MEMORY VERSES TO DATE
If you are having difficulty memorizing John Piper gives us great advice - (1) Pray for God's Spirit to give you the desire and the power to memorize His precious word. (2) Review, review, review. Remember heaven and earth will pass away, but God's Word will endure forever. Invest your life and time in something that will endure forever. The other enduring entity of course is human souls. As you invest in the eternal Word, internalizing it into your eternal soul, you will be much better prepared to invest in other eternal souls (witnessing, discipling)!
- 2Timothy 2:1-2
- Ephesians 5:18
- Galatians 5:16-18
- Galatians 2:20
- Philippians 2:12-13
- 2 Corinthians 3:18
Brothers, may God by His Spirit grant you the enabling grace to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." Amen (2Ti 2:15-note).
THREE TENSES OF SALVATION
JUSTIFIED = past tense, SANCTIFIED = present tense, GLORIFIED = future tense.
I HAVE BEEN SAVED = PAST TENSE
Ephesians 2:8-9-note - "have been saved" - Perfect Tense - Past completed action (moment we believed in Christ and His Gospel) and ongoing, lasting, enduring effect (this is the real version of "Once saved, always saved.")
We are POSITIONALLY 100% righteous before God because we are IN CHRIST the Righteous One.
Save in Eph 2:8 is the great verb sozo (word study) which is one of those words where it really helps to know how it was used in the ancient Greek language. Yes, it means saves and that is great, but it means far more and conveys the senses of rescue from great danger (remember Peter when he walked on the water and began to sink - He used the verb sozo to cry out to Jesus in Mt 14:30), keep alive, deliver, protect, heal.
Romans 5:1 (note) = "having been justified by faith"
So while we are 100% RIGHTEOUS in God's eyes, we still are inhabited by the "SIN VIRUS" we all inherited from Adam (Ro 5:12-note)
AND REMEMBER: There is a great difference between (the) SIN and sins - the former is the "VIRUS" and the latter is the EFFECTS produced by the virus. God dealt with the "VIRUS" on the Cross (Ro 6:6-note, Ro 6:11-note). The old sin nature is still present (Galatians 5:17, Ro 6:13), but has been defeated. SO HOW DO WE INTERACT WITH IT? Only one way. By being continually filled with the Spirit, by walking by the Spirit.
I WILL BE SAVED = FUTURE TENSE
- 1Peter 1:3-5-note who are protected by the power of God through faith for a SALVATION ready to be revealed in the last time.
- Romans 13:11-note And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
I AM BEING SAVED = PRESENT TENSE
- Read 1Cor 1:17-18 = Gospel (being saved = pres. pass) (Ro 3-5 = penalty, Ro 6-8 = power)
WHAT 2 FATES CONTRASTED? Perishing…being saved.
Both are in the present tense. And so every lost person you encounter today is a work in process, progressing ever closer to eternal separation from God. But even worse the Greek word perishing describes total ruin, the loss of all value and opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. This should break our hearts. To be sure hell is a horrible thought to contemplate, but far worse to me is to eternally not be able to fulfill the purpose for which one has been created. And what is that purpose? It is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as stated in the first article of the Westminster Catechism. And so even now they are perishing, not fulfilling their divinely ordained purpose. Does this not help us understand why the lost of the world are constantly trying to fulfill their life in manifold ways? They are empty and will stay empty and their life will (tragically) be meaningless (from an eternal perspective, Eccl 1:2, Eccl 2:1-26) unless they hear and receive the Gospel and are saved.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO TAPPING IN TO THE POWER (Romans 1:16-note)? BELIEF ("R & R" = Renounce one's self and rely on the Spirit)
WHAT ARE WE BEING SAVED FROM DAY BY DAY (don't miss this - I think we did fail to emphasize this in our discussion time)?
Power of sin > flesh tempts us = see James 1:14-note teaches that sin (working through the lusts of the flesh, creating temptations to gratify one's self by means that are not ordained by God) is continually at work seeking to take us down. That is the power of sin. Yes, it's stranglehold on believers has been broken by the Cross (Ro 6:6, 7, 11-note) but it still lives in our mortal bodies and untiringly seeks to regain the throne of our heart (Ro 6:12-note). James says it this way - "But each one is tempted (present tense = continually) when he is carried away (lured from safety) and enticed by (bait on the hook) his own lust (strong desires with an evil penchant)."
