The Rest of the Gospel: Will not Hunger (Chapter 16)

Chapter 16  Will Not Hunger Key Verse

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35 ESV

Key Question

How can we say that Jesus is our total sufficiency?

Read chapter 16 and answer the following questions:

1. What are some ways that your soul is still hungry?

2. What does it mean that Jesus is your total spirit sufficiency in these areas (from question #1)?

3. What is the implication for your life in saying that you have all of Jesus you’ll ever have?

4. What does the statement in Question #3 not mean?

5. Are there needs in your life that you think God isn’t meeting? What are they?

6. What dangers does doubting God’s sufficiency in these areas (Question #5) open you up to?

7. Are there any areas in your life in which you feel desperate at times for an answer? Has God always provided a temporal solution? If not, what might be the reason? What specifically does He want to teach you?

8. In what ways are you inclined to live in the past or future, instead of the present? What effect does this have on you? What does God invite you to do instead?

9. What does it mean that the answer is always a Person? Apply this to some specific problem area in your life. What is God calling you to?

The Rest of the Gospel: God's Process of Growth (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15  God's Process of Growth Key Verses:

I am writing to you, little children,     because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers,     because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men,     because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children,     because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers,     because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,     because you are strong,     and the word of God abides in you,     and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2: 12-14 ESV

Key Question:

What is Christian growth?

Read chapter 15 and answer the following:

1. Have you been tempted to believe that Christian growth occurs in only one certain How did that look to you?

2. What was the result of trying to put a box around God’s process in you?

3. Dan talks about three stages of growth from First John 2:12-14. What did God say to you through this description about God’s process of growth?

4. What does it mean to you that “God takes us in love” (p. 168)? What is God saying to you through that statement right now?

5. Think of two or three difficult circumstances in your life right now. Have you accepted that God is working on you to your benefit in each of these, or are you resisting God’s work? How does He want you to respond to Him in each circumstance?

6. Is there a contradiction between Christ living in us, as us, and Dan’s call to obedience on page 168? Why not?

7. Are there any areas in which God is calling you to be a responder to Him, to be obedient? If you have not yet responded, what has that done to your windowpane?

8. On pages 169 and 170, Dan says that God causes us to grow as He “uses the storms in the soul” to drive us to a place of inner rest. In what areas of your life are you not at rest? How is God telling you to respond to Him in those areas?

9. In what ways is your soul still turned outward, its attention on the body and the world? Is there an area or two in which you hear the wooing of God back to Him? What would it look like for you to respond to His wooing?

The Rest of the Gospel: Job Descriptions in the Father's Vineyard

Some of you have been my faithful readers for the past three and a half years. {Thank you so very much...I am truly humbled!} When I started writing this blog, in keeping with the name of my site, I thought it would be appropriate to explore the parable of the Vine and the branches in John 15.

And since we believers are each a branch in the True Vine, it would be good for us to know Who does what in our Father's vineyard.  Thus the post Job Descriptions, dated April 9, 2011.

Here is a repeat of that post with some minor revisions.  In light of our study in The Rest of the Gospel, let's look at "Who Does What?" (chapter 14) from a slightly different angle.

You may also like to see the entire Vine & branches series (Click here).

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By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:8

Have you ever started a job with no job description?  I have, and it's pretty confusing.

About 8 years ago, I was looking for a part-time teaching job.  A friend asked if I would like to apply to substitute teach in ESL & GED classes.  I told her that I didn't have a clue about either one of those.  She assured me that it wasn't difficult.  All I had to do was follow the teacher's lesson plans.  So I naively applied.

Well, guess what?  As my application reached the supervisor's desk, the beginning ESL teacher was in a very serious accident.  This was at the end of the first week of class.  By then, beginning ESL students don't know much more English than the day they walked in.  There were no lesson plans and no curriculum, because the teacher was so experienced that she did her own "curriculum".  Needless to say, I was terrified.  But God met me in my need (and that's for another post!).

BUT that first year, I had no job description.  I just took the bull by the horns and prayed and taught and loved it.  And I think the students did too, by God's grace!  (I'm still teaching that class 8 years later.)

However, without a job description, I made many mistakes and often got myself in trouble.  Most of the time, my mistakes were from my ignorance...or from my zeal to "do things right".  As a result, in several instances, I unknowingly went over the head of my supervisor and assumed her role.  Not good!

That's what happens for us believers with living the Christian life.  I don't think we truly understand our "job description."   We try to do in our own strength the things that only God can do.

John 15 is a perfect place to start to understand what it means to be a Christian (the branches) in relation to our Father (the Owner/Gardener) and His Son (the True Vine).

So let's look at WHO does WHAT in a vineyard?

