Sanctification

God’s Plan For You

Dear Christian,

God has one all-encompassing purpose for you, and He has promised to bring it to pass. That is, to make you like His Son, Jesus, which is the highest and greatest position anyone could ever possibly have! We are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. This in no way negates man’s freedom of choice. I’m not a determinist, yet do I believe in the sovereignty of God.

 

“…Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

Romans 8:29

 

Once you and I agree with God on this particular part of His plan, which says we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, it should become like a juggernaut, driving all that we do. It’s a process, and we grow into it. Our delight in doing God’s will takes all the sting out of life’s disappointments. It’s a love thing.

 

Whatever you may have aspired to, that God has thus far withheld, He has something far better for you. Sometimes, it might not look that way, but faith sees the invisible, including the future that Christ has promised to those who love Him. If you’re a Christian, then when you placed your faith in Christ to be saved, in essence you were saying that you trust in Jesus, so trust Him. He’s more than worthy, and immutably faithful to His word. 

 

In order for us to remain joyful and fully satisfied right now, He teaches us to be eternally minded. The bible refers to it as spiritually minded, and, we trust in His Promises. That’s how we embrace God’s will. It’s a way for us to grow to love Him and His plan, perfectly. 

 

It may be of benefit to list just a few of the plenteous eternal promises God has given to you.

  • God will not stop working inside you (making you like Jesus): “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 
  • You will reign with Christ: “…if we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Tim. 2:12), 
  • You Will inherit all things: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
  • There will be no more: sorrow, sin, death, night, pain, suffering—all the bad things in life will be forever gone (in eternity).
  • God will reveal Himself to you: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (He reveals Himself to His own, in this life, right now).
  • God will provide for your physical, spiritual and emotional needs:And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
  • He will give you power (supernatural assistance) to do what pleases Him. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

      

(Be advised, this series will be coming in short bursts, and the next 4 posts will be coming approximately 2-3 days apart.)

 How can we become eternally and spiritually minded, yet still live and operate in this temporal realm?

 

The answer’s right here, in God’s word.  We find the “How-To” peppered throughout scripture. Look at our main, recurring text for this series:  Paul summarizes it like this, in Romans 12:1-2.

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

set2

Don’t miss the next post, when the above verses will be fully examined, and the “How-To” explained.  You are Christ’s most treasured possession, and as the church we are the Bride of Christ.

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Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Alive & Active

Image result for feeding the poor

 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5

 

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17

 

There is a kind of faith that does not save, and the only way for you or me to distinguish between the faith of Christ Jesus that saves, and a faith that may profess Christ but does not save, is by what that faith produces.

 

Jesus said, “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 NLT

 

Being aware there’s a possibility of having a false assurance of salvation makes me want to be absolutely certain. I don’t want to go through life thinking I’m saved if I’m not. Jesus makes this truth exceedingly clear in several passages. One such scripture is Matthew 7—in verses 22 & 23 Our Lord said,  “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

How horrifying would that be?

Once we are fully assured of our own salvation and we are continuing to grow in that faith daily, God’s love should compell us to compassionately speak the entire truth to all. When we do, it’s usually not popular with the world, but also with many who have joined themselves to the church and yet are still of the world—those who don’t know the real Jesus Christ.

 

“A faith that saves is actively producing the virtues of Christ within the believer.”

 

The virtues of godliness perform—they do stuff—they’re active. The working of His Holy Spirit within is reproducing all the attributes of God in those who belong to Christ. In theological language it’s called being sanctified—set apart from the world to become holy, just as He is holy. Our works of righteousness (good works) can never save us, yet the reason God did save us is so that we can, and will, do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

 

Enjoy these beautiful lines from “The Book of Praise.”

 

Tis from the mercy of our God

That all our hopes begin;

His mercy saved our souls from death,

And washed our souls from sin.

His Spirit, through the Savior shed,

Its sacred fire imparts,

Refines our dross and love divine,

Rekindles in our hearts.

Thence raised from death, we live anew;

And justified by grace,

We hope in glory to appear,

And see our Father’s face.

Let all who hold this faith and hope

In holy deeds abound;

Thus faith approves itself sincere,

By active virtue crowned.

Categories: Christian Doctrine, Church, Devotional, Faith, Growing in Faith, Poem, Poetry, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Power to Spare — Part 2

Welcome to the life giving words of God that we will be using in this post. I hope you’ve read part one of this series. Reading the book of Colossians will help you to understand the context of what we’re talking about—living in the power of the risen Christ!

be-prepared

In our Colossians text we find an empowering master key, both for conquering sins of the flesh, and for practicing godly relationships in the church, the home, the workplace, and the world in general. Here in Colossians the Spirit in essence is saying: 

To win against sin, live in light of your new identity in the risen Christ. 

