It's All About the Presence | Christ in You
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” Romans 8:9
This past Saturday many of the women of TACC gathered together and considered the presence of our Lord.
Marcia Lichte (our Women's Ministries director) spoke emphasizing that believers have the presence of God indwelling and therefore are always in His presence. For those of you who were hampered by the inclement weather or previous engagements and could not attend, Marcia’s notes, scripture, and thought provoking discussion questions follow.
Please scroll down to read or click on these links to download:
In addition to the talk the ladies had a great time snacking on delicious homemade appetizers and creating a Christmas ornament to remind them of Christ’s presence and the event.
It’s All About the Presence – Christ in You – December 7, 2013
by Marcia Lichte
A manger like this one,instantly represents Christmas to us, doesn’t it?
In a Christmas Eve sermon, Martin Luther (German leader of the Protestant Reformation) encouraged his congregation to be like a manger in which Jesus can be found. May our hearts be like that simple manger bed, prepared for the greatest gift of all: Our Savior.
The manger is a comfortable symbol of God being “with us”, right here on earth, in bodily human form, fully God and fully man. When Jesus was born and placed in a manger, His physical presence was made real and He was here, He was Emmanuel, He was “God with us” – and that was very significant to the Jewish people because their whole faith was built on the redemptive promises of God and the looking forward to the coming Messiah.
At Christmas, Jesus came as a soft and wonderful little baby to be placed in a manger, perhaps like this one. But the reality is that that baby came to live a perfect life like we are unable to live and then to die for our sins.He came to take our sins upon Himself on the cross.
The Bible says we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory, and that the wages of sin is death. So the ultimate gift of God we acknowledge at Christmas is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord to all who believe. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” There is no other life except through Christ.
But what does that really mean – having life through Christ? That brings us to another of God’s marvelous gifts to us – His real and constant presence – the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each of us who believe. This is what changes everything – regenerates us and gives a new life in Christ.
After Christmas, actually after Pentecost, everything changes for God’s people. As new covenant believers, we enjoy God’s constant presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit – Christ IS our life. (Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 8:9-11).
John Piper says, that the first distinguishing thing about being Christian different from those who are “in the flesh” is that we are an “inhabited” people. And Paul says it three ways in Romans 9 & 10:
- “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (v. 9b);
- “you have the Spirit of Christ” (v. 9c);
- “Christ is in you” (v. 10a).
The different names here all are referring essentially to the same presence. The Spirit is equally the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of God the Son, Jesus Christ. And the Spirit communicates so much of Christ that it is fitting to say Christ himself is present in you.
As believers, we are already in the presence of Christ all of the time. We just don’t always realize it or take notice of it – we don’t live like we believe it. It is a unique and special gift not enjoyed by the Old Testament saints. In the OT, the Jewish people knew all about how God had promised them that the Messiah was coming, as a baby, and would be called “Immanuel – God with us”. They looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promised redemption and believed that all He had said in His Word would come to be. But because the ultimate gift of redemption had not yet been given, they also had not yet received the gift of the constant presence of God, the indwelling of the Spirit.
Don’t get me wrong – The Spirit of God was active and working from eternity past, and was involved in the creation of world. Genesis 1:2 tells us that the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters as God said “Let there be light!”
In Old Testament times, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit could be selective and temporary. The work of the Holy Spirit was the same as now – to bring the active presence of God into the world and to act through His people. The Holy Spirit does this by empowering, purifying, revealing, convicting and unifying – all of this to enable God’s people to do what they are being called upon to do in order to fulfill God’s will. Time and time again the Old Testament tells us of those who were filled with the Spirit in order to accomplish a specific task or for a season
.In Genesis 41, Pharaoh recognized that the Spirit of God was in Joseph (Gen. 41:38). He likely didn’t really understand it but he recognized the Spirit’s presence anyways.
In Exodus, Bezalelwas the craftsman who was assigned the task of making all of the things God had directed to be made for the Tabernacle, including the Tabernacle tent, the ark of the covenant, all of the altarpieces and utensils and even in the priests garments – God says in Exodus 31:3-5 ”…I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”
Moses certainly didn’t want to enter the Promised Land without God’s presence. After the incident with the Golden Calf, God had had enough of the “stiff-necked” people of Israel and said that He would allow them to continue on to the promised land but that he could not continue with them because being in their presence would only cause Him to destroy them. God told Moses that He would send His angel with them. But Moses interceded for the people and said that if God does not go with them he would rather not go at all. He understood the power that comes with the presence of God. There is so much more to this – read the whole story from Exodus 25 through 40 – it is a fabulous example of both God’s great power and sovereignty as well as His unending patience, grace and forgiveness towards His people Israel.
Then in Numbers 11 – God acknowledges the Holy Spirit that is already working through Moses and He then pours some of this same Spirit out on selected men naming them Elders over Hischosen people. Also in Numbers, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Balaam and the Spirit allows him only to bless God’s people rather than curse them as he was hired to do. Remember the story about the angel and the donkey?
In many of Samson feats of strength and courage, the Bible says that “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him” and empowered Samson; but later the Lord left him when he was disobedient (Judges 13:25; 16:20).
The Spirit was with Saul but later left him (1 Sam. 10:10; 16:14)when God had David anointed to be the new king. There was no guarantee of the permanent presence of the Spirit in Old Testament times.
The Bible tells us that the Spirit of God was with Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, and Daniel and a host of others at critical times and places when God specially empowered these folks to do great things in the fulfillment of His will.
And then, in fulfillment of all that God had planned and promised, Jesus came. He brought salvation and eternal life to all who believe. He left us with the words, ”And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In John 14, Jesus told His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
And as He had promised, He left us a Helper, His Spirit, the Spirit of truth. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20).
So as new covenant believers, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Jesus has promised that:
- He will be with us always
- He will be our Helper and lead us to the truth
- He is in us and is our hope of glory
- our bodies are His Temple and are to be Holy
We have been crucified with Christ and it is now Christ who lives in you! Do you think this should make you feel and act differently? Absolutely! We must realize that we live the life of Christ – we are to be more like Him in our thoughts and actions as we grow in maturity in our faith. We must be Christ to each other, as other believers should Christ to us. We need to love and serve and care, for each other and for the world, as Jesus did. We need to abide in Christ through His word through prayer– we need to read the Bible to regularly commune with Christ. I would like to end by reading John 15:1-17 about abiding in Christ. In light of all we have just heard about Christ living in us and all that means, I find that the idea of abiding in Christ a little bit clearer and more attainable knowing that we have Christ’s help and His constant presence.
Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20, John 14:15-17, John 15:1-17
1) What does it mean to live in a way that acknowledges that “Christ is in you”? What helps you and what hinders you from living this way?
2) Do your actions match what is in your heart (your loves, your intentions, your passions, your desires)?
3) Do you obey God willingly out of love for Him or do you have some other purpose or motivation?
4) What does it mean to be Christ to each other? What does it look like, in practical, real world application, to love each other as Christ loves us?
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