LISTEN TO EPISODE SEVEN
KEY SIX | WHO IS CHRIST THROUGH US TODAY?
We need to invite him to carry out his reign – not only in the midst of us but also through us to bring his blessings to the nations. The sixth key shows that most of us sell ourselves short in terms of the impact we have for God’s kingdom, but the reason we sell ourselves short, unfortunately, is because we’ve sold Jesus short.
Dr. Steve Greene: Welcome back to the Christ Is Now Mini-Course written by David Bryant. I’m Steve Greene, your host and facilitator. Christ Is Now—what a book! If you’ve been with us for the first six lessons or so, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get into this seventh lesson, so I’m not going to delay us any longer. Let’s dive right into lesson 7 which holds the sixth key—Who Christ Is Through Us Today. David’s subtitle for this chapter is “a reign you can’t contain.” David, tell us about it.
David Bryant: We talked last time about how Jesus sets up his throne in the midst of every single congregation. And I suppose our temptation is to say: Oh, we’ve got Jesus all to ourselves and that he’s here to minister to us. And he is, that’s for sure, but he sure isn’t there just for us because his reign is to the ends of the earth and there’s no one church anywhere that can contain his reign. What we need to do instead is to invite him to carry out that reign, not only in the midst of us but then through us to bring his blessings to the nations. We have no idea how much we mean to the world. Most of us sell ourselves short in terms of the impact we have for God’s kingdom, but the reason we sell ourselves short, unfortunately, is because we’ve sold Jesus short. In other words, our vision of Jesus is too small and when your Jesus is too small, then your sense of your life in Jesus having much of an impact and having much meaning for others is pretty small as well. There’s a principle that I talk about in this chapter, and again we can only touch on it briefly here, but it is that the way to grow a ministry for Christ. Most Christians would say if I’m going to have more of a ministry for Christ, I’m going to have to go to this workshop, take this seminar, read this book, and then I can be more of an effective servant for the Lord. I’m suggesting that the starting place is to enlarge your vision of the Son of God which is what this whole mini-course is about. And the larger your vision of Jesus grows, the more you’ll become convinced that in him you have everything you need for a ministry to the world that will truly be life changing. When you open yourself up to a larger vision of Christ, you open yourself up to possibilities in Jesus, not in you, but in Jesus. And it can make you more open to him, more eager to serve him, more expectant about what the results will be because now your vision of Jesus is large. We often talk about people getting a large vision for the world and for the unreached and for missions and for so on. No, first of all we need a much larger vision of the Lord of the harvest, which is the Lord Jesus.
Dr. Steve Greene: It’s so hard for every congregation on earth to imagine and to know that at the same time the Lord Jesus is fully present, not just part of him, but all of him everywhere all day in every place. We get to that in Colossians 1:27. Would you expand on that?
David Bryant: In Colossians 1:27, there’s an interesting thing where—and we’ve talked about this passage in a number of our sessions because it is so key to our understanding what Christ Is Now means. Paul says again, “The riches of the Gospel,” that is the heart and soul, the treasure trove that the Gospel brings to us, the great truth of the Gospel, is that this Lord Jesus who came among us as one of us, who died for us, who defeated death for us, who ascended and sits on the throne of heaven for us, this Lord Jesus “is in the midst of us to bring us to all the glorious things God has for us.” But, Paul says, before he makes that statement, “all of this,” he says, “is being made known among the nations.” What he’s saying is you cannot separate what we talked about last session, Christ Within Us, from Christ Through Us. The one who’s dwelling in our midst wants to also make himself known among the nations and his primary way of doing that is he so transforms the people among whom he’s dwelling and leads them on to places where they’ve never gone before. He’s the hope of glorious things to come. He is so at work in them that then becomes the validation of what the Gospel is all about before the eyes of the nations, so that we ourselves then want to become a part of interpreting for the nations. This transforming power that they see taking place in our midst is God’s people and how they can become a part of that too by giving their lives to Jesus as well.
Dr. Steve Greene: What I hear you saying and this is your word from your book, it’s an issue of trajectory.
David Bryant: That’s a good question for any of us to ask. What is the trajectory of my life? Where is everything in my life headed? Jesus said in Acts chapter 1, that very famous verse that you will receive power after the Holy Spirit’s come upon you but then he says, now the reason you’re getting this power—look at the trajectory, look where the Spirit wants to go with this. As we said last time, he’s an extension of the ascension. He wants to break through in new territory, open up new lives to himself, bring the Gospel to where it’s never gone before, bring people out of darkness in his marvelous light and so on. Jesus said the power of the Spirit is on you but that’s not just so your life will be fully blessed, but in order that through your life this truth of who I am, you’re my witness to who I am, this truth might be extended without limits. Yes, it might be in Jerusalem, that is where you live, your neighborhood, your town, but don’t you ever put any limits on what the Spirit may want to do. The trajectory of your life from the moment you come to Jesus is nothing less than and never limited to anything else but the very ends of the earth.
I work with a movement in New York City, which is where I live, called Saturate. A few months ago we had a whole thing called Jesus Week and we literally, door to door, reached over a million people in New York City with the Gospel by about 250 churches working together. The reason we call it Saturate is because we say it this way: God wants to saturate his church with the supremacy of Christ so he can saturate the city with the Gospel of Christ. We’re working at it from both ends, saturating the churches with more of Christ and that is what is mobilizing us to saturate our city with more of the Gospel of Christ. That’s the kind of trajectory God wants in all of our lives.
