“Christ in You”

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.  In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (Jn 14:18-20).

The Holy Spirit has often been referred to as the person of the Trinity that indwells believers.  In fact, our last post was on this very topic, “And [the Helper] will be in you” (Jn 14:17).  But now Jesus extends our thinking to more than just the Holy Spirit inside with words like, “I will come to you … I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

“I [Christ] in you.”  Does “Christ in you” sound familiar?  As in …

  • “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
  • “And since Christ is in you” (Rom 8:10).
  • “But Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
  • “I [Jesus] in them and You [Father] in Me” (Jn 17:23).

The bottom line is that God is in you in whatever fashion He chooses.  I think sometimes we put too much separation between the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and their roles.  God is in you in all forms of Himself, living His life through you.  I like to focus on Christ in me because Galatians 2:20 makes such a clear case of the old me having been crucified with Christ and the resurrected Jesus living His life through the new me.

And the greatest beauty of “Christ in us” to me is that it will never end.  Jesus promised in our verses above, “I will not leave you as orphans.”  He will never leave us.  Christ will always be in us.  How can we be so sure?

Because the “always” does not depend on us.  Do you see the sheer beauty of this?  Christ is in us because He came to live inside forever.  He is the one who accomplished this indwelling.  It was 100% His doing.  Because He is the one who brought it to pass, we are powerless to undo it.  His presence will never depend on my actions, my feelings, my failures, my love growing cold.  It will always depend on His promise.  He will never leave us as orphans.

In the setting of the upper room, Christ could tell the disciples that the world would soon behold Him no longer.  Why?  Because, following His death and resurrection, Christ was going to the Father.  But the disciples would behold Him, both in His post resurrection appearances and in their forever.  Because Christ now lives, we will live also.

And in our living, Christ will live in us on this earth and with us in our forever.  “Because Christ lives, we will live also.”

The Helper – Part One

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Gr. Paracletos, one called alongside to help], that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:16-17).

In less than a chapter of John’s gospel, we have seen Jesus reveal all kinds of new information to His disciples.  He gave us a new commandment to love one another.  He offered a first peak into our forever home with Him in heaven.  He clarified the beauty of seeing the Father in the face of Jesus.  He promised “greater works” to those who believe.  And Jesus explained for the first time the vital link between our love for Him and a life of obedience to His commands.

Coming now to verse 16, we have another “new”; the Holy Spirit – the promised “Helper” – living in us.  We have a hint of the Spirit in us in Jesus great proclamation at the feast in John chapter 7, ” ‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” ‘  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn 7:38-39).

But here in this passage we have the start of a fuller explanation of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promises to petition the Father and also promises that the Father will answer by giving us His Holy Spirit.  What aspects of the Holy Spirit’s presence does Jesus reveal here?

First, the Holy Spirit will be sent to us by the Father in answer to Jesus’ prayer.  Second, the Spirit will be “another” [Gr. allos, another of the same sort; not heteros, different] meaning that He will be a “Helper” in the same way that Jesus has been to the disciples.  Third, He will be with us forever.  Fourth, He will be known as the Spirit of truth.  Jesus referred to Himself as “the truth” (Jn 14:6).  The Spirit, as Jesus’ equal, will also be known as true.  Fifth, the world will not be able to receive God’s Spirit, because the world does not know or recognize Him.  Sixth, the Spirit abides with the disciples at that time through the physical presence of Jesus.

Last, and I think the most radical idea of them all, the “Spirit will be IN you.”  Will be IN you.  Will be IN us.  Will be IN you and me.  At the time of Jesus’ words, God’s Spirit dwelt with the disciples through the presence of Jesus, the God-man.  But a future time is coming, after Jesus has physically departed, when the Spirit will literally live IN the disciples.  And by our faith in Christ and His work on the cross to bring us into His family, the Spirit will live IN us as well.

We will see more promises about the Helper in the chapters ahead.  For now, let’s embrace the astonishing promise that the Spirit of Christ is living IN us.

To Love and Obey

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Jn 14:15).

This short verse packs a powerful message.  It starts us on a theme we will see many times in John’s gospel as well as in his letters.

Earlier in the book of John, Christ talked about the love of God toward us.  It’s most famous instance is in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world …”  Then in chapter 13, Jesus turned to our love for each other with, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (Jn 13:34).  Now, for the first time in the book of John, Jesus speaks of our love for Him.  What does it look like to love Jesus?

It starts with obedience,  To Jesus, love and obey are intrinsically linked.  There really is no separating the two.

  • “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).
  • “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (Jn 14:21).
  • “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (Jn 14:23).
  • “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (Jn 15:10).

