Christ in you - the hope of glory! Major Ian Thomas
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The ministry and teaching of Major Ian Thomas
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What does it mean the Jesus lives in the believer? Does it make
a difference in your life?
John 14:16-20 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another
Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him
nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and
will be in you... On that day you will realize that I am in
my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and
that God's Spirit lives in you?
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but
Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to
present to you the word of God in its fullness -- the
mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations,
but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen
to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of
this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
As a young believer I came across the books and messages of the
late great Major Ian Thomas. Those that are familiar with him
will know that his sole message was Christ in you - the hope of
glory. It didn't matter whether he was preaching from Genesis
or Revelation (or anywhere in between!) - the message always
revolved around the risen Lord and how His life can be seen
through you today. His teachings really spoke to my heart (and
some of that can be seen on this study on
Christ in you - the hope of glory
) and I wanted to share with you on this page some of those
teachings from Major Ian regarding this critical truth of the
Lord's life in the believer. I'll do that through the following
which all speak this .
Lets start with a couple of short videos I recently came across
which give a portions of his messages. You may find them
challenging. You may find them eye opening. You may find them
freeing if you've been struggling to make the Christian life
'tick'. But without doubt you will find they broaden your
concept of what it means to be a Christian.
The following quotes are from the books of Major Ian Thomas. I
encourage you to read the books, and I hope you benefit from
them as I have.
I have listed them on my
recommended reading page here
. They can be viewed and/or purchased
amongst other places.
"At the age of fifteen, he felt convinced that he should devote
all of his life to the service of the Lord Jesus. He told God
that he would become a missionary. He began to preach out in
the open air at Hampstead Heath at that early age. He was also
actively engaged in Sunday School work as well as in the
Crusaders' Bible class. Life became a round of ceaseless
Speaking of his youthful decision to become a missionary, he
said: "I began to consider the best area in which I could
become a missionary and the best means I could employ to be
most effective--perfectly sincere and genuine questions." The
first missionary influence upon young Ian's life came through a
doctor serving in Nigeria in the Housa Band. "First impressions
are often the strongest," related Major Thomas, and so it
became his ambition one day to go an join the Housa Band in
Nigeria, West Africa. He thought the best thing for him to do
was to become a doctor.
At the university Ian became a leader in the Inter-Varsity
Fellowship group. If ever there was any evangelistic activity
going on, this youthful zealot was "buzzing around the place,
every holiday, every spare moment"! He started a slum club down
in the East End of London "out of a sheer desire to win souls,
to go out and get them. I was a windmill of activity until, at
the age of nineteen, every moment of my day was packed tight
with doing things. Thus by the age of nineteen, I had been
reduced to a state of complete exhaustion spiritually, until I
felt that there was no point going on."
Then, one night in November, that year, just at midnight, I got
down on my knees before God, and I just wept in sheer despair.
I said, "Oh, God, I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ.
I am perfectly convinced that I am converted. With all my heart
I have wanted to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I
am a hopeless failure." That night things happened.
I can honestly say that I had never once heard from the lips of
men the message that came to me then but God, that night simply
focused upon me the Bible message of Christ Who Is Our Life.
The Lord seemed to make plain to me that night, through my
tears of bitterness: '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.'" That night, all in the space of an hour, Ian
Thomas discovered the secret of the adventurous life. He said:
"I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian
life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota
more than I had already had for seven years!"
"There are a few things quite so boring as being religious, but
there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!
Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one
and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to
live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God,
Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the
energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of
reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending
the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found
They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without
ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that
alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God
that the presence of the Creator within the creature is
indispensable to his humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to
give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He
came that we might have life – God’s life!
There are those who have a life they never live. They have come
to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live
in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who "was" and the
Jesus who "will be" they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying
with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can
live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him
they already have!”
"Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God
was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16)
Godliness is a mystery! Fail to grasp this fact and you will
never understand the nature of godliness.
God did not create you to have just an ape-like capacity to
imitate God. There would be no mystery in that, nor would this
lift you morally much above the status of a monkey or a parrot!
The capacity to imitate is vested in the one who imitates, and
does not derive from, nor necessarily share the motives of the
person being imitated, who remains passive and impersonal to
the act of imitation…
Remove the mystery or try to explain it away, and the result
must inevitably be disastrous, for you will no longer be
anchored to anything absolute; you will be at liberty to choose
your own God the object of your own imitation; and your
“godliness” will be the measure of your conformity to the
object of your choice.
