Jun 272013
 

Just like usMy daily bible readings have brought me to the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 & 19. Elijah suddenly appears out of nowhere in chapter 17 as he boldly addresses the king and declares “there will be no dew or rain until I say so”. Wow, that is impressive! He goes on being impressive: performing the miracle of the continually replenishing jars of oil and flour with the widow at Zarephath; then the “one man against 400 – altar stand-off” where he confidently challenges the prophets of Baal to see whose god is the best. He mocks their efforts as they get ever more desperate to prove a god who only exists in their imagination, and to compound it all pours jar after jar of water onto his sacrifice and confidently stands back as God shows up in full pyrotechnic glory.

Does this type of story ever make you feel insignificant? Elijah seems to be a member of a different species, perhaps a secret agent angel parachuted down by God to get the job done. Has God given up using imperfect men and women now, who blow it time after time? Actually, no. As the story unfolds we see that Elijah was a man just like we are (James 5:17).

We shouldn’t rejoice in his weakness, which can be quite a temptation, but should rejoice in the fact that God treats us all with amazing grace. We can, like Elijah, experience amazing times with God, enjoying His presence or when ministering for Him. God blesses us and we feel great. But what happens when, shortly after, fear takes hold or disappointment occurs?

Ahab and his wife Jezebel issue murderous threats and Elijah is suddenly running scared. He runs to the middle of the wilderness and asks God to kill him. What happens next should be a comfort to all of us who struggle with fear, depression, doubt and anxiety, or simply feelings of inadequacy. God provides food and water for Elijah, leads him in the right direction and then gently speaks to Him through a whisper which suggests real gentleness and care.

God wants to do the same with you. You may have reached rock bottom and the end of your abilities, but in that place of vulnerability God will prove to you His wonderful grace as you submit again to His will and allow yourself to be lifted up by Him.

 June 27, 2013  Posted by at 10:56 pm Grace, Sanctification 1 Response »
Apr 172013
 

Free gift of righteousnessAs we saw last week in Romans 5:17 we reign in life, not only through God’s abundant grace but also through His free gift of righteousness.

We can enjoy God’s grace fully when we become absolutely assured that He has made us righteous. We are not ‘being made righteous’; we are fully, completely and utterly righteous right now. Again, not through our own works but because through His sovereign grace, God has made it so.

As people prior to conversion become aware of their sin, they may try to improve themselves through ‘good works’. Until one day they hear the glorious gospel; that all they have to do is repent, turn and come to God just as they are. However, even before they have finished giving their lives to Christ, the person leading them through the ‘sinners’ prayer’ can start adding a list of things they really should be doing (bible reading, prayer, witnessing etc). Many churches can be found doing this and it is often due to a misunderstanding between “justification” and “sanctification”.

Justification and Sanctification

It is vital we know the difference between justification and sanctification.

Justification is our standing before God. When we become Christians He declares us righteous. We cannot add to it or take anything away from it. It is summed up in one of my favourite verses: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sanctification is the ongoing process which makes us holy. It is the gradual change that happens through our Christian walk which changes us “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This happens as we spend time with God and other Christians, but it never affects our justification. Some of us are sanctified quicker or slower than others but we are all justified the same, hallelujah!!

In Adam or In Christ?

The apostle Paul’s favourite title for a Christian is someone who is ‘In Christ’.

Before we became Christians we were all ‘In Adam’.

The bible talks about various people in the bible being ‘types’ of Christ. For example, Jonah was in the belly of a fish for 3 days; Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days. Adam is a type of Christ in that what he did had an affect on the whole human race. Because he sinned, we are all considered sinners because we are considered to be ‘in Adam’.

We are saved now because we are ‘in Christ’. He died and rose again so that whoever believes in Him will be saved. We have died to the old life and have now been raised with Christ. We have now been ‘born again’. (John 3:3)

When you were ‘in Adam’, whatever good works you did were never enough to ‘get you out’ of Adam. You can’t ‘get out’ that way. Now you are ‘in Christ’ you can’t ‘get out’ of Christ by sinning.

That’s right – nothing you can do can take you out of Christ because it wasn’t your efforts that ‘got you in’ in the first place. It was all by God’s grace.

Bu that’s scandalous! Yes it is and it begs the question “shouldn’t we keep on sinning then so that God’s grace looks even better?”. This is the question we will look at next week. But this week let us simply enjoy the magnificent freedom of God’s grace!

This blog is a summary from a chapter in Terry Virgo’s wonderful book “God’s lavish grace” you can order a copy by clicking on the links on the left hand side

 April 17, 2013  Posted by at 10:01 pm Grace, Justification, Righteousness, Salvation, Sanctification 2 Responses »