Have you ever wondered where permanent joy, peace, success, and even life itself comes from? Have you at times felt unsatisfied even though everything may seem to be going great? Have you felt a dull ache or uneasy feeling that something is missing, but you didn't know what? Or perhaps you've been too busy living to notice...
In our search for truly living the fulfilled life we must begin by realizing that as human beings we exist in three basic areas:
1. The Physical, i.e. the body and senses,
2. The Mental, i.e. the mind, thoughts, desires, emotions, and intellect, and
3. The Spiritual, i.e. that part of us which is capable to interacting in the unseen, but very real realm of the spirit.
Which of these three areas is to have control of our life? Using joy for an example, let's examine each area and see how it would work.
If our joy is centered in the physical area of life then it will be controlled by how our body feels at the time. The body is like a house. If the structure is firm, the paint is new, the carpets are cleaned, and the floors are scrubbed, then we are happy. But if the paint is peeling, the floors are dirty, and there is a crack or two in the walls, then we are unhappy. Now obviously it is important to do our best to keep our "house" in order, but if that is where our joy is based then it will be extremely unstable - constantly changing with the state or feelings of the body. Perhaps you know people who have the body in control of their life, they are always up and down. They do whatever they "feel" at the time.
What about the mental aspect? Should joy [or life] originate in the mind,
with our thoughts and emotions? If our joy comes from the mental part
of us then our thoughts and emotions will dictate our joy. If you're
anything like me, you know what a wild roller-coaster ride we would be
in for then!
If the body is like a house, then the mind is like moving into the house. It gives the house a personality and character. Still, that does not mean it will be a happy house or a home. There will be times of joy, of course, but whatever happens to you, how you perceive it emotionally or mentally will control your joy [or life]. You and I need something firmer! Naturally, we want our joy to affect the mental and emotional part of our being, but if it is controlled by the mental part of our life, then we are in big trouble. The circumstances and situations of life will twist and turn our joy into the most unpleasant shapes.
Unfortunately, many people try to base their joy from the realm of the mind. Positive thinking, positive speaking, etc., will play an important role with our joy, but if the source of our river of joy is not higher than the body or the mind, then busy little beavers will soon have it damed up. Our mighty river of joy will have turned into a trickling stream or just a pool of stinking, stagnate water. Those busy, pesky beavers just love to run around our lives daming up all the good things. Fortunately there is one area of life where they cannot come...unless we invite them in.
The final area of the life is the realm of the spirit. With our house illustration, it is that intangible part which turns a house into a home...and home it will remain regardless of the disasters of life. When we talk about the area of the spirit strange and weird ideas often surface. The spiritual realm is often made unnecessarily hard. Like every other area of life it is governed by rules and laws we need to learn and work with. As we discover these laws [or principles] we find life in the mental and physical areas taking on exciting, new meaning. It is then our joy and life are not only untouchable by the circumstances of life, but they are also guaranteed!
What we need is a guide into the realities of the spirit realm. We have to be extremely careful in finding a guide. A wrong choice will destroy us and lead us into eternal misery and not into eternal life. Take care. Just as we can damage our bodies or minds, we can also damaged our spirits. Let's not be fearful, but let's walk carefully, with our eyes wide open - not believing everything we hear or see. Religions, the Occult, Astrologers, the New Age, and others all claim to be guides in the realm of the spirit. But we are not deceived, we know they are all...
"...blind guides, and when one blind man leads another blind man they will both fall into the ditch." - Jesus Christ
If we want to stay out of the muddy ditches of life and eternity, we'll have to avoid the blind guides. We must have a reliable guide, someone we can trust, someone who knows the way, someone with the power to protect us from harmful spiritual forces.
Does such a guide exist? Is he willing to help us in our quest for life abundantly? The answer is: YES! But again - take warning - there is only one true guide: all others are destructive frauds.
"Don't trust every spirit, dear friends of mine, but test them to discover whether they come from God or not. For the world is full of false prophets." - John
Who then is the one faithful guide who will bring us to the fulfillment of our desires? Who is the one we can trust, the one who will never lead us down a wrong path? Who is the only who is totally familiar with the realm of the spirit, the one who personally crossed death's barrier and returned to show us the way with confidence? The answer is simple: Jesus Christ.
