Galatians 1:15-1613 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, (everyone say, “But when God”) who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
The Apostle Paul said God was pleased to reveal His Son in Paul. Wow. That concept gave me pause this week. I want God to reveal His Son in me! How about y’all? As a pastor, I have a growing concern that many Christians stop short of the entire work that God wants to accomplish in their lives. Yes, God gave Christ to save us from our sin, and yes, He wants to come into our hearts and remove our sinful nature from us, but I also believe He wants to do more than work in us; He wants to also work through us. God wants to do more than just give us life. He wants to live the life of Christ through our lives. Does that challenge or excite us this morning? Is that something that compels us to keep surrendering, to keep searching, to keep seeking the knowledge of the Lord and to keep growing in our relationship with Christ or are we OK simply knowing that we have personally escaped the judgment of Hell and are saved from our sin? Don’t misunderstand me this morning, that is surely the goal. But there is more that God desires than simply to do a work in us. He wants to do a work through us as well. He wants to do through us what He did through Paul. Verse 16 of Galatians 1 testifies that God wants to reveal His Son in us.
Paul said there was a pre-Jesus lifestyle and a post-Jesus way of life that he lived, and the post-Jesus way of life involved the Son of God being revealed in Paul’s life to the people around him. When people saw Paul, they saw Jesus. Jesus was revealed to them through Paul’s way of life. My friends, that is God’s desire for the church. It is His desire for us. God doesn’t want to save us, sanctify us and shelve us to keep us from getting any bumps bruises or stains out in the world, but He wants to save us and sanctify us, setting us apart in order to use us to reveal Jesus to the world. How is God’s Son revealed in us? How can we live so that people can see Him? How can we point people to Jesus by the things we say and do? I want to suggest three ways this morning. Here they are:
Christ can be revealed in us when we 1. Declare the name of Jesus. 2. Do the works of Jesus. 3. Display the power of God.
Declare the Name of Jesus. There are a lot of critically important things being discussed these days. We do not lack for conversation content, but one subject that ought to be first on the lips of a believer is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and coming again. People need to know there is an answer to life’s problems. They need to hear that there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. They need to be informed that there is a Guide who will navigate them through life’s challenges and light their path, and boy, do they sure need to understand that there is a Way out of here and into a life of peace, joy and love for all eternity. His name is Jesus. How will people see Him revealed in our lives if we never talk about Him? It is in that name that demons tremble and flee (Luke 10:17). It is in the name of Jesus that supernatural healing is available (Acts 4:10). Our souls are saved, remade and inhabited by calling upon the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).
If we believe that, we ought to be talking about Him as a regular part of our conversation. In addition to talking to others about Jesus, they need to see Him revealed in us as we declare the name of Jesus over our own circumstances so that people can see and understand that He is the One we are counting on to make it through. When we walk around with our heads down in despair and when we let our anxieties overtake our faith, and when we start wringing our hands and saying things like, “I don’t know how I’m going to make it. I don’t see how things can work out. I’m doomed to fail. My life is horrible. There is no answer for my problems.” What are we revealing? We are revealing that we are counting on perfect circumstances in order to be able to live victoriously which will never happen in this life and we will live with a defeated mindset and actions that prove our negative thought life. We need to be people with a positive confession in all circumstances and the most positive thing you can confess is that Jesus is Lord no matter what you are facing.
Believer, if you want others to see who you say you are living for, start talking about Jesus. Witness about the difference Jesus makes in your life. Ask if you can pray for people when they express a need. Engage people in conversation about what Jesus means to them. I guarantee you, in this post-Christian era, some people have never even heard of Him. Second, start declaring the name of Jesus over your life and the situations you face. Start thanking Him that He is walking you through this pandemic. Start declaring that by the name of Jesus you will overcome and not be overcome. Start declaring that in the name of Jesus your prayers will be answered, your family will be protected, obstacles will be moved out of your way and no weapon that is fashioned against you will prosper. Say the name! Speak about Jesus.
Psalm 91:14 says, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him. I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
Can we get ahold of that? There is a fortification that comes into our lives, a stability, a protection that comes to us as we lift up and speak the name of Jesus.
