The Ministry of Christ

The Ministry of Christ

He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. – Colossians 1:18

Christ has ascended into the heavens and sits at the right hand of God the Father. What is He currently doing—what is His present ministry to His people? Scripture paints several pictures of Christ’s present ministry to help us visualize, understand, comprehend, and appreciate what Christ is about today as He rules on high.

First, Christ is the leader of a new creation. Adam was the head of the human race, and when he fell, sin entered the world and each of us because Adam was our representative. Jesus Christ represents the new man as the last Adam. He brings life, hope, and restoration to the environment that had been cursed because of the first Adam. The last Adam is the reversal of the curse of the first Adam. And He transforms us so that our new life in Christ shows through.

Christ also sits as the head of the body. The body of Christ is the church, and He is its head. The job of the body is to carry out the instructions of the head. Just as physical bodies rely on the mind for direction, so the members of the church look to Christ for direction.

Christ is also the Shepherd of the sheep. In John 10:14, Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.” Jesus makes provision for His sheep. Jesus said we are His sheep, and we must be guided through the right door—His door—to salvation. In Him we are not only saved but also safe. That truth can help you to rest well today.

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The Spiritual Man

The Spiritual Man

He who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:15-16

Spiritual men and women—Christians—have learned to think as Christ thinks because they have the mind of Christ. To “appraise” in the verse above means to examine. A spiritual person examines life from God’s perspective.

What our brain is to our body, our mind is to our soul. A spiritual person has developed spiritual perception. In our planning and decision making, do we ask ourselves what God would think about this? Spiritual people should consistently take God’s viewpoint into consideration in all they do.

Of course, we’re not expecting perfection, but our lives should reveal a pattern of including God in everything. Spiritual people connects present decisions with future consequences because they are mature.

Immature people often fail to connect their present decisions with future consequences. They want gratification now. Their thought is for the moment. Children are like that. How often do we encounter a child who talks about saving money? However, we do hear children talk a lot about spending money. Because of their maturity level, they see only short-term consequences. Their view of the future is limited.

Spiritual people have learned to perceive things from a divine vantage point. They have the ability to discern.

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The Natural Man

The Natural Man

He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. – Acts 1:9

People don’t talk much about one significant event of Jesus’ life—His ascension. We know it happened, but many of us aren’t sure of its significance. But when Jesus went from earth back to heaven, a link occurred that was very important.

The ascension was important because it fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that He would return to His Father: “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28). Jesus’ physical body was taken into heaven. This is important because in John 14:2 He promised that He would go to prepare a place for us in heaven. We know that He went, so we can trust that He is preparing a place for us right now. Because He went somewhere, we have somewhere to go.

The ascension accomplished something for every Christian: It established that we are all enthroned above the angelic realm. Man was made lower than the angels, but Jesus in His ascension elevates redeemed man to a position high above the angels. Ephesians 2:6 is clear: God “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We are identified with Christ, and by virtue of our identification, we are positioned with Him as well.

Through Christ we also have authority in heaven and on the earth. He commands us to go into the world and make disciples in His name in the authority of the Spirit. When we understand our position, we will understand the power that’s made available to us.

Everything that belongs to Christ belongs to us. That’s a powerful fact!

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The Importance of the Resurrection

The Importance of the Resurrection

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. – Acts 1:3

Jesus is unique for many reasons, but the most distinguishing factor is without question His resurrection. The whole Christian faith rises and falls on the truth of the resurrection.

The resurrection is intellectually feasible, and there is proof for the resurrection of Christ that can stand up to any amount of scrutiny. First, there is the empty tomb. Doubters have come up with several theories to try to explain why the tomb was empty. Some say Jesus wasn’t really dead; He just “swooned,” or went unconscious, and then resuscitated in the cool of the tomb. But according to John 19:31-34, the soldiers made sure Jesus was dead.

Other people hypothesize that Jesus’ body was stolen. But the tomb was sealed with a two-ton rock and guarded by Roman soldiers.

Another proof of the resurrection is the transformation of the disciples. Peter denied knowing Christ the night before the crucifixion, but after Jesus’ resurrection, he preached to thousands at Pentecost. Paul persecuted the church and murdered Christians for their faith, but after meeting the resurrected Christ he became one of the greatest leaders in Christianity and wrote this:

He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and … He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as one untimely born, He appeared to me also (1 Corinthians 15:4-8).

The resurrection of Christ happened in history. And the power of that resurrection affects us today.

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The Accomplishments of the Cross

The Accomplishments of the Cross

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. – Romans 8:33

The cross of Christ provided the basis for our justification. Justification is a legal term that means to acquit, or to be found not guilty. In the courtroom of your life, you are accused of the guilt of your sins, but by the blood of Christ you are found not guilty. Justification is a pardon from the death penalty. Because of what Christ has done, we have reason to rejoice—we are free to live. God didn’t justify us because He looked at our case and thought we deserved a pardon; justification is a gift by God’s grace.

