On October 24, 2008 I began a series on Christian growth. Seven weeks ago, on December 19, I suspended that series because of the press of time. I’d like to revive that series, but first, we need to review.
Our contention has been that the God who loves us and through Christ gives us hope in the life to come, also gives us hope in this life, a hope that we can change and become more like Christ. We can become more like Christ.
But to say this is to awaken frustration. If we are to be more like Jesus, why I am so much like the same broken person I’ve always been? Why don’t I change at all or faster?
The natural response to this is to try harder. But try what? Generally, we simply try harder to keep the law. Bad choice. As we try harder, we either grow increasingly despairing or, worse, increasingly self-righteous.
It was in my own experience at this point of despair (and hidden self-righteousness) that a friend gave me a paper written by Dr. Paul Kooistra for the board of Covenant Theological Seminary. The paper argued that sanctification is a work that God does. Our growth in Christ-likeness is GOD’S work.
For years, I read that paper over and over trying to comprehend what that meant for me. This was, and is, liberating. God is working his change in us. He alone has the power to change our hearts, to change us at the deepest level. He reaches where our efforts cannot touch.
But if that is the case, what are we to do? What are we to make of all the law, all the exhortations to godly behavior, all the instructions of Scripture? In short, what is our role, if any, in this process?
Within a framework of God’s gracious changing of us are five concrete things we can be about. These are the things God wants us to do. Through these things HE works HIS change in us. We explained each of these as we explored them. They are:
1. Know who you are
2. Seek the work of God’s grace to change you
3. Put yourself in the way of grace
4. Mortify sin
5. Rejoice in the gospel
If you are new to this series, I would encourage you to visit the posts outlined below and ponder them.
I’ve learned these things from Scripture. I’ve learned these things from books.
But these things would not have the certainty they do for me if I had not lived them in life.
– – – – – – – –
Here are links to the previous posts in this series: