Friday, September 26, 2014

First responders (our eternal redemption 4)

And he has entered once and forever into the Holiest Sanctuary of All, not with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the sacred blood of his own sacrifice. And he alone has made our salvation secure forever! Hebrews 9:12 Passion

We've been doing a study over the past three articles on our eternal redemption in Christ. I know how controversial this topic is to so many. Can we lose our salvation? Can we forfeit it or give it back and renounce God after becoming a new creation in Him? Are we not just individually predestined to salvation so therefore it's His preservation not mine? 

There are numerous questions. We will address all of these in upcoming articles. You don't want to miss those. So as we continue looking at our eternal redemption I was impressed by the Lord to lay more foundation concerning this truth. 

Why the picture of an ambulance on this post? It represents where we are going with this one. What a lesson on first aid? No, although I've had my fair share of those. What do we generally call the EMS or paramedics? We saw this especially during the 9/11 attacks. We refer to them as first responders. Under grace and eternal salvation we are also first responders. 

What do I mean by this? 

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 

You see the first response? We are loved. He so loves us. This is the supply of grace. He loves us and what is the result? We genuinely respond in kind. We love Him, because He poured His love on us.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:18 NLT

I trust you can see the play on words but receive the simple truth I am conveying. When we have His unconditional love poured out upon us and are resting in the security of that love, we will have a genuine response of love in return. When we have a genuine response of love what does that translate into in our daily lives? A life filled with genuine fruit. 

Responding to the love and nurture of our loving Father is what produces a life that is a witness to others that we are in Christ. To many want to put the Church back under the rigors of Old Covenant Law. They feel the hard taskmaster image of God that many had under the Mosaic Law is what the Church really needs to produce holiness and purity in daily living. 

I am pointing to the real source of fruitful living. A place where we as believers aren't reveling in sinful habits but in genuine response to the Love of a Holy and caring good Father. We are the first responders to the love, the righteousness, the holiness, the compassion He poured into us.

Remember grace supplies where Law demands. He made us righteous and holy by the blood. He declared us right and made us right. He washed us in the blood and made us clean and pure. We are now holy and upright and righteous. That is who we really are inwardly. We then respond by being who we already are. As Paul Ellis said it's not do holy it's be holy. 

So rest in Him and what He has accomplished. Be who you already are. Be the first responder, the first to respond to who you have already been made. Responding isn't a worked up performance or striving to be something. Response is simply defined as to answer. So what is your answer to who you already are. 

If you know you have been made holy and righteous within what is your answer? We answer yes, I agree with what you made me Lord, when we identify with the new nature. We answer no, not because we sin or miss it, but when we say things like "I'm so unworthy" or "we need to be more holy or get righteous". These negative words are what actually produce the missing it or blowing it or falling into a sinful habit. 

Focus on the finished work of Jesus. Look to the cross and live. That is where we were made holy and righteous and had His love poured out to us. He paid the complete price. Instead of focusing on people's faults and "rubbing their nose" in their mess ups and sins we should point them to the cross. If they aren't saved, point them to Jesus and He will make them a new creation. That junk will soon fall away. To those who are born again and made new point them to the finished work. Reveal to them, their sins, their bad habit, their poor attitude is not who they are. Show them how to say yes to their true nature.

I just laid out a foundation for fruitful, victorious living. Saying yes to who He already made us. Now as genuine responders to His love how does this apply to our eternal redemption? Glad you asked. Over the last three posts we saw that salvation is not something we can earn. We learned it is by grace alone through faith alone. We saw that we can't maintain something we could never achieve or earn in the first place. We saw that we weren't just declared righteous but made righteous. That we actually are a new creation. That we have a new identity. In this post we see saying yes to who we actually are produces fruitful living. So putting all this together what do we have?

We have a working understanding of what it means to be in Christ. That unearned, undeserved eternal life was offered to us and we received it by the faith He gave us by hearing the Word. That we can't maintain this salvation by our actions or belief. That we are truly a new person and we agree with what God says about us. This answers the objection some may raise, that eternal security produces license to live in licentious living and an unfruitful walk. To the contrary, resting in the finished work and completely secure salvation and identifying with who He made us produces right living and lasting fruit that makes the lost want to come to Christ. 

I trust this lesson has encouraged you and revealed the goodness of God to you. I pray His peace and security blesses you throughout the upcoming week. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The true DNA of the Believer (eternal redemption 3)

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  Hebrews 9:12

We are in a series about our eternal salvation in Christ. As I've said many times if salvation isn't eternal then it is only a mere temporal salvation. Praise be to the Most High God that it is an eternal salvation He purchased for us. 

