The Christian life is a three-fold experience – three phases, planned by the Trinity. 1) Salvation : 2) Sanctification : 3) Service. FIRST: we come to Christ for salvation. Our sins are forgiven. We are born from above and become a new man. He becomes related to US. SECOND: we live in Christ for sanctification.. to be made like unto Him. Our entire life from then on is being conformed into His image, as we die to self, and we grow from babyhood to maturity, as He trains us through it. THIRD: we work for Christ in service, but we work His way and not ours. We are to be ambassadors of the cross, for it is to be Him that lives in works thru us.. to live and work for Him good pleasure, to the praise of God the Father.
Many sincere Christians start out their Christian life determined to serve the Lord. They believe they’re ‘saved to serve‘ and indeed it’s true. We are all saved to serve. We become the Lord’s representative on earth and this is His will and His desire. It was better that Jesus went away, so that His Spirit could become an internal presence. Had Christ not gone away – He could have been no more than an external presence.
But even Christ’s physical presence was not sufficient for His disciples to have faith in Him. How often did He warn them: Oh ye of little faith. They did not really know Him. Even after three long years, the disciples were little influenced by His physical presence, for they all forsook Him and fled. They all denied their Lord, and just like Israel, these dear disciples became an example to the body of Christ. Christ may be with us, but unless He lives through us we too will be ineffective. How true must be His plea to us all: ye in Me and I in you…. But many in the Church today seek to serve – in the same way as did his disciples. They know their Lord.. they believe in Him as the Word of eternal life, and yet they try to serve Him in their own strength. They try to serve Him for their own imperfect purpose.
Some remember the filth and debauchery from which they were rescued. They recall with horror the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.. and in utter horror of their old life and in thanks to God, they try to make recompense. One may have stolen from a loved one to furnish a hidden sin or craving.. and seek to recompense their former indulgence – by generous gifts to the poor, in the hope that God will be pleased with their good effort and kind deeds.
Another may have mistreated others for self-satisfaction and be racked with guilt, and try to recompense their misdemeanors, by supporting widows and orphans.. in the hope that God will be pleased with their worthy work and kindly activities. Such considerate deeds may appear to be generous and done with all good intention, but this is not the good works that God seeks from His own. This is not the service He desires…
Sins are forever forgiven at the point of salvation. Evil that has been repented of is drowned in the ocean of God’s forgetfulness. The old creation in Adam has become a new creation in Christ, and works are not to be ministered as penance or done to recompense God. It is scripture that is the plumbline for Christian works, not a guilty conscience. There is no guilt for a forgiven sinner, who is ‘forever‘ a saint and child of God.
Jesus said: this is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” John 6:29 Believe in Him for the forgiveness of your sins – believe Him that through life’s trials you are being changed into his likeness.. by sanctification – so that the service you do is not of yourself, but Him living His life through you.
It is such a simple concept and yet so few Christians really understand and practice it. It is in Him that we should live and move and have our being… and the works that we do are planned by Him and then performed by Him, but He does it in you – and through you.. by the power of His Spirit
It should not be the service of the flesh, or the works of a guilt-ridden conscience. You may be called to support widows and orphans – or give to the poor.. you may be called to minister to thousands or just to pray in your isolated closet. But it is His to will and to do, in and through you for His good pleasure. This may be the work that God has for you, but it must be His will and not your conscience that performs the service. Your Service to God must reflect His only Standard of Good – the Lord Jesus.. if your three-fold Christian life is to be pleasing to Him.
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