The Indwelling Christ
In pondering the transformation process by which God changes us from bent-towards-evil individuals, to people who love and willingly serve the Lord, I've noticed a progression that follows the growing realization of our personal depravity (our bent towards evil).
Initially we become painfully aware of how far short we have fallen of God's ideal, and how willing we have been to follow Satan's leading. At some point, coming to love the Lord Jesus and wanting to serve Him, sorrowing over the sins that we have committed, we seek forgiveness and acceptance with God—sometimes referred to as "justification."
We soon come to realize that the pardon offered, spoken of in Romans 5, for our sins—mistakes committed, is wholly inadequate to deal with a law of sin operating in our members—the power that continually overcomes our sincere desires to obey and serve God and causes us to sin (spoken of in Romans 7). We are accordingly led to Romans 6 where we learn about the need and provision for dying to self, and thereby grow significantly.
Unfortunately, for many Christians dying to self is either the terminus of their experience, or the tarrying place where they linger too long—believing victory comes by way of surrender, increasing levels of surrender are pursued. But dying to self is only a part of the solution, and this effort also ends in frustrating failure. Believing dying to self will somehow immobilize the tyrannous self, they also strive to live the life of more abundance out of a strength and wisdom mustered in themselves—which also results in failure. They forget that the purpose of dying to self and becoming empty vessels is to be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accordingly, all believers—most anyway, who are serious about meeting the demands of truth and duty, who love the Lord Jesus and are jealous for His honor—eventually come to the point of wanting more, and begin searching for the missing "something." That "something" is the Lord Jesus Christ. As Charles Trumbull says, "there is something even better than victory; that is Jesus." Why? The indwelling of Jesus completely transforms the life and brings victory where previously there was only failure.
In The Indwelling Christ I have compiled readings that focuse on this third phase of the transformation process and brings together some of the best readings I've found on the subject. Authors include Charles Trumbull, F B Meyer, Hudson Taylor, the Unknown Christian, George Müller, Mead MacGuire, J. E. Conant, and L. E. Maxwell, among others. In several cases I include the conversion testimonials of great Christians.
I think you will find this book very helpful.
In terms of acknowledgements, the compilation was encouraged by my friend John Pitcher who was seeking materials to use with a prison ministry in Wyoming. Thank you for your support John; might God continue to use you in touching so many lives.
Here follows the table of contents (with some illustrated embedded quotations from the chapter), and the foreword. At the end of this page is information on how to obtain the "Indwelling Christ" readings.
Table of Contents
Foreword – 3
Surrender Your Life to God – James McConkey – 5
From the Surrendered Life
The “Commit” that puts all into His hands, needs the “Trust also” that keeps all things under His hands. Therefore we must not only fully commit everything to God’s keeping, but trustfully submit to God’s shaping chastening. Let us not only give ourselves into His hands, but also stay under His hands as He deals to us that which is best from His standpoint, however grievous it may seem from ours.
The Victorious Life – An Unknown Christian - 9
1. Is It Possible? - 11
2. Can “Little” Sins Be Conquered? - 12
3. God’s Love Never Faileth - 14
4. How Sin Is Overcome - 17
5. None Can Imitate Christ - 19
6. How To Enter In - 22
7. Buried With Christ - 24
The question is just this: Am I willing to give up all known sin and to put myself absolutely at the disposal of the Savior? —Myself, my talents, my possessions, my work, my future? Am I willing to surrender myself entirely to Him? Dr. Wilbur Chapman for some time hesitated to trust his future career to Christ, although he was then a noted missionary. Dr. Meyer said, “Are you willing to be made willing?” Dr. Chapman told Christ he was willing to be made willing. At once every difficulty was removed. Yes, we must even surrender our surrender to Christ. Our Lord did not crucify Himself—nor bury Himself—nor can we crucify ourselves. But when we have emptied ourselves of “self,” Christ will crucify us—and will “raise us up to walk in newness of life.” The Cross for you and me is just I—self—crossed out.
