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If we begin with the law, we begin with ourselves, with the inevitable result that we impose our thought patterns on Christ. These are thought patterns that – until we are born again originate in our separation from God in the realm of confusion and misdirected godliness called the ‘knowledge of good and evil.’


There are kinds of Christianity that suggest that we must become worthy of Christ, if we are to enjoy the inheritance of Christ. This is a double-jeopardy kind of Christianity sometimes expressed in the words, ‘keeping close to Jesus’. It means that we have to get past Christ before we can begin to enjoy the benefits of His salvation and His ‘christ life.’ But in this mode our Christianity is one of self-effort. As Paul Molnar observes, “If Jesus is not seen as the only Saviour, then we must somehow save ourselves.” It’s the kind of Christianity that suggests that our standing with Jesus is realized through the faith of ourselves and the jumping through of self-created hoops. This is in fact the Christian experience of many and the only one they know. It’s the most subtle form of legalism but legalism it is.


Paul Molnar observes that “Whenever it is thought that the statement that Jesus is risen is merely a description of the disciples’ experience of faith instead of a description of an event in the life of Jesus that gave meaning to their faith and to ours, then the objective meaning of the person and work of Jesus Christ has been lost.”


Paul said, ‘Reality is Christ – a state of being in which you and God are one in Jesus. Molnar is dealing with the issue of the resurrection of Jesus and whether it is a fact or an abstraction. His issue is whether what we have is the reality of Christ or the shadow of the real – Religion. But what He says relates to everything we believe about Christ and who we are becoming in His Gospel. Should we side-line the incarnation and substitute the law for the direct incarnation of Christ our life, we rob the Gospel of substance and replace it with the self-effort that we might call our ‘religious experience’ and associated sense of entitlement.

The issue becomes ‘Is our oneness with God the result of the life of Jesus, or is it created and realized by the faith of the disciples?” For many this is the latter. But this is not the Christmas Christ and God’s gift to the world of Himself in Jesus. It does not embrace the Christ or God or the Gospel of the Kingdom but a subverted dilution that leaves us inert, lukewarm and religious but never alive. Agree with Christ that He is your life this Christmas and know that its less about our ‘receiving Christ’ and all about being in Christ’s life – in the life He has drawn us into.