The cross brought about our redemption; a price was paid to buy us back. First Peter 1:18-19 says, “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” We have been bought and paid for by Jesus’ blood.

The events of the cross also reconciled us to God. We were in conflict with God, but Jesus brought us into harmony with Him. “[God] reconciled us to Himself through Christ . . . God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

We have also been adopted into the family of God and are being sanctified, or made holy, because of what Christ did on the cross. Jesus’ finished work on the cross accomplished all of these things for the people of God. We reap the benefits of His sacrifice, and we should praise His name for enduring the cross for our sakes.

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The Nature of the Cross

The Nature of the Cross

According to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. – Hebrews 9:22

God forgives sin through the shedding of blood. You can’t come up with your own method of getting rid of your sin. Forgiveness of sin requires blood. Why did God make that requirement? It goes all the way back to the garden. When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing God did was slay an animal and make coverings for them from its skin. The Bible never explains why God requires blood as payment for sin, but it does make clear that it’s not because the blood itself is magical or even special. The shedding of blood really reflects the giving of life because the life of the flesh is in the blood.

Christ shed His blood for our sins. Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrificial substitutionary atonement for our sins. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus had no sin of His own; He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). But the blameless One bore our sin “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

It was necessary that Jesus shed His blood for us, and according to God’s sovereign plan, it happened on the cross. Because of the cross, you are free to know God intimately and to experience His presence.

Don’t waste what happened at the cross. Experience His presence.

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The Need for the Cross

The Need for the Cross

I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. – Romans 7:18

The cross is the defining portrait of Christ; it is, in fact, how He defined Himself because He said that He came into the world to die. He was born to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Jesus’ death on the cross is the centerpiece of the uniqueness of Christ because of what it accomplished.

We must first realize that there was a definite need for the cross. We need the cross because of the presence of sin. Sin entered the world by one man, but procreation passes sin on to all men. You never have to teach your children how to lie or throw a temper tantrum because we are all born sinful. We are sinful from the time of conception because we inherit the sin nature. Romans 6:23 tells us that the result of sin is death.

To understand sin, we must understand the standard. God’s standard for holiness is Himself. Many people think there is a scale in heaven and that God will place our good deeds on one side and our bad deeds on the other. They think that as long as the good outweighs the bad, they will go to heaven. But God says everyone has fallen short of His standard, and none of us can earn our way into heaven through good works. We simply can’t save ourselves.

God is holy; He can’t skip over our sin. He can’t tolerate evil, and we are all evil because of our sins. So for us to be able to draw near to God, Jesus’ death on the cross had to take place.

Consider today how you personally need what Jesus accomplished on the cross for your own life.

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Remarkable Fruit

Remarkable Fruit

[God] made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. – 2 Corinthians 3:6

The Holy Spirit within us makes life real; life comes alive. When we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer, life is no longer simply theology. The theology in our heads becomes real in our lives, drawing us closer to God through the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit takes over, we begin to grow. The Holy Spirit becomes power source behind this growth so that it eventually becomes evident.

The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:19-23).

The Holy Spirit is the divine enabler who produces growth in us. Every time we try to grow without depending on God, we work against Him. Many of us spend much of our time shutting God out. We’re trying to produce fruit on our own.

However, when we abide in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit is the dominant influencer in our life, the fruit of the Spirit develops naturally.

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Walking in the Spirit

Walking in the Spirit

We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. – 1 John 3:24

We all live in the flesh, so we will struggle with the desires of the flesh until we get to heaven. But we can bring these desires under the Holy Spirit’s influence. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Notice that the apostle Paul doesn’t say we won’t have the desires of the flesh when we walk in the Spirit, but that we won’t carry out those fleshly desires. Walking in the Spirit is similar to being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Walking implies that the Spirit is going somewhere—there’s a destination. He always goes to the same place, to that which brings God glory. In contrast, the flesh is always moving to that which will please itself.

Walking is continuous. Like the filling of the Holy Spirit, our walk in the Spirit is ongoing, so we must maintain our dedication. To walk is to continue taking one step after another.

A third aspect of walking includes dependency. The key to walking in the Spirit is to look to Him to give us the ability to do what we know we can’t do on our own. The moment we try to do it on our own, we reject the work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our source to true power and victory.

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The Raging Battle

The Raging Battle

I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. – Galatians 5:16-17

The very Spirit of God has taken up residence in our lives if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. God wants to express His mind, His thoughts, His desires, and His will through our mortal bodies. But for that to happen, we need to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s control. While this is taking place, we are going to experience conflict within ourselves. God says the flesh and the Spirit are opposites; they’re not going to get along with each other at all.

How do we know the difference between the flesh and the Holy Spirit within us? The Spirit will want to please God, and the flesh will want to please ourselves. When we submit to the Spirit’s presence in our lives—meditating on the Word of God and offering praise and worship in spite of what we’re feeling or experiencing—the Spirit wins out over our flesh and influences our actions.

Surrender to His power in your life, and you will live in the victory that is promised to you in Him.

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