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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « IVP PLANS 27-VOLUME REFORMATION SERIES | Main | The Da Vinci Code Movie »

    The Person of Christ Driven Life: A Purpose for a Person

    A Purpose or a Person?
    Stay away from lists! Stay away and flee from Christians who say that if you follow a certain 10-step, 12-step, or even 40-step program that you are guaranteed a "successful", "prosperous" or "victorious" Christian life.

    Why? Because Christ has given us himself as our focus. It is Christ himself in his person and his work who needs to be emphasized, not our purpose in life, even the Christian life, or our needs. What needs to be emphasized in order that it might drive our lives toward gratitude in Jesus is the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our only Lord, Savior of sinners and healer of sin! We don't need a "purpose driven life" we need a "Person of Christ" driven life!

    When we focus on programs of so-called purpose, however many steps they might have, we focus on ourselves, whether we like to admit it or not!

    With lists set for Christians with the goal toward growth, whether it be lists of purpose, or lists of achievement, what happens in a subtle manner is that we Christians begin focusing on ourselves, our success (or failures) with regard to the list or the program, and we can take our eyes off our only Savior.

    Two catechisms in the history of the church help us to keep our right focus which is the glory of God revealed in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ!

    The first catechism is called the 'Heidelberg Catechism' and it asks the question: "What is thy only comfort in life and death?" Then it answers for all Christians to remember: "That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation; and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto him."

    The second catechism is the 'Shorter Catechism' of the Westminster Assembly that we are asked: "What is the chief end [or purpose] of man?" The answer to this is: "To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

    Notice that both of these catechism questions focus us first on what God has done for us in Christ (explicitly in the Heidelberg, implicitly in the Shorter because we know the teaching in the remainder of the catechism). In other words, they do not give us a list of purposes, but point our attention and the focus of our faith to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The author to the book of Hebrews tells us the same thing: "Keep your eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfector of your faith..." (Heb. 12:1-3). This is radically opposed to lists of purpose, and focuses our attention on a Person, the Person of Jesus Christ!

    We do not need lists of purpose, but we need the Person of Jesus Christ who is reigning at God's right hand and ever interceding for his people!

    Now, you must remember that many of the purpose lists that are given to us today by well-meaning Christians declare that they are an attempt at helping us to truly glorify God in our lives. However, even though these may be the purpose statements of the books, they do not achieve their purposes spiritually, for they focus us too much on ourselves and not enough on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. This is perhaps unintentional, but I will address later in this study how we can make scriptural lists and fail to see the Person of Christ in the scriptures.

    "I'm Making a List, Checking it Twice...Naughty, or Nice?!"
    So what happens when well meaning Christian leaders in the Church of Jesus attempt to focus our attention on ourselves and what we have done, or better are doing for Christ?

    What happens when well meaning Christian leaders begin programs designed to make us more like Christ, but focusing us more on ourselves (even if it is unintentional, it still has dangerous repercussions)?

    We can them be tempted to turn away from the Person (and presence!) of the Lord Christ himself to turn our attention to the lists of purpose! We must constantly be seeking to turn away from ourselves (successes or failures) to the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ! We should remind ourselves that we are by nature a sinful, self-serving, self-centered people who would like others to teach us to turn to our own strengths and accomplishments for salvation- - even as Christians!

    All Christians are recovering people who were trying to attain righteousness by a list of things to do for God. Some in the church today are still relying on Jesus "PLUS" something they are doing for Jesus, which is not the righteousness revealed from God by faith! (Romans 3:21-26). Even the Apostle Paul attempted to have lists of purpose in his life in order to gain righteousness before God. Notice his list of things he had achieved, or at least thought he had achieved in his program, or list of purposes as a Pharisee:

    Philippians 3:3-14: For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh- 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    First of all in this passage, the Apostle Paul refers to Christians as the "true Israelites" or the "true circumcision" in verse 3, those who put no confidence in the flesh. He says this to the Philippian Christians who were being tempted to "finish" the work of Christ through their own works of obedience (this is salvation by Christ "PLUS" what one has done for God added to it).

