Posts Tagged ‘Justified’

Prayer and Pedigree

Prayer and Pedigree

© C.O. Bishop 6/23/2018

Colossians 1:9-14

Introduction:

Last time I was with you we were introduced to the book of Colossians, as Paul addressed the believers at Colosse. We also saw that it was intended to be a circular letter, to be delivered to all the other churches, as were the other epistles.

We ended in Colossians 1:8, where Paul affirmed that he did not know most of these believers, but had received a report of them from Epaphras, who evidently had led many of them to Christ, and continued teaching them. Epaphras had told Paul of the faith and love of the believers at Colosse. Paul was thrilled at the news, and gave thanks for them.

In verse nine we see Paul praying for the recipients of the letter…and, his prayer can include us.

Paul’s Prayer—Conditional Truth

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Paul prayed for quite a list of things, here. He prayed:

  • that they might be filled with the Knowledge of God’s will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding
  • that they would “walk worthy” of the Lord, unto all pleasing
  • that they would be fruitful in every good work
  • that they would increase in the knowledge of God
  • that they would be strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power
  • that it would result in all patience and longsuffering, in them, with joyfulness, and
  • that they would be giving thanks to the Father.

So: seven items on Paul’s prayer list at that point in time…but he applied it to a lot of people. Notice that none of the seven included financial security, physical health, or safety and comfort. It all had to do with their walk with God: our condition as believers. Shouldn’t that tell us something about God’s priorities?

Doesn’t this give some clues about the sort of things we should focus on in prayer? It is fine for us to ask for the things that concern us the most, but, perhaps we need to re-focus our concern, so that we pray for the things God wants for us.

Paul listed seven things:

  • He wanted us to be filled with the experiential knowledge (from the Greek epiginosin) of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Not just to “know facts,” but to experience the reality of God in our lives. The only way that can happen is if we are focused on the Person of Christ as the central figure in our lives. And the next thing it should affect is our behavior:
  • He wanted us to “walk worthy” of the Lord unto all pleasing. To behave ourselves in a manner that is fitting for the children of God, one which will honor the Lord, and please Him. There are many times when believers behave poorly, and bring shame to the name of Jesus. That should not be our experience. We are to “live up to” the Name of the One we have been called to serve. Will we fail? Surely we will, but the result of “Christ in you” should be obvious even to those who consider themselves our enemies. The fruit of the Spirit should be so prominent in our lives, that even when we fail, people will tend to remember the general trend of good
  • The result of the inward change in our lives is to be a continually increasing fruitfulness, in a life spent doing good, rather than self-centered behavior.
  • The other predictable result is that, as we continue in right behavior, we will also continue to get to know God better, experientially, through Bible Study and Prayer, and through an obedient walk with Him.
  • He prayed that we would be strengthened with all might, according to God’s Glorious power. I’m fairly sure this is not talking about physical strength, but rather spiritual strength, with which to serve God, and stand against our spiritual enemies.
  • He wanted this strength to result in patience, and longsuffering with joyfulness. We are to be strengthened in such a way as to endure the hard times of life, with joy, not collapsing in fear or despair.
  • And the overall result of that miraculous change in our lives should be that we are equipped to give thanks to the Father in all circumstances.

The Pedigree of the Church—Positional Truth

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Here, Paul begins to list some facts about them and us, which are completely true about us simply because we are in Christ. But notice he has changed pronouns, here. He now says “us”, not “ye” (“ye” is the plural “you” in old English.) All of the following are true of all believers, because we are in Christ:

  • He has made us fit (that is what “meet” means in old English) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (past tense.)
  • He has delivered us from the power (Greek exousia) of darkness (past tense.)
  • He has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (past tense.)
  • We have redemption through His blood (present tense.)
  • We have forgiveness of sins (present tense.)

Notice that none of the above list is just a potentially true statement. There are no qualifiers. There is nothing to detract from the full weight of the statement regarding our position in Christ!

From the moment you placed your trust in Him as your savior, God has already made you completely worthy to be a partaker of all that he has in store, along with all the believers in the history of the world, in the kingdom of light that is yet to come. Do we “feel worthy?” I can’t speak for you, but I surely don’t feel worthy. This is a prime example of the fact that our feelings are not accurate representations of reality. God’s Word is Reality. He says that we have been made worthy—fit—to be partakers in all that Heaven and eternity holds for the believers of all ages.

