authentic Christianity (the Book)
The New Covenant is at its core
Christ in you, the hope of glory, Jesus expressing his character through his people. The incarnation, God clothed in human flesh, is the inheritance of his people. It is Christ in you and you in Christ. With our identity firmly in Christ, we live out an authentic Christianity!
|Ch 1: The Great Imitation||2 Cor 2:14-6:13|
|Ch 2: The Real Thing||V||2 Cor 2:14-16|
|Ch 3: The Secret||V||2 Cor 3:4-6|
|Ch 4: Two Splendors||2 Cor 3:7-8|
|Ch 5: Death Versus Life||V||2 Cor 3:7-11|
|Ch 6: The Enemy Within||V||2 Cor 3:12-18|
|Ch 7: The Enemy Without||2 Cor 4:1-6|
|Ch 8: Pots, Pressures and Power||V||2 Cor 4:7-15|
|Ch 9: Time and Eternity||V||2 Cor 4:16-18|
|Ch 10: Our Highest Motivation||V||2 Cor 5:9-17|
|Ch 11: The Glory of Ministry||V||2 Cor 5:18-6:2|
|Ch 12: Exhibit A||V||2 Cor 6:3-13|
The new covenant church has but one Head, the living Lord Jesus Christ. All its members including the leadership take their direction from that one Head. The supremacy of Christ as Head of his body – his church – must remain its consistent bedrock truth and focus. There is no biblical basis for stardom for any of God's people. We gain in knowledge of Christ, we grow in spiritual maturity and we develop in serving him only by his grace. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
The biblical church is a living organism, in contrast to an organization or an institution. This disallows the traditional clergy-laity division, and instead yokes us together in his service. Eph 4:11-16 teaches that the Spirit gifts particular members of the body of Christ as leaders, to train and equip the entire body for the ministry Christ gives us. This forms the basis for what we experience as "body life."
Its inseparable Siamese-twin truth is the New Covenant, which is at its core "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). Without Christ’s indwelling lordship, “body life” becomes but a lifeless performance of self-centered introspection. Jesus intends to express his character through his people, that we share his glory, and receive our nurture from his indwelling life in intimate communion with Him. And this is the treasure we impart to one another – the essence of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. His unconditional love is our resource for loving others; his forgiving grace and mercy our empowerment to forgive. In this way serving others becomes acts of worship and gratitude.
Jesus has bought us with an incalculable price, assuring us that we belong forever to him. His body was broken, his blood poured out for us. Now in him - through him - to him we "offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God" (Rom 12:1), a doxology of praise and worship to Christ Jesus. His incalculable sacrifice transforms into our incalculable joy! Ray Stedman’s book, Authentic Christianity states this well:
The authentic Christian life is essentially and radically different from the natural life lived by a man or woman. Outwardly, it can be very much the same, but inwardly the basis of living is dramatically different. Christ is a part of every wholesome action, the corrector of every wrong deed or thought, the giver of joy and the healer of hurt. No longer merely on the edges of life, Christ is the center of everything. Life revolves around him. As a consequence, life comes into proper focus. Despite outward trials, a deep peace possesses the heart, strength grips the spirit and kindness and joy radiate abroad. This is really living!
But the devil continually seeks to distract us from who we are in Christ, and from our function together as a Body, from simply trusting Christ to express his life and love through us wherever we go. Jesus calls us to “renew our minds” – to remember who we now are because of the finished work of Jesus Christ – and not get distracted.
This brings us full circle back to church leadership. It is the job of spiritually gifted leaders of Jesus’ Body to equip us to understand and live in these simple truths of the New Covenant and Body Life. Leaders must continually remind us of who we already are in Christ, and to trust him who is our Head and very life. The incarnation, God clothed in human flesh, remains the heritage of his people. It is you in Christ and Christ in you. This is who we are. This is authentic Christianity!