    Paul is calling the Philippians to fresh repentance, and a reminder that it is not what we have done, or are doing for Christ that matters, but what Christ has done himself for us! It is not one's purpose of the flesh in trying to be obedient, rather it is trusting and resting in Christ's work already accomplished for us (cf. Philippians 2:4-12).

    Notice secondly in Philippians 1:3 that the "true Israelite", "true circumcision" or True Christian focuses on the glory of Christ Jesus. The opposite of this "glorying in Christ" is to put confidence in the flesh. That is, any purpose, any list, any achievement that we may have accomplished whether before Christ- - or after we have known Christ- - we are placing the glory in ourselves- -and not in the Person of Christ, the One to whom all the glory belongs!

    Now notice the Apostle Paul's lists, or purposes that formerly drove his life in Philippians 3:5-6 (he said that he once had "confidence in the flesh" in these "lists of confidence" but as a Christian this had changed for him!): 1) Circumcised on the eighth day; 2) Of the people of Israel; 3) Of the Tribe of Benjamin; 4) A Hebrew of Hebrews; 5) As to interpreting the Law and in relationship to it: a Pharisee; 6) Zeal: persecutor of Christ's people; 7) Righteousness: under the Law blameless!

    Now all of these things in Christ he now counts as "a loss" for the sake of Christ. In fact, everything he formerly listed was now a loss to him. It was a dung heap, a bunch of "BULL"- - EXCEPT THIS ONE THING- - THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS! Paul wanted to throw away the lists and to focus on:

    the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith...

    Now it is important to point out that what was once a list of purposes for his life, have now become dung- - why?- -because they were lists that Paul was relying upon for righteousness apart from Christ. Paul now wants the prize that is only found in the Person of Jesus.

    When any of us live for lists of purposes in the Christian life, we can very easily begin to focus on ourselves and our own achievement- - our flesh - - rather than looking to the Person of Jesus Christ and depending on the power of His Spirit so that we can become more like him.

    That Which is Good, Becomes Something Evil?!
    Now I don't want you to miss this. There is righteousness that comes from the Law, then there is righteousness through faith in the Person and Work of Christ. The Law was God's good Word, effectively bringing men by faith to the realization of their sins and their need of a Savior. The Law can still help those in Christ to be aware of their sins and to constantly seek a Savior.

    But what I want you to notice is that the Law was a list that God revealed himself that was designed to point to a Person. When people look to the Law without Christ, or instead of Christ, the Law damns them. That is why Paul can say that that which was given for our good, can end up damning us if we trust in this apart from Christ (cf. Romans 7:7ff; 9:1-6).

    Now follow me. If we take all of the commands of Scripture, just as one might take the commands of the Law, then we make a book, a list of say 40 things, or commands that you must do in the Christian life. While those 40 things in and of themselves are not bad, anymore than the Law is bad or evil (it is "holy, righteous, and good"), it can become a stumbling block to Christians!

    How? We can take the good commandments of Scripture and look to them apart from, or instead of Christ, looking to ourselves and our commandments and be "driven" in our purposes to keep them, but fail to see the Person of Jesus who perfectly fulfills them (cf. Matthew 5:17-20).

    This is important! Well-meaning Christian teachers can make lists of good Scriptural principles and end up taking the Christian's focus away from the Christ of Scripture!

    One can give you legitimate "purpose driven" lists, and take your eyes off the Person who has fulfilled that list on your behalf- -this is the righteousness apart from works that is revealed by God!

    So, my problem of purpose lists is not so much that they can be theologically inaccurate (there are some inaccuracies and some glaring omissions I believe in many lists today), but the main point I want to make is concerning the methodology (or the "how to" of the purpose driven lists).

    Has the purpose lists taken your eyes off the Person of Christ?! Have Christian leaders in your congregation (perhaps well-meaning), taken your eyes off the Person and Work of Christ in order to give you a program and lists of purpose- -with false promises made that you will grow in Christ through them?