God has already delivered us from the power (the Greek word is “exousia”—meaning “authority”) of darkness. Here, again, I don’t feel “delivered.” I still see the effects of the darkness of this world in my own life, my thoughts, my desires, my words, and my actions. Are they better than they were 45 years ago? Certainly! But, the fact is that I was just as “delivered” from the power—the authority—of darkness at the moment I first believed, as I am today. I am still being delivered from the ongoing power of sin, but the darkness that bound me and in which I was once lost and blind and helpless, has no further authority over me at all, unless I choose to disobey God and go back to “running my own life”. The enemy has no further authority over me, but he can intimidate me into submission, and persuade me to sin.

God has already translated us out of the darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. The word “translate,” here, could mean to transfer, or to move over, from one place to another. It is used three times in Hebrews 11:5, regarding Enoch being taken to heaven without dying. Here, in Colossians, God says that we have already been moved over into God’s Kingdom, as well. In Ephesians 2:6, he makes it even more specific, saying that we were resurrected with him, and have ascended with Him, and are seated in the throne with Him…already! These are positional truths, all true about us simply because we are in Christ.

We already have redemption through his blood…present tense. We are not waiting, hoping that somehow the redeemer will count us worthy. He did it all at the Cross. As we have noted before, there are three Greek words used, collectively, to communicate the idea of redemption:

  • Agorazo, meaning “bought in the marketplace.”
  • Exagorazo, meaning “bought out of the marketplace”…taken off the market.
  • Lutruo, meaning “bought for the purpose of being set free.”

All three of these words are used in the New Testament, and are translated “redeemed”, or “redemption”, because that is what Jesus did for us, at the Cross: He paid the price for us in the marketplace of sin, where all of us were enslaved, and He took us out of the market, permanently, for the purpose of setting us free. And all of this was completed at the Cross. We have only to step into that reality by faith, knowing that we have truly been set free, and that Sin has no more dominion in our lives.

Finally, He says that we already have the forgiveness of sins…present tense. In 1st John 1:9, where we are told to confess our sins to God, and that he is “faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” the issue is the restoration of fellowship: this is conditional truth, which has to be dealt with on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis. The forgiveness referred to, here in Colossians, is the positional truth that we have already been completely forgiven of all sins; past, present and future, thus securing our position in Christ.

Do you see the difference? The one act at the Cross could only happen once, and had to be sufficient for all sinners, for all time. The forgiveness we seek daily, in confession, has nothing to do with our position in Christ, but only affects our fellowship with God. He says, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” Fellowship is what is in question, there, regarding our walk. It affects our “condition”, as a believer.

What do we do with this concept?

If I have believed the Gospel, trusting in the once-for-all price that was paid for my sins (as well as those of the whole human race) then my position is secure. I have been born again, as a legitimate child of God. I am forever in Christ.

But I am expected to grow in that relationship with Christ, learning to walk with him in a manner which honors Him, and which attracts others to Him. As I live, day to day, I will certainly (frequently) stumble and fall, especially as a new believer. I should be growing more stable, and less likely to fall, but the possibility of failure is always there. I still sin.

What happens when I stumble, and fall into sin? Am I “un-born again?” No, that is just as impossible as my being “un-born” as a natural human. But I have become soiled…I need cleansing. So I go to God and confess my sins, and He cleanses me. It is that simple. Then I go back to learning to walk with Him.

In fact, the seven things for which Paul prayed, regarding us, in the previous verses, are all part of that growing process. Review them, and put them into practice!

Lord Jesus, fill us with your Grace, and the knowledge of your will. Teach us to walk in a way that pleases you, and draws others to you. Fill our lives with the good fruit you desire in us, and make us able ministers of your Grace.


No Condemnation: (Part Four)

“Eternal”

© C. O. Bishop 1/26/16 THCF 2/7/16

Romans 8:28-39

Introduction:

We have been studying through the epistle to the Romans, and have spent the last several weeks in chapter eight, where the overall theme is that “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.” That is a key “positional truth”, and it dovetails perfectly with the rest of the positional teaching in scripture: “things that are true of the believer, simply on the basis of his or her position, in Christ.” We have come to the last section of chapter eight, where Paul concludes his teaching on our position in Christ, and how we should live as a result of our position.

