What has Jesus Christ done?
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:1-3)
The following study with the above title purposely follows the one previous called Who is Jesus Christ? In that study we looked at His own words found in the Biblical book of Revelation and how His eternal existence has a direct bearing upon our lives, especially if we are believers. Indeed, Jesus has always existed and will always exist throughout eternity.
Our study herein deals with the past history of Jesus in His humanity and how what He has done or accomplished as a human being has a direct bearing upon our lives today, all the more if we consider ourselves Christians. Nothing in our lives will ever be as crucial as our need to understand what He had done in past history. This was also true before we became believers:
At some point in our past history we came to understand that we had a spiritual need that could only be satisfied by what Jesus Christ had done. First, we discovered that as human beings we were literally born with a sinful nature which was opposed and hostile before God. This nature naturally led us to serve ourselves and freely sin in a variety of ways or manifestations. In God’s perfect timing we as individuals came to discover that sin has consequences and the eventual outcome of all sin is spiritual death and separation from God. We eventually became aware of our own inability to “fix” such a problem and through a revelation of the Holy Spirit we came to “see” Jesus Christ as our only hope and rest from our troubles. We saw that Jesus Christ was sent of His Father to become an atoning sacrifice for sin and as a result of trusting in His merits before God instead of our own “works” we could be justified [declared righteous] in God’s sight. Having “seen” these truths we openly confessed Jesus as Lord over our personal life and turned from sin as evidence of our new found allegiance to Him against ourselves. At this very point and time we became new creations in Christ [according to God’s promise] and as a result have entered into God’s rest.
The only real Christians are those who are presently trusting in what Jesus Christ has in past history accomplished on their behalf. For anyone and everyone else, their “faith” is a mixture of speculation, conjecture, superstition, promises of men, religious practice or tradition, various experiences and false hope. As such, this faith is grounded not upon what God has said but rather upon one’s own understanding of what they believe to be right or reasonable to them.
The Biblical book of Hebrews quoted above was primarily written to Jewish Christians [Jews who converted from Judaism to Christianity] or those claiming to have had done so. These Jews came from a background littered with religious ritual and tradition, much if not all of which was superseded in Christ. These past rituals and practices, the very things these Jews were tempted to return to trusting in [verses Christ alone] were shadows of what Jesus had already become on their behalf.
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, [God’s description of those separate from Him is “dead”] He made you alive together with Him, [referring only to those individuals who had received Him as Lord over their lives] having forgiven us [those now trusting in Christ verses their own merits] all our [or their] transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
“When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. [The cross was both a tragedy and a triumph]. Because Christ became the fulfillment of the law on our behalf, therefore] Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:13-17)
Notice in the opening verse who those were who failed to enter into God’s rest. It was those who had the good news preached to them although they failed to exercise faith in that news. Note that in both Hebrews 3:18, 19 and Hebrews 4:6 this failure to exercise faith is synonymous with unbelief and disobedience. Apparently similar to today, many were claiming allegiance to God all the while disobeying Him through unbelief. God’s response: “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST”
For those who do believe and have entered into His rest:
What He began, He will perfect
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
How do you suppose this process will continue in us?
“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, [by faith] so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6)
Faith in what or who?
According to God, having faith in Him is synonymous with placing our trust in Him. It is believing that only He can accomplish on our behalf what we never could. All true Christians believe this initially and would quickly claim that they could not have saved themselves. God Himself had to intervene into humanity for mankind to be set free. Nonetheless, most of those very same believers are trusting in their own abilities to live the Christian life- they have long ago abandoned the simple trust and childlike faith they once exercised in Christ. Don’t think so? I’ll prove it.
How do you grow as a Christian?
Are their certain things you believe are necessary for you to “do” in order to become a more faithful or mature believer? Do you believe you must read the Bible, pray, attend Christian fellowship or share your faith with others? Must you give money, help the poor, visit prisons and volunteer for the sake of others? Should you fast regularly, stand against all evil in society, promote social justice and attempt to reform civil governments? Will any of these things guarantee that you will mature as a Christian and glorify the God of heaven?
Consider this for a moment. Could any person having never received Jesus Christ as Lord do any or all of the above? Of course they could. They could perform all sorts of so-called “good” things and never ever please God. Day in and day out many “do” these very things and yet they entirely fail to please God. How can this be? Can that also be true for a believer in Jesus Christ? Yes it can, and tragically far too often it does.
The source of our resources matters
Can we consider another question? What did you contribute to your salvation, that is if you are truly God’s child? Did you help God to save you? Or was and is salvation entirely of the Lord?
