Today I feel it necessary to post a blog I presented a couple of years ago. It is relevant to the topic of overcoming as sons and daughters of God. God’s grace empowers us to become who we are meant to be in Christ.
The Body of Christ wears the reflections of the Father’s heart, because she knows how to endure the pressures that oppose His character within her. When we face pressures in life, it is not a sign that the devil is having victory over us. The pressures of life are the very things that reveal the hidden truth within us. Christ in us is the hope of glory! If Christ is in us, then the pressures of life should manifest the testimony of Christ in us to the world around us.
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Tribulations are the pressures of life. At the writing of this Scripture by the apostle Paul, that tribulation was a matter of life and death. In some parts of the world this is true today. For those of us in the west it is not the tribulation of life and death, but the tribulation of life that challenges our faith in God. It is hardly a comparison, but it is true for most in the western church culture. In any case, the pressures of life lead to the perseverance of our faith. The Greek word used hear, implies two ingredients. It contains the ingredient of endurance and it also contains an ingredient of cheerfulness. It is cheerful endurance. Cheerful endurance is the key to activating the character of Christ within us. If we decide to be miserable while in the midst of our circumstances we appeal to the old nature of the flesh, but if we stand with cheerful endurance we draw on the life of Christ within us. This manifests the character attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22, 23). These are the substance of the fruit of the Spirit within us. When this happens, we manifest the testimony of Christ in a measure of His glory. This is the testimony of hope. Christ in us is the hope of glory.
We are members of the Body of Christ. Corporately we are the Bride of Christ. It is Christ within us and in our midst that makes us who we are. Like our husband, we display the family name. The Bride of Christ is a testimony of the City of God. The foundations of the wall of the City are adorned with all kinds of precious stones (Rev. 21:19, 20). Whatever is in the foundation is also meant to be revealed in its rising walls of testimony.
The Grace of God has empowered the Church to become the testimony of His passion and glory in the midst of every pressure and tribulation. The city of God reflects and refracts the many attributes of the nature and the likeness of God. It is filled with the many testimonies of the light of Christ’s glory. What is in the foundation of the Church is becoming the very substance that is revealed within the community of the City. If you do some research you will find that the stones in the foundation of the City likely represent the tribes of Naphtali, Simeon, Manasseh, Rueben, Asher, Judah, Zebulun, Gad, Issachar, Levi, Ephraim (the born-again of Joseph), and Benjamin. When presented in their order they imply that in the foundation of this city is the following testimony: Has wrestled to wrestle no more, hears God and responds, knows His forgiveness and the past is forgotten, is seen as a son, is fortunate and happy, has become a testimony of praise, dwells with God, is joined to others in God, is rewarded by God by seeing what God sees, is one with God, is fruitful in God, and is a testimony of His inheritance through His hand of resurrection life. This is a great foundation for the walls of an awesome community of life!
When we stand on the foundation of truth we stand in the place of life. We no longer wrestle in the flesh, but overcome by the power of His grace. We hear God in the midst of every situation of our lives and that hearing is enough to inspire our faith. The power of God’s mercy each day frees us from the strongholds of our past. We are children of God and in that we find the fortune of being His son or daughter and we know the happiness of being a part of His family. Our weaknesses are being transformed to testimonies of His strength. Our flaws are being redeemed by the reigning power of His grace. God lives with us and we live with Him. We are not alone. Being a part of God’s family is a daily reality in our world. God’s rewards outweigh the losses in our lives. Our perspectives are continually changing. We no longer see the world as we used to see it. We are increasingly looking at things through the eyes of God. He is forever with us in all we are and do. The fruitfulness of life is our portion even out of the ashes of death itself. Resurrection life is our portion, thus life can never be taken from us. God’s hand is upon us!
In the same way that God can take the irritations of the flesh and turn them into testimonies of His love, the pressures of life can prove to reveal the character of Christ within our lives. Even as God can take the things that could be most ugly and turn them into something beautiful when we allow His grace to work in our hearts, He can also reveal the brightness of His glory in the midst of the pressures of our lives. God doesn’t want us to escape the wounds of our past, nor does He want us to escape the pressures of our lives. He wants us to realize that the wounds of our lives are part of us, but they don’t define us; even so the pressures of life don’t destroy us, but prove to reveal the power of Christ’s character within us. Just as the wounds of our flesh can become a pearl of great price revealing God’s love, the pressures that appear to be against us can prove the power of the One within us who is greater than the things of the world.
The formation of precious stones involves a transformation of one substance to a more refined, purified, and hardened material. The dissolving of a certain substance, great pressure, and transformation by intense heat produces a translucent material of brilliant beauty. Gemstones of great value are formed deep within the earth and then found in higher-level rock formations as magma or other internal movements of the earth carry them towards the surface. There are various ingredients that make up the material of different precious gems, but the process is similar. It is the same in our lives. The dissolving of our old nature reveals the refining grace of God as Christ is formed in us through a baptism of fire in the midst of the pressures of our lives. The work of Christ within us causes a transformation through a metamorphosis in our thinking and the behavior patterns of our lives become changed through God’s conversion process within us.
In the Revelation given to John the street of the City was of gold and looked like clear glass. Streets signify destiny! There is a purpose to the City of God; it is God’s means of getting the earth to the place He wants it to be. Like the testimony of the City, the destiny (street) of the City of God is to bring the testimony of the likeness and the image of God into the earth (Gen. 1:26). God’s divine character, nature, way, power, and authority are to be revealed in the earth through the testimony of the City of God (street as gold). The living word is seen as an expression of the purpose of Christ’s City in the earth (street as glass). That living word is the testimony of Christ in the very fabric of those who make up the community of God. Every revelation from God is an invitation for each one to have an encounter with God, whereby they become a testimony of that revelation of God.
The community of God is filled with the testimony of the power of Christ’s life-changing character made manifest from within. It is a community that stands in the midst of the pressures of the world and reveals the nature, character, way, power, and authority of Christ to the communities of the world. Christ in us is the hope of glory!
Ted J. Hanson