 

  1. As Christians, we all battle against the sins of the flesh. 

Occasionally you’ll meet a dear saint who claims that he lives above all temptation and sin. That he or she has learned the secret of victory, where they abide in Christ to the point that sin is never a problem! They intimate that they have no more temptation, and they always respond correctly, with never even a wrongful thought. I wouldn’t purchase a used car from a person who says that. In order to disprove their claim, just talk to those who live and work with them. You’ll no doubt hear a different story.  

 

I pray that every one of us is able to admit our continuing need for God’s grace and mercy, and confess that we fight a daily battle against the sins of the flesh. These sins are mainly what Paul has in mind when he directs us in Col. 3:2 not to think “on the things that are on earth.” That phrase is repeated verbatim (in the Greek text) in verse 5, where Paul tells us (literally) to put to death our members “that are on earth.” He goes on in 3:5 & 8-9, to list many sins that we may struggle against: immorality, impurity, fleshly passion, evil desire, and greed, along with; anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying. Paul wouldn’t tell us not to have our minds characterized by these sins, and to put them to death, if we were not going to face some battles concerning these things.  

 

Through the new birth (regeneration or salvation), we are radically different than we were before. We were once enslaved to sin, but Christ has set us free—free to choose the things above and walk in the Spirit, rather than being controlled by the lusts of the flesh. Our old nature, however, was not eradicated! It’s up to us to seize upon the power made available to us to resist temptation by walking in the Spirit, which is relying on God’s power. It is great news that we are no longer bound to obey the demands of the flesh. As Christians, we have to actively fight against these sins, BY living in the victory that Christ won for us. Though we still sin at times, that’s not what we want to do—we want to be holy as He is holy. Our hearts and minds have been redeemed, so that we now want what God wants. And that brings us to the question: How can we be more obedient to the One we love? 

 

soldier

 

  1. To win the battle against sin, we must understand our new identity in Christ.

 

These verses are very Christ-centered. Paul mentions “Christ” four times in four verses. There are two sides to our identity in HimFirstly: 

 

  1. We died with Christ.

In Colossians 2:12, Paul states that we were “buried with [Christ] in baptism.” And then in verse 20 he says that we died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, which I believe refers to a rules-based approach to God. Now again in Col. 3:3 he explains, For you have died Jesus wants us to understand that when we trusted in Christ we became identified with Him in His death. (See, also, Rom. 6:3-11; 7:4, 6; Gal. 2:19-20; 6:14.) 

 

The problem with this truth is that I don’t feel dead toward sin, or to the world. In fact, to be honest, when I am tempted to sin (which is often), my old nature feels very much alive and well! There’s a strong inner desire to indulge in sin because the sinful flesh is still in my body waging war against my mind, but it’s not in my spirit. So then, what does it mean that I am dead to sin, in Christ? And how can this help me to overcome sin in my life? 

 

One answer lies in our remembrance that death, in the Bible, never means cessation of existence, but rather, it means separation. When we die a physical death, the soul is separated from the body. To be identified with Christ in His death means that I am separated from the power of the flesh, from the power of sin, and from the grip of this evil world. I am now a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, so that I do not have to obey the sinful laws of my old country, of this sinful world. 

 

I like using the illustration of a man who was a citizen of a country which had imposed a 6 p.m. curfew, but then he moved to the United States and becomes a citizen there. He’s no longer under that old curfew law. But because he has lived under that old law for so long, he still may feel if he’s bound to keep it. But the truth is, he’s not. He died to that old law and its power over him so that he now can live under the new laws of freedom that characterize his new country. 

 

Here’s a different analogy of the same principle. I grew up sort of country, so I’ve seen a lot of old cars sitting up on jacks in people’s yards. If you’ve ever seen a car with the wheels off the ground, you know that (if it runs) you can step on the gas pedal and the wheels will spin like crazy, but the car doesn’t go anywhere. The wheels are separated from the ground. When you’re tempted to sin, your old nature may get all revved up and make a lot of noise, but we now can say, “My old nature died with Christ—I am separated from its power.” It has been rendered inoperative, so that it doesn’t have to go anywhere! As Paul says in Romans 6:11, “Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 

 

Therefore, it’s not a matter of feeling dead to sin, but rather it’s a legal fact. If we’re joined to Christ by faith, we’re one with Him in His death. We’re divorced from the old life, which was like a tyrant, keeping us in sin. But now we’re married to a new husband who gives us new life and freedom from sin. But we didn’t just die—we have new life! The stellar flip side is this — 

 

  1. We have been raised up with Christ to the right hand of God.

 

Paul mentions this in Colossians 2:12-13: 

… having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. 

