LISTEN TO EPISODE THREE NOW
KEY TWO | WHO IS CHRIST FOR US TODAY?
When we fully realize the combined power of the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, our relationship with him changes. After experiencing this lesson, one listener shared, “You know, I have to honestly say I think my image of Jesus, right now, today, is that he is sort of like a cloud, floating around somewhere. I never thought that he is literally, physically sitting somewhere in this universe, and he is ruling and reigning over everything at this very moment. It just totally changes your whole relationship with him when that comes through.”
Dr. Steve Greene: Hello, and welcome back to the Christ Is Now Mini-Course, written by David Bryant. I’m Steve Greene, I’m your host and guide through this study, as we interview this great author and get his insight to the lessons of this book. In the last lesson we concluded with a homework assignment: Who is Christ to you today. Who is Christ to you? What have you been thinking about that? What have you done in your homework to allow you to connect with this great study?
The name of the book, again, is Christ Is Now, by David Bryant. So let’s dive right into our third lesson. And we’re going to really take a look at who Christ is for us today, through what David calls, an irresistible four-fold revolution. So welcome back David, master teacher. God bless you. Tell us about this revolution.
David Bryant: Well, actually the word I use is irreversible, but I love irresistible. It is irresistible. So I’m going to start using that. Thank you, Steve.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well, that could be a great slip of purpose.
David Bryant: I think it is. I call it irreversible because, for sure, what Jesus has done, is a revolution, and there is no going back. Now when I say a four-fold revolution, I’m thinking, and here’s how… most Christians never think this way. If you’d ask the average Christian, “What has Jesus done for you?” they will immediately go to the cross. He died for me.
Dr. Steve Greene: Yes!
David Bryant: And that’s crucial. Absolutely. But it’s not the whole story. And the revolution comes out of more than just the crucifixion. The revolution is four-fold because it is four parts, equal parts: incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and then the thing most Christians never think about, ascension. And all four of those are absolutely crucial to one another. If you take any one of those out, you lose the work of Christ. You lose what he’s done for us. And you lose the revolution. So let’s work through these four, then.
Dr. Steve Greene: Okay. That’s important for our students, too. You can’t gloss over this. These four, like you just said. Without one, you don’t have all of Jesus.
David Bryant: Right.
Dr. Steve Greene: Go ahead. What about this invasion of his incarnation?
David Bryant: So I tried to think of a way, how do you think about the incarnation that would help people to realize it’s more than just the baby in the manger at Christmas time? And I think that for most people, that’s what incarnation means. And the fact of the matter is, when Jesus became one of us, when, as it says in Philippians, “He emptied himself, and took upon himself the form of a human being, and became a servant among us,” it was an invasion. Yes, it started with a little baby, but it was as much of an invasion as D-Day was for World War II. It was Jesus taking a foothold, laying a base of operations, by his becoming one of us. And the fact of the matter is, and most Christians don’t think of this, is that right now, at the right hand of the Father, there is a man, in glory, a human being. He is bone of our bone. He is flesh of our flesh. And here is the radical thing. He is also God the Son. So somehow, in the miracle, God put together flesh and deity, and intertwined them in such a way they are now forever inseparable. So that means that God’s commitment to his eternal Son is now inseparable for a commitment to the race for which he died. So you can be doubly sure of your own eternal security because your Savior is of the same essence, bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh, that you are. And with that comes another amazing thought.
Who Jesus is, right now, is who we are going to become. Now I don’t mean that we’re going to end up being God, or anything like that. But Paul says in Romans 8, that, “To those who love God and are called according to his purpose,” and then he talks about that purpose, “For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined,” now watch this, “To be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
What Paul says, is that the good that God is working in the midst of everything, according to his purpose, is that he will one day bring us to a place where we are so much like Jesus, that we, in a sense, we look like Jesus—body, soul, spirit, in totality. So when I think about the invasion of the incarnation, God essentially took hold of the whole of creation, and said, “This is mine, forever, because my Son is now also a human being.”
Dr. Steve Greene: Secondly, you wrote about the mission of his crucifixion.
