Tuesday, October 27, 2015

When True Spirituality Encounters the True Spirit of God

The reason that evolutionary people cannot understand the realities of God is because they are blindly convinced that the only way to measure anything is through science, and that the only things science can measure are natural things.

Evolutionists are committed to naturalism. They worship nature as if it has the mind to create everything through mindless evolutionary processes. They believe that nature has produced everything out of nothing, even though the science of the natural cannot provide one observable example of nothing producing anything at all.

The reason that evolutionists are so doggedly committed to naturalism is because, “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”[1]

You see, God, who defies the naturalist with being totally and utterly spiritual, declares why the “natural person” has no ability to conceive of how the most intricate of designs, and the most complex of systems, originate in the most brilliant mind of all. The natural person does not accept the truth about God, awesome as that truth is, because he is “not able to understand.”

When we are “not able” to do something we do not deny the something that we are not able to do. We do not deny someone playing the piano as brilliantly as we hear on a recording just because we are “not able” to see them doing so, or just because we are “not able” to do it ourselves.

However, the “natural person” is not able to understand the “things of the Spirit of God” for the simple reason that they are “spiritually discerned,” and he has written them off as non-existent. God knows he is not non-existent. God knows all that exists outside of the realm the evolutionist tries to confine to the natural.

God’s book is filled with the truth about how our world was created, who we are as human beings, why we are so messed-up, and what he has done to redeem his creation. These things are not false just because the natural person says they are false. A beautiful song is not false just because a deaf man cannot hear it; and a beautiful sunset is not false just because a blind man cannot see it. In the same way as we know about natural things through our natural senses, we know about spiritual things through our spiritual senses.

The problem is that the “natural person” does not have spiritual senses. He is blind to spiritual things because he is only natural. Spiritual things exist, much to the frustration of the adamant evolutionary zealot, but he cannot see them. He cannot hear God because he has hardened his heart. He cannot feel the presence of God continuing his work of finding and saving lost sheep. He does not feel God, and he does not want to feel God.

So, if naturalists are completely unable to conceive of what is spiritual, and the God who created the natural world is spirit,[2] how is there any hope for natural people?

The hope is in the fact that God teaches people this:

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.[3]

God’s book tells us that people who are presently “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,” who are “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” who are living “in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind,”[4] can be made “alive together with Christ.”[5]

It is when we are made “alive together with Christ” that we can “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” We cannot become like God in the old self, hence the need to take it off, throw it away, crucify it, get rid of it, shut it down. It will never be like God, and has no ability to do so.

Our only hope is what Jesus referred to as the new birth. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[6] The reason we cannot “see the kingdom of God” unless we are “born again” is because the once-born person is a naturalist to the core, and “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”[7]

Only when we are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”[8] can we then experience the spiritual reality that sees God, and knows God, and loves God.

Jesus once said to a naturalistic woman, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”[9] She could not see who he was until he made this simple declaration, “I who speak to you am he.”[10] The woman had just stepped out as far as her natural mind could go, telling Jesus, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”[11]

When Jesus announced himself, the woman’s eyes suddenly opened, and she went to her community with the exciting declaration, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”[12] As a result, many people “believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’”[13]

By the end of a couple of days’ visit with Jesus, many people from that town “believed because of his word.”[14] They then said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”[15]

How is it that these people could “believe” and “know” that Jesus was “indeed the Savior of the world”?

For the same reason that Jesus’ disciples “believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God,”[16] and could confidently affirm, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[17] Jesus explained it as, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”[18]

As natural men, the disciples would not have understood anything Jesus taught them. However, when the Spirit of God gave them spiritual discernment, they were able to understand and acknowledge who Jesus really was. This is why Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’”[19]

God continues to give spiritual discernment to people living in a naturalistically blind world. His word describes it in a variety of ways, including this, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”[20]

Those who vehemently deny what God himself has written in his book are not smarter for having no knowledge of the God who created them, or of the redemption he offers in his Son, Jesus Christ. Being spiritually dead to God is nothing worthy of boasting.

