"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation – Phase II The Sanctifier is the SAINT's FIRE: Part One

~~ By James Fire

Previously in the article of “A Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation” I had written:“I’ve been given this opportunity and privilege to share the Gospel in this article and I pray that the LORD is honored by it, and that all who read this are blessed, particularly those who do not yet know Jesus as their LORD and Savior.

“. . . we shall examine the doctrine of salvation by biblical ‘exposition’ [and learn] . . . what the Gospel actually is . . . why salvation is necessary, as well as why Christ alone sacrificed on our behalf is sufficient as payment for the sins of the world.”

Further, we shall delve even deeper into this study and examine the component ‘parts’ of salvation and see how they relate to the newly born and saved in Christ, and the maturing saint, as well as the saint who has passed from this life into the next.”

The italicized paragraph above is what this ‘Phase II” is going to focus on: now that a person is saved, what next? What is required as a newly born citizen of God’s Kingdom? How is such a one to grow properly and in a spiritually healthy manner?

It’s an unfortunate trend in today’s Christian society: once a person comes forward either at a crusade or a church, and the opportunity to receive salvation is presented, and they are indeed saved, the perception is they’ve crossed the finish line, that somehow they’ve achieved their purpose in life, and reached the climatic conclusion. Emphasis is placed on evangelism, rather than what’s called discipleship (more about this word later).

Yet the ushering in of a soul into the kingdom of God is hardly the climax, it’s only just the beginning!

Allow me to illustrate:

Suppose you and, let’s say your spouse, received as a free gift from your father: an all expense paid two week vacation to Hawaii! With great expectation and excitement, you pack your bags, load onto the plane, and take to flight over the Pacific, eagerly awaiting your destination. 
After a pleasant flight, you and your companion are all smiles as the plane comes over the luxurious tropical islands you can see from high above. Within minutes, the plane comes to land on the runway. You’ve now entered the exotic land of Hawaii!

Hurriedly you begin to gather your things from the overhead compartment, and check the pockets on the back of the seats in front of you to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, when you notice your spouse is sitting passively in their seat, gazing dreamily out the window.

“Come on, honey, lets go!” you exclaim, and they say,
“Go? Go where?”
“We’re here! We’re in Hawaii, and we got lots to do and to see!”
“That’s right! We’ve seen the island from above, and we’ve entered it, now let’s enjoy it!” and they turn back to the window.
“You mean to tell me you’re content to spend your entire vacation here? On the plane?!
They nod serenely and turn to gaze once more out the window.

Thinking that the Christian life is all about getting saved is no more accurate or inclusive than to think one’s vacation time is well spent, by sitting on the plane that brought you to your dream destination!

Nor is it suggested that the Christian life is a vacation or some luxurious, easy life free of stress, trials or hardships any more than the old Negro spiritual songs that spoke of crossing Jordan meant entering into heaven.

If crossing Jordan was entering heaven, then there are things about heaven I certainly don’t like! Over Jordan, in the land of Canaan, there were giants! And pagan armies! And all sorts of religious seductions! Trials, tribulations, hardships and what not met the children of Israel in Canaan, and yet for those who were faithful to the LORD, it was a blessed, growing experience.

Rather than a picture of heaven, the Canaan conquest, as well as being an historical documentation in the Old Testament, is also a ‘type’ (model) for us as Christians for the overcoming life of the believer. The account is an example for us, followers of Jesus Christ on how to conduct ourselves (and in some cases how not to) in this life (See ROM 15:4).

The Christian life is presented with challenges as potent as any that the children of Israel faced in days gone by; perhaps, given the days we live in, even greater challenges!

We believers who’ve been born again by the Holy Spirit of God have seen the kingdom of God in a very real spiritual sense, and we have also entered into it through the priceless blood shed by the Son of God, the LORD of glory, Jesus Christ.

Now that we are here, in a very real, spiritual presence in the kingdom of God, what’s next?

The word “salvation” occurs 164 times in 158 verses in the King James Bible; here are a couple of verses from the Psalms

PSALM 18:2
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

PSALM 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

This very word “salvation” has a very rich, deep meaning.

Dr. Schofield explains (in a footnote of his study Bible, in ROM 1:16):
“The Hebrew and Greek words for “salvation” imply the ideas of deliverance, safety, preservation, healing, and soundness; “salvation” is the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all of the redemptive acts and processes as: justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification.

“Salvation is in three tenses:

1) The Christian has been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin (LUKE 7:50; 1 COR 1:18; 2 COR 2:15; EPH 2:5, 8; 2 TIM 1:9) and is safe.

2) The Christian is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin (ROM 6:14; 8:2; 2 COR 3:18; GAL 2:19-20; PHIL 1:19; 2:12-13; 2 THESS 2:13).

