TRANSFORMATION: All Passive

Bill Mounce has an interesting blog entry here:  To Be Changed (Transformed)

The topic is Transformation.  Bill summarizes in saying,

“But notice what these four uses of μεταμορφοω all have in common: they are all passives. The power to change does not naturally well up from within us but is the gift and the work of God’s Spirit.”

It was previously asked: “But how does this transformation happen?”

Answer: “There are two clues (outside of Rom 12:2). Paul tells the Corinthians, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (μεταμορφουμεθα) into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18).”

Well, at least two passages come to my own mind here:

1)   “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mt 13:23)

2)   “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”  He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.  By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”   (2Cor 9:8-15)

Thus, we see that Paul does not forget what he stated earlier (2Cor 3.18) by the time he gets around to 2Cor 9.13.  The Gospel itself is the SOLE means that God uses to workout God’s image, Christ Jesus (2Cor 4.4), in us.  And in what measure?  As He sees fit… “some a hundredfold, another sixty, and in another thrity.”

Ours then is always but a “passive capacity” in the way of salvation.  God alone is the prime mover, the “active” Operator.  The Cross itself was and remains emblematic of our always needing God’s intervention of salvationing.

CROSS: The Wilderness Before It

What does this mean, our being “in the wilderness before the cross?”  Simply put, it captures something of what our existence is here.  As sojourners, exiles, we find our place outside the camp, outside Jerusalem, outside those alleged strongholds along with our Lord, dying to the World and the World to us.  In this dying in (because of) Christ’s dying, there might be found then something of a genuine working of God in making us alive. 

The goal is not our getting as alive as we can, as if somehow we entirely (or almost so) put off mortality and corruption.  Rather, there is a proper ongoing dying, because of our being brought to the Cross; a dying that only the Cross itself can bring about and sustain.  What subsequent making alive that takes place is in spite of us, but only insofar as the dying is ongoing by the Sovereign (albeit merciful) hand.  Fact is, oftentimes, there is little of either genuine dying of self or divine life-giving going on.

Our existence now is before the Cross, where we are in ourselves naked (natural condition fully exposed) and yet not ashamed, for Christ alone is our boast and covering.  Amen. 

GOSPEL: Seeing Things As They Are

Another good program by the guys at WHI:  Gospel Driven

Really appreciate what’s said concerning:

1)   Paul’s finding the Gospel (Cross of Christ) to always be the context for seeing things as they are.

2)   The fear/ignorance that b(l)inds men from preaching Christ crucified as the Sum/Substance of faith and life…that which guards and nurtures the body of Christ.

EvanGALATIANism: Not getting and keeping the Gospel right!

OK folks…you heard it here first:  EvanGALATIANism!

That’s right, I just coined a term that will radically transform both the Church and the World (one day).  Yeah right!

Anyway.  As the title of this post states, EvanGALATIANism has to do with our not getting and/or keeping the Gospel right, front and center; our not above all else, reading, teaching, and living/believing in accord with the Gospel (Christ himself).  And, EvanGALATIANism fails to ever genuinely understand the brokenness both apart from Christ and in Christ (identifying with the Cross; dying daily). BTW, FundaSARDISism (Rev.3.1), the elder brother to EvanGALATIANism, has long warmed-over having found itself buried alongside LiberaODICEANism (Rev.3.14).

The way (theology) of the Cross is not something we understand or live apart from the Spirit of Christ making the Word of Christ to richly dwell in us.  Hence, as we began, so even now, our entire hope is in the mercy of God to make this ONE Gospel about Jesus Christ to be the Bedrock of all faith and life.

This doesn’t mean that we at some point arrive at a higher level of Christian existence, but that we (by the Gospel) are brought to live as dead men toward the World and vacuous Religion, yet alive toward God in and through Christ Jesus, to the glory of God and good of our neighbor.

So then…beware of the leaven of EvanGALATIANism…all Gospel-less doctrine and the associated lifestyle that it promises and nurtures…that is, anything that doesn’t find its hope solely and squarely upon the Gospel.  EvanGALATIANism, perhaps having begun in the Spirit, is that religion (like all false religion) which seeks to complete the race that is before us in the power of the Self!

Christianity: Not “The Gospel and…whatever”

Here are two programs that discuss the *priority* of the Gospel in ALL that the Church is about.

WHITE HORSE INN:  We Preach Christ Crucified

&

ISSUES ETC: Gospel Driven Church

Some highlights from the first (WHI):

1. After becoming Christians, Christians have a very strong tendency to make becoming a Christian easier than it was for them. Thus missing that the Gospel is not intuitive to the natural man…no matter what coating (i.e., sugar, lemon, etc) is put on it.

2. Preaching today (and probably always has been the majority approach) is a motivational speech wherein ‘Jesus & Friends’ are cited. This has always been a problem…folks wanting to establish their own righteousness, while not fully accepting/understanding that true righteousness is by faith not works (see Rom.3.21-22; 4.5,13,22; 5.17; 8.10; 9.30; 10.3-4,6; and 14.17) . Meaning, sanctification is not about…”Ok, we got that gospel thing down, now lets get busy and holier for God!” No, from start to finish (birth to death) by faith alone!

3. Preaching today (again, always the tendency) is to create a “need” that the pastor, etc can “meet.” All the while, biblical terminology is utilized (emptied its right meaning) in order to sell folks a plan for “fulfilling your destiny.”

4. The Cross is wrongly made out to be an answer to a different set of questions than those the Gospel actually answers. In other words, folks start out on the wrong page and assume that the Gospel “applies” to that very page.

5. Paul sang “one” note…Christ crucified! This and this alone answers man’s greatest and ultimate need, to find acceptance with a thrice Holy God. The foundation of this Throne of Grace, that the Apostle exclusively preached, was made of only true “justice and judgment” (Ps.89.1). It is this Gospel that is the fullest revelation of God’s wrath against human sin (Rom.1.17-18).

The second program (Issues, Etc) is equally good, addressing many of the same concerns…the Gospel ends up being “left behind” by churches/ministries, rather than seeing it as the sole means whereby God makes a people for His name’s sake.

Depths: Of Sorrow and Joy

Octavius Winslow once wrote:

 “As our deepest sorrow flows from a sense of sin, so our deepest joy springs from a sense of its forgiveness…This comfort have all the saints. Your sins, O believer, are forgiven. ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins,’ says God (Isa. 44:22). You are not called upon to believe that God will pardon, but that He has pardoned you. Forgiveness is a past act; the sense of it written upon the conscience is a present one. ‘For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified’ (Heb. 10:14), has forever put away their sins…

“Thus, beloved, God comforts His conscience-troubled people. He loves so to speak to their hearts! Is it any delight to Him to see you carrying your burden of conscious sin day after day and week after week? Ah, no! He has procured the means of your pardon at a great price-nothing less than the sacrifice of His beloved Son- and will not the same love which procured your forgiveness, speak it to your heart?…Is sin your trouble? Does conscious guilt cast you down? Look up, disconsolate soul! There is forgiveness with God. It is in His heart to pardon you.”