Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Nourished and Flourishing

 

beautiful flower garden

by Dennis Pollock

Jesus Christ exercises many different offices in His relations with His people. The two most commonly known are Lord and Savior. Evangelicals often ask people if they have received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. As our Savior we recognize Jesus as the One who died a substitutionary death for us, taking the wrath of God on Himself at the cross, the wrath which we fully deserved. Having risen from the dead, He acts as Savior toward all who put their trust in Him.  He delivers us from God’s wrath and the just penalty of our sins, qualifying us as children of God and family members of the Father’s household. Paul writes that God, "has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Timothy 1:9).

Jesus acts as Lord of the church in that He fully expects us to obey Him and submit to Him in complete allegiance. But Jesus' offices and roles toward His people do not end here. In fact a major aspect of the Christian life consists of discovering Jesus in His many and varied offices. And with every new discovery, every fresh revelation, every additional insight gained concerning Jesus, we become more effective, more productive, more filled with His peace and joy, and far more equipped to accomplish every good work to which He has called us.

Another vital office our Lord Jesus exercises in relating to His people is that of Nourisher. It could be spoken of in other terms, and sometimes is. We could call Him "Life-giver" or "True Vine" just as easily. But in this study I want us to think of Jesus as our Nourisher, and I can show you from the Scriptures that I have good Biblical reasons to refer to Him thus. In the book of Ephesians the apostle Paul speaks of a husband's responsibility to tenderly love and provide for his wife. He suggests that husbands should love and care for their wives in the same manner that a man loves and cares for his own body. Paul states:

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Ephesians 5:28,29)

Paul is stating the obvious here. Apart from the insane, men never intentionally harm their bodies. We feed our bodies when we are hungry, rest them when they are tired, and studiously avoid burning them or exposing them to pain. When we get a headache we take pain relief medicine, if we get cancer we will spend all sorts of money on surgery or chemotherapy, if we get cut we put a bandage on it, or if we feel that something is not really right, we rush to the doctor. We wash our bodies regularly, put deodorant under our arms, and cologne on our faces. If someone tries to do harm to our body we will vigorously defend it. It may not be the greatest body in the world, but it is the only one we have, and we are determined to treat it well.

Paul actually makes two points with this analogy about how men naturally care for their bodies. The first point is that this is precisely how men should think of and treat their wives. In the marriage relationship we become one flesh, and to abuse our wife is to abuse ourselves. But Paul makes a second point which is vital for us to see. He tells us that this is exactly how Christ relates to His people, His church. Just as men naturally nourish and cherish their bodies, so does Jesus naturally nourish and cherish those who are called by His name. Jesus is the Nourisher of His people!

This nourishing office of Jesus is easily seen in John 15 where Jesus uses the illustration of a vine's relation with its own branches. He declares: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). All branches, whether they be grapevine branches, apple tree branches, rosebush branches, or any other branches all exist in a state of complete and total dependence upon an outside source. No branch can live on its own. The apple tree branch must remain connected to the apple tree, the grapevine branch must stay connected to the grapevine, and the rosebush branch must never lose its relationship with the main stem of the rose plant. Accordingly our Lord Jesus informs us that He is the source of life for the believer; He is the Nourisher of His people. As we abide in Him there is a divine flow of life that brings all sorts of spiritual and even natural blessings our way. Jesus cares far more deeply about His body, (you and me) than any man has ever cared for his own physical body.

Need for Faith

One thing we desperately need to see in all of this is the need for faith in Jesus in His varied offices. Let us consider Jesus as Savior. In a sense Jesus is the Savior of the whole world. John writes: "We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14). Yet, although He holds the title of "Savior of the world" not all of the world is saved. Indeed most of the world is not. Jesus, as Savior of the world, will do you absolutely no good at all unless and until you receive Him as your Savior, and exercise an active faith in Jesus to fulfill that role in your life. When a man or woman comes to see Jesus as a Savior and embraces Him as their own Savior in a very personal sense, amazing things happen. Their sins are forgiven, they are given the gift of righteousness, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell them, and they pass over from death into life.

