Last words & the self-existance of God

I had an odd dream one night–I was in bed dying, and time was frozen. Enough breath was left for a few words–what should they be? All the things to say, and what a conundrum. What would be my last words? At some point (whether asleep or awake, it doesn’t matter), I settled on one great truth: God is. Eccentric, yes. Morbid, not really–but it got me thinking.

God identifies himself as “I AM who I AM”, and establishes his character as self-existent. All things draw their beginning and their substance from Him. The Trinitarian union has no beginning, no end, no extent, and no lack. God IS.

All our hope, all our needs, all our purpose is bent on God’s nature. His love gives us hope, His glory gives us purpose, in His sovereignty He fulfills our needs; and His name, which He placed on us who are in Christ by the indwelling of the spirit, our identity. Everything that we are flows from Him.

How trivial our problems seem in light of His greatness! How foolish our tempting pleasures in light of His eternity. Heavenly Father, give us your prospective.

Self-denial and Personal Holiness

Sin attacks the Christian from multiple fronts—principally, it springs out of our dying old nature, influenced by our culture and heritage, and is spurred on by the devil. To cut off a sin at it’s source then, we need to die to self and become alive to Christ through the process of sanctification. Personal holiness, then, comes through the process of self-denial.

Throughout Scripture, self-denial is practiced and encouraged. Notably, fasting is mentioned again and again. To our modern American culture, however, fasting has become lost knowledge. Perhaps with the rise of materialism and its infusion into the church, the idea of voluntarily giving up something for the sake of giving it up is foreign. Lent has been relegated to the archives of liturgical churches. Lent remembers what Christ gave up when he left heaven and the glory of the father. No, we’re not used to self-denial.

Worse, Christian men have largely failed the fight against the sinful nature in lust, self-ambition, and every other form of immoral habit. In short, we don’t know how to fight anymore. Perhaps we’ve lost sight of who and what we’re fighting. Perhaps we’ve forgotten where the battle is. Across the four realms of jurisdiction (self, family, church and state), self is the foundational field of war. If Christian men cannot control themselves, they have no way to lead their families, teach the church, or guide the state, all for the dominion of Christ.

Men, learn to fight the battle inside of you. God promises to deliver you from your enemies. Use the tool of self-denial to combat the root of selfishness. Don’t be afraid to take drastic measures to win. Satan isn’t missing any tricks—fight sin with no holds barred.

In Christ

The phrase “In Christ” is found 90 times from Romans to 1 Peter, and forms the foundation of our identity as Christians.

The statement “in Christ” takes us back to the core relationship of Christ and His church. The redeemed are the bride of Christ (Jeremiah 3, Ezekiel 16, John 3, Ephesians 5, Revelation 19). This mystery is profound, and yet it is not a metaphor used just in a few places. The two shall become one flesh, and the idea of being the body of Christ is another frequent term used to describe the Church.

A large number of spiritual and doctrinal issues depend on us being in Christ. In Adam, all died. Historically, the Church has interpreted this in light of all people being created from Adam’s body, and thus were rather literally, “in Adam”. But in Christ, all were made alive–that is to say, all in Christ were made alive in Christ. And our redemption, our justification, our eternal inheritance, our present blessings, and our adoption as sons of God the Father all depend on us being in Christ, having Him as our head and lord.

When God the Father sent Christ to propitiate our sin, and to unite us to himself, all the infinite blessings of Christ have been copied to us. In fact, our very existence emanates from our status in Christ. He chose us in him before the creation of the world; in Christ you died; and in Christ you will be made alive. From eternity to eternity, we are in Christ.

All eternity centers on the fact that God sent his Son, because He loved His bride.

Battle for the world

The battle for the world is in the hearts of Christian men.

I’ve been encouraged by older men with the phrase, “don’t waste your youth!” (perhaps most eloquently by J.C. Ryle in his book.) The question is, how to utilize the time that god has given? Many young men have taken up causes, and campaign against evil in the world. Some have taken up arms against sin in the world, and I know some young men called to preach, as was John the Baptist.

All that is well and good, and needed. But I received some wise counsel from another wise man–the battle for the hearts of nations begins in your own heart. The battle for the things of God, holiness, purity and righteousness–that conflict is most present in your own heart, Christian.

Your task is to extend the dominion of Christ over the spheres where God has given you influence, and to work out the reality that our Father has put everything under His feet. And your influence and authority is greatest over your own heart and mind. (Primarily, the Bible describes the center of consciousness as the heart, what we often consider our minds.)

Yes, if you father a family, your are the primary one to lead them in submission to Christ. And if you are an elder in the Church of God, you have a primary calling to bring Christ’s flock to His fold. If you are a civil magistrate, your duty is to bring your sphere into submission to Jesus as Lord. Men are placed in authority in this world. Christians are guides to the world, Christ’s representatives on earth. If Christian men fail, the world fails.

If you fail in your heart, the catastrophe of that failure will rock any success in other spheres. If you cannot walk humbly before God with a clean heart, your ability to help others do so will be severely hobbled.

That’s where the battle is, in your heart.