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Redeemed To Be Transformed

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“There is one all-comprehending, all-embracing, all-governing purpose to which God has committed Himself, by creation, by redemption, and by union. That purpose is the conformity of a race to the image of His Son.” From T. Austin Sparks http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/002930.html

“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified. Romans 8:18-30.

Why has this been marginalized and thrown under the bus in most of what we call Christendom – the idea of a manifesting and increasing Christ likeness, wrought in us by grace in the power of the Holy Spirit? A careful and thoughtful reading of the Scripture reveals that this is the very reason for the Gospel, the reason Christ shed His blood to ransom us from the power of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.

Here are a few more passages along these lines. There are many more?

“No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began.” 1 Corinthians 2:7

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so also shall we bear the likeness of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:49

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

“He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Ephesians 1:5

“In Him we were also chosen as God’s own, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything by the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11

“Who, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.” Philippians 3:21

“But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God.” John 1:12,13

It seems that we don’t necessarily have issues with the idea of a state of eventual glory in the sweet by and by, even of the physical bodily resurrection. The issue seems to be that we may not have a big enough comprehension of God’s power to transform us into His likeness in spiritual ways, in spiritual fruits, and spiritual gifts, and characteristics like unto Him – in the here and now. The process goes on throughout the life of the faithful in Christ, and will see perfection in the hereafter.

King David asks the question, Psalm 8:3-5, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” Some translations translate this as “lower than angels” or “lower than heavenly beings.” However, the word is ‘ĕlôhîym  אלהים meaning “gods” in the ordinary sense, and it is specifically used of the supreme God. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”

In other words, our great Heavenly Father has great big plans for this fallen human race, ransomed by the blood of Jesus THE Christ, our elder brother – not only its redemption but its full renovation and restoration through the work of the Holy Spirit! As the song, “Only A Shadow” says, “The dream I have today, my Lord, is only a shadow of Your dreams for me, only a shadow of all that will be, if I but follow You.” … “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

( Song / Only A Shadow here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWbfT9a0WYI )

This doesn’t sound like “anything goes grace” to me. Does it to you? He will perfect us according to His promise: “… He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.

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Do You Wonder As You Wander?

The “desert” has its purposes…

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Ponderable… From Slave-ation to Salvation.

The Only True Freedom

Just a few quick thoughts.

I ran across this passage from Isaiah today in doing some cross-referencing on the meaning of freedom. It is such a beautiful promise and so descriptive of what Jesus has done for us, that I felt I needed to share it…

“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” (Isaiah 49:24,25.)

Certainly He has taken us away who were “prey” and “captives” of the mighty and terrible…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:18-21)

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

The only true freedom begins in our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross.

Wow! What fabulous thoughts with which to ponder real freedom on Independence Day! Thank you, Holy Spirit!

Behold!

What does it mean to “behold”? Let me see if I can piece together some discoveries concerning that word, which is really an invitation to deeper understanding of our standing in Jesus Christ.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John the Baptist sees Him as the Messiah, and invites us to also behold Him, to see Him for what He is. That is the beginning of beholding.

The saga unfolds, and… “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (John 19:5) Pilate sees Him as an enigma and a political conundrum, yet paradoxically echoes John’s invitation to take a really good look.

Behold: It’s from the Greek εἴδω eidō (i’-do), and it means to see (literally or figuratively), by implication to know, be aware, behold, consider, perceive, understand. It’s not just a quick look or taking something for granted. It’s a deeply introspective process of going past the surface story, beyond immediate appearances.

At the beginning of the story, we picture ourselves there by the Jordan. We look up to see the One John asks us to behold… At the other end of His story (and the new beginning of ours), we stand just outside Pilate’s judgement hall, and once more hear the charge, “Behold!”

To behold is not to merely look with the physical eyes, but to understand (by way of contemplating – pondering in our hearts like Mary) our Lord Jesus Christ – until the reality of His identity and work impacts and convinces our mind concerning everything God has offered to us in and through His Son – our new reality, our restoration, our new creation.

What do you and I see, perceive, or understand when we behold Jesus, dear reader? What on earth does Jesus mean to you and me for heaven’s sake?

The Holy Spirit is given in order for us to comprehend deeply what we behold. He teaches us all things – wisdom for the asking. Not an unintelligible dogma, not an obscure doctrine, but clarifies our new reality in Him – the only reality whereby we transcend this one, or the only Name whereby we must be saved. The Holy Spirit gives us insight, helps us behold.

So is it time to take a good look, to behold, and to ponder Him? This is the purpose of Christian “contemplation” and “meditation”, to get to know Him, to behold Him – in Whom we live, move, and have our being. It is not about emptying the mind and creating some sort of void. Nor is it for mere relaxation. No, beholding is contemplating is meditating is to surrender the faculties of the mind, intellect, and will to the understanding brought to light by Jesus Christ. John testifies in his first epistle (5:20) that the Son of God has come to bring us understanding in order to know Him, to be able to come to grips with the fact that we are in Him and what the implications are!

We are reminded by Psalm 1 that for the one who delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates therein day and night, it will mean becoming like a fruitful tree planted by the rivers of (living?) water, and whatever we do shall prosper! Our “meditating” is a beholding, a deep considering and reflection upon, all that God provides for us through our Lord Jesus.

What does this understanding imply for us in terms of the Cross? Paul prays diligently for this comprehension. He says of his calling in God “that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8,9) His prayer is that believers, “being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-29)

His example spurs us on. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)

Our beholding is to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, in order to be filled up to all the fulness of God. That’s the can-do that is in Jesus. A more amazing reality one cannot imagine! We slip out of the domain of emptiness into ultimate fulness and fulfillment – what we were created for and meant to be from the beginning, and that to which we are restored in and through Him.

Jesus final prayer on the night He was betrayed was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may BEHOLD my glory, which thou hast given me…” (John 17:24) Spiritually reckoning ourselves with Him, in order to behold His glory! Amazing Grace!

The result? “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Believing is beholding is perceiving is surrendering is becoming. It is all Grace! Jesus Himself invites us, as He asks us to invite Him in, using the same word: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

It doesn’t get any better than this! Glory to the Lamb now and forever. Amen.