Such WERE Some of You {Another 1 Corinthians Sneak Peek}

I’ve been busy working on the Becoming a Woman of Conviction in a World of Compromise study of 1 Corinthians again this week, so I’m letting some of that do double-duty by posting another sneak peek for you. In September, you will have an opportunity to do the study with me online, or (if you live in the Brandon, FL area) live at Bell Shoals Baptist Church. You’ll be hearing lots more about that as it gets closer, I promise. In the meantime, would you pray for me and for this study? The deadline to have the workbook written and ready for formatting is fast approaching and I’ve only written two out of seven weeks. Ha! (I choose laughter over tears . . . most days.) If only I could write, play trucks, cook, clean, pay bills, menu plan, and hang out with my husband all at the same time. 🙂

The following is application of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, focusing in on verse 11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

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I’m a big fan of room makeover shows. Do you remember TLC’s Trading Spaces? “Two rooms, two sets of neighbors, two designers, two days, $1,000 each.” I was addicted, folks! (And  I’d still give anything to have Laurie Smith come work her magic in my home!) But whether I loved the finished product or hated it, I always thought to myself, “There’s no way that’s going to last.” What may have looked good on camera wasn’t very likely to withstand the wear and tear of real life. One thousand dollars may be enough to redecorate a room for a TV audience, but it takes a much bigger budget (and a lot longer than 2 days!) to permanently renovate a room so that it stands the test of time.

Christianity is not a spiritual room makeover show. God is not interested in merely redecorating our lives; He wants to renovate our lives. He’s not in the business of making us better versions of ourselves. He’s in the business of total transformation – of gutting all the old stuff and re-making us into the likeness of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). The price tag on that renovation? Nothing less than the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18, 19)!

To use another metaphor, salvation isn’t some spiritual version of plastic surgery – it’s a heart transplant! The message of the gospel is not that God accepts us in all our sinfulness, forgives us, and then leaves us in our sinfulness with the command to do the best we can at being nice Christian people. The message of the gospel is that God accepts us in all our sinfulness, forgives us, and then indwells us with His Spirit so that we might live lives that are radically transformed from the inside out!

We’ve got to put an end to the line of thinking that Christianity is merely cosmetic; that life in the Spirit is some lofty notion to discuss in Sunday school but has little bearing on our everyday lives; that Jesus is some kind of divine self-help guru sent to improve us rather than a Redeemer sent to save and transform us. That’s nonsense! You and I have not just been saved from sin. We have been saved to an entirely new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)! The Corinthians had pretty much forgotten that, and I’m afraid many of us have as well.

Does your life story have an obvious “but” in it? Does is contain something to the effect of, “I used to be _________________, BUT then I met Jesus and I’ve never been the same!” Is the “but” in your story evident to everyone around you? Does it magnify the beauty of the gospel and the worth of your Savior? Is your former life really your former life?

But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified” (v. 11). By the grace of God, that is who you are, sweet sister. Because of Jesus, your story has a “but.” It’s time to start living like it. No more compromise! It’s time to make purity an absolute priority.

It is Finished

crucifixionDr. Eric Frykenberg was a veteran missionary to India known for his great storytelling and vivid descriptions of scenes from his 50-plus years in Asia. One day someone asked him, “Dr. Frykenberg, what is the most difficult problem you have ever faced?” Without hesitation he answered, “It was when my heart would grow cold before God. When that happened, I knew I was too busy. I also knew it was time to get away. So I would take my Bible and go off to the hills alone. I’d open my Bible to Matthew 27, the story of the crucifixion, and I would wrap my arms around the cross.”

“And then,” Frykenberg said, “I’d be ready to go back to work.”

Am I writing to anyone whose heart has grown cold? Who’s just too busy? Who needs to get away with her Bible, open to the story of the crucifixion, and wrap her arms around the cross?

Can we take a few minutes and do that together?

I know there’s a good chance you are reading this on your phone or tablet in car line, in a waiting room of some sort, or in one of the few places a mom can read without a child interfering – that immensely treasured sanctuary often referred to as “the bathroom.”

So, since you probably don’t have a Bible handy, here’s an excerpt from John’s account of the crucifixion, which will be focus of our time with each other today. If you are one of the fortunate few that is at home . . . in front of her computer . . . with no screaming, fighting, whining, or PBS Kids in the background . . .and your Bible is not buried under the mountain of clean laundry you just dumped on your bed . . . and you have extra time to kill in the middle of the day (i.e. pigs are flying) – go ahead and read all of chapters 18 and 19. Seriously, you won’t be sorry.

John 19:28-30

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Here’s the phrase I want us to “marinate” in for a few minutes. (I already shared my favorite word in the Bible. Can I have a favorite phrase too? If so, this is it!)

It is finished!

Three simple words . . . volumes of significance!!!!

