Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Death of Christ and What It Accomplished (Part Three)

We have seen that when Christ gave His life for us He became our substitute. But the next thing we need to see concerning our salvation is that sin has ensnared us into bondage and that we are completely unable to free ourselves from it's slavery. We need to be set free. The process of this liberation is called Our Redemption in scripture.

In the Old Testament we have many beautiful pictures and types of this work of redemption.In fact this term is used over 130 times in the Old Testament. Throughout the book of Exodus for example, we see the people of God in bondage to Egypt. We hear the LORD saying, "I will redeem you with a out stretched arm and with great judgments" (Exodus 6:6). Then having been set free they sang, "You in Your mercy have led forth Your people which you have redeemed" (Exodus 15:13). This is a wonderful type of the redemptive work of Christ. A great illustration of redemption is found in the story of Ruth. Boaz redeemed Elimlelech's inheritance by payment, and this involved the raising up of the name of the dead by taking Ruth as his wife. Boaz redeemed both Ruth and the inheritance.

Turning to the New Testament the doctrine of redemption is built on three words. The first is a simple word which means "to buy, purchase or pay the price for something." It is used for instance, with this ordinary, everyday meaning in the parable of the treasure hid in a field which motivated the man to buy (redeem) the field (Matthew 13:44). In connection to our salvation the word means to pay the price which sin demanded so that we could be redeemed. We see in Revelation 5:9 the Lamb is worship because it was His blood that has redeemed us to God. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are reminded that "you were bought (redeemed) at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which our God's."

The second word is the same basic word with a preposition added as a prefixed, intensifying the meaning. This makes the word have the thought of "buying out of." So the second word often used in the New Testament reminds us that Christ's death not only paid the price for sin but also removed us from the marketplace of sin in order to give us full assurance that we will never be returned tot he bondage and penalties of sin. This truth is elaborated on in the book of Galatians. There Paul informs us that Christ death was to "redeem those that were under the law" Galatians (4:5). He also says that "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). He paid the price on our behalf. We were "in bondage under the elements (principles) of the world" (4:3). This second usage of the word for redemption reminds us that Believer's our brought into a new position in Christ in relation to the law and this world.

The third word that is often used for redemption means to "loose" or "to set free by paying a price." The means of this release is through the substitution Christ made. This is what Paul declared when he wrote, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man the Man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The foundation or basis of our redemption is the blood of Christ. Hebrews 9:12 reminds us that we have obtained eternal redemption through His blood being shed. Peter declares, "that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19).

I would like to close by reminding us that in the New Testament there are so many more passages that speak of our redemption (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14). But there is just one more side of this work of redemption. While we enjoy the result of being redeem now, it is good to see that there is a redemption that lies in the future (Ephesians 1:14, 4:30, Romans 8:23). But until that day, Christ death and our redemption ought to have an moral affect on the way we live here. Paul challenges us to remember "Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14).

The Death of Christ and What It Accomplished (Part Two)

Salvation was in the mind of God in eternity past and the method of that salvation is in the person and work of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. I would like to focus on some of the things that were accomplished through the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

He was the substitution for sin. By this we mean that the Lord Jesus Christ died in the place of sinners. The actual word substitution is not in the Bible, yet the teaching is both in the Old Testament and the New. For example, when Abraham was told to offer up his son Issac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, there was a last-minute substitution when his attention was drawn to a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. We read that he "offered it up as a burnt offering in stead of his son." The first question we might ask regarding the teaching of substitution is why do we need a substitute? The Bible makes it very clear that "all have sin and come short of the glory of God" and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We must be honest with ourselves and accept that these statements apply to every one of us. But the Bible does provide a way of escape for any who accept it. 

The Lord Jesus referred to this in the gospel when He declared that "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45).What He was teaching us was that His death was to be the payment in the place of many. In Hebrews 9:27-28 we read "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement, so Christ was offered to bear the sins of many." In the New Testament this idea of substitute carries with it the thought of "in the place of" and "for the benefit of." This is found in both 2 Corinthians 5:21 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" and in 1 Peter 3:18 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, and being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit."

In order for Him to be our substitute, three things had to happen. He had to be available, qualified and willing. We see a beautiful picture of all three of these in Matthew 8:1-4, when a man with leprosy came to the Lord Jesus. The had come down from the mountain, He made Himself available. The man believe that Jesus was both qualified and able to heal him, but his question was, "Lord if you are willing, You can make me clean. Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." 

When the question came "whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" The Lord Jesus would say I am available, "Here am I Send Me?" He was the spotless, sinless Son of God who was qualified to be the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Paul reminds us that He was willing because He was "the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Oh that we might appreciate in a fresh way that the Lord Jesus was our substitute and that we might be able to say with the hymn writer:

O Christ what burdens bowed Thy head!
Our load was laid on Thee;
Thou stoodest in the sinners' stead,
Didst bear all ill for me.
A Victim led. Thy blood was shed!
Now there's no load for me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salvation (Part One): It was God's Idea

The Psalmist declared that "Salvation belongs to the LORD" in Psalm 3:8. We also read in Psalm 68:20 that "God is the God of Salvation" That is why the Bible describes it as a "great salvation" in Hebrews 2:3. It is from the Lord, thought of by the Lord and executed by the Lord! Salvation is one of those subjects in the Word of God that on one hand is so simple and on the other it is so complex. Most of us know the simplicity of the John 3:16 or Paul's response to the Philippian jailer who asked "Sirs what must I do to be saved (Acts 16:31)? But on the other hand, when we start to ponder the meaning and result of salvation we find that there are many facets to it.

The first thing that should warm our hearts about this wonderful subject of Salvation is that it was God God's idea, meaning that He not only initiated it but had thought of it in eternity past, before the foundation of the world. The Bible calls this principle Election and Predestination. The main passages that speak of this in the New Testament are Ephesian 1:3-14, Romans 8:28-30, 9:6-24, John 6: 44, Acts 13:48, 1 Peter 1:2, 2:8 and Revelation 17:8. these passages deal with the questions of our rights verses God's right to elect. To say that this is a complicated subject is to put it mildly. But I would like to emphasize three simple points that we can see from these passages:

1. There is a people who have been chosen before the foundation of the world. We can not deny this teaching. It does not mean that He purposed others to hell. We can not find that idea anywhere in the Bible. But what we do find is that a loving God provided a way for us to return to Him At the time of our return we may think it was our own idea to return to Him, but once we do we fine it was His idea in the first place. 

2. There is a procedure which brings salvation to us. We read in 1 Peter 1:18-21 of the Lamb that was foreordained before the foundation of the world. It is faith in God's perfect spotless Lamb that brings about the realization of this salvation. Election does not relieve mankind from responsibility. We must repent (turn back to God) and trust in His only way of salvation for us. 

3. There is a product of Election which is a people who no longer live for themselves but for Him who sought us, and bought us with the blood of the lamb and then brought us to this privileged place to be called His own (Ephesian 2:10). 

So very first thing to see about wonderful subject of salvation is that it was God's idea before time even began. He planned it, He provided it and He even produces within each of us who accept His free give of salvation the faith to accept it (Ephesians 2:8-9). No wonder it is called a "great salvation."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Digger a little Deeper into Sanctification Bible Study

Personal Challenges to Practicing a Life Set Apart to God

  1. Read Leviticus 20:7 and 2 Timothy 2:20-21. What are we challenge to do? How doe sthis apply to you? Are there any area of your life that you might need clean up that might be hinder you from being a vessel fit for the Master use?

  1. The Bible says, Now that you have cnsecrated yourself to the Lord, come near..." (2 Chronicles 29:31). The cross of Christ is the doorway to experiencing the presence of God. How does Luke 14:27 go along with this idea and how is it connected to being set apart for God?

  1. What does 2 Corinthians 4:10 mean to you and how are you going to put it into practice?

  1. Look again at 2 Chronicles 29:31. Do you think drawing near to God affects your consecration to Him?

  1. What does James 4:8 challenge you to do? What happens when you draw near to God?Are there areas of your life that you need to "wash your hands" before you draw near to Him?

