STOP Trying to Live the Christian Life
Christopher Bernarda to Norman Grubb, both dear brothers in Chirst. Read Bernarda's letter and rejoice with him, as he speaks of the reality of Christ in him. ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Dear Brother Norman,
Thank you very much for making yourself available to come and stay with us. We so appreciated your fellowship and your showing us the way of God more perfectly. Every day is such a wonderful experience in unbroken fellowship and communion with the Father. That was how He meant it to be from the beginning. I know that I am one with Him, and that I am no longer I, but Christ living in me, in my human form.
And the thrilling thing is that I can do absolutely nothing to deserve or merit Him. I used to think that the Christian life was wrapped up in rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, laws and commandments, and daily disciplines. That’s religion -man’s way of being one with Him. I’ve discovered that on the cross He said, "It is finished." He settled it forever, once and for all! I am complete in Him by virtue of Him in me and as me.
There is absolutely nothing I can do to add to the righteousness of God in my life. Everything that Christ is, I am -justified, sanctified, glorified, etc. (Rom. 8:30, 1 Cor. 1:2). Oh, what a wonderful mystery! One with the Father! So many know only the saving knowledge of Christ by His blood for the forgiveness of sins, and so very few know the replaced life through His resurrected and ascended body, of victory, joy, peace, overcoming, triumph, and complete rest.
It is now my everyday continual experience that in fact I am a new creature, where old things are passed away and all things are become new. God intended only for His life to be manifested in us. Satan no longer has any foothold in me and sin no more power, no more dominion over me. Condemnation is a thing of the past that no longer plagues me.
In reality, our becoming born-again puts us in the same standing with God the Father as Jesus being born of a virgin!As I know who I really am, there is only victory in Christ. When trials and afflictions come, it’s only God putting His Christ through such circumstances in life to bring forth life in others. I have been bought with a price... His precious blood, and am no longer my own.
I am now for others. I am now the express image of the very nature and character of God in the earth. It is written that God has "created all things for His pleasure." At first thought that sounds selfish, until one realizes that His pleasure is that of giving His all. He’s not looking for something to get from us to fulfill His desires or to please Himself, but rather His pleasure is to give. That has now become my pleasure and purpose in life.
I no longer look to God for what I can get out of Him for me. My nature is now His and that is to give. Now as I give, it’s with the understanding that He first gave to me. He is my source. "I love Him because He first loved me." With that in mind, trials and afflictions are a pleasure because they are for the benefit of others.
I used to think trials and afflictions were the "dealings of God" to perfect me, to sanctify me, to improve me -me, me, me. But I’ve discovered that Jesus completed the work of redemption, sanctification, and perfection: "He hath [past tense] perfected forever them that are sanctified." God is no longer interested in dealing with me, but that the world through me might be saved.
As long as we think trials and afflictions are for us as the dealings of God, we will forever be trying to get our lives in order and disciplined in order to reach that unobtainable goal of perfected self. We become very self-centered, self-assessing, self-disciplined. I’ve given up once and for all that self-assessing life, realizing the finished work He has done.
When Jesus said, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father...," He did not set an impossible standard for us. He accomplished the work of perfection at Calvary and it is found only in the replaced life. It is actually possible to fulfill all of Matthew 5, 6, 7 without even trying. It is possible to live a life free of sin. "As He is, so are we in this world." How can I say He hath perfected Me?
Because it is no longer I that live, but Christ! When we can welcome and embrace circumstances joyfully and with thanksgiving, we can endure all things and become (as you have well put it, Brother Norman), co-saviors with Christ. I am now crucified to the world and the world to me that the world I come in daily contact with might be saved.
I die daily for the benefit of others, that life might spring forth in them. God has ordained difficulties and seemingly evil circumstances to happen to us for the express purpose of Christ being made manifest to others. Knowing these things, the life of God becomes reality. We live by faith, not by sight, nor by feeling or circumstances. We live by that which is eternal and unseen, not by the physical, lying vanities around us.