This passage includes several verses that we commonly use to encourage ourselves: We say that “All things work together for good.” We remind ourselves that “If God be for us, who can be against us?”, and, sometimes, we confirm that “Nothing can separate us from the Love of God.

But all of these are part of a larger context, in which we are told of our perfect, eternal standing with God, and the results of that standing, both general and specific.

Let’s look at some of those verses, as we finish up the eighth chapter of Romans:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God’s Eternal Purpose

What is the purpose and plan of God? Why did he even create this world? We have all sorts of “pat” answers that various religious leaders give us. But what does God’s Word actually say? We are not left to “guess” at the answer to this question, though we may not understand all of it.

If God’s eternal plan were only to “produce worshippers”, he has them in the angelic host. The angels worship him in spirit and in truth, just as Jesus said He wanted. It may shock us to hear it, but His purpose actually may not center on us! God may have even bigger things in mind. For instance, in Ephesians 3:9-11 Paul states that from the beginning of the world, the “hidden mystery” was that His purpose and plan is to demonstrate to the Angelic hosts through the Church the manifold wisdom of God. Now: do I understand that? Absolutely not! I have some theories about it, but, ultimately, while I can read those verses and tell you what it says, I do not have authority to speak outside the confines of God’s revelation, so I can’t tell you much more than the fact that it was from the beginning of the World, not the fall of Man.

How does that purpose work out through us, and in what way can we be “the called, according to His purpose?” Well, here are some other ideas: God responded to the fall of Man in one specific way—He moved to offer saving Grace to the fallen race of Man, and He has continued to do so throughout Human history. From that point on, in scripture, we see His purpose working out to provide a substitutionary sacrifice, who, being believed in, is the means of salvation from God to Man. (Remember Romans 1:16?)

Adam believed the promise of God, regarding the coming savior, the Seed of Woman. Abel understood (at least in a minimal sense) the blood sacrifice that God used to cover the sins of Adam and Eve, and he, too, believed. He brought that sacrifice…a blood sacrifice… by faith.

The Children of Israel believed the message of warning that Moses brought, and they huddled under the blood of the Passover Lamb, which is demonstrably the blood of the Cross, in picture-form. Jesus stated that He came to give his life a ransom for many. He also stated that God sent Him to be the Savior of the whole World: “for God so loved the World…” Do you suppose those are “statements of purpose?” A “mission-statement”, if you want to call it that?

How does all this work to teach the angelic host about the wisdom of God? I don’t know for sure, though I have some ideas. He does specify that it is to the angelic beings in heavenly places that he intends to demonstrate His wisdom…not just the fallen ones, perhaps. I can’t say for sure. But in this age, at least, it seems that, in keeping with His actions from the fall of Man, the purpose of God is to extend His saving Grace to sinners, through the preaching of the Gospel. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work.” And then he preached to the people of Samaria. He has consistently demonstrated in the scripture what His purpose is, in this age. I’m not sure we can really understand anything beyond this age, though I know that His purpose is eternal.

But the question remains: Are you “the called, according to His purpose?” Maybe we need to re-examine our motives and priorities, before we claim that all things work together for our good. It says they “work together for good to those who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” This is where positional truth becomes vitally important:

Our Eternal Position

But, if you are in Christ, because you have trusted Him as your Savior, then, according to this passage, you are called!

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

In fact, he says you were foreknown, and that, since you believed, you are now predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. (Notice it doesn’t say, it will happen if you behave yourself and obey God. No: you will be conformed to his image at the rapture or the resurrection, just because, as a believer, you are “in Christ”. That is positional truth!)

Further, it says that all who share that destiny are called, and justified (that means “declared righteous”), and that we are (already) glorified in Christ. We are already seated with Him in the heavenlies, according to Ephesians 2:6, though we are not consciously experiencing it at the moment. What is the result? 