First there's the Gardener or Vinedresser.  His job is to care for the vine and branches by watering, fertilizing, and above all... pruning. Without that almost "violent" pruning, a rich crop cannot come forth.

And after all, the vineyard owner's reputation is at stake!  If someone sees a barren vineyard, no one shames the branches or even the vine, but rather the owner/vinedresser.  That's because whoever does the work gets the credit or the blame!   So it's his job to do whatever is necessary to ensure an abundant crop of grapes.  Even the good, new growth gets cut back so as to bring forth an abundance of fruit.

As we've seen in a previous post, that is what the Father does for us branches.   Sometimes we may feel like we've grown so much and have been "fruitful"...then all of a sudden, the desert! dryness! seeming barrenness!  But the process is not done yet!

Then there's the Vine.  The Vine is the source of life for the branches, which then enables the fruit to come forth.  Without the life of the Vine flowing through healthy branches, nothing fruitful can happen!

Jesus is the Source of life for us His branches.  In another post we saw that Jesus, the I AM, is LIFE itself! In Him was life, and the life is the light of men...I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. John 1:4; 10:10b

And that's why the main job of the branches is to abide or stay connected to the vine.  The branches are the vehicles for the life of the vine to flow through so that fruit will come forth.

Jesus said,  Abide in Me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  John 15:4

So what does it mean to abide in Christ?  It means to live in & from, remain in, sink down deep into, rest in, stay [experientially] connected to HIM!

Here's a feeble, but hopefully helpful illustration of what I think it means to abide.  I have this wonderful couch in my living room.  It is hard to sit or lie on this couch without falling asleep.  When I come home from a full day of teaching, I look forward to sinking my weary body into that couch.  I'm often able to just put some instrumental music on and surrender to the comfort of my glorious couch. Later, I leave that place refreshed and energized!

However, sometimes I still have things I need to do before supper time.  So I abandon my tired self to my life-giving couch and make my phone calls or read my lessons or do whatever duty or desire dictates.  I still come away refreshed because I'm working from a position of rest.

That's what I think abiding in Christ means.  I do what I do from my position of rest in my Glorious Vine.  I'm secure in Him and He in me.  His resurrection life flows through me, His branch, to bring forth the fruit designed by the Father for my unique life.

What about you?  Are you living the Branch-life?  Do you do what you do from the position of rest in your Glorious Lord Christ? Or are you trying to do what only God can do -- give life and produce fruit?

I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing.  John 15:5

The Rest of the Gospel: Who Does What? (Chapter 14)

Chapter 14  Who Does What? Key Verse:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV

Key Question:

Is Jesus living His life through you, or are you trying to live it with His help?

Read chapter 14 and answer the following:

1. In what ways do you live as if God does a little and you do the rest?

2. On p. 152, Dan quotes Ezekiel 36:26-27. Rewrite those verses in your own words,substituting your name in the process. What is the significance of those verses to you?

3. Reread the middle paragraph of p. 153. What does it mean for how you live that nothing has its point of origin with you?

4. Are you still trying to live a life that you were never meant to live (p. 155)? What does that look like in your life?

5. What does it take to move you from self-striving to Jesus living the life through you?

6. How is our willingness for God to live His life through us expressed? What role does reckoning play in this? What is something God wants you to start counting on each moment?

7. Review the quotes at the top of page 162. Ask God what some areas are where He wants to live through you. What must you trust Him for in each case to see that happen?

You may also like Job Descriptions

The Rest of the Gospel: The Rule of Grace (chapter 13)

Chapter 13  The Rule of Grace Key Verse:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 8-10 ESV

Key Question:

Do you live under works (the law) or by grace through faith?

Read chapter 13 and answer the following:

1. Why is it that life can be as difficult after we come to Christ as before we come to Christ? How do we make it more difficult? Give examples from your own life.

2. Why does it sound logical that we should bring the Law along with us in the Christian life? What is the end result of that?

3. When Paul spoke of the Law, what Law was he talking about? How do we know?

4. Why does religion assert that law and grace flow together? Why did Paul say they were mortal enemies?

5. What laws—Mosaic, denominational, or personal—are you still inclined to try to keep through your own strength?

6. Why is a law-based program designed for futility, frustration and failure? How does God use that program in a positive way in our lives? Tell about this process in your life.

7. What does it mean to live by Christ, or the Spirit, instead of the Law?

8. Why do we never escape from the temptation to slip back under the Law? How do we respond to that temptation?

9. What was the main point the young man on page 147 was making? What was the essence of what Dan was trying to tell him?

