Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Age of the Church...

Timothy 1:13-15...
"though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..."

The above passage written by the Apostle Paul compliments what he wrote in Romans 5:8-10...
"But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him.  For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life..."

This tells us that God initiated his mercy and grace toward us while we were yet in sinful unbelief, our natural fallen state.  The amazing act of Divine love through the death and resurrection of Christ brings to us forgiveness of sins and justification of life before God even while we were still enemies.  Yet as Scripture teaches, though now believers justified fully by Christ's merit, we remain sinners in this life (If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us).  This is a reality that we too often seek to diminish and cloud, as if the presence of sin in a believer's life is a problem for God.  Yet the evidence of our lives is that we are still very much fallen.  We still sin... more than any confessions can keep up with.  And we continue all too prone to disbelieve God's much needed grace while vainly looking to our own works and rationalizations; and in so doing deceptively diminishing the acknowledgment of sin in our hearts and  behavior.  This is what sinners do.

Thus this statement by Paul truly is 'worthy of all acceptance' - "Christ came into the world to save sinners."  This 'saving' of sinners isn't just the initial moment of trusting in Christ for forgiveness of sins.  That is our entrance into this grace in our time and space story.  But Christ came into the world "to save sinners" which we still are, though redeemed.  Saving redeemed sinners daily is the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit in this age of the church (much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life...).  God is calling, baptizing, sanctifying, restoring, edifying, and maintaining his saints who yet remain sinners, those set apart unto his great salvation.  

Isn't this indeed the work of God in the age of the church?  Is the present time to be one characterized by that of glory, of heavenly exalted experiences that lift us ever from the sojourn in this fallen world?  No, Christ came to save sinners.  And the work of the Holy Spirit is that of ministering this good news to humble and contrite hearts... sinners ever finding refuge in the one and only place where refuge is to be found in this life... in Christ... in his death and resurrection on our behalf.  As sinners forgiven we then glory in the Christ Jesus' death and resurrection.  As sinners daily washed in his cleansing blood we find increase of faith and trust in His merit alone.  And as sinners given new "right-willed" hearts born of the Spirit we are, with much limitation, putting to death the deeds of the flesh and ceasing from our empty attempts to establish our own merit in this life.  

This age of the church is not spectacular to the outward eye (even as Jesus didn't fit the image of the expected conquering  Messiah).  Yet, actually it really is spectacular when one considers what God is actually doing in the church by his Spirit.  Through the normal, regular means that Christ has given his people... the preaching and teaching of his Word, the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the shepherding of his people by those called, the communion of the saints... the Lord's people are being rooted, grounded and transformed in Christ.  Sinners resting more and more from their works; grace... unmerited favor, continually the heavenly response to those who owning their sinfulness and with repentant and humble hearts look to him for forgiveness and the resulting  increase of thankfulness and obedience through his Spirit.  

Though we are weak as to any godliness of our own, Christ is strong in his righteousness towards us for our sakes.  "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:21)  This is the good news.  This is our daily food in the present age of the church.  And in that day in the age to come it will continue to be our food and our song and our glory in Christ Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Someone has asked why I moderate comments on this blog. Comments are moderated in order to avoid spamming, which has, from time to time, occurred... and was the case (i.e a spam link) with the particular comment in which this person asked the question.