authentic Christianity: Scripture
Friends, the mystery of authentic Christianity, hidden through the ages, has been revealed in its full richness and glory in Jesus Christ and in His Word. The means by which Jesus works to accomplish this authenticity in us is described in these four realities central to the Christian faith:
The New Covenant
Jesus has given to us a
New Covenant (Luke 22:20; Heb 9:15, 12:24), and that Covenant is
Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). Through the blood of this Covenant, the Holy God is no longer inaccessible to believers due to our sinfulness. Through Jesus' finished work on the cross our sin is forgiven. Jesus has crucified our selfishly independent nature, and has made us new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), giving us the very nature of Jesus — we are no longer slaves to a sinful nature (Rom 6:6). The Holy Spirit of Jesus Himself now lives in us, uniting Himself with our spirit (1 Cor 6:17). He is our very life (Col 3:4).
Jeremiah prophesied this New Covenant,
Behold ... I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and ... Judah (Jer 31:31), and Ezekiel described it saying,
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you (Ezek 36:26).
I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (John 14:20), resonate in our hearts, and draw us to dwell in this union with Him. Paul said,
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:20). Knowing that
apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), we long to be
diligent to enter His rest (Heb 4:9-11). In this rest we join Him in His redeeming work in the world.
risen indeed! He is alive today, living by His Holy Spirit in men and women into whom He has breathed eternal life. Jesus describes followers of Christ as
His body (Rom 12:5; Eph 4:4), of which He is the Head.
Through spiritual gifts (Rom 12:4-8, Eph 4:11-13) given each of us by the Holy Spirit, Jesus expresses His life and love through each believer, both to others in His body and to the world. As with the members of our physical body, so it is true in our spiritual body, that when each part functions properly the whole body benefits (Eph 4:16). Through believers' humble and harmonious service God builds up the Body of Christ (Rom 12:10-13).
The Bible is clear that the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8), and it just as clearly promises that you are to
resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jas 4:7). Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been
prowling around seeking to distract the people of God from the truth of our union with Christ and our unity in His body (Gen 3:1-6).
In all of history, Satan's warfare tactics have not changed, but neither has our security in Christ, purchased by Jesus on the cross. Jesus said from the cross,
It is finished (John 19:30). Risen, He crushed the devil under His foot (Gen 3:15), achieving eternal victory over sin and death (Rom 6:8-11; 1 Cor 15:21-26). Confident in this, we
stand firm in the full armor of God (Eph 6:10-13), each piece of which and all of it together is Jesus Himself.
Through leaders gifted by God for this responsibility (Eph 4:11-12), the Lord shepherds His Body as He — the Head of His Body — directs. To this end leaders are equipped to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), teaching, discipling and modeling authentic biblical Christianity.
Leaders are to
entrust these truths to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). They pass on the truths of Christ's New Covenant, equipping His Body to live out their Spiritual gifts. Godly leaders encourage us to stand firm in Him who has overcome the
evil one, firm in Him who has rendered powerless Satan's ability to disrupt the proper functioning of the Body of Christ (Rom 6:6).
God has both equipped us and called us to be servants of His New Covenant (2 Cor 3:4-6), of which Jesus is the only mediator and priest (Heb 9:15). Jesus has determined that this Covenant will be ministered to His Body and in the world through men and women in whose hearts He has planted the truth of His union with Him (Ps 51:6). God teaches His people to understand that their adequacy to serve resides in Christ alone, that through their dependence on Him God might accomplish His mission to a hurting, dying and needy world.
From the cross Christ has won the victory over sin and death, and by the empty tomb God has declared Christ's sacrifice to be perfect. Now Jesus is building in us an undistracted devotion to Himself (Lk 10:27), and is increasing our love for one another, through which He is redeeming the world (Col 1:4-6). God is at work (Phil 2:13), and only God can do God's work! The amazing truth is that we get to join Him in it all (Eph 2:10)!