10. For what can we thank God regarding His use of the Law in our lives?

The Rest of the Gospel: The Single Eye (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12  The Single Eye Key Verses:

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

Key Question:

What does it mean to "see with a single eye?"

Read chapter 12 and answer the following:

1. What does it mean for us to see through a situation to God? If God has designed us to see a situation first in the natural realm, how do we cooperate with God in seeing through to His realm in the situation?

2. If God is truly sovereign and we are one with Him, what does that say about how we can look at all we encounter in life?

3. What is a past example of a situation in your life that looked bad in the natural realm but that you see in retrospect how God was working good in and through it?

4. What is a present example of a situation in your life that looks bad in the natural realm? How is God calling you to have a single eye in this situation?

5. Reread the next to last paragraph on page 134. What is the significance to you of the point Dan is making about how we receive things?

6. Is there a situation or situations in your life that you have not been willing to thank God in the midst of? What is it? Are you willing to thank Him now? What are you thanking Him for?

7. How has God used past hurts in your life to prepare you to identify with others who are hurting? Are there are circumstances in your life right now that He may be using that way? What are they?

The Rest of the Gospel: Revelation -- God's Way of Knowing (chapter 11)

Chapter 11  Revelation: God's Way of Knowing Key Verses:

 ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe... Ephesians 1:17-19a ESV

Key Question:

What is the difference between "knowing" something spiritually and "knowing about" something spiritually?

Read chapter 11 and answer the following:

1. Has God brought you to the place where in your heart you know that you can’t live the Christian life on your own?

2. In what ways are you still seeking flesh answers to flesh questions (p. 123)? What is the answer to all spirit questions?

3. What are you trying to produce that you are incapable of producing? Or, to put it another way, how are you still trying to live out of your own effort? Are you ready to stop trying and trust God to do it instead?

4. Are you still expecting yourself to succeed at trying to live the Christian life? Does God see you as a failure when you are unable to? What is His perspective on your failures (p. 123)?

5. What is the practical meaning to you of “know-about means we must earn; know means we understand it’s freely given”?

6. What are some things the Spirit of God has revealed to you, things you know, that you can’t be shaken from?

7. What is the good news in the fact that true knowing comes by revelation of the Spirit, not our analysis?

8. Can you be content with where God has you in His process? How might He want you to trust His timing in your life? What does He want you to stop being anxious about?

9. What are some things God is telling you to believe? Review the three things Dan beginning at the bottom of p. 129. What is God saying to you about these three things?

 

The Rest of the Gospel: God's Precious Assets (chapter 10)

Chapter 10  God's Precious Assets Key Verse

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves... 2 Cor 4:7 NASB

Key Question

Am I an asset or a liability to God?

Read chapter 10 and answer the following questions:

1. How does seeing ourselves as God sees us, above the line, free us to be usable assets to God?

2. In what ways are you an asset to God?

3. What are some things about your humanity that God uses as His asset in the world? What does this say about the uniqueness God has given you?

4. Name some ways that God manifested Himself through you this past week.

5. If you were to suddenly disappear, how would certain individuals miss Christ living through you?

6. What is it like for you, as the vessel, to try to become the contents of the vessel? What is that experience like in your life? Give an example from this past week.

7. How has God used your unique background, seemingly good and seemingly bad, to make you into the vessel of His choosing?

8. If you are the vessel and God is the one living through you, who is the pressure on in this Christian life – you or God? In what ways does God wants you to take the pressure off of yourself?

The Rest of the Gospel: The Real You (chapter 9)

Chapter 9  The Real You Key Verse

 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 NASB

Key Question

What is the flesh?

Read chapter 9 and answer the following:

1. How is Dan using the word flesh, or false self? Define these terms.

2. Does flesh always produce things that look bad on the outside? Why or why not? 3. How is focusing on ourselves, instead of on Christ as our life, flesh-based?

4. When God looks at you, what does He see? What is His point of reference in looking at you? Is He pulling the wool over His eyes when He looks at you, or is this the way you really are?

5. What does it mean to stop trying to become who we already are? What does this mean for you personally?

6. What are some things already true about you as a new creation in Christ? Will these things ever change?

7. How does knowing our true identity help us understand that there is no condemnation?

8. How does knowing our true identity enable us to live with a Christ-consciousness instead of a self-consciousness? Why is this important?

9. In what ways do you still attempt to draw your identity from externals? How is that dangerous to you and others? What is God’s solution to that problem?

10. What does it mean for us to focus on the spirit, instead of primarily the soul?

11. What is your true identity as a child of God?

12. What is the prayer Dan suggests regarding your identity at the end of the chapter? Would this prayer be an appropriate one for you to be praying?

