This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.
A Verse That Will Change Your Life
from Fred Carpenter
If I had to name a handful of Bible verses that have most changed my life and work with Mars Hill, Galatians 2:20 would definitely be one of them.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20 NASB
Giving it All and Hitting the Wall – How this Came to be Such an Important Verse to Me
In 1983, I had just completed our most difficult film project to that date. Although the project was highly successful, I was totally spent from all the pressures of making it happen. I hit the wall hard and found myself wondering if I could keep this up and do it all over again. Not only had the stress drained me mentally, but I wound up in the hospital with some physical issues caused by the way I had pushed myself. I remember my Dad saying, “Fred, you have to quit trying to save the world in your own strength.”
It was at this time that I was introduced to a book by Dr. Bill and Annabel Gillham called “Lifetime Guarantee.” Their teaching in this book expanded on the truths we find in Galatians 2:20. It set me free. I discovered that the life God has for us is not really about what we do for Christ, but rather, what He does through us.
The Exchanged Life – His New Life for Our Old One
Hudson Taylor said that Galatians 2:20 taught what he referred to as “The Exchanged Life” (Consider investing a few hours and read his short but powerful story of the exchanged life in Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret). Taylor understood that none of us can live the Christian life in our own strength or resist temptation by our own will power. He came to realize that only Christ can successfully live the victorious Christian life for it is, after all, His resurrection life which reflects His victory over the power of sin and death.
Unpacking Galatians 2:20
Entire books have been written on the truth we find in this verse, so there’s no way we can do it justice in a blog post. But, that said, let’s look just a little closer.
1.“I have been crucified with Christ”
Knowing that we best understand scripture through scripture, let’s consider the following verse:
“3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.” – Romans 6:3-7 NASB
a) Who is the “I” in Galatians 2:20? Romans 6:6 tells you that it was your “old self” that was crucified. Your old self is who you were “in Adam” as a slave to sin and an enemy of God.
b) This co-crucifixion is past tense, the “old self” “was” crucified!
2. “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”
“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3 NASB
a) There it is again… it’s past tense.
b) Your life is hidden in His life. To better understand this verse, consider the following 2 verses:
- John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus says He is the life. Apart from Jesus, there is no life. He invites you to join Him in His life.
- John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” He is the vine and you are the branches. It is His life flowing through you that bears much fruit.
3. “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
a) How is His life lived through us; how do we appropriate it? We appropriate it by faith!
b) It is the same faith by which we are “saved.” Just as we believe that Jesus “gave Himself up for me” to pay for my sins, so also, we believe (have the conviction) that we have been (past tense) crucified with Christ, and that He is now living through us. Such faith in such truth as this has real power to change a life forever.
Like a Hand in the Glove
Years ago, I had an opportunity to share these truths with some boys on a youth baseball team, and the following illustration was perfectly relatable for them. I had a baseball glove with me and I proceeded to tell them about all the accomplishments of the glove. It was quite a list. The glove had done amazing things at shortstop, set records, won championships, etc. As the list grew, their eyes suddenly lit up with the understanding; the glove was just a glove; it didn’t do all of those things. It was the hand inside the glove! The amazing feats came from the hand of the skilled athlete wearing the glove. Jesus will do amazing things through you and me if we let Him.
How About You?
Have you discovered that the Christian life is not difficult to live…it’s impossible! Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever really lived the Christian life, and He is the only one who can live it today… and that is what He wants to do in you and through you!
Maybe you’re not a Believer and wonder if Christianity is even relevant. Perhaps you are a Christian and have become weary of trying to live the Christian life. There are many Christians thinking to themselves, “there must be more.” Are you one of them?
Are you longing to move forward in your Christian life? Are you wondering how to build a dynamic relationship with Christ and have open, personal communication with God? If you said yes to any of these questions, then I encourage you to spend some time with God prayerfully contemplating the truth of Galatians 2:20.
To learn more about how to appropriate the truth of Galatians 2:20, I’d encourage you to read the book that God used so profoundly in my life, “Lifetime Guarantee” – https://www.amazon.com/Lifetime-Guarantee-Making-Christian-Doesnt/dp/0736947868.