Rather, it is those who come to God as little children, seeing what the naturalistic adult mind cannot see, who recognize that the Bible, the word of God, has given us everything we need to know and love Jesus Christ, and the Father who sent him into our world. They believe and know who Jesus is, and that they have life in his name.

And no amount of blind people can convince them to deny what they have seen by faith.[21]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I Corinthians 2:14
[2] John 4:24
[3] Ephesians 4:22-24
[4] Ephesians 2:1-3
[5] Ephesians 2:5
[6] John 3:3
[7] I Corinthians 2:14
[8] I Peter 1:3
[9] John 4:24
[10] John 4:26
[11] John 4:25
[12] John 4:29
[13] John 4:39
[14] John 4:41
[15] John 4:42
[16] John 6:69
[17] Matthew 16:16
[18] Matthew 16:17
[19] Luke 10:21
[20] John 20:30-31
[21] I John 1:1-4

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Freedom of Belonging

So, how is God ministering to me in my wretched condition of knowing I am an absolute and utter failure at impressing him, or anyone else?

Thankfully, I am not writing about how I felt when I first got up in the morning. I am writing about how I feel after spending time alone with my heavenly Father, listening to what he has to say to me in his word.

And yes, when we put all our faith in what God speaks through his word (“faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ,”[1] don’t you know), we DO end up feeling completely different from when our sarks (flesh) can only see things based on what we can do in our own strength.

First, I felt a fresh acknowledgement of, “without faith it is impossible to please him.”[2]I recalled Romans 7, with Paul’s description of not being able do the good he wanted, or stop doing the bad he didn’t want to do. In the flesh, we cannot please God. Any questions?

Second, as I started to consider Romans 7, I only got as far as this: “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”[3]

I love the imagery of a believer having already died to the law through our fellowship in salvation. The reason that we have died to the law is “so that you may belong to another.” According to the law, if someone is married, they cannot belong to another person. However, if one person dies, the other is now free to belong to someone else. In a similar way, we are to see our new life in Jesus Christ as a death to the law, and a brand new relationship of belonging.

Third, Paul already set the stage for this change from law-to-life when he wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”[4]

If our baptism was a genuine expression of repentance and faith, we are to see it as a baptism into Jesus’ death, cutting us off from the law. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so all believers have been raise to “newness of life,” and now belong to another, to our God and Father.

Fourth, the felt-need to impress people is associated with law. If not the law of God, then whatever laws are in place to impress. Families have laws regarding what matters, and those who play by the rules best get the best attention. Denominations have their distinctive ways of doing things, and those who most distinctly follow those distinctions are the most impressive.

Except that the whole notion of impressing anyone has no place in the kingdom of heaven. The new way of looking at things is that we “belong to another.” 

For me, this was a deeply comforting expression this morning. God wants me to know that I am fully dead to the law, but in order to bring me to fully experience something most wonderful, that I belong to him. I do not belong to him by any law whatsoever, but by the grace of God working in my life, raising me from the dead, seating me with Christ in the heavenly realm, doing all through faith that is just as much the gift of his grace as salvation itself.

The conclusion of the matter is that God wants me to feel belonging because of what he has done for me, not what I think I need to do for him. My works could never impress him to begin with. Jesus’ death gives me everything I need to be dead to the law, the standard of righteousness that can judge me as a sinner. And, his resurrection gives me everything I need to both belong to God, and to enjoy doing the good works that express that belonging.

No wonder God’s word would declare: 
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.[5]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 10:17
[2] Hebrews 11:6
[3] Romans 7:4
[4] Romans 6:3-4
[5] II Peter 1:3-4

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Best News in Great Tribulation

This morning, I looked at the clock without my glasses on and thought I had slept an hour longer than usual. There was the immediate disappointment that my time with God would be cut short.