Living for the Lord: Heart, Mind and Body Bible Study

What does Sanctification Mean?

  1. Discuss together what you think Sanctifcation means.

  1. What does Leviticus 11:44 say about God? How does 1 Peter 1:14-16 connect that to us?

  1. What do we learn from Exodus 19:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:9-10?

  1. Read the following verses from Hebrews (10:10, 2:11, 10:14). What do they teach us?

  1. 1 Corinthians was written to a group of Christians that had alot of problems, yet what does the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul call them (1 Corinthians 1:2)? What does this mean?

We have learned so far that while Christians are not perfect, they are positionally set apart for God. Here are some other verses where we see the term saints used (Romans 1:7, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2.

How do we Practice Sanctification?

  1. Before you became a Christian who did you live for ( 2 Corinthians 5:15)? Because of Christ death and resurrection, who are you now set apart for?

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. What were some of them like before they were set apart for God? What made the difference? How were they set apart (notice here sanctification is past tense as in Hebrews 10:10)?

Sancitfication is a past and present reality. Those who have been justified have also been sanctified by Christ and sanctify (or consecrate) themselves to Christ.

  1. According to John 17:17-19, how are we sanctified? Who is our perfect example as we are sent into the world?

  1. Why did Jesus set Himself apart? What did He set Himself apart to do? Did Jesus sin? Was He tempted? (Can you back your thoughts up with scriptures)?

  1. How do we keep from gratifying the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17)?

  1. Looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, how much should we be sanctified? What three parts of us must be set apart for God?

  2. What should we make every effort to do (Hebrews 12:14)?

  1. How do we begin to live a life set apart for God?
    a. Romans 12:1-2 ___________________________________________________________
    b. Colossians 3:5-12 What we to put to death and what are we to put on?

Living for the Lord: Heart, Mind and Body (Part 2)

What is Sanctification?
Since every part of us is to be sanctified, it is important for us to understand what sanctification is. Sanctification means to "separate" or "set apart." In the Bible sanctification generally relates to a sovereign act of God where He "sets apart" a person, place or thing in order that His purposes may be accomplished. When a person is sanctified he or she is being set apart by God for a specific divine purpose. The very moment we are saved in Christ we are also immediately sanctified and begin the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. As a child of God we are set apart from that moment to carry out His divine purposes. This is often called "positional sanctification". But let's back up a bit a ask a question, "Why do we need to be sanctifified in the first place?"

Our Need for Sanctification
Let's look at Leviticus 11:44, "For I am the LORD your God, You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves..." Peter picks up on this in 1 Peter 1:14-16 and reminds us that the God who called us into His grace is Holy and we ought to be holy as well.

Our Means of Sanctification
Sanctification, like all of God's promises and gifts flow through and from the work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. Our holiness was purchased by His blood. As a result of that finished work, holiness comes through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Thessaloniains 2:13). Through Christ, we are made to be what we are declared to be at conversion. When we were declared righteous by God (justified), we were also positionally sanctified. They are not the same thing but they are tied together! Look at Hebrews 10:10, "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all."

Three Types of Sanctification
The Bible talks about three types of sanctifiction: First, there is what we call positional sanctification (Heb. 10:10). This is something that God has done through the finished work of Christ, no matter what our growth or where we are at in our Christian life. Look at those at Corinth for example, they are called saints in 1 Corinthians 1:2 and set apart for God (1 Corinthians 6:11), yet they had all sorts of sins among them and they were carnal (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). The Bible also teaches practical or progressive sanctifiction, which is us daily dealing with our sins and growing in holiness as 2 Cor. 7:1 challenges us to "let us cleanse our selve from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecing in holiness in the fear of God." Paul mentions this again in 2 Timothy 2:22 when he exhorts us to be a vessel fit for the masters use, "a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Mastr, prepared for every good work." Lastly the Word of God informs us that there is such a thing as perfect or complete sanctifcation. But this will only happen when Christ returns and we see Him as He is and we will be like Him (1 John 3:1-2).