The Rest of the Gospel: Union with Christ {a summary}

When I walk through the “gate” of salvation, I am thrilled with the revelation that my sins are forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I am now reconciled to (at peace with) God my Creator. Not only that, I am His child, born into His family (John 1:12). But it doesn’t take long before an important question/problem comes up:  how do I live the Christian life?  Because of the kind of teaching/mentoring I am exposed to (legalistic)…and/or because of the simple fact that “my flesh likes to work,” I start out on the road of trying in my own strength to live the Christian life.  Of course I try to do it to please God, seeking God’s help…hoping I have enough or the right kind of faith (because without faith I can’t please Him, Heb 11:6) and hoping I ask (pray) correctly.

But sooner or later, I start failing, getting confused and frustrated, maybe even despairing and giving up.  This goes on for years!  Finally, the truth of what has been true all along begins to break through:

I can’t live the Christian life!

         I was never meant to live it!

         Jesus is the only one who ever lived it!

         This same Jesus lives in me!  Col 1:27

         He will live the life through me, as me, if I let Him!  Gal 2:20

         That’s faith.  It’s my consent, my yielding to the Risen, indwelling Christ to live His Life in and through me as me.

It’s then at my point of desperation that God reveals to my heart that  in the eternal, unseen realm, He had immersed me (baptized me) into Christ.  My old man (my sinful self inherited from Adam) died united to Him, was buried united to Him, and arose a new creation in Him (2Cor 5:14-21).  At salvation, I had become a new person in Christ, free from the power of sin, free from the law (the legalistic, to-do list Christian should’s and ought to’s), and free from the selfish self that makes me my frame of reference for all things.  I died to all of that.  I also died to the world (the earthly system in rebellion against God), the flesh (the pull of sin within that is in rebellion against God), and the devil (God’s evil, lying, rebellious enemy, the father of all unbelievers). Romans 6, Colossians 1&2, Galatians 4-6.

Once I realize that and begin to live from that truth (“Wait a minute!  I died to __________________!”), I am then free to live in newness of life right now: the Resurrected, indwelling Jesus united to my spirit in and through my earthly life as me (Gal 2:20).  I am His vessel, His container, His instrument to show forth the life and glory of the Father in this world.

OK, that’s all well and good.  But what about the fact that I don’t feel dead and free from sin, temptation, the pull of the fleshly, material part of me?  It feels like I’m two people or someone with two natures:  a godly one that wants only Him and an ungodly one that only cares about myself and my desires and “appetites.”

The problem lies in the fact that I still have a temporal, earthly, human existence in a world suffering the consequences of sin  (Romans 8). My humanness (body & soul) is changing, fluctuating, being pulled this way and that because it is connected to the seen & temporal realm.  The sin principle still indwells my body and soul, my “members” on this earth (Romans 7). My spirit (who I really am), on the other hand, is fixed, complete, righteous, holy because it is one with God in the unseen, eternal realm.

What I still suffer while on this fallen earth are the consequences of sin:  sickness, physical death, disappointment, grief, negative emotions, etc. and the pull of sin indwelling my fleshly human nature (body & soul).  But all of that is not who I really am.  It feels like me, but it’s not!  The real me is united to Christ.  My life is hid with Christ in God in the eternal realm (Col 3:3).

God uses all of these trials and fluctuations in my soul and body to teach me to live by faith and not by sight.  Now by faith I reckon (“count on”) being dead to this sin, that lie, the other ungodly pull…and alive to God and His will!  Reckoning doesn’t make it true.  I count on it (reckon it) to be true because it is true.

And I chose to live from the truth of who I am in the eternal realm.  Then my Lord Christ can have free reign because He is my life and I am His instrument!  Hallelujah!

 

The Rest of the Gospel: One Nature (chapter 8)

Chapter 8  One Nature

Key Verse

 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:20-21  NASB

Key Question

Am I one person or two?  Have I one nature or two?

Read chapter 8 and answer the following questions:

1. What is the theological rut that most believers fall into? What negative effect does this rut have on us?

2. How does the Line help us understand our true nature?

3. What is external appearance and experience going to always tell you about your nature? How trustworthy are these indicators?

4. Of all the examples Dan uses from Scripture concerning how we can only have one nature, which one spoke to you the most? Why?

5. Is Dan teaching sinless perfection in this chapter? Why not? What is the essence of what he is saying?

6. Why is it vital to understand that we only have one true nature? What effect might believing you have two natures have on you?

The Rest of the Gospel: the Swing (chapter 7)

Dear Book Club friends,This week we will be reading and studying chapters 7 (The Swing).  At the end of the week, we will post a summary of section 1: Union with Christ. What a glorious mystery is this mystical union of Christ with us His loved ones!  Thank you for following along in amazement with us!

swing
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Chapter 6The Swing

Key Verse

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Key Question

What is the difference between soul and spirit?

