As I approach my 78th birthday April 26, 2011, I rejoice in the supernatural strength God gives me to keep on ministering full time. I don’t know how much longer it will continue; but I thank God for the supernatural strength He gives me in my weakness. It’s a Scriptural truth I learned back in 1950 as a sophomore in the Christian high school, associated with Prairie Bible Institute situated in the frigid prairies of Alberta, Canada.
As I listened to the preaching of Founder and President of P.B.I., L.E. Maxwell, I began to understand the truth of the crucified life as taught in Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:1-15, Romans 6 and 8, I Corinthians 2:1-5, II Corinthians 12:7-10, Isaiah 30:15 and 40:28-31 and illustrated in the story of King Jehoshaphats’s victory in battle in II Chronicles 20, These, as well as other Scriptures, tie together and illustrate the truth of the crucified or exchanged life of God’s power in our human weakness.
The Christian life is all about our identification with Christ as our Saviour, as our strength and as our life.
CONSIDER OUR JUSTIFICATION
The foundation of the Christian life lies in the doctrine of the vicarious blood atonement of Christ. That is, Jesus shed His blood and died in our place to pay the full penalty for all our sins, past, present and future. Because He died and rose again the third day, we are saved from our sins and justified and declared perfect in God’s sight through faith in that amazing sacrifice. That basic truth is taught in Romans 3 and 4., II Corinthians 5:21 and in Galatians, as well as many other passages of the Bible.
Salvation involves an understanding and acceptance of several related truths.
HOW PERFECT MUST WE BE?
First, we must understand that God requires us to be as perfect as He is to enter Heaven. Jesus taught this in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48. One sin, one moral imperfection is enough to curse us and send us to hell for eternity. An understanding of that truth ought to be enough to make us throw up our hands in despair and show us our hopeless, helpless condition before God. But it doesn’t. The average sinner goes through life smugly thinking he has a pretty good chance of going to Heaven because he is not as evil as some people he knows. He fails to understand that God demands sinless perfection; a demand that none of us can achieve.
Secondly, we must agree with God’s Word that we are all totally hopeless and helpless to lift a finger to save ourselves. In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians that before they received Christ as Saviour, they were hopelessly lost and helpless to do anything about it.
THE BEST NEWS YOU HAVE EVER HEARD!
Thirdly, and this is where the Good News comes in. Once we understand our hopeless condition before God, then we are ready for the Good News, the Gospel of Christ. In the amazing grace of God, He has provided 100 percent of what we need to be saved. He sent His Son Jesus into the world to live a perfectly righteous life before men and then die on the cross as the complete sacrifice for our sins. As He hung on the cross and died, He paid the full penalty for the sins of the whole world. Those who trust Him are eternally saved. Those who reject His gracious Gift are forever lost in their sins. That’s the message of the Gospel throughout the Bible, starting with these well known verses in the Gospel of John 1:11-12, 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, 10:9, 27-30, 14:6-9, 20:30-31
If you do not yet have assurance of your salvation, it would be well for you to read those verses in John and ask God to apply them to your own life. There is more than enough Gospel truth in those verses to save you, if you will take God at His Word.
Note the trade that God makes with us as it is emphasized in II Corinthians 5:14-21. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us and paid the full penalty for our sins, so that those of us who trust Him are not only forgiven of all our sins, but we have Jesus’ righteousness imputed, or put to our account. No wonder we sing “Amazing Grace.” There is not a more awesome, beautiful and wonderful fact in all the universe! Jesus was far more than a perfect example of how we should live. He died and His blood was shed as the vicarious atonement for our sins. That’s the foundational truth of the Christian life. Have you grasped it and appropriated it by faith? That’s only the beginning.
Jesus died, not only to bear the penalty for our sins, but He rose again the third day to enable us to live His life of holiness. He died and rose again to enable us to have His supernatural strength to do whatever He asks us to do. No, we do not live it perfectly. If we think we have attained perfection, we are deceiving ourselves, I John 1:8-10 warns us; but the rest of that first chapter tells us how we can enjoy constant fellowship with God and victory in our daily living.
Isaiah 40 is one of my favorite chapters in all the Bible. It describes our awesome Almighty God and concludes with a wonderful promise of His strength to those of us who are aware of our own weakness.
God described here, is no less than God the Son who came into this world 2000 years ago as Jesus Himself Read the entire chapter and note His gentleness as a Shepherd caring for His lambs, and His awesome wisdom and power. Read how this wonderful 40th chapter of Isaiah concludes.
“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not; neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding.
He gives power to the faint and to them that have no might, He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
The Bible throughout teaches how God renews our strength by exchanging our weakness for His almighty strength. The key word here is exchange. That word describes how God deals with us in His total relationship with us.
The Christian life is all about an exchange with Christ Jesus; not only as our Saviour,but as our life.
CONSIDER OUR SANCTIFICATION
Christ died, not only to justify us and declare us as righteous as Christ and fit to enter Heaven; He died and rose again to make possible His very life being lived out in us through His indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine known as Sanctification. It is God’s way of not only declaring us righteous; but also making us righteous. Now, I remind you again, you and I will never be perfect until we arrive in Heaven, in our glorified, sinless body. To think such a thought is to deceive ourselves and call God a liar according to I John 1:8-10.
Man’s vain attempt to arrive at godliness is to work hard and practice until we have perfected our skills at living a righteous life. God’s plan of sanctification is not to try to improve us, but to crucify our old sinful nature and bring about the resurrection of our new nature through the power of the accomplished resurrection of Jesus. This truth is taught primarily in Romans 6. For more on this go to VICTORY on this web site. In Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20 we have the doctrinal foundation for this doctrine of Victory. They are summarized in three verbs.
1. KNOW the truth of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Roman 6:3
2. RECKON on that truth in times of temptation. Romans 6:11-12
3. YIELD yourself to God and allow Him to give you His victory. Romans 6:13-14
The crucifixion of our old sinful nature is not a one time experience. It turns out to be a daily crucifixion of our sinful nature as it pops its ugly head up to tempt us to sin. That’s why in I Corinthians 15:31 Paul declared that “he died daily”.
Understand, we are not talking about our physical bodies. There is nothing sinful about our human body. It is fearfully and wonderfully made. Read Psalm 139 on this. In fact, for the Christian, our bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit” according to I Corinthians 6:19-20. Rather, we are referring to our sinful nature that we will have until we arrive glorified in Heaven. Paul, a godly man, describes the struggle of every genuine Christian in Romans 7:12-25.
Actually, the purest saint of God at the moment of his greatest spiritual strength, is in his flesh nature as weak as he was before his conversion to Christ. That’s the meaning of that passage you just read in Romans 7. The failure to understand this truth has caused many pastors and other Christian leaders to crash morally.
So, in summary, we gain victory over sin by switching from reliance in our puny, faltering strength to do right to relying on the omnipotent power of God working in us through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.
This is the doctrine of sanctification. There are daily disciplines that help us grow in our walk with God, such as reading and meditating on God’s Word daily, spending time in prayer and regularly attending a church where the Bible is faithfully preached and lived.
Reading through HIDDEN TREASURES with your open Bible, and reading the references as they appear in the articles, will help you on this journey towards godliness.
What an awesome God we have! He is worthy of our praise and of our surrender to His Lordship. Remember, being saved and living a holy life is not a matter of our struggles to attain; rather, it is a matter of us exchanging our sin and failure for His righteousness and His supernatural power in our weakness.
Though I may not know you, my prayer for you, my unknown reader, is found in Ephesians 3:14-21. I look forward to meeting you in Heaven and learning what God has accomplished in and through your life.