    It is interesting that I would say this subtle deception is part of what the Apostle Paul means when he ways in 2 Timothy 4:

    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    Isn't part of the "itching ears" or "myths" the focus on anything other than Christ, including his own commands and Scripture considered by us apart from or without Christ?! The Word that the Apostle Paul commands Timothy to preach ALWAYS ("in season and out of season"), in contrast to serving "itching ears" and propagating myths is the Word that tells the story of the Person and Work of Christ! This Word tells us that our story as sinners is that we always fail and we need a Savior from sin. This Word tells us that what we need is life in the Person of Jesus.

    The Word that is to be preached always in the Church of Jesus Christ is not about a program, but about the Person of Christ!

    The Word preached should always hold out Jesus Christ in his life, death, resurrection and ascension to those hungry to hear him and follow him out of gratitude, constantly living a life of repentance, and being renewed as they live in Him and reflect on his glory!

    Don't forget Christ's criticism to the Scribes and Pharisees, who studied and tried to obey his Word, but did not find his Person (or presence!) in John 5:39-40:

    "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."

    The Scriptures when rightly preached, taught and read reveal the Person and Work of Christ on our behalf, they are not merely principles, or purposes to drive our lives! In other words, the Person and Work of Christ should be revealed primarily to sinners so that then in light of this reality, they might live for God out of gratitude and love for what he has done in Christ, rather than what they are doing for Christ.

    We must remember that as Christians our flesh will always want lists. In fact, it will want "fleshly-self-centered" lists even to achieve the goal of Christ-likeness. I know it sounds strange but this is another example of the heart being desperately wicked and no man being able to know it (Jeremiah 17:3).

    Our hearts wants lists because we don't naturally turn to Christ daily in repentance and for renewal, reflecting on his glory through His Word so that our righteousness might be found in Him alone!

    Another Attempt at a "Higher-Life"
    There have always been "movements" in the church of Jesus Christ who prescribed certain purpose lists for Christians. More recently in the 19th century, there was the "Higher Life Movement" that pointed Christians toward a list of purposes to become more like Jesus in sanctification by merely "letting go, and letting God".

    This was a "short and sweet" purpose or list, but it focused the attention of Christians away from the God who they were supposed to be allowing to heal them, and focused their attention on the "letting go" part.

    Were Christians truly "letting go" and "letting God"? Well, this Christian over here is "letting go" better than this other Christian is, and so once again, the righteousness of the Christian was not found primarily in Christ- -but in one's own "letting go".

    This will always be the case as Christians move further and further away from the past and our glorious theological and ecclesiastical heritage in the church. Well-meaning teachers will constantly be trying to reinvent the "historical-theological wheel" in order to make better Christians, when Jesus Christ has given us three important ways of becoming like him, in him, while walking with him: the Word of God preached, the sacraments rightly administered, and prayer.

    Additionally, Jesus has given us teachers (Eph. 4:11-12) in the Church NOT to give us lists of purposes in the Christian life, but to PREACH CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED (1 Cor. 2:1-5; 2 Timothy 3-4).

    In other words, Jesus gifts true teachers of His Church not to give them a list of purposes, but to give them the Person of Christ! The Person of Christ in His life, death, resurrection and ascension is who God has given to sinners so that they can keep their focus on Him and rely upon him for every good work!

    "Classes of Legalists"
    We also must be careful of legalism with regards to lists of purposes and I am talking about the four kinds or "classes" of legalism. An excellent and recent book by Prof. Dan Doriani teaches how to "put the truth to work" and to faithfully apply Scripture in preaching. In order to avoid the pitfalls of legalistic preaching, he explains four classes of legalism into which many preachers unintentionally find themselves.

    Prof. Doriani explains that when preachers or teachers do not rightly preach Christ, they are encouraging legalism in the life of Jesus' followers. Why?

    Because when Christ is not rightly and faithfully preached, the needs of the people usually are, and this causes the people of God to look to what they are doing for Christ, more than what Christ has done for them!

    Professor Doriani writes concerning the four "classes" of legalists in the Christian church:

    "Class-one legalists are auto-soterists; they declare what one must do in order to obtain God's favor or salvation. The rich young ruler was a class-one legalist. Class-two legalists declare what good deeds or spiritual disciplines one must perform to retain God's favor and salvation.

