If we are to live a robust and victorious life, we need to live in Jesus’ Way and not our own way. I have heard people talk of the need to follow what Jesus says. Yet they have not followed Him into the life of the new covenant - nor do they live from His life as He instructed. They live from their own additions and subtractions and imagine that Christian pluralism excuses their disobedience.
When Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ He was saying. ‘I am your everything. All that is healing, resurrection and new creation ignition for you and the inhabitants of the world is me!
It’s a serious thing to alter the gospel for the sake of an invented identity - serious because any alteration to Jesus’ gospel either leaves believers in a degree of death or wounds the Body of Christ. Because of these we must place ‘other gospels’ under the heading of abuse.
Christ our life is not just ‘righteousness.’ Nor is it just robust and ‘productive.’ It is spirit and life. Spirit and life is the stream of life that flows from the trinity - the river of life, if you like - that flows into us to ignite us in the spirit of sonship and equip us as life-giving spirits. All that is alive in ministry and living is Jesus manifest as us.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV. Living from the flesh is not only dead folks walking. Like a cancer it impedes Kingdom growth by filling one’s being with cancerous flesh.
The new covenant is mandated in statements like this: Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” John 6.53 NIV and ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14,20. Statements like this are instructions from Jesus. Not an invitation to run with personal or denominational gospels because we think we have ‘some perspective’ that distinguishes us and gives us an identity. Writing on the new covenant as an imperative for Kingdom life, Dr Stephen Crosby observes,
“The questions surrounding obedience in the new covenant, such as a doctrine of justification that does not include a subjectively transformative element, a doctrine of grace that omits an ethical component, and licentiousness masquerading as "freedom from the law" are appreciated and understood. However, the remedy for licentiousness is not preaching mixture and law. It is accurately understanding empowering grace and the indwelling Spirit in union with our own.” (1) Dr Crosby is asserting that Christ is our life and that fruitfulness and righteousness are the result of living entirely in the new covenant and not in dilutions and adulterations of its provisions.
Keep in mind that Jesus has not only drawn us into the life of God. He is our life, which means that His righteousness by the Spirit is manifest in our being. Jesus’ offers Himself as our life in toto. The law and all forms of ‘do gooder works’ as a means of being accepted by God and being Godly have been replaced by Jesus as our life. Unless we understand that the law as words on paper or stone have been done away with, we will not understand our inheritance. We will constantly strangle ourselves in new forms of Christian law-mongering. And carry on a debate in the constructs of the knowledge of good and evil, thinking we are doing God and the church a favour. Like “keeping close to Jesus.” We are no more able to consistently keep close to Jesus than we are able to keep any of the laws of Moses. So let’s get the gospel of the Kingdom straight. It’s Christ our life. Rather than trying harder we need to rest harder in the inheritance that is ours.
‘Trying hard’ may pump up our sense of self-worth and maybe attract approving glances from the religious but it will not change our lives. It cannot deliver the spirit of sonship that is ours or advance the new creation. But it will keep us stalking round and round the mulberry bush of our private or communal gospels - until we either wear ourselves out and die in the wilderness or so exhaust ourselves that we give ourselves over to repentance and a genuinely ignited life in the Spirit.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ Matt 11.28-30 NIV.
This is the truth. We are not godly because we do things. We are Godly because we are woven into the being of God.
(1) Crosby, Stephen. The New Testament Prophet: Understanding the Mind, Temperament, and Calling (Kindle Locations 861-864). . Kindle Edition.