"I Myself am the Door for the sheep, all others who came before Me are thieves and robbers...I am the Door. Anyone who enters in through Me will be saved - will live... The thief comes only in order that he may steal and may kill and may destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance - to the full, till it overflows." - Jesus Christ
"Oh NO!!!" I can hear you groan, "I hate religion!"
And I agree with you. I hate religion, too. Religion, including the Christian life religion, has done nothing to permanently help anyone. Untold, eternal and temporal, damage has been done to millions over the centuries because of religion. In fact, a study of religion is often a study of greed, violence, prejudice, and cruelty. Who needs it?
Confused? After all, don't we have a contradiction here? Jesus Christ is the way to a full life and our Guide into the spirit realm, and yet the Christian life religion [as well as all other religions or occult groups] spells death. How do we balance this out? How do we get our spiritual life on track so we can experience abundant, joyful life?
The truth is not meant to be confusing. Understanding sometimes depends on how we look at things. Nearly 2,000 years ago an extremely wise man discovered and shared the key to this perplexing problem. He was a man who had an intense, single-minded devotion to religion until he saw the light. The truth of his words are often missed, but they are vital to a clear understanding of the religion problem.
"The letter of the law leads to death of the soul; the Spirit alone can give it life" - Paul
What does our wise man mean by this? Basically, we could say the Christian life religion is like a dead body. The body looks fine, in fact, it might look like it ought to get up and start walking, but it won't. The life isn't in the body any longer. What is the difference between a dead man and living man [not much according to some:)]? The living man has a soul and a spirit in his body making it alive and unique. That is the difference between Christianity the Religion and Christianity the Relationship.
If someone were to walk in and see the dead man's body resting on a bed they might assume he was alive and merely sleeping...oh, but what a difference when you know! Likewise, someone looking at the two Christianities from the outside might think they are the same, or at least, very much alike...but what a difference when you really know.
Christianity the Religion [hereafter referred to as religion] is hard, cold, and dead. It focuses on knowing about God; obedience out of duty, habit, or fear; ritual; and struggling to be better. Christianity the Relationship focuses on knowing God; obedience out of love; being in love, knowing we don't have to earn God's favor. Ironically, some people are caught in the trap of religion and think they have real Christianity. They may do and say all the right things, but the life isn't there. It is the life that makes all the difference. Don't be caught by religion! It's deadly. Learn and experience the real Christianity.
"God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame." - Elizabeth Browning
So in our search for activating our spiritual life in order to have abundant life in every area, we must avoid religion and enter a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. Now perhaps you object because you know people who have a relationship with Jesus Christ - and who do not appear to be trapped in religion - yet do not look like they are enjoying the abundant life we want.
There could be three reasons for this:
1. They are caught in religion regardless of appearance;
2. Starting a relationship with Jesus ensures eternal life after death and unlocks our potential of abundant life right now; however, we have to develop our potential. It won't develop itself. It is a growing experience. And if we choose to live below our potential God won't force us into abundant life;
3. We all have times when our mind and/or body feels drained or down which is why it is so important to have our life flowing out of the spirit realm where it cannot be touched by circumstances. If our life base is firmly established in the spirit then we will have true life even when things are going wrong. We will have learned how to master our circumstances. We will be able to bounce back from anything!
So our river of life must flow from the realm of the spirit. That is where the source must be although we expect it to overflow into every area of life. It all comes down to one Guide, one Person, one Hope: Jesus Christ. So how do we start a real relationship with Jesus Christ? We start by considering three facts.
Jesus loves you. It doesn't matter who you are or what you have done in the past. Jesus loves you personally. His eyes of love are fixed on you even as you are reading this, caring deeply about everything that happens to you. Jesus stands by your side ready to forgive you because He wants a love relationship with you.
"Well, you wouldn't say that if you know what I've done!" expresses how many people feel. The point is not what I have to say anyway, the question is "How does Jesus feel about it? Does He know all of our sins? And is He willing to forgive us and give us a fresh start with abundant life?
