Utilizing our Resources

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

In affluent times we don't pay much attention to utilizing the resources that we have, for we can always buy replacements. But sometimes we get into situations where we need something that we cannot buy. It is at these times that we take inventory of what is at our disposal to fill our need. Identifying our material needs is so much easier than filling the void.

This is even more difficult in the spiritual realm. It is often easier to identify the need in others than in ourselves. We want others to change so we don't have to deal with their shortcomings, but we get upset when we are asked to change. Ideally we would like others to take the blame for our shortcomings. After all, if he had not hit me first, I wouldn't have thrown him to the ground. It is difficult for us to own up to the fact that we are filled with zealousness for self. To overcome our problems we first look to the strength that lies in the flesh. We make new resolutions, read self-help books, memorize the steps needed to overcome our weaknesses, etc., yet we are always struggling. We want to be more loving, more forgiving and more caring. We try to overcome our bad habits, but before we know it, we're back in the same old rut. To get us to own up to the fact that the flesh cannot supply our need, God puts us in difficult situations or even gives us shock treatments.

Do we as Christians have some hidden resources that we are not aware of? Let's take an inventory of what we have. What is ours in the spiritual realm? Our new birth has brought us life! Christ has resurrected us out of our death in Adam and has given us His life. He has made us a new creation! This new creation man is not an improvement on the old model, nor a renovation of a previous model - it is completely new! Old things have passed away; all things have become new! We wonder how this can be true, since we still lose our temper, etc. So we rationalize and think that we will become a new creation at some future time, but it isn’t true at the moment. Our unbelief keeps us from appropriating what God has said and what He has already given us in Christ!

In the natural realm we believe what we see and understand; in the spiritual realm we believe what we cannot see, and often cannot understand! In Christ we have become spiritual beings - perfect, but in need of growth and development until we reach the full stature of Christ Jesus - the very fullness of God. (Eph. 3:19) Our growth takes place by feeding on truth and by drinking in the soul of Christ, that is, His sense of being. We grow strong by our obedience to Christ's directives as we face and overcome the challenges and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our daily circumstances.

Spiritual growth can only take place by believing God’s promises for His provision, and by recognizing that they are for now! We need to live by them now – before we die. The lusts of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life will no longer tempt us after we die. Since the spiritual realm cannot be seen, it seems unreal to us. Therefore it is easy to revert or switch back into our natural thinking, and rely on self-effort and the keeping of the law to attain righteousness. We may even think this is an exercise in spirituality!

We can only be overcomers by knowing what is ours in Christ, and then functioning in this knowledge. We need to understand God's plan for humanity. If we think our heavenly Father is like our earthly father, we’ll have many wrong ideas about God! These ideas will depend in part on how our father treated us, as well as on what we have been taught about God. We may think that He will punish us for every wrongdoing, that He will only answer our prayers if He is impressed with our accomplishments and attainments, and that He only loves us when we are good. These ideas do not come from God; they are the product of our imaginations that are against God. If we have a wrong image of God, we won't believe that He loves us, and that He has provided for all our needs in Christ.

We can only know God through Christ, His Son, for He is the exact representation of the invisible God! (Heb. 1:3) Peter's inspired understanding brought forth the declaration, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:16) Peter did not say, "Jesus"; he said, "Christ". Christ is the anointing, the Messiah, the Son of God. God is not a man with a physical form like ours, for He is spirit. Therefore the Christ, the Son of God, must also be spirit. Since God is spirit, He fathers spiritual children.

Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30), but He never said that the Son is God. His oneness is seen in His relationship with God. In Christ we learn to know the nature of God. We learn to know that God does not condemn us, that He always loves us and always wants the very best for us! He even knows how to transform our difficulties and trials into blessings! He will not withhold any good from us! He loves us so much that He gave us Jesus Christ!

In 2 Peter 1:3 it says, "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence!" (Emphasis ours) What a statement! In Christ we have everything we need that pertains to life and godliness! If we do not understand this principle, we’ll be very busy asking God for the things He has already given us in Christ, and we won't utilize our possessions! Notice that these things are ours through the true knowledge of God! This teaches us the importance of receiving revelation knowledge from God. A wrong understanding of God brings us into fear and legalism; a true understanding brings us into love and grace. We need to know that God loves us even when we have failed miserably, and that we can trust Him completely. He always keeps His promises and only does what is right. His passion is against all unrighteousness! For this reason He has called us to righteousness, and has provided a way to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. This provision is ours in Christ - the true expression of the invisible God!

