Category Archives: Devotional Musings

More puppies than one can handle …

Sitting at various places today: inside, outside, plastic chairs, wodden chairs, benches, i spoke with my new pastor about theology and the faithfulness of God.

To illustrate: he spoke about how once, while staying the concrete jungle, he so longed to hold a puppy in his hand, to bring back memories of more “natured” days. Being in distress He prayed to God as he was walking along the roads. So he walked past a park, saw two young dogs playing and thought: “thank you Lord for answering my prayers, that is enough”. The next day, his pastor invited him to a dog show where he had to go. At the show there was this a “puppy room” and so my pastor went into it, to have his wish fulfilled. He said “you could not see me anymore for all the puppies over me”.

Soppy story? Maybe. But it illustrates God’s work in our lives, so well. How faithful was God in answering? Paul wrote to the Ephesian church the following: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”. We ask and God … does not seem to answer. We get frustrated and discouraged. In my case, i know God is able to do it … but i don’t trust.

However, when i look back , even just a few weeks and months (as i did today) i must agree with Paul. I see what my pastor meant: God has done far more than what i ever asked for. Granted, He has not answered all my prayers, but He has given me far more of things i did not even think to ask for; and often He has given “more abundantly” of the things i did ask for. Far more abundantly!

So i stand resolved to mediate on Eph 3 again … to make it a priority in my life, to refuse to be discouraged and overlook the obvious:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21)

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Test #1: Are you pursuing fellowship with God and other believers?

Walking in the light and walking in the dark

3 Tests

We all understand the polemic of light and darkness. We understand that they exclude each other as a concept, and yet, when it comes to our spiritual walk, we seem to suggest that you can have both at the same time. To this, John has something to say.

I want to show, from 1 John 1, 3 tests for you to take, so that you can see whether you are walking in the light “as he is in the light”, or whether you are walking in darkness.

Often we define darkness over the absence of light. In 1 John 1:5 the Apostle John gives us a, somewhat surprising, summary of the message he heard from Jesus during his time on earth: “God is light, and in Him is darkness at all”. So, if God is light and you walk in darkness you are walking without God. That is a very serious issue. My concern is that many “christians” are walking without God, some permanently, others temporarily. I hope that you will take those three tests honestly and earnestly for yourself.

Today i will bring you the first of the 3 tests:

Test #1Are you pursuing fellowship with God and other believers?

Note with me how John in verse 6-7 shows two sides of this: in verse 6 he shows the person walking in darkness and in verse 7 the one walking in light.

The darkness walker:

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
(1Jo 1:6)

The darkness walker is lying with his life to others. If you are there, you are saying one thing (namely that you have fellowship with Jesus) but your life (your walk) disproves your words.

A recent poll revealed that about 80% of “unbelievers” (those that would term themselves as such) would summarize Christians with one word: hypocrites. A hypocrite is one that says one thing but does another. They are the “submarine Christians”, the one going under during the week just to surface again on Sunday. That’s walking in darkness. That’s lying to others about your life.

Some questions to expose such a walk:

  • Is your Sunday behaviour different from that during the week?
  • Do you tend to be a “lone ranger”, avoiding fellowship with unbelievers?
  • Do you hate and refuse accountability (“who are you to talk to me”)?
  • When speaking to other believers is your life always “fine”?
  • When you sinned, are you sharing it with someone else, or are you hiding it away?
  • Do you love the fellowship when the fellowship is there, but love your sin when the sin is there?

You cannot call yourself a child of God and remain walking in darkness. It is impossible, for the mere fact of verse 5, namely that God is light.

If you remain walking in this way you are like a Pharisee, and Jesus had much to say about them:

“So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Mat 15:3-9)

Does this describe you? If it does then pull all the stops, call off your whole life, go down on your knees and beg God for forgiveness. Repent from it and turn away.

The light walker:

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jo 1:7)

Instead of running away from accountability and fellowship, this person is running towards it.

If you are such a person your Christianity is transparent and genuine. You are real and open, for everybody to read. You are walking your talk. Your lifestyle matches your doctrine. Your Sunday behaviour is nothing different from what the rest of the week is.

