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Christ Living in You




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Christ Living in You

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Many of us have got used not only to this abbreviation. It is really what we were taught in seminary but many of us have not only got used to it. We have made it a kind of metaphor for our own Christian life, “Christ in you.” And I think up till recently probably, most of us have not seen any difference between thinking of it metaphorically and thinking of it actually. In other words, if I had said to you, “Christ is in you and you are in Christ.” You would have said, “Yes, that is the basis of all Christian faith. We know that.”

But it seems to me we’re not beginning to see that this is true in actual fact. That in fact, these verses state very clearly that we were created in Christ Jesus. And this verse states very clearly that we are actually Christ’s body. You, yourself, are here so that Christ himself could live a life in you that he will not live in anybody else and that you were thought of by your Father before the foundation of the world because he had a certain glory of his only begotten Son that could be expressed only in you. And that’s why you exist.

So, I think we’re all beginning to sense that there is a difference between thinking it metaphorically, “Oh yes, we’re in Christ,” that is, we think about the things that Christ thinks about and we look at politics, and we look at finances, and look at business in terms of Christ’s philosophy and therefore we’re generally in Christ. That’s the metaphorical way of looking at it. But I think many of us are beginning to grasp, no, this is not a metaphor. This is not just a nice thought but in fact Christ is in me. In fact when Paul said, “I live, not I but Christ lives in me.” He was not simply making a dramatic point but he was stating very clearly this is not my life. I have been bought with a price. This is not my life to live the way I want to. In fact, I have died and my life is hid with Christ with God [Galatians 2:20] and now Christ in his Spirit is living a life that he had planned to live years ago. He’s living it in me.

And you remember, I tried to use the term that we so often use, we say that we do this in Christ’s name rather it is Christ is living in our name. Christ living in the name of Irene O’Neill. Christ living in the name of Ada Luo. Christ living in the name of Thomas. Christ living in the name of Joe. That is it. It is Jesus himself living in us.

Old Barth puts it this way, he is of course what we call a reformed theologian or is certainly thought of as that. As I would often deal with Wesley, of course, he would often deal with Luther. So he quotes Luther in this little book. It is not the greatest, I think. It’s alright but I think really his, I know you won’t like it, but Barth’s 12 treatises in volumes, I think are better if you can struggle through them. But he says, “For a Christian life,” this is Luther, “For a Christian life exists wholly in practicing and experiencing the things that one hears and reads from God’s word daily.” And so that kind of makes you feel good because you feel, “Oh yes, so we read the word. We study the Bible, and we study its principles, and we study the things its saying and then we live by those.”

Except it goes on, “Therefore if thou does so seek to know properly and hit upon and give the definition of what a Christian may be or whence a man may be called a Christian, then there must not tramp across to Moses’ law, papal rule, or to any man whatever, not even to the holiest saints, life and sanctity.” It’s quite interesting, he says, “No wait a minute, when I say you’ve to live daily by God’s word, I don’t mean you’ve to study Moses’ life or study Moses’ law, or even so much just

study Christ’s life or study Paul’s life. And you’ve certainly not to study the rules of the Benedictine order,” who I’d like to mention this evening. “And you’ve not to study the life of Hudson Taylor, or the life of John Wesley, or the life of Martin Luther, or George Mueller, this is not how to live the Christian life.”

“Or to any man whatever, nor even to the holiest saint’s life and sanctity but only to Christ’s word when he says, ‘My sheep hear my voice.’ In short, nothing that can happen in and by us makes a Christian, only this does it, that this man is known. That one holds by him and turns to him for what one wants to have of Christ. That he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep and knows them. Therefore I say on no other way does a man become a Christian except he hears this voice alone.”

In other words, you don’t live like Christ by studying the Bible. He himself said that, “Search the scriptures; it is they that bear witness to me. If you think you’ll find an eternal life but you will not come to me for it. You will not live the Christian life by studying the Bible, or by studying the lives of the saints, protestant or catholic saints, or by thinking through the principles of Christ. You will only live a Christian life if daily you hear the voice of Jesus within you. If daily you hear the voice of Jesus. If daily you wait upon him until his Spirit becomes clear to you. If daily you quiet your heart, and your mind, and your emotions, and your spirit, and your body and you wait long enough not for the time that you have set apart for him, the quiet time, but if you go before him early enough or late enough, whichever is your time, and you wait upon him to catch his voice in you.