The moment you come to realize that only God can make a man
godly, you are left with no option but to find God, and to know
God, and to let God be God in and through you, whoever He may
be and this will leave you with no margin for picking and
choosing for there is only one God, and He is absolute, and
He made you expressly for Himself!"
"Christian living is not a method or technique; it is an
entirely different, revolutionary principle of life. It is the
principle of an exchanged life - not I, but Christ liveth in me
( Galatians 2:20)
This is all part of our Gospel - it is not the Gospel plus! We
must not get our terminology wrong. To divorce the behavior of
the Christian from the Gospel is entirely false and is not true
to the Word of God, yet all too often such is the
characteristic of gospel preaching.
I would like to explore with you what is the true spiritual
content of our Gospel not just heaven one day, but Christ
right now! Christ in you, on the grounds of redemption this
is the Gospel! To preach anything less than this must
inevitably produce "Evan-jellyfish" folk with no spiritual
vertebrae, whose faith docs not "behave!"
Do you remember what James says in his epistle? "As the body
without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead"
(chapter 2:26). The "spirit" there means breath, and a body
without breath is dead. Stop breathing and folk will bury
you! In other words, a living body breathes, and a living faith
breathes, and a living faith breaths with divine action. A
living faith breathes with the activity of Jesus Christ. That
is why the Lord Jesus, in John 6:29, said, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom
He hath sent."
That is the work of God. It is your living faith in the
adequacy of the One who is in you, which releases His divine
action through you. It is the kind of activity that the Bible
calls "good works," as opposed to "dead works."
"It is absolutely imperative for your own spiritual well- being
that you recognize the fact that this old nature will never
change its character. All the wickedness of which it is capable
today, it will be capable of tomorrow - or for that matter
fifty years from now. The flesh within you then will be as
wicked as the flesh within you today, and there is absolutely
no salvageable content within it. What a relief it must be for
you to discover that in all your attempts to harness the flesh
in the service of Jesus Christ, and in all your painful
endeavors to introduce it to godly principles of life and
conduct, God has never expected anything of you but the
hopeless failure you have been! You have been trying to do the
Imagine, if you will, that I have come to the conclusion that
the pig as a species has been grossly misjudged; that the idea
that a pig wallows in the muck by choice, and that by nature it
loves the dirt, is wholly unfounded. I have become fully
persuaded that it is a question purely of environment,
education and upbringing! I decide, therefore, to adopt a
little baby pig into the family, and in this way prove my point
by offering to it those amenities of life which will enable the
best side of its character to be developed... We give the
little pig a pink satin shirt and some little blue velvet
pants, with ivory buttons down the sides. We teach it to wipe
its feet when it comes into the house, to sit up at the table,
to bow its head when we say grace, and to sleep at night
between the sheets and the blankets with which we provide it,
in its own little bed... It becomes quite obvious to us that it
is only a matter of time before our endeavors are crowned with
success. Unfortunately, it is just at this juncture, when our
hopes are running high, that we make one fatal blunder.
Somebody leaves the door open that leads into the grounds!
Fresh breezes blow into the room where the little pig is
playing. Sensing the fragrance of new-mown hay; the little
pig's nose begins to twitch. Stopping halfway across the room
it gazes out in the park - its curly tail unwinds and shoots
straight up, stiff as a rod - like an aerial! There is a moment
of hesitation, and then suddenly - like a bullet from a gun -
the little pig races out through the open door and across the
park, moving at incredible speed! Reaching the muddiest bog it
can find, the little pig plunges in, and after rolling over and
over, it lies on its back in the mud, little blue pants and
all. With a delightful grin on its face, and with its feet
sticking up in the air, it cries at the top of its voice -
"Home, sweet home!"
You see, change its environment as you will, and train it as
you may - little pink pants or blue, satin shirt or clean straw
- Pig Is Pig! Given half a chance, the nature of the beast is
to get back to where it belongs, and this you have found to be
true in your own experience. The flesh within you has never
ceased to love sin, and never will. Given half a chance it,
too, will want to get back to where it belongs and wallow in
the muck! This is why the godliest of men still have latent
within them the most terrible potential for evil. It is the
godliest of men who know it best, for it is the acknowledgment
of this very fact which is the secret of their godliness. They
have learned long since, and often by bitter experience, that
character does not change for the better by improving the
flesh, but by allowing it to be replaced by the Holy Spirit -
for pig is pig! Only the Holy Spirit can render its pernicious
"Do you know what it is to live purposefully ? Is there an
urgent sense of mission or some compelling thrust within you
which makes life add up to the sheer adventure that God always
intended life to be ? Or are you simply engaged in the struggle
for existence and survival ? Worse still, have you been caught
up into the rat race of competitive existence ? Haunted by the
fear of being overtaken by others at the next bend in the road
? Breathlessly trying to keep up with events that travel faster
than your ability to cope with them ?