Some questions that speak of such a walk:

  • Do you love the fellowship and hate your sin so much that you would do anything just to get rid of it?
  • Do you love other believers and want to be around them all the time?
  • Do you pursue accountability?
  • Do you love the Word, the Bible, for its candor about you and it’s direction?
  • Are you being “cut to the bone” by it, or has it become bland?
  • Are you looking towards Christ for help and forgiveness in your sins?

The direction of the dark person was away from the light, away from accountability and fellowship. The light person has the opposite direction, namely:

“But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”
(Joh 3:21)

You want to be “clearly seen”, you hate the masks and hypocrisies that come so easy for us. Do don’t walk in obscurity, somewhere in between chairs.

Remedies

Here are some practical ways how you can counter your darkness walking:

  • Pray: pray to God for light and a new desire. Ask Him to change your heart and open it up for correction. Only God can do such an operation.
  • Seek accountability: If you have strong Christian friends (or somebody you know) then ask them (or him/her) to hold you accountable. If you are a guy, choose a guy, it’s just a wiser way to do it because you will be able to share with inhibition or causing a sister to stumble. Girls should seek accountability with other girls, of course.
  • Pursue God: If you don’t have a quite time during your day, in which you spend time alone with God, make time for it. Don’t just make 5 minutes either, make it a time worth spending. You need a relationship with the one you proclaim again.
  • Spend much time in God’s Word, let it minister to your soul and seek Him in it.
  • Pursue fellow believers: if you are not in a discipleship relationship, find the most admirable believer and ask him if you can spend time with him/her. Think about becoming the person to disciple another, how must your life change for that be light and not darkness?

If you have more suggestions please make use of the comments section, i would live to hear more (as i am still learning here myself. I am still in need of this myself!)

Next time we will have a look at the second test: “Is your life marked by repentance?”

Keep walking in the light!

in Him.

t

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One Spirit, One baptism

I recently did some study on the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ and was quite challenged by the emphasis on UNITY that seemed so prevalent. I though it was somewhat ironic since the Holy Spirit is often a more divisive topic than unifying topic in current ‘Christianity’. What follows below is a part of my study and focuses singularly on the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ and its effect on the local church.

Although the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been interpreted and explained in a variety of, often contradictory, ways, the Bible makes enough specific reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit to form an accurate understanding of what it is and what it means in the life of a believer. The primary questions that need to be answered are: “Who have and have not experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit?” and “What happens to the person during the baptism of the Holy Spirit?” First of all, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a current reality in the New Testament church. If 1 Corinthians 12:13 is viewed as the primary passage on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then it is clear that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a current reality for every believer living after the day of Pentecost (John Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, 139). By stating that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a current reality for every believer implies that every believer has already been baptized by the Holy Spirit and that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an event that occurs some time after salvation as a second and more profound endowment of the Holy Spirit. Although the Corinthian church was engrossed in many sins of disunity, immorality and worldliness, Paul reminds them in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that they still are those who are in the body of Christ because of their baptism by the Holy Spirit. This is also what might be behind Paul’s thinking when he writes to the Ephesian church and states in chapter 4:5 that every believer is characterized by one baptism. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is therefore not something that is only true of a ‘holier’ subset of believers, but is true for every regenerate person. Although the Holy Spirit purifies the believers on an ongoing basis by His indwelling and filling, the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs in the context of conversion and justification, and not of sanctification. Walvoord points out that the Bible never teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit needs to be sought after and pursued as should daily spiritual growth and sanctification (Walvoord, p. 140).

Secondly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the means by which a believer is placed in the body of Christ. Romans 5:12 makes the claim that all believers are “one body in Christ”. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 argues that we are one body because of our participation in Christ – we are Christ’s body (12:27). And it is all because of the baptism of Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 states that all believers are “baptized into one body”. As such, the Holy Spirit brings unity to an otherwise very diverse community of individuals. “Before salvation the individual was in Adam … [but in] salvation, the believer is removed from his position in Adam, and he is placed in Christ.” (Walvoord, p. 141) The baptism of the Holy Spirit then, is primarily identification with Christ. This fits in well with the rest of the New Testament’s teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual baptism is the very thrust of Paul’s exhortation in Romans 6:1-4 for all believers to strive against sin.

A Biblical and workable definition for the baptism of the Holy Spirit can therefore be formulated as follows: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the means of permanently placing every believer into the body of Christ by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion and as such is a partaker of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But, where does UNITY tie in with all of this?

