LISTEN TO EPISODE SIX
KEY FIVE | WHO IS CHRIST WITHIN US TODAY?
He dwells in your life by the Spirit of God. But he also dwells among his people together as the Body of Christ, and that’s a much stronger emphasis in the New Testament. The fifth key evaluates what it is like living in a culture that is so individualistic and so “me-centered.” Our tendency is to read many verses that have “you” as if it means you personally and individually. Most of the time when “you” is used in the New Testament, the Greek word for “you” is plural. It means all of us.
Dr. Steve Greene: Hello and welcome back to the Christ Is Now Mini-Course, written by David Bryant. I’m Steve Greene, I’m the Executive Vice President of Charisma Media. I’m also your host and facilitator for this workshop, this mini-course, on understanding what is meant by Christ Is Now—meet him again for the first time. I hope you meet him again for the first time in this session with David Bryant as we study the fifth key, which is Who Christ Is Within Us Today. David start us off. What do you mean by Who Christ Is Within Us?
David Bryant: Well, you think about it, we’ve studied who he is to us, for us, over us and before us. He brings all of that now into the midst of us. He dwells among us. Now he dwells in my life by the Spirit of God, but he dwells among his people, that’s a much stronger emphasis in the New Testament. Let me just give an image here that might be helpful. Back in the 1990s the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan was the biggest thing in sports. They had three national championships, then they got another three national championships with basketball in the NBA. At one point (and I remember this so well), TIME magazine in 1996 ran a front cover story on Michael Jordan that ran about five or six pages. And I don’t remember much else in it but there was this one sentence that jumped out at me that sort of explained the phenomenon of the Chicago Bulls and it said this way “Michael Jordan bottles up his frenzy and shares it with his teammate.” And I thought one person on that team transformed that team into national champions—one person, the Lord Jesus, with his frenzy, with his passion for the fulfillment of God’s purposes and the redemption of those for whom he died. I mean this person who is alive and ruling and reigning right now in all the ways we’ve been talking about in this mini-course so far and that we go into even more detail deeply in my book, Christ Is Now. He is in the midst of us and he wants to share all of that with us as his people together and that’s what transforms our life in Jesus—when we let him do that with us together.
Dr. Steve Greene: So as Jesus reigns within us, we come to the place where we get to really know him for all he is because he’s within us. Speak to that.
David Bryant: The phrase I like to use is growing in intimacy with Christ and his supremacy. Now you look at that and you ask: wow, can you put those two together? Can you have somebody with all the magnificence of the supremacy of Jesus and you can be intimate with them? Absolutely! When it says at the end of the Bible when the city is coming down out of heaven, it says the dwelling of God will be among men (men and women). I mean the whole thrust of the Bible is God’s desire right from the beginning when he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day to have fellowship with Adam and Eve. I mean right from the beginning to the end, the passion and the heart of God is to have a people and to dwell among them. Think about this—when John sees Jesus in his ascended glory in Revelation chapter 1, the reason Jesus appears to him (and as we talked before, John loses his breath and falls down like a dead man) is that Jesus has seven letters to the seven churches. And the way that he reveals himself to John is there are seven lampstands and Jesus says I am walking among these churches. Now those seven churches actually existed in the province of Asia minor, which is modern-day Turkey. So they’re scattered throughout this whole region. But Jesus is in the midst of them like he was in the midst of those candlesticks, but he’s in the midst of them in all of his supremacy. And when we get to Laodicea, the last of the seven churches, he even goes so far as today I’m knocking at the door (now he’s talking to Christians, not to unbelievers). He said if you’ll open that door, I’d love to get back into the midst of you again. But remember that the one who’s knocking at the door is the Jesus that John sees in Revelation 1 in the magnificence of his supremacy. He’s looking for intimacy. And that’s really the major takeaway when we talk about who Christ is within us.
Dr. Steve Greene: You make an interesting analogy in this book about going solo. That 50% of the american adult population is single today. And there’s this individual need to replace the social. It amazes me in the same time we see all this great stuff going on social media, but if you take a good look at social media it really isn’t too social. It’s all about me. Look at me being happy. Look at me with my dog. Look at me dancing in the street. Everything really is still an individual expression. In your analogy, in your story here (what sociologists have called the hookup culture) explain a little bit to me how the individual expression of his presence comes about.
