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Monday, March 3, 2014

God's Mission Is that We Become the Image of His Son

1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV)
15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

It is an affront to God to say that you are only a sinner. No, I am not saying that you are sinless. I am saying that we are not sinners who will never be changed. In fact, we should be changing every day.

There are so many people who call themselves Christians who act like they are condemned to remain just as they are now. They go about their lives without much thought of what they are becoming or where they are going. They live in a fatalism in which they believe their actions will have no effect on their lives. They are like the people who refuse to vote because they say that their vote really won't matter. They do not realize that each vote counts for the total. They do not realize that each day counts for the total of life.

There are too many scripture which prod us on to being like Jesus. There are too many times that God proves His belief that we can become more than we ever could without Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The old has passed away. There is something new that happens in the person who believes in Christ. He is made into a new creation. He isn 't merely improved but changed immeasurably from the inside out. This creation has the ability to hear and speak to God. This creation is placed in God's hands to do remarkable things. This creation has become something that it could never have become on its own.

In other words, we are different when we trust in Christ. We may believe that we are like the old person we once were but that is a lie told to us to keep us from becoming what we really are.

Romans 8:29 (ESV)
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

God does not leave us alone to figure this out. He purposes to make us into the image of His Son. That is a radical change from the person we were or would have been if we never trusted in Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are God's workmanship. He is like a master sculptor  who is making a grand statue of His Son. We are that raw material that God uses to make this image. God uses the good works He prepared for us before the beginning of time to change us into the likeness of His Son. We are changed because we walk with Him. We walk with Him when we walk in His will. We walk in His will when we do those works.

So, if God has made us into a new creation, if He has predestined those He foreknew to know Him to be conformed to the image of His Son and if He has placed good works before us to do which will cause that change in us and we don't do those works, who is responsible? Who is responsible for us never changing?

One last thing: God never quits either.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.


Anthony Chia said...

Preamble: Ps Prentis, please pardon me, that this turns out to be so long. I think it will also go as an article on my blog.

I mentioned in one of my earlier comments that I have avoided using the word sanctification because some Christian factions used that same word, but gave it very different meaning; today I will use it.

Salvation is to be understood as comprising Justification and Sanctification. You get justified at the time that you enter into Salvation (or get converted or said the Sinner’s Prayer). What that means is that you are forgiven of all your past sins, including the Original Sin. John 3:16 said that God so loved us that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so that we may have eternal life.

The Gospel is God’s love for men. He loved you and He acted by giving His Son to die for us. Why His Son had to do that, die for us, essentially explains what Justification is all about. Scripture said the penalty for sin is death. In other word, a sinful man is already on a death-row; and he cannot say, “I will die for another; say, spare Anthony, I will die in his place”. He cannot, because he, himself, is supposed to die, anyway, being on the death-row. Everyone is a sinful man. Why? Because everyone has “inherited” the Original Sin, and so, everyone is born sinful, and so, none can pay for the penalty of sin, for another. Only a sinless life can do that, using his life to pay for another, so that, that another, can be free. Jesus Christ being the Son of God in Heaven was sinless, and He was holy, for God and the Godhead is holy. No one can say God have NOT loved him; God has loved him, for God had given, and the Son, Jesus, had agreed, to come to die to atone for the sins of him; and we know Jesus did come and did die crucified, for the Salvation of men.

God has loved; He sent His Son. The Gospel is a love story. Now, you have loved Him back when you came into salvation. Your entry into salvation was the very first act of love on your part; you have loved Him back, by obeying God, to receive the Justification. Here is NOT the place to elaborate more, but the kinda of love of God is love unto righteousness. And so, the very first thing God did, to have you and I able to come into the love story, loving, was to have us justified. When you are justified, you are once again righteous. Men were created righteous, but men became unrighteous, because of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. When you were unrighteous, you could NOT love God rightly, and you really could NOT do any works, pleasing God (short of Him still counting righteousness to you, despite you NOT meeting up to the righteousness and holiness of God. The concept of God counting righteousness to people was found in the OT, because the people then had NOT, the kind of justification that we are now [since Christ’s death and resurrection] having). That was why, generally speaking, it would be as Isaiah put it down, that all the works of the people were as filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6).

I, however, discourage believers, especially, pastors and leaders, from hitting their congregation with such harsh words as “ALL their works or deeds are as filthy rags”. No, with Justification by Christ Jesus, it is NOT necessarily that ALL the works of a believer is as filthy rag to God. It is however right to highlight that if we get ourselves into all kinds of sins and bondages, our works may NOT please God; for one thing, our motive of works could be no longer pure. For one thing, God wants you and I to work on our problem with sins and bondages, even as we serve. If we ignore our sinful condition, he is NOT pleased. It is NOT that you and I cannot serve at all. God NEVER expects perfect ones, or He will have no one to serve or to do the works. God is after the heart-condition of a believer. But please, you cannot argue “my heart-condition is alright with God”, when you want NOT at all, to be of good works, and want NOT to resist sins and the Devil.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

Is that all, just Justification will do? After Justification, can I just ignore God, and then when the time comes, God comes to bring me to Heaven to live with Him (the people without Justification, they can go to Hell)? No, you can’t. You and I cannot ignore the Sanctification portion. Before the Heaven, there is the Sanctification portion, and that is the Salvation Journey, or what Isaiah called it as Way or Highway of Holiness, which we have to journey on (Isaiah 35:8-10; this, a dual context prophecy). Yes, when you were justified, you entered into the Kingdom of God, but that phase of the Kingdom is the earthly phrase. Sanctification is the will of God for believers. 1 Th 4:3a – “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified”.