If so, there is good news awaiting you, good news about a
treasury of purpose and truth and wisdom to be found in the
person of Jesus, for living purposefully means trading our
poverty for Christ's wealth....our weakness for His strength.
We exchange the bankruptcy of the fallen Adam for all the
fullness of His Life, and we discover the sheer adventure of
allowing Jesus to be God in our own experience, for God He is !
That is why detaching Christianity from Christ is to reduce it
to a dead religion, impersonal to Him and impersonal to you,
just an intellectual exercise or a sentimental formula - and
Christianity is neither ! It is Christ."
"In seeking to preserve your own life you will lose it. If
you are prepared to lose your life for God’s sake, you will
find it. This is your hour of destiny; choose wisely, do not
throw it all away!' I believe that such a moment comes in the
life of every child of God – the moment when God’s purpose for
your life hangs delicately in the balance. It may be that at
this very moment, these words find you too poised upon the
threshold of that which Christ redeemed you, and at one and the
same time you are both frightened and excited at the propect.
Fulfillment comes with the realization that you do not have in
yourself what it takes. Death to all that you are in your own
inadequacy is the only gateway through which you may enter into
the fullness of all that Christ is, so that you may live
miraculously in the power of His resurrection, crying from the
heart, “Lord Jesus, I can’t but you can, and that is all I need
to know – let’s go!” "
"We have begun to see how victorious Christian living is not a
method or technique to be worked out in our strength – it is an
entirely different and revolutionary principle of life. It is
the principle of the exchanged life. When the Spirit
circumcises our heart by cutting off our old flesh-life, we can
say with Paul – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no
longer live, but Christ lives in me.”...
Unfortunately, there are many who refuse to give up their old
way of living by self-will. They also prefer to rely on the
strength of their flesh. Many Christians are like Martha. (
Luke 10: 41-42) They are dedicated Christians but they are still serving the
Lord through their own human efforts. Like Martha, because they
are still working in their own strength and will, they remain
worried and upset about many things. And of course, this kind
of service drains them of spiritual energy.
This may of course be a picture of you. Do not be shocked when
I say that it is the picture of a carnal Christian. Yes, I am
talking about Sunday school teachers, Sunday school
superintendents, and pastors in the pulpit. I am talking about
many ordinary, average, earnest Christians. They are not
hypocrites. But they are tired – desperately tired!
Furthermore, their old carnal nature is always rising up to
overshadow the light and beauty of Christ’s life. But when you
meet them, they will smile sweetly and mean it.
Story after story could be told of men and women who bravely,
doggedly, out of a sense of duty and devotion, go on and on in
their work for the Lord. But yet, deep down in their hearts,
they are frustrated and spiritually worn out. These believers
have not yet entered the Sabbath-rest of God where everyone
rests from their own human effort. Like Martha, they still lack
“the one thing needful.” (Luke 10: 42) They do not yet know about the resurrection power of the Holy
Spirit that is able to raise their spiritual life up into the
heavenly realms with Christ’s spiritual blessings. (Eph 1:3, 17-20)
And so they still find themselves with an up and down
spiritual life and constantly drained of spiritual energy. They
still need to enter into a participation with Christ in His
divine nature. (2 Pet. 1: 3-4) We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all
wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To
this end I labor, struggling with all His energy which so
powerfully works in me. (Col. 1: 28-)
"There is no climactic experience by which the evil influence
of the flesh may be eradicated once and for all, though the
flesh itself in its subtlety would like you to believe it - in
the interests of its own self-preservation! Only be persuaded
that the flesh no longer exists, and you are not likely to
cause it any further inconvenience as it perpetuates its wicked
activities in your soul. Nothing could please the devil more
Appropriation of the victory of Christ demands more than just
one act of faith -it requires an attitude of faith. It is a
moment-by-moment reckoning, and your reckoning for this moment
is never adequate for the next. "Walk in the spirit, and ye
shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5:16-17)
Walking in the Spirit is a continuous process, one step at a
time. It means that for every new situation into which every
new step brings you, you must reckon positively with the Holy
Spirit, to keep the flesh in the place of death. I want to
emphasize the need to reckon positively, for we are not only to
reckon ourselves "to be dead indeed unto sin," but we are to
reckon ourselves "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord"
(Romans 6: 11). It is our enjoyment of the resurrection life of the Lord
Jesus Christ, through reckoning positively with His presence,
which sets us free from the law of sin and death."