Thankfully, and surprisingly, when I put my glasses on I realized that I was up an hour earlier than usual. Oh well; I had already enjoyed the first sip of my coffee, and I could sneak in a nap right after lunch, so everything looked hopeful.

Except that it is the day after election. The world is the world. As God’s book prophesied, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”[1] And, as an earlier portion of God’s book declared, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”[2]

Where, then, does the child of God get encouragement? From the whole counsel of God’s word, of course.[3]

One of the very special blessings of spending daily time with God in his word is that his words fulfill the beautiful expression that, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”[4] In other words, every morning, complete with all its surprises, disappointments, and opportunities, is a new experience of God’s mercies expressed through his words.

For more than a couple of decades I have experienced God’s word speak directly to whatever I am going through at any given time. Sometimes this gives me God’s view of something I am facing. Other times there is a distinctive conviction in regard to some immediate mistake. Some days it seems as though God lays his blueprint over some present worldwide event, and suddenly I see it through his eyes instead of my own.

All that to say that I came to God’s word extra early convinced that God had given me added time with him to make sure I had his view of what is going on in our country, and in the world all around us. As expected, God’s word did what it is sent out to do. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”[5]

The Scripture God’s Spirit ministered to my heart was this: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.”[6]

Why is this so significant, especially on the morning after this Canadian federal election? Because, under the new government, “tribulation” takes on a whole new meaning.

Why does this picture give God’s children something hopeful to carry through whatever increase in tribulation comes to Canada, and whatever great tribulation is experienced around the world? Because it tells us that there is: “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”[7] 

You see, from the viewpoint of the world, the flesh, and the devil, tribulation is aimed at destroying Jesus’ church. At times, it looks like the evil triad is successful.

However, God has a totally different view. Because, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,”[8] the result of all great tribulation is that God adds to the “great multitude that no one could number.” Jesus builds his church.[9] God completes what he started.[10] God presents his children, “blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”[11]

Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”[12] That is what the picture of the numberless multitude standing safe and secure before the throne of God is telling us. These are the ones coming out of whatever great tribulation his people experience in any generation, any country, and under any government.

While I stand on the downward slope heading into whatever the new government has in mind, I already know that I will be among those who come out of every period of great tribulation. It will not be because I am a strong Christian. It will be the result of the faithfulness of my Lord Jesus Christ who will carry on to completion what he has started. As his word says, 
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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.[13]

That is what we see when God shows us this great numberless multitude standing before his throne. They are the ones God knew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. And, since even the gates of hell cannot stop him, his children put our faith in him to the very end.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] II Timothy 3:12-13
[2] Ecclesiastes 1:9
[3] Matthew 4:4; Acts 20:26-27
[4] Lamentations 3:22-23
[5] Hebrews 4:12
[6] Revelation 7:14
[7] Revelation 7:9
[8] Romans 8:37
[9] Matthew 16:18
[10] Philippians 1:6
[11] Jude 1:24
[12] John 6:37
[13] Romans 8:29-30

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Victory Cry Above Every Election

While I know that Christians throughout Canada will be voting for any of the political parties, there are things that unite Jesus’ church not only in individual countries, but around the whole world, and throughout every generation. God’s book describes it like this: 
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[1]

While Christians may appear to be small (and diminishing) in number, and powerless against the onslaught of the world, the flesh, and the devil, the truth is that Jesus’ church is “a great multitude that no one could number.” While they may look at political parties, and religious movements, and wars and disasters, through a variety of opinions and concerns, there is one thing Jesus’ church knows with absolute confidence. It is that, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” No country, or religion, or season of history, will take this away from Jesus’ church, or stop Jesus from bringing people into his salvation.