Sanctification is about this earthly phase of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God has invaded the world, and when you were justified, you became part of the contingent living out and perpetuating the Kingdom here, in the world. The Greek word for sanctification is G38 – hagiasmos. G38 is often translated as holiness (Rom 6:22 [KJV], 1 Th 4:7 [KJV], Heb 12:14 [KJV]). The word, saint, comes from the Greek word, hagios - G40. When a sinner enters into salvation and is justified, he is called a saint; and a saint is to undergo sanctification. If one does NOT want to be sanctified, he has to ask himself if effectively he is wanting to be back as a sinner.

You and I were from the world (fallen world) and therefore, were once sinners; and there are 2 things upon our justification that we are committed to do: 1) We to go through the sanctification process before we are ready to go the motherland, Heaven, to live with God. The world is NOT the motherland, it is a “conquered land”, and we are the army of God in this conquered land. 2) We as active soldiers of the Kingdom are to expand, and as well as citizens of the Kingdom by our living, to influence others to embrace, the rulership of our God. No physical violence, however. In this respect, we have to understand that just like one country conquered another country, the conquered country is NOT fully “kingdomised” until all the people accept and embrace the laws and prescription from the Victor King.

Both the items above are proceeded by God in parallel, meaning at the same time. We are being sanctified and we are to be engaged in the “kingdomization”. So, in sanctification, we are being prepared for going to the motherland, Heaven, to live with God, and at the same time, serving God engaging in good works, in Kingdom expansion in the world. So, sanctification is about being made holy, and sanctification is about being set apart in service for God.

Many preachers argue that sanctification is by God. I am NOT saying it is NOT, yet it is when we are in step with God (that means we have to follow and so, obey), operating within His will and desires, that we can be sanctified, by God. It is NOT that there is no part on the part of men, being all God’s part. The correct perspective is given us in Phil 2:12-13.

Phil 2:12-13 - 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

It is clear from this Philippians text that we have to work out our salvation; and it is also clear that we are to work with God, for it is God who, through His Holy Spirit, works in us to will and act in such a way or in things, that will go towards fulfilling His good purpose (the use of conjunctive “for” was meant to what came after it, to the fear and trembling; the notion is that wow, God [The God] wanting to carry out His purpose through you, and therefore it expressed the truth of it is God making initiations in us to will and act to bring about good to us and to others). Eph 2:8-10 stated that we are saved by grace for good works.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

How are we being sanctified? In brief, it is when we living according God’s ways as prescribed by the Word and being led by the Holy Spirit. The ways of God include both the prohibitive prescription/commands as well as directive prescription/commands. One may NOT see the prohibitive commands as leading to good works, but they collectively do works for our sanctification. By that, I mean, we are, for example, asked NOT to lie; NOT to lie may NOT be seen as a good works, but in abstaining from it, we are learning to live righteously and it works towards our holiness. Prohibitive prescription/commands generally go towards “to righteousness unto holiness”, like it is being used in this text (Romans 6:19):

Amplified Bible - 19 I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification.
KJV - 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Directive commands generally go towards good works, and when we work with God on them, we produce fruit unto holiness. Romans 6:22 (KJV) reads “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

In Scripture, there are actually 2 classes of fruit, NOT one, as is wrongly understood and preached by some preachers (especially the overly grace ones, for they shunned works); there is the fruit of the Spirit which we are to develop, and these are given us in Gal 5; and there is the fruit from our good works. Sanctification should result in both, but you and I have to work with God. But why; why NOT God just zap us holy?

It is because you and I are still with our volition. God does NOT remove our volition even after we have entered into salvation and are justified and technically speaking, we belong to God; Scripture said God has bought us already with the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. So, why NOT the removal of our volition so that we cannot but obey Him, cannot but obey all commands, prohibitive or directive prescriptions and all? It is because if God does that, we will NOT be capable of true love towards God. Is it NOT true, when you have no choice, there can be no love to talk about. Those who truly know love, understand that first of all, love is a choice (and it is a commitment). You and I have made that choice, to love God, at our entry into salvation (if you still have NOT realised that, today, realise this, and today, ratify this choice, that you are committed to love God). We have to continue to love Him, even as we would like Him to continue to love us and so, we have to continue to choose to be sanctified. But why? Because we are loving God in sanctification, for prime moulding “tool” in sanctification is obedience. Truth is NEVER passé; “The ones who love me, obey my commands (John 14:15), and the ones who obey me, are the ones who love me (John 14:21a)”. What God wants is NOT just you have loved Him (have entered into Salvation), what God wants include you continue to love Him. Wanting to continue to love God is wanting Sanctification, and wanting Sanctification is wanting to continue to love God, for Sanctification prepares us to go to live with Him, eventually, in Heaven. Imagine with me, remembering that the Gospel is a love story, is this right?: Say, “I love you” and kiss, and then go into the “no music no sound” mode, and still hope to wed successfully and live happily ever-after, in the forever blissed place. Another way of looking at it: I say, she is a mermaid, you are man, you must learn how to swim. God is holy, you and I got to acquire holiness.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

I will say as I often said of, 1 Pet 1:15-16, the text is NOT directed at God Himself, but at us; it is that we are called to be holy.

Amplified Bible - 15 But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. 16 For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.

We are being called to be holy IN OUR CONDUCT AND MANNER OF LIVING. It really isn’t referring to imputed righteousness or holiness. It is about how we live. Is there a part on the part of men? Of course. If there isn’t, and that would mean it is all God’s part, and that would mean God is saying a thing that is superfluous (God telling Himself what He is to do!). We have a part, and that part is that we have to work with God to be sanctified, so that we grow in holiness.

Heb 12:14 Amplified Bible - Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. Don’t you love God, and so, want to see God? Don’t you think going Heaven will lead to you seeing God? Therefore, don’t you think you need to work on your holiness, with God, so that as Romans 6:22 (quoted above) said, “the end everlasting life”?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions