon God, and say, That shall be my life if Christ will live in me. Oh! God, Lord, I am willing, and I know Thou art willing. I can trust Thee. Oh! God, come. And may it please God now, in prayer, to help some soul to touch Christ, and bend the heart to God to come in, and may some souls come to lay this life on Christ, at Calvary, and say. Oh! God, given up to the Lord Jesus Christ. Is that blasphemy? No! It is given up in Christ, and Christ lives in me. God will make it a truth and a reality.