3) The Christian will be saved at the LORD’s return, from all the bodily infirmities that are the result of sin and God’s curse upon the sinful world (ROM 8:18-23; 1 COR 15:42-44) and brought into entire conformity to Christ (ROM 13:11; HEB 10:36; 1 PET 1:5; 1 JOHN 3:2).

“Salvation is by grace through faith, is a free gift and wholly without works (ROM 3:27-28; 4:1-8; 6:23; EPH 2:8). The divine order is: first salvation, then works (EPH 2:9-10; TITUS 3:5-8).”
Now I realize that if you’re a new believer, reading all of these theological terms and all these verses might feel a bit overwhelming; or even if you’ve been a believer for some years, but were never taught these things, it can be no less daunting. Yet, please be patient and we will walk through all of this very carefully, and by God’s grace He will enable me to reveal His Truth and grant you understanding.

I recently finished reading a book by Chuck and Nancy Missler entitled The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory.
They delve deeply into this subject and exposit such a wealth of material, that when I finished the book, I realized I was missing some crucial aspects in my life with the LORD.
While I endorse this book, there are some particulars that I do disagree with; if any believer who desires to live in victory, and to have confidence on the Day of Judgment (where we as believers won’t get judged for sin, but for performance, and as a result receive [or not] rewards based on our conduct), then a reading of this book for it's subject matter on sanctification will prove useful.
But there are aspects of 'remedial training in heaven' for those who were not properly sanctified while here on this Earth as an "overcomer" that we here at TTUF do not agree with.

The book summarize the three primary elements of the Christian life as follows:

Salvation is a very broad term, and we must be focused on precisely what we mean by this word. There are three main components of our salvation, those being 1) justification, 2) sanctification and 3) glorification.

1) It's in justification that we are saved from the Penalty of sin: we have been saved from sin’s penalty.

2) It's in sanctification that we are saved from the Power of sin: we are being saved from sin’s power.

3) It's in glorification that we are saved from the Presence of sin: we will be saved from its presence.

When you received the gift of salvation, by believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work of salvation on the cross, you were spiritually regenerated. Up until that time, you were spiritually dead because of sin. Yet once you repented before God and salvation was received, you were born again and the very God of creation, in all three Persons of the Trinity indwelt you, and in your heart they remain both now and forever.

There is nothing you could have done to earn this salvation, so God granted it to you as a free gift! I believe there is nothing you can do to lose this salvation, or speaking more precisely, this justification. Because you have been justified by Christ Jesus and the atonement He wrought on the cross on your behalf, you can never be lost.

Justification is imparted freely to all who come to Jesus Christ, and there is no one who will be ‘more justified’ a million centuries from now in heaven, than they already were at the very moment they received their Savior! It’s an entirely completed work of God’s grace (unmerited favor), and it ensures a place in heaven for all who accept it.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

The offence of one was Adam, when he committed that act of sinful rebellion against God. The righteousness of one is Jesus Christ, the God-man who never sinned, but was pure from all sin in both act and nature, and was thus an appropriate substitute to die on our behalf, for our sins.

Realize that when the New Testament was originally written, it was copied in the Greek language (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew) and so in order to gain greater insight, it’s helpful to know what a particular word in the Bible was, in its original language (either Greek or Hebrew).

This is not to underestimate the Holy Spirit’s ability to supernaturally enlighten a believer as to the meaning of scripture; the Holy Spirit is absolutely indispensable in order for any one to understand the Bible, which itself was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God through the various writers of the Bible. He is capable of doing this without a person knowing Greek or Hebrew from pig Latin!

Being accustomed to the meaning of words in the original languages however is quite useful for the diligent student of the Bible and there are resources available for this purpose.
A concordance is a reference work that catalogs all references to all scriptures found in the Bible, and you can locate any verse anywhere in the entire text in a matter of minutes by using such a work.
Most of them include Hebrew and Greek lexicons that reveal the original meanings of words. Below is a link that shows you just such a concordance, one that I am fond of using myself:

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition

The Greek word for “justification” according to Strong’s is “dikaiosis” and it means, “acquittal (for Christ’s sake)”. Dikaiosis denotes “the act of pronouncing righteous, justification, acquittal”; its precise meaning is determined by that of the verb dikaoo, “to justify”, signifying the establishment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt.

ROMANS 4:25 the phrase “for our justification” is literally “because of our justification” . . . all that was necessary on God’s part for our “justification” has been effected in the death of Christ. On this account he was raised from the dead.
The ‘propitiation’ (that is, the only acceptable sacrifice) being perfect and complete, His resurrection was the confirmatory counterpart (thus proving His sacrifice was acceptable, as death could not restrain Him from rising). In ROMANS 5:18 (quoted above) “justification in life” means “justification which results in life (vs. 21). That God justifies the believing sinner on the ground of Christ’s death, involves His free gift of life.”