We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. This world is no longer our home. We are simply pilgrims passing through. The world of faith becomes more real to us than the physical world that we see and touch and smell and taste and hear, with our five senses. Faith establishes the word of God as fact, as evidence, as substance, as already accomplished.
The promises of God are in Him "yea," and in Him "Amen" -by us! All we do is say "Yes" and "Amen" to what God has already said, and it is so! When we live by faith, it doesn’t matter what happens around us. We no longer judge things by outward appearance, but we judge righteously. This is where life becomes fun and exciting and full of victory as we let God be the judge in life, and we live by the unseen, eternal reality!
As life becomes a walk of faith, we then see everything with a "single eye." Jesus said our eye is either single or evil. One or the other. To see double is to see evil. Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They then saw with double vision. They then became judges in life rather than leaving that to God.
The devil very subtly fooled them by saying, "You shall become as gods, knowing good and evil," when in fact the Father wanted them to be gods. We are always trying to become something when in fact we are simply to be the "I am" within us. It’s so simple that it’s complex! When we look at everything in life as good or evil, we become the judges (as God), always classifying everything in one category or another.
We become bitter, frustrated, judgmental in life. There is no joy, no peace, no rest. To see with a single eye is to have a pure heart. That’s why Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Paul also speaks of living our lives in "singleness of heart." When we have a pure heart, walking in singleness of heart, with a single eye, we see only God in everything.
Every circumstance, every problem, trial, affliction, seemingly evil thing, is the manifestation of God to us. We can flow with and be in harmony with everything that takes place, and be at peace with God and every man. Proverbs says, "There shall no evil happen to the just." Knowing this, life is exciting! It is fun! When we see God only in life, we can truly give thanks in and for everything!
There is such an emphasis today on getting and keeping "the presence of God" in one’s life. I also once strived and struggled and cried out to God through daily disciplines to get the "manifested presence" of God. I thought the presence of God was dependent upon what I did. I have since thrown all of that out of the window forever, realizing now that I in fact am the presence of God, the Holy of Holies, the temple of the Holy Ghost.
I no longer have to go running around striving to get His presence in my life. I am the manifested presence of God, even as Jesus was upon earth in His flesh. I am the will of God in the earth, that the world though me might be saved by virtue of Him that dwells permanently within me. As Christ is lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself -by us. Psalm 22:3 says, "But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
I’ve always thought that the way to get His presence was to praise Him and then He would come down and inhabit my praise and manifest Himself to me. But that’s the God of the Old Covenant, the God of "influence," or as the world calls it, a philosophy. Most people look at God as an "influence": "Here I am down here, and there You are, God, up there; and if I do certain things and fulfill certain principles, You’ll come down with Your presence and bless me."
Even the world lives by that philosophy, feeling they’ll be blessed by doing and fulfilling certain principles in life. Israel, an unregenerate people, lived by that principle. But because God is self-giving, He doesn’t expect anything out of us. I don’t have to fulfill anything to get His presence. My God is not a God of influence, but He’s a God that has taken permanent residence. He has taken permanent abode in me.
The veil was rent once and for all from the top to the bottom, opening the way into the Holy of Holies whereby I freely partake of His presence... no strings attached. Because of that, praise is now a natural, free, flowing, continual expression unto Him. Praise becomes as natural as breathing, and is a state of being and not an act. Our lives can simply be a praise to Him (Eph. 1:12).
The act of vocal and demonstrative praise simply flows out of that state of being in which I find myself -that of union with Him, one and the same with Him. I no longer know a God coming and going, a life of ups and downs according to whether I praise Him or not. There is such a higher realm where He becomes you and you become Him and are one with the Father.
The organized church today is, by and large, a modern Moses’ Tabernacle, trying to fulfill certain principles, rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, laws and commandments, and daily disciplines in order to get the presence and approval of God. That’s fine, as long as one does all that; but Scripture says that no one can keep the law. It also says that whoever does the law must also live in it. You’re blessed if you can do it, but cursed if you can’t.
