The Christ-Centered Life (Part 2 of 2)

Second, there is another dimension of being “Christ-centered” in discipleship–the need to live this out experientially. This goes beyond one’s state (as saved by grace), including regeneration and justification (Rom. 5:1; Titus 3:5). These blessings do not guarantee that we are centered in Christ in terms of priorities and power. The revelation and reckoning of our oneness with Christ involves being convicted of the weakness and futility of our living out of “the flesh,” along with a Holy Spirit-enabled step of faith (Rom. 6:4-14). We are to depend upon Christ as the basis of our new identity and source of dynamic living.

Paul confessed this experiential aspect of Christ-centeredness in Galatians 2:20b: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Regrettably, only a minority of us can say like Paul, “For me, to live is Christ.”

So, being “Christ-centered” is not only an ontological statement (“Christ is in me”), but a functional commitment (“for me, to live is Christ”).

This being the case, what are the conditions of experiencing Christ-centered living in our soul and behavior? Although the full answer is contained throughout the New Testament, two responses are fundamental:

1) yielding to God, and

2) believing in Christ’s indwelling life.

The life Christ lives through His people today has these same qualities that He demonstrated during His earthly ministry.[2]

The Lord Jesus always yielded to the Father.

He was totally, consistently, and perfectly in harmony with the Father’s will. “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 8:29; 4:34). So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Christ-centered living is not just a doctrine or theory to enhance our self-fulfillment; it is the God-designed way of living.

We are summoned today to this same quality of surrender: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1, 2).

Yielding to God’s good will flows from this wholehearted commitment, but is ratified daily: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me'” (Luke 9:23). Therefore, functional Christ-centered living is impossible if self-will is reigning in your life.

The second basic condition is for being rightly centered is faith. As the “Son of Man,” Christ also modeled faith in the enabling of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16; 12:28; Luke 4:18; John 3:34) .

Likewise, trust in Christ to live His life in and through you. Remember again Paul’s testimony: “… and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…” The step of “reckoning” prescribed in Romans 6:10,11 is personally to believe your identification. The old you in Adam was crucified and buried with Christ; the new you, joined to Christ’s eternal life, is raised with Him and even enthroned with Him! (Eph. 2:4-7; Col. 3:1-4).

Just as yielding is an initial and daily process, so faith is an appropriation step as well as a daily dependence. This relationship is pictured in the vine and branches passage (John 15:1-8). Just as the branch is organically united with the vine (union), so the branch depends on the life of the vine to produce the fruit (trust). Jesus declared, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Back in the 1800’s Mary E. Maxwell expressed Christ-centered living through her poem:

“How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.

Witnessing Thy power to save me,
Setting free from self and sin;
Thou who boughtest to possess me,
In Thy fullness, Lord, come in.

Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water
From our inner self may flow.

Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.”

Friend, who are you depending on to live the Christian life? Only one person can do this–Christ Himself. And He will live this life in and though you today as you become centered in Him.


Part 2 of 2. Part 1 is online at gracenotebook.com/the-christ-centered-life-part-1/

[2] For further study on this theme, see GN, “How Did Jesus Do What He Did?” gracenotebook.com/how-did-jesus-do-what-he-did/. An definitive book-length study on this theme is The Mystery of Godliness, by Ian Thomas.

Copyright by John B. Woodward in 2010. Permission is granted to reprint (with credit given) for non-commercial use. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
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Copyright, John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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