    Class-three legalists love the law so much they create new laws, laws not found in Scripture, and require submission to them. The Pharisees, who build fences around the law, were class-three legalists. Class-four legalists avoid these gross errors, but they so accentuate obedience to the law of God that other ideas shrivel up. They reason, 'God has redeemed us at the cost of his Son's life. Now he demands our service in return. He has given us his Spirit and a new nature and has stated his will. With these resources, we obey his law in gratitude for our redemption. This is our duty to God.'

    In an important way this is true, but class-four legalists dwell on the law of God until they forget the love of God. Worshiping, delighting in, communing with, and conforming to God are forgotten.

    Class-four legalists can preach sermons in which every sentence is true, while the whole is oppressive. It is oppressive to proclaim Christ as the Lawgiver to whom we owe a vast debt, as if we must somehow repay him- - repay God! -- for his gifts to us. I count myself a member of the legion of recovering class-four legalists. We slide into a 'Just Do It' mentality occasionally, dispensing commands just because they are right. " [Dan Doriani, 'Putting the Truth to Work'; see also John Piper's 'Debtor's Ethic': www.desiringgod.org].

    Lists of purpose usually cause us to take our attention off the "main thing" if you will. What is the main thing of the Christian life? As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says so well: "To glorify God and enjoy him forever!" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whatever we do, both in word and deed, do it in Christ for the glory of God- - never forgetting what Christ has done and is doing in us!

    Union with Christ
    As Professor Sinclair Ferguson teaches, we should find our hope and our growth in our union with Jesus Christ. This is the true key to becoming more like Christ -- a focus on the Person of Christ- -and to allow that grace and gratitude to be the driving force of our lives because of God's Holy Spirit!

    Dr. Ferguson writes: "Union with Christ in his death and resurrection is the element of union which [the Apostle] Paul most extensively expounds...if we are united to Christ, then we are united to him at all points of his activity on our behalf. We share in his death (we were baptized into his death), in his resurrection (we are resurrected with Christ), in his ascension (we have been raised with him), in his heavenly session (we sit with him in heavenly places, so that our life is hidden with Christ in God), and we will share in his promised return (when Christ, who is our life, appears, we also will appear with him in glory) (Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:11-12; 3:1-3).

    This, then, is the foundation of sanctification [becoming Christ-like] in Reformed theology. It is rooted, not in humanity and their achievement of holiness or sanctification, but in what God has done in Christ, and for us in union with him.

    Rather than view Christians first and foremost in the microcosmic context of their own progress, the Reformed doctrine first of all sets them in the macrocosm of God's activity in redemptive history. It is seeing oneself in this context that enables the individual Christian to grow in true holiness."

    - Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, 'Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification', Ed. Donald Alexander, Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1988.

    Lists of purpose cause us to lose our delight and our enjoyment of God. We are to ultimately delight ourselves in what God has already done for us in Christ, not constantly delight ourselves in what we have done for God.

    If the latter is the foundation of our delighting in God, it will wax and wane according to our emotional experiences caused by obedience or disobedience. And ultimately, we will look to ourselves and our accomplishments for our righteous standing before God, rather than looking to Christ, the Only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).

    So we need to know who Christ is, what he has done for us, and who we are in HIM! We begin by thinking of ourselves as Christians as the covenant family of God who live, move and have our very being "in Christ". I ask you to read the following as considerations on your identity in Jesus Christ- -

    to allow the Person of Jesus to drive your life!

    It would be tempting to give you a list- - but I will give to you the Person and Work of Christ and how your identity should be driven by Christ's Person and Work.

    "Remain in Me," Jesus says!
    Allow me to point your attention to the Person and Word of Christ in John 15. In Jesus' teaching of the vine and the branches, he teaches us some rich truth found in our living with eyes focused on Him. He says:

    "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

    This passage in John 15 focuses our attention on the Lord and His Work in us, and not primarily our work for him. This should be emphasized (cf. Philippians 2:12-13). Our good fruit comes forth from our remaining, abiding, or being in Christ. It comes because we are ultimately united to Jesus by faith and as we remain, abide, or "BE" in Christ, we become more like him as we meditate on the glory of His Person, so we reflect the glory of His Person in our lives.