Forgive me for a second while I give you a little word study. I am, after all a Bible teacher and proud to be counted among the mighty army of “Bible nerds” out there. 🙂

The phrase is three words in our English translations, but only one word in the original Greek text – tetelestai. The same word is used in verse 28 where it is translated “accomplished” (NASB) or “completed” (NIV). It’s from the Greek verb that means “to bring to an end, to complete, to fulfill.” In the business world of Jesus’ day, merchants would use the word to mark a debt that had been “paid in full.

The spiritual significance is obvious (and exciting!). The Bible makes is ever so clear that we are all spiritually bankrupt. While the vast majority of people believe they can pay their sin debt off themselves through good works, that’s simply not the case. Our good works are like minimum payment on an enormous credit card balance – it doesn’t make a dent because the debt continues to accumulate. The alternative is to rely fully on Jesus’ ability to pay off your sin debt for you– which He did on the cross, declaring, “Paid in full!”

But it’s even bigger that that . . .

Most of us tend to view the Bible as a storehouse of little “truth-nuggets” that we can pull out and use in a pinch. If we are afraid, we find verse on fear. If we’ve gotten our feelings hurt, we find a verse on forgiveness. If we have a need, we find a verse about God’s sufficiency. If we are experiencing hard times, we find a verse on trials. You get the idea.

While I’m all about hunting down verses that apply to our specific situations, we need to be careful not to miss that fact that the Bible is much more than a source of user-friendly nuggets. The Bible is a story. More specifically, it is the story of a Holy, Sovereign God who devises a one-of-a-kind plan to rescue and restore a relationship with His fallen, sinful creatures who He loves.  At the very center of this one-of-a-kind rescue plan is the cross of Jesus Christ. Every verse, every chapter, every story in the Bible ultimately points us to Jesus and His sacrifice. 

The reason I bring this up is because it is a vital part of comprehending the magnitude of the words, “It is finished.” What you and I need to understand is that when Jesus uttered those words, He was not just referring to His life on this earth. Nor was He merely referrign to our sin debt. With those three very simple words Jesus expressed the profound truth that the divine rescue plan that God instituted way back in Genesis . . .

The plan that continued to unfold in His dealings with Israel throughout the entire Old Testament . . .

The plan that made shepherds rejoice when a little baby was born in Bethlehem . . .

The plan that would obliterate the curse of sin once-and-for-all . . .

THAT plan was accomplished . . . completed . . .fulfilled. As Jesus breathed His last and experienced the full outpouring of the Father’s wrath on the cross, God’s rescue mission was FINISHED! That means nothing else was necessary. The sin debt of all those who had or would call on the name of Jesus was paid in full. For spiritually bankrupt people like you and me – that’s incredible, life-changing news!

So, how does this phrase/word help us wrap our arms around the cross? How does it refresh our hearts and renew our minds? How does it energize us to get back to our less-than-perfect lives and ministries once our kids realize that we’re hiding out in the bathroom?

This is how . . .

Because it is finished, you don’t add anything to the saving work of Jesus. Everything that must be done for your salvation has ALREADY been accomplished! Your works magnify the glory and goodness of the Father, but they don’t secure His favor! That was true the day you got saved (if you are a believer), and it is still true today! As a mama who hates to “break the rules” but is well acquainted with failure, I cannot even express to you how freeing that truth is!

Because it is finished, you don’t take away anything from the saving work of Jesus. There is nothing you can do as a believer, no amount of failure or sin that can disqualify you from the blessings that God bestows on those who are His. You can’t undo what Jesus has already done! When God looks at you, He sees the finished work of Jesus on your behalf. He sees the words “PAID IN FULL” written across every sin you have or will commit. Those words are written across that abortion, that affair, that divorce, that period of life when you completely walked away from everything you knew to be true. When Jesus cried “tetelestai,” He was inviting all who call on His name as the only means of salvation to walk in complete and total freedom from the shame and guilt of confessed sin.

By now, I’m sure your brief window of opportunity to peruse the blogosphere, check up on your Facebook news feed, or thin out your inbox is all but gone.

What isn’t gone is your opportunity to make this Easter about a whole lot more than bunnies, ham, pretty dresses, and those milk chocolate Cadbury mini-eggs with that hard candy shell. (Which happen to be my favorite. My address, in case the Spirit moves you to send me some, is 2629 Brookv. . . 🙂 )

Have fun, hunt for eggs, do your best to steal candy from your kids without them noticing . . . but don’t forget to marinate on what Jesus accomplished, completed, and fulfilled so that you can really experience His amazing grace even when –no, especially when – your family members declare that you must leave the bathroom immediately, surrender your Kindle, and clean up somebody else’s poop (that may or may not be deeply entrenched in the fibers of your family room carpet).

By the way, I have really, really enjoyed “wrapping my arms around the cross” with you today, friend. We should do this again sometime soon.

 And now for one of my favorite songs . . .

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