Living Life Over Before It’s Over, Pt. 9
Essential, but not Obvious, Principles for Victorious Christian Living
Study Guide, February 28, 2016
How would you like to spend a little time in the quietest place on Earth? At the Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota is a sound absorbent chamber that various companies use to test their products to find out just how loud they are. NASA has sent astronauts there to help them adapt to the silence of space. The thing is, this room is so quiet that the longest anybody has been able to bear it is 45 minutes. At absolute quiet you begin hearing your own body, like your own heart beat, and even the sound of your lungs working, and other sounds of your body fluids in your organs and head. And after awhile you become disoriented, and it can simply drive you crazy.
(Let’s see if we can get some tickets for that!)
Who doesn’t want to be at peace in their life? Even as Christians, who have made peace with God having been justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are still called to live in such a way so that God the Holy Spirit can then grow the fruit of peace in our lives.
Interestingly enough, to grow the fruit of peace calls for having a sound mind. And to have a sound mind requires us to listen and learn truths from God about living according to truth. And this requires tuning in, not so much to the obvious sounds we hear from our world around us or even from our own head and heart, like in that absolute quiet chamber, but tuning into truth from God in order to learn about true life and true living. Even true peace in life calls for hearing from God and God’s Word. But once again, these essential truths and truth principles are not obvious to the world, nor often even to God’s people. So let’s identify some of them.
We know the Christian life is begun through what the Bible calls repentance and faith. Jesus reminded those listening to Him: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 NKJV Another way to describe ‘repentance’ is ‘surrender’. We were going our own way, living life like our own master, until we repented and turned from sin and self to Jesus as our Master, and also trusted in Jesus as our Savior. And in surrendering to Christ as our Lord and Savior we have victory over the bondage of sin and death. Well, guess what? Surrender to Christ is not only the key to victory over sin and death; surrender to Christ is the key to victory over self and all of life. In fact, your greatest victory is your victory over yourself. But that is a victory that is only gained through your surrender to Christ. Daily surrendering to Christ is the only way to true victory in life.
One of the great hymns of the faith is ‘I Surrender All’. Some of the words are: “All to Jesus, I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken, Take me Jesus, take me now. Make me Savior, wholly Thine; May Thy Holy Spirit fill me, May I know Thy pow’r divine. Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me.”
What if you were to make that be your prayer every morning for an entire month! Actually, they say you have to do something six weeks in order to make it a habit, but even a month of starting your day praying this way would set your mind and heart on a course of a fresh sense of living in victory…through surrendering to Christ each day.
So begin your day with a verbal prayer of surrender to the Lordship of Christ, and watch what happens. Your degree of surrender will be the proportion of victory you will experience in your life over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Similarly, your degree of resistance or neglect of surrendering to the Lordship of Christ will be the proportion of defeat you will experience in your life to the world, the flesh, and the devil. 1 Peter 3:15 “...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” NASU
Let’s move on to another not so obvious principle for victorious Christian living. George Mueller, a Christian Evangelist and Founder of Orphanages in England, emphasized how much true faith is to be anchored on Scriptural facts. He said, “We have to do with the Written Word, and not ourselves or our impressions. Impressions have neither one thing nor the other to do with faith.” He also said, “The province faith begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. Once we begin to count on facts, our Father begins to build us up in the faith. God delights to increase the faith of His children.”
And how does faith come to us and then increase in us? Rom 10:17- “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” NASU Faith does not consist of a ‘leap’ onto a hope-so kind of landing – no, faith consists of one ‘step after the next step’ onto the rocks of certainty. Faith must be based upon certainty. Faith is not just positive thinking; faith is factual thinking. When the Apostle John was testifying of the faith of the Apostles he said this: 1 John 1:1-4- “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” NASU
What was John’s point? His point was that his faith was not based upon some feeling or fantasy or some impression or inclination; his faith was based upon a Person that he and the other Apostles had heard with their own ears and had seen with their own eyes and had touched with their own hands. Their God was the Word of Life that was now made manifest. What’s that mean? It means that their God was a God with skin on! And He still has skin on! Remember after Jesus’ resurrection, when Thomas was having trouble with his faith? What did He tell Thomas to do? Right; “Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27 NIV
Our faith is wrapped up in a God that has skin on. Yes, Jesus is off planet right now; in Heaven, but He is still in His resurrection body and still has skin on. Whatever else we have yet to learn about Heaven, one thing we know is that the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is there; the same One that John heard and saw and touched; the same Lord and God that Thomas saw clothed in flesh and bone; the same Jesus that the Angels told the Disciples: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 NASU
When we were standing on the Mount of Olives in Israel this verse became like a neon blinking light, because not too long ago Jesus ascended from there to enter Heaven, until one day He will descend to that same Mount of Olives in that same Resurrection body in the same way that He once ascended. And those that are there will watch Him physically return to that same physical place. By the way, when you look up into the sky you need to realize that Jesus is up there or out there somewhere in a very real physical resurrected body, just waiting for the right time to return and make things right in His world. He is even working on preparing a physical new capitol city, the New Jerusalem, that will be brought down to the physical New Earth.