In the New Testament churches unity was often disrupted based on Jewish or Gentile ethnicity. Darrell Bock argues from Acts 11:16 that if the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit in the same way as the Jews did, then the Gentiles are part of the same body of Christ, and as such, there should be no more division based on their ethnicity. He shows that the Holy Spirit was the unifying factor for the inclusion of Gentiles as the people of God (Darell Bock, Acts BECNT, 409). In Ephesians 2 Paul argues that the dividing wall between the people of Israel and the Gentiles is now broken down. The reason for the removal of division is given in verse 18: “for through Him we both [Israelite and Gentile] have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” As such, the various groups in the church in Ephesus were exhorted in chapter 4:3 to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Church unity therefore, is the unity that pertains to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is “the key to the unity and [is] integral to a harmonious diversity.”(Graham Cole, He Who Gives Life, 220) This unity is not only between individuals and God, but the “union by the Spirit … brings us into relationship … to one another as Christ’s body.”(Cole, p. 241) This unity is of a very unique nature. Nowhere in Scripture does unity have the extent and significance as it does in the New Testament church. The Holy Spirit’s work at the day of Pentecost created a community of believers which was “marked by unprecedented unity.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 646) Stressing the unifying emphasis of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Walvoord defines the baptism of the Holy Spirit in these words: “baptism is, then, the work of the Holy Spirit forming and adding to the living unity of the church.” ( Walvoord, p. 141)

A quick scan through the New Testament regarding the relationship between the unity of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit yields the following significant terms. 2 Corinthians 13:14 talks about the fellowship of the Holy Spirit that extends to all in the church; Ephesians 4:3 exhorts all believers to preserve the unity of the Spirit; and Galatians 5:20 mentions some of the fruit of the flesh which includes divisions and factions that are diametrically opposed to being led by the Spirit and exhibiting the peace of the Spirit when walking and living in the Spirit (verses 18-26).

The emphasis of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is therefore the unity of the body of Christ and not a more-spiritual state or more prolific exercise of the spiritual gifts.

So why does the topic of the Holy Spirit and the discussion of spiritual gifts bring more division than unity in the body of Christ? I dare say it is because of an inaccurately and unBiblical understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. When personal desires and motives cloud or even re-interpret the Biblical revelation of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, then the disruptive works of the flesh will show itself in our churches and lives. When practises rightly, spiritual gifts will bring each member in the body to a greater, not lesser unity. Do your activities in the church encourage unity or disunity?

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Dear friend, how is your dying?

One thing in advance: No! I am not depressed or have a negative view on life! To be quite honest, I love life, as much as God gives me the strength to, and as much as i can see Him working in it. Life is good, God created it, he gave it to me as a gift and He sustains it. I am thankful for every minute i get, every breath i can take, every thought i get to think (though i would love there to be more godly ones). I am so thankful for each day. A great part of the reason why i am so thankful and content with all is what i want to bring before you here.

Origins
I was recently again speaking with a brother who suffers from cancer. We had a long talk about faith and what reality has become. In our time together i was thinking about reality had become for him and how that was any different from where i am at.
On the outside there are some obvious differences: I am younger than he is, i am (as far as i know) healthy, he has cancer, he is married, i am not, etc. Death has just become a reality for him, not that he will die now, but if the treatments should fail he knows what the end of that is. So he lives a different life now. The day before he heard about this diagnosis he was a normal guy with a family, planning to get ahead in life, attending church, making plans for the future, dreaming dreams of his kids growing up, and all that. The next day all this comes tumbling down, like a house of cards. What has changed?

Well, he now has more information about when his death might happen. Maybe he can’t count on another 30-40 years anymore and rather has to plan around 5-10, unless God’s plan includes a full recovery (which in his case is, humanly speaking, likely). All life comes to an abrupt standstill, as if running against a wall of stone.
“How would i react? What would i say? Would i still be content in Christ?” Questions like those come into my mind all the time. Ministering to people in need also ministers to me. It’s a by-product of walking in the light (1 Jn 1).

So the question is still “what has changed in his life?” You see, i wanted to find out with what i can encourage him. But how do you encourage a guy who faces death? And then it hit me, right there: nothing has really changed. “Woah, hang on, but you can’t say that!” Well, think about it, we are all dying. That is the unfortunate reality. You never think about it, because you love life more, but if there is one thing for sure on this earth, it is that everybody has to die. And who guarantees you another day? I mean, really, don’t we live as if there is a Hezekiah kind of guarantee (who was given 15 years) of a set time, “at least another 20 or 30 years”. We all have a “best before” date. But nobody will ever know when that is, only God knows.