8. Surrender All To Christ - 28
9. Real Victory and False - 32
10. This Life Is A Gift - 35
11. Not Sinless Perfection - 41
12. The Perils of This Life - 46
13. Other Perils - 50
14. “Highest” Criticism - 55
God’s grace is always sufficient. God Himself has declared it to be so. When sudden temptation comes upon you unawares, do you stop to pray for deliverance from it—or do you look to Christ for victory over it? Someone has said, “When tempted, do not begin to ask ‘How can I get out of it?’, but ‘What can I get out of it?’ “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 RV). The Lord Jesus is dwelling in the heart to banish even the thought of evil before it can become sin.
15. Days of Heaven on Earth - 60
The Life That Wins – Charles Trumbull - 67
From Victory In Christ
Jesus Christ does not want to be our helper; He wants to be our life. He does not want us to work for Him. He wants us to let Him do His work through us, using us as we use a pencil to write with—better still, using us as one of the fingers on His hand.
When our life is not only Christ’s but Christ, our life will be a winning life; for He cannot fail. And a winning life is a fruit-bearing life, a serving life. It is after all only a small part of life, and a wholly negative part, to overcome; we must also bear fruit in character and in service if Christ is our life. And we shall—because Christ is our life. “He cannot deny himself”; He “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” An utterly new kind of service will be ours now, as we let Christ serve others through us, using us. And this fruit-bearing and service, habitual and constant, must all be by faith in Him; our works are the result of His Life in us; not the condition, or the secret, or the cause of that Life.
Victory Found – Rosalind Goforth – 72
From How I Know God Answers Prayer
The day after reaching home I picked up a little booklet, "The Life That Wins," which I had not read before, and going to my son's bedside I told him it was the personal testimony of one whom God had used to bring great blessing into my life. I then read it aloud till I came to the words, "At last I realized that Jesus Christ was actually and literally within me." I stopped amazed. The sun seemed suddenly to come from under a cloud and flood my whole soul with light. How blind I'd been! I saw at last the secret of victory--it was simply Jesus Christ himself--his own life lived out in the believer. But the thought of victory was for the moment lost sight of in the inexpressible joy of realizing CHRIST'S INDWELLING PRESENCE! Like a tired, worn-out wanderer finding home at last I just rested in him. Rested in his love--in himself. And, oh, the peace and joy that came flooding my life! A restfulness and quietness of spirit I never thought could be mine took possession of me so naturally. Literally a new life began for me, or rather in me. It was just "the Life that is Christ."
The Power of Appropriation – F. B. Meyer - 77
Now, if a man says, "I am going to try this way of living, but I do not feel as though I have received anything, I do not feel different from what I felt when I came into the church, and therefore I have nothing," that man will not be helped. I have had in my own life for some time a great besetment. Two or three months ago I said to Christ: "I take Thee for that part of my nature where until now I have always been fearing to fall, that I may be perfectly sound." I was sitting quietly in my room when I made the transfer. It was the quiet act of faith, but all my life has felt the effect of that solemn moment. I have not feared the temptation since then, because I knew that Christ would meet it whenever it presented itself.
Faith - George Müller – 83
God delights to increase the Faith of His children. Our Faith which is feeble at first, is developed and strengthened more and more by us. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God's hand as a means. I say—and say it deliberately—trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of Faith. I get letters from so many of God's dear children who say: "Dear Brother Müller, I'm writing this because I am so weak in faith." Just so surely as we ask to have our Faith strengthened, we must feel a willingness to take from God's hand the means for strengthening it. We must allow Him to educate us through trials and bereavements and troubles. It is through trials that Faith is exercised and developed more and more. God affectionately permits difficulties, that He may develop unceasingly that which He is willing to do for us, and to this end we should not shrink, but if He gives us sorrow and hindrances and losses and afflictions, we should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that Faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us.
