The Saving Life of Christ (Revised)

(Paperback - Nov 1989)
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"This book is simply written and will be of much help to new converts and defeated Christians in starting them off to a victorious spiritual life." -- Bibliotheca Sacra "Major Thomas points out how many dedicated people, ministers, Sunday school teachers, and the like, have come out of the old life but never gone on to the full, joyous life in Christ. He writes with fresh insight into many Bible passages, and challenges Christians to walk on and take the victory that is already won." -- Faith at Work ." . . a very inspiring and helpful book." -- Baptist Standard "This is one of the most helpful treatments of a neglected subject which has come to this reviewer s attention." --The Baptist Bulletin ." . . the author evidences keen insight into the definition and activity of the two natures of the believer and the path to victory. This path is explained with refreshing theological objectivity." --The Sunday School Times "A deeply spiritual study of the doctrine of the indwelling Christ. . . . Complete surrender is our need that Christ may live through us. We found the book helpful and enriching." -- The Southern Baptist S.S. Board"


  • SKU: 9780310332626
  • UPC: 025986332624
  • SKU10: 0310332621
  • Title: The Saving Life of Christ
  • Qty Remaining Online: 28
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Date Published: Nov 1989
  • Edition Description: Revised
  • Pages: 160
  • Weight lbs: 0.28
  • Dimensions: 8.18" L x 5.26" W x 0.39" H
  • Features: Price on Product
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Topical | Home Schooling;
  • Category: SPIRITUALITY
  • Subject: Christian Church - General

Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One

The Saving Life of Christ

There is something which makes Christianity more than a religion, more than an ethic, and more than the idle dream of the sentimental idealist. It is this something that makes it relevant to each one of us right now as a contemporary experience. It is the fact that Christ Himself is the very life content of the Christian faith. It is He who makes it "tick." "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24). The One who calls you is the One who does that to which He calls you. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). He is Himself the very dynamic of all His demands.

Christ did not die simply that you might be saved from a bad conscience or even to remove the stain of past failure, but to "clear the decks" for divine action. You have been told that Christ died to save you. This is gloriously true in a very limited, though vital sense. In Romans 5:10 we read, "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." The Lord Jesus Christ therefore ministers to you in two distinct ways-He reconciles you to God by His death, and He saves you by His life.

I would like to examine with you what this implies. The very first word of the gospel is a word of reconciliation, so that "we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). This is a call to the sinner to be at peace with God Himself. How is this possible? Only by virtue of the fact that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Cor. 5:19a).

God in righteousness has no option but to find you guilty as a sinner-by nature dead in trespasses and sins-and to pass upon you the sentence of death, the forfeiture of His Holy Spirit, and alienation from the life of God. But more than nineteen hundred years ago, God in Christ stepped out of eternity into time, and there are extended to you today the nail-pierced hands of One who suffered, "the just for the unjust," to bring you back to God (1 Peter 3:18a). He bore "our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24a).

This is what makes the gospel at once so urgent! Mental assent is not enough-a moral choice is imperative! Christ is God's last word to man and God's last word to you, and He demands an answer.

Your response to Jesus Christ will determine your condition in the sight of God-redeemed or condemned!

This, however, is but the beginning of the story, "for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled [now an accomplished fact] we shall be saved [as a continuing process] . by his life" (Rom. 5:10). The glorious fact of the matter is this-no sooner has God reconciled to Himself the man who has responded to His call, than He reimparts to him, as a forgiven sinner, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this restoration to him of the Holy Spirit constitutes what the Bible calls regeneration, or new birth. Titus 3:5-6: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."

On the third morning after His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples. He instructed them for some forty days and then ascended to the Father. On the first day of Pentecost He returned, not this time to be with them externally-clothed with that sinless humanity that God had prepared for Him, being conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary-but now to be in them imparting to them His own divine nature, clothing Himself with their humanity, so that they each became "members in particular" of a new, corporate body through which Christ expressed Himself to the world of their day. He spoke with their lips. He worked with their hands. This was the miracle of new birth, and this remains the very heart of the gospel!

"Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." The One who calls you to a life of righteousness is the One who by your consent lives that life of righteousness through you! The One who calls you to minister to the needs of humanity is the One who by your consent ministers to the needs of humanity through you! The One who calls you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, is the One who by your consent, goes into all the world and preaches the gospel to every creature through you!

This is the divine genius that saves a man from the futility of self-effort. It relieves the Christian of the burden of trying to pull himself up by his own bootstraps! If it were not for this divine provision, the call to Christ would be a source of utter frustration, presenting the sorry spectacle of a sincere idealist, constantly thwarted by his own inadequacy.

If you will but trust Christ, not only for the death He died in order to redeem you, but also for the life that He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself. You will have begun to live a life which is essentially supernatural, yet still clothed with the common humanity of your physical body, and still worked out in the things that inevitably make up the lot of a man who, though his heart may be with Christ in heaven, still has his two feet firmly planted on the earth.

You will have become totally dependent upon the life of Christ within you, and never before will you have been soindependent, so emancipated from the pressure of your circumstances, so released at last from that self-distrust which has made you at one moment an arrogant, loud-mouthed braggart, and the next moment the victim of your own self-pity-and, either way, always in bondage to the fear of other men's opinions. You will be free from the tyranny of a defeated enemy within. You will be more than conqueror, for even death itself is conquered by His life. Christ through death destroyed "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14b). This indeed is victory!