He actually quotes Arius who said, “Who us fits to God,” who adjusts us to God. The Holy Spirit adjusts us to God. If you would wait upon the voice of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, he will adjust you to God daily. Daily and that is the only way to live a Christian life. You have to throw away that phrase. That is the only way for Christ to live each day in you. In other words, Christ lives when your tongue speaks what he speaks. Christ lives in you when your hands do what his hands are doing. That can only come if daily you are touching him. If daily your spirit is being adjusted to his Spirit. And that is the Christian life.

Now you can see the life that we are living now. It’s a coarse approximation to that. It is coarse. It is a joke because so often we study the Bible to get some good thoughts, get some good insights. “Oh, I never saw that before.” But so often it is something that we take upon ourselves, we are the masters of it. “Ah, I’ve seen that. Now, I have to apply that here, and here, and here in my life.” And that may produce a virtuous life, and may produce a religious life, and may produce an ethical life. But it will not produce a fragrance that Christ himself produces in you as his Spirit pervades your spirit as you catch the fragrance and the sweetness of his own heart. And that only comes, and you know it’s – well, it’s good authority, the best authority is scripture but it’s good authority for saying it, but the only way the Christian life can be lived is if we are daily touching Christ’s own heart and spirit. Then, somebody then knocks at your door at 5:30 or 4:30, or 3:30, or whatever time you get up and calls, “Joe, are you ready?” And then instead of oh going out of the door, out of your ears, and out of your head, and thinking, “Oh, that’s Trish,” or, “That’s Marty. Oh, okay I’m coming.” Instead of that, Christ can respond and you experience that and you feel his peace, and you feel it is him responding and you feel his heart.

Then as the day goes on it becomes so much a part of you that you’re not thinking, “Oh this is Christ.” It’s you yourself have been taken over by him and it’s his voice, and it’s his fragrance, and it’s his Spirit that speaks forth from you as the day goes on. And of course, the important

thing we all know is when the day gets hectic and paperwork is flying in all directions at the office, it’s him, it’s him and his Spirit that prevails miraculously. And if there’s a second when, you remember, Greg used to produce the theology of “losing it,” whether you lose it three ways and when you begin to lose it, it’s recollection, a moment of recollection, “Savior, you alone matter.”

I’ll go to the bathroom or wherever so the crew will not just think I am sleeping, but I go somewhere and I come back and I retain the fragrance that Jesus gave me in the morning. But that’s the life of Christ. It’s the touch of his Spirit, it’s waiting upon him. Please, I understand many of us have got so coarse in our spirits that we hear this, but you’re like the man that Jesus touches. You say, “Yes, pastor I see men but as trees walking. I can kind of hear what you’re saying and I can kind of catch at it but I can barely catch at it.” I don’t blame you because our spirits have got so coarse and we are so utterly convinced.

But the Christian life is something that we live with a little help from our friend, Jesus. We live with a little help from the Spirit. But it is us that does it, and for many of us it’s just an elevated kind of ethical life. So, I understand that our spirits have gotten very coarse and very strong so that we can hardly distinguish between our soul and our spirit and we can hardly determine when we’re running the thing for Christ and for God’s glory and when it is Jesus. So, I know that but the Holy Spirit, if you begin to yearn for this, will fill you as Jesus said, “That you are blessed if you hunger and thirst after this for you will be filled.” [Matthew 5:6]

This is the Christian life and the purpose of our businesses is not simply to give honest value for money in the food we cook in the restaurant, in the oranges and apples that we sell. It is not even to be kindly to people, or to be mannerly. It is not even to be people who simply don’t swear at each other, or don’t lose their temper, or seem even to love each other. It is not that. The purpose of the business is nothing short of this — that Christ himself would serve each person who comes into the café. Not in the sense that you would do it in Christ’s name. Not in the sense that you would do it as patiently as Christ would do it. Not in the sense that you would do it as lovingly as Christ would. Not in the sense that you are doing it for Christ’s glory and not for money. Not that at all, but Christ himself, his own Spirit would serve people so that they would go out of the door and would have touched something that they can’t even define themselves because it is a spiritual thing that is perceived spiritually.

