Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All ‘Men’ need to listen to this!

This sermon is a must hear for ALL ‘Men’ married or not. This applies to Christian and non Christian men everywhere. Listen, absorb and take action.


Friday, March 13, 2009

What are Sanctification and Perseverance?

Here is another title in the series that we are studying in my home group going through Wayne Grudems Book. This is from Chapter 15 of:

Christian Beliefs 'twenty basics every Christian should know':

All scripture quoted is ESV.

Also please take a look at an earlier post I made on Sanctification here. (NB: This is a paraphrase of the chapter therefore all credit goes to Wayne Grudem and not me.)

Repentance and faith result in Justification but they also play a part in what is sometimes called Sanctification. It ‘is a progressive work of both God and man that makes Christians more and more free from sin and more and more like Christ in their actual lives’. This is co-operation between God and his children where each has distinct roles. This is a life long process where we will make progress but we will never achieve perfection until the return of Christ.

Sanctification starts at the point we become Christians, or are Regenerated and increases through life. At regeneration Paul says we are ‘set free from sin’ (Romans 6:18) and should consider ourselves:

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’ (Romans 6:11-14)

This means at rebirth the power of sin is broken and we are no longer ruled and dominated by sin and no longer love to sin. However since Sanctification is a process we will never be completely free from sin in this life. As 1 John 1:8 says, ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ And Ecclesiastes 7:20 ‘Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.’ This is the reason Jesus says pray “Forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4)

When we die and go to be with God our sanctification is made complete because our souls are set free from indwelling sin and made perfect. Hebrews 12:23 says that when we come into the presence of God to worship we come to ‘... the spirits of the righteous made perfect’, because ‘…nothing unclean will ever enter it’ (Revelation 21:27). In another sense, sanctification will not be complete until the Lord returns and he transforms ‘…our lowly body to be like his glorious body’ (Philippians 3:21). Then our bodies too will be made perfect and free from all the influences of sin.

Though we can never be completely free from sin in this life we should still expect to see a regular increase in our sanctification. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says, we ‘…are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’. He also says, ‘…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’. The picture here is a lifelong and continuous process. There is no indication from scripture as to how much sanctification we can expect and what specifically it will look like. We may defeat one sin only to struggle deeply with another.

However in all this we should never give up our struggle. We should never say any one sin has defeated us and that we cannot change. In the midst of struggle we cling on to the promises of God. For instance Romans 6:14: ‘For sin will have no dominion over you’.

The Role of God in Sanctification

Sanctification is primarily the work of God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul prays, ‘Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely’. And the writer of Hebrews in 13:20-21 writes ‘Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen’.

God equips us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that works within us to change and sanctify us towards greater holiness. Peter and Paul in 1 Peter 1:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13 respectively refer to the Spirit doing the Sanctification. Galatians 5:22-23 refers to the fruit of the spirit that increase as we are sanctified. As we ‘walk by the spirit’ and are ‘led by the spirit’ (Galatians 5:16-18) we become more and more responsive to the desires and prompting of the Holy Spirit and since the Spirit is a spirit of Holiness then he produces holiness in us.

Our Role in Sanctification

Our role is both Passive and active. Through repentance and faith we are told to present ourselves ‘to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness’ (Romans 6:13). This is our passive involvement. But in Romans 8:13 we are told ‘if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body’. This implies an active role on our part. But Paul is clear that it is also by the spirit.

This same active and passive role is found in Philippians 2:12-13: ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’ This encouragement to do our part is based on the promise that God will empower our work.

So just as becoming a Christian is a gift from God that requires our involvement; we find the same to be true for sanctification. Progress is a gift of grace and is a gift we can expect to receive. God honours our continual acts of faith and obedience seen through:

· Bible Reading and meditation (Psalm 1:2, Matthew 4:4, John 17:17)

· Prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6)

· Worship (Ephesians 5:18-20)

· Witnessing (Matthew 28:19-20)

· Acts of mercy and justice (Mathew 23:23, James 1:27)

· Christian fellowship (Hebrews 10:24-25)

· Self-discipline and self-control (Galatians 5:23, Titus 1:8)

Q: Any questions on the meaning or process of sanctification?

