As a newly reborn young NASA physicist, at age 22, my life changed dramatically. I moved from the party apartments where I lived, and made friends with very different values and priorities. Within a few months my focus had so changed that I decided to leave my job at NASA in Houston and go to Bible school, so I could learn more of the things that really count in eternity.
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit had made a profound change in who I had become, but I was still troubled by many of my old ways, tendencies and sins. God still had a lot of work to do on me. In Bible school I met and married a godly woman named Ellen, and we had four wonderful children in the next five years. I continued my technical career after graduating from Bible school working in computers and engineering. We were very active in our local church in teaching, discipleship and outreach ministry.
At the end of the first decade after my conversion I felt deeply that I was missing a vital understanding in my Christian walk. I began to ask why my spiritual life was not as abundant as Scripture describes, and why I did not seem to make any real progress in maturing beyond my daily struggles with what seemed like leftovers from my old life. Several people suggested I study the writings of Watchman Nee and Major Ian Thomas for help. In these writings I got clear glimpses of the struggle with the flesh and how we could find ourselves operating on both sides of the river of life, with flesh on one side and spiritual walk on the other. What I needed was a bridge to cross back to the Spirit-led river bank when I found myself on the wrong side. I knew that I still needed Biblical understanding that I had not discovered. Intuitively I felt there must be an answer to finding the abundant life promised in John 10:10 on a more consistent basis. It seemed the more committed I was and the harder I tried to overcome the flesh, the stronger it became. I still wondered how to fulfill the statement in Galatians 2:20-21 and let Christ be the one who was continually living in me.
In 1993, after our kids were grown, God called Ellen and me to represent Him around the world in missions with Mission Aviation Fellowship. We had very fruitful assignments in Albania, Central Asia and Russia, in supporting church planting and developing and distributing church leadership training resources. Later that expanded to the Middle East and Africa, and we were able to serve in over 50 countries.
In 2004, nearly 37 years after I had begun my Christian walk, a man gave me the book, Our Oneness With Christ, by David Kuykendall, which covered chapters five through eight of Romans. Immediately after reading this book I knew I had found the answer I had been looking for. This study of our crucifixion, burial, and resurrection with Christ and the keys to experiencing the abundant life found in Romans 6 opened my eyes to the truth I had been seeking for over 25 years. As I read, reread and studied this book and the Scriptures it referred to, I began to understand the struggles of my Christian walk. Not only did I receive the keys to understand why the Christian life is a daily battle, but also how to experience the victory God made possible through living in Christ. Many other Scriptures throughout the Bible also began to come alive to me. They confirmed this new understanding the Holy Spirit had opened through the full understanding of Romans 5-8 God had given this insight to David Kuykendall nearly 25 years earlier.
Once we realize that the independent “I” must “die” and be replaced with a dependent life in Christ, many things started to change. No longer do we need to analyze how to please God and do things for Him. Instead, we can know we are His. He has plans for us that will allow us to bring Him glory. He is working through us, as His chosen vessel, to desire and to do His good pleasure. His yoke is easy because it is designed to fit your availability. The burden of trying to earn His approval goes away once we understand that our life in Him and His life in us leads to the abundant life He promised. More and more we realize it’s all about Him and not about us. I think this message of living by grace is tragically lacking in most of our evangelism and discipleship efforts.
We teach people how to be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but we fail to teach them how to experience the abundant life available to us in Christ. We fail to teach them about their crucifixion, burial and resurrection in union with Christ. Since coming to understand this New Testament message, I treasure the opportunity I have had to teach it to pastors, church leaders and disciples around the world. This truth is the “pearl of great price” in that Jesus’ lordship, His kingdom, is realized in us through our union with Him in death, burial and resurrection.
Please understand that all of our struggles don’t go away once we start to experience what we have in Christ (which we had all along). Once we realize that we were called out from among the dead ones to have abundant life, our life in Him begins to mature. This knowledge allows us to know what is happening when we find ourselves on the flesh-led side of the river. The key is to pray to God, thanking Him that we don’t have to be there, and cross over to the Spirit-led side [Eph. 5:18] by obeying the five commands of Romans 6:11-13. In union with Christ we can choose to make our body and its members unavailable to sin, and in union with Christ we can choose to make them available to God for His life and purposes in us. This is the key to the abundant life Christ promised both now and forever.
Mike Holman (1944-2023) was a member of the Living By Grace board. Because of his contacts and expertise, God has used him greatly in the expansion of this ministry–especially in getting the message of grace into foreign nations and in the printing of the message in other languages.
From the In Christ Newsletter of David Kuykendall Ministries, Dallas, TX. The book Mike was helped by, Our Oneness With Christ, is available for free download at their web site: www.livingbygrace.org/books/