 

Now, again in Col. 3:1 — “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” In the Greek text the word “if” does not imply uncertainty. We can be certain. And Paul is writing that God wants us to consider the implications of it. Like being united with Christ in His death, being raised up with Him is not a matter of feeling, but one of fact. When Jesus was raised from the dead, if by faith we’re in Him, we also were raised. 

 

Being raised up with Christ teaches us that salvation is not a matter of human decision or will power, but rather of God’s mighty power imparting life to us back when we were dead in our sins. Salvation is not making a resolution to kick our bad habits to the curb, or to clean up our act. It rather involves the life-giving power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. It means, as the Puritan, Henry Scougal, put it, “The life of God in the soul of man.” It means that we are so united with Christ that He is our life! Col. 3:4 says When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
 

Just as a branch draws its life from the vine (John 15:1-6), so we must live in dependence upon the supernatural power of the risen Christ. We place no trust in our own human strength or will power, as if we merely receive a little help from God now and then when we think we need it. It means living in union with the risen person of Jesus Christ. He is our new identity. 

 

(To Be Continued)  Have  a Power packed day in Christ! God Bless You.

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Power to Spare — Part I

Applying God’s power to our point of contact with the world around us may not be as complicated as one would imagine. I want to address an aspect of Christ’s sufficiency that we don’t hear about as often as other facets. This post is the intro, or part 1. But first let’s talk about a super powerful truck — The Shockwave!

Shockwave

I’m a man who appreciates powerful engines, so I get all revved up when I come across copious horsepower. And when a truck is involved it’s like icing on the cake. So I was surfing around on YouTube and found a video about the “Shockwave Jet Truck.” It runs over 300 mph and races against fliers at airshows. This hulk on wheels holds the world record in the quarter mile for trucks, where it reached 256 mph in just 6.36 seconds. That’s some real power right there! This beast also holds the world record for top end speed in full size trucks, reaching 376 mph as recorded by Guinness Book of World Records. At 36,000 horsepower the Shock Wave has enough power to accelerate at three Gs vertical, which is just as much as the Space Shuttle! (wow emoji)

Okay, so the builders might have gone a little overboard in creating such a super-truck. But this is a great illustration for the power God makes available to every believer. Christ is much more than sufficient for every task, situation or circumstance.

The Bible teaches that God provides everything that you and I may ever need.

God has all the power we will ever need and plenty more to spare, for any and all the issues we find ourselves having to face.  

 

Colossians is a great book for studying this subject!

 

*NOTE* — I urge you to read the book of Colossians in preparation for the truths I will be presenting in the next couple of posts. Some really dynamic stuff will begin in the next post (Part 2). I will provide some of the verses written out here for us (NIV), yet not all of them.

 

Colossians 1:11— “…Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” 

The “all” in the above verse indicates both; the different kinds of power we’ll need, and the fact that the supply is beyond ample.

 

At present I have friends whom God is empowering to face cancer. Numerous others have lost loved ones, and others friends are dealing with poverty. One of my ministry partners added that God provides us with the power of wisdom, direction and purpose. God gave Sampson physical strength beyond our imaginations. Today we find ourselves living in an age when we need the power of courage to stand up for truth, and to proclaim God’s word to a lost and dying world. God empowers the words we speak, and there are plenteous other ways that God empowers us, of which time would not allow us to exhaust.
In the same way that a 36,000 horsepower jet engine is so ridiculously over juiced in a land vehicle, possessing more than enough power to propel a truck, Christ’s power is far above commensurate. He empowers everyone who places their trusting faith in Him—affording us the dynamic, engaged through faith, at the split second of need—that we may live a victorious, transformed life.

 

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules…?” Colossians 2:20 Whenever I read that “we have died with Christ,” I would sometimes scratch my head in wonder. I know the Bible says that I’m dead to sin, but I don’t always feel dead to it. Often I may feel kind of faint to it, but it’s difficult to feel completely dead to it. In light of this reality, what does it mean to consider our old selves dead in Christ? And how can we apply these scriptures to our battles against sin in a practical way?

 

Paul addresses this issue in Colossians 3:1-4 — Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (underscore mine)

 

First mentioned is how we who are saved have died with Christ, and then is added the corresponding truth: that we’ve also been raised up with Him. Paul also gives what, at first glance, sounds like rather impractical advice. “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth.” Paul is saying, To be capable of operating in the sufficiency of Christ—to have our works empowered by God here on earth, we need to be more heavenly minded, instead of so earthly minded.

