How to believe “into” Jesus Christ

For many, believing “into Christ” might sound strange to the ear. You might be saying to yourself, don’t you mean “believe Christ’s words” or maybe “believe in Christ?” Or, you may be considering, is there really any difference between believing Him and believing into Him?”

It may sound strange, especially if you’re accustomed to reading from one of the more popular English Bible versions. Most of the familiar versions I’ve checked say either “believe in” or “believe on” Him. However,  believe “into” is actually according to the literal Greek word (eis).

Believing Christ is to acknowledge that He is true and real.

Believing Christ is to believe that He is true and real. In John 6:30, the religionists of His day said to Jesus, “What sign will You do that we may see and believe You? What work will You do?”

They were challenging Jesus to do some miracle—like sending bread down from heaven—in order to prove to them that He was God’s sent one. With them it was a matter of whether or not they would believe that something was true or genuine. It was simply a matter of whether they would acknowledge a fact.

This is similar to Albert Einstein’s biographical statement that he believed in an historical Jesus. Einstein could not deny the vibrant account of Jesus in the gospels, that confirmed to him that Jesus was a real human being. But this did not mean that Einstein ever believed “into” Christ.

Believing into Christ is to receive Him and be united with Him as one.

However, when Jesus spoke the famous words of John 3:16 to Nicodemus, telling him how to be born again, He did not tell him to “believe Him.”  Rather He said,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”

This is what God is calling all men to do today. He does not merely want us to believe that Jesus is a real historical figure, even one that did miraculous works of power. Rather God invites us to believe into His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may enter into a spiritual union with Him by faith.

How can we “believe into” Jesus Christ?

We can only “believe into” Jesus Christ because God has made Him “enterable.” For Christ to be enterable for our union with Him, He first had to become a man among men. John 1:14 says, “The Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh and tabernacled among us…” Then 1 Corinthians 15:45 points out that after passing through His crucifixion and entering into resurrection, Christ “became a life-giving Spirit.” By these two “becomings,” Christ has become enterable. He is now as available to us as the air that we breathe. We can easily enter into Him by believing into His name.

First Corinthians 12:3b says, “No one can say, Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.

By simply declaring with your mouth from deep within, “Jesus is Lord! Lord Jesus, I believe into You!”—you enter into Him and receive Him into you as the life-giving Spirit. You’re in His Spirit, and He is in your spirit. You are joined to Him in an eternal union of life in which you’re born of God to become a child of God.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for willingly becoming a lowly man to die on the cross for my sins. Praise you, that after three days You rose victoriously from the grave and became the available life-giving Spirit. Praise you, that now as the Spirit, You’re like the air—both enterable and receivable.  Lord Jesus, I believe into You and I receive You as my Savior and life. Thank you that now I’m in You and You’re in me. I’m born of God to be a child of God.”

This post was inspired by John 3:16, footnote 2 in the Holy Bible, Recovery Version.

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The Difference Between Sin and Sins—Two Problems with Two Solutions

Have you ever done something you knew was a sin, confessed it, and quickly found yourself doing it again? I know I have.

What’s the solution to this problem? It begins with seeing the difference between “sin” and “sins” and then applying the proper remedy to each.

“Sin” and “sins” in the Scriptures

Concerning sins, 1 Corinthians 15:3 says , “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  Later, 1 John 1:7 says, “…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin.” These two verses speak of our sinful acts and their remedy.

In contrast, Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we may no longer serve sin as slaves.” In this verse we see “sin” as a powerful master that enslaves us and makes our body, the “body of sin.”  But we can also see a wonderful remedy.

Sadly, a lack of understanding concerning the difference between these two—sin and sins—has been a source of real frustration to many seeking Christians.

So what are we missing?

The underlying problem involves a lack of spiritual sight. But there definitely is hope. The apostle Paul both diagnosed and treated the problem in Romans 1-8.

First, we need to see the fundamental difference between “sin” and “sins.” Continue reading

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

This is the question of questions.

Jesus asked this question of His disciples and the religious men of His day in Matthew 16:13-15 and 22:42, and in the 2,000 years since He walked on the earth, this question has remained a mystery for all men to consider. Our personal answer has the most profound impact on our life.

 Who is He?

Is He just a carpenter’s son?

The Galilean countrymen from the region where Jesus grew up were blinded by their personal knowledge of the man Jesus. They said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:55a). They knew Him according to His physical life, and they only knew Him as “the carpenter’s son.”

But who is He really?

Is He just the greatest among the prophets?

