Having spent the last two teaching sessions surveying two great pillars of what is termed Soteriology (the study of salvation), we come in this eighth teaching part to survey the third and final pillar, namely the doctrine of sanctification. If the doctrine of sin lays the foundation upon which doctrine of the atonement rests, the doctrine of sanctification takes its necessary place in the grand order of things in being the last to be laid. That it is last to be laid is no reflection upon its importance, for all three are of equal importance and if one was to fall they would all fall! Many today would make much of the first two pillars as though the work of salvation is complete without need of the third. However, as we shall see the doctrine of sanctification is of the utmost importance for without it Christianity is confined to the dust of death, without life and without power.
In short, it is the heart of God to redeem a holy people set apart unto Himself that as He is holy so we might be also! He has accomplished this through the atoning work of Jesus Christ through which we have received the forgiveness of sins and the regenerating life of the Holy Spirit so as to be purified and live a life now set apart unto God in righteousness. This work of sanctification though a past event, is also ongoing in this life as the believer renews his mind and is changed into the same image of the Lord from glory to glory by the Spirit of God that as He is, so we might also be in this world. Our finished and final state of perfection shall one day be fully revealed at the coming of the Lord when we who are alive shall be changed in a twinkling of an eye and those that are dead shall be raised together to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord!!
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There are some that appear in the eyes of many to be a most religious bunch whilst hidden beneath the thin veneer of their religion lies the darkness of evil! Dead religion has always provided the platform for the most wicked of crimes and the cloak under which men might veil their evils in hypocrisy and deceit. For example of this, we need to look no further than the Scribes and Pharisees!! It wasn’t the publicans who plotted His execution nor was it the prostitutes who handed Him over to be crucified, rather it was those belonging to the religious establishment of the day who crucified the Saviour, loving their traditions more than God!!
This sermon is a warning to us all and an exhortation to come out from the shadows of dead religion into the light of God’s Word!! God forbid that when truth stares us in the face, we should choose instead of repenting, to hide behind the veil of dead religion. Those who persecuted Christ and those responsible for persecuting the true Church hasn't changed, in Christ’s day it was those professing to be the true Assembly of God and in our day it shall be the same. May God keep us and give us the grace to stand in this evil day!
2 Timothy 4:5-8
When you’ve only one shot, what do you do? You make it count!! When you’ve only one bullet in the chamber, though you may have fired hundreds before it, that one bullet by reason of it being your last, now becomes priceless and the need for it to find its target, paramount! In the hour of plenty, one is at liberty to fire and miss a few, but when you’re down to the last shot, there are no second chances! My dear Brothers and Sisters, life is very much like this. Oh, I know that in one’s younger years, it appears as though we’ve many more ahead of us and on account of this the years generally of the youngster are passed in foolishness, wasted and squandered in the pursuit of vanity. Ah, but alas, one suddenly finds that the sun which seemed so bright in its day, has come down to set and the years which were deemed to be many prove only to be of few.
This sermon brings the listener face to face with the radical life of the Apostle Paul who from the very moment of his conversion dedicated his life to serve and live for Christ. It is an exhortation in light of life’s passing moment for us to rethink our priorities and set our affections heavenward, that we might give our lives to Jesus in service and run well the race set before us!
We are living in an age where Christians generally have no stomach for doctrine and consequently the great doctrines of the Christian faith which form the very bedrock of the gospel are being undermined in our day. The doctrine of atonement is one such pillar of the Christian faith towering above the landscape like a giant. As when a gem is held up to light it shines forth its many facets of beauty, so this great doctrine is full of like splendour.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they sought to clothe themselves with the leaves of figs. However, such a covering was not sufficient and it was God who later clothed them aright, not with fig leaves (speaking of human works) but the skins of dead animals!! This if you like, is the first insight into the doctrine of atonement, namely that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. The doctrine of the atonement comes under the theological umbrella of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) and includes as part of this many other principle doctrines including the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of redemption and the doctrine of reconciliation. We shall in the course of this teaching, touch on all of these as we look at the wonders of atonement in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
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There is no middle road in Christianity; no middle ground upon which to stand. Any seeming appearance of such is an illusion and a figment of one’s imagination, a product of Westernised consumer Christianity which on the say so of Jesus Christ Himself is no Christianity at all!! ”I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). Now I know that such straightforward speaking is not very popular today and won’t win one many friends but Jesus knew of no double talk, and said point-blank, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mk. 8:34).
This sermon is a call for wholehearted devotion to the God of the universe. This idea that we can bring our offering to God on Sunday and live as we please rest of the week is blown out of the water as soon as one is confronted with the person of Jesus Christ. My dear friends, the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; the One before whom angels veil their faces resting not day and night, saying “Holy, holy, holy” calls for more than a convenient Christianity. It is going to cost us to bring the sacrifice that God requires and I ask the question, are you willing to count the cost?