Read chapter 6 and answer the following:

1. What is the difference between soul and spirit? Why is the difference important to how you live as a Christian?

2. Why has God given you a soul? What is it designed to do? What is it not designed to do?

3. What is a typical example in your life of living out of your fluctuating feelings? What is the usual result? In this example, what would it look like for you to live out of your spirit instead?

4. In what sense are your temporary thoughts and feelings not the deepest you? If you believe they are the deepest you, what will you conclude and how will you likely live?

5. Describe how the Swing helps you better understand your identity in Christ, why the Christian life can be a struggle, and how to live by faith in Christ in you and rest in Him.

6. How are the fluctuations of your soul necessary in God’s training of you (p. 73)?

7. Do you experience self-condemnation because of feelings or thoughts you have? What is an example? What does God say about that (see Romans 8:1, 33-34)?

8. In what way can you relate to the story of Elijah? What did God say to you through the story?


The Rest of the Gospel: Day of Reckoning

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11 KJV

Today is a Day of Reckoning...but not how you think!  Usually we use that term to mean to give an accounting, a calculation, a settlement of accounts.  In fact according to Wikipedia, it can mean a host of things from the Final Judgment Day to heavy metal albums and Nintendo games.

But in the Bible sense, EVERY day is a Day of Reckoning.  This word reckon in the Greek is often rendered consider.  In other words, "count on something to be true".  My reckoning doesn't MAKE it true.  It already IS true, so I count on it and live from it.  So each day is THE day to reckon to be true what God says is true...because it IS true.  I can take it to the bank and live from it :)

Last week, I described how I got free from the LIE that held me captive.  As you may remember, it was by considering myself (reckoning) to be dead to it, because I AM dead to it through my union with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.

For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1

How this can play out in the life of a believer in a practical way is found in Paul's letters, especially to the Colossians and Ephesians.  There he uses the imagery of clothing to show what reckoning yourself dead to sin, self, flesh, legalism, and the lies of the enemy looks like in real life.   Paul then shows what it looks like to live alive to God.  It's all wrapped up in the key words put off and put on.

Taking off clothing and putting on other clothing are things we do everyday.  We hardly even think about it (except to chose our outfits ).  Let's compare this to the spiritual activity of living from the life of the indwelling Christ each day.

from the ragbag 2009
Let me illustrate from my own "world of fashion".  About 15-20 years ago, I bought a beautiful nightgown to keep me warm and feminine in the cold Ohio winters.  I've loved that nightgown!  I could wrap myself in it and be cozy and comfortable.   And despite the fact that it's faded and worn, I've had a hard time giving it up to the ragbag.  Every year as the weather has turned colder I've taken it out of said bag to put it on "just one more year".

Now my husband is not a rich man, but he is a good provider and has enabled me to have other beautiful options.  But they are not as comfortable to my "flesh" as that old "friend".

one of my beautiful "options"

Yet in reality, that old rag is not consistent with who I am as John's wife...a well-loved and cared for woman.  I just have a hard time putting on those new gowns.  So out "she" comes for yet another season.

It's kind of the same way with our spiritual clothing as beloved believers united to our True Lover Jesus Christ.  He has provided His own beautiful character as clothing for our human life on this earth:  love, forgiveness, kindness, truth, compassion, peace, self-control...

But what do we do?  We continually go back into the "ragbag" of our fleshly life before Christ and put on those comfortable characteristics that are inconsistent with who we are in Christ:  things such as sexual immorality & impurity, pride, greed, jealousy & competition, unforgiveness,... [For further study look at these passages:  Ephesians 4:17-5:21; Col 3:1-16; Gal 5:16-26; Rom 12:1-3,9-20; Rom 13:8-14; 2Tim 2:22]

God says to put those off!  Every time we are tempted to live out of the ragbag, we can chose to

put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14

After all, the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ IS our wardrobe!  In fact, by choosing Christ in all His fulness of character, we are at the same time laying aside the ragbag characteristics of life without Christ.*

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life...is with Christ in God. He is your life.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God...bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:3-14  MESSAGE

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*For an inspiring, though challenging sermon on this very point, read The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers.  This is not for the faint of heart, but you will be incredibly blessed!

 

 

 

The Rest of the Gospel: One Spirit (chapter 6)

Chapter 6 One Spirit Key verse:

But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 Corinthians 6:17 ESV

Key Question:

How do we live in union?