David Bryant: Well, yes I use the word mission, Steve, because, and I think again, we think of the crucifixion in terms of just somebody suffering horrible Roman execution—somebody who was at the mercy of people who had control over him. When in point of fact, the reason Jesus came was for the cross. This was his mission, right from the beginning. Even during the days of his ministry with his disciples, he would again and again say, “Now I need to let you know there is coming a day when I’m going to be put on trial and I’m going to be charged, and I’m going to be crucified, but I also want you to know, I will rise from the dead.” So he had this sense that his whole reason for coming into the world was to get to the cross. So he was on a mission. He was in total control. This was God revealing his very nature as a self-sacrificing God. I often say, “Jesus exalted is Jesus executed”. Or another phrase I love to use is, “The cross is his gory glory.” It was gory. It was horrible. It was one of the most painful deaths anybody could possibly experience. And yet it was his greatest glory. I often say, “It was the high watermark of his reign, of his supremacy.”
Everything that he ever will accomplish in all of the ages to come, flows out of the mission of his crucifixion, which is why John sees him, even in the book of Revelation, as looking like a lamb that had once been slain—you can still see the wounds, they are still there—even though he is now sitting on the center of the throne of the universe.
Dr. Steve Greene: John saw it through experience, didn’t he?
David Bryant: And he experienced it at the same time. Absolutely.
Dr. Steve Greene: Then you wrote about the re-creation of his resurrection.
David Bryant: Yes. Well, again, we often think of the resurrection of Jesus, I think that for most Christians, what is in our mind, is Easter Sunday. And then we all go out to dinner. (laughter)
Dr. Steve Greene: Yes. We can’t miss the buffet.
David Bryant: And that’s okay. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ was really a re-creation. It was the beginning of the new creation. When we read about a new heaven and a new earth at the end of the Bible, it began when Jesus walked out of the tomb. When it says he is the first fruits of everyone else who is going to be resurrected from the dead, it means the resurrection has already begun. The re-creation of all creation has already begun. And Paul says in Colossians 1, “In everything, Jesus might have the supremacy because God had all of his fullness dwell in Christ, and through Christ, he is reconciling all things back to himself, making peace by the blood of the cross.” This wonderful reconciling, this transforming work, this revolution that God is creating, with his creation, began the moment Jesus walked out of the dead. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I usually think of four “V’s.” His claims to be savior, to be God, to be Lord, were vindicated by his resurrection. The powers of darkness and the force of sin was vanquished by his resurrection. The victory for daily Christian living was achieved for me by his resurrection. And a vision for what my whole future is about is caught up in his resurrection.
You know, one last thing which I think might be interesting to people is that, I became a Christian as a freshman in college, in a cemetery, sitting on the edge of tombstone, which many years later I went back and could actually find it and show it to my young children. Here’s where your dad gave his life to Christ. Now I was in the cemetery because I would go there because people were witnessing to me. And I was struggling with it, and I spent days where I would take off and go for an hour or so where I could be alone. You were always alone in a cemetery. And I was sitting on a tombstone one late November afternoon. Everything fell together and I received Jesus into my life. And I often like to say this, Steve. But at that moment, I came alive among the dead—a great Halloween story. I came alive among the dead. Why? Because at that moment the resurrection life of Jesus became my life, and the new creation I am in him. The re-creation of my whole life in him began in that moment, but it all goes back to the day that he walked out of the tomb.
Dr. Steve Greene. And then you conclude this chapter with something I think many Christians miss. You have taken this study deeper than the coronation of his ascension. Would you speak to that?
David Bryant: Well I think right now the great revolution that needs to happen in the life of the church is another reformation. You know, when Martin Luther finally understood the full depths of what happened at the cross, and how Jesus now is our righteousness by faith, that was a revolution. But it was around, mostly around, what happened on the cross, which was needed at that hour of church history. Right now, we need another reformation around the ascension. Because it is the most neglected doctrine.
Dr. Steve Greene: Why is that? Why do you think that’s happened?
