|Progressive Life of the Christian|
|Written by arkwriter|
|Tuesday, 11 August 2009 17:56|
Progressive Life of the Christian
There are three stages of the Children of Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The first stage is the deliverance from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. The second stage is God’s guidance by the pillars of cloud and fire in the wilderness. The third stage is the conquest and possession of the Promised Land.
The Bible reveals three important stages of the Christian’s spiritual journey from the deliverance of sin to living with the Lord Jesus Christ eternally in heaven. These three stages are justification, sanctification and glorification. The One True God is in complete control at every stage.
The word “justify” literally means "to become just" or "to become right." Justification is the process by which "a sinner" becomes "a just and righteous person" before God. The righteousness of God cannot be achieved by oneself; neither by doing good works nor keeping the law (Rom. 10:3; 4:1-5; 3:20, 28). The only way in which a person can be justified before God is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16). The righteousness of God is given by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood (Rom. 3:21-28). Belief in Christ is the Christian’s first step on the way to heaven.
The next step is repentance which not only means a change of one’s mind, heart or attitude, but more importantly, it is the complete turning from oneself to God. It demands an absolute surrender to the purposes of God and to live in this awareness. This radical turning to God is required of all people: The Lord Jesus Christ has this warning: “I tell you, no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:3) He also said: “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Lk. 15:7)
After having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance the person must receive water baptism. On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:36-39)
The Jews in Jerusalem were convinced of Peter’s message and believed that Jesus Christ is the only Lord and Savior. In order to be saved they not only had to repent of their sins but also be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:40-41)
Baptism is not just a religious ceremony or a testimony to others that the person has become a Christian. As Peter has pointed out very clearly, baptism is “for the remission of sins.” Peter preached: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43) The Lord Jesus Christ has declared: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk. 16:16) Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ is an important step for the progressive life of a Christian going to heaven.
Sanctification is the process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle for the Christian.
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5)
“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)
Water baptism is for the “remission of sins”, and baptism of the Holy Spirit helps the Christian to live a holy life. Christians are not justified “by works of righteous which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5)
“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13)
After the Creation, God had set apart a holy time for Himself and also for His people to worship Him. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Gen. 2:3) The Sabbath is the sign between God and His people that they may know He is the LORD who sanctifies them (Ex. 31:13). Keeping the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8-11).
The Ten Commandments were written by God Himself (Ex. 32:16). Every one of them must be kept (Jas. 2:8-11). Keeping the commandments is “the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13). The Lord Jesus Christ said that keeping the Ten Commandments will have eternal life (Mt. 19:16-19). The Ten Commandments is to love God and other people as we love ourselves (Mt. 22:36-40).
“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12)
“Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (NKJV Rev. 22:14)
God’s people are called “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2) By prayer and confession the Christian can still have the sins forgiven and be sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:8-10; Heb. 13:12).
Christians are sanctified by taking Holy Communion when they partake of the spiritual “flesh and blood" of Jesus Christ (Mt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 10:16-17). The Lord said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blook has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn. 6:53-54).
Out of deep respect for the Master Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet. “Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. . . He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.” (Jn. 13: 10-11) Washing of feet is for the sanctification of the Church “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Eph. 5:26)
Baptism places the Christian into the Church which is sanctified by the truth (1 Cor. 12:13; Jn. 17:19). The “church of the living God” is called “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
Sanctification is essential for every Christian who wants to go to heaven because God demands it.
“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:15-16)
“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:23)
Justification is the initial stage and sanctification is the intermediate stage of the Christian’s journey towards heaven. The final stage is glorification which can only be given by the Lord Jesus Christ who prayed to the Father: “And the glory which You gave Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as We are one.” (Jn. 17:22) Christians who unite in the Spirit with the heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and also with other Christians will experience some form of glorification here on earth.
“Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30)
The word “glorified” in the past tense means that Christians will be able to experience some form of glorification in this present life. The apostle Paul experienced glorification by identifying his life with the Lord Jesus Christ. He wrote: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
The One True God manifested Himself in the flesh as the Son so that Christians can be like Him.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29)
God’s ultimate goal is to make every Christian be like the Lord Jesus Christ at the Resurrection.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn. 3:2)
The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ. This process will only be completed when we see Him face to face (1 Cor. 13:12).
Although we still live on this earth but our “citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21) When Jesus comes again we shall have complete glorification of the body, soul and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23).
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 15:51-53)
The end of our call and election is glorification. Our call to be children of God is directed to a final conclusion, which is to live eternally with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. HalleluYah, Amen!
May God bless you
A sermon based on this article was preached by Paul Wong
to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on November 3, 2007
This article was published on this Website on August 11, 2009
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 19:55|