10th September 2023

Our Salvation includes our Sanctification

Passage: Matthew 5:7-10, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, 1 John 3:1-4, Ephesians 2:4-10
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

I also want to say that it was a joy for me to come this morning here and I immediately saw a beautiful illustration of what I'm going to be getting into from our passage, which is from the Beatitudes. And we're up to the one where Jesus said, blessed are those, well it's there on the screen for you to see, verse 7, blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. And about the relationship of what exactly is mercy, how does it differ from grace, what is going on in the Beatitudes as Jesus is talking about how to come to God in the early ones. But this is in verse 7, and the mention of the mercy is the start of the three that you can read there. There's a bit of a turning point in what Jesus is getting across. And the turning point is that the earlier ones about the principles that are important in getting close to God and coming to God, of learning about his righteousness and of knowing how to be forgiven and how to be in God's favour. And that's the first ones.

But when you get to this one, blessed are the merciful, and the next, blessed are the pure in heart, and then in verse 9, blessed are the peacemakers. These are all attributes of us who, having come and become right with God, Jesus is wanting his people to demonstrate the change that's happened in their lives. And indeed, these characteristics are characteristics of God. What I was about to say is it was rather interesting to look up here and to see the singers, and I think Margaret's been singing here for as long as I can remember of being here, but to see Janice. Now, you know, there was someone in the church who told me they came to the service here to hear Janice sing. But what do we see this morning but Janice and daughter. And that's actually a little bit of the theme, just listen to me, that God has put on my heart.

I get this lesson visually demonstrated to me in my own backyard. Let me tell you that I often look out through the window of our kitchen and I see, having come through the fence, because of a gate through to Ben and Heidi's place, Ben and his boys. And Ben comes from a farm and he knows all about gardening and I very happily let him do gardening in our backyard because my family didn't do any gardening at all and my dad tried to get me to do a few little things but not so much avail and he was in his office reading books all the time anyway. But when I look out the back window I see someone who was raised on a farm and knows all about plants. Thank goodness I'm being totally colour blind. The only one time I do remember gardening was I was given the job to pull out the weeds and being colour blind I pulled out all the wrong plants. That wasn't very popular.

I see Ben and he's there and the little boys running around following him and he gives them a spade or they pick one up and they're doing something and it's bringing home to me how God has written into our human families something very, very basic that parents teach children and that there's something about the love of, because I watch Ben through the window, the joy he has getting them all doing these little things in our backyard and thanks for, oh they've gone downstairs, anyway they're a good demonstration and not only in the church but here's Janice and now we have her daughter as well helping to lead in the singing and that's actually in the scriptures what Jesus had in mind when he began to speak about the very attributes that are God's attributes that he intends for us by coming to know him to then begin to reflect in our lives.

Now it's not as if it's a total disconnect or you do this and then that's all over and then you do this. It's actually about the principles of coming to know God that you've got to go on and keep applying to walk with him further. The principles by which you find yourself come to know Christ when you go on applying them as a Christian is what helps you grow and become sanctified. I've been emphasising in the last few months that our salvation has those three parts. There's the first of all the fact that we need to be saved and you can put it in the past tense. I have been saved. I have for too many years. Back when I was nine I got saved when I came to Christ and you are either saved or you're not in that sense of having found God and being forgiven. Forgiveness is something that he achieved by his death on the cross and his mighty resurrection and Jesus offers us a salvation that you have to receive and when you've received it you don't lose it.

You've got it. It's yours. But there's another aspect of that salvation whereby we can put it in the present tense. I am being saved and there's a sense in which we become more and more like our father and he wants to involve us in his will not just because he wants jobs done. It's one of the stumbling blocks I think of Baptist churches that we can put too much stress on what job you do so that there are some churches that have their Facebook and in the Facebook it says what job you do in the church as well. Thank goodness we don't do that. You're welcome here even if you do nothing. Now there's not many pastors I know because I've been spending time with them.

One of the things we talk about is can be called the participation rate. How many of your people actually join in the giving side of the church. People in the first come, come to receive and to be blessed and to be helped. That's usual, normal. But somewhere along the line there's a turning point where you stop being just someone here for what you can get but you join the team. It's a bit like a person that's used to going to the shops and you only go when the specials are on. There are some churches you can only really get the crowd if you put a nice special on. But what's a wonderful thing is when people come because it's their regular habit and they come to give. What is the biggest thing that you come to give when you come to church? You come to worship Christ. You come to adore God. You come to praise his name. You bring joy to his heart. Not because he needs it but simply because you're recognizing who he is. There's something about the children who do things with their parents and grow to be like their parents.

