Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

This is the will of God, your sanctification.

For years as I matured in Christ, slowly yet relentlessly, I asked Him what was His will of me?

What I was really asking was “why am I here in New Jersey in the 21st century?” What big things did God have planned? And how would I know when they happened what my role was? Would an angel speak to me? An ancient prophecy? A inner voice?

This is, unless I’m a lonely idiot (which I might very well be), thoughts that have passed through many a young man or a young woman’s mind. Even those not so young.

I was reading scripture today (an attempt out of a series of stuttering attempts to read scripture daily) and I came across 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Paul has just finished telling the church at Thessolonica how well they are doing at following God and obeying Him.

Then he goes into a command so small and so familiar I usually skim by it. It belongs in the “fruit of the spirit vs fruit of the flesh” verses scattered throughout Paul’s writings. Abstain from this, don’t do that, don’t be associated by this sin.

Interestingly enough, my eye caught this little qualifier (I believe that’s what it is called) where Paul equates God’s will to our sanctification.

[note: there is not just ‘one’ will that God reveals eliminating from His being, but several. This is another topic though; another talk for another time.]

Did you catch that? God’s will is our sanctification! Not that we accomplish this task or minister to that particular group or to fully understand and teach the truth of Sovereign responsibility paired with human responsibility. It is that we grow more and more into the image of Christ (Col 3:10; Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 15:29).

How freeing is this? And how important of a destiny? God says not that we ‘might’ be more like Christ hopefully but He says we ‘will’ be like Christ.

Paul then connects this to the wrath of God. He writes how those who bear the image of Christ will be taken up with Him into the clouds. And why is Jesus in the clouds? He has come to visit wrath on the earth. Like in the days of Noah, when scoffers scoffed and mockers mocked, they said there is no wrath to come.

This same thread is woven in Colossians as well. Throughout all of scripture, you see God say “be holy, for I am holy.”
This call for repentance is such a trope in today’s world. These words bring up the man in the sandwich board saying “the end is near!”

Repent!

What does sanctification mean to you guys? How have you incorporated it into your lives?

Read Full Post »

In my 22 years of being a Born Again Christ Follower, I have struggled with the fact that there have not been a whole lot of people that I have led to Christ.  This was something I worked out years ago thankfully but then I lost sight of what I had learned.  In reading David Platt’s book “Radical” with a couple guys from my church, the book has helped me to see that again in clarity and I wanted to share with you some of the insights I have gleaned in this area of life.  I will use Romans 1:16,17 as a template of sorts.

I am not Ashamed

There is a war going on within our reality between spiritual forces.  Satan knows his time is coming to a close so he is doing everything in his power to a) keep those who are dead in sin from seeing the light of the gospel, and b) turn those who are children of God away from the light of the gospel.  As such, to those who are in the former category, the gospel is offensive and debilitating.  It is painful and it is blinding.  It is one of the big three that one is not to discuss in polite conversation (the three being politics, religion, and money).  But this can not be the case.  The gospel is meant to be spoken aloud, to those dead in sin, and those walking away from God.  Christ is said to be offensive and a stumbling block.  Therefore, we who live in such a world that demands comfort and instant gratification must understand that we cannot be ashamed of the gospel.  Yes, it will cause trouble.  But this is the norm, not the exception.  Do not be ashamed.

The Gospel

What is the gospel?  This is a tricky issue in today’s American culture.  There are different variations that different people say you must present differently. This is grounds for another blog post to look at in more depth the gospel.  But in short, the gospel is that I, as a human being, am born in sin, dead to sin, and destined for hell apart from God.  I am so dead in my sin that I am not even able to come to God on my own and I reject God to the detriment of my life, physical and spiritual.  But behold! Christ has come to earth to live, die, and be resurrected so that there is a hope that we may be made alive in Him.  We who once were dead in sin now have a way to come to God and be made new, to be born again and to escape the wrath of God.  This is, in short, the Gospel.

The Power of God

This gospel is not an initiative of man.  This is done through the power of God.  This is who we rely on in the gospel.  The salvation God offers us is a free gift, not just something earned.  This is something me must keep at the forefront of our lives, in witnessing and living.  The gospel needs the power of God.

For Salvation to the Jew and Greek

The gospel is not a respecter of nationality, blood, heritage, or culture.  It transcends all of this and is applicable for all.

Revelation

Without the revealed gospel, we would have no way to understand who God is beyond His eternal power and divine nature.  This understanding cannot save.  This can only point us in the right direction.  Unfortunately, we suppress this in our sin dead ways.  We take what God has created and in turn worshiped that.  One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah 44:18-20 where God describes a man who takes a piece of wood, used part of it to make fire, used more of it to make bread, and used the rest to make an idol.  We cannot know God apart from what God has revealed to us.

This is important in my struggle because I used to take the responsibility for persuasion completely on my shoulders in witnessing.  I used to study evolution, Catholicism, carbon 14 dating, biology, history, literary theory, textual criticism, hermeneutics, theology, apologetics, philosophy, and anything else that I thought would help persuade people that God is calling for us to cry out to Him.  And when a finely crafted argument (or so I thought) would fail to bring those to whom I witnessed to Christ, I would become so discouraged that I finally stopped telling people about Christ for a good amount of time.

It is not my job to bring people to Christ.  Christ brings people to Christ.  It is my job to tell the people about the gospel.  Paul did not persuade Agrippa.  But Paul preached to him.  That was his job, not to persuade, but to preach.  And honestly, this is such a blessing, to have Paul’s testimony, for if he couldn’t persuade someone, with all of his learning and skills and authority, then I am comforted.

Take heart.  Keep on preaching the gospel in love and humility, praising God when He allows you to see someone call on the name of His Son Jesus, but not growing discouraged if something visible does not occur.  I Corinthians 3:7 “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

Read Full Post »