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“He was delivered over to death for our sins
and was raised to life for our justification.”
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
This is a “truth sandwich” we can gorge ourselves on without fear of gaining a single pound of fat. Paul lays out a wonderful picture of our salvation here, between these verses.
If you and I would come into Christ fully, my brother or sister, we must understand what it means to follow Jesus up the stairs cut into the rock as we climb the narrow road with Him. If you and I desire to really know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, so that we can be with Him where He is, then we need to understand and experience His life, and live in the fullness of Christ which God intended for us.
God works out our salvation by bringing us from faith, to hope, to love, and creating Christ’s life and character in us, which is all His work, not ours:
· God delivered His Son, Jesus Christ, to death for our sins.
· God raised Jesus to life for our justification—making us legally sinless.
· We are justified only through faith in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection for us.
· We now have peace with God through Christ.
· We stand in grace and have full access to God through Christ.
· We can now begin to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
· We begin to learn that Christ in us is this hope of glory.
· Christ in us means losing our own lives, and having His life replace it.
· Hope grows in us through a certain process:
- Suffering—which produces Christ’s perseverance in us;
- Perseverance—which produces Christ’s character in us;
- Character—which produces Christ’s hope in us;
- Hope—which is not hope in a better life now, but all our hope is in Christ now, instead of in this life.
· Hope doesn’t disappoint, because God can now give us the highest expression of His character, which is love. He pours out His love into us through the Holy Spirit. We can now confirm our faith by our love, and so know we belong to Jesus Christ in deed, not just in Word.
· We can rejoice further that all this work of salvation is Christ in us, and all this fruit we are seeing in ourselves is His fruit, because we have remained in Him, and He has remained in us, and so His salvation is being worked out in us by His power.
· We can rejoice in our reconciliation, which is Christ in us, proven by these things which the Lord is working in us through the power of Christ.
These are the processes the apostles taught and the Scriptures handed down to us.
We have lost much of this truth through a watering down of the gospel by the churches over many generations.
We begin well, and preach justification by faith alone, but we finish poorly, stopping somewhere, instead of moving on up the stairs with Christ, up the narrow road, to suffer with Him, and die with Him, so that we can learn perseverance, character, hope, and live His love to one another and the world.
Peter reiterates this process in his second letter.
“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness, knowledge;
and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness;
and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive
in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-2 Peter 1:5-8
Notice the highest rung on Peter’s ladder of growth. Love.
Brotherly kindness and love. These are the fruits of the Spirit, expressed in us through our suffering, perseverance, character, and hope. When we have hope, we can love. Those without hope cannot love, but can only cling to whatever floats by on the storm-tossed waves of life.
Love is the highest expression of God’s character, and is the Way of Christ.
Love for God is proven by love for others, first the brethren, and then, even for our enemies.
God has shown me I can’t skip any step on this wonderful, difficult, impossible stairway to heaven with Christ. He is my Brother, Companion, Friend, and will not abandon me. All things are possible with Him.