 

To understand our text, as always, we need to view it in context. In the previous verses, Paul had been exposing the rules-based, asceticism of the false teachers—the Judaizers. Of whose false doctrine he says, is “of no value against fleshly indulgence.” In other words, observing those things from the law has no power to actually help us in our struggle against sin. In fact, the law only exposes our sin and makes it more difficult to always do what pleases the Lord. So he’s first showing us what does not work—what has no power to help us live in obedience to God.

 

Then in verses 5-9 we are exhorted to put to death the members of our body with regard to a list of sins that characterize the flesh—our old life. Scholarly Paul then elucidates the qualities that characterize those who’ve been redeemed. It’s quite revealing that now, instead of giving us the precise good virtues, he takes us straight to their application in our earthly relationships.  He utilizes some common relationships we find ourselves dealing with on a day to day basis: between wives and husbands, children and parents, and then between workers and bosses—how they should relate to one another (Col. 3:18-4:1). Finally, in chapter four, verses two through six, he exhorts the church to prayer, and to wise witness. He concludes the letter with a lengthy personal section in verses 7-18.

 

In the book of Colossians we find an empowering master key, both for conquering sins of the flesh, and for practicing godly relationships in the church, the home, the workplace, and the world in general. Here in Colossians the Spirit in essence is saying:

To win against sin, live in light of your new identity in the risen Christ.

 

That’s our intro. —For the sake of keeping these posts as short as possible, I’ve divided this study into three separate posts. Because I know your time is valuable. But if you think it’s important to have every single tool that God has to give us—if you feel it’s urgent that we learn how to live victoriously in Christ, then I pray you’ll visit for the following two posts as well.  Within the next couple days I will post part 2, and then within another couple days, the third and final part of the study. Be sure you’re set to receive notification when new posts are presented. Thank you and have a super power packed day!

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Pure in Heart

Image result for pearl

I pray all will re-familiarize themselves with Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13: 45&46 — The Pearl of Great Worth. 

 

In eastern cultures, the pearl is a beautiful simile, which affords us an opportunity to discover significant symbolic value in Jesus’ parable. There’s a lot more to this parable of the Kingdom of God, but for now, we pluck up this up one thing that we may elucidate its truth.

 

Momentarily we set aside the aesthetic and artistic desirability of pearl and instead discover its symbolic worth, by discerning the spiritual truth it represents. By doing so it may aid us in discovering the true interpretation of Jesus’ parable of “The Pearl of Great Worth.” I hope to offer that interpretation more fully in a later post.

 

The pearl is produced by a living organism. Its manufacture is the result of injury or harm to the life—to the health of the creature. Some foreign thing such as a grain of sand intrudes, and becomes lodged within the oyster or clam. The shellfish then secretes nacre, or mother of pearl, coating the harmful intruder with layer upon layer, until a pearl is formed.

 

It’s very suggestive that the equivalent word for “pearl” in New Testament Greek is margarites, meaning purity. That word was likely derived from the Sanskrit word for purity. The pearl is a symbol of purity and innocence.

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

 

Purity (pearl) is the response of a living organism to the introduction of something harmful into its being. Think of the introduction of sin into the human heart in the Garden of Eden—certainly a very injurious contamination.

 

Perhaps it’s a person’s response to the harsh realities of life in a sin cursed world which will determine whether or not the production of purity begins? By response, I’m intimating “faith.”

 

“For it is by grace you are saved through faith…” Eph. 2:8a

 

We can see the similarity between a grain of sand entering a clam, which is first an irritant to the shellfish, but later on, if not dealt with, it can actually destroy the life of the clam. God has purposes for allowing evil to temporarily enter into the world, of which, we are woefully incapable of comprehending. Knowing the end from the beginning, God allowed sin to enter every human heart, for a purpose. Remember, He has the cure for sin, paid our penalty for sin, and makes a way for us to be sin-free again, through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

As a former weight lifter, I can attest to the fact that resistance builds strength. And, “…Suffering produces perseverance…” (Ro. 5: 3), and, “the trying of our faith works patience.” We see this principle demonstrated throughout scripture and in our lives on this big spinning rock called earth.

 

God uses hardships, difficulties, trials, persecution, etc., as tools in sanctifying us (making us pure, or holy). And all of these bad things result because of sin.

 

There’s much more I could say, but I wanted to leave you to ponder the simple thought I’ve presented. For though simple, I believe it sublime. Comments welcome.

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Three Phases of Salvation

 

Been Saved, Being Saved & Will Be Saved

 

Without a lucid understanding of God’s entire and perfect plan for the redemption of mankind, certain scriptures could possibly be confusing. There are three phases to salvation; hence, the bible uses three tenses in delineating the doctrine of salvation. For me personally, it took many years to understand this—I was saved at 12 years old.

 

Briefly, let’s lay the following stone of truth that we may clear a path to our main topic.

We are saved by a free gift from God called Grace. Grace is bestowed upon those who believe and place their trusting faith in Christ Jesus— the truth. And forever after that, God’s grace continues working for the soul who is saved. Grace is not a once and done kind of thing. When the Lord regenerates us (2 Cor. 5:17) we’ve been born again, and a magnificent transformation has begun. All that we shall be discussing here is included in the works of God’s amazing Grace. In fact, all of God’s dealings with every soul He has regenerated (saved) is included in the works of His grace, even His discipline. All the various giftings for service and for glorifying Him, and for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are gifts of grace and works of grace: God’s work, not ours. His grace even fulfills every one of our needs and provides love, peace, joy, bodily provisions and inner strength, etc., etc.. When it comes time for our bodies to turn back to dust, the Lord even gifts us with grace to die with inner peace and assurance, looking forward to where we’re going.

 

SALVATION

 

The study of salvation, known among theologians as soteriology, includes all three tenses of past, present and future. The bible uses all three in referring to those of us who’ve been redeemed and are heaven bound. Some verses indicate that we who are in Christ have been saved. Other passages say we are being saved, while still others say we will be saved. The truth in Christ reveals all three to be correct at the same time. The past tense is true because God is doing this work of saving us, and that which from our perspective is yet to be done, is so certain that we can speak of it as already having taken place. If we have truly believed, then we have been saved, and the next two phases or stages both: are happening, and will happen, just as sure as water is wet. God is not bound by time—He is the creator of it and is outside of time, so He sees the completed products of His grace. He sees you and I as we will be in heaven. Time is for us, though it serves God’s purpose. He does not need the differing tenses, but we do, because we are bound within time, until it, at a final point, shall cease to exist. From our current perspective we could say that eternity is one exceedingly long and never ending day.

 

In view of demonstrating the varying tenses scripture employs I’ve cited three verses—each refers to salvation and each uses a different tense.

 

First, we have Past Tense.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:8–9.

 

Next, we move to present tense.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

 

Finally, here’s an example verse containing both the past and the future tense of salvation.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5:9

 

This last verse is the perfect launching pad from which to discuss all three tenses. Because the doctrine of salvation, known in theological language as Soteriology (repetition deliberate) makes it exceptionally clear that there are 3 Phases to Salvation.

Those who have been born again of the Spirit, and who belong to Christ Jesus, AKA the redeemed or believers are right now in the middle, or current phase of salvation.

The gospel of Christ discloses:

  1. What has already taken place in the past for those who believe.
  2. What is currently taking place within those who believe.
  3. What will happen to those who believe when Jesus returns.

 

At this point we should identify the biblical terms for each of these 3 stages of salvation. They are as follows:

  1. Justification
  2. Sanctification
  3. Glorification

pho1

JUSTIFICATION

Through the atoning blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, that is, through His sacrificial death, we are forever justified before God. Justified means our sins have been forgiven.  A simple way to remember what justification accomplishes is “It’s just as if I never sinned!” Our sins are taken away and we are covered (covered is the meaning of the word atonement) by the righteousness of Jesus. We are given the righteousness of Christ as a covering. The blood of Christ cleanses us and His righteousness covers us. We are made right in the sight of God, by God Himself. To justify is actually a legal term and is important in keeping with God’s nature of being a “just” (right and good) judge. Jesus took our sins upon Himself, and in return covered us with His righteousness, making us right with God. We are straight up and down, perpendicular or justified before God. As a good judge God has seen to it that justice was done when He poured out His wrath against sin as Jesus hung on the cross. He saw to it that the penalty for sin was imposed and carried out. Jesus became sin for us, so that He could take the penalty that we deserved. Now that our sin debt has been paid, we have been (past tense) justified in God’s sight.

Jesus Christ is our deliverer! He delivered us from the penalty for sin. The penalty is death. This is being Justified.

 

But wait, what about the real us on the inside? I’m only covered with righteousness, viewed that way by God, but not righteous in actuality. We still sometimes sin! God did not pay our sin debt for us just so we could continue being such horrible sinners. On the contrary, He has justified us so that He could give to us His Holy Spirit, that we may have the requisite power to say “No!” to our sin nature, and overcome it in this life. Simply being justified is not the final product of salvation. Once justified we begin the growing process of sanctification. We are becoming holy, like Jesus. He is our perfect and exhaustive deliverer. God’s power in the form of His Holy Spirit doesn’t only give us the ability to do what pleases God, He also gives us the desire to do what is right and what pleases God—the urge to do His will, and the power to work it out.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT

 

I’ve been saving this point for right here, but first allow me to preface it with the following. I myself still have urges to do what the sinful flesh wants, like to be noticed as someone of importance. Vanity and pride still wage war against my new life in the Spirit, and this conflict will continue for you and for me until we are glorified. Romans 7 & 8 make this clear. But I am saved. I love God and all that is good. But my flesh still loves the world. I have to deny myself (the flesh), take up my cross and follow Jesus. I must decide daily to die to the flesh and choose to love God more than myself. See Luke 9:23, and Galatians 2:20.

I’ve stated that to ask, which do YOU love more? Oh wow, yes, I just shifted to a personal and pointed voice, because I love YOU and I don’t want to see you be eternally lost. But this is between you and God, I’m just a messenger. I believe a true test for whether or not we are saved could be: which do we love more—God or ourselves? Has God given you the DESIRE to please Him? If so, you are saved. If you choose to follow the flesh over the Spirit most of the time, you probably do not have saving faith. But you still can be saved by TRUSTING Christ with your life. Among other things, this involves doing things His way, knowing that He is going to give us everything that is good. I can humble myself because God has promised to exalt me. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

 

SANCTIFICATION      pho2

To sanctify in the biblical sense means: to set apart as holy, to be used for holy purposes. The words; Saint, Holy, Set-apart, and Sanctify all come from the same root word in the Greek.

Currently, those who are in Christ are saved, and also are being saved, by undergoing sanctification: maturing and growing in holiness. True believers live in the resurrection power of Christ. We are buried with Him by baptism into His death, identifying with Him in His death, so that we may also rise with Him to walk in a new life by His power. We are being conformed to the image of God’s holy Son, Jesus. During this sanctifying process Jesus delivers us from the power of sin, giving us His Spirit. Holy Spirit is the dynamic employed to overcome personal sin, and live in a way that is pleasing to God. Jesus and Holy Spirit are both praying for us.

 

 

GLORIFICATION

When Jesus comes and calls us home to heaven and the saved are raised to life, we shall receive new spiritual bodies that do not sin—ever! The bodies we have now will be raised and radically changed from fleshly bodies to spiritual bodies (see 1st Corinthians chapter 15). We will be delivered from the very presence of sin. This is the final phase of salvation and it is called glorification.

 

“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

Did you notice how the “glorified” is in the past tense? That’s because it is so certain to happen! And God sees the completely saved you—after the 3rd phase.

 

Jesus saves us in three ways.

  1. He has delivered us from the penalty of sin—Justified (past).
  2. He is currently delivering us from the power of sin—Sanctifying (present).
  3. Jesus will deliver us from the very presence of sin—Glorified (future).

 

Once glorified we will never again sin, we will never see a sin committed—we will be completely taken away and separated from all that is sinful, evil and wicked—in a utopia known as heaven in the very presence of God with all His splendor and glory. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is flawless, genius, and displays His love and patience with mankind in an extremely poignant manner.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I pray that you hunger and thirst to know the Lord God with increasing passion, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has saved me and set me free from sin.

pho3 

 

If you would like to go a bit deeper and do a proper study of what we’ve discussed here, I recomend prayerful study of the New Testament. But the following is a resource that may help you further. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

Blessings!

 

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Church, Faith, God's Faithfulness, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Never Ending Journey

On this spiritual journey of faith in Christ Jesus, it is often difficult to locate mile markers to know how far we’ve come. But looking back over the past several years, it’s exciting to see the obstacles to our goals that have been overcome.

trail

For instance, on my journey of becoming more like Jesus, I can see myself forgiving others just a bit more easily than I did a couple years ago, and that’s very encouraging to me. This process of sanctification, or being made holy will not be complete for any of us until Jesus returns.

 

When others, who don’t want me to achieve anything at all, show their evil contempt by their actions and treatment of me, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers as easily it used to. Of course, I still have a very long way to go. But I cannot take any of the credit for my growth, not at all. Every good change that has taken place in my character has been done by God, simply because I asked Him to help me. He’s given us who are saved His Holy Spirit to help us along on this arduous trek —all the way home.

 

As I pondered the specific things that I’ve learned along the way, and things God has led me to do, so that I’d continue growing spiritually, several things became apparent. It became noteworthy that others just might be helped if I were to share some of what God has led me to do. That’s why I’ve put together some bullet points as an easy to use checklist each day—simple. though vital reminders that need to stay with us. It is my prayer that someone out there will be blessed by my sharing them.

 

 

Spiritual Health Tips

(A Bakers Dozen)

 

  1. Confront (face) the issues in your past that hurt you, with Christ as your Counselor—He is your healer, not time! If you don’t, your past can be very harmful to your future. 
  2. Ignore the naysayers and those who criticize you. Listen only to what God says about you. 
  3. Replace all negative thoughts that come into your mind with good, positive & constructive thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Your happiness & satisfaction are found in Christ alone, so, don’t seek them anywhere else. Examples: finances, relationships, social status, etc. He will give you those too…when it’s time. (Luke 9:23)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to understand the mission God assigned to you, and, be on guard against those who don’t want you to succeed—avoid them when possible. Rarely, but sometimes, you must act in order to be vindicated. (John 21:22)
  6. It’s your journey, but not yours alone: Jesus walks it with you. (Hebrews 13:5) 
  7. Encourage others who are on their journey with Christ, help them, walk beside them for a while. Offering your hand will strengthen both their walk of faith and your journey—be kind. (1 Thes. 5:11)
  8. It’s okay to not know everything—wise people always seek counsel and they ask many questions. (proverbs 15:22)
  9. Acknowledge your flaws, while working to overcome them in the strength God provides. Everyone is flawed, everyone has weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect except God. (Proverbs 16:18)
  10. Live one day at a time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) 
  11. Never compare yourself to anyone on earth. Compare and measure yourself only by Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:29) 
  12. Humility is difficult to maintain & requires supernatural assistance from the Holy Spirit, and yet it is a key to great spiritual power. Secretly performing kind acts of service is a good exercise for developing humility. (Matthew 6:1)
  13. Smile, and don’t be so critical of yourself, Jesus loved you long before you even knew His name. (Psalm 143:8)

 

You already know the Christian disciplines of daily prayer and bible study, fellowship often with other Christians, and all the rest of them. Say a prayer for me as I continue my journey, and I’d be pleased to pray for you as well. Blessings.

 

P.S. We love you too. crop graceme

 

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hello 2018

image

It’s another year, already? Just the other day I saw this really old looking fellow and wondered how fast time was going by for him, and then I realized, Hey, I went to high school with that guy! It made me feel older than the Dead Sea.

 

Gone are the times I’d wake up New Year’s Day and recall wearing some woman’s bra as a headband while showing off my lack of dance skills the night before. It was no fun worrying over what other ways I may have played the fool while too drunk to remember.

 

Just like lots of folks, I used to jump on the band wagon with all of the New Year resolution stuff, and more often than not I failed to keep my resolutions. Some of the most common determinations people make are things like; lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with family, or complete a long procrastinated project. I seemed to do okay for a month, maybe two, and then other things always usurped priority, leaving my resolutions to fizzle out like a dud firecracker. But since Jesus has become the focal point of my life, I have only one resolution which remains a constant every year: to be more like Him.

 

Experts say that making resolutions is a good thing. It causes us to take a good look at ourselves, and register an internal inventory. The worst jerk in town just may wake up to the fact he’s a numbskull and decide to do something about it. As evidenced by the huge self-help genre of books, I think all of us have things we’d like to change and that probably should be changed. The key is in staying motivated to make the improvements so that our commitments can maintain impetus. A good way to accomplish this is to mark one day every month on our calendars to revisit what it is we said we wanted to do. Perhaps a goal map would be in order to chart our progress, just as with any goal.

 

By definition a resolution is a determined course of action, or, the state of being resolute.

 

As followers of Jesus we must often renew our decision to die to the old sinful self; that we may live for God, following the leadership of His Holy Spirit. Even the Apostle Paul found it necessary to “die daily” (crucify his self will), so that Christ could be better formed in him. That fits nicely with another definition for the word: resolution; it’s the one used in photographyThe fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image.

 

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are predestined by God to be conformed to the “image” of Jesus Christ, His holy Son. (Romans 8:29)

The onset of a new year is a great time to take a good hard look at how well we’ve been representing Jesus as His ambassadors here on earth.

How fine tuned is the image of Christ in us? Do the people we come into contact with see Jesus in the details of our lives?

As we look to our hearts, do we see a high definition image with good resolution of the holy Son of God?

 

Hopefully we will reflect on how well the image of Jesus was portrayed in our lives over the past year. Though we should do so every day, this is a good time to renew our resolve.

 

I hope you’ll pray this short prayer along with me.

“Lord Jesus, help me to become more like you over this next year. Please set Your Holy Spirit to work on me. Your word promises that God will continue the work of sanctifying me and maturing me in holiness, until you come to take me home and fully complete that work. Forgive me for times when I saw something else as more important than spending time studying my bible and praying. Father, help me to yield myself moment by moment to You, so that Christ may be seen through me with fineness of detail throughout the coming year, amen.”