You see now, knowing this stops him to be a freak in this society. He is not the abnormal guy anymore, he is now the guy who actually has come closer to reality than you or i have come so far. I know, he is sick, i am not. So from that vantage point i seem to be further away from that reality, but that is not true. My life is in God’s hand, all days have been written out already (Ps 139:16). It might well be that i am going home to Jesus before he does. There are no guarantees.

The so what
“Ok, that just sounds a little pessimistic and morbid”, you might think. I hope to show you how seeing this encouraged me to live a life more to God’s glory than before (and i hope i could pass that on to my friend as well).

The one question that will inevitably arise out of this is “what sort of life would you live if you knew you were to die tomorrow?” Have you ever thought this? I have before this. But as quickly as this thought came, as quickly did i burry it again, because the answer to this is uncomfortable. The answer to this would include me doing what i actually knew i have and should do. It would mean that i stop living selfishly and stop investing in my little straw kingdom. You see, we don’t like that. So we live on, in a fantasy world we created for ourselves. We live as if we were to live forever on this earth, in this form with all we have now. Whether you are Christian or not, you should be able to see how silly this assumption is. We all know that death comes to all. It is part of life, part of our human condition of sinfulness, as direct result of Adam’s and our sin.

Are you seeing already where this is going? If i stop living my life as if i have another 40 years (which i might, or might not) and start living as a “dying man amongst dying men”, then my days will be much fuller with ministry to others. I believe this understanding should get even the most lethargic pew warmer of his behind and finally begin to be what he is called to be, an “ambassador for Christ” (2 Cor 6:20). A similar answer we can find in 2 Peter 3:11-12. The Apostle is showing how the second coming of Christ will make an end to what we now see. No timeframe is given. It could be today, or in thousand years, or whenever. In other places we read about Christ’s coming “like a thief in the night”. It will be unannounced and sudden.

Your life might find it’s earthly end then, whenever that is. Or it might find its end here on this earth tomorrow in a car accident, a stroke, cancer, HIV related issues, a house breaking … the possibilities are endless. There is not a guarantee. Please understand this. It is very important to understand God’s gift of life, every day anew. This is important to understand His never ending grace and mercy, every day anew.

Another friend of mine was just 2 weeks ago diagnosed with HIV. He is a child of God, a pastor in fact, who got this disease not because of anything he had done wrong. He went through so many difficult situations in the past two years: he lost two children in infancy, his grandmother (who raised him) died, his wife suffered from depression because of the loss of the children, he got sick all the time. And now this. What does a guy like that say about life, reality and God?
With tears in his eyes he stood before me, after he just heard the news of his test results. He said to me “Thomas, you know, my life has changed so much in the past two years. I realize now that everything has been given by God. I don’t just know it, i know it now. All things come from Him, every day is a gift, and all things in that day”.

I was fighting my tears as i tried to encourage him. Inside of me i was broken because of this tragedy, after all he went through and after all his faithful and godly example. But i was also broken over the this man’s faith and love for God, which put my own life in the correct light. You see, he began to live according to reality, i was still living in my self-created dream world. But my saved and changed nature screamed out that he is right! He is so right!

What it is about
There is so much more one could (and maybe should) say about this. I have only started touching the surface of a deep, deep ocean of truth. One thing is realized is that it is not really about how i live (please track with me on this now), but about how i die.

Why is that?

Firstly because of what have said until now, the reality of living each day as another present from God. But there is also another reason: you can live a fantastically Christian and churchian life, just to fall away on the last lap, deny the faith and your creator. This happened so often in history. Take Charles Templeton, for example. What does his life now mean? He died not being able to ever repent again. And on the other hand you get the people like the mother of one of my seminar y professors, who died with the Bible open to God’s promises, praying for her children (even though they only got saved after her death). Her faithful dying (over the course of her life) left such a huge impact in many peoples lives.
So i ask you again: how is your dying? Are you busy faithfully following God, being overwhelmed by His great gifts He gives every day: live breath and everything (Acts 17:25). Are you living in faith to His promises? Do you really know these two things, that God is good and that He is sovereign (as another seminary professor’s last sermon outline read)? How will people look at your dying in hindsight? Will it be with apathy because you lived a life all for yourself and by yourself? Or will they remember you as content in God, thankful and cheerful for all you received from Him. Will they remember you as praying for others and calling them to faith in the one reality most people don’t want to open their minds to? Will you die with your Bible in your hand and God’s promises in your heart?