(I’ve been trying for thirteen years, but never could.) Besides that, even if one could keep all the principles, laws, disciplines, etc., there is room for pride saying, "I’ve done it." But God will share His glory with no man. There is absolutely nothing we can do to merit His presence or approval; neither does God expect us to do anything to obtain it, because of His very self-giving nature.
It is the tangible, felt, manifested presence of God that the organized church is looking for today. They’ll never find it though, and only become frustrated in the process, because Jesus said, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, but behold, the kingdom of God is within you." It is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeketh for a sign, a manifestation of God. Once again, the signs and manifestations will automatically and naturally follow them that believe. It will be a natural outflow of who we are and not what we do.
For years I have been asking God for a great hunger and thirst for Him. I felt that the more hunger and thirst I had, the more God would come to me. I now realize I’ve been wasting my time and energy. But as I now understand who He is within me, I am full, I am satisfied, my thirst is quenched, my hunger is gone.
Even as the Scriptures declare, out of my belly, my innermost being, flow rivers of living water. Jesus said, "He that drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." He said, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." He also said, "He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst." There is an end! That end is Christ!
I no longer hunger or thirst. I now only know a permanently satisfied, fulfilled life in Christ -full and overflowing for the benefits of others. I’ve given up trying to improve my life. All I have to do is to be who I really am, which is Christ in me. If I may be so bold, I am a god, created in His very image with the indwelling Christ my all.
It’s no longer I that live, yet it is I, yet not I, but Christ. No wonder Paul calls it a mystery! Jesus was the firstborn among many brethren. He came as a Son to be an intercessor to bring many sons to glory. Paul said, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," the "mind" of total self-emptying, and then spoke of Jesus’ exaltation.
I, too, am to have this intercessory mind of total self-emptying to take humanity’s lowest place on the cross. And any exaltation that follows will be from God. After years of struggling and striving, frustration and failure (a necessary step!), I have finally ceased from my own works and entered into rest.
Oh, what fellowship divine, what communion, what rest! I know Him, even as I am known of Him. I used to work so hard at being a Christian... and, as a result, God was at rest. Now I’m at rest and He’s at work! In this rest, prayer becomes a state of being. It’s no longer an act of formality. It’s continual communion and fellowship with the Father. Then and only then is it possible to fulfill the scripture "Pray without ceasing."
I have come to a realization that it was not I that committed myself to Him. It was He that committed Himself to me. My spiritual life is dependent upon His total commitment to me. As long as I think that my walk with God depends upon my decision, my dedication, my commitment to Him, then life becomes a never-ending parade of recommitment, rededication, reconsecreation to Him.
In reality, however, the Christian life is dependent on replacement. Hallelujah, it is wonderful in Him! The best Bible college there is is life itself! "For me to live is Christ." Our mission on earth is to live and to be the Christ to an unregenerate world around us.
I have concluded in my life that it is absolutely impossible to live the Christian life, and that God never intended us to do so. He intended the Christ within us to live it. Then and only then is it possible to fulfill the law and the spirit of the law (Matt. 5,6,7). And it only comes as a revelation from the Father.
Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter said, "Thou art the Christ." Jesus told him, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven." Jesus then told Peter, "Upon this rock [upon this foundation, upon this revelation] I will build My church." Paul said that "the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Many try to build the church upon principles, upon teachings, upon everything imaginable except the Christ. But "except the Lord build the house, they that build it labor in vain." It is upon this revelation of the Christ that life is fun. Life is exciting, fulfilling, and wonderful. Oh what fellowship, what communion, what victory!
Hallelujah to Him for ever! I’m sure I’m repeating to you many things that you’ve already grasped years ago. But I appreciate your listening ear... to be able to repeat these things to you as they are revealed to me. I love you, Brother Norman. Thank you for your love and rich fellowship.
One with Him and you,
thChristopher Bernarda to Norman Grubb, o dear brother in Chirst who stopped trying to live the Christian life and received the revelation of Christ in him!