"But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he
knew all men, and he need not that any should testify of
man: for he knew what was in man. (John 2:25)
What is the quality of your commitment to Christ? You may be
accepted into membership by the "church", approved by your
friends and entrusted with responsible office, but of what
possible value can these be if your commitment to Christ is
such that He is not willing to commit Himself to you? The value
of your commitment to Christ will only be the measure of His
commitment to you!..
The Lord Jesus Christ refused to be committed to the parochial
needs of His own day and generation; He was not committed to
the political situation in Palestine, or to the emancipation of
the Jewish nation from the Roman yoke! He was not committed to
the pressing social problems of His time, nor to one faction as
opposed to another, any more than today He is committed to the
West against the East, or to the Republicans against the
Democrats (as though either were less wicked than the other!).
Christ was not even committed to the needs of a perishing
world; He was neither unmindful nor unmoved by all these other
issues, but as Perfect Man He was committed to His Father, and
for that only to which His Father was committed in Him
The basis of His commitment to the Father is the basis upon
which the Lord Jesus Christ claims your commitment to Him; you
are committed to Him for all that to which He is committed in
you exclusively! You are not committed to a church, or to a
denomination, or to an organization; as a missionary you are
not committed to a Mission Board nor even to a "field," and
least of all are you committed to a "need"! You are committed
to Christ, and for all that to which Christ is committed in
You, and again I say exclusively!"
"What are you reckoning with? Are you really reckoning with
Christ? Upon what basis have you evaluated the many different
situations which have arisen within the last twenty-four hours?
Did you take the Lord Jesus into account - or did you consider
Him to be irrelevant?
Remember that it is precisely in those areas of your life in
which you have not considered Christ to be relevant, in which
as yet you have not repented. In these areas you are still
trying to be adequate without Him - trying to be the "cause" of
your own "effect"; and if you are the cause there will be
nothing miraculous about the effect!..
The Lord Jesus Christ wants to be to you now, all that the
Father was to Him then - God; if only you will be to Him now,
all that He was to the Father then - Man! Have you learned to
expose every situation to the Lord Jesus Christ in humble
dependence upon His adequacy , and simply to say "Thank you",
and then to reckon with Him as you act to meet that situation?
"The Lord Jesus Christ could afford to be reviled; He could
afford to be spat on; He could afford to be weak and He could
afford to be foolish in the eyes of silly, sinful men, because
He knew the One by whom He had been sent and the One into whose
hands He had committed His Spirit - not only in death, but in
thirty-three years of life. He could afford to do as He was
told, and He could afford to die, because He knew that Someone
else was taking care of the consequences.
If you are not yet prepared to do as you are told, no matter
how weak it may make you look, or foolish it may seem to other
people, then whatever you may believe about the Resurrection of
the Lord Jesus Christ, it is still purely academic - you have
not yet entered into the good of it. The life of Jesus Christ
within you makes human circumstances irrelevant when it comes
to the point of obedience to His clear instructions; for to
share His life now as He once shared His Father's life on earth
then, is to know as He did, that Someone else is taking care of
the consequences. I do not mean by this that God's purposes are
always irrational in the light of human circumstance, nor that
there is peculiar virtue in being eccentric or foolhardy. It is
simply that you become delightfully detached from the pressure
of circumstance, and it ceases to be the criterion in the
decisions which you make. You do as you are told whether God's
instructions appear to be compatible with the immediate
situation or not, and you leave God to vindicate Himself and to
justify the course of action upon which, at His command, you
Upon this basis Abraham could afford to say to Lot,
"Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee,
between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is
not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray
thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will
go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then
I will go to the left"
(Genesis 13:8-9). Here was restful indifference to what others might
reasonably have argued was legitimate self-interest. Lot could
take the left or Lot could take the right, or for that matter
Lot could take the lot, but God's covenant was still with
Abraham - and he knew it. That was all that Abraham really
needed to know."