    Change in our lives is not immediate. We should never expect overnight change, or quick change due to a list someone gives us. Rather, as this Christocentric-Metaphor of the Vine and Branches teaches us, it is the a process of growing and maturing that can only be cultivated and nurtured by God himself. Our lives depend on God's Work, not our lists or purposes of work.

    In other words, as branches united to Christ the Vine, we have life-giving and life-changing power from him. There is a vital, living union with him. We get our life and fruit from his sap. As we abide/remain/be in Jesus, there is an "passive-active" dependence upon him for fruit. This means that by faith we rely on Jesus for change, for purpose, for righteousness alone.

    And the promise of this remaining, abiding, and being in Jesus is contrary to the purpose-driven lists of "doing" that focuses on our own progress and potentials apart from Christ. This "passive-active" dependence causes us to rely on the Person of Christ alone, over time, through his Word, as we come to know better the reality of who we are in him, and learn to talk with him and pray for that which is his prerogative to give to us -- fruit.

    Yet we await the fruit, knowing that as we abide/remain/be in Jesus, we are avoiding the constant doing, or the performance that sets its focus on us! We await the promises of Jesus for much fruit! We await the promises of Jesus by faith - -that what he says: "You will bear much fruit, fruit that will last!" That he means it.

    You know, I am convinced that it takes a strong faith to wait upon the Lord, be of good courage, and await him to strengthen our hearts. It is so much easier to, in the name of faith, to try and do for God in order to better please him, know him, or to find a purpose driven life.

    It seems to me that it takes the greatest amount of faith just to remain/abide/be in Jesus and believe that he who began a good work in us will accomplish it.

    The life of any congregation of God's people is dependent upon knowing more of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Knowing what Jesus has done, said, and what he is doing even this moment in all of our lives. When we hear his voice in his word let us not harden our hearts and try our own methods of growth and sanctification. Let's by God's grace quit focusing on our "doing" and focus on our "being".

    Abide! Remain! BE! in Christ as you focus on his glorious Person and think about what He has accomplished for you. Then in light of this reality, go forth obediently and gratefully wanting to live more wholeheartedly for him, bearing much fruit, but continuing with your eyes on Jesus the Author and the Perfector of your faith!

    For the minute you go in Christ and think of what you have done, are doing, or will do for Christ- -even what you are doing better than other brothers and sisters- - you have taken your eyes of Jesus and placed them on your own works of righteousness.

    This should lead us to repentance as a body of believers.

    Jesus hasn't given us a purpose list, he's given us himself!

    Where is your hope? What are you seeking? Jesus said not to seek after the things of this world, neither seek false ways of becoming like Christ. Rather, he said to seek him and his kingdom and all other things will fall into place by his grace!

    What is the true purpose-driven life? It is the life of Jesus Christ in his Person and Work for us sinners! Ours is not so much a purpose driven life focused on our own needs, but a "Person of Christ" driven life- -that lives for the glory and enjoyment of God because what Jesus has already done for us!

    Rest in the LORD
    Allow me to speak personally about this topic above. There are some of you after reading this, who still want to trust in lists of purpose, so allow me to speak to you personally, because it is not as if I haven't been tempted by these kinds of teachings in the Christian life- -I have! Some of you may not see the subtlety of how a list of purposes can turn us away from Jesus Christ, but think about these things prayerfully!

    If you'll take the pastoral advice from one who is constantly, yet unintentionally trying to make himself better with lists and purposes, achieving more with hopes to improve myself, and thus feeling defeated and down when I don't live up to my high expectations. We all as Christians need to learn to rest in the LORD.

    Now that can be an overused phrase, but what it means is that you stop "doing" and just know that God is God. What this means is that you realize that you are accepted by God just because of Jesus, and for no other reason. Jesus was the only one who did anything worth remembering: he perfectly obeyed and loved God and his neighbor because we could not (and would not)- - this the Glory of Jesus!