Who do we think we are?

How we think of ourselves in Christ is the key to living the victorious, abundant life of Christ. 
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.“Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. Proverbs 23:7
Right thinking is the key to success. Agreeing with the Word of God is what produces right believing which in turn produces right thinking. We need to think right about who we actually, already are in Him. 

Are we simply forgiven sinners?

Too many get this impression about who we are in Christ. We see our great sin before we trusted in Jesus and therefore after we turn to Him we still think of ourselves as that sinful person. We may even say we believe we are righteous. At the heart of the matter is how do you define and apply this righteousness? Let me elaborate.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 ESV

Many accept and even promote the truth that we are justified by faith. That is literally declared righteous by faith. They even affirm we are declared right only by belief in Him and trusting in Him. Afterwards though, they insist you must maintain or produce a life that is outwardly flawless.

Justification is a beautiful gospel truth. Take the English word and it is the simple beautiful gospel message. Justified, Just-if-I'd never sinned. Being declared righteous is not fully what happened when we became new creations in Him though. This is just partially what occurred.

Not just "declared" righteous but actually made righteous! 

This is the great, glad news! This is who we really are. It's not complete to believe you are just declared righteous but still a sinner by nature.  No, you are actually declared right and then made righteous in Him. You see the full message of grace is not just that you have been set free from the weight of the Old Covenant Law and totally forgiven all your sins. It must also include the reality of our being made a completely brand new creation. We are completely new in Him. 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

What about the flesh?

We are made completely new. The old is completely gone. It is wiped away. So what about the flesh? What about a sin nature? To say that believers have a sin nature is an unfortunate tradition brought about through some poor translating in certain Bible translations on the Market.

Some teach that the reason we still mess up as believers is because we still have a sin nature. That God's new life within is fighting this daily uphill struggle with an opposing nature we still possess. Is this truth? Of course not. For more info I highly recommend reading after Ryan Rufus on this subject here.

Why do we miss it so often then? Its because we have the flesh to contend with on an ongoing basis. The flesh though isn't you or your body. Your body is the temple of God. It is good because God made it. The flesh is simply a mind set. It is a thinking process that is contrary to the Word of God. I am not suggesting we can't live victorious over the flesh. We can through Him and His grace. We don't have to miss it at all, ever. 

Andrew Farley says it so well. The flesh is simply the policies of the former administration. We used to think and feel and believe a certain way before Christ. Now that we are completely new and that is our true DNA, conflict may arise when those former policies wish to dominate our thinking and urge us to act on them. Knowing though what the flesh is and how it operates brings us into a place of victory. 

We have the victory through our new creation.

We operate in victory over these fleshly thoughts and ideas when we identify with our new nature. We can choose to identify with who we actually already are. Doing so brings change, lasting change within us. 

So this is the answer to the objections and concerns raised by some, who believe that if we teach that once we are born again and made a new creation, nothing will ever change that or remove it, we give people an open license to live in unbridled lust and sinfulness. If you want to dwell in the midst of evil and corruption and wicked lust and can rejoice and celebrate it I suggest you get born again and receive the righteous new nature in Him. 

Knowing I am forever secure in Him and can never renounce it or walk away or "sin it away," becomes a motivation for devotion to God. Once we realize we have a completely new nature from above it removes this fear of licentious living. We no longer need to keep God's people in fear and anxiety about their security in Him. 

Teaching people they can lose it or renounce it produces anxiety in their relationship with God. It can create a sense of drawing back from God. What if I ever get weary? Could I renounce Him? What if I miss it to many times? I struggle with this sin. Will He keep forgiving me? These types of thought processes are the direct result of traditional, legalistic and law minded teaching designed to keep the Saints from wandering and under the control of Church leadership. Reject these thoughts and philosophies. Rest knowing you are forever safe and secure in His hand.

So who do you think you are? You are the righteousness of God in Christ. You aren't just declared right but actually made righteous. You have a complete new nature that desires a passionate relationship with our Father God more than anything. We are forever secure in this love. Rejoice in this wonderful knowledge.

I pray this article has blessed you and I pray that God pour out His lovingkindness upon you all this week. In Him...


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sustained maintenance (Our eternal redemption 2)

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  Hebrews 9:12

We've started a new study on our eternal redemption purchased for us by Christ Jesus. This Biblical truth is not without much controversy. Many well meaning and concerned Christian brothers and sisters debate and resist the idea of an eternally secure salvation in Christ. We've seen numerous debates about this view. Many have heard the objections raised concerning this topic. I believe though we can sum up all these concerns into two main objections.