David Bryant: That’s a great question and here’s one of the things I think we need to understand. Primarily, most of the emphasis of the New Testament talks about the indwelling Christ—thinks of it corporately, not individually. Now there are certain verses that make it very personal like Galatians 2:20: I am crucified (this is me) I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives within me. OK, that’s a ‘me’ verse. Paul says in Philippians 4 that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Yes. But really, here’s what fools us. In the English language we don’t have a word like they have in the Greek language that the New Testament was written in. So when you see the word “you,” our tendency (particularly because, like you say, we’re in a culture that is so individualistic and so me-centered) my tendency is to read all those verses that have “you,” as if it means you personally, individually. In the Greek language most of the time, every time you read the word “you,” it’s plural. It means all of you. So for example, Colossians 1:27 says that the riches of the gospel is Christ is in you, the hope of glory. Now most people read that and think it says he’s in me, but in the Greek it means he’s in the midst of you. Paul’s writing to the church at Colosse, to all the Christians gathered together. He says the great riches of the gospel is that God has opened a way for his Son now to live and dwell and work in the midst of all of you and to lead you together into the hope of all the glorious things to come. And getting that understanding can really transform how I think about my life. As I bring out in this chapter in Christ Is Now frequently is that Christ at work in me and Christ at work in us is equally important. But in terms of the New Testament, basically what Christ does in me is based first of all on what he does in us and then I draw from what he does in us and take it and bring it into my own life. In the American church, it’s almost the opposite. We’re all looking for Jesus to do something for me and maybe I’ll share some of that with you. It’s so the opposite of the New Testament. Maybe one last image and that is John 15. I lived in Southern California for a number of years and you can drive up in Bakersfield area out to the vineyards. So I got to see and understand what a vineyard is like. And you’ve got the vine weaving itself along the trellis and it’s big and it’s thick, it’s full of nutrition. And then you’ve got all the branches that come out of that. And you can have so many branches you hardly can see or find the vine. And then the branches are all wrapped up inside and around each other. But those branches would have nothing to give, there’d be no fruit, there would be no branches if it wasn’t that the vine was there first of all. But once the vine is there, the vine is there for multiple branches to get all wrapped up in each other—to draw their life together from the same source, to be wrapped up together in the same purpose, which is to bear much fruit. And so Jesus said in that chapter that’s how you’ll prove that you’re my disciples. Not you individually, but you plural. In fact, if you go through John 15 (and this could be an assignment between now and the next session) read through John 15 and remember this: everytime you see the word “you,” it is plural. It is not singular. And see if this really famous chapter about the vine and the branches, see if the things that Jesus says about you (as you see it in the plural, rather than the singular) changes your whole way of thinking about what he’s trying to say there.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well, David I think one of the most powerful statements you make in this entire book comes as a key principle takeaway from this passage. And you said it, but I just want to isolate it for our listeners and our students that are taking this course. Christ within me and Christ within us always go together. That is a powerful takeaway. Expand on that for me.
David Bryant: Well, and the additional statement I always make with that is: but what he does in me is really dependent first of all on what he does with us. And again, all I can say is, that is the New Testament. In Ephesians 1 for example, when he says the church is the fullness of him who fills all in all—that’s the body. That’s the people of God together. We’re the fullness. The New Testament uses image of a temple. That we’re the temple of the Holy Spirit, that we’re the body of Christ, the bride of Christ. It’s all collective; it’s all corporate. So together, like Peter says, we’re living stones, a created temple and Jesus dwells in the midst of us. We’re like a body where all the members have to be working together even though the one head controls it all. We’re in it together or we’re dead. Or we’re all like one bride. It isn’t that each of us are a bride. There’s one bride and we’re all part of that bride. And again, to use my phrase, that’s how we come into greater intimacy with Christ and his supremacy—when we move into that together as one bridge to one husband.