JesusIn a similar manner we must receive Jesus in His other offices; that is we must actively embrace Him by faith in the various roles in which the Bible reveals Him. Jesus is the Life-giver, the Filler with the Holy Spirit, and the Nourisher of His people – but if you never accept Him in these roles and acknowledge Him as such, you will miss out terribly. Something amazing and awesome takes place when common, very ordinary men and women look to Jesus and discover Him in yet a new office which had previously been unknown to them. As those first faith glimpses of insight and revelation take place, as those first faltering confessions and praises go forth from their lips in their prayers, windows in heaven are opened, mysterious divine doors which had previously seemed to be locked tight and rusted over suddenly give way, and fresh heavenly winds begin to blow.

Jesus on Earth

In the gospels we see this nourishing nature of Jesus in the tender way He ministered to people. As He fed the multitudes by multiplying the fish and bread He nourished them physically. His amazing healing ministry was also an aspect of this. When the disciples returned after traveling all over Israel on ministry missions, He told them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). There is a level of tiredness and exhaustion that is deleterious to one's body, and Jesus never asks or expects us to run ourselves into the ground in His service. After long seasons of work and pressure, one of the most joyous words you will ever hear from the mouth of the Lord is, "Come aside and rest." These seasons of rest are an aspect of Jesus' nourishing of His body.

The consequence of a lack of nourishment is to wither. When a plant does not receive enough water it goes through a process of dying. The rich green color lightens and eventually turns brown. It can no longer hold itself straight and begins to droop. If the drought lasts too long the plant will die. A withered plant, a withered life, a withered ministry, a withered marriage, withered hopes, and withered families are all sad and tragic things. Human beings were not made to live without the divine life that Jesus Christ provides. Jesus declares, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). And the more we believe, the stronger our faith in the Savior, and the greater our appreciation of Jesus as our Nourisher, our Bread of Life, and the Fountain of Living Waters, the greater will be the flow of those divine, life-giving, strength-providing, fruit-producing waters.

In Every Area

Most Christians would agree with this in its spiritual application, but many don't see it as applying at all to the physical dimension. Their idea is that Jesus will surely nourish our inner man, but our outer man and our physical circumstances are unimportant to Him. In Paul's letter to the Philippians he is joyful that they have been faithful to send him badly needed financial support. He calls their recent gift "a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18). Immediately after this he writes those words that are well known to Christians the world over: "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Not just "God will provide for you" or "God will supply your needs," but "God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). God's infinite supply, our Creator's commitment to provide for His creation is always "by Christ Jesus." Jesus is the Father's designated Nourisher. Whether it be financial nourishment, a desperate need for encouragement, wisdom for your business, new life for your marriage, hope for a failing ministry, clear direction in the midst of confusion, victory in a season of nearly overwhelming temptation, or simply a surge of hope when all hope seems to have failed, Jesus is your Nourisher, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and in every other way.

The result of nourishment is "flourishment." Actually there is no such word, but I couldn't resist myself here. When we are well nourished we will flourish. In Psalms we read, "The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree" (Psalm 92:12). It goes on to say, "Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing." To be planted in the house of the Lord is to abide in Jesus Christ and function in His body, the church.

The word of God plays a significant role in this nourishing process. Not only must we look to Jesus as our Nourisher; we must continually spend time in His word. Paul writes to Timothy: "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith…" An abiding faith in Jesus is never meant to exist separate and apart from the Scriptures. Jesus not only tells us to abide in Him but in His word: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). Reading the Bible is far more than an attempt to gain a few more facts about God; it is to feed on Jesus and draw life from Him as we see Him in His word.

Anyone who has ever fasted for several days knows the tremendous changes and the sense of weakness the body experiences when food is withheld. We become tired far more easily and even small tasks seem to require more energy than we have to give. But the moment a meal is taken after several days of fasting, a great transformation occurs. New strength, new life, and new energy surge into the body. While before it felt like we were dying (which in a sense we were) now we feel truly alive once more. So it is with the divine life Jesus, our great Nourisher, gives to His people. He has declared: "He who comes to Me shall never hunger" (John 6:35). Let us feed freely and often upon our great Bread of Life as we read and meditate on His word.

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