And just to balance this out again. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, you understand that eternity awaits every human being, either heaven or hell. We are all eternal beings. We all live with, marry, speak to, sit next to, walk past eternal beings. As a believer in the fact that Christ has died for your personal sins, you know that He has bought forgiveness and sonship for you, by His blood and death. As a believer in God’s unfailing promises you know that you have an eternity with Christ to look forward to. As a worshiper of the risen Christ you understand that you will rise to eternal life with Him on that last day. As a faithful son of God you know that this world is only a passing stage, a pilgrimage. You are greeting from afar the promises of life eternal, at the fountain of life, in the fully revealed glory of God.

You see, dying is not so bad a thing anymore, is it? Know that if you are covered in Christ, if your found in Him and known by Him, this world is as bad as it gets. An eternity of glory, love, light and perfection awaits you.

But if you are an unbeliever, than this world is as good as it gets. If you are there, cancer and HIV will mean the end of this world for you. There is no hope. But in Christ, there is hope abounding; never ending hope!

So, dear friend, how is your dying?

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Flying lesson

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

(Isa 40:31)

 

When you read things like this, i wonder what you think about. Do you think success in life? Do you think money raining down on you? Do you think health, wealth and prosperity? Do you think family, children, marriage … i wonder what you think.

We love to take powerful verses like this and rip it out of context, because we love what it seems to promise. Did you ever read the chapters leading up to this? From Ahaz to Hezekiah? What is God speaking about in chapter 40?

Here is a quick thought about “mounting up with wings like eagles”, a quick flying lesson, if you will:

You need to know that between Isaiah 6 and 40 there is a lot of stuff happening. You need to know that the people who read this first where awaiting the Messiah. Was it Ahaz? A most resounding no! In fact, he was likely the worst of them all. So, no! Bad. Bad Ahaz!

Oh, maybe then it was Hezekiah? I mean, he lived a faithful live, didn’t he? Sort of, but not really. He must have looked like the One for quite some time when he was reforming the worship in Judah, tearing down pagan altars and rebelling against Sennacherib. But he had his issues. Isaiah 39 ends with his ridiculous statement of “after me the flood!” (i.e. as long as things are going well when i am alive).

God’s people, the Jews (here Judah), had been through a lot. They have endured ransacking, bad kings, near destruction (the northern kingdom was taken away completely – and all their own doing too) and still no sign of the Messiah. Hezekiah died. Still no Messiah.

The Babylonians came and took also Judah out of the Promised Land. The Temple was destroyed, all hope dashed to pieces. And in the midst of that God says “comfort, comfort my people!”  (Isa 40)

When you are going through serious times, with enemies at the gate, the earth shaking and moving (Ps 46:1-7) where are you looking to? Are you also looking for salvation, or are you also losing hope?

We have this strange idea that God will be “mounting [us] up with wings like eagles” through comfort and success. The context says “no ways!” Have you ever thought about how eagles “mount up”, how they fly? Well, they don’t fly by flying away from where the wind comes from. No, they fly against the wind. That’s how they get drift.

And the way your life gets “drift” is the same way. The way to mount “up with wings like eagles” is to fly straight into the wind and then “be still and know” that He is God (Ps 46:10). He will lift you up. It is always He who does the lifting and strengthening, but you better be prepared to face the wind head on. We like to be “saved” by getting away from the danger, by lack of troubles and presence of security … a heaven on earth. But not with God. True faith grows like bacteria on alfalfa when it encounters trouble.

Don’t run away from the wind. If you do, then God says “there will be no flying today my son!”

Read Isaiah 40 and know who God is. Hang on to the cross and face the wind. Set your sight on what is to come, eyes wide open, fixed on Him. That’s how you fly.

In Him

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A reason for truth being written, not experienced

Sunday morning at church i got to speak to dear brother of ours who was diagnosed with cancer, some time ago. This brother was speaking about how his experience was of late. He had gone through a number of chemotherapies, and related to us the effects that has on one’s mind and body. Frightening really. You just have to hate sin when you see a man in full bloom being sucked dry of life.