"No creature has any cover from the sight of God: everything lies naked and exposed before the eyes of Him with Whom we have to deal." - Paul
Our wise man, Paul, is back with the answer to the first question. God knows our worse sins! Every word, thought, and deed you and I have had or have done since we were born...He know it all! Does Jesus reject us because of our sins?
"...I will never, no never reject one of them who comes to Me." - Jesus Christ
"He taught me all the mercy,
For He show'd me all the sin.
Now, tho. my lamp was lighted late,
There's One will let me in." - Alfred, Lord Tennyson
As long as we are willing to come to Jesus, He will always let us in. It is impossible to do anything that does beyond the limits of His love and forgiveness. Allow that thought to sink into your mind. It is the Truth! The love and forgiveness of Jesus will be given to anyone who accepts it. What we've done or thought about doing doesn't matter. A perfect example of this is the willingness of Jesus to forgive the men who were slowly torturing Him to death. Even as they were pounding the nails into His hands on the cross, completing their horrible work, Jesus cried out...
"...Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." - Jesus Christ
So the first fact we must keep in mind is: Jesus loves us and stands ready to forgive us.
It cost Jesus something to be able to forgive us. Jesus offers His forgiveness [Salvation] to us free, but it was not free for Him. The price was high...higher than you and I could ever imagine. [If you saw Mel Gibson's The Passion you have a small - very small - idea of the sufferings of Christ.]
"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world" [that includes you!] "that He gave up His only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not come to destruction but have eternal life." - Jesus Christ
This is the message of Jesus to you today. The price for your life was the death of Jesus Christ. That's how valuable you are to Him...that's how far He was willing to go for you. Even though we are sinners - rebels against God - Jesus was willing to die so we could be forgiven and have a love relationship with Him.
"And we can see that it was the very time that we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God's amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us." - Paul
The amazing thing about the love of Jesus is that He gave His life for us while we were still His enemies. Even now, if we haven't accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we are in rebellion against Him. We may not like to think of ourselves as rebels, but that is what we are whether we are fighting against Him, ignoring Him, or being religious.
This is going to cost us something.
"Halt! Stop! Wait a minute! You said Jesus offered Salvation free...what's this about cost?"
So I did. Salvation is like an introduction to life. If we accept Jesus as our Saviour that is like being introduced to God. Only a fool stops there. It is like being introduced to your future spouse for the first time. The first meeting didn't cost anything, but if you had stopped with that first introduction you never would have had a relationship. Likewise, being introduced to God is meaningless if you have no intention of going further. We don't want just an introduction [it begins there] we want a relationship...we want reality…and that is going to cost us something! So consider it carefully.
"The man who will not take up his cross and follow in My footsteps cannot be My disciple. If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn't he first set down and work out the cost of it, to see if he can afford it? Otherwise, when he as laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will jeer at him, saying, 'This is the man who started to build a tower and couldn't finish it!' ...So it is with you; only the man who says good-bye to all his possessions can be My disciple." - Jesus Christ
Jesus is not saying we have to sell everything or become poor to have a relationship with Him. What He is saying is that He gave everything He had to have a relationship with you and I and He requires being made the most important Person in our lives. No one or nothing must be allowed to interfere with the very special relationship you two will have. And it is up to you to make sure there isn't anything that is going to interfere. That is one very easy way to turn relationship into hard, cold, religion - let something or someone become more important to you than Jesus.
This brings us to a strange point. Jesus must be given top priority in our lives. Logically, it would seem then, that other people and things become less important, but when we place Jesus first, we find we love our family and friends more than we ever have before! If we allow these other people or things to take priority over Jesus then our love for or enjoyment of them immediately begins to fade as well.
"Anyone who puts his love for father or mother above his love for Me does not deserve to be Mine, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, and neither is the man who refuses to take up his cross and follow My way. The man who has found his own life will lose it, but the man who has lost it for My sake will find it." - Jesus Christ
When we greedily grasp onto someone or something before Jesus and make Jesus less important, we will ultimately lose them or it. But when we are willing to trust them into His loving hands, they come back so much better than before. It is something like holding onto a wet bar of soap. The harder you squeeze and hold it the more likely it is to zip from your hands and plunge into the mirky water below.
With eager heart and will on fire,
I fought to win my great desire
"Peace shall be mine," I said; but life
Grew bitter in the weary strife.
