Follow Me: Don’t You Know Christ Is in You?

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Don’t You Know Christ Is in You?

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Follow Me: Don’t You Know Christ Is in You?

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American news anchorman and journalist Tom Brokaw’s insightful book The Greatest Generation depicts the lives of courageous men and women who experienced the Great Depression and World War II.

Those of younger generations marvel at how their parents and grandparents’ lives were upended and transformed. Brokaw intimately chronicles what constituted that generation’s moral fiber, which enabled them to persevere and overcome.

Likewise, Christians often marvel at the spiritual attributes and deeds of first-century believers. That spiritual generation is often considered the “greatest generation” in terms of sacrifice, valor and accomplishing incredible spiritual outcomes.

The Spirit of God within us works to convert us so we can “walk as He walked”—to live just as Jesus Christ lived.

But does our Heavenly Father have a “greatest generation” of followers, or does He share the means of His perfecting work with every generation of believers? The answer amazingly resides inside of us as to how every follower of every generation may successfully embrace Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me.”

It’s like He never left!

We might ask, “How near, and how inside, and most importantly what or who is inside us?” Let’s consider Jesus’ parting words of encouragement to His disciples on the night before He died: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20 John 14:18-20 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also. 20 At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

Did you note the connective triple emphasis of “in,” “in” and “in”?

What’s the big meaning behind the tiny word “in”? Jesus made a deeply personal promise to them that night. Even after His ascension to heaven, His early followers never dismissed His literal presence with them. They took Him at His word.

Every aspect of their ministry and personal lives demonstrated His intimacy and connection with them in every turn of life. They called on those who heard their message to not merely believe on Jesus, but to encounter the One who died, rose again and lives forever and to personally experience Him like they did on an ongoing intimate basis.

The early followers understood that Christ’s resurrection and ascension marked a transition in how He performed the ministry of salvation committed to Him by God the Father. The events recorded in the New Testament are a continuing story of Jesus’ literal work through others by new and extraordinary means.

The Son of God dynamically operates without human limitations through a new collective spiritual body of which He is the Head—that is, the Church, His called-out assembly of followers (Ephesians 1:22-23 Ephesians 1:22-23 22 And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.
American King James Version×
).

His followers would thereby become His tongue to speak His truths. They would become His arms and hands to reach out to others in need. They would become His feet to carry the good news of salvation throughout the world and beyond. Isn’t our calling just the same?

“In” means in!

The apostle Paul dramatically challenges followers of all generations to consider the dynamic reality of Christ’s words: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you!” (2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×
).

Far too often, we can diminish the divine impact of this plain statement and its significance by relegating it to a metaphorical inference rather than making it the intended weighty anchor of our existence.

Jesus clearly alluded to this early on in His earthly ministry in declaring how His followers would worship God in a new way. Before His coming as a man, Israel and later the Jews had been guided by God through a presence in a burning bush, through a pillar of cloud and fire, through the words of angels and prophets, and through the transitory coming and going of His Spirit over the ages.

“But,” said Jesus, “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24 John 4:23-24 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×
). Here, Christ points us to a new realm of experience.

Paul later builds on these words, writing: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit [that] dwells in you” (Romans 8:9-11 Romans 8:9-11 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×
).

The Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Christ is the same Holy Spirit—the same Spirit that can live in us as believers.

Now let’s connect some thoughts to fully understand what the gift of the Holy Spirit truly is. God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16 1 Peter 1:15-16 15 But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 15:3-4 Revelation 15:3-4 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, you King of saints. 4 Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? for you only are holy: for all nations shall come and worship before you; for your judgments are made manifest.
American King James Version×
). Christ is holy (Acts 2:26-27 Acts 2:26-27 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.
American King James Version×
; 4:30). And both God the Father and Jesus Christ are Spirit (John 4:23-24 John 4:23-24 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×
; Romans 8:9-11 Romans 8:9-11 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×
).

The plain biblical truth is that God’s miraculous gift to us is that He has placed His very essence, what He is—Spirit ( Holy Spirit )— in us. The definition of essence is the fundamental nature, substance or special quality that distinguishes something—in this case God. In putting Their essence into us, the Father and Christ become actually present within us.

You are the temple of God!

Paul made this amazing statement: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 16 Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
American King James Version×
).

Now we come to understand Christ’s proclamation that the day would come when His followers would not go from one mountain of worship to another. God has elected to fill us with the divine presence—the presence of the Father and Christ through the Holy Spirit—on our voluntary surrender.

Is it any wonder, then, that Paul could state, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
). He doesn’t merely state, “I’m Christlike” or “My behavior matches Christ.” The Spirit of God within us works to convert us so we can “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6 1 John 2:6He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
American King James Version×
)—to live just as He lived.

Paul further stated in Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
American King James Version×
that our Heavenly Father’s very will is “to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Compare the riches of the glory of the mystery here with 2 Corinthians 4:6 2 Corinthians 4:6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
: “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness [physically back in Genesis 1], who has shone in our hearts [spiritually] to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [physical bodies], that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

It’s this understanding that enabled first-century Christians to seize the opportunities and surmount the challenges of their day. And it’s this revelation that continues to enable every person who heeds Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me” to stay on the journey set before us.

The disciples came to trust Jesus’ promise that “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18 John 14:18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
American King James Version×
) and to understand that He didn’t merely mean His literal future return to the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but as our personal Shepherd now —the Great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20 Hebrews 13:20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
American King James Version×
).

He is a Shepherd in whom we shall not be in want or have to reach for—because He is in us, embedded where neither man or external events can reach. For God has elected to work and develop His new creation from the inside out.

It’s the same today as it was then. The reality of the Christian saga down through the ages is that God doesn’t have one special “greatest generation.” After all, He shows no partiality (Acts 10:34 Acts 10:34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
American King James Version×
), and we are all His direct children (1 John 3:9-10 1 John 3:9-10 9 Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.
American King James Version×
), not generations removed from Him and one another in a spiritual sense. And He has literally placed the essence of His Son’s righteousness in all His true followers to guide and keep us as we acknowledge and heed that presence.

When God gave His Son the name of Immanuel—“God with Us” (Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah 7:14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
American King James Version×
), little could people of old imagine the depth of God’s intention that the Messiah would not simply be a companion walking beside us, but living inside us to enable our Heavenly Father to perfect us.

When the cares of this life make us want to abandon the invitation of “Follow Me,” just remember Paul’s challenge to consider, “Don’t you know Christ is in you?” Such a gift! Such an assurance! And with opportunity comes responsibility, as we’ll see next time.