Article by Ian Thomas
The Excitement and Essence of Being a Christian
There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!
Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at rituals, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither!
They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to His humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life—God’s life!
There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!
CHRIST HIMSELF: THE CONTENT OF CHRISTIAN FAITH
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, which 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” (I Thessalonians 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” (Philippians 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.
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” (Romans 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 re-imparts 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.”
“Faithful is he that caulleth 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!
[You must] 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 …
Taken from a selection of Ian Thomas’s book The Saving Life of Christ (Zondervan Publishing House. ©1961) and the foreword he wrote for Bob George’s book Classic Christianity(Harvest House Publishers. ©1989).
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