Although God has provided a way into His presence, our ignorance and unbelief keep us from utilizing what is already ours in Christ. We will not use something we don't know that we have. For example, if I need a hammer and I don't know that it came with the house I bought, I'll think that I am in need of a hammer even though I already own one. Likewise, if we don't know what is ours in Christ we'll always be in need. We'll be in need of more love, more forgiveness, more humility, more grace, more righteousness, etc.

The true knowledge of God in Christ is the key that unlocks the door to the spiritual realm! Since there is true knowledge, it follows that there is also a counterfeit knowledge! The latter is not based on truth, and therefore does not have foundation; it is a delusion. In my teenage years I came in contact with a man who believed the earth was flat. It looked flat, and he believed what he saw, and nothing could persuade him to believe otherwise. In the light of our present knowledge this seems very foolish, yet spiritually we often show the same characteristic. We believe what we see in the natural instead of believing what God says! So we insist that the new birth has only secured us a place in heaven, and that we are still sinners - forgiven sinners, but still sinners. Only true knowledge can take us out of this delusion.

True knowledge of God only comes to us in Christ Jesus, for He is the truth! Ideals and images about God that do not come to us in Christ are lies! All our own ideas about God are false! That is why we have to repent of our ignorance, as Paul said in Acts 17:30. There is a lot of repenting we have to do, isn’t there?!

God has given us Christ Jesus! By giving us Christ, He has given us His righteousness and every spiritual blessing! Everything Christ is, is ours! He does not withhold anything good from us! But if we don’t know that, we’ll live like paupers in the kingdom of God. We won’t make use of our resources!

Some time ago we read of a father who took his son Johnny, and the son’s friend Peter, to the circus. As they were walking along, Peter said, "My father has given me lots of money to spend. I can go on lots of rides!" Then he jingled the money in his pocket and strutted proudly in the knowledge of all he possessed! With this superior attitude, he looked at his buddy and asked, "How much money do you have?" Johnny thought of his empty pockets, and felt embarrassed because he did not have any money! He was afraid that Peter would laugh at him and feel even more superior. Suddenly a new thought struck him. He turned to his friend, then looked up to his father, and said, "I have my father!" He did not need any money because his father would provide all he needed! Johnny suddenly recognized the resources he had in his father! His father was his provision!

God has given us Christ Jesus, and He is our provision! His Spirit has been poured out into our hearts, and Paul tells us that the Lord is the Spirit! (2 Cor. 3:17) Have you ever asked God to give you more love? Maybe we have even asked God to give us a desire to love, because we didn’t feel like loving! I know I have. Then I read Romans 5:5, "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us!" What a statement! The love of God has been poured out into our hearts! This is past tense! Do you believe that, or do you believe your feelings? Eve believed what she saw; she believed her feelings and disobeyed God! Are we going to believe God or are we going to live in unbelief and be like have-nots in the kingdom of God?

There is the story of the hermit who lived by himself in a run-down shack in the woods. His clothes were old and torn because he could not afford to buy new ones. He was thin and emaciated because he could not afford to buy as much food as he needed. His need came to the attention of some kindly folk in the village. They then went to visit him with the intention of helping him. When they arrived at his place, they were appalled by what they saw! They had never seen such poverty before! As they looked around, they spotted a strange picture pinned to the wall! A closer look revealed a check for $20,000. Because this poor man did not know what a check was, he pinned it to the wall instead of using it!

Do we do the same with God’s promises? Do we frame them and hang them on the wall instead of using them? Do we live in spiritual poverty, and beg God to supply what He has already given us? Are we content to live in the zealousness of self-love - content with the satisfaction of having striven to love and forgive? God has poured His love into our hearts! His love is much greater than our love! In the Holy Spirit He has given us Himself - His very nature! Now He wants us to appropriate and use what He has already provided! Let’s use the love that God has poured into our hearts so that we can pour it out into others!

This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Love is the very nature of God. By giving us the Holy Spirit, He has already poured His love into our hearts! We don’t need to cry for it and we don’t need to work for it - we just need to let it flow out! That’s where the problem is, isn’t it? How do we let it flow out when we’ve been hurt, misused and taken advantage of? How do we let it flow when promises are broken, when we are robbed of our inheritance, when we are rejected and despised? When we let these things become obstacles and barriers instead of opportunities, we won't let God's love flow out from us.

