Rom 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Gal. 3:2 "This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
1 Thess. 1:4,5 "Knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance..."
At the age of 17, I was thoroughly, completely, and eternally converted to the faith of Jesus Christ and saved. I was not raised as a religious person. I was raised in a relatively agnostic environment. My father was an engineer and on staff at a famous university and I was raised in the atmosphere of our present scientific age. As a result of the sinful nature I inherited from our fallen progenitor, Adam, I was by nature a child of wrath, separated from the life of God, and under the control of the prince of the power of the air which now works in the sons of disobedience.
Practically speaking, like many teenagers, I was in a bad way at age 17. I was involved in many things contrary to my parents, school, and everything good and wholesome and was headed down both an eternal and temporally destructive path. A friend of mine and my brother's from our childhood had been recently saved and visiting home from college, was preaching Jesus Christ to his friends and family. The Lord was convicting many of us by His Spirit as a result of this person's testimony of Christ and his preaching. Over time the Spirit had been preparing me and eventually, my friend sat me down and preached to me Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17), and also that we "receive the Spirit by the hearing of faith" (Gal. 3:2). I had the Gospel preached to me, as I listened to the word of truth, the Spirit revealed to me the reality of the Son of God, His crucifixion for my sins, and His resurrection from the dead. As I heard, there rose in me an appreciation for the Person of Christ and a consciousness of His presence. I repented and calling upon the Name of the Lord Jesus, I believed into the crucified and resurrected Son of God. That day, that time, that evening, the resurrected Christ came into me as the indwelling life giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b, Romans 8:2), regenerated my fallen and dead spirit, became to me my Lord, my Savior, and my Life and took up residence in me forever.
This reality, this Eternal Life is that which is according to the promise of God in Jesus Christ (1 Tim 1:1, 1 John 5:11,12). And according to this indwelling Eternal Life who is Christ Himself and which has been in me, with me, for me, and to me for 30 years, I testify today that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I have not been in many things faithful to Him, nor have I walked a straight path. But as my indwelling Lord and Life, according to His Word, He has never left me nor forsaken me, nor has his nature, life, love, holiness, perfection, or any other attribute been altered or changed by my performance, or lack there of. Yes, rather I have realized Him more and more as my Life. And as this Life is also the Light of men, I have seen more and more distinctly my own corrupt self centeredness and bankruptcy, and according to His unfailing and eternal indwelling nature, I have learned more and more to live by Him and not by my natural life.
As I have learned more and more to partake of Christ as the Spirit daily through feeding on Hin in the Word, the breaking of bread, and the fellowship of the Saints, I have found Christ being constituted into my being in a real and substantial way. Our Lord said, "He who eats me shall live by Me" and in this we assimilate the Living Christ into us through the Spirit in our spirit and we find Him living himself out in us daily.
Galatians 2:20 says:
I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live in and by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me - RcV.
This reality of the union of God with His redeemed Saints in Christ has increasingly become my experience. Since I began to meet with the local church in my city. I have found the Lord Jesus gaining me in many things and my life has become increasingly rooted and secured in the experience of this reality. On the one hand, I can testify as the Word teaches, that my flesh has not improved or changed nor the principle of sin been excised from my being. But on the other hand I have found the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus setting me free from the law of sin and death and forming Christ in me through the operation of the Spirit in me in the circumstances which God has ordained for my good. Learning to call on the Lord in every circumstance and in every condition, I have been finding the reality of the indwelling Christ to be sufficient for every need.
While on my own as an independent Christian I did enjoy a measure of grace and experience of Christ, it is only in the fellowship of the body that the reality of the Christian life has become realized in a practical way. I find that not only am I being sanctified and transformed within, but also I am being conformed to Christ as the Pattern both in substance and in shape. And I am finding that God's Eternal Purpose is not to make some great spiritual giant out of me, but to fit me into His body to function in the capacity of ministering Life. The execution of this ministry simply requires the daily living in and by the Spirit denying my natural life and bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and also the taking of a walk in and by the Spirit in an orderly way for the accomplishment of God's economy which is to dispense Himself in Christ by the Spirit into me and through me into others. My life is to feed on and eat Christ, assimilate Him, Live Him and express Him for the building up of His body and the enlargement of the church.
In the local church I have found Life, Light, encouragement, and my function as a member of the body of Christ. I have found a consistent supply of the Spirit in the fellowship of the saints and in the ministry I have found abundant supply of nourishment, teaching, doctrine and example. I have had the privilege of fellowshipping with those saints who are evidently filled with Christ and manifest Christ in a real and genuine way. And just being in the Presence of the Saints often brings one into the conscious Presence of Christ and the Life of Christ is imparted just by being there.
I have enjoyed the reality that I am not called to do a "great work for God" but I am called to be a functioning member of the body of Christ in participating in what God is doing in the earth. That is the building and perfecting of His Bride and bringing into practical reality the One New Man. The Expression of God in Christ by the Spirit in His redeemed tripartite saints.