“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 KJV)
…Two things are said by Christ in this tenth chapter of John: He gives his life for the sheep (John 10:11,15,17), and this is redemption; and He gives His life to the sheep (vs.28) and this is regeneration.
Precisely this duality is found in the third chapter. The sheep are under a two-fold disability: they are “perishing” under the curse and sentence of the law, and must be redeemed by one able and willing to be “made a curse” in their stead; but also they are born of the flesh and therefore mere flesh-men, unable to “see” or “enter” the kingdom of God, and for this there is no remedy save in a re-birth [John 3:3,16].
But precisely these two needs are met by the gospel of the love of God; the Son of man must be lifted up on the cross to redeem the perishing, and the Holy Spirit imparts the divine nature and the new life to all who believe on the Son of Man as crucified for their sins.
THE NEW LIFE IS CHRIST’S LIFE
Mere endlessness of being would not be “eternal” life. Eternal is “from everlasting to everlasting” [Psalm 90:2]. Only He who “was in the beginning with God [and] …was God” could bestow, through the eternal Spirit, eternal life [John 1:1,2].
And this imparted life is His own life. “I am the vine, ye are the branches”… The branch has no independent source of life. The life of the vine and the life of the branch are one. All possibility of renewal, of growth, of fruitfulness depends upon the life energy of the vine. Well might the vine say to the branch, “Because I live, ye shall live also [John 14:19].”
It would not be possible to state this identity (of Himself and those who through faith in Him crucified have been born again) more strongly than does our Lord. “I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” “As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” “I in them, and thou in me.”…[John 6:57;17:21,23].
And this testimony to oneness of life with Christ pervades the apostolic explanation of the gospel. The church is declared to be His body. The human body, composed of many members, is the figure used to express the oneness with Him of the “many members” who constitute, like the members of the natural body, one organism, and this organism is called “Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). It is declared of Christ, not only that He gave life to the believer, but that He “is our life [Col. 3:4]” And John declares the record to be “that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” [1 John 5:11].
THE INLIVING CHRIST TO BE OUTLIVED
God expects nothing from the flesh–the self-man. In the divine reckoning our old man was crucified with Christ [Rom. 6:6]. The old man is summed up in one terrific word of three letters–sin. Acts of sin proceed from a nature which is sin [Eph. 2:3].
In one great and luminous passage the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul states, in the terms of the apostle’s actual experience, the fact and method of the new life: “I am crucified with Christ [Gal. 2:20].” This is a fact of revelation, not a fact of consciousness. Paul does not “feel” crucified, but in the divine reckoning he is counted so, and this the apostle also reckons to be true. God expects nothing from the old Saul of Tarsus, and in the seventh [chapter] of Romans experience the apostle has learned the final truth about Saul: “In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing [Rom. 7:18].”
Then comes a fact of consciousness, “Nevertheless I live,” followed by another fact of revelation, “Christ liveth in me.” Saul lives as yet, (but death or the return of Christ will be the end of the Saul life), and Christ also lives in Paul. Then comes the practical, present outcome of it all, “The life which I now live in the flesh” (body). How shall that life be lived? The Holy Spirit gives an answer to which, speaking broadly, the church has never risen.
THE METHOD OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Two theories of Christian living here on earth have measured, and do measure, the average faith.
First, life by precept, by rule. There is a large truth here. The Bible is a great instruction in righteousness; a great revelation of the mind of God about human life. No inner light can take the place of the divine revelation. It is perfect ethically and also complete.
But it has the fatal defect of furnishing no dynamic. “The law made nothing perfect [Heb. 7:19].” Precept gives a perfect rule of life, and by it life must always be tested, but precept carries no enablement. “The law … was weak through the flesh [Rom. 8:3].” A chart does not carry us across the ocean, but it shows us where we are on the trackless deep, and where to go. The life by precept was tried under law and left the whole world of humanity in speechless guilt before God.
Still more hopeless is the notion of life by the example of Christ. “What would Christ do?” is the formula. As to immoralities, selfishness, worldliness, the answer is easy. In all the real crises of life it utterly breaks down.
Our conclusions as to what Christ would do are vitiated by our limitations of habit of thought, of unspirituality, of ignorance of Christ. In His earth-life He constantly did the things that shocked every religionist in Palestine–Pharisee, Sadducee, Herodian. He did not do the things they thought He ought to do, but every day did something they thought in consistent with His Messiahship.
What then is Christian living? It is Christ living out His life in the terms of our personality, and under the conditions which environ us. We do not ask, “What would Christ do?” We say to self, “Yet not I,” and yield our powers to the sway of the inliving Christ. “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus,” (the practical expression of our co-crucifixion with Him being “having no confidence in the flesh”), “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.[2 Cor. 4:10; Phil. 3:3]”
And we are not to be discouraged by failures. Not all at once does Christ gain complete control over powers and faculties accustomed to the rule of self; but, “walking in the Spirit,” there assuredly comes an increasing sense of peace, rest, joy.
From The New Life in Christ Jesus, by C.I. Scofield. chapter 2. Chicago: THE BIBLE INSTITUTE COLPORTAGE ASSOCIATION, 1915.
Parenthetical Bible references added