Our Eternal Confidence in Christ

The result in our lives, because of our position in Christ, should be a fearless loyalty to Him, and an unshakeable confidence in Him. Read on!
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

It really doesn’t matter who our enemies are: It matters who our friend and defender is.
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

There may be a temptation to misuse this verse and to attempt to teach a “health and wealth” Gospel by it. Before you think that, remember what Paul said to the Philippian Church (Philippians 4:18). He said, on the basis of their gift to him, “I have everything, and abound!” What was the gift? I can’t tell you but, whatever it was, it couldn’t have been very much: they were very poor people, and under persecution as well.

The real key here is to remember where Paul was when he made that statement. He was in a prison cell, with virtually nothing in the way of belongings, and with very little in the way of human comforts. If that is what Paul called “having everything” and “abounding”, then I seriously doubt that the passage here in Romans can be taken to mean “we should be healthy and wealthy as a result of our position in Christ.” In fact, I suspect that the next verse, Philippians 4:19, may tell us how to use the promise here in Romans.

He says, “But my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” We have a problem discerning the difference between “need” and “desire”, I think. The people in Hebrews 11 who were most highly praised by God, of whom He says that “the World was not worthy” of them, were the ones who lived in abject poverty, having lost everything they owned because of their position in Christ, and who died in faith, seeking His eternal reward, rather than Earthly satisfaction and gratification. Now, that is a tough act to follow, but I would really rather follow that one than the one of the church at Laodicea, where the believers were physically healthy and wealthy, but spiritually sick and impoverished.

And what about accusations? We are maligned by the public and the press: they love to find someone who claims to be a believer, but who is caught in some sort of foolishness or sin, and plaster his or her shame all over the news. But what does God say?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth
 (declares us righteous.)
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Ultimately, though we are warned to not feed that fire, so as to not give them ammunition against us, we are still to rest in Christ. The believers in Hebrews 11 also endured trials of cruel mocking, and were even imprisoned for their faith, had all their property confiscated by the state, and many were executed. Our position in Christ is what matters, and our faith is to be demonstrated in our proper behavior…not public sin and shameful acts. Don’t give them legitimate cause to attack you; but if you suffer for your right acts, because of your right beliefs, then bear up joyfully. Jesus says there is a great reward coming! That gives us Security!

Our Eternal Security in Christ

We are frequently called upon to defend our position in Christ: the accusation is that our condition as fallen sinners, still subject to the “sin that so easily besets us,” (Hebrews 12:1) somehow renders us “unfit for God’s Grace.” Please remember that the very definition of Grace is such that it can only be received by those who do not deserve it. Grace specifically means “un-earned” favor… unmerited favor. If you feel you deserve it, then it isn’t Grace at all! You must be thinking that God owes you something, because you are so good. You cannot earn God’s Grace—so quit trying to do so. Serve Him because He is worthy! Not to make yourself worthy!

But; in case you are worried about your security in Christ, look what He says about it:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Notice that the first word is “who”, not “what.” This becomes important in verse 39.)
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Give that line some thought: He does not say, we “will be” more than conquerors. He says we “are” more than conquerors…it’s a “done deal!” How? Through Him that loved us!

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We can read through all these things and be properly impressed, and all, but still wonder, “But what if I just give up and quit? Won’t that separate me from Him? If I just completely rebel against His Grace and Love, and throw a spiritual “hissy-fit,” and blaspheme Him in my self-centered tantrums and anger… won’t that disqualify me?” (Do you remember Peter doing some stuff like that while he was in the process of denying he ever knew Jesus? Hmmm….)

Look at that last verse again: It says, “neither height nor depth, nor any other creature” (literally it says “any other created thing”)….

You just have to answer one question: Am I a created thing?” (This is not a silly question: it is absolutely serious.) If you can admit to yourself that you are indeed a created thing…one of the “creatures” within God’s Creation, (beside the fact that you have been re-born; re-created in the image of God), then you must admit that you are also completely incapable of separating yourself from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus your Lord…your Master…your Savior.

You know what happens if you say “I quit!”?  He doesn’t! How do I know? Philippians 1:6 says, “He who has begun a good work in you will continue to perform it, (perfect it…carry it on to completion…) until the day of Jesus Christ.” He has begun a work in you, and He is not about to let you ruin it. Can you make it less profitable than it might have been? Sure…but do you really want to? He will not abandon you under any circumstances; but wouldn’t you like it to be a profitable relationship, with eternal results? That’s God’s desire for you, too!