 

One day the image of Jesus will be perfected in us when we shall be “Raised incorruptible.” (1 Cor. 15:51-58)

 

But until Jesus returns, let’s joyfully continue renewing our resolve to walk in the Spirit in close communication with our Lord, so that His image may shine forth, reflecting His light of truth and His love to the world.

 

May your resolve be strong. Happy New Year!

 

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Broken To Become Whole

break

Brokenness in the Christian experience can refer to bad and harmful brokenness, but more often it refers to a necessary state of dependence upon the Lord. This is a very good type of brokenness.

In her book The Broken Way Ann Voskamp testifies about the benefits of becoming openly broken together—of being transparent with each other about our brokenness and our weaknesses. She says there’s winsomeness when we are vulnerable together. Another woman who is from a long line of farmers was conversing with Ann and proclaimed how she clearly comprehends this brokenness as being like a seed.

In John 12:24 Jesus teaches the following.

 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.”

 

When we can allow ourselves to become openly vulnerable with each other, the seed hull breaks open to germinate in the nutrient rich soil of God’s word as it is discussed in a group setting such as a bible study.

 

“A yielded life, surrendered to God yields the most.”—Ann Voskamp

 

If we hope to be glorified we must be crucified with Christ and die to the old self-life, as Paul so succinctly expounds.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 

This is in perfect union with Jesus words in Luke 9:23 “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves…”

As excruciating as death sounds to human sensitivities, it is required. It is the secret to receiving great spiritual power for renewal and transformation, which, every soul of great faith has received from God’s Holy Spirit imparting the new life within.

 

This brokenness or death to the old self is clearly counter cultural. The world’s way is to avoid suffering, pain and brokenness. Here again, we see the upside down ways of God’s wisdom compared to the world’s perspective and beliefs.

 

How do I live my life surrendered to God, dead to self and alive in Christ? It is by my willingness to be broken by God. It is humbly accepting that I do not know, and God does know, so I must surrender my mind to Him. The world itself is broken, and yet, God is able to break the brokenness of the world and create a new wholeness, a new life which produces more of the same.

 

When a seed or kernel is planted in the ground it must break open, and then the embryo breaks through the earth to rise up and become a stalk of wheat with a full head of kernels. Because the seed yields to brokenness, the seed eventually produces many more seeds.

 

And so in our lives, as we prayerfully learn from the scriptures, humbly yielding every thought and each area of our lives to Christ, He brings to life in us ten times more than we have surrendered.

 

“…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

 2 Corinthians 10:5b

 

If we could only see with His eyes how puny and haggardly the things our old lives cling to actually are, we’d drop them like glowing embers. During this maturing process, God does give us sight—light to see how destructive those things of the old life really are. We begin to lucidly perceive things from a spiritual perspective, and then wonder how we could have been so blinded by our old fleshly desires.

 

The Spirit will tell us to let go of that putrid practice, that immature way of thinking, that old disparaging habit, our pride. He will say, “Here, take these diamonds and emeralds instead.” Because, what God gives in return is worth exceedingly more than what we must surrender to Him. We could compare allowing ourselves to be broken with scrapping an old jalopy and exchanging it for a shiny new Rolls Royce. And to giving up a position as the janitor of a company in order to become the CEO of that company. And with trading the strength of a deathly sick Pee Wee for the strength of Sampson. And to trading ignorance for wisdom, knowledge and discernment. And to handing over our ticket to the lake of fire in exchange for a ticket to paradise. But without allowing ourselves to be broken and remade, we will not receive any of the good things God has to give us. We must become Broken Vessels.

Broken Vessels By Hillsong

 

If we hope to truly live we must put our old sinful nature to death, while nurturing the new life we have in Christ. We do so through prayerful study of God’s word, fellowship with Godly people, removing worldly stimulus, and all the rest of what the Spirit of God leads us to do. See you up yonder!

For more on Brokeness in relation to the Christian experience see this post and others from the site I received the opening image from: Sovereign Grace

Categories: Bible, Books, Christian Living, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Passion For Holiness

As time slips through my fingers, scorched by the hot irons of multitudinous responsibilities I juggle, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain three blogs. That’s why I am praying for guidance while rethinking which venue the Lord would have me focus upon. During the interim, as I seek the Lord’s direction, I decided to share here today my most recent Youtube video from my channel for extended friends and family, and that includes my church family. I call these little informal episodes of edifying  information, encouragement and bible teaching: “Coffee Talks”. That’s because I love discussing spiritual things over a good cup of coffee. If you believe becoming more like Jesus is important, this talk is for you.

Become Beautiful

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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