Read Chapter 6 (the old ch 7) and answer the following:

1. What is the significance to you that you are one spirit with God?

2. What does it mean that you and He remain distinct beings, yet function as one?

3. How might knowing you are one with God affect a tendency toward self-conscious living?

4. If you are the manifestor of God’s life, not the source of it, what does that say about how God wants you to live the Christian life? Cite a specific example in your life and show how this truth would apply to it.

5. How do you try to reproduce life through your own effort, like a female without a male? What fruit does it bear? Give a specific example.

6. Think about Dan’s story on pp. 82-83 about his union with Christ and his cancer. Is there a parallel situation in your life, a difficult external circumstance? What are you tempted to think about it? What does God say about it?

7. Think about this statement: “You are dead as a point of origin. Christ in you is the point of origin. He will live the life in you as you.” What is God saying to you personally about this in your life?

8. What does this chapter imply about how God loves and cherishes you?

9. Read the next to last paragraph of the chapter. How might this be an encouragement to you?

The Rest of the Gospel: Doublecross {Christ lives in you}, chapter 5

Chapter 5  Doublecross {Christ lives in you} Key Verse:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:10 ESV

Key Question:

Who lives the life?

Read Chapter 5 and answer these questions:

1. How in the Passover did God provide a picture of both the blood and the body side of the cross?

2. Give examples from your life of how, after coming to Christ, you have continued to live in Egypt.

3. How is it that Jesus is all we need to live the life? If that is true, what about the Christian disciplines? What role do they play? How does Jesus being the life affect the way we “do” all things in the Christian life?

4. What does Dan mean when, on page 59, he says that Jesus lives His life “in you, through you, as you”? What does he not mean?

5. Summarize what the Gospel of John says about the process by which Jesus lived His life. What relation does this have to how we are to live our life?

6. What does it mean to see ourselves as our point of origin, or source of life? What does it mean to see Jesus as our Source or point of origin?

7. How does seeing Jesus as our Source work in our lives? Pick something you struggled with this past week, a trial you had. What does seeing Jesus as your Source in that circumstance mean? How does that work out in your life?

8. Of what significance is it to us that the life that Jesus lives, He lives to God (Rom. 6:10)? What does it mean for us living the Christian life?

9. Why is it important to see ourselves as vessels that contain God’s life?

10. Review page 62. How can you cooperate with God in experiencing the reality of Christ as your life?

Next:  Read through chapter 6, but we won't study it until next week.  This week we will do chapter 5 & 7 together according to the authors' suggestion.

Coming Soon:  Summary of Part One -- Union With Christ (chapters 1-7)

 

The Rest of the Gospel: Caught in the Web!

This week, we looked at how we died united with Christ, were buried with Him, and rose with Him to newness of life. Romans 6:3-6 We also saw that in our union with Christ on the Cross, we died to sin, the law, and self as our frame of reference.  Rom 6:6-7; Rom 7:4,6; Gal 2:20

As we come toward the end of our second week in The Rest of the Gospel, I'd like to share a former post that amplifies these points.  May the Lord use all that we are reading and pondering to free us to live the life hidden with Christ in GodCol 3:3

Christ in us...our only hope that the glory of God may be manifest in our lives right here and now!  Col 1:27b

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Caught in the Web first posted July 2011

LOOK carefully!  Can you see it?  A perfectly formed circular spider web hanging across a path...suspended by a "thread"!  This is the amazing sight my friend Penny and I happened upon early one morning as we were walking down some little-traveled paths in a wooded area in my neighborhood.

Here was one spider who was serious!   She was ready to get a "good catch" that day!

There was a period of my life when I was a "good catch" in a craftily constructed web -- not made by earthly designs but that of the father of lies (John 8:44).

It started out with a series of real, and perhaps imagined, rejections...which then developed into a LIE.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I had recognized it for what it was...but I didn't.  And so I embraced it as truth and struggled for many years.

It caused me much pain, along with fear and confusion!  It influenced my behavior!  And it even started to poison other areas and relationships.

Finally, by the time I recognized it as a LIE, I was so bound up in it, that I couldn't get free.  I prayed!  I cried!  I tried to act against it!  I attempted the mental mind games!  I asked my praying friends to pray!  I asked my husband to pray!  All in vain!  UNTIL last summer...

I was reading & meditating in the little book of Colossians...preparing to teach it for the third time.  (I told you I was a slow learner!) I read,

Since you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God... For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God... Colossians 3:1-3

All of a sudden in that moment, the Spirit of God brought the LIE to my mind, and with it came the realization: "Wait a minute!  I DIED to that LIE!"

That very moment, the power of that LIE was broken in my experience!  Here I had been begging and pleading for the Lord to do something that He had already done through the Cross of Christ.  But I had not recognized it by faith in my particular situation.  Once I did, everything changed :)  I was set free from the fear, confusion, the agonizing emotions that the LIE produced in me.

