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God and . . .

Nothing else is enough

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When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the and lies our great woe. If we omit the and we shall soon find God, and in Him we will find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.
—A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

I really don’t think Christ is “enough” for us anymore in the Church. Sure, we earnestly sing along with Chris Tomlin’s anthem, but do we live like we believe it? When the lights go out, when I leave Sunday worship and return to my everyday life in my neighborhood, do I trust that Jesus Christ Himself is enough to bring me to complete spiritual, physical and emotional wholeness?

A. B. Simpson’s hymn “Himself ” used to be one of the clarion calls of The Alliance— trusting Christ to be who He says He is; in faith, believing God to empower us to put Christ at the center of all things and being content to stay there and call others to join us to find peace and healing.

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord; Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word. Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own; Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone. All in all forever . . . Jesus will I sing Everything in Jesus and Jesus everything . . .

Trusting Jesus to be who He says He is and to put Christ at the center of all things is impossible for us on our own. Earthly things—from psychology to obsessing on our appearance and health to the next great book by the next great evangelical leader—have a nasty habit of creeping in to steadily diminish our full reliance on Christ.

I’m not against learning from other sources. “All truth is God’s truth” was the motto of my Christian college education. But when those sources start compromising the bedrock of my non-negotiable belief that Christ is my all, my Healer, my Sanctifier, my primary source of life’s power to grow as His devoted follower, I (and other Christians) sink into powerlessness.

Nothing is more tragic or ironic than powerless Christians. I’m discouraged by believers who drag around their old sin because they refuse to crown Christ as living Lord over everything. They have no faith that the resurrected Jesus is powerful enough to instantly free them from sin, addictions, sickness and psychological distress. Yet, here is what we are or can be — powerful, life-filled Christians — daily being filled by the Holy Spirit to “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This is the gospel.

Sin separates you and me from the holy God. Daily acknowledging Jesus’ crucifixion is a powerful reminder that though I live in an evil world, God came to rescue us from sin and death. It’s to my loss if I don’t meditate regularly on the truth of the gospel. When I remember God’s great redemption, I’m moved by how quickly the Holy Spirit graciously transfers the story from my heart to my lips.

I’m then called from wonder to confession. Paul says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “. . . if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). As I consider it, I realize how desperately I need Jesus’ grace and forgiveness.

When I claim that forgiveness, the Spirit affirms His work by moving me from confession to peace. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

I’m moved from peace to confidence in God’s promises. Christ’s peace breeds confidence in His Holy Spirit’s ability to change me from the inside out, to finish in me what He said He would do. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).

As a child of Alliance missionaries, I sense that my children and I don’t resonate with the powerful simplicity of the gospel the way my parents did. We have lost our sense of holy expectancy — that we’re capable of experiencing the mighty works of God every day; that He is infusing us with the power to extend the borders of His Kingdom with our every footstep. It’s time to simplify, be honest about our divided hearts and rediscover our eternal, life-giving roots in Jesus Christ.

Yet, as a pastor with a young family, I know how hard it can be to practice simplicity and full reliance on Christ in everyday life. Sunday is no simple Sabbath rest for my family. We often arrive home from our Sunday evening small group completely spent from a day full of “sharing the well” and not drinking deeply ourselves. On Monday, my Sabbath rest is often obliterated by busyness as I complete “to-do” lists around the house rather than choose to devote myself to being in God’s Word and being renewed by His Spirit. I fully understand the irony that it is both costly and irreplaceable to choose to regularly be fed by the riches mined in God’s Word through the reviving voice of the Holy Spirit.

So I’ll call you what you are — powerful, life-filled Christians. Don’t get trapped in “God-and”-ism. Let’s drink deeply and regularly of the pure gospel in God’s Word. And listen expectantly for the voice of God to speak and miraculously transform us into His devoted followers, that the whole world might know that God is with them as He is so powerfully with us. Expect the victory Jesus won by His resurrection to be enough to conquer every day’s obstacles—and rely on nothing else!

Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success. Josh. 1:8

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