When Jesus took His disciples away to teach them privately, He asked them, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” They responded, “Some, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:13-14).

Apart from God’s revelation, men thought Jesus was a great religious leader, or even the greatest of the prophets.

But isn’t He more than this?

Yes, He’s the Christ, the Son of the Living God! Continue reading

Strike the Spirit of the Scripture to Catch the Divine Fire

“All Scripture is God-breathed…” 2 Timothy 3:16

“This indicates that the Scripture, the word of God, is the breathing out of God. God’s speaking is God’s breathing out. Hence, His word is spirit (John 6:63), or breath. Thus, the Scripture is the embodiment of God as the Spirit. The Spirit is therefore the very essence, the substance, of the Scripture, just as phosphorus is the essential substance in matches. We must strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit to catch the divine fire. [2 Tim. 3:16, footnote 2, par. 1 from the Holy Bible, Recovery Version]

I’m reminded of the importance of “striking the Spirit of Scripture with our spirit” whenever we come to the Bible. The Spirit is the essence of the Scriptures. Since the Scripture, the word of God, is the breathing out of God, it conveys His essence. Just like your breath conveys your essence. We need to touch this essence in the Scripture whenever we come to the Bible. Then we’ll “catch the divine fire.”

The Lord Jesus directed us to this essence when He said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” God’s word is not just letters on a page. It’s a living word, full of His breath, His essence.

How can we receive God’s living essence when we come to the Scriptures?

We need to learn how to strike the Spirit of the Scriptures with our spirit. It’s like striking stick matches on the phosphorus tip to get a flame. When we use our God-contacting spirit (John 4:24) to touch the Spirit in God’s word we get spirit and life (John 6:63). That is,  we get His essence.

The simplest way I know to “strike the Spirit of the Scriptures with our spirit” is to exercise your spirit, your deepest part, to mingle your Bible reading with calling on the Lord’s name (1 Cor. 12:3), praying short prayers (Eph. 6:17-18), singing, praising, and giving thanks (Col. 3:16-17). Try it and see if you don’t get divine breath from your reading and “catch the divine fire.”

“Dear Lord, thank you for showing us that Your word is “God-breathed” and that Your Spirit is the essence of Your word. Lord, teach us to strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit to catch the divine fire. Whenever we come to the Bible, we want to touch You. Make Your word so living and even a burning flame within us. ” 

For more on this point, you may want to get a copy of “Pray-reading the Word” and read this short chapter for yourself. You can read it online at ministrybooks.org or you can get your free copy from Bibles for America as a part of Basic Elements of the Christian Life, Volume 3. It’s the last chapter in the booklet.

5 Metaphors that Describe Genuine Christian Ministers and Their Ministry

Today there is an ever increasing amount of “Christian ministry” available in nearly every form imaginable–especially over the internet. But how much of this can really be considered as genuine “ministry” when measured according to the New Testament pattern.  In 1 Timothy 1:16, Paul said, “But because of this I was shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ might display all His long-suffering for a pattern to those who are to believe on Him unto eternal life.” So God set forth Paul as a pattern to the believers, not only of salvation, but also of a life and work that fulfills God’s purpose.

In this post we’ll consider the constituting of genuine ministers and their ministry in light of the pattern of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2-4.

Five expressive metaphors that describe how genuine ministers and their ministry are constituted

In 2 Corinthians 2-4, Paul uses five expressive metaphors to describe how genuine ministers are constituted, live, behave, and carry out their ministry. These five metaphors are: 1) captives in Christ’s triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:12-14), 2) incense-bearers scattering the fragrance of Christ (vv. 14-16), 3) letters written with Christ as the content (vv. 3:1-3), 4) mirrors beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord (vv. 3:16-18), and 5) earthen vessels containing Christ as their treasure (vv. 4:6-7).

First, ministers are captives in Christ’s triumphal procession—2 Cor. 2:12-14; Eph. 4:8-12As a genuine minister, Paul did not have the freedom to move and act according to his own preference—even when a door was open to him by the Lord (v. 12). Rather, as a captive of Christ, he was restricted by the rest in his spirit. For Paul to be a captive of Christ meant that he was one who lived and acted in his spirit (v. 13)—walking by and being led by the Spirit in all his living and service (Rom. 8:4, 14).

However, in our experience we may not be Christ’s captive, but we may make Him our captive. So we need to pray, “Lord, defeat me, never let me win. Lord, make me your captive.” Continue reading

Is Christ being formed in you?