The Exchanged Life – J. Hudson Taylor - 85
From Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret
The sweetest part... is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash wroth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God should place me in serious perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trials, much strength? No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.
Giving All; Taking All – Mead MacGuire - 89
From The Life of Victory
Is it not strange that everywhere men are praying and pleading for what has already been graciously given? They pray for peace, but the Father answers, "I have already bestowed My peace upon you in Christ. Receive Him, and you will have all peace." Men pray for life, and the reply is the same, "I have given you eternal life. It is in my Son. Receive Him, and you have life." Men cry to God for victory, and the answer is, "There is no victory for humanity except in the Victor."
Experiencing the Power; Maintaining the Connection – Ellen White - 90
From Steps To Christ
More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. So you may say, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.
The Empowering Life of Christ – J. E. Conant - 91
From Every-Member Evangelism
No, child of God, soul-winning is not your work, it is Christ's work through you. And so if you will put into his hand just what you have, whether it is the walking stick of Moses or the five buns and two fishes of the lad, he will fill you and your capacities with his power and perform his pleasure through your life. It isn't your equipment he is after, it is you, and when he gets you he can do anything he pleases through your equipment, whether much or little. You may be an impulsive fisherman like Peter, or you may be a splendidly cultured and capable scholar like Paul, but the important thing to him is not your equipment, it is you. Not that the equipment is a matter of indifference in our service. Far from it. Every one ought to have the very best possible equipment. But whatever of real spiritual service is done Christ does it, using our equipment whatever it is.
To enter upon this relationship with your Lord is therefore very simple. Get alone with him at a time when there will be nothing to disturb nor break in. Then in a most personal, intimate, and natural way, yield yourself, all you are and all you have, all you will ever become and all you will ever have, in a transaction that will from thenceforth put the government of your life upon his shoulder and the doing of your service upon his power. And then from that moment reckon on him. Follow him wherever he leads you, trusting him to be in you and to do through you all he requires of you. Never wait for feeling. Always act on faith. The responsibility is all his. Leave it there!
The Overflowing Love of Christ – J. E. Conant - 106
From Every-Member Evangelism
When we are set free for service, we are in the place where all effective witnessing for Christ is done. Our lives will furnish the indispensable background for our testimony, and our testimony will be "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." When the enemy loses his control over our lives, we can witness with great persuasiveness to those whom the enemy is holding captive at his will. For the doctrine of the cross becomes surpassingly persuasive when illustrated by crucified lives, and the truth of the resurrection becomes gloriously triumphant through those who are transfigured by the risen life in Christ. And when it comes to witnessing to Christ, instead of hesitating to take the Gospel to all the lost in our personal worlds, we cannot be kept from it, We shall not go after the lost because we are commanded to, but because we cannot help it. We shall never run before we are sent, but we shall always go when we are sent. And if the enemy tries to prevent us from speaking in Christ's name—as he surely will, we shall turn him over to his Victor and go right on with our testimony. For the love of Christ will so constrain us—so bear us along and impel us—that we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
The Secret of Victory Over Sin – L. E. Maxwell - 114
From Born Crucified
When we thus begin to renounce self we shall find that this will generally be done through our submission to someone in the family or business circle. Home missions are good; foreign missions are better; but "submissions" at home and abroad are best of all. There are some women who will find practical victory at home through submitting to that husband's temper; some men through accepting the lashes of that long-tongued wife; others through embracing that seeming handicap or infirmity. Often we can believe for victory only around some such practical obedience. There self is renounced. Reckoning without the practical renunciation of self proves mere make-believe. It is just more self-righteousness, more self-effort.
Difficulties & The Overcoming Life – L. E. Maxwell - 119
From Crowded To Christ
Most Christians are not brought into the overcoming life without passing through afflictions, both external and internal. This happens through two chief causes, viz., ignorance and self-will. More generally it is through the latter. We are slow to learn what is to be done, but still more reluctant to submit to its being done.