For those who refuse to “rest” entirely upon what Jesus Christ has done on their behalf, their natural tendency is to think they can contribute to what God is doing in their lives. Furthermore, they also think they can contribute to what God is doing in the lives of those around them, both those within and without God’s Ekklesia.
The list of the things these people think they can contribute is endless. Instead of resting entirely upon God’s ability in and through them via the Holy Spirit, now all manner of self produced ideas, gimmicks, worldly wisdom and resources are utilized to reach others for Christ. Those who “do so” have failed or refused to understand the distinction between what originates IN CHRIST and what originates in the original nature all men are born into. The Bible often makes distinctions between what appears to be similar. For example:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)
“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)
In the verses above there is both a peace and a wisdom that originates in man and is from this world. Neither are from God but are from this world system. In a similar fashion, the love that loves this world and all that is in it is also opposed to God;
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15)
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
There are only two sources wherein any individual can access resources for themselves or in God’s service. One is authorized for the Christian the other is forbidden. One is of God, the other is tied to this world system. As is clear above, co-mingling the two equates to making myself an enemy of God. I must be sure that my resources for living are entirely God given and originate in Him.
A Christians Resource for living, Jesus and Him alone
What do I need to become a faithful and mature Christian? Just one thing, the Person of Jesus Christ. For if I truly have Him then I have all I need.
“Martha, Martha, [your name here] you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
“To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and Peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:1-3)
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:1-3)
Please understand me. I am not suggesting we stop reading our Bibles. I would not endorse a life without prayer or one exempt of Christian fellowship. But these things in and of themselves don’t change us. They are merely the various environments we place ourselves in that God uses to bring about change within us. Let me explain the difference.
When an individual graduates from a so-called Christian college, they are told that due to successfully completing a few “required” classes and receiving their “degree” that they are now “prepared” to teach others based upon the knowledge they have learned. No where does the Bible nor God Himself talk in such a manner. The fact is that knowledge puffs up pride in people and is not always helpful, nor is a Christian “education” ever necessary to serve God. Knowledge is valuable for a believer but doesn’t guarantee growth nor does that knowledge guarantee an ability to help others.
In a similar manner, we can pray all night long because we believe in the power of prayer. The fact is, prayer is powerless without a gracious God being willing to answer our prayers. The effectiveness of our prayers is tied directly to our faithfulness and service towards Him and others. True prayer is simple communion between a family member and their heavenly Father.
In a similar vein, we’ve been told for years not to forsake the assembly of believers as if the structure we meet in has some special significance. Sadly, this isn’t what Hebrews 10:25 says. It doesn’t warn us not to forsake the “assembly” but rather the assembling of ourselves together which at the time was the habit of some professing believers. This fellowship has nothing to do with a place of meeting but rather upon the necessity of the fellowship itself. So much of what we call fellowship these days is no such thing. Attending a church service or hearing a sermon is not fellowship. Fellowship is several believers interacting one with another and exercising their spiritual gifts for the purpose of mutual edification. It often includes practical ways in which each believer will lay down their lives for the other saints. Have you ever experienced fellowship at all, really?
What has Jesus done?
Jesus perfectly exemplified what a Spirit filled life in obedience to God the Father is like. If we have any intention of living like Him, Jesus Himself must manifest His own life in and through us as we learn to live by faith. To believe that God will help us live like Jesus or follow His examples by empowering our sinful nature is not Biblical Christianity. I must appropriate His ability in and through me verses my own.
Jesus has saved those individuals wholly trusting in His finished work on the cross for their justification. These individuals are saved the moment they place their trust in Christ, are being saved daily from sin and will be ultimately saved upon their death or Jesus’ return to earth provided they hold fast to the gospel delivered to them. I must appropriate the fact of Jesus being the reason for my justification.
Jesus has declared all Christians righteous in and through their spiritual union with Him. This is far different than Jesus giving us His righteousness outside of Him. Seeing we did nothing to merit such a gift, it goes without saying we don’t deserve it nor could we boast as if we did. I must appropriate the fact that Jesus is my righteousness.
Jesus’ sacrifice has allowed God and man to be brought back into a harmonious relationship. Having been united with Christ, believers now share the same nature as Christ Himself and therefore are at peace with God. I must appropriate the fact that I have been reconciled, He Himself becoming my reconciliation.
The price to redeem us and bring us back to God was the precious blood of Christ. It was a perfect blood sacrifice God the Father required, not a payment to Satan. I must appropriate the fact of being redeemed, He Himself being my redemption.