What referrals are available to bolster our faith in Jesus’ work of building his church? How about this: 
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”[2]

The angels have been watching God’s work since the beginning of time. What do they think when the Great Multitude sings the praises of God’s Salvation? They think, “Amen!” This glorious little word announces full agreement with whatever was just stated. This means that they are in full agreement with the declaration that, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” They are in complete agreement that God has provided one Savior to redeem people from every nation.[3] They fully concur that, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”[4]

While the “Amen!” of the angels is enough to spur the church on to hold high the shield of faith,[5] the angels continue with a beautiful expression of praise. They cry out, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!” These seven descriptive expressions encompass the glorious completeness of God’s grace in providing such a perfect and complete salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter how the world applauds anyone else, or any other name, or any philosophy, belief, or religion, everyone will one day see that all the glory goes to the God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of people throughout the world.[6]

This Canadian election, along with the soon coming American election, in harmony with tragic and terrible events taking place around the world, sing a lament of both the present and threatened dangers aimed against the children of God. Some Christians will side with those who say that addressing such tragedies and threats is fear-mongering, while others will side with those who want to stand against all forms of terrorism.

Again, while Christians may not be able to unite in such things on earth, the heavenly viewpoint is one of great agreement. And so, God’s book continues with this clarification:         
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.[7]

Why is it so important for God’s children on earth to see this Great Multitude in heaven? Why do we need to see that there is such a Great Multitude that no one can number, and that they are in full agreement among themselves, and in fellowship with all the angels of heaven, that salvation belongs to their God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb of God who takes away their sins? And, why do we need to see that this numberless multitude “are the ones coming out of the great tribulation”?

It is so that, at least in part, whenever God’s children go through seasons of great tribulation, and they are isolated from the rest of society, and lost in prisons and refugee camps, and treated with the world’s hypocritical disdain, and feel very much alone, and struggle with thoughts of whether God remembers them, they can bring to mind this picture.

What does the Church really look like when it is forced through trials and tribulations? It looks like this great multitude that no one can number, declaring their unified praises to God and the Lamb for the great salvation that has enabled them to stand before the throne. It looks like this numberless multitude from every nation, from every people-group, all with the same distinction from the world, “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

In other words, they have been washed clean by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,[8] and stand before the throne as the adopted children of God,[9] fully accepted in the beloved Savior. Tribulation did not shut down the church. When Jesus kept teaching his disciples that he would build his church, and that even the gates of hell would not prevail against it,[10] he included the clarification that, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”[11]

The church has “been justified by faith,” and so “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”[12] These people have unanimously obeyed the call of the gospel, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”[13] The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket, as they say, but the whole church has confessed their sins to God,[14] put their faith in Jesus Christ and his salvation,[15] and experienced the justification by faith that makes them fully righteous in God’s sight.[16] Even those presently going through, or soon facing, the greatest tribulation of their lives, will stand as part of this glorious multitude that are just like Jesus.[17]

Now, what awaits this great multitude who have come through their seasons of great tribulation with true and genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the salvation that belongs to the God who sits on the throne? God’s book declares: 
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,    and serve him day and night in his temple;    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;    the sun shall not strike them,    nor any scorching heat.For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,    and he will guide them to springs of living water,and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”[18]

After God’s children have experienced  all manner of hardship and isolation because of their faith in Jesus Christ, they will one day unite “before the throne of God.”

After the people of God have endured generation after generation of tribulation and suffering under the direction of evil tyrants and leaders, they will come to serve the living and true God “day and night in his temple,” the safest place ever.

After Jesus’ church has been attacked and beaten, they will enter the presence of God where he will be their shelter forever.

After enduring all manner of hunger, and thirst, and exposure to the elements through disowning and persecution, the whole numberless multitude will hear their eternal Father declare, “No more!” They came to Jesus for rest,[19] and their heavenly home will be their rest forever.

