Tag Archives: sanctification

Thanks for the Testimony

1 Thess chapters 1-4

Paul is writing to a church that he established in 3 weeks amid much tribulation and conflict. In Acts 17 we find the story of Paul’s missionary work among the Thessalonians, this on the heels of the problems at Philippi. We must remember that Paul wanted to go to some different areas on his 2nd missionary journey, but was prevented by the Holy Spirit. The Macedonian Call compelled him to go to the cities of Philippi, Berea, Athens and Thessalonica.  Even though there was great struggle with the Jewish religious leaders, Paul and the new church were able to get strides to propagating the Gospel to nearby communities. As a side note, I wondered how I would be if I was confronted with so much opposition every time I tried to do the Lord’s work? Would I stay the course or would I say I have had enough of this – I’m tired of the garbage and walk away – I hope I would have the where with all to stay the course.

Even though this young church had hardship at the beginning, their faith and testimony has spread to other regions. Their testimony was well established. There isn’t any greater testimony for a pastor or minister than to know the labor among the people/church wasn’t in vain. The proof of the ministry is the obedient lives of those we have nurtured.

Paul makes his case before the church in how he came to them, not with flattery words and malice for gain but with a sincere heart and love for the lost. Paul continually praises the church for their faithfulness and holy witness. He also tells them to go one to more, even as they have walked, he ask them to walk “straighter” before the lost in conduct [2:12]. Paul wanted them to have holy lives, so that their testimony wouldn’t be stained, nor the Gospel be brought reproach. Now this church was already doing/living a great testimony – Paul challenged them to accomplish more. No because Paul wanted to get the glory, but because the great need for holiness among the Gentiles. The Thessalonians were experiencing trials, persecution from their own countrymen, yet they were found faithful – this is a lesson we in America need to learn. Even though the American society seems to be breaking down in to a great immoral society – we that are believers must still shine and salt the world with our presence.

From the language of this letter it is easy to sense the heartfelt love Paul has for this church. He longs to be with them, so to fellowship and lift them up. Sometimes the things we desire have to wait until the timing it right. In 1 Tess. 2:19, a great verse reflects a scene in Heaven one day; how that all the lives we have had an influence on will stand in the crowd of believers, and can take great joy in seeing them there before the Father!

In chapter 3 Paul continues his explanation of why He hasn’t been there, the Satanic tactics and the resistance to the Gospel. But even though Paul and his team may be missing, they were there in spirit and prayer. In this letter we capture a premise that seems to be lost in today’s Christian Living – the expectation that people are going to live righteously and godly. Accountability for the way we live the Believers’ life is so important for our witness and testimony to be valid.  In chapter 4, Paul repeats himself in asking the church “to excel more” in what they are doing. In verse 2-7, Paul uses the word sanctification – this denotes a separation, but also a maturation of the believer. Elsewhere Paul says we are to no longer to walk like children tossed to and fro, but to be built up in the faith.

The last part of chapter 4:13-18, is a passage that finds itself quoted during funerals as a means of hope. The Blessed Hope of Christ return is a hope we all need, especially when faced with deathly opposition. This world isn’t all there is; but this world determines all that there is hereafter. We are to be comforted that our labor and suffering are not in vain, keeping a pure uncorrupted testimony of faith for ourselves, and those who have suffered in bringing us to God.

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Living Out What Is Lived In

This week we find in Romans 10-14 that the nation of Israel [Jews] are not excluded from the “plan of Salvation” – just as the Gentiles were recipients of God’s mercy and Grace because of the disobedience of the Jews, likewise the Jews will be recipients so that all will be partakers of God mercy. Much has been made about the “Peace of Israel” but according to the scriptures, there really isn’t  any peace possible except that which will be reflective of the New Kingdom in the New Jerusalem. A lot of prophetic books have been written about the restoration of Israel, especially after they became a nation again in 1948. I know that may seem like a long time ago, but really it is recent history. Many were prophesying that Jesus would be coming back in 40 years [1988], that didn’t happen. Theologians and Preachers have been trying to put a specific time-table and timeline in place when Jesus is “for certain to return.” So far all have been wrong. I bring all this up to say this – Israel will be included in the Salvation Plan. They are still God’s chosen people. The wild branch will be cut-off [fulness of the times of the Gentiles – Romans 11:25] and the “True Branch” will be grafted back in – so the Father will have fruit from all people.

After Paul address his countrymen about how they will be included, we shift gears to the second step in salvation – first is Justification through the Blood of Christ; the second step is Sanctification through the “Holy Spirit” living through our members. [Body Parts] The Sanctification process is one where the redeemed become conformed to the image of Jesus [Romans 8:29]. We will not become fully like Jesus until we are transformed at our “Glorification” before the throne of God. The “transformation” occurs when that which is inside us gets outside of us. An illustration that I often use to show this is the difference between being born in the flesh and in the Spirit. When conception happens, we begin to form inside the womb, in a short amount of time, the child can be seen with hands, feet, head, arms and the rest of the outward form. However, while there may be a fully distinguishable baby after a few months, that child cannot live outside of the womb until the lungs are formed. We are formed physically from the Outside In. But when we are born spiritually we are formed from Inside Out. Phil 2:12-13 explain that it is God who is at work IN us to will and to do His good pleasure. So with Jesus inside of us, we are now His Temple of residence; He then begins to “work” His way out of us. Just as Jesus said, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father, I and the Father are One. John the Baptist also gives us understanding about our sanctification – John 3:30 “I must decrease and He must Increase. As we “give over the right to who we are” Christ then becomes known. The Holy Spirit is at work within us; the limiting factor of the Holy Spirit’s work is our unwillingness to submit, or allow the “presence of God” to be worked into all of our Humanity. This a most difficult thing to “give over ourselves to death, so that Christ might Live through us.