As a result of trusting in the finished work of Christ I am now accepted in the Beloved- in and through my union with Christ. The blood has and continues to wash away my sin. I must appropriate the fact that I am accepted as a result, He Himself becoming my propitiation.
All Christians have been justified, reconciled, redeemed and accepted by God through Christ. It goes without saying that as a result they are fully secure through their union with Christ. I must appropriate that fact by faith, for He Himself has become my surety.
All Christians eventually discover that in their flesh dwells no good thing. They must accept the fact that they have nothing to contribute to Christian life and service whatsoever. Everything they might offer of their old self is tainted with sin and has been condemned by God through the cross. To utilize that realm in any fashion is sin and amounts to treason. I must appropriate the fact of my old nature having been condemned in Christ Crucified.
All Christians presently have everything they need for life and godliness through Jesus Christ. The only legitimate resource for living like Christ is Jesus Himself. We have been made complete in and through Him in whom all the fullness of the Father dwells. I must rely upon Jesus as presently meeting every need I have through my new nature via the power of the Holy Spirit. I must appropriate that I am complete in Christ.
Jesus’ crucifixion upon the cross was also the crucifixion of my old nature and resources with Him. I must give a hearty consent to what Christ did on my behalf. I must prove the value of this fact by reckoning it so and living and walking in newness of life. I am dead to sin in and through Him.
My crucifixion with Christ upon the cross opens the door for the Holy Spirit to move freely and powerfully through me. As I reckon myself dead to sin and alive unto God I will daily walk in the reality of the same. I must appropriate the crucifixion of my old nature and the power of the new.
This Jesus has become all of the above and so much more to all who truly believe. Will you discover what having a true knowledge of Him is all about? Will you rest in what Jesus alone has accomplished and can accomplish?
His ways are not our ways
In direct contrast to seeking more power as the means to live the Christian life, God calls and commands us to be weak whereby His power can then be manifested in us. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10) Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death. How about you?
As believers we are far too often found esteeming members of the body who’s gifts seem to make them more honorable or useful. “But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:22-25) Jesus Himself emphasized the poor and neglected over and above the rich and recognized. How about you?
Everywhere we look, individual professing Christians are claiming to be this or that or supposedly doing some extraordinary work. Even if true, why do these people keep attracting attention to themselves? “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you have not received? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you have not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” Jesus emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant. How about you?
Professing believers everywhere are talking about what they will or won’t do as it relates to their own desires. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business [build a church] and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16) Jesus has made known what He deems a priority and when- seeking His will, today. Are you aware of His will for you- at this very moment?
The four examples above are merely a few of the many ways in which our lives are so different from our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus also says to us that a disciple is not above his teacher and that it is enough if a disciple becomes like his teacher. We might reverently add that it’s not acceptable to fail in becoming like our Teacher. For this is the very reason he came to us, that we might become like Him and share in His glory. Are there some so arrogant to believe this will cost them nothing? Who are we to neglect so great a salvation?
Yes, Jesus Christ came that we may have life and that more abundantly. Sadly, few people either realize what that life entails or the manner in which Jesus would lead us in arriving there.
The greatest opportunity offers the greatest rewards and as such, a neglect of the same must usher in the severest of penalties. He’s that serious, He’s that valuable.
In His Father’s providence, in Jesus will every minute detail of our lives and actions bear out in the end the very measure of worth we attributed to this man Jesus. For some, a casual acquaintance worthy of a smile, for others a few religious days of devotion, others still, a lifetime of religious formality wherein Jesus becomes the means to our end. Think not, think again. To every man is the reward or consequence of the manner and methodology of his seed sowing. Every man, every soul will witness the results of what they planted, cultivated and harvested over a lifetime.
For the few, for the faithful, this Jesus has become the very heartbeat of our very lives. When He speaks we listen. What He says, we hear. What He promises, we believe. What He commands, we obey. And strangely enough, we desire it that way- His way. In Him, our deepest fulfillment is wrought and realized.
Jesus has changed our lives, altered the course of history and beckons us forward in doing the same. We stand in faith upon what He founded and upon what He finished. How about you?
Jesus has presented Himself to humanity as the solution to all that mankind will ever desire or need. Not what Jesus can do, but Jesus Christ Himself. Don’t settle for less. In Him are found…..all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…..and everything for life and godly living. Do you believe this?
When men are clamoring and demanding from Him all manner of things they think they want or need, consider the alternative. Consider attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Amen?