Some thoughts on sanctification

Sanctification is a fancy word used to describe what God has done – and is doing – in the life of a follower of Jesus. To understand it more fully there are two key aspects to consider.

Firstly, sanctification refers to a new reality in relation to God. To be ‘sanctified’ is a miraculous work of God where he takes a person who rejects him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, brings them into a real loving relationship with himself. The Holy Spirit sparks faith in a heart that has been wandering from God. When the Spirit moves, things change. The heart that was cold to God begins to beat. It comes alive. It becomes warm to God. This is saving faith that shows we now stand in a right relationship with God. And it’s not because we’re smart, or can grapple with religious concepts, but only because the rebellion we’ve engaged in has been fully dealt with by Jesus. Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t an accident. It was a sacrifice wherein Jesus took upon himself God’s rightful justice against us. In this sense we’ve been sanctified – literally, we’ve been ‘set apart for a special purpose by God. Taken from rebellion, and brought into a new reality. It’s a miracle. A gift. A relationship.

Here’s how Paul addresses the Christians in Corinth:

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours . . . (1 Corinthians 1:2; NIV)

Instead of a person being ‘out there’ running from God, rebelling, he brings them ‘in here’ – ‘in Christ Jesus’. They are set apart. Sanctified.

But the second sense of sanctification builds on the first, in that it refers to the process of how God changes us to become more like Christ. We have been set apart, not to be spiritual ornaments on God’s bookshelf, but active members of his worldwide family that proclaim to the world the reality and relevance of Jesus. Paul again . . .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . . (Romans 8:28-29a; NIV)

God wants us to become more like Jesus Christ – the Son of God who became a human to show humans what it means to be truly human! While the primary aspect of sanctification is its miraculous nature, this second emphasis points out that once we are in a new relationship with God, we have to be active in how we live for God. We have to get to work. We have to DO something. But what?

Theologians have pointed out that God gives us ‘means of grace’ to help us change. ‘Means of grace’ are things that God gives as resources or avenues of growth that we can make use of. These include daily prayer, regular reading of the Bible, meeting for corporate times of praise and encouragement, fellowship, worship, and other ways that connect us with a deeper understanding of who God is and what he’s done in Jesus.

growing

That’s why we encourage people to ‘go to church’ and pray, to read their Bibles, and to get involved with their church family. It’s because these are the means by which we grow.

As we read and pray and serve others, we seek to turn from rebellious self-focused ways. The more we do, the more clearly we see Christ. We see his majesty and his beauty. We see his love shown at the cross. And bit by bit, we grow. Here’s how C. S. Lewis put it in his novel Prince Caspian (note: Aslan is the lion-like character who represents Christ):

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.” “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?” “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”  – C. S. Lewis Prince Caspian

How big does Christ seem to you? And how does the new reality of being ‘in him’ show in how you live? How are you changing? What sins and bad habits are you confronting? What new heart-habits of love and service are you choosing?

If you’re a Christian, you’ve been sanctified by God. It’s a new reality. Now God calls us to see how satisfying Christ is. And to trust him, turn from laziness and sin, and to choose those things that grow us. That’s the process. He won’t do it for us. But he will help us on the way.

It’s time to become the people God has made us to be.

Pastor Matt

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Hi.

It’s been a while. I thought I’d just let you know what we’re doing this December. In the graphic below you can see that we’re picking up on the theme of “Tis the Season.” The carol of the same name goes “Tis the season to be jolly. Fa lalalala lalalala.” Whatever that means.

Christmas is, for many people, a wonderful time. It’s a time for food, family, and friends. It’s a time to be jolly. But the reality is that few of us are jolly. What IS jolly anyway? The reality is most of us are tired, stressed, and feel like we’re barely getting by. Hardly jolly, I’d say.

But Christianity offers us more than a yearly food festival drizzled with cheery platitudes. The good news about the birth of Jesus brings with it ways of seeing life that are much deeper and fulfilling than seasonal ‘jolliness’.

Below you can find the dates for our Sunday services, carol service, and Christmas day service. We’d love to see you here. If you’d like more information, please email us at office@wavellpc.org.au.

You can find us at 64 Spence Road, Wavell Heights, QLD. Parking is on surrounding streets. Oh, and . . . fa lalalala lalalala!

TIS SEASON main flyer-07

 

 

How did Paul change the world?

Here’s a fascinating interaction between theologian Tom Wright and historian Tom Holland about the impact of the apostle Paul on the world.

If you’ve got time this is well worth a watch. Paul’s impact on the world is truly staggering.

 

The Magical Birth Canal

Most reasonable people hold the view that intentionally ending the life of a human being is immoral.

That’s why abortion is such a heated issue. If an unborn baby is a human (in any sense), then aborting that baby would obviously be immoral. But if the baby really only becomes a baby – a little human person – once born, then abortion is perhaps another medical procedure to remove an unwanted growth within the mother.

But attempts to define the starting point of personhood are fraught with ambiguities and subjective (often self-serving) doublespeak: that the foetus only becomes ‘human’ at an arbitrary stage of development, or only immediately prior to, or at the point of birth (or perhaps a little afterwards?)

The biblical perspective is that post-birth personhood is necessarily grounded in pre-birth personhood, and that since no observable marker delineates the crossover point between non-personhood and personhood, it’s fair to say that human personhood throughout the entire process is a reasonable assumption.

The dividing cells which become an embryo are real human cells comprising of a genetic makeup distinctive from the mother and father – though made of the genetic information of both of them. To end the process of natural biological development within the womb is to interrupt a process which, under normal circumstances, results in a person like you. In other words – to intentionally abort a developing baby in the womb (at ANY stage) is to deprive a human person of enjoying the experiences and rights that those who abort babies seek.

That’s the tragically ironic thing about the ‘pro-choice’ position: those who support the ‘right’ to abortion have already been born, and their ‘right’ deprives other persons of their rights.

I realise this is a thorny issue, and I don’t wish to offend anyone by saying this. And I realise that many women have had abortions because they genuinely felt they had no options (and perhaps there was considerable pressure placed on them by others).

But perhaps the video below exposes some of the pro-choice rhetoric for what it is.

This video takes a cheeky dig at the idea that somehow personhood is achieved by simply emerging successfully from the birth canal.  It’s worth a look.