If you’re like most of us, you may never have considered such a question—“Is Christ being formed in you?”—whether for yourself, or  for those you love and care for. You might even endeavor to develop certain Christian practices or good works, but with little concern for whether Christ is being formed in you or in others.

However, when the apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:19, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you,” he had a deep concern in his heart for the believers brought forth through his gospel preaching. He was not satisfied that they were merely regenerated, children of God. He was travailing like a mother with birth pangs for something much more than this.

Christ revealed in you, Christ living in you and Christ formed in you

Paul reminded the distracted Galatian believers of his own personal conversion. He said that though he was a zealot for the religious traditions of his Jewish forefathers, “it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me…” (Gal. 1:15-16). So from Paul’s salvation, he was converted from an outward religion to an indwelling Person. Christ was revealed IN Paul. This indicates that from the very beginning of our Christian life, God wants to give us an inner revelation of Christ IN us (Col. 1:27).

Then Paul went a step further to say that he had died to the religious law so that he might live to God. Then he went on to say, “I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20). So for Paul to live, was not the law or any religious observances, but the living Person of Christ. Paul’s old man had been crucified with Christ and now Christ lived IN Paul, in His resurrection. This indicates that not only do we need the living Person of Christ revealed in us at our conversion, but we also need this wonderful Person to live in us throughout our entire Christian life.

However, Paul had a further expectation, for which he labored as a mother in the travail of child-bearing. He said, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). Paul exhausted himself with the goal that Christ would be formed in all His spiritual children.

What does it mean for Christ to be formed in you?

For something of life to take its “form” refers to the maturity of that life. When we first see a child as an infant, we marvel at the miracle of life and are full of anticipation. Yet, we wonder what the child will be like, what its “form” will be, when it reaches full growth. Then, when we watch a young one quickly grow and eventually receive a college degree, we may have some sense that their life has taken “form.” There is now the outward expression of their inner being.

Similarly, with every believer, there should be the expectation and travail that the Christ they’ve received in their divine birth would not only be revealed in them and live in them, but also be formed in them. That is, there should be the travail for every believer to reach maturity, to come to full growth.

How can we cooperate so that Christ may be formed in us?

First, we must allow Christ to permeate our whole being and saturate all our inward parts. In Ephesians 3:17, Paul prayed “that Christ may make is home in your hearts through faith…” This should also be our daily prayer as well as our daily exercise to allow Christ to saturate our mind, emotion, and will. When Christ occupies our inner being in such a way, He is formed in us.

Second, everything other than Christ must diminish, and Christ must become everything to us in our experience. We can’t instantly let go of all the things that replace Christ, but we can pray to allow the Lord to be everything to us so that all the other things are gradually displaced and diminish.

Third, we can pray to fellowship with the Lord in such a way that we allow Christ to mingle Himself with us, permeating and saturating us until He is completely blended with us. For more on this kind of prayer of fellowship with the Lord, you may also want to read my post, 14 Words to Enrich Your Fellowship with the Lord.

Eventually, we need allow Christ to be fully constituted into us. In Colossians, Paul first spoke of Christ being in us (1:27). Then he spoke of Christ being our life (3:4) and finally of Christ being “all and in all” (3:11), that is, constituted into us. He then gave us a practical way to allow Christ to be constituted into us by saying, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (3:16).

Praise the Lord that we can cooperate with Christ’s constituting work by daily eating, digesting, and assimilating His living word. As we allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, Christ reconstitutes us with Himself, so that He may be formed in us  (John 6:35, 57; Matt. 4:4).

Finally, as the issue of Christ being formed in us, we will become sons of full age, heirs to inherit God’s promised blessing, and will mature in the divine sonship (Gal. 3:14, 26, 29).

“Dear Lord Jesus, bring us into the experience and enjoyment of Yourself as the One Who has been revealed in us, is now living in us and will be formed in us at our maturity. Lord, praise you that by such an experience and enjoyment of You, we are becoming sons of full age, heirs of God’s promised blessing, and mature in the divine sonship.”

This post is inspired by message two of the 2012 International Chinese-speaking Conference in Taipei, Taiwan, given by brother Lin Huong. The title of the message is, “Galatians—Christ Formed in Us.” It follows the review of message one entitled, “The Heart of the Divine Revelation – an overview of the four focal books” (via agodman.com). In the following weeks there will be similar reviews of the other messages given in this conference via newjerusalem12.wordpress.comclarkruss.wordpress.com, and achristianoncampus.wordpress.com.

Have You Seen the Focus of the Bible?

