“In Christ” Interview With Pastor Jerry Halbrook
INTERVIEWER: How long have you been living the “in Christ” life?
JERRY: It was in 1979 or early in 1980 that I accepted the message and began experiencing my crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. So, that means I have been experiencing it for at least 20 years.
INTERVIEWER: You have testified that when you first heard the message, you did not think it had anything to do with life.
JERRY: That is true. I was in college and learning a lot of new truths about Christianity. I just thought that the truth that I was in Christ and had been crucified, buried, and resurrected was no more than a theological concept.
INTERVIEWER: What caused you to change your mind about the “in Christ” truths?
JERRY: I had a basic presupposition that I could handle the Christian life. I believed that in my own strength I could have victory over sin, I could have success in the ministry, and I could be successful in my own life. I thought that all I needed to do was exercise my own will power and get out there and do it. All I really needed was some refinement.
INTERVIEWER: So something must have happened.
JERRY: Something did happen. I was a failure. I was a failure in my personal life. I was a failure in my school work. I was a failure in my church work. I came to realize that success in life and in the work of the Kingdom of God is a supernatural work. I could not produce it.
INTERVIEWER: Did you just suddenly believe in your crucifixion, burial, and resurrection as something you needed to experience in order to have victory in your life and in your ministry?
JERRY: No, it didn’t happen that way. It was not long after I realized I was a failure that I began to experience my crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
But God did not immediately take me to the Romans six passage. The Lord opened my eyes to my need of total dependence on Him by guiding me to the vine and branches passage in John 15. Through the John 15 passage I saw that a pruning had to take place.
I saw that God had to do the work rather than me. I saw that my life was one with Christ. I realized that I needed to start listening to God rather than trying to read one more book. I remembered that the “in Christ” concept is found in the New Testament over 160 times, but I had not been listening. Until the breaking experience and the John 15 experience, I thought that Romans six was one more passage that should result in more commitment to the Lord. But now the Lord showed me that experiencing my crucifixion, burial, and resurrection was the very heart of Christian living. I began to experience life on those terms.
INTERVIEWER: Did you suddenly become sinless and perfect?
JERRY: Far from it. But I did begin to change. And God has been changing me ever since. I have had seasons when I have become cold to the “in Christ” message. But I always know what to do when I realize that I have gotten away from the experience.
INTERVIEWER: Would you tell us some of the changes you began to experience when you began living out your oneness with Christ?
JERRY: Before I began to experience my oneness with Christ in crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, my flesh expressed itself in many ways. I was self-willed, self-confident and opinionated, and frequently very hard-headed. I was full of zeal, very legalistic, and judgmental. But in spite of all of that I also was insecure and defensive. I was spiritually very immature.
INTERVIEWER: Did the Lord begin to change you in some of those areas?
JERRY: The Lord began to change me in all of those areas. And He is not through with me yet.
INTERVIEWER: Were you surprised when God began to do those changes in you?
JERRY: I was. But I was in for a lot of other surprises.
INTERVIEWER: Would you tell us about some of them?
JERRY: One of the first surprises was how deeply convicted and grieved I would be when I sinned. And I was not only grieved over my sin but over the fact that I had gotten away from experiencing my crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. I was surprised that pain was a part of this joyous life of victory. The Lord continually gives me circumstances that leave me in a state of dependence on Him. He revealed to me the horrendous capacity of my own sin nature [flesh].
I was greatly surprised about the ever intensifying exhilaration of living a life of faith. I was surprised at the Lord working in me a growing dependence on my union with Christ. I was greatly surprised at the victories God gave over my sin nature [flesh] that had so much controlled me. I was surprised at the divine love I began to experience in my own heart.
INTERVIEWER: How has God been at work growing you in experiencing your life in Christ?
JERRY: The Lord keeps me at the place of brokenness. Through circumstances and revelations of my own sinful nature [flesh], He shows me that I must live in a state of dependence on Him.
A second way the Lord continues to grow me in experiencing my oneness with Christ is through an expanding revelation of what it means to be in Christ.
Also, I have a close relationship with several others who understand how to experience the “in Christ” life. Just talking with them is a growing experience.
INTERVIEWER: How do you share the “in Christ” message with others?
JERRY: Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I have shared this with some who indicated early in the conversation that they were not even ready to talk about it. But some are ready.
INTERVIEWER: If you were speaking to a group of people you knew were ready to hear the message, what would you say?
JERRY: Since you are ready to receive the message of grace I can assume some things about you. First, I can assume that you’ve tried to live the Christian life out of your own strength, and out of your own wisdom–without success. Second, I’d be fairly safe in assuming that you have experienced a breaking because of some uncomfortable circumstance.
[To appropriate the “in Christ” life] First, I encourage you to thank God for breaking you as well as for revealing to you the impotence of your own wisdom. Second, I encourage you to listen to this message like a child who is hearing it for the first time–like a child whose capacity for faith hasn’t been diminished by religious self-confidence.
“In Christ” newsletter: Fall, 2000, David Kuykendall Ministries
318 North Brighton, Dallas, Texas 75208 214-943-4473 (http://www.living-by-grace.org)