Understood Again

By Meike Wetzling

I can recall very well why I had stopped everything in my life to come to England to study in a Bible school. I had come because of a nagging frustration concerning my own, mainly professional situation, a striking lack of true joy and a constantly present feeling that I am not living the life that God had intended for me. I was more and more convinced that I was not in the place where I was supposed to be, neither physically, mentally nor spiritually. The church didn’t seem to have answers, but rather looked as stuck as I was. God must have had something else on his mind when he brought me into his kingdom. I was full of unanswered questions.

What I saw in my life did not remotely resemble the life that was described to me in the Bible. What did it mean to be filled with all the fullness of God? Leading an abundant life – how exactly does that look? To receive whatever I have asked for in prayer – I wouldn’t even dare to consider that possible, no, not in my best moments. Why does God tell me to be perfect, when we both know exactly that I haven’t got a chance? How do I drink of living water and then never be thirsty again? (See Eph. 3:19; John 10:10; Matt. 21:22; Matt. 5:48, John 4:10.)

There are hundreds of scripture passages like these. I know I have taken them out of context, but the context doesn’t explain them either, quite to the contrary. Every time I read the Bible I stumbled over promises and expectations that God seems to have for my life that I don’t even come close to. Every page of the Bible screams out to me, "There is more! There is more!" And what is more, it didn’t sound as if God had meant these things to happen in heaven, later on the other side of the rapture. I couldn’t ignore it anymore and finally the Spirit of God inside of me seemed to confirm this impression and I felt called and encouraged to look for this "more" of life that I was constantly bumping into.

If this is really God’s Word and his will, then this life must be available and there must be a way to come to this place. It must be true that we can live in a very different way from the world around us. There must be a way to live life in true freedom, with true peace and joy and with an irresistible love that draws people to the God we love. It is inconceivable that God would rub something as beautiful as this under our noses and then leave us alone in our utter insufficiency to live this kind of life.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about a life that is full of victories, miracles and other highly dramatic events. I am talking about a truth which has the power to change me as a person, Meike Wetzling, which can turn me into someone in whom heaven is becoming visible and effective, fully knowing that this will not prevent the difficult times of life.

So now I would like to share my "discovery" with you. I will start with the realization that I had never fully understood the gospel of Christ. It seems to me that I understood this message for the first time in its enormous life-changing dimension and its supernatural impact it ought to have on our lives.

What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to have been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ? The first part we all know and believe in our hearts. It means that the price for my iniquity has been fully paid through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross (and what a wonderful cross it is and has become ours!) and I have received forgiveness of sins and therefore can now be and am reconciled to God. I am legally bought with a price and now belong to him ("belong" as in ownership as well as fellowship), instead of the devil.

This is, though, but "only" half of the gospel! We know that the redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt is a picture for the redemption that has been accomplished through Jesus Christ. Israel symbolizes the church, Egypt represents the world, the Passah foreshadows the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the crossing of the Red Sea stands for the baptism, and there are many more parallels. God has redeemed Israel "with a mighty hand" and "on eagles wings" from the land of slavery. But the purpose for this redemption was not only to save them from bondage, but also to save them for freedom, namely to live in the land that he had promised them. A land that was flowing with milk and honey.

Deuteronomy 6:23:
And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.

His goal for Israel was not the desert! And "just" being saved from the power of darkness is neither his goal for his people today. When Israel came out of Egypt and entered the desert, only the first half of his plan of redemption was fulfilled. The other half was to bring Israel into the Promised Land so they would live as a model nation, a colony of heaven on earth amongst all the other nations under the rule of their God and thereby displaying his character and glory to the nations around them. They were to be a blessing to the whole world (the promise was given to Abraham in Genesis 12:3) by being distinctly and positively different from them.

Israel was to make visible once again the image of God, because this image had been lost through the disobedience and fall of man. Man made God redundant and had declared himself to be independent of his creator. On that day he died spiritually and in the long run also physically. Man had lost the purpose of his existence: to bear the image of God. From now on he had to live without the immediate and intimate fellowship with God for which he was created, and the consequence was – as it is today – spiritual and moral bankruptcy (Gen. 6: 5,6). He had lost the glory for which he was intended (Rom. 3:23).

Do you remember? We used to walk with our God in the cool of the day. We talked openly with him from face to face and were not ashamed. He was with us and we were with him, we knew no fear…

The ultimate goal of God’s plan of redemption is not only to reconcile man to the fellowship with him through the forgiveness of sins (though that alone is deeply humbling), God also wants to restore his image in us. When the world sees us, they are to see him! And this objective is not planned for eternity, but for now, for our lives today on planet earth.

The law declares to Israel how they were to live as a redeemed people. It had nothing to do with their redemption from Egypt! The law serves the purpose of revealing God’s character and glory and setting the standard that God has in mind for his people. We know that they failed (and so would we). Was it impossible? Yes, it was. Nobody was able to live according to this standard, because we lacked the connection with God. So the law basically does two things: 1) it shows me who God is and 2) it shows me who I am. But the law is meant to bring me to Christ, because it points me to the only one in whom the standard would be fully met, the law would be kept (Gal. 3:24).

Now God sent his Son Jesus Christ and in his person showed us what this life that he had intended would look like. Jesus fully lived up to the required standard and therefore has brought the kingdom of heaven very close to us, in time as well as in space (Matt. 4:23). He displayed through his life the nature and glory of God and of what quality the fellowship with our creator originally was meant to be. Jesus Christ was the image of God on earth; he who sees him sees the father (John 14:9)! He was a colony of heaven on earth.

