Monday, April 13, 2009

What are you becoming?

Philippians 3:9 ~ And become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Yesterday our pastor preached on justification - that process by which we are made right with God through the blood of Christ. It was a great sermon. One of the concepts Pastor Tim made very clear is how thoroughly Christ has paid the ransom for our sin. "Justification is not the same as a pardon which merely eliminates the punishment but does not make someone not guilty. Christ not only takes our sin -giving us our salvation - He also gives us His righteousnes - giving us justification before the Holy God." Wow ... that is just huge!! I grew up in church. I've heard sermons on justification before ... got the pithy sayings like, "Justification is just as if I'd never sinned." For some reason, though, right now, I'm overwhelmed by the depth of God's love for me and Christ's willingness to ransom me. Isaiah 43 speaks to the idea of God ransoming other nations for His beloved Israel ... and so, we too have had a ransom paid on our behalf.

Below is the reading about justification that was done in our services yesterday. Amazing how many verses speak to the gift of justification ... a gift received by faith.

To do justice, vindicate, aquit, to prove right
“In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified” (Is.45:25)
“The Righteous One, my Servant, will justify the many” (Is. 53:11)
Right, righteous, righteousness, justify
“Justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24)
“A man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28)
“Having been justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9)
“Through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Rom. 5:18)
“God is the One who justifies” (Rom. 8:33)
“We may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law” (Gal. 2:16)
“Being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of life” (Titus 3:17)
Through Christ
His righteousness becomes our righteousness
Through Him we are declared “Not Guilty!”
Through Him we are reconciled to God.
Through His blood we are redeemed.
Through His love we are adopted.
Through His grace we are justified.

Justified ... declared "Not guilty!" And what, then, should be our response to this profound gift? Paul articulated his response in Philippians 3:9 ... "and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith" (NLT, emphasis added).

"Become one with him" ... becoming. I believe it was Kieerkegaard who said that our goal should always be "becoming" not "being" ... for as long as we recognize we are becoming we will never grow satisfied or complacent in our walk with Christ. The best response to Christ's ransom paid for us is to become one with Him. Understanding how this works can be helped by recognizing three truths about "becoming."

1. "Becoming" is the reality! No matter how mature we are in Christ, no matter how close to Him we are ... there is always more to learn, more to understand, more to experience. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6 that we will be perfected "the day of Christ Jesus" ~ when we see Him face to face. We must understand that we are always becoming ... either we are becoming more like Christ or we are becoming less like Him. There is no way NOT to become.

2. "Becoming" is the process! There is no standing still our Christian walk. We need to realize, though, that becoming like Christ is a process. It requires discipline, dedication, and desire. We must focus ourselves on being faithful to do those things that lead to intimacy with Him. Spending time in the Word, prayer and meditation, making choices to focus on Him instead of ourselves. These are a few of the steps in the process of becoming like Christ. And we must embrace the simple truth that the relationship is built over time ... time spent together.

3. Finally, "becoming" is the journey! So often I have been waiting for the "Big Event" in my Christian life. I get consumed with expecting something huge to happen and then I miss so much of what God has for me. I am finally beginning to understand that becoming like Christ IS the big event ... and that happens on every path along my life's journey. Even when I have strayed from God's plan for me, He has taught me and protected me and loved me. My life has had many twists and turns ~ some as a result of my own poor choices and sinful behavior and others, merely the result of a fallen world. There have been great mountain moments when I have felt and experienced the vastness of God's love for me in a powerful way. And there have been valleys, dark valleys ~ valleys where I have walked in the shadow of death, faced loss that seemed overwhelming, and asked questions that have no earthly answer ~ and, yet, in those darkest times, I have found God's light still shines and offers me hope. I hope I never am guilty again of waiting on that "Big Event' ... but that my life's journey is marked by daily, momentary little events of seeking God, trusting God, and resting in Him.

"Becoming" is such a precious thing. It is our sacrificial response to the gift of justification. And Paul gives us three milestones along the way ...

"I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law" ~ realizing that I cannot do it!

"I trust Christ to save me" ~ accepting that His sacrifice is sufficient in all ways, at all times, for all people, including me!

"Depends on faith" ~ the hard part! Becoming requires believing. As Pastor Tim demonstrated yesterday, we can KNOW all about a chair ... it's design and description ... but until we SIT in the chair, we don't BELIEVE it can hold us. Faith requires acting on what we say we know. And it is only through faith that we can "become one with Him."

So, I'm wondering ... .what am I becoming? A person who daily is more like Christ ... more "one with Him"? What about you? What areyou becoming?

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