    You believe in Jesus? Yes you do! You believe he died for your sins, was raised for your justification, is sitting at God's right hand praying for you? Then BELIEVE IT! We talk so much about what we do for God: our commitment, our this, our that, yadda yadda yadda...

    What we often forget is God's commitment and love for us!

    In today's church climate, our evangelical minds have been overloaded with "do this" and "do that for Jesus", and if you "don't do this" and "don't do that" then you are not that great! But we must remember: "What would Jesus Do" is not the question to ask FIRST- - the question to ask is "What Has Jesus Already Done for me?!"

    We must all learn to look to Christ for our help and for our true purpose in this life- -His purpose is our purpose- -to glorify God and enjoy him forever! He is our SAVIOR, not merely a helper so that we can be better people. He is our Savior and the one who begins a work in us and will continue this same work (Phil. 1:6).

    Jesus offers to those who believe the same grace when we are saved, in the midst of our living the Christian life, and will offer the same grace to us when we die! The same grace that we are justified, declared righteous by God and given Christ's righteousness based on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING we have ever done (even all those hard strivings for his approval in the Christian life). As one Christian teacher so eloquently puts it: "We are saved by grace and we are sanctified by grace!"

    "It is finished." (Think about it!)

    What will really cause Christians great joy and excitement and gratitude is when we all begin to realize that we will never be more forgiven than we are now; never be more accepted; never be more loved- - -there is nothing we can do to condemn ourselves, or to better ourselves in the eyes of God!!!!!! What grace!

    Quit trying and rest in the Lord Jesus' work for you! Now, when we get hold of this reality, it causes us to think "Hmmm, then maybe I can sin all I want!"

    But no! God forbid! That is not taking into consideration the great grace that has been shown you (that is what the Romans thought when they heard the free and saving grace of God as well, cf. Romans 6). We are no longer slaves to sin; sin shall not be our Master in Christ! We now live lives, not of trying desperately to gain God's good favor, but gratefully living obediently by His grace and Spirit JUST BECAUSE OF THE GRACE THAT HAS BEEN SHOWN TOWARD US! (Read Romans 6-8, this was a paraphrase).

    Isaiah 30:15 is a Scripture I remember often:

    "In repentance and rest shall be your salvation; in quietness and trust shall be your strength."

    You may be wanting to do, do, do, and not just resting in the reality of who you are because of Jesus. Jesus is literally our everything. He gives us his Word so that we can by faith believe what it says, but alas, so many times we choose to believe what we feel and not what God says.

    What I am saying in all of this, is that all Christians are caught in the same temptations and tension of living in Christ and for Christ (Romans 7:14ff; 1 Corinthians 10:12-13). We are a people struggling with our identity, pressure to perform, and we want to know a little more about our God.

    We don't want to be discouraged, but our whole Christian life will be learning and resting in the Person of Christ and turning to him in repentance when we fail. We must learn to resist the programs, the rules, the lists, the purposes that can turn us away from the Person of Christ, and learn to rest in Christ NOW!

    Learn to stop trying and performing and rest in who you are because God has loved you in Jesus and made you his son!

    "Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not onto your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge HIM, and He will make your paths straight!" -Prov. 3:5-6.

    God promises to direct us and make our paths straight. He wants us to believe the reality that he has revealed in His Word by acknowledging Him as Your God and Creator and Redeemer who is in control of our life!

    ________________________________________
    Soli Deo Gloria
    CRB
    www.aplacefortruth.org

    Posted by Charles Biggs on November 10, 2005 06:44 AM

    Comments

    I noticed the Class-four legalists in your very large article (which was a nice read, by the way). If you will, please tell me if obeying out of love and gratitude for what God has done for the sinner would be considered legalistic. The sinner knows that what he is doing will not and cannot save him, but by being obedient, this is a sign of a regenerate person.

    He does not obey in order that he may be saved, but because he has been saved. He is not saying, "The Lord has saved me, and now I must pay Him back." Instead, he is saying, "The Lord has saved me, and because of this, I want to express my love and thankfulness towards Him." Is that legalistic in any way?

    New tee-shirt; "Quietists Work Harder" It's true!

    Thanks for an excellent article!

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