AN OFFER OF LIFE
By Larry White
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: That you may love the LORD your God, [and] that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he [is] your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Moses was rehearsing the Law that was given 40 years earlier - and here he exhorts Israel to remain in a relationship with Jehovah, for in so doing they would live and prosper. If they forsook Jehovah they would be choosing death. So, Moses pleads with them, "Choose life!"
In that the O.T. is a shadow or image of things to come in the N.T. dispensation, this offer of life has an even greater significance to us. Mankind has been given an offer of life by this same God through the gift of his only son, Jesus Christ. God is saying to all of mankind, "Choose life!"
We are all born into this world somewhere between life and death. You might think, how can I say such an odd thing?
I.) What is Life?
To define life one must consider many factors associated with life and also consider it from several perspectives.
Webster: "That property which makes it possible for us to take in food, get energy from it, grow, adapt to our surroundings and reproduce our kind. The opposite of being dead."
That is the definition most people in the world will give. But Jesus said that he was come that we might have life. (Jno.10:10) So besides a physical definition we have also a moral or spiritual definition: That property or quality arising from having a relationship with what exists. That which really exits is eternal because that which is temporary can go out of existence. So that which pre-eminently exists, is the one who is self existent, the one from whom all else derives its existence, viz. God.
We have an expression - when a person is unconscious or in a deep sleep, we say, "He's dead to the world" - he lacks contact with what's going on. Our contact with He who exists (since it is God) must be a relationship with him. So life, life both real and essential, must be a relationship established and ever active with the God of the universe; the one who has existed, the one who does exist and the one who will exist.
These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you. As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
To know God.
To have an intimate, personal acquaintance with God, an experience of communion with him - is to have life. (being in contact with what is) God said, "I am." So if you don't have a relationship with him, you don't have life. Therefore spiritual life is the life of Life; true life; Life with a capital "L".
Therefore, death is just it's opposite. Physical death is to be inanimate, not vital, not feeding, not growing. Spiritual death is to be out of contact or relation with God; to be separated from He who is. And therefore this death is the death of Death; true death; separated from all that truly is; that quality that is true to the term Death.
And you [has he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; In which you walked in times past, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our behavior in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4:17-19 Therefore I say this, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk, not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Summary: Now, when we are born into the world, we may have physical life - but it seems we are just on the road to either spiritual life or spiritual death. God didn't create us for death. He wants us to have life. He has sent his only son so that we might have life in him.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world might be saved through him.
II.) Life is in Christ
This life that God has for us is found only in his son Jesus Christ.
And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; [and] he that does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Jesus said in (Jno.10:10) "I am come that they might have life and that they may have it more abundantly."
God has chosen that all of created mankind should come to life, and that this life should be obtained and only come through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Jno.6:39-58 (notice the phrase "raise him up at the last day and the moral condition that precedes it)
"And this is the will of the Father which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he says, 'I came down from heaven?'"
Therefore Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall be all taught of God.' Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me. Not that any man has seen the Father, save he which is of God, he has seen the Father.
Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me has everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?"
Then Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever."
So, two major things Jesus was saying here: that whoever believed in him would have eternal life as a present possession and then following upon this possession of life would come a resurrection that Jesus would also effect on the last day.
So, standing before them, in this one human being, was the self existent source of all life, the embodiment of the ever-living power of all the life that has ever been or ever will be. In him resided the one, singular path to life that will ever be given.
We have the progression then of life:
(Father has life < Jesus has life < Believers with spiritual life < the resurrection to life.)
And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also make alive your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
"And to where I go you know, and you know the way." Thomas says to him, "Lord, we do not know where you go; and how can we know the way?" Jesus says to him, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me."
Jesus is the truth (he is what IS, he is reality). He is the go-between, he is the path to the Father (the Way) and therefore:
He is the life.
There is no other way to life but in him.
In Acts.3:15 Peter calls him the "Prince....of Life."
"Prince" is the originator, the leader, the author, the captain. In Aramaic there's only one word for the two concepts of Life and Salvation, because the one that is saved is the one that is still alive. If a man is dead he was not saved (as in battle). That is why in the book of Hebrews Jesus is called the "Captain of our salvation" and the "Author of eternal salvation" It's the same as saying "the Prince of Life."
III.) We live also.
Jesus promised his disciples in
Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also.
