A few months ago, I wrote an article on the objective aspects of salvation. There, I primarily focused on redemptive history and the accomplishments of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Now, we move to the doctrine of salvation as applied to individual believers. This is what is usually meant when one says “salvation.” All the subjective aspects of salvation hinge on one doctrine: union with Christ. It is through this wondrous union that we receive all the benefits of redemption. But these benefits must be viewed as results of the ultimate benefit of salvation; that is Christ himself.
The phrase “in Christ” along with its variants is used 79 times in the New Testament by Paul. Christians, those who are born of God, are indeed “in Christ.” This is the lens by which we should view ourselves before any other. When the Father looks at you or me, he sees the perfection of Christ in our stead. In Christ, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the Father, no longer far off but loved as children. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Likewise, we are also given new life in Christ. This is commonly referred to as being “born again” or regeneration. Through faith in Christ, we become new creations in Christ Jesus.
The three overarching events of salvation are justification, sanctification, and glorification; essentially we have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. Justification is God’s act of declaring a person to be righteous. Not that the individual becomes righteous himself but that the righteousness of Christ is accredited to the account of that person. This is an important distinction because if a person were made righteous then that righteous status could be lost through sinning. But the one who is in Christ is considered to have the righteousness of Christ as their own. Think of it as courtroom language. Our only plea before a Holy God is Christ’s righteousness. Galatians 3:16 says, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” It is through faith in Christ alone that one is made right with God.
Now, we move to sanctification. To be sanctified is to be made holy. All believers are indeed sanctified at our conversion, but sanctification is also the lifelong process of being made like Christ. When we are saved, we do not instantly become sin-free. The Christian life is one of battling sin; putting off the old man and putting on the new. This is God’s purpose for us. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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” (Rom 8:28-29). Sanctification is a lifelong process. We all have our ups and downs. And unlike our initial conversion (justification), sanctification includes our working with God to be more like Christ, but we can rest assured that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Phil 1:6).
Finally, we have glorification, the completion of our salvation. This is what we are all waiting for! The day when we will see Jesus face to face, be given a new resurrection body like his (1 Cor. 15), and live in unceasing harmony with our God. Those who are in Christ, who are clothed in his righteousness, will be saved from eternal punishment in hell and be reconciled to God. All to the praise of His glory!
Soli Deo Gloria,
While we don't know the exact circumstances David faced, we know that no matter what it was, he had the right reaction: to cry out to God for help! Whether it's doubt, temptation to sin, or a difficult circumstance, when we cry out to God, we say, “God, I am not God, You are God! I am weak, feeble, limited in knowledge and strength, but You are the Almighty!” In fact, that is the Hebrew word for “God” used here in verse 1: “El” means “God Almighty”. The image here is like a sheep running under the care of its shepherd, just as we run to Christ our Great Shepherd.
“I say to the LORD”--to Yahweh, the Great “I Am”, the Faithful and covenant-keeping One--that “You are my Lord”--my Adonai, my master, my Sovereign King. David begins the heart of his prayer by calling on God by His name. In Exodus 3, God reveals Himself to Moses as a burning bush, and for the first time in history, He shares His name with man: “I am that I am” or “Yahweh”. That name is tied to the image that Moses saw: a burning bush that was not consumed or even singed by the fire that rested on it. The fire, which represented God, was self-sufficient, it did not need to use the energy from the bush as fuel for itself; its source of strength came from itself! So it is with God. He does not need us in order to accomplish His work, He is sufficiently strong, sufficiently joyful, and sufficiently able in Himself! And yet that same self-sufficient God loves His people and is pleased to save them. Even more than that, He is pleased to remain faithful to His covenant promises to them, no matter how much they doubt, complain, or even rebel against Him! This is the God that David needs--and that we need--the Faithful, Self-Sufficient God.