Have any of your friends, family or co-workers heard you declare the name of Jesus recently? I personally don’t want to talk more about my problems or pains than I talk about Jesus. I’m not talking about using Jesus’ name as some kind of good luck charm. I’m talking about inviting Him, through the power of His name, to speak through your life and to demonstrate to others who is in charge.
Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Do the people in your life know you trust in the Lord by the way you elevate His name? Declare the name of Jesus.
Do the Works of Jesus
What were the works of Jesus? Obviously, He was the One who provided atonement for sinners through His death on the cross. That is THE finished work that doesn’t need repeated and couldn’t be completed by anyone else but Him. Christ, alone, was the perfect sacrifice, so that is a work we don’t need to consider trying to tackle. What can we learn about the works we are supposed to be doing from the way He lived His daily life?
Number one, Jesus was a teacher of truth. He went from place to place, often right into the synagogue, which was the center of Jewish life, in order to explain the truth to people. Don’t miss that the synagogue was not only the religious center, but it was the social center in that day as well. It was where the people gathered to talk. Jesus took truth there!
Where is it today that people are gathering? Where can we go for the purpose of sharing and teaching the truth of God’s Word? Not only do we need to be talking about Jesus, but we need to be interjecting the Word of God into our culture. Social media is definitely the social center of today’s culture. People are gathering every day online. Bible verses are good. Memes with Scripture on them are good, and in addition to those efforts, we need to be expounding on what those verses mean in order to help people see how their lives can be transformed by living according to the Word of God.
Oh, how it blessed me this week, while I was on vacation, to open Facebook on Wednesday morning and in the first couple of posts, I saw three church members talking about Jesus and His Word. We need to flood the internet with the truth of Jesus.
When people ask for our opinion, we need to make sure we give them God’s truth and that we help them know where our response came from. We are often too quick to get mad, annoyed, and frustrated with people for believing craziness when the reality is, they haven’t been taught the truth. It takes patience to teach the truth. It calls for repetition and consistency which can be energy-draining. You might feel like you sound like a broken record, but over time, people will be transformed by the truth if you will share it.
Jesus was a friend of sinners. (Luke 7:34 and Matthew 11:19) He hung out with the poor and oppressed. He surrounded Himself with needy people. He was definitely intentional with His reach, with various expressions of kindness, healing and compassion to those who were down and out. He even invited Himself to their houses. Choosing to be friends with people who have significant needs, with people who will look to you to help supply their needs, can be taxing. You may not be able to supply what they need or make an impact on their current situation, but remember, we can pray for God to supply their needs, and we can ask for the endurance and wisdom we need to walk with people as we help them find the Prince of Peace, the Provider for their needs, the Protector of their futures.
I think it is also fair to say that not only was Jesus drawn to sinners, but sinners were drawn to Jesus. Something about Him, something about His teachings and His ways made Him “safe” to be around. They wanted to hear His message. They wanted to follow Him to see what He would do next. Being around Jesus gave them a sense of expectation and a constant shot of hope. Is anyone wanting to hang out with us because Jesus is speaking through our lives? Is anyone following us around because the life of Christ, demonstrated in us, gives them renewed hope or a sense of purpose?
Of course, the works of Jesus involved miracles like dramatic healings. Thinking about replicating that stuff is pretty daunting. I’ve never opened blind eyes or caused the lame to walk, and I have been about this Jesus thing for a long time now. Are those works we should be seeking to do? I definitely believe that walking after Jesus means seeking to impact people’s lives to the same degree He did. Sometimes that will happen in the form of physical healing. Sometimes it can result when people are led to forgive others or themselves and when they can experience an emotional healing, that they desperately need. Other times it is spiritual healing that anchors their life, changing it in a dramatic way.
I personally don’t believe that the days of Divine miracles are over. I have had the privilege of praying for people, sometimes by myself and sometimes as part of a large group of people who were all praying for the same thing, and at times, Jesus saw fit to bring the healing. There have been other people I have prayed for who didn’t receive a physical healing, but they were given miraculous help, help for which there is no explanation other than God hears the prayers of His children. I do know this; We will never go wrong when we speak healing over people or pray for their healing because doing so demonstrates faith in the God who can heal. He will not leave us hanging. He will do SOMETHING in response to our prayers. It may not be what we ask for, but He will be involved in ways that leave His fingerprints behind.