After many experiences of isolation, and feelings of loneliness, and souls hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and sorrows spilling out in bottles full of tears,[20] Jesus’ church will feel what it is like to be in the constant, visible, presence of their shepherd who will take care of them forever. They will see Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep,[21] guide them to springs of living water,[22] just as they sang repeatedly in fellowship with the saints of every generation.[23]

All this to say that, no matter what happens in today’s election, or the American election, or the invasion of Europe, or the increase of wickedness God’s book prophesies, [24] the end of the story is written as though it has already taken place.

God’s book is clear. There is no vote required. There is one God who sits on the throne, and one Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.[25]

It is fitting, no matter who gets into power in any election, or what appears to be happening in this chapter of history, that God’s children are “sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[26] While everything on earth may appear to be against us, we can carry the picture of the great multitude with us for our constant encouragement to faith, hope, and love, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, in grand conclusion, I will let God’s book speak for itself: 
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.[27]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 7:9-10
[2] Revelation 7:11-12
[3] John 14:6; cfMatthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Mark 13:10
[4] Acts 4:12
[5] Ephesians 6:16; context: Ephesians 6:10-20 describing the whole armor of God.
[6] John 1:29
[7] Revelation 7:13-14
[8] Isaiah 1:18; I John 1:7
[10] Matthew 16:18
[11] John 16:33
[12] Romans 5:1
[13] Acts 2:38-39
[14] I John 1:9
[15] John 3:16
[16] Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:28-30; Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 2:10-11
[17] I John 3:2
[18] Revelation 7:15-17
[19] Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:10-11
[20] Psalm 56:8
[21] Hebrews 13:20-21
[23] Psalm 23:2; 23:1-6 is the whole Psalm
[24] Proverbs 29:16; Romans 1:18-32; II Timothy 3:1-5
[25] Mark 16:16; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10
[26] Philippians 1:6
[27] Jude 1:24-25

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pastoral Pings ~ The Two-Side Gospel of Grace

          Some people have experienced God’s grace after years of flaunting their sin in God’s face, defying everything they know of his holiness, righteousness, and truth. To plumb the depths of sin, and discover the grace of God finding them us salvation, magnifies the grace of God before our eyes.
          Others of us have experienced God’s grace after years of trying very hard to be good. The sudden discovery that, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one,”[1] so shatters all good-boy self-esteem that God’s grace is magnified as much as ever.
          This week, the grace of God has been put on display before me in this wonderful passage of God’s book: 
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.[2]
          What has blessed me so much is the affirmation from God that his grace covers both sides of our salvation. By that I mean, God’s salvation both saves us out of the sinful living he must condemn, and into the righteous living he delights to bless. His blessing is not waiting on us to be righteous. Rather he blesses us with the freedom from sin, and the righteousness of faith, so that he can continually bless us with the joy of righteousness, and fellowship with him in righteousness.
          The two sides of salvation focus on what we are saved out of, and what we are saved into. On one side, the grace of God brings the salvation that trains us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” On the other side, the gracious salvation of God trains us, “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
          The reason we can live in this grace that trains us to cut ties with sin on one side, and to embrace a life of righteousness on the other, is because of what Jesus did when he laid down his life on our behalf. On one side, we have, “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness.” On the other side, our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave himself “to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
          In other words, Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us” for these two things: he redeemed us “from all lawlessness,” and he redeemed us “to purify for himself a people.” Since he had this dual work of redeeming us out of our lawlessness, and redeeming us into the purification of salvation, the grace of God would need to work both of these into our lives.
          Because Jesus gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness, the grace of God must train us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” And, because Jesus gave himself to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works,” the grace of God must train us “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.”  
          For me, this “good boy” continually discovering that he has never been righteous at all, causes me to appreciate the grace of God all the more. It is his grace that fixes even this people-pleasing-good-boy mindset so I experience his favor turning me from all unrighteousness, and leading me into the righteousness of faith I could not deserve or earn no matter how hard I tried to be good. God’s grace does it all, and I am so thankful this is true.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 3:10-12
[2] Titus 2:11-14