It is probably true that just as the only authentic part of a painting is that which cannot be expressed in words. Also, the only authentic part of a sculpture is that which cannot be expressed in any other art form, and the only authentic part of a piece of music is that that cannot be expressed by any other means. It is probably true that the touch of Christ and his life can probably not be expressed in words. And he’s probably the reason why often you might feel, even about a preacher, and we would certainly feel it about each other in conversation. Stop. Stop, you’re not speaking of anything real. You’re losing it. You’re just filling the air with words. This is not true spirit. Just let’s be quiet.

So, in our businesses the purpose for them is that what you would say is true that the man or the woman would fade and Christ himself would step forth and touch the person. That will not come about by a simple discipleship approach to Bible study, or a simple picking out of principles from God’s word. Or even from the life of George Mueller. All that itself is a dead Colleen. Only Christ himself, his own Spirit can bring life. Only if you and I touch Christ daily will Christ himself speak with our tongues and act with our hands and that is the Christ life.

I have used the term to you that Martin Luther said, “The aim is to have new Christs.” I thought, “That’s a good way to put it.” Old Barth of course is always splitting hairs until you see the hair is trimmed and smoothed after he’s finished with it. And he says, “No, there’s only one Christ, there cannot be many Christs. There is only one Christ.” But that Christ is going to live a unique life in you. So, there are many expressions of Christ but it is Christ himself in you, it is not you as another version of Christ. It is not you as another picture of Christ. You are not just an “It”. That’s the incredible thing. You are not actually just a channel in a sense, you are Christ himself in a way that no one else is.

Of course, it can only be that as you hang on him daily. I don’t need to elaborate why it’s necessary to hang on him daily, because the pressure of the outside world is so strong that we are always slipping into the half life that is lived here on earth. So you cannot afford to go a day without waiting upon him. I know we’ve all had our struggles with quiet times. Please, it is not something that we have to do to be in Christian Corps. It is not something you have to do if you are a Christian — it is not something you have to do if you want to be in good spiritual health. It is not something you have to do if you want to get to heaven. Quiet time is quiet, a time of quietness when you can wait on Jesus’ Spirit himself and let him fill you and fill your personality with himself. And as much as we say, Mary, Jesus’ mother, was there at some moment and at some moment the Holy Spirit came in.

But who can tell when that moment is. Who can tell when the Holy Spirit came in and began to create something inside you? No one can tell. No one has ever attempted to tell when that occurred. So it is with Jesus, himself, in our quiet times. All we can do is wait upon him and be aware that this is what we were made for and this is the only thing that we need. Then as we hunger and wait upon him, then we know he comes in.

I believe at several elders meetings and I think we knew, I mean, one time it was after three hours, but I think we knew when Jesus comes and when we cease from our own works and we cease from our own thinking and our own strife and the quiet Savior comes. And it’s in that, that God has given us the privilege of living and that’s what the Christian life is. That’s what we have been giving this year for, so that Christ Luo, Christ Overby, Christ Poehler, could live so that Jesus himself would live in places we find ourselves through the days of this year.

I would just say that cannot be unless we ourselves refuse to begin our daily lives unless he is here, unless he’s here. And I would say every day we go forth without him is a day that may as well not have been. Because it’s him and his Spirit that lives the life of God here on earth and gives us a sense of fulfillment in our own lives. So I’d ask you to deal with him this day and especially to look out on this year and decide is it going to be “you” again? Is it going to be you again fitting him in where you can? Or, regarding your main job as doing what you are supposed to do here in Christian Corps. Or, is it going to be you saying, “Savior, not a step today without you — not a step. Lord, if I have to wait here all day, not a step until you are here and until I have stopped myself and you have begun to live.”

Let us pray.