Conclusion:

Now…what are you going to do about it? Are you willing to be conformed to His image? Are you willing to allow your life to be changed, to fulfill His purpose? Do you recognize that you truly have been called to serve Him: to lay aside your own selfish life and dreams for the sake of carrying out His desire?

Then open up your Bible and read it! Learn what He has for you to do. Learn how He wants you to respond to Him. Allow His Holy Spirit to teach you and Guide you. Fellowship with other believers around the person of Christ and around His written Word. Learn to share your faith with others, and begin to joyfully look for and anticipate opportunities to do so. Pray for God’s guidance, and expect Him to provide it.

Allow the realities of Romans chapters six through eight to transform your life, and make it a joyful experience. I pray that all of us can step into the realities of this passage. It isn’t easy: but it’s worth it!

Lord Jesus,

We do not claim to “have a handle on the Christian life.” Too frequently we allow the fears and griefs and desires of this world to saturate us and bring us down, so that we do not feel the Joy of your Salvation, though it has not left us. We want to experience that Joy, by Faith, and live in such a way as to be an encouragement to others. We want to serve you with our lives, and not drag our feet, resisting You. Please fill us with your Peace and Joy, and teach us to walk in the light of your Word. Let us be the ambassadors you have called us to be.

Amen!


Justified by Faith

Justified by Faith—What Then?

© C. O. Bishop 9/27/15 THCF 10/4/15

Romans 5:1-11

Introduction:

We have been studying the book of Romans, and have just completed chapter four, where we examined the question of “What saved Abraham?” We were able to determine that it was definitely faith that saved Abraham; that God definitely accounted him righteous based strictly upon faith. We saw that we are saved by the same means. When we placed our trust in Jesus as our savior, we became children of God, and were permanently counted righteous by the Holy God who had once condemned us as lost sinners. The righteousness of Christ was posted to our individual accounts as we trusted in Him.

That is our foundation: the righteousness of Christ. The rest of the epistle to the Romans is building on that foundation-stone, the Person of Christ in the individual’s life. So, the first thing Paul addresses is that particular aspect of our new life in Christ.

We ARE Justified, and we HAVE Peace with God

5

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Therefore (on the basis of all that we read in chapter four) being justified (declared righteous) by faith (not works), we have (present tense) peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now there is an awful lot in that verse alone! Notice this is peace with God. Peace between us and Him; He is no longer condemning us as lost sinners, as in Romans chapter three. We are no longer at war with one another. (Did you know that you were an enemy of God, by birth? Take a peek at verse ten, down below! It says that “when we were enemies” he died for us!) But now, we have peace with God through our Lord (Greek; “kurios” — master) Jesus Christ. Later on we will look at a different kind of Peace—the Peace of God. But this Peace is peace with God.

This is a positional truth: my position has changed: my location has changed, so, as a result, my standing has changed. I am now in Christ, so my standing has been changed from “dead in sins” to “alive in Christ”. I went from being condemned by God as a lost sinner to being declared righteous by that same Holy God, on the basis of faith in the blood of Jesus. I went from being an enemy of God by natural birth, to being a child of God by spiritual re-birth. I have peace with God, and it cannot be lost. Romans chapter four states that God will never again impute sin to me. He sees me as permanently righteous. Where? How? In Christ, through Christ, by means of Christ. (By the way, in case anyone is wondering, “Christ” is just the Greek form of “Messiah”— the anointed one.)

Consider, then: my standing has been permanently changed to being “In Christ”. But what about my “state?” My condition? My condition can change from day to day, or even from moment to moment. In fact, the Peace of God, that we mentioned a moment ago is completely conditional. It depends upon my “state”, not my “standing”. My standing is permanently perfect in Christ. My state varies wildly, like Oregon weather. But, in reality, my “state” or condition only has two possibilities, as well. I am either in fellowship, or out of fellowship. There is no “in-between.”

We will address the issue of fellowship more fully as we read more.

