Saturday, January 25, 2014
As we have seen, everyone undergoes physical transitions throughout life. For those who place their trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), their spiritual transitions from death in sin to being born again (John 3:3-8) to abundant and eternal life (John 10:10; 3:16) are of infinitely greater significance than their physical transitions.
Once we hated God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9; Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Romans 1:30), loved darkness (John 3:19), and fed our fleshly lusts (1 Peter 2:11; Romans 8:5,13). Even after we are saved, we still have our sin nature and must contend with this evil lurking within (Romans 7:14-25). To be more like Christ, we must follow Him, meaning to obey Him (James 4:6-8), yield to His Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30), and emulate Him, or model our life after His (Philippians 3:10).
Just as God is love (1 John 4:8), light (1 John 1:5) and spirit (John 4:24), the child of God who follows Him begins to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), walk in light (3 John 1:4), and walk in spirit (Romans 8:1,4; Galatians 5:16,25).
For God’s children, the transitions marking the milestones of spiritual growth define their Christian walk as they grow in wisdom, or knowledge of the truth (Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18), holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Peter 3:11), and faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3; Jude 1:20).
We are saved by grace through faith, not by works, yet we are His workmanship, and He has saved us for a purpose (Ephesians 2:8-10). Accomplishing that purpose requires complete dependence on His guidance, direction and timing. It is like an intricate dance, following God’s lead (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21; Luke 9:23) as He shows us what actions to take, where to go, and when to move or to wait (Psalm 27:14; 32:8; 37:34;119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6; 20:22).
The most difficult transition of our Christian walk may be from total self-reliance, to laying some gifts on His altar, to complete dependence on God. All good gifts come from Him (James 1:17) and our salvation was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), so we must consecrate to Him, for His purpose, all our time, talents, and possessions. We must realize that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), so we must yield our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and that all things are then possible with God (Matthew 19:26).
Ballroom dancers with great technique and superb floorcraft will lose every competition if they dance off time. But even being on time to the music is no guarantee of good results if the dancers do the right steps with good musicality but at the wrong time, crashing into another couple because the man misjudged when he should move out or because the woman decided to step out on her own rather than to follow the man’s lead.
When our son first learned to ballroom dance at 5 years of age, his teacher explained that waltz music is counted as One-Two-Three (3 beats per measure) and that he should step out on beat One. After listening to the music for a while, he gave his teacher a puzzled look and said “But there are so many Ones in this song!”
And there are so many “Ones” in the music of life, so many tantalizing opportunities that seem right even if they may lead to death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). We think we know how to do the steps, which direction to head, and even how to follow the cues around us, but if we fail to listen to God’s perfect timing (Mark 1:15; Galatians 4:4, 1 Peter 5:6) we are doomed to failure.
Do we “follow our heart” (which is deceitful and wicked; Jeremiah 17:9) and ask God’s blessing on our plans after the fact, or do we pray first (1 Thessalonians 5:17), asking Him to show us not only what to do, but where and when to do it? (James 4:2-3) May we surrender completely to His will in yielding submission, anticipating the joy of fulfilling His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5,9; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) as He leads us through the dance of life into eternal life in Heaven!
© 2014 Laurie Collett
Saturday, January 18, 2014
As we saw last week, not only is our physical life marked by transitions, but so is our spiritual life. The most important transition of our spiritual life – the one that affects our eternal destiny – is from death in sin to being born again (John 3:3-8) to abundant new life and spiritual growth.
Before we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:14; John 14:6), we are children of the devil (1 John 3:10), condemned to eternal death in hell (John 3:18), and enemies of God (Romans 5:10; James 4:4). But if we accept Christ, miraculous transitions occur instantaneously through the power of the Holy Spirit. We become sons of God (1 John 3:1-2), destined for eternal life in Heaven (Romans 5:17,21), and friends of God enjoying fellowship with Him! (1 Corinthians 1:9)
The Spirit of God, Who enters every believer at the moment of salvation, teaches us that God the Father has adopted us, so we are children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6-7). God freely and richly gives His children all His love (1 John 4:7-12), riches (Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19) and wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5). Yet we fail to use these good gifts (1 Corinthians 2:12; James 1:17) completely because our old sin nature wars against the Spirit.
The indwelling Holy Spirit gives believers continual access to Christ, the Living Water, so that we will never thirst again! (John 4:13-14) As we grow in His grace by studying Scripture, our spiritual diet should begin with the sincere milk of the Word, as newborn babes in Christ learning the basic truths of salvation (1 Peter 2:2). As we advance to the meat of the Word by assimilating more difficult doctrinal concepts (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12), we can taste as well as see and trust that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8)
The apostle Paul tells believers that we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11). The three-step process of spiritual growth includes positional justification, as the righteousness of Christ is credited to our account and God sees us “just as if” we had never sinned. Through progressive sanctification, God allows trials to strengthen our faith (Romans 8:28) and make us more like His Son (Philippians 3:10). Finally we will undergo glorification, in which at the Rapture we are forever free of sin, in perfect bodies that remain forever young, healthy, and immortal (1 Corinthians 15:40-57).
Justification, through which God sees sinners as righteous, occurs by the blood of Christ, by God’s grace, and by our faith (Romans 3:23-25,28; 5:9; Galatians 2:16). This transition occurs at the moment we realize we are sinners in need of a Savior, repent or turn away from our sins, and place our faith in Christ alone, asking Him to be Lord of our life (Romans 3:10-28; 10:13; Acts 2:21 ).
Sanctification, the process by which believers become more holy, set apart from the world, and Christ-like, involves Jesus Christ sanctifying Himself (John 17:19), God the Father sanctifying believers through His truth (John 17:17), and Christ sanctifying the church, or cleansing it with the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Only God can sanctify, and only through the power of His Spirit we can live as Christians should. Through Him we can prove all things; hold fast that which is good, and abstain from all appearance of evil, and only through Him can our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless until Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 5:21-23).
Without being justified we cannot be saved; throughout our Christian walk we are sanctified; and ultimately we will be instantaneously glorified! At the moment of Christ’s return for His saints (bride, church), we shall be caught up in the air in the Rapture to live with Him forever. We shall see Him face-to-face in all His glory; we shall know Him completely; and we shall be like Him! (Philippians 3:21;1 John 3:2)
© 2014 Laurie Collett