Paul says that the Word of the Cross is the power for us who are being saved (being sanctified) (1Cor 1:18) He also says the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (past, present, future tense) to those who believe. So as we believe these truths (leaning our whole weight on them so to speak, not leaning on our fallen flesh for a quick fix), we tap into the power of the Gospel, dunamis which is dispensed and applied by the Spirit to our souls, allowing us to put to death the sinful deeds of the body (Ro 8:13-note).
POWER = dunamis = the inherent supernatural power to overcome the flesh, power of Sin!
Stated another way, the CROSS (GOSPEL) that saved us from the PENALTY (past) now gives me POWER in the present to live as more than a conqueror over the world, the FLESH and the devil!
2Cor 12:9-note also taps into this power as we admit and accept our weakness to confront and defeat the power of sin in our own strength. As Paul taught and learned and lived by throughout his own ministry - WEAKNESS = PARADOXICAL SECRET OF POWER. The world system scoffs at such gibberish which seems to them to be utter foolishness! (1Cor 2:14)
SUMMARY: Saved immediately from sin's penalty (have been justified), saved progressively from sin's power (being sanctified), and saved ultimately from sin's presence and pleasure (will be glorified). These great doctrinal truths are summarized below in two charts which you might take time to study.
JUSTIFICATION, SANCTIFICATION & GLORIFICATION
POINT 1 marks our moment of conversion or regeneration when the Spirit "circumcised" our heart of stone (cf Dt 30:6, Col 2:11-13-note) and gave us a (qualitatively) new heart (in the New Covenant = Ezek 36:26, 27-note, cp Jer 31:31-34), the act of God known as JUSTIFICATION or PAST TENSE SALVATION (Ro 5:1-note) (saved from the guilt and penalty of sin). Justification refers to declared righteousness, sometimes called forensic righteousness, which has been accomplished once and for all (Eph 2:8-9). Justification takes place the moment a person believes in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ro 10:9, 10-note). The line from 1 to 2 is not a process but is a change of position effected by God -- believers are declared positionally righteous the moment they are justified by faith, signifying the once-for-all reckoning (or Imputation) of Christ's perfect righteousness to the sinful believer's "spiritual account" (Ro 4:6-note). The believer's position or standing before God (POINT 2) is now complete in Christ and perfect the moment they believe, because Christ has been made our righteousness (1Cor 1:30; cf 2Cor 5:21-note). At no time in this life or in the life to come will our status in terms of righteousness be any greater or lesser because "in Him (we) have been made complete" (Col 2:10-note). This state is often referred to as positional righteousness. We cannot do anything to add to or take away from this perfect positional righteousness. May God grant that we all rest secure in this great doctrinal truth!
Sanctification refers to the lifelong process of growing in practical righteousness, a continuing process. Generally, when you hear someone use the term "sanctification", they are referring to the present process all believers are experiencing, and this is sometimes referred to as "progressive sanctification" by the theologians. Note also that justification is also known as positional sanctification (indicating that at a point in time, at the moment of salvation by faith, our position changed from in Adam to forevermore in Christ). Finally, note that glorification is also known by the term "perfective sanctification" (when we see Jesus we will be like Him and made perfect!). Although, there are a number of terms which are synonymous, a little study of the chart below should help clear up any points of confusion.
Past tense salvation results in peace with God, whereas present tense salvation or sanctification speaks of the peace of God in one's heart. Peace with God is the result of one's legal standing before God (cf 1Cor 1:30), while the peace of God is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit (eg Gal 5:22-note; Ro 8:13-note). The first is static and never fluctuates, the second changes. The first, every Christian has, the second, every Christian may have, in proportion to the degree they "work out (their) salvation with fear and trembling" (present tense salvation) enabled by God's grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
POINT 2 to 3 corresponds to SANCTIFICATION or PRESENT TENSE SALVATION, (click here for more on sanctification) which is an ongoing process occurring during the time period after we are born again and before we die or are raptured. During our earthly life as new creations in Christ (2Co 5:17-note) now are charged to present ourselves to God as "slaves of righteousness" (Ro 6:16, 17, 18, 19-note cf Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note) and experience progressive release from power, dominion and reign of sin, being set aside (sanctified) more and more from the world and more and more unto to Jesus, "a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds". (Titus 2:14-note)
POINT 3 indicates the consummation of our salvation known as GLORIFICATION or FUTURE TENSE SALVATION, at which time we are free once and for all from the presence and pleasure of sin and made like our Lord (1Jn 3:2, 3-note)
The following chart summarizes many of the truths discussed above -- The divisions of this chart are not meant to imply that the Christian life is a dull, mechanical matter, but in fact is a joyful, dynamic relationship with the Living God!