We HAVE Access to God

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

In Hebrews 10:19-22, (turn there) we see that we are invited to “draw near” to God “through the veil, that is to say, His flesh”.  Remember the tapestry they called the “veil” in the temple? It was a thick opaque fabric that hung from floor to ceiling (60 feet tall), between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the Holy Place. Only the high priest could enter there, and that only once a year. There was no other approach to the Ark of the Covenant; the Mercy Seat—the throne of God. And the priest had to go under the veil to enter.

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The way was opened for any believer to enter. We are told in Hebrews 10 that the veil represented the body of the Messiah. When he died, the veil was torn; and the way to God is open. We are to enter through that veil: through his broken flesh at the Cross. There is no other access to God. The access we have, initially, at salvation, is by faith in Jesus and his shed blood. The continuing access we have as believers is by the same means. The reason we can speak in prayer, and know that God hears us, is because we have access to him via the Lord Jesus Christ. We enter His presence in the sure knowledge of his sacrifice giving us access to the Father. This is why Jesus said (John 14:6) “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” He meant it quite literally.

This is both a positional and a conditional truth. Because I am in Christ, positionally, I have access to God, and He will never condemn me. He is literally my Father, now; whereas, before I was in Christ, He was only my creator. He is available to me regardless of my condition. But, if I am not in fellowship with Him, then I still cannot approach Him in prayer without confessing my sins. Psalm 66:18 says “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.” It is not that He cannot hear me; it is that He will not listen, if I am in sin.

1st John 1:5-7 states three things:

  1. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all
  2. If I say that I have fellowship with Him, but I walk in darkness, I am lying. I can’t have fellowship with God when I am in sin…when there is unconfessed sin in my life.
  3. If I walk in the light as He is in the light, I can have fellowship with him (and with other believers.)

There are two uses of the noun “light”, in scripture. One is in regard to natural light—photons—physical light. The other has to do with spiritual light; moral light—the continuing knowledge of God. Jesus is the Light of the world in the second sense, and will someday be the light of the world in the physical sense as well. I think the scripture makes it clear in Genesis that He was originally the physical light of the world, but gave that function to the heavenly luminaries on the fourth day of creation. They will not be needed after the New Heaven and New Earth are in place. The Lamb will once again be the light.

So: for the moment, the light in which we are to “walk” is the light of God’s Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit. We are told that if we do not walk in the light, we cannot have fellowship with God. (By the way, this is an eternal truth. There has never been a time when a person could be in sin and have fellowship with God. Amos 3:3 indicates that two cannot “walk together, except they be agreed”.)

We have access to God by faith. We come to him, knowing that we are saved, but still sinners. We approach through confession (1st John 1:9) believing that he will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Then we can bring our worship and praise and thanksgiving, or make our petition, praying for others or ourselves.

It helps me to remember the proper order of things when I think of the admonition that we are to “cast” our cares upon Him. (1st Peter 5:7) Using the letters of the word “CAST” in an acrostic:

  • C (Confession)
  • A (Adoration—worship, praise, etc.)
  • S (Supplication…intercessory prayer, prayer for mercy, blessing, specific needs, etc.)
  • T (Thanksgiving)

Now: does my prayer have to take this exact form? Of course not. But if I am hiding sin in my heart, I need to be aware that God does not obligate himself to listen to other issues. The sin issue must be dealt with first. After that, we are free to bring our thoughts and concerns to Him. By the way, this is how we receive the Peace of God. (Philippians 4:6, 7) “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God, and the Peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Do you see how that is a conditional Peace?

He gave a command: “Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing, by Prayer…”  Do you see how, if you do NOT obey the command, you will not receive the Peace? So, the condition was obedience…obedience to a specific command.

Before we move on, let’s compare the two ideas; position and condition: When we say that salvation is “positional, not conditional” do we mean that there are no conditions to be met in order to be saved from our sins? No—there were two conditions: Jesus said “He that hears my words” (there’s the first condition) “and believes on Him who sent me” (there’s the second condition) “HAS everlasting life.” There’s the promise. But the fact is, after having met those two conditions (hearing the Gospel and believing in it), there are no more conditions. The transaction is permanent. And our standing in Him is secure forever, because it is unconditional. My state is another matter, entirely, and depends on how I am responding to Him right now.

