I just spent several hours in an exercise that I never would have dreamed would be so valuable. And so I would love to share the fruit of my “what I thought would be agonizing” afternoon and evening with you, my dear readers. My project? Transcribing just a ten minute sermon into pages of type. But in the process of it all, my mind received greater clarity and understanding and my heart just leaped with joy and thanksgiving for my beautiful Lord Jesus, who is my Savior and indwelling Life.
So please watch the video first. It is truly powerful. And then if you long to understand and relish the message on a deeper level, read the transcript that follows.
Glory to you, our All-Sufficient Lord Jesus Christ!
MAJOR IAN THOMAS
From “A Grain of Wheat”
The righteousness of God is absolute. And only an absolute righteousness can ever satisfy the demands of His righteousness.
When you and I seek to establish our own righteousness, it falls hopelessly and pathetically short of the utter demands of God’s righteousness. And that is self-righteousness and must be repudiated. Our righteousness, the best that man can do, are as filthy rags.
The amazing thing is this, that God was prepared to impute your guilt and mine to the guiltless Jesus Christ upon the Cross, so that to you and to me today, there might be imputed or credited all the guiltlessness and righteousness of Christ Himself.
You know as well as I do that this is the basis of our redemption, this is the basis of our justification by faith. Justified -- God looks at me just as if I had never sinned, because He looks at Him just as if He committed all of my sins.
So what can the life that the Lord Jesus Christ lived 1900 years ago do for you and me today? You may have never thought of it this way. The life He lived 1900 years ago condemns us as soundly as the Law itself.
And if Christ Jesus had been born on that first Christmas day only to live that matchless life and go straight back to the Father from whom He’d come, He would have left us only double condemned by the Law and by His life.
Then why did He live a life like that, that can only condemn us now? The answer is very simple.
The life HE lived qualified HIM for the death He died.
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He suffered the Just for the unjust to bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
He was delivered for our offenses; He was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25)
The Bible leaves us in absolutely no doubt whatever.
He was wounded for our transgressions and He was bruised for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5)
And it was the life He lived that could only condemn us that qualified Him for the death He died that can’t be beat. Now that’s familiar territory, isn’t it? But that isn’t the Gospel. That’s part of the Gospel. That’s the threshold of the Gospel.
But may I ask you one question? Given that you have received the Lord Jesus Christ your Redeemer who died for you historically 1900 years ago once for all, by this one sacrifice forever to reconcile you to a Holy God, would you tell me this? Does the knowledge that your sins are forgiven for His dear sake in itself equip you for a life of God-likeness? Would this rich assurance of your eternal destiny and security in itself impart to you any new capacity to live a different kind of life from the life you lived before you were redeemed?
I’m going to submit to you tonight that the knowledge that your sins are forgiven adds absolutely nothing to your spiritual capacity to be a different kind of person. It might create within you quite legitimately a holy ambition to be different out of a sense of gratitude and a sense of duty to the One who died for you because of an emotional attachment and a sentimental regard and a deep sense of loyalty. You will want to be different.
But the knowledge that He died for you and your sins are forgiven because He died for you in itself does not impart to you any spiritual caliber of living. And if all that Jesus Christ did when He came 1900 years ago to live that sinless life to qualify Himself for that redeeming death and then go straight back to heaven and simply wait till you got there, that wouldn’t be much of a salvation. It would be a salvation that made you fit for heaven and left you hopelessly inadequate for earth.
Yet all too often, this is the Gospel that is preached: “Come to Jesus and have your sins forgiven. Now rollup your sleeves and show Him how much you love Him!”
If while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, how much more being reconciled, we shall be, as a continuing process, saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)
So we have to add a second statement. The first is “the life He lived qualified Him for the death He died.”
But here is the second:
The death that HE died qualifies YOU to receive the life that HE lived.
That’s the genius of the Gospel. This is what puts heart into it.
The life that He lived qualified Him for the death that He died. BUT the death that He died qualifies YOU, as a forgiven redeemed sinner, acquitted on a holy basis, to become recipients again, now in the present tense, of the life that He lived then 1900 years ago.
So we discover that the life He lived then could only condemn. But isn’t this thrilling?
It’s the life He lives NOW in YOU that saves you.
And the Christian life is the Life that He lived then … lived NOW … by HIM … in YOU!
Because HE is the only Person capable of living that kind of life. This is the good news of the Gospel.
Now HE says you are going to see the point of it all.
“You tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high (Acts 1:8). And as a result of the life I lived which qualified Me for the death I already died, you now are going to be qualified to receive by My indwelling Holy Spirit the very life I lived! So that the things that I did you will do and greater works than these ( John 14:12) because you are going to be added to my new corporate body on earth. And the life that I have lived clothed with the sinless humanity that my Father fashioned for Me in the womb of Mary, this new body My Father is going to present to Me.
…having been WITH you, I will be IN you (John 14:16; Colossians 1:27)
…you will receive power from on high (Acts 1:8)
“And the power that you receive from on high will be nothing less than My Presence.”
I will come to you and live in you. (John 14:18)
You know as well as I do that the Acts of the Apostles is the continuation of what Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). The only difference is that He did it in terms of that redeemed humanity having been reconciled to God was now re-inhabited by God for God. The first ripened golden ear of corn was 120 grains strong as on that first day of Pentecost 120 men and women received nobody less than Christ Himself. And He presenced Himself within them through the Eternal Spirit as the Father for 33 years had presenced Himself in the Son for 33 years.
Now you can see what a wonderfully rich gospel this is we have to preach. You never invite anyone to come just for his forgiveness. You never invite anyone to come to Jesus only to get to heaven. There is only one valid reason why you and I should ever invite any man, woman, boy, or girl to come to the Lord Jesus and that is,
…for the LORD JESUS
…that He Himself might step into their humanity and fill them with HIMSELF so that their bodies might become the temples of the Living God!
So that they may be literally baptized by the Holy Spirit into His body (1 Corinthians 12:13) that they might become living members individually of His corporate body in general.
That is why you see every genuinely spiritual church is an evangelizing entity. For the Lord Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, and given the right of way in any individual member, however humble, however young, He will be about His ancient business in and through every single living, healthy member of that body. The total church evangelizing a lost world. Jesus Christ in action. Jesus Christ in business.
My invitation to you tonight is to DIE, DIE, DIE,
…that the latent Lordship of His hidden Life,
CHRIST LIVING IN YOU,
…would be released to a needy world.
This is Evangelism.
Excerpts from “A Grain of Wheat,” Major Ian Thomas, 1914-2007
Transcribed and formatted by Jan Loyd 2019