IN DEBT to the Believer and the Unbeliever
"Both to Greeks and to barbarians
(to the cultured and the uncultured), both to the wise and to the foolish,
I have an obligation to discharge and a duty to perform and a debt to pay."
Romans 1:14 (Amp

01 July 2010

"Giving His Life for Men" (Devotional)

"Unless a corn of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit." This is what we are to be, a corn of wheat, a life that is laid down and given for others that we may bring forth much fruit in the salvation and life of others, losing our life to gain it multiplied. Prayer and intercession is laying down your life for others. It's a giving of your time, energy, emotions, and the sacrificing of many pleasures to bring forth the fruit of the kingdom of God and in the lives of those that are lost. It's joining with Jesus to be His partner to identify with the needs and sufferings of others and appropriate the life and victory that is theirs through Christ Jesus.
This chapter of "The Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ" shares how we like Jesus are to lay our lives down for men, "to be a servant of the lost". That takes first the full identification with His death through the cross to receive the resurrected life that will empower you to do that. Now may we all receive the grace that is given to do both, to die and to live for the salvation of others, to die and to live for Jesus our Lord.

"Giving His Life for Men"

"Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your
servant; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered
unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Matt. 20:26-28

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his
life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
1 John 3:16

     In speaking of being like Christ there is one danger to which even the sincere believer is exposed--seeking it for his own sake, or, as he thinks, for the glory of God in his own personal perfection. The error is common and destructive. It leaves out that which is the essential element in the death of Jesus and in the self-sacrifice it produces; absolute unselfishness in its reference to others. To be made conformable to Christ's death implies a dying to self, a giving up and laying down our life for others. We are to go for others as far as Jesus went, even to laying down our life. We are to consider this the one reason for which we are redeemed and left in the world. Like Christ, the only thing that keeps us in this world is to be the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. Scripture does not hesitate to say that it is in His path of suffering, as he goes to work out atonement and redemption, that we are to follow Him (Matt.20:28; Eph 5:2,25,26; Phil 2:5-8; 1 Pet 2:21-23)
     How clearly this comes out in the words of the Master; "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." The highest in glory will be he who was lowest in service, and joined to the Master in His giving His life a ransom. And, after having spoken of His own death in the words, "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 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," He at once applied this to His disciples: "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." (John 12:23-25). The corn of wheat dying to rise again, losing its life to regain it multiplied, is clearly set forth as the emblem not only of the Master but of each one of His followers. Loving life, refusing to die, means remaining alone in selfishness: losing life to bring forth much fruit in others is the only way to keep it for ourselves. The only way to find our life is as Jesus did, in giving it up for the salvation of others. Herein is the Father glorified. The deepest underlying thought of conformity to Christ's death is giving our life to God for saving others. Without this, the longing for conformity to that death is in danger of being a refined selfishness.
     How remarkably the Apostle Paul exhibited this spirit. He says: " Always bearing about....the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you." "Though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you" (2 Cor. 4:10-12, 13:3). "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church" (Col 1:24). The passages teach us how the vicarious element of the suffering that Christ bore in His body on the tree, to a certain extent still characterizes the suffering of His body, the Church. Believers who give themselves up to bear the burden of the sins of men before the Lord, who suffer reproach and shame, weariness and pain, in the effort to win souls, are filling up in their flesh that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ. The power and the fellowship of His suffering and death work in them; the power of Christ's life through them works in those for whom they labor in love. There is no doubt that in the fellowship of His sufferings and the conformity to His death (Phil 3), Paul had in view not only the inner spiritual, but also the external bodily participations in the suffering of Christ.
     And so it must be with each of us in some measure. Self-sacrifice not merely of our own sanctification, but for the salvation of our fellowmen; this brings us into true fellowship with Christ who gave himself for us.
     The practical application is very simple. Let us first of all see the truth the Holy Spirit seeks to teach us. As the most essential thing in likeness to Christ is likeness to His death, so the most essential thing in likeness to His death is the giving of our life to win others to God. It is a death in which all thought of saving self is lost in that of saving others. Let us pray for the light of the Holy Spirit until we know that we are in the world just as Christ was to love and serve, to live and die, "even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Oh that His people would know their calling to God and to their fellowmen; that, even as Christ, they are only to live to be a blessing to the world!
     Then let us believe in the grace that is waiting to make our experience of this truth a reality. Let us believe that God receives our yielding our whole life for His glory in the saving of others. Let us believe that conformity to the death of Jesus in this is what the Holy Spirit will work out in us. Let us above all believe in Jesus: it is He himself who will take every surrendered soul into the full fellowship of His death, of His dying in love to bring forth much fruit. Yet, let us believe, and believing seek from above, as the work and the gift of Jesus, likeness to Jesus in this too.
     And let us begin to act this faith. Let us put it into practice. Looking upon ourselves as given to live and die for God in our fellowmen, let us with new zeal exercise the ministry of love in winning souls. As we wait for Christ to work out His likeness, as we trust the Holy Spirit to give His mind in us more perfectly, let us in faith begin to be as followers of Him who only lived and died to be a blessing to others. Let our love open the way to the kindness, and gentleness, and helpfulness with which it shines out on all whom we meet in daily life. Let us give ourselves to the work of intercession and expect God to use us as one of His instruments in the answering of those prayers. Let us speak and work for Jesus as those who have a mission and a power from on high. Let us make soul-winning our object. Let us band ourselves with the great army of reapers the Lord is sending out into His harvest. And we shall soon find that giving our life to win others for God is the most blessed way of dying to self, of being even as the Son of man was--a servant of the lost.
     Christ gave Himself to men, but could not really reach them until He gave himself as a sacrifice to God for them. The seed corn died, the life was poured out; then the blessing flowed forth in mighty power. I may seek to love and serve men; but I can only really influence and bless them as I yield myself to God and give my life into His hands for them. As I leave myself as an offering on the altar, I become in His spirit and power a blessing. My spirit given into His hands, He can use and bless me.

     O most blessed God! do You truly ask me to give myself, my very life, even unto death for my fellowmen? If I have heard the words of the Master correctly, you seek nothing less.
      O God! will you indeed have me? Will you permit me, like Christ, to live and die for those around me? to lay myself, I say in the deep reverence, beside Him on the altar of death, crucified with Him, and be a living sacrifice to You for men? Lord, I praise You for this wonderful grace. And now I come, Lord God, to give myself. Oh, for the grace of the Holy Spirit to make the transaction definite and real! Lord, here I am, given to You to live only for those whom You are seeking to save.
     Blessed Jesus, come and breathe Your own mind and love within me. Take possession of me, my thoughts to think, my heart to feel, my powers to work, my life to live, as given to God for men. Write in my heart; it is done, I am given to God, He has taken me. Keep me in His hands expecting and assured that He will use me. Your giving Yourself was followed by the life in power, the outbreaking of the blessing in fullness and power. It will be so in Your people too. Glory to Your name. Amen.