ROMANS 3:24, 28
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may live for all eternity with Him, and our Father; we now must learn what it is to “die to ourselves” so that Jesus may live His life through us. This is the essence of sanctification: when the believer attains Christ-likeness in their personal life. In dying to self, and becoming more and more alive in Jesus, we can experience insurmountable joy and peace, entirely independent of our circumstances, even in the worst of trials.

This doesn’t mean that the Christian’s life is sinless either, for it’s been said: “Christians aren’t sinless, but they should sin less and less...” As we grow in our Christian life, there should be a gradual decreasing of sinful tendencies in our old way of life, and a gradual increasing of holy and righteous tendencies in our new way of life.

You may not realize it, but according to God’s Truth, once you become saved by Jesus Christ, you are classified as a saint! Read through the epistles of Paul the apostle; any time he addresses the members of any particular church, he refers to them all as saints.

So what exactly is a saint? The term ‘saint’, and ‘sanctify’ come from the same root word, and this root word means “to be set apart for God in special relationship and purpose”, and to be equally set apart from the world and all of its unholy influences.

This is a process that begins upon the moment of salvation, but it doesn’t happen over night, and it certainly can’t happen without the yielding and cooperation of the Christian in conjunction with God’s dealing with and in us. This is the essence of discipleship, and as you might have guessed, looking at that word, it involves discipline.

Justification, that initial part of the salvation process (a one time event) is absolutely free and accomplished by Christ Jesus alone. Sanctification however is something that requires a continual, moment by moment yielding and obedience on our part to God and His Holy Word.

Let’s look at some verses where our LORD Jesus addresses this subject of discipleship:

LUKE 14:26
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Those are very strong words aren’t they? Some believe that they are unfair: how can God ask us to hate our parents? Or wife? Or children? Or even our own life? Especially when He also tells us to love our neighbors and even our enemies! (see MATT 22:39; 5:44) What the LORD is saying is that if we would be His disciple, His follower, our love and devotion for Him should be so powerful and so all-consuming that our love for any one else would pale, even to the point of looking like hatred by comparison!

Why would He require this of us? Because of the fact that our LORD Jesus has loved us far more than any other ever has; with all of His heart, all of His soul, all of His body, and He proved it by dying on the cross for our sins! Thus His commandment to love Him supremely with all our hearts, souls, and strength is not at all unreasonable (LUKE 10:27).

LUKE 14:27
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

We wear crosses today as jewelry made of gold or silver; we adorn the steeples of our churches with crosses. You will notice that none of them have dried blood encrusted on them. They used to; back in the days of the Roman Empire crosses were instruments of cruel torture and execution, used as a means of deterring rebellion against the Roman government.

What could Jesus have possibly meant when He spoke of His disciples bearing their own crosses in following Him? Was He referring to how many of them would eventually die on such crosses as He, and Peter the Apostle did? I’m sure He had that in mind, but there is an aspect that reaches much farther than merely a historical occurrence of the then near future.

Jesus Christ called all men to Him, not to live, but to die; that is, to die to themselves and become alive to God. Paul mentioned this in his epistle to the Galatians:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul was never actually physically crucified; he died by beheading. He refers here to the spiritual reality of identifying with the death of Jesus on the cross, and by this means, dying to his own self will and sin.

This is how the process of sanctification is accomplished, and the way of a disciple of Jesus Christ. You can’t be a disciple and ignore the necessity of the cross and of sanctification, and any that endeavor sanctification is by definition a disciple.You may be thinking by now: “Wow, this discipleship sounds extremely difficult! I don’t know if I can do this!” You’re quite correct; if you try to do this, it is extremely difficult. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that you not try in your own strength to do this, but rely upon God and His empowering grace to do this work.

Remember, sanctification requires your yielding and obedience, not your self effort. You simply acknowledge your need of sanctification, your need to become a person of holiness, and release yourself into God’s hands, surrendering your will and allow Him to do this work in you!

Until then, may the LORD Jesus truly bless you as you seek Him in the Word and in prayer!

1 comment:

Tony Kiar said...

The cook can't eat your dinner for you. If you want the nutrition and to be sustained by it, you have to move your hand to mouth, chew, swallow and repeat until you've finished. If this makes sense about eating your own dinner then why do we balk so much about 'working out our own salvation'. We build churches, install comfortable pews, hire professionals to develop programs to service us and sit with arms folded magically thinking our sanctification is progressing.