You will be restored to your true humanity-to be the human vehicle of the divine life. Your faith will open the windows of heaven, for God will move in to do the impossible-and this is the speciality of creative deity. Your friends will be baffled, for in reality you will have become a new creature-old things will have passed away, all things will have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). Through peace with God you will have found the peace of God, which "passeth all understanding."

Now if it is true that the Lord Jesus Christ will live His life through you on earth today, as He lived His life once in His own body on earth more than nineteen hundred years ago, it is both interesting and necessary to discover how He lived then so that you may know how He will live through you now. Let us look at Scriptures that show us how He lived.

In John 6:56 it says, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." From the context of this passage, we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ here uses the expression "to eat and to drink" as representing "to come and to believe," so that those that come to Him and believe on Him enter into a unique relationship with Him-they dwell in Him and He dwells in them.

Verse 57 continues, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." As He lived by the Father, so you are to live by Him. How then did Jesus Christ live by the Father? Once you know the answer to this question, you will know thereafter how you are to live by Him, and at first the answer is surprising.

In John 5:19, Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself" (emphasis added). "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself" (John 8:28a, emphasis added). Here we see Jesus Christ as man, living in total, unquestioning dependence upon the Father. Thus He fulfilled His true vocation as man, for He came in His sinless humanity to be what man through sin had ceased to be-the willing vehicle of the Divine Presence, allowing the Father to express Himself in action through His humanity.

Although Jesus Christ was Himself the Creative Deity, by whom all things were made, as man He humbled Himself-set aside His divine prerogatives and walked this earth as man-a perfect demonstration of what God intended man to be-the whole personality yielded to and occupied by God for Himself.

So the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17 verse 19-"For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified [set wholly apart] through the truth." That is to say, as He lived in unbroken dependence upon the Father, taking no step except in recognition of the fact that apart from the Father, He could do nothing, so He calls upon you to live in the same total dependence upon Him-taking no step except in recognition of the fact that apart from Him, Christ, you can do nothing.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: forwithout me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5, emphasis added). In other words, you can do no more without Him than He could do without the Father. But how much could the Father do through the Son? Everything! For He was available to all that the Father made available to Him. "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands" (John 13:3a). "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" (Col. 1:19).

How much then can Jesus Christ do through you and through me? Everything! He is limited only by the measure of our availability to all that He makes available to us, for "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him" (Col. 2:9-10a). What then is the faith that releases divine action? How may you be saved by His life, as you have already claimed to be redeemed by His death? This is the critical question of Christian experience, and the answer is simple-"The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17c).

Faith in all its sheer simplicity! Faith that takes God precisely at His Word! Faith that simply says, "Thank You."

If you are to know the fullness of life in Christ, you are to appropriate the efficacy of what He is as you have already appropriated the efficacy of what He has done. Relate everything, moment by moment as it arises, to the adequacy ofwhat He is in you, and assume that His adequacy will be operative; and on this basis in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 you are exhorted to "rejoice evermore!" You are to be incorrigibly cheerful, for you have solid grounds upon which to rejoice!

Again, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17), and here the word "pray" does not mean to beg or to plead as if God were unwilling to give-but simply to expose by faith every situation as it arises, to the all-sufficiency of the One who indwells you by His life. Can any situation possibly arise, in any circumstances, for which He is not adequate? Any pressure, promise, problem, responsibility, or temptation for which the Lord Jesus Himself is not adequate? If He be truly God, there cannot be a single one! "And [He is] declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4)-and of this, His resurrection life, we are made partakers!

This being so, applying His adequacy by faith to every situation as it arises, will leave you with no alternative but to obey the injunction of 1 Thessalonians 5:18-"In everything give thanks!" In how many things? In everything-without exception, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

If there is any situation from which you are not prepared to step back, in recognition of the total adequacy of Christ who is in you, then you are out of the will of God. You are asserting by your action and by your attitude that He has nothing to give you for that situation, which you do not have in yourself. This is the very negation of dependence, and you disobey the injunction of verse 19-"Quench not the Spirit," for the office of the Holy Spirit is to make known to you, and to make experiential to you, all that Christ is in you.

This, of course, is what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit-to allow the Holy Spirit to occupy the whole of your personality with the adequacy of Christ. This is the sublime secret of drawing upon the unlimited resources of Deity. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:19-20).

How stupid it would be to buy a car with a powerful engine under the hood and then to spend the rest of your days pushing it! Thwarted and exhausted, you would wish to discard it as a useless thing! Yet to some of you who are Christians, this may be God's word to your heart. When God redeemed you through the precious blood of His dear Son, He placed, in the language of my illustration, a powerful engine under the hood-nothing less than the resurrection life of God the Son, made over to you in the person of God the Holy Spirit. Then stop pushing! Step in and switch on and expose every hill of circumstance, of opportunity, of temptation, of perplexity-no matter how threatening-to the divine energy that is available.

With what magnificent confidence you may step out into the future when once you have consented to die to your own self-effort and to make yourself available as a redeemed sinner to all that God has made available to you in His risen Son!

To be in Christ-that is redemption; but for Christ to bein you-that is sanctification! To be in Christ-that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you-that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ-that changes yours destination; but for Christ to be in you-that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home-the other makes this world His workshop.

I may wish to return to my home in England, and I stand in New York, but ever since I was born, I have been bound to this earth by a law that I have never been able to break-the law of gravity.



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