My soul was tired and my pride
Was wounded deep: to Heaven I cried,
"God grant me peace or I must die,"
The dumb stars glittered no reply.
Broken at last, I bowed my head,
Forgetting all myself, and said,
"Whatever come, His will be done";
And in that moment peace was won.
Henry Van Dyke
We are considering the cost of following Jesus. What will it cost us? Everything! Realize that right now. Jesus is not interested in what you have or who you know. He is interested in you. There is no point in getting started if you have no intention of going all the way. But before we decide the cost of a relationship with Jesus is too great, let's look at what it will cost us not to have a relationship with Jesus. There is a price to pay either way.
If we try to stumble down life's rocky, twisty track without Jesus, we will never find the abundant life we crave so badly. We will forever have an emptiness in our lives because we are trying to run our lives with only two areas [physical and mental] working while ignoring the most important area of all [spiritual]. It's like having a car but no gas. The car may look great, and it may have driver, but it's not going anywhere! Only through Jesus can come genuine spiritual fulfillment and then He brings fulfillment in the other areas of life as well.
"You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." - St. Augustine
Restlessness, guilt, fear, lack of fulfillment as a person, all these and more are a part of the price we pay for rejecting Jesus. And when we die we will hear those fateful words...
"...out of my presence, cursed as you are, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." - Jesus Christ
Which price is the greater price? Certainly, it may appear to some accepting Jesus and starting a relationship with Him is the greater price to pay now; but in the long run [and quite often before then] the price of rejecting Him is far greater. We are not playing games - your decision will affect eternity - your eternal destiny [You may also want to take the short e-mail course: Reality Check].
So in our quest for abundant life we need to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ as Saviour, Friend, and the Ruler of our lives. It means agreeing to do whatever He asks you to do. This is vital, without this step nothing else will work right. This step unlocks your potential for abundant life both now and forever. Yes, there is a price to be paid, but it is will worth the cost. We give ourselves to Him and He gives Himself to us...and He is so much greater. :) [For more detail take The Making Of A Blood Covenant e-mail course.]
Coward and wayward and weak,
I change with the changing sky.
Today so eager and brave,
Tomorrow not willing to try.
But He never gives in,
And we two will win,
Jesus and I.
Right now you must make a decision. Take time to think about it. Consider, how badly do I want abundant life? Read the four choices below and see which one fits you [one of them will!].
I have already accepted Jesus as my Saviour, Friend, and the Ruler of my life. I am growing in my relationship with Him. Good. Go on to other articles and courses to help develop all your potential.
I want to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ as my Saviour, Friend, and the Ruler of my life. I want to experience his great love for me. I realize the road I may travel will not be all smooth or easy, but I know He will be with me every step of the way - helping, comforting, directing, and encouraging me.
Starting a relationship with Jesus is not difficult. It can be as simple as saying, "Lord, come into my life and make me Yours!" but you may find the explanations in the following steps helpful.
1. Realize Jesus loves you. You are very special to Him. Jesus wants to have that love relationship with you even more that you want to have it with Him! Jesus wants the very best for you and for your life.
By this we come to know [and] to understand the essential love that He [Jesus] laid down his own life for us...In this the love of God was displayed, where we are concerned, in that God sent His Son, the only begotten Son, into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." - John
2. Next, we have to admit we are sinners. Our pride doesn't like to do that, but it is a fact. We would be foolish if we closed our eyes to the plain truth. We would be like blind men stumbling along, declaring we can see, and refusing to accept help. In order to receive help we must be willing to admit we need it. It doesn't matter how good or how bad a life we have had: we are still sinners! We were even born with a sin nature in us.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Paul
"If we say we have no sin - refusing to admit that we are sinners - we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth is not in us." - John
God is holy and perfect and because He is perfect He cannot have a relationship with anyone who is less than perfect. We are like pieces of dry wood and God is like a fire. Because He is perfect by nature, He cannot come close to us or else we will be burned up. We need to be transformed into little flames of fire before we can have a relationship with Jesus. Some people have deluded themselves into thinking that by doing good things they can please God. But there is nothing we can do to change what we are - dry wood. It doesn't matter how many good deeds we do, we'll still be dry wood which cannot come anywhere near the Fire. As long as we are sinners, we are dry wood and cannot do anything right as far as God is concerned.