Legalism builds barriers, for it itemizes the reasons why people don't deserve our love. The law gives us a very keen sense of justice and stimulates the juices of condemnation. It does not contain any mercy; it does not even know what mercy is. We may plead with the law, ask for mercy and forgiveness together with a promise never to do it again, but the law only stares at us blankly; it doesn't understand what we are talking about; it doesn't know the meaning of mercy and forgiveness. It only states what is right and what is wrong, and can only approve or condemn what has been done or said. It condemns the wrongdoing and gives us a guilt complex. When we operate in the law, we cannot extend mercy, for the law forms a barrier to the outflow of the love God has given us in the Holy Spirit, and keeps us from forgiving others!

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they began a way of living that was characterized by the knowledge of good and evil, and therefore it demanded choice. They reasoned that the right choices would eventually lead them to God, and the wrong choices would mislead them. They forsook the way of obedience and substituted the way of choice. Jesus Christ is the true way into the presence of God! In Christ there is no evil so there is no choice; in Christ there is only obedience; in Christ we see the unfathomable riches that a life of obedience brings!

Living in Christ is living in His nature. Peter said, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the true knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." (2 Peter 1:2) If we let our imagination paint a picture of God, we'll get a false image. The true knowledge of God has to come by revelation. Let's look at more of the wealth that is ours in Christ.

"Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) Before Jesus Christ came, people did not know the meaning of grace and truth! They only knew the law, and it became their way for obtaining righteousness. They did not realize that the purpose of the law was to show them their inability to keep it, and therefore their need of help - their need of a Savior! We all need to recognize that it is impossible for us to keep the complete law, and if we fail in one point we are guilty of all. Christ fulfilled the law 100%, so in Christ a new era began. Christ has now become our righteousness! When we are put in Christ, the righteousness of the law ends, and Christ becomes our righteousness! This demonstrates the grace of God in Christ!

The law demands works, and grace reveals the Christ whose work becomes ours through faith! It is very difficult for us to completely divorce ourselves from the law! Often we accept God’s grace for ourselves, but use the law as a club over those who offend us. The law may also be an excuse for our unforgiveness. It's so easy to do that, isn’t it? Operating in the law gets us back into working for our righteousness. It causes us to compare ourselves with others, and brings us either into self-righteousness or beating up on ourselves. We will think we need to work for God’s favor. Work demands wages; grace extends favor and brings rewards. As long as we think we deserve a little bit of praise – even if it is only for having made a right choice - we are not functioning in grace! Grace does not come in the law - it only comes in Christ!

Christ is also the resurrection! In Him we are raised out of our death in Adam into the life of Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (Jn. 14:6) Our physical life has an end; it is filled with corruption. Christ's life is eternal and therefore cannot be corrupted! When we receive His life, we receive it in its incorruptibility. Paul said "Christ is our life." (Col. 3:4) If we do not live in His life, we live in the law of sin and death! That brings us into the bondage of unforgiveness, bitterness, hate, restlessness and turbulence! Living in life is living in the nature of Christ!

We can only live in His life by appropriating who He is and believing that we have received His nature! This does away with struggling to get rid of our sins. We do not receive Christ as a separate entity; we receive Him in union and relationship. Just as Christ was one with the Father, so we are one with Him. We need to believe what is ours in Christ Jesus and who we are in Him.

An incident that happened years ago illustrates this. A misunderstanding had arisen between us and a friend. We met to discuss the issue. As we began our talk, God spoke to Ernie and said, "Let brotherly love continue." God did not say that He would give us brotherly love. God did not want us to build a barrier that would keep this love from flowing out. Since He had already given us brotherly love, He wanted us to continue in the love that He had already given us. As Ernie shared this, God took over. The incident was forgotten, we embraced, and since then have shared many years together in fruitful service, friendship, and spiritual fellowship!

Ephesians chapter one is rich in listing the things that we have in Christ, and shows us what a treasure we have in Him! Can you think of any greater treasure than spiritual blessings? In verse 3 it says that in Him we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! These blessings are in the unseen realm but they are manifested in our attitude, words and actions. They free us from our bondage to self so we can bless others with our love, peace, joy, etc. Let's look at the blessings Paul lists.