How then did Jesus do it? Why was he able to live as a human and be without sin? Because he was God? No, even though he was God, he didn’t put on his deity, but decided to live a fully human life (Phil. 2:6,7). Well, he didn’t inherit the image of Adam as the rest of us did (Gen. 5:3), which was the presupposition to a sinless life. But this life still needed to be lived! Was he able to live in such a way out of his own resources? Again, no; he was only able to live this way, because he was indwelled by the life of God (John 5:26) and decided to live in complete dependency upon this life that was in him. The Scriptures again and again talk about this dependency of the Son on the Father and how he completely fulfilled the will of the Father in this way.

John 5:19 (see also verse 30; 12:49):
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

He has demonstrated to us what this relationship to the Father ought to look like. God was his only source, from which he received everything he needed. This gave him complete freedom from any dependency on man and thereby glorified God in all that he did.

In essence therefore sin is everything that does not originate from the relationship to the Father, but is being done independently from him (Rom. 14:23). Everything that does not come from Christ is not Christianity!

Jesus says in John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." I am to live in the same kind of relationship with Christ that he lived in with the Father, namely full dependency, full trust and mutual love. Did that make Jesus different from the rest of the world? You bet, it did! And so are we to be distinctly different (without saying of course, in a positive way) from the world around us today.

Meike, in herself, will never be able to live this life that God has designed for her. We are not able to live this Christian life, just as the children of Israel were not able to keep the law! The forgiveness of sins through the cross does not change this in the least.

My old man, my flesh, profits nothing (John 6:63). I simply do not have the ability to do it! God knows that, so why is he asking it of me? With my salvation I received the life of Christ indwelling in me and he knows that his Son can live this life! Only through Christ living in me I am able to live according to his standard (Eph. 3:17, Rom. 8:11, etc.). Then it is no more I that live, but Christ lives in me! (Gal. 2:20). He calls me to present my body as a living sacrifice for his life to rule in me (Rom. 6:8-13 and 12:1).

My "old man" hates to be dependant on anything or anybody. It will fight tooth and nail against submitting to the rule of Christ in my life. It would rather let me "play Christian" than give up its reign. Our old nature is good for one thing and one thing only – to be crucified. It will always rebel against God (Rom. 8:7), it will camouflage with exceptional subtlety and yet always remain the same. It cannot be improved, let alone be reformed. Our true problem is that we don’t really believe that we belong on the cross. We still think that we are quite okay and are able to offer valuable things to God. In his eyes, though, we have nothing to offer that is of whatsoever value and would be acceptable in his sight. Our situation is desperately hopeless without God!

But now, it is Christ dwelling in me and that ends all my obligations I had to my flesh. I do not have to obey it anymore! I am to reckon myself dead to my flesh (Rom. 6:9-13). The power of this relationship with my old nature has been broken through the life of Christ! This is not the power of the cross, but the power of his resurrection. I do not have to sin! Now I have to volitionally render into his hands the right to rule as Lord in my life and allow him to live his life in me.

I can already hear you saying "Yes… but a life without sin is not possible, this is not available and for all of us it is a gradual process in growing with God."

Well, it is true, a life without sin is not an option, because we are all born with the sinful nature of Adam and we all need much too long before we understand what Christ has come to do. And even then we many times are disobedient to his rule. So a sinless life indeed is not possible, but it is possible not to sin, since Jesus Christ, as Lord, lives in me. This is our Promised Land.

The Promised Land that Israel was to live in is called "the rest" into which God wanted to bring his people. It is the "Sabbath Rest" for Israel (see Hebrews 4). As God rested from his works, so Israel was supposed to cease from its own exertion. Israel has never really entered this land spiritually and God is still working today on bringing his people into this place of rest. We are to rest from our own works by entering the life of complete dependency to Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:29:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Hebrews 4:10:
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

How does this happen? It happens the same way everything does with God. I receive from God by faith. I enter this life by faith through grace. It is a completely different way of living, different to what the world and many times also the church has taught me. I was taught to be independent, self sufficient and in control. Christ tells me "give up this way of life and come to me." It has a lot to do with turning from my own ways, which is also called repentance, with being obedient, with humbling myself under his rule and receiving forgiveness. That sounds like what happened at our salvation, doesn’t it? That is right, he will bring me into Canaan the same way he brought me out of Egypt – on dry ground, meaning at the lowest point of my life, where I have nothing to add to it any more. It happens through grace. Israel did not earn or deserve the right to live in this land, it was given to them (Deut. 7:7,8). Neither do I deserve it!

Have I arrived? I hear you ask. No, I have to be honest, but I feel like standing on a mountain top and looking down into this land. I can see it, I can smell it. How could I turn my back on it! No, I want Jesus! Therefore I pray, that he will take me there and make it reality in my life. He has promised me and I know whom I have believed, he will be faithful! I also pray that he reveals to me who I am (and he has done that in parts), and that I agree to the death sentence that God has spoken over it. I pray that I will understand what kind of freedom he is really offering to me! I transfer the right to my life into his hands.

I have wandered around in this desert long enough, I can’t see the Manna any more, I desire to eat of the fruit of the land. With all my heart I desire this life for myself, but also for the church of God, that we may be a colony of heaven on earth, on enemy territory, that we may show to the world how good our God is! It is difficult to invite people to live in the desert!

May God’s peace and joy be with you in the faith that we share.



From the November 2009 issue of The Vine & Branches