But our future is secure, and we hope in the Glory of God

We Hope in the Glory of God

We know that the Glory of God is what sustained the nation of Israel during their flight from Egypt; in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. His glory stood between them and the pursuing army the night before they crossed the Red Sea. His glory filled the tabernacle, so that none could enter, on the first day is was completed, and His Glory shone from Sinai, filling the sky and air with thunder and dark clouds. Later, that same burning glory shone from the newly completed Temple that Solomon had built.

The disciples were witnesses of his personal glory: God the Son, in His glorified body, on the mount of transfiguration. We will be transformed to be like him, in our new bodies. And, today, the hope of his glory now sustains us, as we live in a life that is not particularly glorious, and is sometimes filled with grief and pain, disease, and death. We know how life got that way, and are looking forward to seeing the end of the story, as we have already been told how it ends.

We Glory in our Hard Times

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Meanwhile, knowing the glory of God, in the dimmest sense, we ourselves can, and should glory in tribulations, knowing that the hard times we now endure will have wonderful results; increasing our patience, building experience, and deepening hope. The hope we have in Christ affects us in a positive way, not negative. Even if we hope for things we do not live long enough to see, we are not made ashamed, because it results in the Love of God flowing through us by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Consider how many millions of God’s saints have lived their whole lives in hope of His coming, knowing it would happen, but not knowing when…just like you and I. In fact, even the Old Testament believers were looking for the coming Messiah. Job said “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand upon the earth in the latter day…” Job lived about 2000 years B.C.! And he was living in hope, waiting for a coming Redeemer. The effect upon his life was that he trusted God in the hardest of times. His testimony was good, and he has eternal reward.

But where did we start out?

Remember Where We Started

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Paul briefly reminds us that it is specifically through Jesus’ death that we have access to God. He says that we had nothing to offer—we were without strength. And, as a final reminder of our real (former) position outside of Christ, he reminds us that we were not “innocent bystanders”, but decidedly ungodly. We were not “nice little misguided waifs”, but hell-bound sinners!

We would find it a hard decision to deliberately give our life for someone else. All our training and nature says “preserve self at all cost”. Even if we could see that the person involved is a valuable, righteous person, and a good man, to boot, it would be hard. Military personnel receive rigorous enough training that they might do so. A parent might do so, for a child; or a spouse for his or her partner. These are all examples of responding to the need of friends, family, etc. But Jesus did not die for “good people”, or for his friends—he died for bad people, his enemies: us.

What is the Result?

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

So (Paul’s logic continues), since Jesus deliberately died for us when we were lost, rebellious, hell-bound sinners, how much more, now, as the children of God, will we not be kept by Him? He did the hard part of the work to save us when we truly were of very questionable value. Now, since we are the literal children of God, He sees us as being of unquestionable worth… not because of anything we have done, but because of the new creation He has made in us. He will not lose us under any conditions. Paul says that as we were reconciled (permanently) with God through his death, we shall (continually) be saved by his life. As a result, we rejoice in God, through Christ, because we now have that reconciliation. He has declared us righteous, and we are already reconciled to God…whether we feel that way or not.

Jesus spoke briefly on this subject, too: He said that He knows His sheep, and they hear His voice, and they follow Him, and He gives them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

Do you see why this is a critically important doctrine to a believer? Paul is making a point of letting us know the logic of and the security of the believer’s standing with God. He is arming us against the creeping, whispering fear that comes to the believer and suggests, “Well, now you’ve done it! God will never forgive you now! You promised Him you would never do that again, and here you are again, wallowing in sin! You may as well just give up!” (From whom do you think that attack is coming? God is giving you the defense against that attack!)

If you understand that Jesus died for you when you were an enemy of God, and utterly lost, and that as a re-born child of God, you are infinitely more precious to God now than ever before, then you should be able to see that He will never allow you to be lost. He will continue to keep you in Christ, and will continue to shape your life into His own likeness, rebuilding you to be to His Glory.

Let’s daily learn to trust Him more, and allow him to shape us in that way.

Lord Jesus, give us the Grace to trust in your mercy, and in your Love. Teach us to walk with you by faith, and to be a blessing to those around us as a result. Help us to grow to be the men and women of God that you have called us to be.