Tom’s Midweek Greeting
Crossroads Community Church
February 20, 2018
My email is coming out a little early this week in order to let you know that Home Group will happen this Wednesday at the home of Angi and Shane Dahmer, at 6:30 pm. We would love to have you join us for a good time of fellowship and midweek encouragement! (There will be no 5:45 prayer group this week.)
Contact us for directions.
Hope to see you Wednesday night at 6:30 at the Dahmers!
This coming Sunday morning, the 25th, we’ll have a special message from Acts 13-14, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Come find out why Paul said this was true, and what it means for us as we go through life’s “tribulations.” 10:00 at the Y.
Adult Bible Study will meet at 9:00, and we’ll continue our series in the Ten Commandments, taking a look this week at the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.” The Lord Jesus had a lot to say about sins of the heart and speech that are just stations on the line whose terminus is murder. How can we stay off that line altogether and experience more peace in our lives?
God’s work in us occurs from the inside out.
No matter how hard we try, the work God does in the life of a Christian is a slow work that occurs from the inside out, not from the outside in.
I’m reminded of the quote from Ray Stedman that we referenced last Sunday morning:
Though moral purity is important to our Christian walk, we should not define ourselves primarily by our negatives, by what we refuse to do. The grace of God has been made manifest to us in a positive way, through a positive love for God and others, and through positive new qualities such as joy and peace. The world is neither impressed by, nor attracted to, the negative rules Christians keep.
I find that refreshing and helpful. God has a great work to do inside of me which will, with time, show itself externally. “Don’t do this,” and “Don’t do that” are not the starting points for the Christian. “Do know me, and live closely with me,” says the Lord, and all the necessary changes will work themselves out, from the inside, in time.
Theologians use a big word to describe this process — “sanctification.”
To be sanctified simply means to be set apart. There are three kinds of sanctification that take place in your life, if you are a Christian:
• Positional sanctification: If you have trusted in Christ as your Savior, you are saved; you have been set apart for him. You belong to him.
• Practical sanctification: If you have trusted Christ, there is a process taking place in your life by which God is setting you apart experientially. Day by day, God is changing and refining your attitudes, action, and speech, making you to be more like he intended you to be. How does he do that? He does it through the Bible, through prayer, through fellowship with other Christians, and through other means as well.
• Perfect sanctification: One day in heaven we will be fully as we ought to be, set apart completely for him.
Practical sanctification is occurring in three places in our lives:
• … in my mind – what I learn
• … in my heart – what I love
• … in my will – how I live.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe asks if some of us are maybe only one-third, or two-thirds, sanctified.
For example, many Christians seem to be experiencing sanctification only in the mind. They know the truth, … but it’s all in their head. There’s not much love, and there may be little action. This is often a person who likes to argue about the Bible or doctrine. They can upset a Bible study by getting off on a tangent or abstraction of some kind. When they read the Bible, they see words – and principles – but they don’t see Jesus.
Some Christians are all heart. There’s a lot of feeling and emotion in their spiritual walk … but little basic doctrine. They want to be helpful; they sincerely want to love God and others, but they lack discernment. God’s wish for us is that our love be accompanied by knowledge and discernment (see Philippians 1:9-10).
Other Christians are all about action: Spiritual life for them is made up of action. “Look how busy I am for the Lord!” And yet, they may not pause to consider what God’s Word says his priorities actually are. Or their motives may not be truly out of love.
God wants us to be set apart in our mind, in our heart, and in our will. Ephesians 6:6 speaks of “doing the will of God from the heart.” There we see action (doing) and the heart. Elsewhere, in Ephesians 5:17 (and also in Romans 12:2), a reference is made to “understanding what the will of God is.” There we see the mind (understanding), and also action (doing the will of God once we’ve understood it).
When I hear some of you speaking about the spiritual growth you’re experiencing, what’s really happening is sanctification. Our minds, our hearts, and our wills are being changed from the inside out. What we’re learning, what we’re loving, and how we’re living is being impacted by our loving Lord.
I hope to see you tomorrow evening (Home Group) and Sunday morning (Adult Bible Study, and worship) for some more changes from the inside out!