How Do We Sanctify Ourselves Practically?
First off, we must remind oursselves that we can not do it, we have no strength or ability in orselves. But Galations 5:16-17 has the secret, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so you are not to do whatever you want." So the first key is that I can not rely on myself. I must allow the Spirit of God to work in my life. How? That brings us to the second key.

The second key is that I must remember what the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17: 17-19, "Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly santified." We not only have a Savior who was and is set apart for God, but we also have the truth, the word of God which is able to set us apart for Him as well!

The third key to living a life set apart for God is to make every effort to set myself apart. Romans 12:2 beseeches me to offer myself as a living sacrifices for God. According to Hebrews 12:14 I should be making every effort in my life to pursue a holiness, a life set apart for God.

As I am in the Word and allow the Spirit of God to speaking to me, He begins to challenge me in certain areas of my life. He reminds me that there are certain things to put to death and certain things to put off out of my life as Colossians 3:5-14 instructs us to "Put to death your members which are on the earth fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry..put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.." Now there are also things to put on, "tender merices, kindness, humility, meekness longsuffering, bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But put on love, which is the bond of perfect."

I would like to close our thoughts on sanctification with some verse out of James 4:4-10. We can not live a life that is set apart for the Lord if we are entangled with this world. The Lord is looking for our hearts to be humbled and surrendered over to Him. We can ask ourselves, Is there any area where I need to clean up my life, have i been doubled minded in any area of my life? "Is there any thing the would keep me from living for the Lord: Heart, Mind and body or we can say spirit, soul and body? 

Living for the Lord: Heart, Mind and Body (Part 1)

1 Thessalonians 5:23
As Paul closes his first letter to the Christians at Thessalonica he prays for their sanctification. Notice the source of their sanctification is the God of Peace. The scope takes in every part of their being ("completely"). He is not praying that sin the sin nature be eradicated out them, but that every part of them spirit, soul and body be set apart for God.

We are made in the image of God. He is a triune being, and so are we. Scripture teaches God to be God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Scripture also teaches that we are made up of three part and God desire every part of us to be set apart for His pruposes and for His glory. Let me briefly touch on these three parts as they are given for us here.

Our spirit is that part of us which enables us to have communion with God. It is the part of us that allows us to understand and reason. Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.." We might say then that our spirit is our God awareness or that which cause us to have a consciousness toward God. This would relate to our spiritual life affecting our worship and our prayer life.

Our soul has to do with our emotions, desires, affections, and propensities. The word for soul here is where we get our word "phycic." It has to do more with our self consciousness. The Lord uses this same word in John 12:27 when He said, "My soul is troubled, and what shall I say Father save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour."

Our body is the house in which our person dwells in, "our earthly house" as 2 Corinthians 5:1 reminds us. This we might say has more to do with our earth consciousness.

All three words our used of the Lord Jesus:
On the cross He cried, "Father into your hands I commend My spirit!" Luke 23:46
In Gethsemane He declared, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death" Mark 14:34
Propectically it is written of Him, "A body you have prepared for Me" Hebrews 10:5

The Lord desires that all three areas of our lives, spirit soul and body be sanctified, preserved and blameless when the Lord returns. Meaning that in every area we are to be set apart for God, preserved by Him and blameless before men, that we don't given anyone any leitimate grounds to make accusations against us. Let's break it down this way. Connected to :

Our spirit God desires for us to be set apart from anything that would defile us as 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." In order that nothing would derail the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our lives in connection to our relationship with God as His children (Romans 8:16). So that nothing would hinder or prevent our worship because God is seeking worshippers and those that "worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24).

Our soul which is the seat of our emotions, should be set apart from evil thoughts "But those things which proceed out of a man's mouth come from the heart and defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Thes are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:18-19). We are to abstain from fleshly appetites that would war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).

Our body is also to be keep from defilement and evil uses (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Romans 6:19).