Dr. Steve Greene: That great verse out of John 20: “The Father has sent me so now I’m sending you” reminds me of so much of what you’re saying. What comes next, I know everyone knows, “receive the Holy Spirit”. What does that mean to all of us as we understand this message of “through us”? The Father sent me so now I’m sending you. Now what do I do with that?
David Bryant: Jesus said about his own ministry and again I’m summarizing two different parts of the Gospel of John. He said, “I only speak what I hear the Father speak.” In another place he says, “I only do what I see the Father doing.” The Father is always taking the initiatives and Jesus was basically following in with whatever the Father wanted done. “As the Father sent me, so send I you.” Part of that means that I’m being sent—only now it’s with the Holy Spirit—to speak what the Spirit gives me to speak and to do what the Spirit is calling me to do. But remember, the Father sent the Son for the express purpose of the redeeming of the world so that means the bottom line purpose of my life is to live so fully for Christ and to be so full of Christ that I am being used by the Spirit of God to bring other people out of sin into forgiveness, out of the power of Satan into the power of God, into the kingdom of darkness as Paul says, transferred into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. That was Jesus’ purpose; that’s why the Father sent him. So as you mentioned, a couple of verses later in that upper room when Jesus said, “He breathed on him,” he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Actually, that’s the verse right before it. He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” I love that idea that he breathed on them. There was the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost some days later, of course, in a very different way, but have you ever had anybody breathe on you, to be that close to you, maybe you’re crowded in a subway or in a bus and you can feel somebody breathing on you. Jesus got that close, that into it, and he said to them, “I’m sending you. I want to work through you so much I’d like my breath to be your breath.” Paul said later, many years later, in Romans 15, listen to this. He says, “I will not boast—OK, we’re not supposed to boast, right?—he says, “I will not boast except (he makes an exception) in what Jesus Christ has done through me to bring about the obedience to faith among the nations.” Wow! I hope all of us can find new reasons to boast every day of what we see Jesus doing through us to bring other people to know who he is.
Dr. Steve Greene: That brings up the parable of the sower, the seed and the sower, the second one where he emphasized our trajectory. Speak to that. Help us to put those two together.
David Bryant: Most of us skip the second one. We all know the first one where the seed and there’s four different kinds of soil and in that one, he said the seed is the Word of God or another Gospel says, “The Word of the Kingdom.” It’s a message about the kingdom and then there are different audiences and that’s the point of that soil and how those audiences respond. But in the second parable he says, “The sower is the Son of Man,” he says, “the field in which the sowing is the world,” and he said, “the seed is the sons of the kingdom,” the sons and daughters of the kingdom. We’re the seed in that second one and the whole picture is if you’ve ever seen pictures of sowers in an agricultural setting walking up and down a field flinging the seed in all directions, only in this parable, we’re the ones getting flinged in all directions. Do you know when Jesus said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers…” the Greek word he used is really “thrust”. It is like throwing a baseball or like throwing seeds. My prayer is to ask the Lord of the Harvest to throw me out where he wants me. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “I’m the Son of Man, I’m going to throw you wherever I want you to be out there in the world, so get ready because it’s about to happen to you. And I hope all of us are willing for him to sow us wherever he wants to use us.
Dr. Steve Greene: What a great analogy and a good word picture of making myself as a seed so that I can be thrown and tossed to a place where I can root and be harvested and grow fruit.
David Bryant: Of course that seed’s only as valuable as the life that’s in it and it’s only as valuable as its ability to reproduce the life that’s in it. We, as seed, the life in us, is Jesus and he sows us and reproduces that life in the life of many others.
Dr. Steve Greene: So you wrap this chapter up as we’re running out of time in the chapter, but you begin to conclude with the thoughts of prayer, care, share. Would you speak to that?
David Bryant: That’s a whole new thrust in thinking about evangelism in the last maybe 15 years. These three words are not original with me—prayer, care, share—that’s what we’ve been doing in New York City. That’s what’s been going on in a lot of cities across the country right now and it’s very simple. I’ve done it in my own neighborhood and that is, you have a street you live on and a certain number of households or if you’re in an apartment building, there’s a certain number of apartments and so your strategy is first of all, you’re going to pray for each one of those households, each one of those apartments, each one of those units. Maybe even at times if you see people from those places, ask, “Hey, I’ve been praying for you in the last few months. If there’s anything special you’d like me to pray for you, let me know.” You begin by just blanketing, saturating that street where you live with prayer and then you start looking for ways you can care. As you’re praying for the people, the Holy Spirit’s going to open up ways for you to just serve them, bless them, maybe help them move some stuff out of the garage or help them weed their garden or whatever it might be. You try to find ways to care for them and if you do that, if you’ve covered them with prayer and shown them practical love, then that opens the way to share the Lord Jesus with them and those ways will be become very obvious as time goes along.
Dr. Steve Greene: That’s good homework. You take this project out to your own neighborhood, your own street. How about in your own home and the homes of some of your small group friends perhaps and begin to think about how we can adopt this Prayer, Care, Share motto?
David Bryant: If you’re going to do it in your neighborhood, I would really urge you to get out and walk, maybe not every time, but maybe just once a week, just walk up the street and down the other side and pray for each house as you’re standing right in front of them. It just makes it feel even more real and personal as you do that.
Dr. Steve Greene: This concludes lesson 7 and it was the sixth key of this fantastic seven groundbreaking keys—Christ Is Through Us Today. Make sure to come back on the next lesson. I will be mailing it to you in a couple of days. It’s Who Christ Is Upon Us Today. One thing is for certain, these lessons will bless you, change you, and cause you to come to a place where you have a better understanding. Maybe perhaps you would say, “I’ve met him again for the first time.” Thank you again David Bryant for a great class today. God bless you.