Saturday, March 2, 2013
Salvation’s Ongoing Transformations
As we saw last week, salvation has an instant rewards program beyond compare! We are positionally justified in Christ, a new creation in Him, and sealed and indwelled by the Holy Spirit Who gives us at least one spiritual gift. We have instant and continual access to God the Father through prayer, and we are His adopted children and joint heirs with Christ.
But that is only the beginning! Throughout our Christian life, from the moment we are saved until the moment the Lord takes us home, we are progressively sanctified, meaning that we become more like Christ and progressively conformed or shaped into His image (Romans 8:29-30). He is the Potter, and we are the clay (Isaiah 29:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:21), continually molded and reshaped into a vessel of honor increasingly useful for His service (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
The process of progressive sanctification occurs through meditating on God’s Word, through prayer, through obedience, and even through trials causing suffering. God may allow trials into our life to increase our faith in and reliance on Him (2 Corinthians 12:9); to give us compassion and experience to be able to help others going through similar trials; and to help us identify with and understand Christ’s suffering on the cross (Philippians 3:10) as He paid our sin debt.
Beginning at the moment we are born again, the Holy Spirit is there to guide us (Romans 8:9;Galatians 5:25), to teach us from God’s Word, to let us know through our conscience when we are sinning, to comfort us in difficult times and to give us wisdom (John 14:16-26).
As our Guide, the Spirit teaches us to understand and know the Word, both the Scripture and Jesus Christ (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians1:18-31;2:9-15;13:9-12), Who is the express image of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3), Through the Spirit, we know that we belong to God evermore (Romans 8:16; 1 John 4:13-16). The Spirit keeps us in communication with Jesus Christ, and with the Father through Christ (John 14:17,20), allowing us to be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).
At the moment of salvation, our indwelling by the Holy Spirit gives believers the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5). As we die to our sin nature and yield to the Spirit, we gain more and more access to that perfect Mind, and we are more able to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25). We increasingly subject our body to His will, offering it to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and recognizing that it is the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
We receive God’s grace upon grace, in a never-ending stream (John 1:16). Not only did His grace save us (Ephesians 2:8) and justify us (Romans 3:24), but it allows us to serve Him and work to bear fruit for His kingdom (Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:10). His grace strengthens us in our weakness and allows us to endure trials (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is a limitless resource, flowing more abundantly as our need increases (James 4:6; 2 Corinthians 8:7) and as we grow closer to Him in our Christian walk (1 Corinthians 1:3-5; 2 Peter 3:18).
We become His ambassadors through the work of the Holy Spirit! (2 Corinthians 5:20). As the saying goes, we are the only Bible many lost people will ever read, and the only Jesus many lost people will ever see. God has placed every believer in a unique sphere of influence and equipped each of us in a unique way to represent Him and to spread His Word in that community as we fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20).
We grow and have opportunities for service to the community of believers. Led by the Spirit, we support one another in love (1 Peter 1: 22) as a church family, bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). As we become more like Christ, we begin to love self-sacrificingly, as He did, showing that love not only toward God and toward fellow believers, but also toward the unsaved and even toward our enemies (Luke 10:27).
Just because we are saved does not mean that our problems will go away. Our health and financial condition may not improve, but our attitude will change toward our life circumstances. The Spirit helps us to realize that our earthly life is temporary and transient (James 4:14), and that we can look forward to eternity with our Lord and Savior! (1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 21:23)
Through the fruit of the Spirit, we will have peace that passes all understanding about whatever happens, because we will have faith that God is working it all out for our good and His glory (John 14:27, Romans 8:28). To unsaved people, that peace will be incomprehensible, because they rely on themselves alone to work out problems, and they cannot have peace when there is no apparent solution (Philippians 4: 6-7).
As part of the fruit of the Spirit, we will have joy in the Lord. The apostle Paul told us to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4), and he himself was able to do that despite being imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten, and suffering from his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 11:24-30; 12:7-10).
Happiness is based on circumstances, but true joy comes from knowing that Christ died and rose again to give us the gift of eternal life (John 3:16). Nothing and no one can ever take that away from us (Romans 8:38-39.
Whatever sorrow we experience on earth will disappear once we are with Jesus in Heaven (Romans 8:18). Earthly sorrow lasts a very short time, but the joy of being in His presence will last forever.
That is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13), of spending eternity with Christ and with fellow believers (Romans 15:13). We hope, not in the sense of wishing for it to happen, but in the faith-filled anticipation that it will come to pass, for He has said it and it is so! Our hope is in all the eternal rewards of salvation, which we shall discuss next week!
© 2013 Laurie Collett