That's actually what these Beatitudes in verses 7, 8, 9 and following are about. It's about that your having come to Christ opens up for you to become more like Christ. Christlikeness is in verse 7, blessed are the merciful. There is nobody more merciful than Jesus. One commentary that I read getting ready for here, by the way on the retreat it was shorter than the usual one. It meant we had less fishing time and the water was all flat. I caught one fish, it was so small I threw it back. But we had more time for dwelling on spiritual things and part of what I was doing was getting ready for this morning. And this merciful really captured me, blessed are the merciful. I don't think I'm naturally that merciful a person but God wants me to be. He wants you to be.

And he says blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. Now it's interesting I mentioned earlier about the fact that we have to in our minds understand that this salvation not only is we have been saved but we're being saved in our sanctification step and we will be saved. And as a part of the New Testament about the gospel is that salvation is something we're going towards. And it gets people a bit mixed up, in fact there's some denominations that make it as though you're not really saved until you get to heaven. But this is because I just haven't understood the full speaking of the scriptures about I have been saved, I am being saved and I will be saved. And the salvation being spoken of that's future is when we get to glory. The Bible calls it being glorified. Not only are we justified, not only are we being sanctified but we will be glorified.

And the glory is that God will have completed the work of restoring to us what always was his intention for us, that we would share his likeness totally and his glory. Because he wants us to be people who have so shared his glory and it's going to be finalised when at last you get to heaven. That's why sometimes you hear me say about the fact that God is destining for us to be our demonstration vessels or we're going to be his trophies. And when we all get to heaven, God's going to have us, the revelation of the sons of God, we are the trophies of the salvation that Jesus has worked. We're not going to be boasting of what we have done, we are going to have him boasting of what has been achieved by his salvation in us. It's a fantastic thing. And that's the future. And that's where our salvation is made complete. That really has implications along the way, by the way, for the various ways different Christian denominations seek to understand most Christian denominations, I guess ours included, have approximations of the truth.

And to the degree that we go searching the Bible, does that approximation get better and better? But if you don't have a biblical church, it won't be much of an approximation of the salvation the Bible talks about. But the one that the Bible talks about is the fact that when we get to glory, he's going to make us like Christ, so totally. We will be trophies that the whole of history shall see as to what he has done. And that's where we're headed toward, and it's the completion of our salvation. So there is this future aspect. And when it says, blessed are the merciful, it's talking about the fact that as we take on the likeness of Christ and be merciful like him, he will take a note of that at the judgement. We Christians get judged, by the way, not as to whether you get into heaven or not, but whether or not the things that you've done on earth have a reward and have an outcome. Or maybe there'll be need for him to dry your eyes at the end of your judgement, because there were some things that you had never got cleared up, but he's going to clear up at the judgement, yours. We don't not have judgments, but we don't have condemnation.

And the condemnation that comes to those who are lost is eternal, but we are those who are saved. So I'm not talking about your salvation being lost, I'm talking about the completion of your salvation being through that time where God puts right everything that ever has been done wrong. And that includes all of our actions. And so there are going to be some people, according to Jesus, who in the judgement will get in the door by the squeak of the skin of your teeth, as our saying Paul talks about this in the Bible too. And so if you've received mercy now, how much more should you look for receiving mercy then? For those that are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. When you look to see how to understand this, it's a lot easier if you understand first of all about mercy down here on earth, and the fact that the person who has been the most merciful, in fact so much so, he doesn't need to do any more mercy, his mercy is complete as Jesus. And what he wrought on the cross, he wrought as a merciful paying for your sins. Now I said I'd make clear a little bit more about mercy, but let's first of all go to Ephesians 2.

In the last couple of years we've been going through, we went through the book of Ephesians and I keep on going back to it because of this revelation. But in Ephesians 2 and verse 4, we've got it there on the screen, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, notice that we're not, before we're converted, we're not in the door at all, we're spiritually dead, the fact of his dying for us doesn't flow to your automatically being saved, there has to come a moment when you're made alive, which the verse goes on to say, we were dead in our trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. And so the mercy of God applied can also be grace. What is the addition to the idea of mercy that really underlines it's coming by grace? I'll tell you what it is. Mercy applies when you're helpless.

