Growing into the Fullness of Christ

Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain… (Rev 5:6, ESV2011)

It is interesting to note that Jesus is standing as a sacrificial Lamb among the four living creatures and the elders and not sitting apart in all His glory on the throne. He is our advocate who loves us, and He is our Pattern Son. Just as He laid down His life for us, so are we called to lay down our lives in love for one another. He came to show us the way of eternal life and suffering is all part of it. But oh, how we hate suffering! We have heard the lie, “Jesus suffered and died so that we don’t have to.” Some of us were sold a “bill of goods” that said if we only gave our lives to Jesus all would be better and we would be happy the rest of our lives. I’m sorry, but that is a false gospel.

In order for God to have the preeminence in our lives, He must deal with us as His sons and daughters. We must go through much “child training” to overcome walking in our old, childish, Adamic natures. But when some of us find out that being a Christian is not all that was advertised and our lives are not going to be “all puppy dogs and roses,” we get offended and go back to our old worldly ways. Because of offenses the first love we had for Jesus waxes cold. It should not be this way, dear saints. The culture we live in has set us up to receive this false gospel and as a result we often fall away! The message of the cross does not fill mega-churches, nor does it build a large following on a blog. Someone said that A. W. Tozer was invited to speak from every conference platform in America, never to be invited to do so again. That speaks more of the nature of today’s Christian church than it does the speaker.

Today we are seeing rebellious people running wild in our streets, looting, burning, rioting, shooting police, old people, children and one another. In America we have thousands of unfilled job positions because we have a workforce that refuses to show up for work on time and do what they are hired to do — if they bother to work at all — and our government enables them in all of it!

The fact of the matter is the degeneration of society is all a product of improper child raising. Children who were not raised with fathers who discipline them in a loving way are manifesting their undisciplined hearts as adults. Those who are of this same heart in the seats of government are encouraging it and allowing it to go on without due recompense. Paul wrote,

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:7-8, ESV2011)

Satan’s plan for our lives is the total opposite of that of our loving Father. In Hebrews we read:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. ”It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Heb 12:5-8, ESV2011)

The Good News of the Gospel is that we are called to be the sons and daughters of God and share in His glory. Just as Jesus walked in a love relationship with His Father and obeyed Him out of that love, so are we called to do the same. If Jesus learned obedience by His sufferings, how much more must we frail humans who are called into the family of God do the same?

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

The city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23 NLT)

Light is not a mental thing: that is to say, it is not just a matter of having a store of mental knowledge. That is not light. It is possible to have an enormous amount of doctrine and truth and never be luminaries, that is, never register impact upon darkness. Real light is experimental [experiential]: that is to say, it is the fruit of experience, the experience of suffering. How have you children of God come to know what you do know of the Lord, that real kind of knowledge of the Lord which is so precious to us, which means so much and which makes you in that measure of value to others? It is through suffering, it is through the difficult way the Lord has led you, it is through the work of the Cross that He has wrought in you. “The Lamb is the lamp” – suffering leading to knowledge, to light, to understanding. It is the only way. These people at the end will be in the good of a great and wonderful revelation which has come by their fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. It is very true. It may not be too comforting from one standpoint, but it is true; and it ought to help us to realize this: that the Lord, in the way in which He is dealing with us, in the sufferings which He allows to come upon us, is really seeking our education, that we may have a knowledge of Himself which can only come that way, and which is a peculiar kind of knowledge of tremendous value to us and through us to others. We do not learn in any other way. It is the Lamb, always the Lamb-principle, the way of suffering and sacrifice and self-emptying, that brings us into the knowledge of the Lord. “The Lamb is the lamp thereof”; and, just as it is deeper death unto fuller life, so it may often be deeper darkness unto fuller light.

The Lord seems to lead us in a way where we are less and less able naturally to understand Him. He gets us altogether out of our natural capacity, beyond our capacity for interpreting His ways. We just do not know what the Lord is doing, or why He is doing what He is doing; yet it is the way by which we come to a very real kind of inward knowledge of Himself. It may not be capable of explanation in words to anybody, but we know, somehow or other we know, and that is a mighty thing, a mighty power of knowledge. It is light through the Cross.

https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/000809.html

Some of us had fathers and mothers that believed that if they were to spare the rod they would spoil the child. My father was the disciplinarian in our family and he did not always do it out of love, but would use his belt out of frustration and anger. For me it was like that verse in Hebrews above goes on to say, “…We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Heb 12:9, KJV). I honored my father out of fear, but it enabled me to see that God also wanted me to honor and obey Him. It is growing into a love relationship with Him that has taken much longer, but I thank God that there was discipline in my life for it has made suffering as a born-again believer easier to accept.

