Wednesday, December 2, 2009

salvation every day

The Word for today:
John 17:6-19

mark this: John 17:17 --
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

We Christians have a lingo that often ties us up in knots.  One of the questions we ask is, "When were you saved?"

The answer might sound like this:
"I was saved in 1994."

Imbedded in that question and answer lies an almost insurmountable misunderstanding of the elementary principles of the New Testament.

The correct answer, which would open up so much truth about the Bible and our relationship with God, would be this:
"I was saved in 1994, I am being saved right now, and I will continue to be saved in the future."

What happened back there in 1994 was the past tense of salvation.  It is called justification.  It means that we were saved from the penalty of sin.  But saved as we were, we still had a long way to go to begin to look like Jesus!

What is happening right now, in the present tense of salvation, is called sanctification.  Sanctification is a process by which we become more and more like Jesus.  Sanctification saves us from the power of sin.

What will happen in the future tense of salvation is glorification.  We will be saved from the presence of sin, because we will be in the presence of God the Father, where no sin can be.

Unless and until we understand these three tenses of salvation, we will be terrified at certain New Testament passages which make it sound like we are not saved:
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," we are told in Philippians 2:12.  But I thought salvation was by faith, not works!

Salvation is by faith, not works.  When the Bible tells us to work out our salvation, it means to be extra careful not to get in God's way--because it is his work of salvation that is being performed in us, if we would just let him work!  Look at the very next verse:
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

The person in Philippians 2:12 who is told to work out his salvation has already undergone phase 1 of salvation--justification by the blood of Christ. 

He is now being told to be very careful not to hinder the ongoing work of salvation--sanctification--which the Holy Spirit is working out within him.

The words in Philippians 2:12--which can sound so terrifying to that person who was "saved in 1994"--are music to the ears of a person who understands those words as a promise--a promise that God is at work within us to make us more like Jesus every day!

Before we leave today, take a look at John 17:17.  We see that big word--sanctification.  We should not think of that as some theological term and let it slip by.  Jesus' prayer  is that God will make us to be just like Jesus--free and brave and in love with his Father; faithful; humble; forgiving and...

Jesus' prayer for us is going to be answered with a big YES!  In fact, it is being answered right now!  You are being saved--sanctified, becoming more like Jesus--as every moment moves by.

Now look at one more thing.  What does Jesus say will change us into Christ-likeness?  It's that Bible you're "standing in the rain" with:
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
You hold in your hand the most powerful transformative agent in the universe--the Word of God; the truth.

Come back to John 17:17 every so often, to mark your growth.  Your Mom might have had a place where she marked your height on the wall every year. John 17:17 is that "place" in the Bible, where you pause to mark the transformative power of God's Word within you.

Three years from now, when the "Stand in the Rain" schedule comes 'round again to this spot, you'll have grown in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1).  You'll have grown because you let the seed, which is the Word of God (2) take deeper and deeper root.

(1) 2 Peter 3:18; (2) Luke 8:11

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