In Him we come into the maturity (adoption) of sonship. (v. 5) Over the years, the word adoption has changed in meaning. The biblical meaning of the word 'adoption' is explained in Galatians 4. In biblical times a child received its adoption when it became the master over the servants. Formerly the child had been under the authority of the servants; its adoption made it master over the servants. In symbolism, the servants represent the Law. As long as we are under the law of dos and don’ts, we remain immature children. Once we move out from being under the law to being over the law, we receive our adoption! This requires a change of government. Our new government is the government of the Holy Spirit. We can only receive our adoption as mature sons when Christ is our Lord. In Him we have been chosen to be holy and blameless. (v. 4)

We have not been adopted into God's family; we have been born into His family. An adopted child comes into a family with the nature of its birth parents; a child born into a family doesn't have a foreign nature. Being born of the Spirit brings us into God's family, and His family has God's DNA - His nature. This new creation man is a spiritual man.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." (v. 7) What a comfort to know that all our trespasses have been forgiven! This knowledge does away with our guilt feelings. His blood, symbolizing His soul or sense of being, gives us Christ's sense of being! The accuser wants us to remain in old Adam's sense of being, so he continually tries to lure us back into our old thinking that is notoriously famous for its dependence on self-effort. Christ never did His own will; He only did what the Father showed Him to do. His whole life was characterized by obedience to the Father's will. His sense of being was manifested in His attitude, love, words and actions. His forgiveness and sense of being free us from our sin-consciousness!

In Him, God has made known to us His wisdom and insight. (vv. 8-9) Formerly God's marvelous plan for our redemption was a mystery to humanity. In Christ we receive a revelation of God's great purpose for us and for all humanity. His purpose is much greater than a restoration to the Adam man before he sinned. In God's wisdom and insight He purposed to take us out of the Adam man who sinned, and put us into the second man - the Christ, the man who never sinned! No one understood God's great plan until Christ came - not as a physical man, but in the Holy Spirit! (Acts 2) This great mystery was revealed in Christ!

In Him we have an administration that results in "the summing up of all things in Christ." (v. 10) "All" means that there are no exceptions. All things in heaven and on earth are summed up in Him. The Father has planned to reconcile all things to Himself on earth and in heaven. To administer this plan He sent Christ to bring peace through the blood of His cross. (Col. 1:20) The enmity was in humanity, not in God. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. (2 Cor. 5:19 ) The Concordant Literal translation correctly reads, "conciliated", because the enmity is alone on our part. It was we who needed to be conciliated to God - not God to us. "The Greek word, KATALLASSO that is used here, does not mean mutual hostility; this idea is absent from KATALLASSO." (Vines) God demonstrated His love and complete absence of hostility by giving His Son to die for us. He has now given to us the word of reconciliation (actually, conciliation).

In Him, we who were first to hope in Him, receive an inheritance, and that is, that we shall be to the praise of His glory. (vv. 11-12) How can we be to the praise of His glory? His glory is the sum total of all that He is! Christ revealed the glory of God to us, for He was the exact representation of the invisible God. Our inheritance in Christ is a change of nature. We are being changed into the image or nature of Christ! Our new nature brings praise to the glory of God's ability!

In Him, we who believe have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who has been given to us as a pledge of our inheritance. (v. 13-14) In Christ we receive the same anointing He received. This anointing brings us into an identification of oneness with Christ. The Holy Spirit has baptized us into Christ, and Christ is now our life, and this life is hidden with Christ in God! Without this oneness we really don't have anything!

A pledge or down payment is a promise that more is to follow. At present we rejoice and marvel at all that is ours in the Holy Spirit! But we only have the down payment at present; we only have a measure of the Spirit. Christ received the Spirit without measure! It is beyond our imagination to think what it will be like when the fullness of God's love is exemplified in all of us, just as it was in Christ! This will bring praise to His glory! This is our inheritance in Christ!

In Him, the surpassing greatness of His resurrection power toward us who believe is manifested. (vv. 18-20) The resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals the mighty power of God! Since Christ Jesus is the resurrection, and we have been united with Him, resurrection is now working in us. Death is completely eradicated in Christ!. Resurrection overcomes all the darkness and death that resides in the carnal mind. Our eyes need to be opened and enlightened to this wonderful truth, namely, that this power is working in all those who believe!

