Wednesday, September 19, 2012

God works for the good

By Colleen Podmore

Introduction: The last few weeks I’ve been listening to teaching by Chuck Missler on Radio Rhema. He has been teaching through the book of Romans.

Today I would like to try and summarise some of that, to remind us of how great our salvation is. How much God has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us, if we don’t give up. I hope you will be encouraged as I have been. The writer of Hebrews says, ‘We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation’ Hebrews 2;1,3

Salvation: One of the first points chuck Missler makes is about the term ‘salvation’. It’s vague and the meaning has been lost. For example saved from what? People today do not have any concept of God, let alone a judgement day. In this sense salvation means nothing. You can be saved from the rain, saved from embarrassment. What do names like Salvation Army mean nowadays? Just nice people doing good works.

Justification: We can break salvation down into more specific terms. A much more specific term is justification, it’s a legal term. To justify means according to the dictionary: vindication, to prove the justice of, to excuse.

But to excuse from what? First we have to go back to the beginning and get the big picture.

God who is holy and cannot tolerate sin said to Adam, ‘Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on that day you will die’ Genesis 2:17.

God’s dilemma – if he is holy and righteous, how can he forgive sin and yet maintain his law. If he says, ‘Oh well, never mind’. He violates his own standards of justice – and we also have this strong sense of justice – if someone breaks the law they must be punished (unless it’s us of course). This is both a consequence and deterrence to breaking the law.

And Adam did die on that day. He died spiritually and was separated from relationship with God and eventually he died physically. And sin entered the world through one man and passed to all men (Romans 5:12).

Of course we know full well how God resolved the dilemma – it is the gospel of Jesus Christ – the Good news – ‘that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures... 1Cor 15:3,4

When we come to Christ, by faith, we are justified freely by what Christ did.

This occurred in the past for us –it happened once when we believed that Jesus died for our sins, that He took our place and received our punishment on the cross, so that we can go free. God justifies his pardon through the substitute of the life of Christ.

Today we will pray for people who haven’t made that step of faith, who maybe don’t really understand the gospel – pray that we or someone may be able to explain, people who don’t believe there is a God –pray their eyes will be opened to the wonders of Creation. Don’t just pray for salvation, break it down into steps, Christmas is coming ask God to open people’s eyes to the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of a Saviour.

A good analogy is to imagine you are in a court of law, you have been found guilty of a crime. You have broken the law – should you be allowed to go free without punishment – No!

But imagine if the judge comes down from the bench, takes of his robe and all his glory and pulls out his cheque book and writes out a cheque which actually takes every last cent that he has and hands it over and says to you, ‘You are free to go, I have paid the penalty for your crime’. The cashier takes the cheque, takes your debt and stamps it – Paid in full! Declared Righteous!

‘This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus, God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood”. (Romans 3:22-25).

But wait, there is more.....wouldn’t it be great if we got saved and then went to heaven?

Sanctification: We are saved from the penalty of sin, because Jesus died in our place.

So here we are, just accepted Christ, our passport is stamped, it’s our get out of hell free card, truly we are saved from judgement for our sins.

We are saved from the penalty of sin, past tense and we are also saved from the power of sin – present tense. We have our passport stamped but we still sin, but now it is a choice. And how do we escape the ‘power’ of sin?

This is where baptism comes into the equation. Baptism is often just associated with the act of being baptized but baptism also means ‘to identify with’. We are ‘baptized’ with Christ when we believe. We identify with Him in His death, burial and resurrection.

Paul says: ‘Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” Romans 6:3-4

We are saved from the power of sin because we have died to sin. I don’t know how God does it but somehow we have freedom from the power of sin. There are many terms to describe this supernatural transformation - we are ‘born again’, ‘raised to life’ ‘given new hearts’, ‘set free’. This is not just wishful thinking or the power of positive thinking – it is a new life, the old has gone, the new has come. Who the Son sets free will be free indeed! Amen.

Paul says ‘We are to count ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 6:11) this is a moment by moment reckoning and this is our daily struggle to desire to be holy, to put to death the misdeeds of the body. We have the power to overcome, to choose what is right.

Today we will pray for people who have succumbed to temptation and gone back to indulging the sinful nature, becoming ensnared again. Pray for repentance, godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2Cor 7:10). We have to pray for them that they will know it’s possible to overcome the power of sin, pray that they will desire righteousness, desire truth, desire God’s discipline, refresh their hearts, restore the fear of the Lord, turn away from the deeds of the flesh which so easily ensnare us. The two natures live together which one will we feed? The flesh or the Spirit?

Glorification: Hallelujah, salvation – saved from the penalty of sin which is justification saved from the power of sin, also called sanctification and saved from the presence of sin, known as glorification, a future event.

There is much more to our great salvation, we haven’t touched on the role of the Holy Spirit, the privilege of being Sons and heirs of God, our security in Christ, but hopefully this short revision will help us to pray earnestly today for men, those in the church, those in our families, our colleagues and friends.

Finally, let us draw strength and hope from these verses in Romans 8:28. Memorize them and use them every day.

“And we know That in all things God works for the good Of those who love him Who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) NIV

Every day, God brings situations that ask the question –‘Do you trust me?”

And we know, that in all things, God works together for good, to those who love God and have been called according to his purpose!