Unless it Dies

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“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

 

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).

 

Modern Christianity does not like the message that is declared in these verses of scripture. Many Christians today want smooth words, they want the easy path and they want the assurance of things above, while they yet have their affections set on the things here below. They don’t want to hear about dying. After all, isn’t salvation about life? Yes indeed it is, but it is life in the Spirit that salvation refers to. If there is going to be spiritual life, there has to be death to the carnal life.

That is what Jesus was talking about when He said, the “corn of wheat” must die if it is going to bring forth fruit. You see, a seed when it is planted in the ground, if the conditions are suitable, will bust open and the plant will begin to take root. It was the brokenness of the shell of the seed that resulted in the plant to start growing. If the seed were to stay intact and just lay there on hard ground, or be buried in dry ground, then there would be no growth.

Jesus is applying this principle of the seed to our lives. He is teaching us that if we want to produce life and we want there to be fruit, then we too must be like a seed that must die and break open. Again, I will say that there are not to many believers who want to hear this kind of talk. The ones who do are those who desire to bring forth the life of God and the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.

Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. The order for that deliverance of mankind is first the crucifixion of Jesus, His death on the cross, His burial in a tomb and then His resurrection from the dead. There has to be a death for there to be a resurrection. First, there has to be a surrender, then the victory. First must come humility, then an exalting. We humans are used to it being the other way around. We see first the life of a baby at birth, and then later a death of that person. Just as each of us was born, then later we will face death. Some baby’s die just moments after they are born, some go on to live to a hundred years old and even longer. The principle of spiritual life is the opposite. First is the death, then comes the life. First, we humble ourselves and die to self, which is what it means to being crucified with Christ, then flows the life.

Some may ask, “If what you are saying is true, then how could we ever get born again? How could I possibly know as a heathen, that I have to die to self if I want to receive a brand new spiritual life?” Those questions are not that hard to answer. When a man does get born again, it was because he did humble himself and recognize he was a sinner and that he had a need for a Savior. He humbled himself to such a point that he surrendered his life to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Though he did not die a physical death, he died to the life he was living. When this is genuinely done, it is then a person is born again. I know modern Christianity teaches that if a person repeats a sinner’s prayer and understands with their intellect the message of salvation, that they then become a Christian. That may be true if they are joining a social club or a religion that just calls themselves Christians. Christianity is not a religion to belong too. You can religiously follow Christ. You can enjoy the social benefits of belonging to the true body of Christ, but a person only becomes a true Christian when they are BORN FROM ABOVE.

Another may ask, “If my previous life of a sinner has died, how come I still have some impulse and desire to sin? Doesn’t Galatians 5:24 say, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts?” Yes, our affections and lusts have been crucified with the flesh, however Paul goes on to say, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:25-26). If Paul says, “Let us not be desirous of vain glory…,” then evidently that old flesh is still hanging around that presses on us to be desirous of vain glory. The crucified life is a life we have to choose to live every day. You know why? Because your flesh and my flesh are still alive. We will not lose all desire to sin until this body is forsaken and we are given a new glorious body. In the meantime, you must reckon your flesh dead. That means to consider that your flesh is dead, even if it is demanding your attention. When your flesh rises up in all its ungodly attitudes and immoral thoughts, you must ignore it. You must resist those desires that are contrary to the life of purity and holiness. The Bible tells us to take all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. Therefore we can. Therefore through the power of the Spirit, we can reckon that old flesh crucified.

 

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

 

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25).

 

Do not give your ear to religion that tells you that there is no sacrifice involved in being a Christian. Refuse to hear those who tell you that there is no cost on our end. Without question, Jesus paid the debt for our sin, He finished it on the cross. He forgave us of our sins so we could enter into a relationship with Him. Now that we are in that relationship, we are called to willingly hate and lay down our carnal life. It is then that “we shall keep it unto life eternal.” If you want to gain life, you must be willing to lose it.

The reason that life is so boring and even difficult for some Christians is because they have refused to surrender their old life. They are trying to hang onto it, thinking that they can yet find some value and satisfaction in it. They refuse to lay down the very life that Jesus died and rose from the dead to rescue them from.

