Posts Tagged ‘redemption’

God’s Purpose in Redemption

August 2nd, 2017

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 5:5 NIV)

The phrase “made us” refers not to the original creation of God but to His work of redemption. Katergazomai in the original Greek, it means to accomplish, to achieve, to work out, or, by implication, to make one thing fit for another. Paul used it earlier in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” So in a similar way the work of redemption is achieving for us eternal life.

The gift of the Spirit in the life of a Christian brings new life, hope, transformation, the capacity for intimacy with God, and the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. We may think that these things are purpose enough in and of themselves. But here Paul teaches us that they are merely as deposits guaranteeing that eternity for the Christian will be much greater and grander.

In this day and age we make a great deal of the Christian life, and there is much good in this. We do not wait until heaven to receive the blessings of salvation. But let us not be confused – the blessings of heaven will be infinitely greater than what we receive here. It will be glory and understanding unequaled in this life. In his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul wrote:

For now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfection comes, the imperfect disappears … Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor. 13:9,12)

There is much thought assumed in this chapter of 2 Corinthians that is taught elsewhere in scripture. It is taught that only in Christ do we come to God and to salvation (John 14:6), that only through the cross of Christ are our sins paid for (Rom. 4:25), and that the cross has become not only the means of our eternal salvation, but the model and example of how we are to live the Christian life today. We are to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross and follow after Christ (Luke 9:23).

The new life and the eternity that God brings us into is not merely one thing added on top of other elements of our thoughts and values. Rather it is entirely new and of God, and none of it is from us. God in the redemption fashions us fit for a new type of life and the old life must go, the old thoughts must go, and old ways of living must go. _We shall not enter into eternity bringing little tokens of our self righteousness as proofs that we deserve to be there. It shall all be by grace. And we are not to live today with the thoughts that these little tokens of self-righteousness or self-achievements earn for us anything from God. A.W. Tozer wrote:

The witness of the saints has been in full harmony with prophet and apostle, that an inward principle of self lies at the source of human conduct, turning everything men do into evil. To save us completely Christ must reverse the bent of our nature; He must plant a new principle within us so that our subsequent conduct will spring out of a desire to promote the honor of God and the good of our fellow men. The old self-sins must die, and the only instrument by which they can be slain is the Cross. “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” said our Lord, and years later the victorious Paul could say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

Roy Hession in his classic, Calvary Road, wrote:

If, however, we are to come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we must learn is that our wills must be broken to His will. To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, humiliating, but it is the only way. It is being “Not I, but Christ” (Gal 2:20), and a “C” is a bent “I.” The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory – that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.

If you will permit me to speak this way, it is as if our choice at death is to remain in the stinking decay of the grave or to rise in Christ Jesus to life eternal in a glorified body with a new eternal reality. And it is our choice in life to either remain in the stinking decay of our lusts and pride, of our silly ego trips and meaningless self desires, or to die to sin and self and to live in Christ.

If the Christian life today will make sense, it will be spent and invested in putting aside our own wills and letting Christ have His way fully in our lives. And this is the blessed life!

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The Uniqueness of Christ

June 15th, 2017

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Cor. 1:18-20 ESV)

Here is a jewel of scriptural insight, a principle that should guide us to understand the Scripture more fully. The entire Bible points toward Christ – either in prophecy and in examples or “types” in the Old Testament or in retrospect, experience, and anticipation in the New Testament. He is the essential Person of our redemption and of our life, and the main character of the book. He is the One through whom God works in our lives today.

The unity of the Bible: There are some who view the Bible as a collection of the random thoughts of lesser deities, superstitious tidbits for reflection of varying levels of inspiration or usefulness. But here is proclaimed a principle that clearly refutes that: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” Everything that God did in the Old Testament pointed to Christ – “These testify of me” said Christ of the Old Testament (John 5:39).

Christ said that He was the “Truth” (John 14:6), not that He spoke the truth but that He was in His very nature Truth itself.

The singleness of the work of God: God has only one work of redemption. It is multi-faceted in its outworking, properly called the “manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10), but the Redeemer is One and only One. All the promises of God are channeled into our lives through Christ, and through our faith in Him. God has sent only one Savior. He establishes only one Church – the Church Invisible comprised of all true believers in Christ. And though there are redeemed through the ages who were people of faith before the gospel of Christ was preached, even their salvation is mediated by Christ.

The ‘Amen’ is in Him as well: The word “Amen” meant the affirmation of the promises of God, and, for Christ, the acceptance of His role in the Father’s plan for salvation. There is solemnness in this fact. Christ called Himself “the Amen” (Rev. 3:14), meaning that He has taken on the responsibility of our redemption. It does not say that he said “Amen” to the plans of God, as though He merely agreed to them. It says He was the Amen, meaning that He Himself worked his salvation.

Looking at the sin of the world, God’s heart was burdened.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing… (Isaiah 59:15-17 ESV, See also Isaiah 63:5)

Fullness of Redemption Is in Christ! And here is, I believe, Paul’s main point he was making to the Corinthians – that because Christ is the Amen, because all of the promises of God are fulfilled in Him, this means that Christ offers full redemption. Every believer should be thrilled with this truth! All sin is forgiven in Him. Every soul, no matter how affected we may be from sin, can find full redemption in Christ. We have fullness in Him not only of life after death but of life in the Spirit today.

The secret of living abundantly and joyfully is knowing Christ, trusting Him, submitting to Him, worshiping Him, following Him. The Phillips Translation says it this way:

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom Silvanus, Timothy and I have preached to you, is himself no doubtful quantity, he is the divine “yes”. Every promise of God finds its affirmative in him, and through him can be said the final amen, to the glory of God.

We are helped in our understanding and spiritual growth by godly teachers of the Bible, but the basic experience of the believer is with Christ, and not with any other teacher. Simply taking His Word and listening to Him speak to our hearts, and meditating on its truth, and speaking to Him, opens for us the very doors of heaven. And God delights to bless people who trust in Christ with joy, wisdom, and abundance of life.

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