"You [God] are indeed angry, for we have sinned...and we need to be saved. But we are like a unclean thing and all our righteousness [good deeds] are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities [sins], like the wind have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your Name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You." - Isaiah
3. We know God loves us, but we also know since God is perfect He cannot allow His love to overrule His justice. In the Courts of Heaven the penalty for sin - any sin - is death [What Is Death?]. We don't die physically the instant we commit a sin, but we do die spiritually [being born with sin already in us, we were actually born spiritually dead]. That most important part of our life is then lifeless.
"For the wages of sin is death." - Paul
This, then, is what has happened. Sin made its entry into the world through one man [Adam], and through sin, death. The entail of sin and death passed on to the whole human race, and no one could break it for no one was himself free from sin...For while as a result of one man's sin death by natural consequence became the common lot of men, it was by the generosity of God, the free giving of the grace of the one Man Jesus Christ, that the love of God over flowed for the benefit of all men." - Paul
God's answer to the problem was to Himself become a Man, a Perfect Man, and then take the punishment for sin Himself. Since He is perfect, He did not deserve the punishment. As an innocent Man Jesus suffered the penalty so we who are guilty can be declared innocent in God's eyes. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, God takes all our sins and stamps them: PAID IN FULL because Jesus has already taken the penalty for us. We could do nothing to help ourselves, but God so loved us He left the beauties of Heaven to come to a filthy, sin-cursed world to be humiliated, rejected, tortured, hated, and much more just so we could have a relationship with Him and experience His love. [For greater detail see the 13 Points Of Love course.] Because of Jesus, we do not have to pay the penalty for our own sin. What an insult to the love of God if we reject Him and fling His offer back into His face!
4. The time has come to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is in the room with you right now. Because He is a Spirit you will not see Him, you may or may not feel His presence. It doesn't matter what you feel [or don't feel] or where you are; He is right there loving you, waiting to be asked into your life [He won't force Himself]. All you have to do is talk to Him - like your best friend - and ask Him to come into your life, forgive your sin, and put you in right relationship with God.
"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You." - David
The exact words you use are not important, but your heart desire/commitment is. If you have trouble you may want to say this prayer: "Jesus, thank You that You loved me so much You came to die for me. I know I am a sinner and I have offended You. Please forgive me. Come into my heart, wash my sins away, and make me Yours. I believe in You and that You rose from the dead to become My Saviour. I commit my life into Your hands. I will do whatever You want me to do. Thank You for saving me and making Me Yours forever. Amen." When you've made this commitment you are a part of God's family. God Himself is now your Father and He will care for you!
"Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called "children of God" - and that is not just what we are called, but what we are." - John
"If you openly admit by your own lips that Jesus is the Lord, and if you believe in your own heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is believing in the heart that makes a man righteous before God, and it is stating his belief by his own lips that confirms his salvation. And the scripture says: Whoever believes in Him shall not be disappointed." - Paul
"I am interested in a relationship with Jesus but I want to know more about it." That's fine, but don't wait too long! Read the New Testament - it contains all the answers you need. Ask Jesus to make Himself real to you as you read His words. [You may also want to read other articles on this site and take e-mail courses such as 13 Points Of Love and The Making Of A Blood Covenant.]
"I am closed-minded and not at all interested in a relationship with Jesus Christ." Take Care! As sinners we are automatically under the judgment of a just God. On the Cross Jesus experienced the judgment of God on our behalf. If we refuse Him, we will have to experience the judgment for ourselves..and it will have no ending. Our entire future - and we will exist forever somewhere - depends on this decision. We will face either God's mercy or His judgment.
You may want to continue your look at true Christian life religion by taking the short e-mail course Reality Check.
Study Guide: Introduction To Life- 27 pages
Scripture References [in order of appearance]: Matthew 14:15; 1 John 4:1; John 10:7-10, 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 4:13; John 6:37; Luke 23:34; John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8; Luke 14:27-33; Matthew 10:37-40; Matthew 25:41; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8; 64:5-7; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:12-15; Psalm 86:5; 1 John 3:1; Romans 10:9-11.