Chapter 12 & 14, are about the living out of that which is living in. Just Matthew talks about knowing a tree by its fruit, even so is the Life of Jesus visible as we allow Him to live out His life through us, as He lived out His life being fully submitted to the Father. It was not Jesus who did the works during His earthly ministry, but the Father living [having complete access to all that the Son was] through Jesus. Jesus spoke, the works that I do, are the works of my Father. He works, therefore I work. Phil 1:6 tells us that “He who began a work in you is able to complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus.” Another passage to reiterate the point – 1 Thess 5:24, “Faithful is He who called you, who will also do it.” Jesus allowed the Father to work in and through Him. This is the success that can be ours if we will “let the Life of Christ to reign in us, as He let the Father reign in Him.”

A tree is known by its fruit; I hear a lot of people saying that they know Jesus and that Heaven is their destiny. If there isn’t any fruit, then the tree is dead. A bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit, likewise a Good tree cannot bring for bad fruit. Here is the point; if someone professes that they know Jesus, and there isn’t any visible change; it is then reasonable to say “nothing has change, and salvation has not occurred. 2 Cor 5:17 – explicitly says that something New has been done and is visible to all. We struggle with this because we want people to go to Heaven. You don’t go to Heaven because you want too; you go to Heaven because something has happened to you to “conform/transform you for you Heavenly destination.”

Col 1:27 – the secret is this; Christ IN you the Hope of Glory!


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Get Right – Stay Right

Weeks reading – Romans 5-9

One summer I went to a youth camp with our kids from the church I pastored. We saw a lot of emotional response to the Youth Camping experience. However, I noticed that even though the kids dealt with sin in their lives inside the sanctuary [gym], as soon as they got outside it was back to the normal of being a youth. I do not doubt that their worship and confession were real. If fact I believe they genuinely wanted to live for God. The struggle was that they were confronted with the “real world” as soon as he music and preaching stopped. The next night they would try all over again to “really mean it” and stay committed. We adopted the phrase “get right-stay right” as a group to hold each other accountable.

Paul addresses the same problem I believe that all believers experience, the spirit is willing, but the flesh it weak. How can we live out that spirit filled life that seems to evade all of us? We find that so much has been done for us through the cross, yet that isn’t the end, the Life we are looking for is the Resurrected Life of Jesus. The blood of Jesus saves us from the wrath of our own sins, but the Resurrected Life of Jesus Christ is our new life. Romans 6:1-7; is used all the time as a New Testament instruction of what baptism is all about. We die when Jesus died, when Jesus was buried, then resurrected, we to are raised to walk in newness of Life; all is symbolic or so we say. If it is only symbolic – I am still alive and sin rules over me. Gal 2:20; repeats Paul’s words that the person of faith and trust in Jesus has died to who they were so they can be free from the Law; released from the tyrant of the Law to condemn us. But we are still alive, and cannot grasp the fact that we were, but now we are dead TO sin because of Jesus.

Because of the Law we know that we are sinners, and that God is holy. For as in Adam all died because of the transgression in Eden, but because of the obedience in Gethsemane, we are all justified through Christ. Salvation is secure for sure. But the problem isn’t salvation but Sanctification. The kids on Youth Camp understood salvation, was to free them from sin, but when they continued to sin, they came into bondage all over again. Romans 6, Paul commands us to no longer submit the members of our body to sin, but to present them to God as slaves of righteousness. [Rom 6:19]

Chapter 7, through a simple but wonderful illustration of marriage and the vows, Paul explains, that if a woman goes to another man, while still attached to husband, she is committing adultery. However, if he dies, then she is free to marry another. In our case, the Law doesn’t die, we die – when we die, we are free from serving the old master. In chapter 7:14-ff, has been a relief for me as I grew in the Lord. The frustration of not being able to do what I want to do, but actually wind up doing the very opposite; continuously gave me a guilt trip. I knew better, but still could not seem to stop myself from doing the very thing I was convicted about.  I embraced Romans 7:25 gladly, Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord; He has delivered me from the Law! Because we are delivered, justified, and made to be sons and heirs with Christ, chapter 8 can say that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Free at last! Our salvation is not based upon our good behavior. Nor is it based on our bad behavior. It is based solely on Jesus Christ doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Sanctification is an ongoing process of growing in Christ. We don’t ever stop sinning because we are in the flesh. However, we cannot use that as an excuse to allow sin into our lives. We CANNOT live the Christian life. We were never meant too. Jesus is the Christian life. [John 15:5] Jesus has already lived the life that the Father originally intended man to live, and now wants to live in each of us. I do not live, but Christ lives in me! We get Right by Faith in Jesus, we stay Right by Faith in Jesus. He [Jesus ] is the Christian Life!


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