Many years ago I had a pastor that had a young son named Danny. When the boy would need some firm correction he would say, “Danny, go get the spoon.” He was referring to a long handled, wooden kitchen spoon he used for a paddle. One day He said, “Danny, go get my spoon.” The boy obeyed when he brought the spoon back he said, “Daddy, it is MY spoon too.” Dear saints, God knows He is getting the fruit in our lives He is after when we love Him for chastising us and see all our suffering as coming from His loving hands that we might share in the glory and love of the Father and the Son as His called-out ones. Love to you all IN Christ.

14 comments on “Growing into the Fullness of Christ

  1. pepper879 says:

    Thank you Michael for sharing this. Shalom Pepper

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael, you wrote,

    “Satan’s plan for our lives is the total opposite of that of our loving Father.”

    I do agree that we need God’s discipline and suffering with Christ in our lives to learn obedience. Nonetheless, I see a danger in over-emphasizing suffering, which, as I know myself, might happen when we are in the midst of it. Indeed, the enemy is highly skilled at discouraging us and robbing us of all hope. Jesus said,

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd.The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (Jn 10:10-11 ESV)

    Why did He lay down HIS very life for us who follow Him? So that we might get IT, even during this life on earth! But alas, the gate is too small for our ego to enter in and therefore, I believe, the way that leads to this very life must be hard due to countless trials and suffering that reveal our self-deception and thus help us finally to lean on God alone. It seems to me that it is only through this increasing death to self that we receive God’s life more and more abundantly, too. The more we get there, the more we might be able to join Paul as he eventually exclaimed repeatedly,

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4-7 ESV – emphasis in italics added)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. wanda says:

    Hi Michael,

    That “bill of goods” was sold to me and I thought everything was going to be “butterflies and rainbows” after coming to Christ. I remember being so confused when life got really hard. The meaning of the cross does not become clear until you have suffered. I am so grateful for the discipline of the Father. He has shown me Himself and I know there was no other way for that to happen. Joy is on the other side of the Cross but you must suffer first. What T. Austin Sparks wrote is so true, “we don’t know what the Lord is doing or why He is doing it.” We know that He will make us blameless for the day of Christ, and that is what I cling to.

    Love in Christ,

    Wanda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Hi Wanda,

      This whole issue of suffering is hard to bear for sure and that old Adam in us dies hard. It seems that my body comes up with a new ailment every week to add to the rest of the pains I have to live with. Paul said,

      “…though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor 4:16-18, KJ2000)

      I guess it all depends on where we choose to look. All I know is that pain can be very distracting and it comes in many forms. Yet, the Lord gives us a respite now and then that brings our eyes back in focus to keep seeking the glory of His Kingdom through it all. As Paul prayed,

      “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe…” (Eph 1:17-19,KJ2000)

      Thank you for your comment, dear sister,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cindy B. says:

        To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
        Isaiah 61:3

        He has good plans!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Thanks Cindy, for the reminder.

        “​For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps 30:5, ESV2011)

        Like

  4. The disintegration of the family is at the root of the disintegration of society.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      So true, Anna. Dorothy and I have been married for 55 years, by the grace of God. When I tell people I meet that we have been married for that long they look at me as if I am a walking miracle. It is sad to see so many kids growing up without fathers. Like the country song by Roger Miller goes,

      Two broken hearts lonely looking like houses where nobody lives
      Two people each having so much pride inside neither side forgives
      The angry words spoken in haste such a waste (of) two lives
      It’s my belief pride is the chief cause and the decline
      In the number of husbands and wives

      https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rogermiller/husbandsandwives.html

      And pride is the root of all sin, but God is love. Without Him living in us families have no hope of survival.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael, reading your story with Dorothy, I remembered that my parents were at a work-related event many years ago. My mom seemed to be the only wife who was always seen with her husband. When my dad won another competition and was allowed to spend a few days abroad for free, my mom was there with him, too, while others were alone or with a girlfriend.

        One day a woman asked my mom, as she could not believe that my parents had been married to each other and no one else ever, why they did so. She could not understand that they preferred a long and difficult, perhaps partly boring marriage to the “thrill” of ever new love affairs. Actually, my mom felt pretty embarrassed confronted with such a worldly view of life. 😔 But my mom insisted that her view was the proper one. After more than 61 years of marriage now where my dad now cares for my mom as she once cared for him, I recognize what Paul meant when he chose marriage as a metaphor of Christ’s love for His Bride, the (invisible) church that has been already born into the (invisible) Kingdom of God. 👍🏼

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, what a wonderful example your parents have made for you to follow. ⭐ Thanks for sharing this. I hope to meet them in the future.

        Your brother IN Christ,
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are very welcome, Michael. Thank you, too! 😇🙏🏼👍🏼

        Liked by 1 person

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