Let’s be clear.  Obedience is not a means of our salvation.  Our salvation, our deliverance, our rescue is a free gift of God; a complete work of Christ who died for us.  But Christ is tapping into the fact that in our new nature, the natural response to the salvation, deliverance, and rescue is love toward the Deliverer.

And empowered by the Spirit living inside us, the natural demonstration of our love for Christ is to obey His words.  The reason Christ can say this so succinctly without exceptions or “what ifs” is because love, gratitude, and obedience is the expected response from those whom Christ has rescued. It should come “naturally” to us as we tap into our new heart that is soft toward God.

We often see this link in our human relationships.  When I started college at a large public university, I am not embarrassed to say that my love for my parents was a big influence in obeying God.  My parents in their affirming way had high expectations of me staying on the straight and narrow.  I did not want to let them down.  This not wanting to let them down was not based on fear or people-approval or shame.  It was wholly based on how much I loved my mom and dad.  As I transitioned to my adult life with my own choices, the intermediate step was obeying God because I loved my parents.  By God’s grace, it grew into obeying God because I love Jesus.

Let’s never cast aside the importance of obedience because it has been misused by Old Covenant thinking and rule-keeping and legalism.  Jesus makes the vital link between love and obedience for us.  Keeping His commandments is the flower that blooms from our love for our Savior.

Asking in the Name of Jesus

“And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (Jn 14:13-14).

Here in chapter 14 of the gospel of John, we have repeatedly seen Jesus emphasize His connection to the Father.  “If you have known Me, you have known the Father.  If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”  Jesus now extends that connection to answered prayer.

I think “asking in Jesus’ name” is recognizing that Jesus is our way to the Father; here talking specifically about prayer.  Just a few verses above, Jesus called Himself “the way” to the Father.  “No one comes to the Father, but through Me” (Jn 14:6).  Now the focus in on Jesus as the way to the Father in prayer.

Jesus will answer our prayer – “I will do it” – by working in unison with the Father – “the Father abiding in Me does His works” (Jn 14:10) – to carry out the answer.

Now let’s admit right off the top that this promise of answered prayer looks basically unlimited.  Is Jesus promising that a string of “yes” answers is about to come our way?  “Whatever you ask … Ask Me anything … and I will do it.”  I have written often about prayer, faith, boldness, etc and here are just a few of those posts:  What Do You Want Me to Do for You?     Our Counterattack – Prayer and Faith     Parenting with the Parables – The Persistent Widow     Can Faith Change the Outcome?     Can Faith Control the Outcome?

In the specific verses above from John 14, notice Jesus’ words, “This I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  Somehow, our requests, Jesus’ answers, and Jesus’ actions will all line up to bring God glory.  Somehow, God’s glory as seen in the Son will be displayed in our answered prayers.

Our humble role before the Lord is to never give up in prayer.  To call upon the Lord at all times.  To “devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Col 4:2).  And to look for the glory of God displayed in His answers.

Greater Works

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (Jn 14:12).

This verse connects our faith to a stunning promise of Jesus.  Jesus says that if we believe in Him, we will do works such as His and in fact do even greater works.  How is this even possible?

The key is in the second prerequisite to the greater works after our faith; Jesus going to the Father.  Because Jesus is going to the Father, His followers will do greater works than He.

The fulfillment of the promise is clear to us now, but its first utterance had to be confusing to the disciples.  But it did not take long to be fulfilled.

Following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, His band of followers numbered around 120 people.  On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit – only available now because Jesus went to the Father (Jn 16:7) – fell as a rushing wind and indwelt Jesus’ disciples.  A Spirit filled Peter preached a message of repentance and forgiveness in the person and work of Jesus and 3000 souls were saved.  The church was born.

Jesus’ work on earth was limited to a specific time and place and reach that one man, even the Son of God, “could” (or more accurately “chose”) to accomplish.  This was part of God’s plan when He sent His Son in the form of a man.  But now, on the day of Pentecost and hereafter, God was no longer working on earth through one man, Jesus.  God was actually indwelling and working through 12 apostles, and 120 people, and 3000 new believers, and by today in the billions.

God can be a lot of places and be doing “greater works” when He lives and works through a billion believers.  Jesus said, “The works that I do shall you do also.”  These “greater works” are still the work of Jesus.  But they are no longer accomplished by His presence among us.  They are accomplished by His Spirit within us.

Take courage.  God is still at work in this world.  And you are a part of that work.  You are a recipient of the work of God and an agent of the work of God.  His work is all around and in you.  You are part of God’s “greater works”.