As Christians we sometimes get stuck at redemption. We may think: Redemption is the ultimate goal of life! As long as I receive forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, my place in heaven is secured. And my ultimate mission in this life should be to save souls!
We thus tend to speak about salvation in two tenses:
Past tense: I have been saved from the penalty of sin (justification).
Future tense: One day I shall be saved from the presence of sin (glorification).
The Bible, however, also speaks about redemption in a third tense - the present tense in which we are continuously being saved from the power of sin and Satan. The Bible calls this period between our past salvation and future salvation: sanctification (Adams: A Theology of Christian Counselling, p. 174).
In his book, Maximum Faith (printed in 2011), George Barna reports on six years of extensive research on the lives of Christians in the USA. He came to the conclusion that most Christians gladly take the free gift of salvation, but fail to count the cost and pay the price of genuine ongoing transformation. Instead of maximizing our relationship with God and others, we get busy with church & religion.
After years of involvement in the Christian faith, most people slip into a spiritual coma. Our faith then becomes a series of rituals, routines, recitations, rules, relationships, and responsibilities. Without noticing it, our goals slip into a more relaxed state, such that we are no longer stretching our faith muscles and pushing ourselves to explore new territory.
Barna indicates that nominal Christians in the USA:
- freely give money to worthy causes,
- take their children to Sunday School and church youth group meetings,
- confess their sins and ask God's forgiveness,
- attend church services,
- tell people to turn to God,
- confess sound doctrine
- and in doing so, claim to be followers of Christ ... yet these people fail to see that they actively participate in a continuing rebellion against God. They fail to surrender to God's total control of all aspects of their lives.
- God wants to forgive our self-reliance, self-indulgence, selfishness, continual sin and refusal to worship Him alone.
- He remains eager to move forward into a deeper relationship with us.
- He is committed to our sanctification, to our becoming the loving, worshipping, obedient disciples that we were placed on earth to become.
The confronting questions are:
Where am I at present?
Is this as good as it gets?
Is this the totality of what Jesus died for me to experience?
Am I not aiming to low?
Am I not satisfied with less than God wants for me?
Among the born-again population, only a tiny proportion get beyond their profession of faith to experience the more robust and significant outcomes that are made available by Christ to his followers.
Salvation is not the final goal or destination - it's the beginning of a
lifelong intimate God-centred walk.
Salvation is not a comfort zone for a mundane existence - it is a catalyst for the difficult but exciting journey of continuous change into the person God intended us to be.
This dynamic process of reformation and transformation is revealed in the name the first Christians preferred to give to themselves, namely: "People who belong to the Way; people who follow the Way":
Saul was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1).
Where did the name "People of the Way" originate?
The answer is found in John 14:5-6:
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Through his life, death and resurrection Jesus became the new and living way, the entrance to the presence of Father God (Heb 10:20).
This is the Name the early New Testament believers chose:
We belong to the Way,
we travel the Way,
we belong to Jesus,
we follow Jesus.
Why did they choose this name? It is because coming to faith is not a destination, the end of the road, but coming to faith is a beginning and a journey. The purpose of my life is not to come to faith, but to follow Jesus, the WAY.
If we remain in Jesus, we will bear much fruit. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Of course, this is about God's way, not my way. We are followers of Jesus, the Shepherd (John 10:3,4), the General (2 Cor 2:14).
Travelling this road is a liberating experience, an adventure, a joy.
This is what the ministry of Radio Pulpit is all about, whether it's broadcasting or client services or community projects or counselling.
The big Broadcaster/Counsellor involves small human people: broadcasters/counsellors to walk beside a client/counselee for a few steps, representing Jesus to him/her, following the example of Jesus. Jesus joined his two traumatized disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. And He opened their eyes to recognize Him.
Counsellors following Jesus encouraging counselees to follow Jesus, praying with them:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting (Ps 139:23-24)
I urge you: Minister God's faithfulness to those who suffer and become tired:
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint (Is 40:31).
I encourage you: Sanctify yourselves continually to Jesus, the Way. And be faithful agents to people of their sanctification and dedication to the Way.
ABBO Certificate Ceremony
17 Feb 2012