You may ask me how I know that this is true?  The key is found in the little Scriptural word with.  This little particular word in the Greek has the idea of intimate union--a union that nothing can break. Devotional writers of previous generations called this "the believer's mystical union with Christ" of which marriage is a picture (Ephesians 5:25-32).

One of my favorite Bible teachers Wayne Barber (of Precept Bible Studies fame) illustrates this life union by what he calls "Biscuits for Jesus."  [I'm going to expand his illustration a bit to include all three words Greek words translated "with".]

There are certain ingredients that go into making biscuits:  flour, salt, baking powder, milk, sugar (if you're Polish like me), and shortening (namely butter, if you're Polish like me).  Anyway, as you gather the ingredients and place them next to each other on the kitchen counter, you could say that they are with each other (para, in the Greek), meaning alongside.  Then if you take them and place them in a bowl one by one, you might say that the ingredients are with each other (meta, in the Greek), meaning closely associated with.  At this point, each of the ingredients is separate from each other.  Even in the bowl, you could skillfully separate the ingredients from each other to some extent.

BUT once you mix those ingredients together, roll them out and cut them, place them on the cookie sheet and bake them, there is no way you can separate those ingredients from each other.  There is a mysterious union of ingredients called "biscuits"  :)  That's the Greek word sun, meaning united together with.  And this little word is our word found in Colossians 3 (above) as well as these significant Scriptures (and many more):

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.... So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:3-11 ESV

So what does this mean?  It means that...

when Christ died, I died! when Christ was buried, I was buried! when Christ was raised, I was raised to newness of life!

And what did I die to?

I died to sin!   (Col 2:13; Romans 6:3-14; Eph 2:1-7; 2Cor 5:21) I died to self!  (Gal 2:20; 2Cor 5:17; Rom 6:3-14) I died to the flesh!  (Col 2:11-12; Rom 8:1-10) I died to the world! (Col 2:8; Gal 6:14) I died to the Law ("to do list" religion)!  (Rom 7:4,6; Gal 3:10,13,24-25; Col 2:14) AND I died to the power of Satan, whose main tactics are lies and accusation!  (Col 2:15; Heb 2:14-15; Eph 1:19-21;6:10ff)

So now when that nasty LIE and related accusations and condemnations rear their ugly heads, I just say "Wait a minute!  I died to that!  And I'm alive united with my Lord...adequate in and through Him to be what He has made me to be in this situation." (2Cor 2:15-16;3:5-6)

What lies, accusations, expectations, condemnations are you struggling with today, O child of God?  You died to those!  And now you live to walk in newness of life because of the One you are united with in His fulness!

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 MESSAGE

 

For an excerpt and ordering information, click here:

The Rest of the Gospel: Doublecross {what you died to}, chapter 4

Chapter 4  Doublecross {what you died to} Key verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God... 2Cor 5:17-18a NKJV

Key question: What did I die to?

1. Why is it difficult to accept the fact that we died with Christ?

2. If we think that we didn’t really die with Him, what are we looking to that tells us that? What tells us we have died with Christ? Which is more reliable?

3. What does it mean that you died to sin?

4. Look up Romans 7:22. In your deepest being, do you want to be obedient to God, or do you want to sin?

5. Because of the body side of the cross, what is your true identity now?

6. Why is having died to sin critical to you living the Christian life?

7. What does it mean that you died to the Law?

8. Why is that critical to you living the Christian life?

9. What does it mean that you died to yourself as your point of reference?

10. Why is that critical to you living the Christian life?

For an excerpt and ordering information, click here:

The Rest of the Gospel: Doublecross, Part 1 {you died in Christ}, chapter 3

Chapter 3  Doublecross {you died in Christ} Key Verse: For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3 NIV

Key Question: When & where did I die?

Read the chapter and explore these questions:

1. Why is Christ dying for us only fifty percent of the gospel What is the other half?

2. Why is the first half of the gospel insufficient for us to live the Christian life?

3. What happens when we try to live the Christian life on only half of the gospel? Tell the group what that experience has looked like in your journey.

4. What is the difference between sins and sin? Why is the difference critical to our understanding of the gospel?

5. Why does death end our relationship to sin?

6. We know what happened to Christ on the cross. Explain what happened to you on the cross. What significance does that have for you living the Christian life?

7. How is that we died with Christ and yet are still living? How would you explain someone’s death with Christ to them?

8. What was the old man? What happened to the old man? What significance does that have for you as a believer?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLy8ksqGf9w[/youtube]

To read an excert and get ordering info, click here:

The Rest of the Gospel: The Line (ch 2)

Chapter 2  The Line Key verse: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2Corinthians 4:18

Key Question: Who am I in Christ?

