As we saw last week, God’s Triune nature is reflected not only in all of His creation, including mankind created in His own image, but even in our relationships to one another. When we examine man’s relationships to God, groups of three are again a dominant theme.
All mankind can be characterized as Jews, Gentiles, or saints: the Hebrews who are God’s chosen people but who have rejected Jesus as their Messiah (Matthew 21:42); unsaved people of all other nations (Ephesians 2:11-12); and the remnant of Jews and Gentiles who are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
When God spoke to Peter in a dream about salvation being extended to those Gentiles who believe in His Son, He did so through the symbolism of a sheet containing “unclean” animals under the law, which now were made clean through God’s grace. This sheet was let down three times to Peter (Acts 10:16).
When the inner circle of Christ’s closest apostles -- Peter, James, and John, -- witnessed His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-2), they saw Him glorified with two resurrected Old Testament saints. Peter, not understanding what he was seeing, wanted to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses (Matthew 17:4),.
Based on their response to God’s free gift of salvation, all mankind can be divided into three groups: natural man, carnal man, and spiritual man. The natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14) is unsaved and still governed completely by his sin nature. The carnal man (Romans 7:14) is born again but allows his sin nature to quench the indwelling Holy Spirit, and therefore he is not in God’s will. All believers should pray to be the spiritual man (1 Corinthians 2:15), in whom the Spirit moves freely, allowing them to be ambassadors for Christ and to live completely for Him.
The believer’s walk with Christ has three progressive stages: justification, sanctification, and glorification. At the moment we trust Christ as our Savior, we are positionally justified – the righteousness of Jesus is attributed to our account, and all our sins are attributed to Jesus’ account, so it is “just as if” we had never sinned (Romans 3:24). This occurs instantaneously at the moment of salvation.
Through trials we face, suffering we endure, and choices we make to glorify God in our thoughts, words and deeds, we become progressively sanctified (Romans 15:16) throughout our lifetime once we are born again. This is a gradual, often difficult process that Paul describes as “working out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12), even though it is clear that we are saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We cannot lose our salvation once we have truly repented of our sins and trusted Christ, but through sanctification we become more like Him each day. Paul explains our progressive sanctification as a three-step process involving our “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). This process is only possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit, which gives us the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
At the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17), believers will instantly become glorified and become as Christ is, completely free of sin and in a glorious body that will never die, age, or suffer (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). While we await that glorious moment, we should be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Until then, our progressive sanctification also involves prayer, studying God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15), and corporate worship. Prayer engages all three members of the Trinity, as we pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9), in the name of Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), empowered by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). God answers our prayers in one of three ways: “Yes,” “Later,” or “No.”
Because He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), we can have faith that each type of answer is the best possible. He answers “Yes” when our prayer aligns with His perfect will and with His perfect timing; “Later” when our request is in His will but its time is not yet come, and “No” when we ask for something in opposition to His will (James 4:3) or when His solution to our problem is even better than what we are requesting.
We may not always understand how “No” could be the best possible answer, especially when God denies our prayer for physical healing or other needs, but we must trust that He is faithful and loves us infinitely, desiring to give His children only the best of gifts (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13). Paul asked God three times to remove his thorn in the flesh, finally accepting that God’s strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness.(2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Studying the Word carries a threefold blessing: God calls those blessed who read His Word, who hear His Word, and who keep or follow His Word (Revelation 1:3). There are three expected outcomes if we study Scripture: we will be approved unto God, we will not need to be ashamed, and we will rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Praise God that when we finally behold Him in glory, we will have unimaginable joy, for Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Praise God for the joy He always brings me.
Thankyou for posting another great article!
Sanctification is a lifelong process which can be very difficult at times (especially at waking up on a workday morning to find the weather dull and wet, and I work outdoors).
May you keep on posting. I always look forward to a good and edifying read.
Amen, Denise! He is faithful and loves to give good gifts to His children.
Thanks so much for your encouragement, Frank! I agree that sanctification can be difficult (actually impossible) in the natural, but Praise God that with Him, all things are possible! His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
May you have a blessed week in Him,
Thanks for sharing this at Sweet Saturday!
You're very welcome, Jessica, & thanks for hosting! God bless!
Perhaps the easiest way to explain the working out of our salvation is that we demonstrate it by our actions. Great post.
Thanks, dfish! Great point -- our works are the evidence of our faith.
Blessings to you,
"Because He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), we can have faith that each type of answer is the best possible." One that I am reminding myself of a lot lately. Thanks for linking up, Laurie!
A brilliant study, Laurie! I am so blessed by your outstanding teaching on the word of God. You have a special gift for articulating the fundamental truths of our faith so clearly! May the Lord continue to make you a conduit of His truth as you share the wisdom He teaches you with the world through your writing.
Blessings, Suzanne :)
Hi Eileen! Praise God that His ways are not our ways, and that He is infinitely good and infinitely capable. We can trust Him no matter how He answers our prayers. Thanks for your comment & for hosting the linkup, & God bless!
Thanks so much, Suzanne! Your encouragement is a real blessing to me, as is your Holy Spirit-inspired writing!
God bless you, dear sister in Christ!
Sometimes I think about Jewish people today - how we should treat them? I think, that it is sure, that we should treat them with love and respect, showing them Jesus in our words and works. But do they believe in this same God as we? If yes - so what in this case with anti-trinitarian churches? If not - what with being 'choosen nation'? Friend of my chief was in Israel and she told that more than half of Jews is atheists... Greetings for You :)
It's interesting how numbers play a big part in God's plan. Good thoughts on the number three. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Zim, for your thought-provoking comment! It is sad that so many Israelites today do not even worship Jehovah, let alone realize that Jesus Christ is their promised Messiah.
Blessings to you,
Thanks, Charlotte! God bless,
I'm continually blessed at how you point out things in Scripture about the Trinity that I've never considered. As Charlotte said, numbers indeed play a big part in God's plan. I've been given thought to the number 40 lately. The children of Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus fasted and was tempted 40 days... there are no accidents in God's economy.
Blessings and as always, thanks for linking up.
Thanks, Joan, for your encouragement! You are a blessing! Numbers do play such a vital part in all creation -- music, the atomic table, the laws of physics, numerical patterns in nature, and certainly, God makes special use of them in Scripture.
Praying that I'm found to be a spiritual woman! Thanks for linking up with WIP Wednesday!
Amen, Mary Beth! I believe you are a spiritual woman indeed! Thanks so much for your comment, & God bless!
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