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Monday, November 3, 2014

4 Marks of the Christian Life

Matthew 16:24-26, Abundant life involves self-sacrifice, dying to self leads to abundant life
To read insights for last week's Bite Size Study scroll to the bottom of the study HERE.

Jesus said, "I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way... a great full life... a rich and satisfying life... life that is full and good."* 

Scripture encourages us that our life in Christ will be blessed with Christ's help, guidance, comfort, peace, joy, and purpose as we wait for a perfect eternity. 

And Scripture also tells us an abundant life involves: 

  1. Self-sacrifice: Giving up our desires and plans whenever they interfere with God's. Matthew 16:24-26, Matthew 6:28-34 
  2. Obedience: even when it's hard. John 14:15  
  3. Persecution: not popularity. 2 Timothy 3:12 
  4. Loyalty: Being proud of God's words even when they contradict our culture's call for "tolerance," "sexual freedom," and self-love. Mark 8:38  

These things may not sound like the route to a full and satisfying life to us, but Christ assures us they are! 
* John 10:10-NIV, NLT, NRSV, ESV

Bible Study

Read the passages below and be careful not to look at them as simply Biblical concepts--thoughtfully ask God to help you understand what they mean for you specifically. How should they be impacting your life personally?

Galatians 2:20: 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. 

Matthew 10:38-39: Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. 

Galatians 5:24-25: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  

Please work through the Bible study before reading these insights

This quote by C.S. Lewis is a good summary of the full life we have in Christ. 
"Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? ... The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes ... submit with every fibre of your being ... Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”  ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

We can't deny the strength of the words in the passages in this study. 
  • Crucifixion--a complete, torturous death to our old self, to our selfish human desires. This concept is present in all three passages.
  •  Unworthiness--If we don't take up our cross, we aren't worthy of Christ. This concept makes us uncomfortable because our culture teaches us that we are always "worthy." But Matthew 10:38-39 says something quite different.
These words are not meant to inspire guilt. They are meant to inspire attitudes and actions of faithfulness and love toward Christ. No matter how hard it sounds, anything that Christ asks is for our best good. The full life is the fulfilled life.

 I'd love to hear what God shared with you as you studied these passages. I'll respond to all comments. ~ Gail

copyright, 2014, Gail Burton Purath
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted 

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