Read the second chapter.  Then answer the following questions:

1.  How would you describe the eternal realm?  the temporal realm?

2.  Where do you live most?  Do you struggle with living in the temporal realm?  How?

3.  Why is it important for us to understand each of these realms? See the three reasons p30-31.

4.  How am I related to God as a believer?  See bottom of p33-34.  Hallelujah!

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Study Guide by Dan Stone and David Gregory:

CHAPTER 2: THE LINE

1. What is your understanding of Dan’s illustration of The Line?

2. What are the major characteristics of “above the line”? Of “below the line?”

3. In what ways is God primarily “above the line?”

4. What is already true about you in the eternal realm?

5. What are the three main reasons it is important for us to understand the two realms (p. 30-31)? How in these three ways it is important for you personally?

6. In what ways is your life primarily being lived “below the line?” Give at least three examples of ways you see your focus below the line.

7. What is the process God uses to get us to move from below the line to above the line in a given area in our lives? How can you cooperate with Him in that process in the areas you mentioned in question 6?

8. In this chapter Dan mentions many things that are true of us above the line already. Which one was most important to you as you read? Why?

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For an excerpt and ordering information, click here:

The Rest of the Gospel: Welcome to the Summer Book Club & the Gates (ch 1)

Welcome to our first ever Summer Book Club here at A Branch in the Vine! Thank you for joining us in the study of The Rest of the Gospel: When the Partial Gospel has Worn You Out, by Dan Stone and David Gregory.

My prayer is that we will all come to experience to a greater depth the truth of the key verse of our study: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)...that is, our only hope that the glory of God will be manifest in our lives right now on this earth...not just when we get to heaven!

Through His grace and revelation, may each of us be set free from our religious self-effort and Christian "to do lists."  And may we consent to His living His indwelling, abundant, resurrection life in and through us, as us, all to the praise of His glory!

So let's get started!  Here's the plan if you follow along with us here at A Branch in the Vine:

  • 2-4 chapters a week (I'll let you know which ones)
  • Read the chapters.  I'll post study questions for each of the chapters.  You can just read and think through them or answer any or all of them in a journal or notebook.
  • I'll post some thoughts, quotes, songs, other books/readings etc. as we go along.
  • Then we'll start again the next week...it's that easy.

Please feel free to post your comments, personal applications, questions, insights, etc in the comment section below...they don't have to be profound.  The simple, straight-forward truths are the best!

So here we go!

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Chapter 1  The Gates

Key verse:   For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:14 NASB

Key Question: Where is the life? I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Read the Preface and the first chapter.  Then answer the following questions:

1.  Have you gone through the first gate -- the gate of salvation?  Do you know you are a child of God and your sins are forgiven? Click here to read my journey through that gate (plus a few others). You can also learn what it means to be saved.

2. What "externals" were life to you before walking through the salvation gate?

3.  What "externals" are life to you now that you are a Christian?  How do you draw life from these externals now?

4.  Have you walked through any other gates since salvation?  How would you describe each of them?  What externals did you shed in the process?  What did you gain by walking through?

5.  What would your life be like if you were an internal person rather than an external person?

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Here are more extensive study questions by the authors.  I've enjoyed going through every question and writing out my answers in a notebook.  Most of the answers are right within the text, except for personal application questions.

PREFACE

1. What would you say is Dan Stone’s main purpose in writing this book?

2. Why do most Christian books run the risk of being man-centered? How is that problem avoided?

3. What is the Father’s overarching plan throughout the ages?

4. What does “Christ in you” have to do with this plan?

5. What effect does it have on our lives to know that we exist for God’s glory? This being the case, how might God want your life to change?

6. In what sense was the cross God’s work on His own behalf? What is the result of Christ’s work on the cross?

7. How does God want us to cooperate with Him in that result?

CHAPTER 1: THE GATES

1. What is the difference between being an external person and being an internal person (p. 16)?

2. Why can we not experience all that God has for us as long as we are holding onto externals?

3. What does it mean for us to, in Dan’s words, take off our outer garments and shed an external? What does that look like?

4. Why did Dan's choosing to thank God in everything open the door for God’s work in his life?

5. What was it about Norman Grubb’s message that Dan had never heard before? Why was this different from what he had been previously taught?

6. Tell the group your own story of the “gates.” What externals were you holding onto before you came to Christ? What externals were you still holding onto after you came to Christ? What process has God taken you through to lay down some of those externals?

7. What externals are you still holding onto instead of trusting Christ fully as life?

8. What is it that Christ wants to do through you? What does that mean to you?