“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving … For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:7,8,10 NKJV).
As a teenager, I repented of my sins and received Jesus as Lord of my life. I made a public profession of faith and followed my Savior in baptism.
The period of sovereign grace that followed brought a sense of peace and well-being that was almost euphoric. But like most Christians, the elation I experienced soon began to fade as the trials and temptations of life arose. Like Paul, I often found myself doing things I didn’t want to do and failing to do things I should [Rom. 7:15-25].
I went to church on Sunday, but rarely spent intimate time with God in His Word and in prayer. And when I came to Him in prayer, I “did all the talking,” with the entire focus on me and my perceived needs. Predictably, my walk with the Lord soon became shallow and inconsistent, and I realized that the joy and serenity I saw in the lives of other Christians was conspicuously absent from mine.
Then, in 1998, I encountered a personal crisis that brought me to a place of brokenness and receptiveness to God’s will. And almost simultaneously, an unsaved friend began to relentlessly question me about the Bible. We began having regular Bible study. In my preparations for the studies, the Spirit of God began to reveal truths to me that were staggering. The words began to leap off the page and I found myself immersed in the Word of God for hours on end and being so excited that my heart was pounding.
I began to understand that my relationship with the Lord was not about performance, but about identity ! I realized that when I was saved I became one with Christ and to my amazement, I discovered that I didn’t have to struggle and strive to please God in my own strength, but to live out my oneness with Christ! [John 15:1-5]. Almost immediately the struggle was over. As I began to live out these truths in my life, an amazing adventure began that continues to this day.
As this period of transformation continued, I was invited by a friend to a Bible study being taught by Rev. David Kuykendall in Red Oak, Texas. Through pastor David’s teaching ministry, my understanding of living by grace was expanded and tremendously enhanced. He showed us clearly from Scripture that when we were baptized into Christ, we were spiritually crucified, buried and resurrected. He taught that through the “In Christ” truths of Romans and elsewhere, we could believe we are one with Christ in crucifixion, burial and resurrection and could choose to experience our spiritual crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Among other things he showed us the awesome truth that when we experience our union with Christ, sin does not have dominion over us! [Rom. 6:6,14]
Praise be unto God that my life is no longer one of quiet desperation. I have finally come to know what it really means to love the Lord and to understand that He loves me with an everlasting, unconditional love. I honestly did not believe that anyone, especially someone like me, could experience a foretaste of Heaven in this dark and hurtful world. But I know now that we don’t have to wait until we pass into eternity for the victory celebration to begin. By experiencing our oneness with Christ, we can live in abundance and quiet jubilation right here on earth. To Him be all the glory!
It is not necessary for one who is experiencing his oneness with Christ to wait until he has more maturity in the experience before he begins to share the message with others. If you are experiencing the life of grace, it could be of the Lord for you to ask Him if you need to be sharing the message with others. If you sense that He wants you to share the message, ask Him to lead you to the right person or persons to share it with. It is an inspiration and spiritual blessing to see someone with a fire in his heart to tell the lost about Jesus and His wonderful salvation. Consider, though, the letters of Paul, John, Peter, Jude and James. There is little in these 20 letters about winning the lost to Christ. They are letters about living the Christian life. This does not mean the writers did not consider evangelism important. It does mean that one is prepared for evangelism through Christian growth.
Jesus gave the great commission, but He told His disciples to wait until they were endued with power from on high. He said they would be witnesses when Holy Spirit came upon them [Acts 1:8]. On the day of Pentecost the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit and about 3,000 people received Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is likely that we will not have another Pentecost, but we are commanded in Scripture to be filled with the Holy Spirit [Eph. 5:18]. The one certain way for our churches to be filled with the Holy Spirit is for them to experience their spiritual crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Who among those who are experiencing the life of grace will make himself/herself available to God to share this message? What would happen if each evangelical church had just one member sharing this message with other members? Some would respond to the message and they would begin to mature as Christians in ways they had never matured before.
From In Christ, 2007, published quarterly by David Kuykendall Ministries, 318 North Brighton, Dallas, Texas 75208. Ph. 214-943-4473 www.living-by-grace.org Billy Deal is a Christian layman from Waxahachie, Texas. Bracketed Scripture and references added – JBW
David Kuykendall was mentioned in Billy Deal’s testimony. Many of David’s books are freely available online at http://www.living-by-grace.org/books/ such as Our Oneness with Christ. His testimony is at GFI’s audio channel: http://gfiworld.sermon.net/main/main/10549579