 

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

 

The choice is yours. What life will you choose? Do you want the carnal life or do you want spiritual life. Do you want to experience spiritual life right now, not just when you get to heaven? Then let the seed of your life die.

Christ Must Have The Preeminence

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One of the most glorious portions of scripture, when it comes to the Lord Jesus Christ, is found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

 

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:13-18).

 

The last word we see in this portion of scripture is the word, “preeminence.” It is translated from the Greek word proteuo which simply means to be first (in rank and influence). So to state it very simply, for Jesus Christ to have preeminence, He must be first in our life in every way. He must be first, before our family members, even our spouses. He must be first before our careers. He must be first over every interest in this life we might have.

We read in the book of Revelation that the church in Ephesus was commended by the Lord Jesus Christ for their good works and other things that they did. Yet, the Lord warned them that He would remove their candlestick if they did not come back to their first love. Sometimes Christians miss quote Revelation 2:4 by saying the Ephesians have “lost” their first love. What it really says is they have “LEFT” their first love. It is something the believers in Ephesus did on their own, whether they were conscious of it or not. What really happened to these believers is that the preeminence of Christ was fading, even though the work they were doing seemed to be for God.

When you look at the state of the church today, I think it is pretty easy to say that Christ does not have the preeminence within the church as he should. There are so many other things that attract the attention of the saints. One of the biggest reasons I am personally against all the gimmickry, attractions and entertainment that the church offers today, to lure people into their buildings, is because it is promoting and establishing an interest in something other than Christ in the hearts of the unsuspecting lost souls. They are introduced to things that are appealing to the flesh and thus it conditions people to think that the church is there to cater to all their emotional needs. They are conditioned to expect the church to be like a community center, where all social programs are offered. Many years ago one pastor told me that the Lord called him, not to have a church, but to have a life center. I was respectful of the pastor so I did not say anything to him at that time, but I knew that he did not hear from the Lord on that. God has called none other than His church to represent His kingdom. Jesus said that he will build His church, not His life center. You can mark this down, if Christ will again be preeminent in the church, the church will flow with life. Not because it is made into a life center, but because life flows from wherever Christ is the center. Saints, there is not a greater testimony that can be said about any fellowship then when those who enter that fellowship say, “There is life in this place.”

There is one thing I tell couples during marriage counseling. It is the same thing I tell every married couple who will listen to me. I say to them all, “If Christ is the center of your marriage it will be impossible for your marriage to fail.” For it to fail, one or both have to backslide, and if they backslid then, of course, Christ is no longer the center of their marriage. He is no longer the center of their life as well. In all things Christ must have the preeminence.

For the most part, when Christ ceases to have the preeminence in a church, it usually happens in a very subtle way. When ministers and elders, who oversee the church, start putting their focus on other things, then the church will be led away from Christ. Again, this happens in a most unsuspecting way. Most often the intentions are right for the many things that are done in the name of the Lord. However, nothing is really accepted in heaven if it isn’t the will of the Lord. “…Thy will be done on earth as it is IN HEAVEN.” The thing that happens when a work isn’t the will of the Lord, is that the work starts to take precedence in the church and Christ loses His preeminence. On the other hand, if there is a refusal to do the will and work of the Lord, then He has already been denied His preeminence. Whenever the church loses sight of building the kingdom of God, she starts to build her own kingdom. Pastors who lose sight of Christ start building their own little empire, all along thinking they are smack dab in the will of God. They do not realize that they have robbed Christ of His preeminence. Acts chapter six is a good reminder for ministers of what their chief focus should be. “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). If pastors would commit themselves to this simple life of seeking God through prayer and the word, there would be a lot of ministry things that would drop off. There would be a lot less effort by man and much more dependence on the Holy Spirit. There would be a lot more, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is when Christ is getting the preeminence.

Saints of God, just because you may not be called to the ministry, does not excuse you from being in prayer and in the word of God. Though you may not be afforded the time to often be shut in with God, it is of the utmost importance that you have a daily time of prayer and Bible reading. If not, you will find Christ to not have the preeminence in your life. You will also make yourself more subject to being led away from Christ into and after other things. A life of prayer and a steady diet of the word of God goes a long way in helping every believer to let Christ have the preeminence in all things.