At a previous occasion he told me about his struggle with his faith in this time of trial. After the first week of being diagnosed he was struggling with the “why” and “why me” question. His faith was being put under trial and tested by some fierce fire. Today, when he spoke to us (i was not alone), he seemed much stronger in his faith, but still in a struggle. We comforted and encouraged him.

The interesting part of our conversation was when he told us what effect the chemotherapy had on his emotions. He told us about the times when he just could not care less about anything anymore (including God). He lived in limbo land, his experience of life was seriously dampened. How did he retain his faith in this time of testing, standing beside himself?

The written Word of God.

We were able to rejoice together about the fact that whatever changes in a man’s head, the written Word of God never changes. It is a reflection of who He is, unfailing, undeceiving, unchanging.

I am so glad that truth is not brought by experience! This story he told us about his mind and emotions changing confirmed to me one thing i had already suspected: experience cannot be trusted. However we feel about God and truth is irrelevant because our feelings are like a granny on ice skates. In fact, if our Christian life was build on emotions and experience we would not make it far. Our hearts fickle and deceiving, but the written Word of God remains the same, for all days and as long as this earth keeps on revolving around the sun (less poetic but more accommodating to our scientific friends).

Take joy in the fact that God chose to reveal himself this way, and not through some emotional experience. It cannot be trusted. God’s written Word, however, can.

In Him.

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Strange encouragement …

This will (again) be a reflection on something that Piper wrote in his excellent book “Taste and See”. The piece is about meditations on Hebrews 10:14:

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”

John Piper was speaking about the seeming contradiction of having been perfected/sanctified and yet still having to be perfected/sanctified. It sure sounds strange to begin with, but there is great encouragement in this. Piper made the point that “you can have assurance that you stand perfected and completed in the eyes of your heavenly Father, not because you are perfect now, but precisely because you are not perfect now but are ‘being sanctified’ – ‘being made holy’.”

Never thought about it that way.

And here is another thing. First of all we should notice that in Hebr 10:14 the actions are all passive, He has perfected and then are being sanctified. Why would that be important? Isn’t it obvious?

Well, i hold that we have a problem in our daily living out our faith that relates to this: ok, most of us agree that salvation is a work of God, not of us. He works faith in us to believe, which ends in salvation (Eph 2:8). So, no problem here. But when it comes to sanctification we have a different attitude.

I think much of our depression comes from the fact that “we don’t do what we know we should be doing” (c.f. Paul). We get thrown down because we expect our lives to be ones of consistent obedience and righteousness. Now, it absolutely must be like that, but are you working it?

I often feel like I should not be named after Christ because of my actions and wrong-doings. I end up looking at myself thinking “man, but you should know better”. And I should. So I end up losing my joy and feel thrown back, because i wasn’t able to live up to what my nature wants me to live like.

Just to be clear, it is vital that we are sensitive towards our sins. It is a very bad sign when you become apathetic about it. You should seriously worry about your salvation if sin is not loathsome to you (more about that in a following post). But here is the mind change (at least for me):

I am excepting my life to be perfect, according to the reality of having been perfected by Christ. I am perfect because Christ is perfect and I am in Him (the whole of Colossians 2 – count it). When God looks at my life He does not see me but Christ. Amen to that!

But the strange encouragement from Hebrews 10:14 says that you should not look at being perfect in what you do but rather rejoice that you are not perfect yet, but in the process of growing in Christ-likeness. So it is the process of seeing your sins turning from it that is encouraging, not the fact that you are not perfect. And I can see that. I hate sin. I hate to fail in my walk. I hate to be unwise and ungodly. But I must rejoice in the fact that I can see and that I can change.

And I can change only because of the passive verbs in this passage! I am being sanctified, not sanctifying myself. Of course that does not abdicate all the imperatives in Scripture. God works in, through and with us. Obedience, and a desire to be obedient, are signs of salvation (1 John). But it remains that it is God doing even the perfecting part. I take courage in that. I am not loved and accepted only when i am perfect, but precisely because i am not, yet getting there.

Ends Piper:

“So take heart. Fix your eyes on the once-for-all, perfecting work of Christ. And set your face against all known sin.”

Gotta love it!

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