Mercy is when Alexander the Great has got some person in front of him who's not been brave, been a bit of a wimp, and there's a story in history, I don't know the details of it, but Alexander the Great had this person who'd been a bit of a, I don't know if he was a coward, but he was someone who had not succeeded as a soldier, and Alexander the Great hit the fellas on the ground, not knowing whether he was going to get his head chopped off or what, and Alexander the Great says, what's your name? And he says, Alexander. And the answer that Alexander gives is, well, as it were, change your name or change your behaviour, and he's released. And for the reason that Alexander the Great, I don't know that my reporting of this is accurate to the word, but the reason is that his name was Alexander, and Alexander the Great had mercy on him when he could have had him executed for being a bit of a coward or failing in the fighting. God, when he finds you, finds a person who's absolutely wrecked for eternity. There's no future in our humanity that we've inherited from Adam. Even if it's trained well and have nice families, we're all lost.

But Jesus came, and he took on him the fullness of all of our punishment, and by what he has done, he can now make us alive with Christ. By grace, you have been saved. God raised us up with him. In one of the home groups on Friday night, I went to the young people's home group on Friday night, the young adults, and they were going through the book of Romans, and there's a verse at the end of chapter four of Romans that talks about the facts of our justification and our getting forgiven, and it talks about how Christ died for our sins, and then it concludes the chapter, but he was raised for our justification. So I asked the group, what's that bit about the resurrection bringing about your justification? I thought it was all done and dusted by the death of Jesus for our sins. And at that moment, there was a silence in the room, and I realised that I'd struck on something that most of us don't normally think about. What has the resurrection got to do with your justification? Well, read this verse here in Ephesians. He raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Often that little phrase of being in Christ Jesus is used about our salvation. And what it is talking about has been given a theological name, if you want to know. It is called union with Christ.

The fact that when we become Christians, we get made one with Jesus, and God looks at us and sees Christ in whom we've been made together. And because Jesus is perfect, and because Jesus has finished with our sins on the cross, and Jesus has been raised from the dead as a demonstration by heaven that his death on the cross was sufficient, and enough, and total, and a finished deal, that all your sins have been paid for. And when God raised Christ from the dead, he raised him to show that his sacrifice had won the day, and you're forgiven because of it. Raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace. You didn't deserve it. You had nothing to make it happen. The riches of his grace in kindness taught us in Christ Jesus, for by grace you have been saved through faith, faith as you just received it, you just believed it, you just accepted it. This is not your own doing, not your own doing. It is the gift of God.

It's just what God did as a gift, not the result of works so that no one may boast. The resurrection is a part of how you get justified. And once again, I used to teach this in college, so I was quite used to having students who hadn't found that verse in Romans before, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is new news for you, that your justification isn't only about Jesus dying for you, even though his death was sufficient, but it was applied to us by raising us in Christ, and his resurrection is the first step of that happening. Well we're talking here about God's grace, and God's grace is when you're helpless. When you've got nothing you can do about it, and he does it. And the first thing God does is has mercy on you because you're totally helpless. In fact, you're dead in sins, and it's something he does to a helpless person by saving them. So grace and mercy are really connected. Now because they're connected, you'll see something very beautiful about this. I want us to put up on the screen 1 Timothy chapter 1, and I think it's verse 2. Now this is because I've become rather conscious of parents and children, and the blessing it is that we have through our parents, but that's spiritually true as well.

I had the joy, by the way, of going to visit Joey's dad yesterday. I was back from Fraser Island earlier than usual, and I had time to go yesterday and see Andy in the hospital. And I'm glad I went when I did because he was about to get discharged. The nurses were coming in to do all the final little tests so he could go out, and he's doing really well, goodness me. Having a hip replacement, I thought I was going to find him feeling very sore, but he's like he's ready to hop out and go home and do everything normally. But anyway, I have a special connection with Andy because he and Pauline were the first two to come to Christ in St. Mary's in Adelaide when we were there. And so in a sense, he's one of my people that came to the Lord, all right. And there's something that creates a bond that you never lose. And that's a spiritual thing, and it is amazing when it isn't only in your family where you've got kids and grandkids, but where also you have the opportunity to pass on the deepest matter in life, and that is to know Jesus.

And what the Lord wants of us in all of these Beatitudes, the first one's about how to get in the door and how to come to know God and how to get justified and you've got to mourn over your sins and those things that we've been talking about in the first four of those Beatitudes. But these next three, they're about how you're meant to become. And the order that they're in is important in terms of there's ways to get right with God, but there's ways to continue in his presence. One of them is that you've got to go on trusting in your forgiveness. You've got to be sure, and Andrew did something which really helped me yesterday. He said at his church down near the water, at his church, he's discovered quite a lot of people, some of them are older people, who have no assurance, and he was quite surprised. So he went and dug out some of his notes, actually notes, my notes from the college, which are about learning where assurance comes.

