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Jun 7, 2022

Greetings everyone!

As I explained previously, I started on a quest because of frustration with 2Peter 1:3-4:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Let’s find those promises Peter was talking about!

In the second Buckling the Belt of Truth podcast— which is found in our calendar at day 141— I recommended claiming your present resurrection life. I dealt with the biblical teaching that, as a sincere believer in Christ, you have been united with Christ in his death (being crucified with Him), you died and were buried, and now have been raised with Him to new life. Our living a resurrected life is a spiritual reality, meaning it is true of you spiritually but can’t be seen by human eyes. However the Holy Spirit has given us multiple metaphors that help us grasp this reality. As you settle into living according to spiritual realities, the transformation that human eyes cannot see will be felt by you and perhaps even be noticed by others.


The foundational steps of Buckling the Belt of Truth that I gave in the last lesson were:

  1. Realize: Be alert when reading the Bible for truths that are presented as true for believers in Christ, but which seem too good to be true. Note them down, and check out translations like the NLT, GNT, and NET to make sure you are understanding what the Scripture says.
  2. Ask God to help you overcome your difficulty in believing the truth you have discovered. It may be appropriate to ask God to help you discover if strong opposing ideas are coming from demonic influence or previous sins that you should confess.
  3. Meditate on the scriptural truth you are working to internalize. Imagine how your life would be different if you started to live according to that truth.
  4. Take any steps the Holy Spirit gives you to put your new identity into practice.


With that introduction, let’s read Romans 6:1-11 in the GNT:

Romans 6:1-11

What shall we say, then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God's grace will increase? 2 Certainly not! We have died to sin—how then can we go on living in it? 3 For surely you know that when we were baptized into union with Christ Jesus, we were baptized into union with his death. 4 By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life.

5 For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was.

I hope you noticed the words ‘union’ and ‘become one with him’. When we are baptized, we physically act out this oneness with Christ, both the death and burial and the resurrection. This idea of union is so important that our eating and drinking the elements of communion portray the same thing.

6 And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. 7 For when we die, we are set free from the power of sin. 8 Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ has been raised from death and will never die again—death will no longer rule over him. 10 And so, because he died, sin has no power over him; and now he lives his life in fellowship with God. 11 In the same way you are to think of yourselves as dead, so far as sin is concerned, but living in fellowship with God through Christ Jesus.

Two points about that paragraph:

  1. This paragraph is giving us the keys to unlock the treasure I mentioned before, namely how we do what Peter claimed was possible in 2Peter 1, ‘living a godly life’ and ‘escaping the world’s corruption caused by human desires’. Our sinful self is destroyed and sin has lost its power when we are one with Christ in his death.
  2. Note in verse 11, Paul tells us how we are to think, and also what ‘we know’ and ‘believe’. Take the step of asking God to help you believe what Paul says we ought to know. Then intentionally take the meditation step. The spiritual victory that God gives doesn’t happen by passive osmosis. For me, a major step in the spiritual battle is to take hold of myself and say: “This is what I will do. I will take control of my mind and actually think deeply about what these verses are saying.”

Not read, but so important:

12 Sin must no longer rule in your mortal bodies, so that you obey the desires of your natural self. 13 Nor must you surrender any part of yourselves to sin to be used for wicked purposes. Instead, give yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes. 14 Sin must not be your master; for you do not live under law but under God's grace.

Let’s blend this Romans-6 way of thinking of ourselves as united to Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection with the oneness that Jesus promises to us in John 15.

I am the true grapevine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”


The statement, “I am the vine; you are the branches,” is actually a promise. It is a right-now promise. It is true of both Jesus and you now. But like many promises, there are conditions to fulfill. Some of the conditions are also promises:

  • Remain in me (condition), and I will remain in you (promise).
  • Those who remain in me, and I in them (condition), will produce much fruit (promise).


Note that John 15 enriches our understanding of our unity with Christ by promise-filled gems. Take them to the bank!

These are precious promises that we should keep in mind. We have become (spiritually speaking) organically one with our Vine, Jesus.

There is a constellation of ‘treasures’ found in staying joined to Jesus which He explains in John 15:

  • verse 9 “I have loved you as the Father has loved me.” Then later he commands us to love one another.
  • verses 13-15 This is the passage where Jesus calls us his ‘friends’.
  • 16 Then Jesus tells us, “I chose you.” All of the above are on my list of the things that most Christians find hard to believe.
  • 11 “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my Joy.” What a wonderful promise!
  • For verses 7-8, let me paraphrase what Jesus is telling us,

 “If you continue clinging to Me in oneness, and if you internalize my teachings, then I invite you to pray asking for anything you want, and it will be given to you.

8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

This is another amazing promise: Answered prayers! Wow, how come we aren’t spending more time in prayer!


Let’s keep on clinging to Christ. Meditate on being Jesus’ branch. The metaphor of our being raised to new life in unity with Christ helps us to see how we became Jesus’ branch. The metaphor of our being branches of Jesus unlocks joy-producing treasures and motivation to persevere.


There is one more crowning jem of oneness with Christ in Ephesians that I didn’t mention in the second lesson. Since we are joined as one with Christ Jesus, we ‘are seated with Him in the heavenly realms’ (Eph. 2:6). That verse doesn’t say that we ‘have a future position with Christ’, although promises to that effect are found elsewhere in the Bible. Instead Eph. 2:6 says we ‘are seated’ with Him right now. Where is Christ seated? At God’s right hand. (If you were standing directly in front of God, Jesus would be to your left.) The verse is a bit unclear as to how we could be seated with Christ. We might be seated circling God’s throne. Just think of that incredible privilege. I like to say, “There are no folding chairs in heaven.” None of heaven’s chairs are made of plastic. Your name is engraved at your place. There is a place reserved for you alone, and it is certain and permanent.


But capitalizing on the picture of vine-and-branch oneness with Christ, let’s imagine sitting on Jesus’ lap, while He is sitting on his throne next to God. You are right there with the King of the Universe. Lean back and whisper in his ear!      He says,

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask.

Keep on seeking, and you will find.

Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Mat. 7:7

John 15:7 “If you remain joined to me and my words remain in you,

you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted.”


Think of it: Jesus actually is inviting you to take advantage of your close position!


From this place of acceptance and privilege, you are invited to tell the King what You need Him to do for you. But when you sit there, filled with reverence and awe, you will suddenly realize that some things you thought about asking Him are not really what is needed or important. However when the Holy Spirit helps you find your voice to ask, the things you wind up asking will be ‘for His glory’ (that is to say, ‘in his name’). Such prayers are powerful!


Then John 15:11 promised, “you will be filled with my joy.” Why will we receive such joy? Because we will ask big things of God, and He will grant our requests, and God will be glorified. First of all, He will be glorified because we will sing his praises more thankfully.


This is what I am trying to get my mind to grasp right now. I am working to understand and internalize sitting right now in heavenly realms with Christ’, because I am asking God to do some amazingly big things.


Here is an amazing statement. It is one of Jesus’ last words before his suffering:

John 12:24  I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains.



Gale and I send you our love and together say

May the Lord bless you ‘real good’.


Phil & Gale