After David has called to his mind the character of God, he says “This God is my Master!”, the One whom I give total control over my life. I give Him total control over my circumstances, my attitude, my thoughts, my desires, and all the results of my life. He is my Master and I am His slave. Because He has shown Himself as the Faithful One and because He alone is self-sufficient, holy, and good, I know that He alone is the fountain of all that is good in my life! “I have no good apart from You, my God.” Jesus says something similar to us in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Abide in Me and you will bear much fruit, but apart from Me you can do nothing.” Abide in Christ, for He is the Almighty, Loving Shepherd, Self-Sufficient King of All who has risen from the grave to bring us life, joy, and salvation!
Grace and Peace,
Nursing Home Ministry:
“On the first Sunday of every month at 3:30pm, the Peoples hold a mini-church service for the residents at The Guest House. A handful of hymns are sung followed by a short message. The Guest House’s residents are not able to live independently and very few of them ever get to leave the facility. Some never get visitors. Because so many of them can’t get to a church, we bring church to them! Over the years we have gotten to know and love these residents and they love us in return. All are welcome to join us on the first Sunday of each month at The Guest House 10145 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70815.”
Lee and Jessica Peoples
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’m writing to you with great urgency today. We have been commissioned and commanded to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:37-40). The urgency behind this letter is a result of the estimated 24 unborn neighbors of ours that are being murdered each day here in Louisiana (Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans). We should be greatly troubled by this! We as Christians believe life is intricately woven together and planned by God, and that life begins at conception. This is why we use the language of “murder”.
It is hard to hear the word “murder” and it should be. In the public square, you will hear abortion being called “a women’s right to reproductive freedom” among many other things. Abortion will continue to be tolerated as “good” in the public's eyes as long as we don’t call it what it is. They’ll call it a choice to be offered to a rape victim, a frightened young girl who is still in school, or someone in poverty, and you can persuade the public to think this is good. But we as Christian know that “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov 18:21) so we call abortion murder and see it as a legally established evil and injustice to children.
So, knowing that, what do we do? What do we, the church, do about children being murdered?
We do as commanded in scripture and love the Lord and our neighbor. We love the Lord by sharing his good news, the gospel, and by his grace may they have ears to hear! And we love our neighbor in this same way. We, by his Spirit alone, want to rescue parents and babies from not only the death of the flesh, but an eternal one in separation from the Lord. So, let me share a few ways our local church can make an impact on this specific audience with the gospel.
First, we can be boots on the ground on the front lines. We go to abortion mills in our surrounding areas and share the gospel! This is where we differ from generic pro-life groups because we care about their position before God! We want to share the gospel with mothers, fathers, workers, passer-bys, and anyone who would have ears to hear! We do this through the preaching of the Word, gospel tract distribution, holding attention-grabbing posters, and calling out to all those mentioned before.
Secondly, we pray. This is not a point to miss brothers and sisters! Another way to be a part, if you are not available to go out on site, is to love your unborn neighbors through intentional voting, and donating. You can donate gospel tracts, and newborn baby items to be bagged as blessing bags to moms who choose life!
Lastly, remember what John Piper once said: “We are not called to win, but to witness.” So, take heart, the Lord has already won, and every knee will bow and tongue confess the He is Lord (Rom 14:11). Therefore, we are burdened to share the gospel to all, so that they may be forgiven by the grace of God through his son Jesus Christ! We are all called to love our neighbor, and this is an opportunity for us to show compassion to our unborn neighbors!”
Grace and Peace,
The doctrine of salvation…what is it? If we want to understand the Christian faith, we must have a grasp of this doctrine. God’s central purpose in the world today is the redemption of fallen men and women. We as the church are called to make disciples of the nations. This involves sharing the gospel: the saving message of Jesus Christ. Our purpose in life is to glorify God by making the Good News (Gospel) known to the world. How can we honor God in fulfilling this purpose if we do not know what this message really is? It is our duty as disciples of Jesus to know what this salvation he accomplished is all about.
The best way to understand salvation is to know both its objective and subjective elements. The objective elements may be better understood as the story of redemption. The narrative includes Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation. This is the story of both God and man unfolding throughout history and culminating in the revelation of Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of the world. Likewise, the subjective elements include the salvific work of Christ applied to individuals. These include union with Christ, conversion, adoption, justification, sanctification, and glorification. These will be examined in part II.
