Friday, January 20, 2012

Change Me Now!

A few days ago, when reviewing song lyrics I wrote about salvation, I realized that the climax of the song was the lyric, “Change me now – make me a new creation!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Emphasizing that lyric and expressing the change made all the difference in the interpretation of the song and its power to communicate God’s message. Imagine my surprise when that night, a dear sister in Christ lent me a book entitled, “Lord, Change Me!”

There are no coincidences with God, so I wondered what God was revealing to me. Clearly we are changed so dramatically at the moment of salvation that Jesus referred to it as being born again (John 3:3-7). At that very instant the burden of our sin is lifted from us forever (Romans 8:1-2); its stain on our soul is washed away (Psalm 51:2, Acts 22:16, Revelation 1:5); and the Holy Spirit indwells us (2 Corinthians 5:5) with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

From that moment on we have access to the infinite love, power, wisdom and righteousness of God living within us (Colossians 1:27). We are no longer enemies of God (Romans 5:10) condemned to death (Romans 8:7; Colossians 1: 21), but His children, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17), ambassadors of the Gospel of grace (2 Corinthians 5:20), and even future priests and rulers within His Kingdom (Revelation 20:6). We are blessed with abundant and eternal life (John 10:10; John 3:16).

I was saved 11 years ago, but I feel God has a fresh message for me now about change. As radical as the change at the moment of salvation is from death in sin to newness of life (Romans 6:4), so sudden is the change that awaits us at the moment of the Rapture. In the twinkling of an eye we will be transformed from an ailing, aging physical body to a glorified body that will never get sick, feel pain, age, or die. At the same moment our sin nature will be gone forever, replaced with the perfect righteousness and holiness of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

At salvation we receive justification, or positional sanctification, because we are justified in Christ’s perfect sacrifice to pay our sin debt in full (Romans 3:23-25; Romans 5:9; Hebrews 10:10,14). It is “just as if” we had never sinned. When God looks at us, we are holy or sanctified in His eyes, because He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son instead of seeing our sins (Romans 5:15-18; Hebrews 10:14-17). At the Rapture we receive glorification, or complete sanctification, as we become like Christ in every way (Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4).

But I believe that God was reminding me of what happens in between the moment of salvation and the moment of the Rapture. We are not meant to stagnate during that time, but to increasingly be transformed into the image of Christ, through a process known as progressive sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:21). It is not an instantaneous change like being born again or like meeting Christ in the air, but it is a time-intensive, often arduous process causing us to groan in our spirit (Romans 8:19-25; 2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

Paul spoke of it as working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). We are saved not by works but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet once we are saved, we must “run the race” (Philippians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1) and “fight the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7) to become progressively conformed to His image (Colossians 3:1-4).

God allows us to go through trials to identify with Christ’s suffering that will make us more like Him (Romans 8:17-18; Philippians 3:10) and that will bring us patience and hope (Romans 5:3-5). He may not immediately answer our prayers in the way we had hoped because He wants us to wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31), to strengthen our faith and reliance on Him. If we strike out on our own without seeking the wisdom He will freely give us when we ask for it (James 1:5), we will be struggling in our own flesh instead of fulfilling His perfect will for our lives.

Especially for those of us saved later in life, we have a long history of being conformed to the world, of defining who we are in terms of worldly standards, and of following idols of status, power, wealth, and prestige. It takes time, prayer, and meditation in God’s Word to be renewed and transformed in our mind (Romans 12:2). It takes diligent, devoted study and discipline to begin to think with the mind of Christ that entered us at the moment of salvation, and not to fall back on the easy solutions so familiar to our carnal mind (Romans 8:6-9).

I had been praying “Change me now!” but now I realize that it’s like praying, “Lord give me patience, and do it right away!” Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God will change me, not immediately, but continually during my earthly journey. May we learn to wait upon the Lord so that He can complete the good work He began in us the moment we were saved (Philippians 1:6).


Denise said...

Wonderful post.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise! Have a blessed weekend!

Pamela said...

"He's still working on me." Words from a children's song, yet vividly reminding me that it's a continual walk with God. Walking...stepping into for making a change...many steps, each one drawing us closer to Jesus coming back. Aren't you glad God doesn't expect us to stumble around in the darkness?


Laurie Collett said...

Beautifully put, Pamela! Praise God that His Word is a light unto our path!
God bless you,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie.

Spiritually, we were changed instantly. It's kind of like rebuilding a classic car. Putting in a new engine makes it run better immediately, but it doesn't instantly eliminate the other problems. We spend the rest of our lives getting the rest of them fixed.

Laurie Collett said...

Great analogy, dfish! That's why when we witness, we shouldn't tell unsaved people that their problems would disappear if they would only put their faith in Christ.
Have a blessed week!

Frank E. Blasi said...

An excellent post!
And by reading your article, my heart is so gladened because you believe in the future Rapture. As a believer in the Rapture myself, by reading other people's posts, I was beginning to feel a little lonely in this truth, if you can see what I mean.
Keep up the good work.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Frank! Praise God for "that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ! (Titus 2:13). When I was first saved and began studying my Bible, I was so excited by the Rapture, and so disappointed when leadership in the church where we were at the time seemed uncomfortable in even talking about it. We're blessed now to be part of a church that shares our excitement about His imminent return to meet us in the air.
Thanks for your encouragement!

a joyful noise said...

Transformed! Lovely Post

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, A Joyful Noise! God's blessings to you,

Joan Davis (Jo) said...

Change is a process that we can look forward to for our entire lives. I've often thought, "Well, I'm still here, so God isn't finished with me yet!" lol He will continually shape us and form us through every situation we encounter. I'm so glad that He loves me as I am...but loves me too much to keep me that way! Blessings, Joan

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Joan! We are a work in progress, continually shaped by the Potter's hand.
God bless you,

♥ my diary♥ said...

nice post thanks for sharing...blessings soraya

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Soraya! May you have a blessed week!

Ruth said...

What a gracious God we have to continually, patiently work with us to change us and then to even use us to partner with him no matter what stage of the metamorphosis we're in. Thank your for sharing good reminders of how our hearts can continually look to him for change.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Ruth, for your thoughtful comment! Praise God for patiently shaping us according to His will, even when we don't understand the direction He is taking us.
May God bless you and your ministry.

Charlotte said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. We have so much to look forward to but must remember were on God's timetable and not ours.

Trish said...

Praise God for His transforming salvation and grace!
Working out our salvation and implementing the associated changes does take time and discipline.
Every day brings opportunity to allow more changes as we walk with Christ.
Thanks for linking this great post to Simply Sweet, Laurie.
God bless you - have a great week!

Barbara Neubeck said...

Hello Laurie,
Wonderful post...thank you.
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Trish! Praise God that His mercies are new every morning, and that He is the God of seventy times seven chances to conform more and more to His image!
God bless you too!

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Barb -- God bless you and yours too, and have a blessed week!

peggy aplSEEDS said...

amen, thank you for sharing, i know what you mean about being patient about change.
hugs, peggy aplSEEDS

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Peggy, Thanks so much for visiting & commenting! Blessing & hugs to you!

Mommy Emily said...

thank you friend for being a voice of God to us... bless you. e.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Emily,
Your encouragement is a sweet blessing to me!
Love in Him,