When you’re considering whether to read a new book, don’t you want to know what its focus is? I do. In fact, I’d probably read the jacket, the preface, and probably the beginning and the ending, before deciding whether to read the book through. Why? I want to see where the author is coming from and if there is some central point or focus.

If you can find the focus of a book, it makes your reading much more meaningful and changes the way you view every chapter. You know which chapters to read for background information and which chapters to read in depth.

As Christians, we agree that the Bible is God’s Word, His story. But, since the purposeful God is the Author of the Bible, surely His book must have a focus. This focus is what I’d like to zero in on in this post.

The Focus of the Entire Bible

This focus of the Bible is that the Triune God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—desires to enter into His redeemed people so that He can be their life and so that they can be His corporate expression (Gen. 1:26; 2:9; Rev. 22:1-2; 21:11).

The only way that we can become God’s expression is for God to enter into us to be our life. But, in order for such a great God to reach us and enter into us, He had to pass through some processes.

First, God had to become a man like us, to put on our human flesh and blood (John 1:1,14; Heb. 2:14).

Second, He had to pass through 33 1/2 years of perfect, sinless human living to express God in His humanity (Luke 23:4; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Third, He had to die to redeem us with His precious blood and to release His divine life that was hidden in the shell of His humanity (1 Pet. 1:18-19; John 12:24).

Fourth, He had to rise from the dead on the third day to become a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) so that He could breathe the Spirit as life into His believers (John 20:22) so that He might live in us (14:20).

Romans 8—the Focus Revealed and Applied

There is one chapter in the Bible that brings us right into this focus, Romans 8. It takes God’s eternal purpose and brings it into our subjective experience. By reading this chapter, especially verses 9-11, we can see how the Triune God comes to dwell in us. We can realize that the Spirit’s indwelling is actually the entire Triune God indwelling us. In this chapter we have the Spirit of life (v. 2), the Spirit of God (v. 9), the Spirit of Christ (v. 9), and the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead (v. 11). Eventually we have such an all-inclusive Spirit reaching us, entering into us to be life to us.

First, when we contact Him, He regenerates our spirit, making our spirit life (v. 10; John 3:6). Second, as we set our mind on the spirit, He makes our mind  life (Rom. 8:6). Then as we allow this resurrecting Spirit to indwell us, He even gives life to our mortal body (v. 11).

To see more on how to cooperate with this indwelling Triune God so that He can spread His life in us, you may also want to read my previous post, 6 habits to live a normal Christian life, also on Romans 8. By applying these six life practices or habits God can spread His divine life in us to make us His corporate expression (Rom. 8:210, 61129). Hence, these life practices are just the application of the focus of the Bible.

The Issue of Seeing the Focus of the Bible

If you feel that your Christian life is empty, lacking in real content, it may be that you have missed the focus of receiving the processed Triune God as the Spirit into your inner being to be life to you.

Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, without the proper “spiritual breathing,” you may still feel empty within. That’s because you’re short of exercising your spirit to call on the name of the Lord Jesus. In fact, He promises to be rich to us whenever we call upon Him (Rom. 10:12-13). For more consideration of this point, you may enjoy reading Calling on the Name of the Lord by Witness Lee. You can find it online at ministrybooks.org or get it mailed to you for free when you order the Basic Elements of the Christian Life series from Bibles for America.

By continually breathing in His Spirit as life and allowing Him to spread in our being, more and more of Christ will gradually be added into us. Then, as we receive His life element into our being, this divine life will cause us to grow for the building up of His Body, and the preparation of His bride as His corporate expression (Eph. 4:15-16; 5:26-27). This will bring the Lord back!

When we really see this focus, we will be full of joy, praising the Triune God that He indwells us and is one with us! We should also pray that this focus will become the governing vision in all our living.

“Dear Lord, thank you for revealing Your heart’s desire and purpose to enter into us to be our life so that we may be part of Your corporate expression. Lord may Your  focus become our focus. Remind us that You dwell in our spirit and that we simply need to exercise our spirit, to continually breathe You in. Lord, spread Your life freely in all our inner being so that we may grow along with all our fellow believers to be Your built up Body and prepared bride for Your soon return.”

This post was inspired by days 4-6 of Week 3 of the Holy Word for Morning Revival on the Focus of the Lord’s Recovery which was based on a book by Witness Lee entitled The All-inclusive Indwelling Spirit, Chapters 3-5. You can find it online at ministrybooks.org. You can also read a similar post by a fellow blogger at agodman.com.