Christ has been seated at the right hand of God (v. 20), and in Him we are also seated with God in heavenly places! (Eph. 2:6) Since we have been put into Christ, we can enjoy this place at the right hand of God together with Him. This place is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come." (v.21) Christ has passed through all the various levels of rule, and His rule is higher than every other rule!

To enjoy the rule of God we have to be seated with Him. This indicates that we are at rest, for we have ceased from our own labors to achieve righteousness. There is no dependence on self and the works that come out of self-effort! Since there is total dependence on Christ, no power or dominion can overthrow God's rule in us!

The name of Christ is above every other name. In biblical terminology, name means nature. Christ's nature of love is above every other nature. This is the nature He gives to all who believe in Him! In Christ we have grace, truth, life, peace and love! (John 1: 14; John 14:6; Luke 2:14; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 1:3)

All the fullness of God dwells in Christ. "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross…" (Col. 1:19-20) In Eph. 3: 19 we read, "And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

What an awesome thought! Our natural reaction to being filled with the fullness of God is to put it into the "after death category". Our humility surfaces to the point that we say, "This is impossible. I'm just a human being. Therefore this is not for this life." Isn't it amazing how we want to correct God, yet impress Him with our humility? God tells us that He is love, and therefore He is filled with love. If we let the love of Christ fill our hearts, we will be filled with the fullness of God's love! God wants us to be filled with His love while we are still living on planet earth!

"And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself." God has planned to reconcile all things to Himself, and through reconciliation to subject all things to Himself. It's exciting to know that He has the power to do His will! "You have put all things in subjection under His feet. For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him." (Heb. 2:8) "Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." (Phil. 3:21) "For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, `All things are put in subjection,' it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son will also be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:27-29)

These are some of the verses that tell us that all things will be subjected to God. In spite of all the evidence that all will be reconciled to God, the organized church teaches that the greater part of humanity will exist in the torture of a literal hell forever. If this were true, it would follow that God lacked the power to fulfil His plan, and therefore He would be a liar. Yet the Bible plainly states that God is not a man that He should lie. If a literal hell could exist forever, it would mean that evil would also exist forever. If evil could exist eternally, it would mean that there is no corruption in evil, and that it has no beginning and no end. That would place evil in co-existence with God. However, we know that only God is eternal, and only His life has no corruption in it! Therefore evil and hell cannot exist forever!

How we thank God that He does away with evil! Through the blood of the cross all things will be reconciled to God. Every knee in heaven, on earth and under the earth will bow and "every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2: 11) In 1 Cor. 12:3 we learn that "no one can say, `Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." Therefore this is not a forced utterance; it is the recognition of the Lordship of Christ by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit!

The last enemy to be conquered is death. If hell could exist forever, death would not be conquered! Everything that does not have the life of God is in death. In Rom. 8:6 we read, "The mind set on the flesh is death." Believers have received the mind of Christ - the mind that is in life!

What kind of God do we want? Do we want the true God, or a god of our own making? The gods we create are idols, and they are powerless. Many prefer their own gods, for they can control their gods by their actions and alms. Yet eventually people learn that their gods cannot help them, and they remain entangled in their own web of confusion and hopelessness.

The good news of the gospel is that we no longer have to strive to impress God with our accomplishments! Christ in us is the same Christ that He is in His essence! Isn’t that wonderful! He wants to fill us completely! To be filled with Him means we are completely filled with His love - for He is love! Being filled with His love displaces our self-love!

Growing in Christ is a process! The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and He teaches us truth, step by step. We don’t expect a 5 year-old to know the complete multiplication table, neither do we scold a one- year-old for not being able to talk. Instead we encourage our children to learn on the level they are at! The Holy Spirit gives us encouragement in our learning experiences! I’m sure we have all experienced His encouragement in times of need! Even when we have made mistakes, He has encouraged us to believe God and to trust Him.

Encouragement is a byproduct of love. Encouragement does not come with condemnation. Without the condemnation of the law we are able to acknowledge that we still have areas of pride and wrong desires that need to be dealt with. Encouragement comes with the knowledge that God's ways are always best! God always leads us in paths of righteousness and life. He has promised to freely give us all good things! Since He is the One who justifies us, obedience to His prompting always brings us into life in a fuller measure!

Let's keep Romans 8:31-35,37-39.in mind. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written…But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Nothing, absolutely NOTHING can separate us from the love of God! Let us build on this wonderful foundation with all the resources that are ours in Christ!

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