THE PROCESS OF SANCTIFICATION
SANCTIFICATION is clearly seen in 2Cor 3:18 and in this passage is equivalent of Spiritual transformation or spiritual growth. I often hear the question "How do I grow in spiritual maturity?" In this passage Paul gives us an answer to that question in abbreviated form. And this is one reason we have selected this passage as your memory verse for this week.
But we all, with unveiled face BEHOLDING (present tense) as in a mirror THE GLORY OF THE LORD, are BEING TRANSFORMED (metamorphoo - present passive) into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2Cor 3:18-note)
WHAT IS THE BELIEVER'S RESPONSIBILITY? WHAT IS THE SPIRIT'S ROLE?
From this passage it is very clear that the Holy Spirit (Helper, Enabler, Transformer) uses the BEHOLDING the Word of God (Gospel) to be progressively TRANSFORMING us into Christ-likeness.
This begs the question - Are you beholding the Word of Truth daily before you walk out into the world system (one of our mortal enemies) filled with half-truths (lies)? Jesus knew we needed to be fortified daily and that's why He stated so clearly that "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Mt 4:4).
The verb for TRANSFORMED (metamorphoo) is used only four times in Scripture, twice to describe Jesus' transfiguration () and twice by Paul in our current passage and in Ro 12:2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
How is transformation described in Ro 12:2? Transformation produces a renewal of your mind = brand new way of thinking. Webster defines transformation as the process of changing a thing to a different thing. In short, the Spirit is in the process of daily changing our mind from our old way of thinking into a qualitatively brand new way of thinking. This process (one aspect of sanctification) will be ongoing as long as we are on planet earth. To be sure we now have the mind of Christ (1Cor 2:15-16), but now as we take in the Word of Truth, the Spirit changes our mind progressively so that we think more and more like Christ thought while He was on earth as the God-Man. And what better way to give the Spirit opportunity to change our minds then to memorize God's Word. That way the Spirit can be working on us during the day, at times where we are not able to sit and intentionally read His Word. Is this a bit mystical? To be sure! But it is ultimately one aspect of the answer to the great prayer Jesus prayed for us the the night before His crucifixion when He ask the Father to "Sanctify them (disciples) by truth. Thy Word is truth." (John 17:17) Your spiritual transformation, your spiritual growth is closely linked with your intake of Truth. You ate breakfast today so you might have physical nourishment. Did you eat the real "breakfast of champions," God's living and active Word?
HOW ACCORDING TO Jn 6:63? “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
By the Holy Spirit, not by our self-efforts to be more spiritual! Note the striking contrast - Spirit/Live versus Flesh/nothing. And what does the Spirit use to bring life? The words of Jesus. The word of God. Ultimately, the Gospel. The same Gospel that gave us new life in the past (justified us), is the same Gospel that today renews our mind and gives us abundant lie (sanctifies us, Ro 12:2, Jn 10:10b). So at risk of being redundant, the Word of God and the Spirit of God are of critical importance to our spiritual transformation.
WHAT DO YOU LEARN FROM 1PETER 2:2-note? "like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation"
1Peter 2:2 - NO MILK/NO GROWTH
What if your newborn repeatedly fails to awaken in the middle of the night crying for milk? It is quite possible, even very likely, that your newborn is ill. The same holds for believers who are not longing for the pure milk of God's Word. There is something interfering with their brain's "hunger" center (spiritually speaking of course)! Perhaps there is too much intake of "snack food" (whatever that represents in your life) which effectively dulls your desire for pure milk. Peter has another suggestion (the Scriptural reason) which is discussed below.