Dr. Steve Greene: This is such a huge chapter, it’s deep. There’s a lot in it and we’re going to have to skip some things just because of time in this course. But I want to get to the primary role of the Holy Spirit as Jesus reigns within us. We can’t skip Pentecost.
David Bryant: Well no, absolutely not. Over the years as I’ve tried to understand the relationship of the Holy Spirit, the reign of Christ, to the supremacy of Christ, to the centrality of Christ. I’m brought back to John 16, for example, where Jesus said the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to take the things that are mine and reveal them to you. So the Holy Spirit’s primary role is to make much of Christ in the life of God’s people. And one day as I was thinking about this whole thing of the ascension of Christ. And we’ve talked about in other sessions how that doctrine and that truth is often neglected by evangelicals today. I got to thinking that from the day of Pentecost forward Jesus has extended his reign into the midst of us by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Jesus reigning among us. So then the phrase came to my mind—the Holy Spirit is the extension of the ascension. And I’ve never heard anybody else use that definition. I’ve heard lots of good definitions of the person of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Steve Greene: I might steal it, is that OK? 🙂
David Bryant: That’s OK. But he is an extension. So the glorious thing is that when we meet together on a Sunday morning and we come together to worship the Lord and to hear the word of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is among us. And that means that Jesus is literally by the Spirit among us. And then that means Jesus on the throne is literally among us. And he’s come to conquer us and he’s come to take us captive and he’s come to weave us into what his reign is all about. We ought to leave every Sunday morning with a greater vision of Christ and greater reason to put our hope in him because of what the Holy Spirit has done in us together.
Dr. Steve Greene: That’s so powerful. So if I were to make a summary statement that without question, where the Spirit abides all of Jesus abides. Is that what I just heard you say?
David Bryant: I think that a lot of believers think that when we have the Holy Spirit, we have a part of Jesus. But whether in my life personally, or in the life of the church corporately, you’re absolutely right, Steve. Wherever the Spirit of the Lord abides, it’s all of Jesus. Not a part of him, but all of Jesus is there. You know, Paul said to the Corinthians when they were going to meet to deal with some church discipline issues in 1 Corinthians 5, he says when you are coming together and the power of the Lord Jesus is with you. What he was saying was when you deal with this very difficult situation, remember Jesus is there in the fullness of his power in your midst as you meet. That would change a lot of business meetings and elder and deacon meetings. If we realized and really believed he was there among us in all of his power.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well 1 Corinthians 1, and you’ve said it so clearly—Christ cannot be divided. He’s our basis of unity.
David Bryant: Yes, you can’t have part of him and I have part of him. I see the division in the church and maybe some denominations emphasize more of some fact of … For example, the Catholic Church is very strong on the crucifixion. The Greek Orthodox Church is very strong on the resurrection. You can have different emphasis and that’s OK. But Jesus cannot be divided—every church, whatever your label. If Jesus is among you, you’ve got all of him among you. And nobody has a part of him that isn’t also being shared with you. All of us have all of him. And that’s the basis of Christian unity. Let me just end with this. John 17 when Jesus prayed that prayer before his crucifixion in the upper room he prayed a whole lot about unity. He makes this one statement later in that chapter. He says to the Father: I have put my glory in the midst of them that they may be one as we are one. And as I think about the Christ awakening I believe is getting ready to come upon this nation right now. I think one of the things that’s going to happen is the glory of Jesus is going to be so revealed and magnified in the midst of God’s people that all of our divisions are going to sort of fall away and we’re going to discover on a new level a unity that Jesus said would be very close to trinity-type unity. And that’s what’s ahead for us.
Dr. Steve Greene: Amen! Can’t wait. So we’ve just completed our sixth lesson in this study and we’ve revealed the fifth key is Christ Is Within Us. Be with us next time as we study Who Christ Is Through Us Today. Again, I want to remind you of your homework assignment. You heard your teacher suggest that to you. I’d like to recommend that you read John 15 again and every time you read the word “you” take note of the fact that it’s a very plural word. And then read it again and understand what’s being said to you in this great chapter of John 15. Meet him again for the first time. Come back to our next lesson and let’s see what David has to say and has written about Who Christ Is through Us Today.
God bless you all.