Meditations on Job – J. Hudson Taylor - 120
May we not well say that if Job's prosperity was blessed prosperity, his adversity, likewise, was blessed adversity? "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning;" and the night of weeping will bear a fruit more rich and permanent than any day of rejoicing could produce. "The evening and the morning were the first day." Light out of darkness is GOD'S order, and if sometimes our Heavenly FATHER can trust us with a trial, it is a sure presage that, if by grace the trial is accepted, He will ere long trust us with a blessing.
The Perils of the Victorious Life – Charles Trumbull - 125
One of Six Sermons, The Victorious Life Conference, 1922
But what a perilous life it is! Satan hates it; for it is an incarnate advertisement of the sufficiency of his Conqueror, Jesus Christ. Therefore to trust Christ for complete victory is to be moved up into the front line trench of the Christian warfare; and front line trenches are perilous places when the attack is on. There is no life in the world so perilous as the Victorious Life. Neither is there a life so safe. Where the onslaughts of the Adversary are the most terrific, the grace of the Captain of our salvation is the most effectively demonstrated.
The More Abundant Life – Daniel Augsburger - 135
1. Christ’s Character: The Promise of Power - 135
2. Independence: The Peril of Power - 137
3. Pardon & Christ’s Righteousness: The Portal to Power - 140
4. Dying to Self: The Price of Power - 144
5. Receiving the Indwelling Christ: The Provision of Power – 149
6. Growing the New Life – 154
7. Maintaining the New Life - 161
8. Prayer and the New Life - 167
9. God’s Will and the New Life - 168
10. Trials and the New Life – 171
11. Chapter Summaries – 176
When we present our emptied natures to God, He is willing to fill them, by means of the Holy Spirit, with the Lord Jesus Christ—which is the second, “filling,” half of sanctification. Just as the branch is completely dependent on the vine for life, so we come to completely depend on the life-giving, indwelling presence of Jesus Christ. Upon our dying to self a new power—Christ’s power—takes possession of the new heart and we begin to experience victory like never before. Victory is a Person—Our Savior—not a behavior! Sadly many Christians have surrendered everything to God and have seemingly died to self, but they have not taken Jesus as the fullness of all blessings to dwell in their hearts by faith. Therefore, in seeking victory as a behavior rather than victory as a Person, they necessarily suffer continuing defeat. As Christ is received through the emptying and filling process of sanctification, the manifestation of His character will necessarily attract other branches to attach themselves to the vine and begin bearing fruit—thereby bringing about the desired much! fruit.
12. The Life Described – 177
13. Key Thoughts on Victory - 178
The More Abundant Life: An Outline – Daniel Augsburger – 178
Satan’s Trap #10
The Lie: Victory is a behavior—work on your behavior, with Christ’s help!
The Truth: Victory is a person, whose indwelling changes my behavior.
To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth!” (Ian Thomas)
Resources - 190
This book was compiled as a result of my friend John Pitcher’s desire to share the life-changing truths of the indwelling Christ with the men he was ministering to in Wyoming. I happily accepted the assignment since my own mind was being much exercised on the subject of the overcoming life, particularly the role of the indwelling Christ in affecting the long sought after transformation. I have increasingly come to realize that overcoming isn’t something we do, but something the Overcomer does in us—victory is not a behavior, but an indwelling person, whose presence changes our behavior!
This compilation assumes that the elementary truths of the Christian way are already understood. These would include our need of Christ, our recognition that in and of ourselves we are sinners worthy only of death, that Jesus came to save us from this death, lived a perfect life and died a sufficient death, and that in accepting His substitutionary life and death in place of our own, we are accepted in the beloved as if we had never made any mistakes. These truths are all grouped under the heading of acceptance with God. For the sake of simplicity I sometimes refer to this first phase as the acceptance phase of salvation—some people would refer to it as the justification phase.
With the forgoing assumption in mind, this compilation enters the second transformation phase of salvation, and includes the process of dying to self and the indwelling of Christ.
