Month: June 2019

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 405

1 completed work of Christ

July 1

Many Christians live by an errant notion that God is gradually making us more “Christian” day by day. Once we initially receive God’s forgiveness, we have this long list of issues, sins, addictions, healings, and weaknesses that God is going to have to address throughout the course of our lifetimes, and remedy by His patient help.

Our thinking tends to follow the lines that: “We will spend the rest of our earthly lives in stone-carvingGod’s ‘workshop,’ as He gradually chips away all our frailties, failures, and flaws. Someday (probably in the far distant future) we just might become the people God wants us to be – we may finally become “fixed,” maybe even whole (perhaps even holy!). At long last, after much time of correction and adjustment, we will be godly or “Christian” enough to accomplish God’s purposes. But, in the meantime, thank God for His grace to cover all our failures and shortcomings along the way – because we are going to have to endure a lifetime of struggle getting there!”

This manner of thinking carries two major flaws…

One, this particular viewpoint does not honor God, as He deserves to be honored. If God has done something for us and we do not fully receive what He has done, then we cannot properly honor all that He has done. In other words, if it is true that God has already provided everything we need for “life and godliness,” then the best way to honor and glorify Him is to live our lives in the fullness of this revelation and provision. To live out only a part, or a portion, of God’s handiwork dishonors Him for all the other parts He has accomplished.

receive

If, for example, all we ever focus upon is God’s provision of forgiveness, and ignore His provision of healing, deliverance, restoration, and empowerment, then we are not receiving (or portraying) God’s work fully or properly.

What is more, if we are not living in all that God has provided, we shortchange ourselves and delude those to whom we bear witness. We have a responsibility to proclaim, and live as an example, everything God has done on our behalf. This is part of our task in sharing the gospel of the Kingdom. We have the right and privilege to live by, and proclaim, everything that the King has done for His people. It does not properly honor the King, if we do not live in (or ignore!) the fullness of His Kingly handiwork.

True Christianity is formed on the basis that God has done everything that needed to be done for us. Our ignorance of this full provision can only paint a partial picture of Who God is, and what He has done. Our obligation, as His people, is to live in, and consistently display, the fullness of His gracious work. We need to honor God fully – and the only way to do this is to live in the fullness of His complete provision.

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 404

1 completed work of Christ

June 27

The Great Missed Understanding

The great understanding that so many Christians have missed is that God has already graciously and completely provided all that we need to be forgiven, delivered, healed, restored, and empowered through the work of Jesus upon the cross. His death, burial, and resurrection do far more than just take care of our sin and guilt – His death, burial, and resurrection make it entirely possible to live our lives completely for God.

This is the wonder and magnificence of the New Covenant. It is the culmination of God’s handiwork to restore us back to our original design and purpose – to be the living image and representation of God on this physical earth… and to be the vessels of His perfect and powerful rule.

pleading with GodThe problem that so many Christians face is that they are continually asking, seeking, and waiting for God to do something that Scripture tells us He has already done. They are imploring God to fix their lives. They are seeking His remedies for their afflictions. They are pleading with Him to deliver them from their addictions. They are crying out for His healing touch to make them whole in body, mind, and spirit. They are seeking, waiting, and pleading for God to restore their hearts and souls.

They are forever waiting…

We are often victims of our own flawed understanding. We have been governed by our limited personal experiences and have actually embraced errant and unscriptural beliefs, while the answer to all we seek is right there in front of us…

True Christianity flows out of the completed work of The Christ. The work of Jesus alone can produce the work of God.

Completed work

True Christianity is based upon the completed provision of God for our complete forgiveness, deliverance, restoration, and healing. Through the completed work of Jesus, God has made us completely whole. Completely restored. Completely NEW!

Our part is to discover, understand, and act on this truth. We must apply our faith to all that God has done for us, and embrace the life He has made readily available to every one of His children.

But this is a truth we have struggled to understand and embrace. We are often plagued by mistaken notions that have encumbered our way…

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 403

1 completed work of Christ

June 26

Raised to new life (cont.)

…Because we are united (planted) with Him in New Covenant relationship, we are united (planted) with Him in everything else that He experienced.

That is why the apostle goes on to speak of life after Jesus’ resurrection:

Romans 6 9-11

Just as Jesus died, so that a death might occur in us, so also Jesus was raised to life so that a new life might arise in us! This new life is characterized by a passion and zeal to live in a constant state of being “alive to God.” This means that because we have died (to our own ways and to the ways of this world) we can now “come alive” to God’s ways and the things of God. We are made “alive” to experience His Presence and His Person, and to interact with Him, in a personal way.

This new life is spiritually unencumbered by the old life which was compelled and controlled by the self-serving sin nature – the new life is a life compelled and controlled by God’s Own nature and Spirit, now available to all who have “died with Christ.”

Alive to God illus

This new life is the centerpiece of true Christianity. Through the completed work of Jesus, we are made utterly and completely “dead to sin” and, at that same moment, “alive to God.” We are, currently, new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17)! This is the constant and remarkable reality of all who have embraced the Person and work of Jesus. His work provides, in fullness and perpetuity, all that we need for “life and godliness!”

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 402

1 completed work of Christ

June 25

Raised to new life

Scripture tells us that not only did we die with Jesus, and were buried with Jesus, but we were also raised with Jesus when He was resurrected from the dead…

Romans 6 5

Literally, this verse is properly translated: “For if we have become conjoined in the likeness/similarity of His death, so also of His resurrection we shall be.” This rendering gives us more of a conditional statement or promise. If the first part of this statement occurs… if we have become connected or conjoined with Jesus in His death, then we are assured that the second part is also true (we are joined with Him in His resurrection).

We are all aware that Jesus did not remain in the bonds of death. If He had, Christians would have nothing very special to talk about. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history. Without His resurrection, the new covenant is only promise without power. It is only pipe dream without provision.

The apostle Paul also held this opinion:

1Cor 15 14

The resurrection of Jesus is not only the proof that the provision of forgiveness has been procured, it is also the verification that a new life has been provided.

Once again, we find that Scripture declares that we share in what Jesus has done on our behalf. Quite specifically, if we receive Jesus (and what He has done) – if we commit our hearts and our lives to His Lordship, then we are spiritually, and quite literally, “united” with Him in His death.

And if we have been united with Him in His death, then we are also united with Him in His resurrection.

The original Greek word for “united” literally means “to plant or spring up together” (as is conferred in the King James translation). The picture is of a simultaneous occurrence, like when a field is planted with wheat, all at the same time, and the plants all emerge at the same time.

wheat field

What Jesus did, we also share in – at the same time. Because we are united (planted) with Him in New Covenant relationship, we are united (planted) with Him in everything else that He experienced…

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 401

1 completed work of Christ

June 24

A necessary death

One of the most significant problems we face in Christianity is when believers try and live the Christian life by means of our old nature. The old nature is consumed with things like effort, willpower, duty, manipulation, and coercion. By the old nature, we focus on our own efforts, our will, our passions, our morality, our religious piety and practices, and our behaviors.

piety

When these things are our focus, we miss the most important understanding of all. We simply cannot live the true Christian life by any human means. It is utterly impossible. We cannot work enough, resolve enough, pray enough, believe enough, or do enough “good” things to produce anything that even remotely resembles God.

The only way to truly live the true Christian life is to live it by what the Scripture calls “the new way of the spirit (Romans 7:6).”

romans 7 6

This new way is provided by God’s own gift of salvation, freely offered to His people. This new way is only possible when we die to our old way of living and embrace the gift of the new way of living (Romans 8:5-9). The new way is driven by God’s Own nature, and empowered by God’s Own Spirit.

It is this new way of living that is now readily available to each and every soul that has been “baptized into Christ Jesus!”

This is the focal point of the apostle’s address to the Galatians: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27) Our new life is firmly founded upon, and in, Jesus Himself. He is more than just our Master, or our Mediator – He is also our Model, and our new identity.

Who we are, as Christians, is centered in the Person, work and ministry of Jesus. But this new life can only come when, like the kernel of wheat, we have “fallen into the ground and died.”

kernel of wheat dies

New life requires the death of the old. This is exactly what God has provided through the redeeming death of Jesus. He has not only provided the means of our atonement, but also the means of our own death…

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 400

1 completed work of Christ

June 14

…Romans 6:1-7 tells us that we all died to our sins – and to sinning, through the cross.

The means of our “death to sin” is amazing. The apostle Paul makes the case that every believer in The Christ shares in what Jesus has done. When He died on that cross, those who believe in Him also died on that cross. His death provided the means for our own death – to sin, and to its crippling effects upon our lives. The apostle defines the way of applying this gracious provision as “baptism.”

There are two prominent possibilities concerning the term “baptism” here.

First, baptism could simply be a reference to water baptism – as the divinely-decreed ordinance for a profession of faith in The Christ (this particular view gains more support in the parallel passage of Colossians 2:12). This “baptism” is the occurrence of being baptized (usually immersed) in water.

Baptism

If this is the case, then we observe within these verses, that baptism is not just a symbol of cleansing from our sins, or even a symbol of death and burial. The apostle is telling us that there is a real work that occurs, within the spiritual realm of things, that is applied to our lives when we are baptized because of our belief in Jesus. To be water-baptized actually affords us major spiritual benefits. If this is the apostle’s focus, then the sacrament of water baptism is able to produce these profound benefits within those who truly believe in Jesus.

But the apostle’s mention of “baptism” could refer us to another possibility. His use of term “baptized” could be to focus our attention upon the depth and breadth of our connection with Jesus. In the original language, “to baptize” literally means “to immerse.” The apostle may be instructing us in the fact that, in receiving Jesus (and what He has done for us) we are actually immersed into Jesus Himself. We are plunged into Him. We are actually bonded and connected to Him. And, because of this connection, when Jesus died, we actually died with Him. We are sharers, and actual participants, in His death.

jesus-baptism

And also, because of that same spiritual bond, when Jesus was placed in that tomb, we were also buried with Him. “We were therefore buried with Him through (or “by means of!”) baptism into death…” (Romans 6:4) If “being baptized” refers to being immersed into The Christ Himself, then the emphasis is upon God’s divine enabling that causes each of us to actually share in all that Jesus has accomplished.

In the end, whether Paul’s focus is upon the sacrament of water baptism, or upon our personal immersion into Jesus Himself, we are brought to the same conclusion. The means of applying all of the spiritual benefits of the work of Jesus is baptism. The final result is that we, who profess belief in Jesus, actually share in what He has done.

baptism-spirit

This is the apostle’s inspired point. Each of us who have come to faith in Jesus, and His atoning work, have spiritually shared (and are sharing) in, and personally experienced (and are experiencing), a bond or connection with The Christ – and with His death and burial. This spiritual bond, with Jesus, and with His work on our behalf, is what provides the foundation for the true Christian experience.

Being baptized into Jesus – being in Christ – is an irreplaceable part of God’s gracious provision for His New Covenant people!

Ten – The Completed Work of Christ – p. 399

1 completed work of Christ

June 13

Jesus went to the cross so that we might be forgiven and redeemed. Jesus rose from the dead to initiate a new kind of life – fully realized in those who are wholly committed to God’s ways and heart…

Understanding the completed work of Christ

But how is this even possible? How does it all work? How did Jesus make all this available to be applied to our lives?

apostle paul writesFor the understanding of this crucial work, we will turn to the apostle Paul’s inspired letter to the Romans.

First, a little context. The apostle is addressing the key question of Christians and their relationship to sin – now that they have come into a relationship with God, through the work of The Christ.

The Roman believers had arrived at the notion that, because God is a God of immense grace, we Christians should do all we can to experience His grace. Apparently, they believed that this included the option of delving into sin – because (they thought): “where there is more sin, there has to be more of God’s grace applied to our lives. More grace is good. So maybe sin isn’t such a bad thing after all, because the more we sin, the more grace increases in order to cover our sin.” This thought process is what becomes the focus of the apostle’s attention in his inspired narrative…

Grk BGIt becomes immediately apparent that the apostle, in speaking the very thoughts of God, is adamant that sin should not be a part of the life of a Christian believer. The poignant: “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” points to the fact that a new reality is at hand in the life of everyone who has received Jesus and His redemptive work.

We all died to our sins – and to sinning, through the cross…