And then there is that curious passage where Jesus said in John 14:12-14 12 …Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Us doing greater works than Jesus? What in the world? How is that possible? And notice what comes immediately after this verse about doing greater works than Jesus? We don’t often connect the greater works verse with verses 13 and 14, but it is appropriate to do so. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
When you see a need that you can’t meet, when you encounter a person who has demonic strongholds or addictions they can’t shake, when you run across an outcast that needs to be embraced, and the challenge is beyond your ability to tackle, according to this passage, we can ask, in the name of Jesus, for the wisdom, strength, compassion, and resources to impact that person’s life in a miraculous way.
Perhaps we have used John 14:13 and 14 as a proof text for getting our own needs met in prayer when in reality, those verses are there to help us understand we can pray to be used of God so that other people’s needs can be met. Are you following with me? What if Jesus wasn’t giving us a blank check in these verses about prayer to get what we want, but what if He was giving us permission to ask for anything on behalf of someone else as we go about trying to accomplish the greater works God promised we could? It makes sense to me.
At any rate, if people will see Jesus’ life revealed in our lives, we have got to be doing the things He did. He went where the people were. He went to teach the truth. He friended the lonely, wounded, and outcast, and He performed miracles in their lives in order to point them to the power of God, which brings me to my third point.
If Jesus is going to be revealed through my life, as He was the Apostle Paul’s life, my life will need to:
Display the Power of God
When I say we need to display the power of God, I am not suggesting we should speak to storms and walk on water. What I am referring to, in this moment, is allowing God to be at work in us, especially when we have to endure something painful or hard, because Christ’s power is at work in our lives, we move through those challenges with our peace intact, our praise unbroken and with a clear testimony as we suffer. You see, where the rubber meets the road, where people will have the best opportunity to see Jesus in our lives is in the moments when we are being tested and tried. When we are weak, when we are scared, when we are persecuted, when life is hard—those are the moments where when we are truly following Jesus and leaning on Him for wisdom and strength, people will see Christ’s power at work in us. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 12 that there is a grace-gift, a power that rests on us when we are weak. It is called sufficient grace, and it is a power that can be seen in and through our challenges. When we lean on the Lord by faith in times of trouble, people can clearly see the difference that walking with Jesus makes.
Paul talked about all of the hardships he faced. Life was never easy for Paul as a Christ-follower. There wasn’t an easy button for him. He couldn’t coast from Sunday to Sunday. II Corinthians 4:7-10 described Paul’s life this way: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Paul struggled every day. He didn’t struggle to follow Jesus. Paul struggled because he was following Jesus. He dealt with physical persecution, spent time in jail, was attacked as he moved about, but he said it was all good because the life of Jesus was being revealed in his body. Paul was glad that Christ was seen in his suffering. It made him glad. It was worth whatever Paul had to face if Jesus was being revealed, if Jesus was on display in his life.
In hard times we need to not just be praying for an ending to our struggle, but we need to pray for Christ’s power to be seen in our struggle. The way we handle the pressure, the way we handle pandemics and politics and people who mess with our sensibilities or stir up drama, the way we deal with physical pain and earthly disappointment…is the life of Jesus being revealed in those moments? Is the power of God on display in the crushing times of life?
Paul actually had a lot to say about this subject of Christ in and through his life. In Galatians 2:20 he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul was so possessed by Jesus that he declared he, Paul, wasn’t even living any longer, but Christ was living His life through Paul’s life. That really impressed me this week. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we don’t need to try to do things for Christ to be able to work through us as much as we need to get out of the way and just let Jesus live in us and have His way.
As we declare the name of Jesus, as we seek to do the works He did, may we empty ourselves and be filled to the measure of the fullness of Christ so that the full power of Christ in us collides with every person we meet whether we are moving through an easy or difficult time in our lives.
I have been a Christian for 45 years and have found the contentment and satisfaction that comes from having Christ in me, but I can tell you that there is another level of satisfaction and thrill you can experience when Christ in you becomes Christ through you. When you see people making the connection, when you help people find new life, when God’s power begins to flow through you to bring restoration and wellness to other people, there is nothing better. Don’t just be satisfied with Christ in you, take the steps to allow Him to live His life through yours.