Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Doctrines of Justification and Sanctification

As David Platt explains it, "Justification is the gracious act of God by which He declares a sinner righteous only through faith in Jesus." However, sanctification is:"Sanctification is the process by which God transforms our lives into the image of Christ." The difference:"Justification is an instantaneous event; sanctification is a gradual process.

Justification is a one time event, not a process. Sanctification on the other hand is a process of pursuing holiness and becoming more like Christ. Of course we will sin because we are human. Yet, I believe it is only natural after being born again that we desire to be more like Christ.

I believe it is possible for a Christian to fall away, yet not possible to lose their salvation. When saved, always saved. The way I see it, if one is a believer and he or she falls away then God will bring him back to Him. If one never ever desires to pursue holiness and be like Christ, quite bluntly I wonder if they were ever converted in the first place.

"Is sanctification permanent?" Yes, from the moment Christ saves someone, sanctification is a process. It will not be made complete in this world. (1 John 1:8-10) (Romans 7:18-19) The great paradox is that although we have a sinful nature, we should strive to become more and more like Christ. Sanctification is running towards holiness and saying, "Because Christ died for me, I want to be more like Him! I want to behold His glory!" It's a way of life that demonstrates though none go with me, I still will follow!! It's not a drudgery of avoiding sins because it makes one more righteous. No, it's a transformation that God does, just like in justification. (1 Thess. 4:3-7) Our righteousness is as filthy rags to God. It is only by His grace alone, we can behold His glory and be conformed to the image of Him.
Here's a quote from John Murray on sanctification: Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it......Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God's holiness?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Walking in the Light

Imagine that utter darkness is all around you except for the candle burning brightly, providing light for all to see. The darkness doesn't overpower the light. Rather it intensifies the brightness. In our lives, why does the darkness overpower the light? Shouldn't we allow our light to burn brightly? Sometimes, we experience a melting candle flame.

My candle was burning brightly, but slowly when the winds came, the flame dimmed somewhat. Slowly, it lost its brightness and eventually only a small flicker remained. I tried to carry my candle with me to church and places where I was comfortable doing so. Yet, when I succumb to the world's enticing, I would hide my candle. This form of molding into the world started out as subtle as gossiping, selfishness, and materialism. Satan was attacking me right and left with His lies and doubt. I didn’t realize how I spent less and less time truly knowing and spending time with my Savior. As days flew by, I would continue to leave my candle hidden away; it became safer and easier to not take it out anymore.

The candle wax dripped slowly and steadily on the carpet, unbeknownst to me. The darkness seemed to be reaching out to swallow me up, but the world didn't seem to care about my dilemma. Rather, it seemed to have its grip on me and I felt as if I couldn't turn around. When I discovered the effects of my melting candle flame, I imagined it was too late to burn my flame brightly anymore.

So, I decided to never take my candle out again. I closed my eyes to what effect this would have on others or on the inner sanctuary of my heart. The wax continued to drip off the candle until only half of the candle remained. It only served as a reminder of the darkness that engulfed me. The flame was slowly dying and I could no longer see anything but shadows.

Ephesians 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

I fell on my knees sobbing in the darkness. Why did I ever stop shining my light for Christ? When did I allow the world to dim my candle? Through tear stained eyes I looked up to see a shadow of someone picking up the remains of my candle. He set it in the middle of the house and began picking up the remnants of the melted wax. I heard him whisper, “My child, I am the light of the world. He who follows me will never walk in darkness. I love you." As he spoke these truths to me, the room filled with light and the darkness quickly left. The shadows no longer loomed and my candle was no longer dim, but it was shining brightly. Oh, what a renewed passion I had for Christ!

I hurriedly wiped my tears away, but I couldn't keep the tears of joy from flooding down my face. The darkness had escaped. All I could see was light. It overwhelmed me that I could shine my light to this dark world. I walked boldly everywhere I went, holding my candle high. Its flame was beautiful, burning brightly for all to see. As the rain fell strongly upon it and the winds howled around me, it did not dim the flame. My light shone boldly because of Jesus Christ. He helped me resist the temptations of the world. Although I would still sin, I purposed to be more like my Savior because in him was freedom, joy, and peace.

The passion of serving my Christ is a journey of telling my world about the Savior that overpowered the darkness. For, He is the One who took my melting candle flame and replaced it with His light, love, forgiveness, and joy.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." -1 John 1:7