God’s work in the world is not static, it is dynamic. From Adam and Eve in the garden to the final judgment and new creation, God is working an incredible act in creation. The story starts “In the beginning, God created…” (Gen. 1). Everything he made was good. He even called his best creation, humanity, very good. But we all know the story. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and to sin instead. The problem is a problem of idolatry. Rather than choosing to obey the commands of God, they believed their idea of right and wrong was better. This has been the problem of humankind ever since. And thus, they fell from the perfect state the Lord created them in, choosing a lie over the truth. Therefore, all men are separated from the Lord. These are acts one and two of the story of redemption: Creation and Fall.
Praise God, that is not the end of the story. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). When Christ said on the cross “it is finished” he meant that the work of redemption the Father sent him into the world to do was accomplished.
We might ask the question, “Why did Christ have to die on the cross?” or “What exactly did Christ accomplish on the cross?”
Sacrifice. In the book of Hebrews, Christ’s work is compared to the OT sacrificial system. Except, instead of offering the blood of bulls and goats Christ offered his own blood. He secured an eternal redemption for his people who are cleansed by his blood through his once-for-all sacrifice for sins. “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).
Propitiation. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Christ removed us from the wrath of a holy God.
Substitution. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:6, 12).
Reconciliation. The death of Christ also brings an end to the enmity that exists between God and humankind. God “through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:18-19).
We cannot forget, the resurrection is an essential component of the gospel. There would be no hope of salvation if Jesus would have stayed in the grave. But Jesus did rise from the dead, reversing the curse of the Fall, and defeating sin, death, and Satan. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15: 56-57). And when the end comes, Christ will judge the living and the dead, create a new heaven and a new earth, and God’s perfect rule on earth with no sin or rebellion will be established. Those in Christ will reign with him and enjoy God’s presence for an eternity of unending worship. These are the acts of Redemption and New Creation; acts three and four. This is the gospel story.
The words “disciple” and “discipline” are closely related; this is not coincidental. To be a disciple is to be a “learner” or a “follower”. In our case, a follower of Christ. The words “disciple” and “Christian” can be used interchangeably because every Christian is called to follow Jesus; there are no “super-Christians”. Because our flesh wars against our spirit, we must be disciplined to stay on the path of following Christ, day by day and moment by moment, just as any athlete must be disciplined in order to win their upcoming competitions or a musician must be disciplined in order to put on a beautiful performance.
Because we know that love is much more than a feeling, we could say that the spiritual disciplines are simply different ways that we show our love for God, not to earn His love, but simply to respond to His love and act in love towards Him.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “this is the will of God, your sanctification…” Why? Is it because God is a tyrannical king who demands blind loyalty? Is it because God demands that we perform entirely pure and flawless works in order to enter heaven? NO! It is for three main reasons--which are really one:
1) that we might be holy as He is holy
2) that He may be glorified
3) that we may have joy!
These three reasons are so intertwined with one another that we cannot separate them and say one without saying the other two, but for clarity’s sake we will look at our one goal of discipline from these three different viewpoints.
Grace and peace,
Upcoming Event: New Mexico Mission Trip!
Last year a group from our church went to New Mexico to minister to Tohatchi Baptist Church and their surrounding community. Most of the people in the area are Native Americans that still hold to ancient forms of animism. Poverty and familial oppression are very real parts of the culture as well as intense spiritual warfare. This year, our group will be gone from June 28th through July 6th. Please pray for our team this year as they encourage the church there to persevere, minister to the physical needs of families, and provide counsel for the emotional and spiritual distress of the community. Projects this year include revivals, Vacation Bible School, and various construction opportunities. If you would like to support our team financially, you can drop off a donation any time at the coffee house. You can also join us on Friday, May 3rd for our worship night where all donations will go towards this mission trip! Church members, if you would like to go, please talk to Pastor Joey (Cost is $200/person or $400/family).