What if the Sanctification Process Ends?

All true Christians should expect growth in sanctification during their lives. What if the process seems to end? If it ends what does that mean? Does it mean that we are no longer Christians? The root of these questions lies in the final question: can we really lose the blessing of our salvation?

The answer to that question is no. All who are truly Christians will be kept by God’s power and will persevere to the end of their lives as Christians. But how do we know if we are truly Christians? What if some fall away from any profession of faith and live a life of active rebellion against God? With respect to such cases we have to say that only those who persevere to the end are truly Christians. This two part teaching that all true Christians will persevere and only those who persevere are true Christians is sometimes referred to as the perseverance of the saints.

The Promise of Jesus

There is scriptural evidence that all true Christians will persevere. In John 6:38-40, Jesus says, ‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Here Jesus is saying that everyone who believe in him will have eternal life and that it is God’s will that he ‘lose nothing’ of all God has given him. A similar promise is made in John 10:27-29. In John 10:28 Jesus specifically says two things about his followers. First, “no one will snatch them out of my hand” and second “they will never perish”. All this together shows the promise that those whom Jesus gives eternal life will never lose it.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Another piece of evidence that God keeps Christians safe for eternity is in the seal that is placed upon us. This is the seal of the Holy Spirit within us. In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul writes, ‘In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The seal, or guarantee is God’s very presence, the Holy Spirit, present in every Christian.

The Promise in Perseverance

While those who are truly Christians will persevere to the end, only those who persevere to the end are truly Christians. Jesus, in John 8:31 says, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples’. So, one evidence of genuine faith is continuing to believe and obey what Jesus said.

Paul, in Colossians 1:22-23, writes ‘in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard’. The condition Paul puts on perseverance indicates that those who don’t truly believe will eventually fall away from the faith they claim to have.

Though the promise in perseverance is that those who continue in the faith are true Christians it does not mean they will live perfect lives. We may have deep struggle with sin at different points in our lives. If we are truly Christians we will fight against sin in repentance and faith. So the promise regarding perseverance gives a warning that those who fall away were never truly believers.

Assurance of Perseverance

Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 3:14, ‘if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end’. However if the only confidence we have of genuine faith is when we have persevered to the end that is little hope for today.

We can have real assurance of salvation from other factors. Eg: A present trust in Christ and his ongoing work in our lives as in John 3:16. If you have confidence in Christ’s work on you behalf, in his ability to take the penalty of your sin and that you will enter heaven based solely on his work and not your own then this is indicative of true faith.

Another evidence of assurance is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit on your life. 1 John 4:13, Romans 8:14 and Galatians 5:22-23. There should be some evidence of growth in these areas.

Additionally there should be evidence of continuing, present relationship with Jesus Christ.’ ‘Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked’, 1 John 2:4-6. A perfect life is not necessary but a general pattern of obedience to Christ’s commands will be evident in the true Christian.

So this ongoing work of Sanctification will be seen over a long period of time. ‘Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall’, 2 Peter 1:10. If there is a lack of these qualities, do not simply try to put more effort in, instead repent of their lack and ask God to give growth in these areas.

Persevering through the Process

So sanctification is a life long process. At times is will seem to be going very fast and at other times it can seem like there is no life in you at all. In the good times guard against pride and self righteousness. In the slow times you may doubt if you are even truly saved. Take confidence in Jesus’ words in John 6:40, ‘For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

A Brilliant Sermon on Worship by Mark Driscoll

I listened to this sermon during the week on my way to work and thought it brilliant teaching on what worship is! Listen and learn with an open heart. You can skip the first 8 Minutes as it relates to Mars Hill church information only. It is long, at about an hour, so take the time to hear some great teaching.