David Bryant: Because, it is very threatening. I’ve come to the decision that as long as I keep him—incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection—that all sort of feels fairly comfortable. And it’s all about what Jesus is doing for me. But when I get to the ascension, when I start talking about the kind of Jesus that we see in Revelation 1 that made John fall down like a dead man, then that’s a whole other kind of Jesus, where I always put it is this, that before we get a full understanding of the ascension, we think of the Christian life as, Jesus wants to be at the center of who I am, where I’m headed, what I’m doing, and how I get blessed. Yes, he does want to be at the center of that. But the ascension is calling me into a whole other dimension where my life, now, needs to be at the center of who he is, where he’s headed, what he’s doing, and what he is all about in terms of what blessing and victories can be achieved for him, because, and that’s what it means to call Jesus, Lord. Paul puts it this way in Colossians 3, and there are so many passages on the ascension. He says, “If you are truly alive with Jesus from the dead, then set your mind on the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Don’t put your affection on things of the Earth, put your affection on things above, for you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
My life, right now, is with Christ in his ascension. I often say, “The Holy Spirit brings to us Jesus’ ascended life.” When you say, “The life of Jesus being lived out in me,” it is his ascended life. The life that is his at this very moment. That’s why it can be a life of victory. That’s why it can be a life of vision, and direction, and hope of all the promises of God, because the Jesus I’m living for is alive and reigning at his right hand.
You know, Steve, I have actually met more than one Christian who after they hear this teaching, will say to me, “You know I have to honestly say I think my image of Jesus, right now, today, is sort of like a cloud, floating around somewhere. I never thought that he is literally, physically sitting somewhere in this universe, and he is ruling and reigning over everything, at this very moment. It just totally changes your whole relationship with him when that comes through.”
Dr. Steve Greene: And so what do we do with it? Common pew-sitter, where I am, actually chair-sitter now.
David Bryant: Pews are gone.
Dr. Steve Greene: I’m old. But as we think about it, how do I apply this, am I applying that heartfelt understanding of the ascension?
David Bryant: Again, many, many answers to that, and we get into some of them, many more in the book than we can talk about now, but I would take us again to Scripture in Ephesians 4, where Paul talks about how Jesus is ascended, and he goes on and says, “In order that he might fill the whole universe,” and in the next verse he says, “And he’s giving gifts to the church,” and then he talks about apostles and prophets and so on. Five key gifts he talks about there. But then he says, “Those gifts are for the equipping of the body of Christ, so that we might work together to build up one another so that we can come into the fullness of the stature of the maturity of Christ.” So basically what Paul is saying for practical application is, your ministry to each other, using the spiritual gifts God has given you, as you minister to each other in very practical ways, ought to be for the purpose of helping other believers get to know this ascended reigning, ruling Lord Jesus in the fullness of his stature, and who he is right now. And as you minister to one another, never stop short of bringing them, yes, to see the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, but bring them on into the ascension, because your ministry starts with the ascension. That’s where it flows from. And what comes around goes around. It needs to go right back to the throne before that ministry is finished.
Dr. Steve Greene: What an excellent study. So I’m going to ask you, Professor, to make this week’s assignment, this lesson’s assignment. What would you say to us that we could do for homework, to prepare us to really come in closer as we understand Christ is for us?
David Bryant: Okay. Take a yellow highlighter. Make it easier on yourself. So take the book of Ephesians, for example, and highlight every phrase or maybe verse, that emphasizes any one of the four-fold revolution where Paul is talking about anything that relates to the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, or ascension. And see how much, that won’t take you a long time. You could do it in your quiet time. Maybe five minutes a day you’d finish it easily by our next session. But what you’ll discover is that well over 60% of the book of Ephesians turns yellow. It’s all about who Jesus is for us.
Dr. Steve Greene: So spend time in Ephesians, is what you’re saying.
David Bryant: But, look for the… see, here’s what we do. One last thought is, and I’m so guilty of this. We read the Bible for what’s in it for me. We read the Bible for what it can, how it can help me live better, or get my problems solved, or whatever. And that’s okay, but I’m asking you to read the Bible, like the book of Ephesians, for what it tells you about Jesus—particularly in light of the four-fold revolution.
Dr. Steve Greene: Yes. So we’ve come to the end of our third class together, the end of the session. This concludes lesson three. You’ve got your homework assignment. Ephesians 3 is a great homework assignment, any given day, but particularly today as we end this study on Christ Is For Us. Looking forward to the next lesson to hear who Christ is over us today.
I’m so glad you joined us. I’m so glad we’ve got a teacher like David Bryant, and his great coursework, Christ Is Now. If you don’t have the book, today is a great day to order it. You can find it on Amazon.com. The author is David Bryant; he is the teacher of this great seminar. We are so thankful that Christ is now. Meet him again, for the first time.
This is Steve Greene with David Bryant. God bless you all.