Again, a very essential truth, yet not so very obvious, is that fact that Faith is not something based only upon spiritual revelations, but that which is also all wrapped up in physical realities. Even in our own fellowships, when we read the Word of God, we are hearing Jesus speak. When we see other Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we see the living Temples of the Spirit of Christ. And when we touch a fellow Christian we touch the ‘Body of Christ’ here on Earth, whose true head is Jesus Christ. It’s all spiritual truth, but it’s also a very physical reality. Faith is about spiritual and physical facts. We really need to bring our faith down to Earth, so to speak, in order to spiritually walk on solid ground.
And speaking of solid ground, in the second verse of another great hymn, ‘The Solid Rock’, we are called to a discipline that we don’t readily think of as a spiritual discipline. In other words, this spiritual discipline is definitely not obvious to many, but still, is quite essential for living a victorious life. The verse says this: “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” What is this discipline? It’s the discipline of ‘Rest’. And just how important is it to practice this discipline of ‘Rest’?
First of all, it’s important to know just how important this ‘Rest’ is. Matt 11:28- “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” NASU ‘Rest’
is a special gift of God’s grace that He gives to us as a result of coming to Christ; coming to Christ for salvation and also coming to Christ for sanctification. In other words, this ‘Rest’ is a key component in both our new birth of our spirit and of our subsequent spiritual growth. The prophet Isaiah pointed this out in Isa 30:15- “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” NASU
A key part of the victory of Christ over this world of tribulation and struggle and sin and strife is this ‘Rest’ that Jesus won for us. John 16:33- “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” NASU Remember, Christ’s victory over this world has already been won. And as His heirs, His victory is our victory; victory over sin and death; victory over suffering and sickness, victory over trials and troubles, victory over destruction and even the devil. Certainly, the battles against these things must still be fought in this world, but the victory over them all is ours and will one day be complete. Victory is assured, and therefore we can ‘rest’ in that. Again, note carefully: This ‘assurance’ of final victory is to become our ‘assurance’ in the midst of present battles. And this is part of what makes us ‘peculiar people’, for we are not as those who have no hope, but through faith in Jesus Christ we live with confidence, and we even die with assurance.
We live in one of the most ‘restless’ ages of history. Knowledge is increasing, but wisdom is decreasing. Every scientific or medical break-though seems to be countered by some social or material break-down. It seems for every sin there’s a support group. There’s a definite growing restlessness in the world. But Jesus says to us, “I have overcome the world, and I will give you ‘Rest’. And mark it down, the ‘Rest’ that Jesus gives really is different from all the ‘rest’.
This gift of ‘Rest’, this discipline of ‘Rest’ is not about lethargy or inactivity. It’s not about complacency or isolation. No, this ‘Rest’ is a condition in which your mind can feel at peace, and your heart can feel loved, and your soul can feel alive. You can have a present satisfaction because you have an assured future. And even if present burdens aren’t lifted you have a ‘Burden bearer’ with whom you are ‘yoked together’, and so you can live with the sense like the Psalmist spoke about in Ps 46:1-3- “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.” NASU
Now, do not forget the ‘Selah’ here…for ‘Selah’ means ‘to pause and calmly think about that’.
So, think about it. You know, ‘Selah’ is found seventy-one times in the Psalms. It principally means ‘rest’. And it involved not only the sense of marking a place to pause in the music of the Psalm itself, but it especially called the people to the practice of calm reflection on the message of the Psalm. As one Bible Dictionary described it: “The ‘Selah’ reminds us that God’s message requires a peaceful and meditative soul which can apprehend what the Holy Spirit propounds or declares.”
So we could call it: The discipline of Selah. That would be a good conversation topic with your family and other friends. You could tell them you’ve been trying to focus more on practicing the discipline of Selah in your life. And then you can go on with the rest telling them about this discipline of ‘Rest’.
But the point is, even though we all have to go through the same kinds of trials and struggles and sicknesses and sufferings as others in this world, as those who are ‘in Chirst’, we are to go through them differently, to go through them with a sense of ‘Selah’ about it all. Why? Because: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Rom 8:1-2…and because: “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:31-39 NASU
Determine to do life differently. Do life as a Disciple that practices these disciplines of Surrender to the Lordship of Christ, of acting in faith on the facts of God’s truths, and of doing it all with a sense of a soul at rest in the victory you share with Jesus, who has overcome the world.