The first one is the legitimate concern some have. Notice I stated legitimate concern. If we can't stand a thorough examination and scrutiny of our beliefs from those with genuine questions then I'd have to question the validity and surety of those beliefs. The Word of God is the more sure source for any view or belief. When I see those who pass over concerns or questions from legitimate sources  I note a tinge of arrogance and critical attitude within them towards others. 

Look, the point of following the truth is to understand it enough to have it working in our everyday life and to be able to clearly share it with others. Having this understanding let me articulate the concern some have. If folk will know they can never lose their salvation then what witness will they be to the World? My response is what witness do Christians who believe you must maintain it display to the lost? Look, knowing we are free from performance and completely forgiven produces a living vital relationship with God. I will further address this concern in an upcoming post.

The second objection raised I believe is rooted in control and condemnation. The objection is stated in various formats but the motive is always apparent from the speaker. The objection just merely states we can lose our salvation. This objection rarely has much Scriptural backing. The speaker merely shouts louder, and strongly proclaims you better watch it, you can lose it! They just scream louder "you can sin away His grace!" "If you keep committing the same sin over and over, God won't forgive you any longer!" These folk cringe at the idea of a secure salvation. If a believer's walk is forever secured then no fear can be implemented to control the sheep into submission, and the giving of donations. This is the true motive, I believe, for this objection.

In this article I want to further address the faulty view of conditional salvation. This is why I've titled this article "sustained maintenance". The idea perpetuated by many is that once this salvation is received it is now our responsibility to uphold our own salvation.

9He gave us resurrection life and drew us to Himself by His holy calling on our lives. And it wasn’t because of any good we have done, but by His divine pleasure and marvelous grace that confirmed our union with the Anointed Jesus, even before time began! 10This truth is now being unveiled by the revelation of the Anointed Jesus, our Life-Giver, who has dismantled death, obliterating all its effects on our lives , and has manifested His immortal life in us by the gospel of grace. 2 Timothy 1:9-10 Passion translation

 You see how gloriously good the glad news is? Not by any good we have done, but only His divine pleasure and marvelous grace brought us this salvation! It is an amazing redemption we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. So if it's not by any good we have done that brings this salvation, then how is it one bad thing we do causes us to forfeit it?

Look at what this new life produces within us.

13 And if under the old system the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of young cows could cleanse men’s bodies from sin, 14 just think how much more surely the blood of Christ will transform our lives and hearts. His sacrifice frees us from the worry of having to obey the old rules and makes us want to serve the living God. For by the help of the eternal Holy Spirit, Christ willingly gave himself to God to die for our sins—he being perfect, without a single sin or fault Hebrews 9:13-14

You see, the complete message of grace is we are free from Law and performance and completely forgiven and made an entirely new being. We are new creations in Christ. This new identity He made us is who we identify as. Knowing we are new and clean and pure before Him produces such liberty and true love from deep within. 

Knowing who we are in Him takes this burden to be accepted and perform well enough to maintain our relationship away from us. If I rest assured in my true identity I won't be trusting in my good deeds in my own strength to maintain my relationship. With new life, new identity understanding my trust is in Him alone.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6

The way salvation is taught in some circles this verse seems to be interpreted this way;
He who began a good work in you expects you to complete it until He returns. 
Praise the Lord though this verse doesn't teach this. It says He who started the work will be responsible to complete it. So this idea that those who haven't perfectly resisted sin and addictions must have forfeited their place in the Family of God, is just religious tradition. This view that if one doubts and fears and in the midst of turmoil makes a soulish cry of renouncement of God is lost forever is not the good news of a forever faithful Father. Good God in Heaven under the Old Covenant which is rooted in performance stated He was forever married to the "backslider". How much more are we now close to Him in this New Covenant established on better promises. 

So let go of sustained maintenance of your relationship with God. This is pressure to get it just right everyday. I've heard some use math principles to describe our relationship with God. If one single digit is off or in the wrong column then the whole equation fails. Wow. So glad God my Father isn't a math professor! 

Look, if not one single righteous act could have made us right with God before we received Him why do we believe one unrighteous act removes us from salvation? What part of Eternal Redemption do we not comprehend? If it isn't eternal then it's not eternal, its temporal redemption. These ideas of maintaining, sustaining, perpetuating our own walk is completely illogical. How could we possibly maintain or sustain something which we could never earn, achieve or work to receive in the first place?

Be free today to love God because He first loved you with an everlasting, unquenchable love!I trust this message has renewed and refreshed your heart. I pray blessings on you this week. Remember you can sign up via email to receive these articles and not miss any. Bless you, sustained and maintained by Christ finished work not my own!