I have been thinking about the subject of transformation since my college days, and have spoken on the subject in many venues over the last three years as I have held revivals throughout North America. I have been aware of the importance of Christ’s indwelling and encouraged others to appropriate Christ, often quoting from Steps to Christ where it speaks to the need of not only giving all, but also taking all! I know my life has been immeasurably impacted, and I believe my hearers have also been impacted. However, in spite of sharing these truths, I didn’t appreciate the full extend of what we receive when we receive Jesus, nor of the wonderful results that accrue as He lives in and through us.
My eyes were opened more fully in 2005 during the course of a series of lectures in Alberta Canada where I became acquainted with Ian Thomas’ book, the Saving Life of Christ, where I read the following paradigm-shifting words that God seemed to speak to Thomas at a time of great spiritual frustration:
“You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for me, on my behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.”
This paragraph and the pages that followed opened my eyes to truths I had long talked about but had only minimally understood. As another person put it,
Christian living is not our living with Christ’s help, it is Christ living his life in us.”
“The Lord never asked us to serve him in our poor, weak way, and he is not the least pleased with that kind of service. He has asked us to surrender to him, and let him serve himself through us in his strong and mighty way.”
“The Lord Jesus loves His people, and when they put their trust in Him, depending wholly upon Him, He strengthens them. He will live through them, giving them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to the soul a vital transfusion of Himself. He acts through their faculties and causes them to choose His will and to act out His character.”
I have chosen readings on the indwelling Christ from a variety of authors whom I have found helpful.
Surrender Your Life to God by James McConkey speaks to the foundational need of surrendering our lives to God. I have shared this sermon with hundreds of people and have always been gratified by the result.
The Victorious Life by the Unknown Christian has some of the clearest teaching on the subject of victory and should be required reading.
The “Life That Wins” comes from Charles Trumbull’s Victory In Christ, and was one of the early blessings that God sent my way. This short chapter has been used countless times to bring about transformation. One person who speaks specifically to Trumbull’s ministry in her life, and the impact of the Life That Wins that was then published as a pamphlet, is Rosalind Goforth, who served in Hudson Taylor’s organization with her husband Jonathan.
The “Power of Appropriation” comes from one of my favorite authors, F. B. Meyer who was a much used revivalist during his day. You will also enjoy reading his wonderful biographies of Bible characters.
Probably one of the better known chapters in the literature speaking on victory is Hudson Taylor’s The “Exchanged Life.” Though he had already been serving God for many years, he didn’t find personal victory until he was in his 40s. This reading comes from a chapter of the same name from the book Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, where he describes his new found experience to his sister.
The “Empowering Life of Christ” and the “Overflowing Love of Christ” both come from J. E. Conant’s Every-Member Evangelism. I first read quotations from this book in Miles Stanford’s Principles of Spiritual Growth. When I finally obtained my own copy, I realized Conant’s book may be one of the best on the subject. I hope to have all the chapters scanned and available eventually.
L. E. Maxwell’s short excerpt, “Difficulties & The Overcoming Life, comes from his book Crowded to Christ, and speaks to God’s use of difficulties in bringing about transformation.
Though relatively unknown, Hudson Taylor’s Meditations on Job is marvelous on why we can keep praising God no matter what is going on.
Coming from one of Charles Trumbull’s six Victorious Life sermons from the Victorious Life conference in 1922, the “Perils” chapter highlights the dangers that are associated with the overcoming life. Contact me relative to getting the rest of the sermons.
My own More Abundant Life—in book and outline form—conclude these readings, at John’s request, and serves as a systematic overview of the overcoming truths. It also includes information on Peter’s ladder of sanctification, prayer and trials.
Other resources on the Indwelling Christ can be found at my web site, path2prayer.com.
I pray you are blessed and find new life in Jesus as a result!
The Indwelling Christ, a 190 page book, can be purchased from Path2Prayer Ministries (PO Box 244 Berrien Springs, MI 49103; 269 471 5760) or on line: Indwelling Christ