And what if we don't have an appetite for the pure milk? It's time for a spiritual physical by the Great Physician! We need to do spiritual inventory like David, the man after God's own heart did in Ps 139:1, 23, 24. Peter gives us guidance in the immediate context. Observe 1Peter 2:1-note. Notice Peter exhorts us to put off certain "dirty (spiritual) clothes" -- How is this possible? Not by our power beloved. Flesh will never cast off flesh, but will just put some camouflage on or some eau de cologne so it does not smell so bad! No, we need to renounce all pretense of self-effort at self-improvement and run to the shelter of the Cross, partaking of the power of the Cross (1Cor 1:18) as dispensed to us by the Holy Spirit Who gives us the desire and the power to put off the old fleshly garments of malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Then (and only then) while He restore our appetite to taste and see that the Lord is good, as is so plainly taught in the pure (undiluted, no additives) Word of Life. Then our personal Trainer, our Transformer, the Spirit will take the truth ingested (solid food - Heb 5:14-note) or imbibed (if it's milk - as an aside "imbibe" means to receive into the mind and retain, to assimilate, to adsorb as a dry sponge imbibes living water! Imbibing in the mind always implies retention, at least for a time!) And by this the Spirit transforms us, renewing our mind to think like Christ thinks, and enables us to walk like Christ walked, filled with the Spirit, filled with supernatural power (Lk 4:1, 14, Acts 10:38)
Synergism (Collins English Dictionary) - the belief that the human will cooperates with the Holy Spirit and with divine grace.
It is absolutely vital that we grasp the principle of sacred synergism in sanctification and that we work out our salvation in dependence on and confidence in this truth!
Synergy = combined effect, joint work, working together
Webster defines a Synergist (I've added the terms in parenthesis to the secular definition) as "something (the Holy Spirit) that ENABLES (contrast "helps" - we need more than a little "help" to have victory over the strong desires of our fallen flesh) the effectiveness of an active agent (Followers of Christ).
Synergy = potential ability of individuals to be more productive as a result of a merger (Caveat - Of course this "breaks down" somewhat in that the omnipotent Spirit does not need us for greater effect!) - When did the "merger" occur? Obviously when the work of the Spirit caused us to be born again (1Pe 1:3-note). The Holy Spirit came to indwell us and give us holy desires or as Paul says "If any man is in Christ, He is a new creation/creature. The old things have passed away. Behold, new things have come." (2Cor 5:17-note) In summary, when we were born again, a "Divine/Human merger" occurred. Jesus sent His Spirit to live within us to enable us to be more than we would be without Him.
The word synergy is from two Greek words - syn = together with + ergos = work. There are two Greek words for "with," syn and meta. Meta conveys the idea of being beside. Syn is very different in that it means with in an intimate relation. I have learned to bake cakes and when I prepare the ingredients I set the baking soda BESIDE (meta) the flour. But then I combine them and put them in the oven and bake them and they are now inextricably combined (with each other) in an INTIMATE UNION (syn). When we entered the New Covenant by grace through faith, the Spirit outside of us ("meta") forever was united with the inside of us (syn) in an unbreakable union (the idea of covenant speaks of oneness, identification and intimacy - think of your wife - when you married you became one flesh with her in the marriage covenant, which is an intimate union.)
So back to our definition of synergy - it speaks of joint work, of working together, and of cooperation (from Latin cooperari from co = with + operari = to work, thus to work with). Let's focus on the word, cooperation, which begs the question - Am I "cooperating" with the Holy Spirit or am I ignoring Him (perhaps you have been ignorant of His enabling provision and your desperate need for His provision) or am I "blunting" His desire to lead me and guide me in the sanctification process by quenching Him (1Th 5:19-note) grieving Him (Eph 4:30-note)?
Even as synergy in the secular world speaks of enhanced effectiveness as a result of cooperation, so too as we learn to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16), renouncing our self-effort and relying on His all sufficient power, we will gradually and progressively see an enhanced effect in killing sin, including those sinful thoughts and deeds that have so long beset us. They may still be hanging around, but their influence over us is dissipated. Think of it this way - when we walk in sync, in cooperation with the Spirit, this "syn" relationship will routinely defeat the sin that so easily entangles us (Heb 12:1-note, Ro 8:13-note).
Remember that positionally sin ("the sin" = the sin principle or "sin virus," personified as a slave master or king who still wants to rule in our heart) has been once and for all been defeated by Christ's death on the Cross and our co-crucifixion with Him (Ro 6:6-note, Ro 6:11-note). Practically we must now daily put sin to death (Col 3:5-note) as we learn to walk in the "syn" (synergistic) relationship with the Holy Spirit. Does this make sense?
Next week we will look at some Scriptures that describe this "sacred synergism," the wonderful relationship between the believer and the indwelling Spirit of Jesus. We will also look at a number of passages from both the Old and New Testaments which depict this relationship, one that we will see reflects our 100% dependence and at the same time is 100% our responsibility. While this is a mystery, an understanding of the basic truths will enable us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.