We want to gain this life. But how does one go about it?
Jesus said you must believe in him to have everlasting life. Our faith in him becomes the acceptance of this gift of eternal life and also the active response of our hearts in appropriating that new life - what people in the church generally refer to as obedience. (acting upon it as real)
By Faith in him
When we by faith come to him accepting his death for our forgiveness and trusting in him to give us a new life - then he by his working and power makes us spiritually alive.
Buried with him in immersion, wherein also you are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he made alive together along with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
The working of God in immersion is that he forgives all our trespasses ("for the remission of sins" Acts.2:38) and then makes us alive spiritually, which is the new birth ("born of water and of the spirit" Jno.3:5). It's our faith in that "operation of God" that is essential in immersion. We are born again.
Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes, and to where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus still had his thoughts on the carnal plane. Jesus is explaining that true life is in the spirit - which necessitates a spiritual birth. This happens in our immersion. We there begin to have spiritual life, because a relationship is thus established whereby we can know God, and to know God, is life.
For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been immersed into Christ have put on Christ.
But when the fullness of the time was come, God commissioned and sent out his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has commissioned and sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father." For this reason you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when you did not know God, you did service unto them which by nature are not gods. But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
We thus become a different being than anything the world could produce. We still have a mortal body - but housed in this temporary tent is a spirit already partaking of and enjoying the life to come.
And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.
We grow in this spiritual life. If our faith is what it should be, i.e. believing as real what the word of God says, then we will become more spiritually minded and therefore live in the spirit.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] hatred against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.
It is the Holy Spirit's job to realize in us the holy life of Jesus Christ according to the measure of our faith, and bring us to a likeness of the son of God. Because Jesus lives, we live also. He is our life.
This isn't automatic. We can thwart his purpose in us by an ungodly life lived in rebellion.
If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh, that is, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body, you shall live.
Do not let sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts of it. Neither present you your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but present yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
If we want to keep that relationship of life with God, then we had better be led by the Spirit of God, walking in submission to God and obeying the truth. A person can get to the point that even though he or she is a Christian, that person can be spiritually dead - totally carnally minded.
Now she that is a real widow, and completely alone, trusts in God, and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.
The deceitfulness of sin, is that it puts us into this sleep of death, and we may not be aware of it. Some warning signs are:
* The absence of prayer
* Very little Bible reading
* Never talking about God.
"But beloved, I am persuaded better things of you - and things which accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
If all goes as planned, if we are diligent to keep ourselves in the love of God and not cast off our first faith, then even though our body dies - there isn't really any death in that death - because we live, we will always live. As Jesus said in:
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Yes, we believe it. Since Jesus is the resurrection, then all who are "in" Jesus are also in the resurrection already. From our perspective in time, the resurrection is now a present reality, that is to say it was an event in the first century that accompanied the return of Christ and the End of the age. But in the first century when these things were being said, just as they are when we are reading them, it was something for which they were still waiting.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where [is] your sting? O grave, where [is] your victory?" The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This victory is what we Christians living today enter into and enjoy along with all the saints in the first century. The sons of God have been revealed to the universe and we in triumph live with God and reign with him in that life. Death is swallowed up in victory because we do not pass from this earth to be separated from God. We have passed from death into life (Jno. 5:24) and hence go to be with him in life, because the curse of Death is no more.
Our place and standing in victory was a long time coming and had been a painful journey which required endurance on the part of men waiting and longing for that life.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected [the same] in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and has labor pains together until now. And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body. For in this hope we were saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we do not see, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].
We used to have to go to Hades when we died and suffer that "bondage of corruption" Now we are passed from Death into Life and when we leave this world we receive the spiritual body that is waiting for us in heaven.
2 Cor. 5:1-5
For we know that if our earthly house of this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Indeed, for in this we groan, greatly desiring to be clothed with our dwelling-place which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, in order that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
Now he who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the down-payment of the Spirit.
God has begun a life in us. It's a holy life. It's the very life of Life himself, Jesus Christ. God wants us to enjoy it to the fullest and be revealed in glory with the unimaginable joy of his presence forever.
That expectation can be yours, if you'll come to him - by faith placing your life in his hands and be immersed into him - his life can be yours.
God sets before you this day, life and death - therefore choose life !
(Originally delivered as a sermon in Baker City, OR. March 13, 1988 and amended in 2015)