And he's been teaching them this, and they've come into an assurance, it's about the objectivity of our position, not just based on having a subjective feeling, but on things that are made black and white in God's Word, the objectivity of the statements. It's actually a part of a book that I'm writing, have been for 15 years, and he was using it, and they've all come, they've been thanking him for showing them how to know that they were right with God. What it's about is that these Beatitudes, the first ones that we've been going through, these Beatitudes, let's put up again the original Beatitudes for the Bible reading, and go to verse 6, there it is, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. And earlier on, if you get back a little bit to verse 3, I think it's the first one, this is how you become a Christian, it's actually what the Beatitudes are about, and I'll read it to you from the book of Matthew, in chapter 1, but it says, Blessed are those who mourn.

It talks about blessed are the poor in spirit, there we are, and verse 3, blessed are the poor in spirit, and that's not being someone who's weaky of how to conduct your life and you've not got much zip in you, blessed are the poor in spirit are the people who realise they can never please God on their own. They are poverty stricken. And when you know what you haven't got, that's when you cry out to God for only he can give. Blessed are the poor in spirit, that's how you become a Christian, because when you're not a Christian and when you think you're pretty good and you're relying on your pats on the back that you give yourself, you're not as bad as the other people down the road or the folk who are getting into trouble with the police. When you realise that you're someone who's still a sinner, and when you realise that in your heart you sometimes have some more ugly things than what other people ever know about you, you're poor in spirit, because it's the recognition of what you don't have that makes you a candidate for him to give you what only he can give you, his forgiveness, his total justification.

The righteousness that the later verses are going to talk about that you need to have is not a righteousness that you ought to get from obeying the commandments. It's not a righteousness you get because you've been brought up well in a nice family and you're actually pretty good because they trained you well. The righteousness that alone will do is the one that Jesus gives you. That's why the book of Romans talks about the righteousness that comes from heaven. The gospel offers a righteousness we could never earn, but when you are poor in spirit and you cry out for him and you look for his righteousness and you trust him for it, that's your conversion moment. As we've been talking, it then moves on. You have that attitude to continue when you're being sanctified.

One of the things about the second phase that I've been talking of, the second phase of salvation being sanctified, is when you come to places like the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans where he says, O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? He's using that metaphor, that picture of what they did in the olden days when they took prisoners they didn't like and ripped the shirts off their backs and they bound them up back to back with a dead corpse so the decaying flesh would eat its way through to their still alive flesh and the worms would do the same. The picture of the poor prisoner back to back with a dead corpse is called a body of death.

Then Paul cries out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? Praise be to God, he goes on, for it's been done in Jesus and by continuing of the attitudes of the earlier beatitudes, continuing the, hey that rhymes, continuing the attitude of the earlier beatitudes is how you apply in your sanctification stages, I know I can fail, I know I've still got a sinful part of me called the flesh, but Lord you can overcome that moment by moment, step by step and you go on and become someone who is going to become like the next beatitude say, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. It's still true if you're a person who's a Christian and you've been saved in the past since and you're now in a period of time when you hopefully are going to get a little bit better and become more saved or more acting like a saved person and then you come along to church and they start quoting verse 8, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God and you know you're not pure in heart.

What is a person not pure in heart is that they're a mixed bag of reactions, they have some good things the heart is having them do, but there's other parts of them that are rotten still and it says blessed are the pure in heart, how do you get to be pure in heart, you're like Paul, admit that you haven't got it all yourselves but he can give you a purity of heart. Sometimes you have folk come and talk to you about the fact of their failures and this occurs particularly if someone's had a very wild youth and they've never really walked with God and then they get converted a little older than others might have done but they come and say you know what about me, I've got all this background, I still feel guilty, I still feel guilty. God can change that. In fact one of the ways to really test that you're someone that is indeed in the door with God is that there's evidence of him bringing the peace of God even about your past failures.

That sense of there is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. That sense that even though your memory might still have aspects that you recall, it's all gone. And you can be pure in heart in your sanctification is the sense of your subjectivity, knowing your sins are forgiven in Christ. It isn't that you're perfect, I'm not trying to preach any sense of sinless perfection. I'm just saying that if you're a person that can never get over the guilt, go back and re-examine the foundations of your faith. You may not have received the benefit of the first Beatitudes properly yet. Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of God, heaven, Jesus said. So there is a blessing that is ours and I think it is an acid test. If you find that the guilt is so strong that you've never gotten over it, you ain't really had true salvation happening as it ought. You need to be a person that goes before God and starts crying out like Paul.

Apply this way to be to say, God, I want you to deal with my heart. He doesn't, Jesus didn't give lessons to people to be pure in heart if you never could. But he wants you to understand that you, as you were an Adam that was connected to the fallen race, won't do it. It's only you as connected to the Jesus in heaven, the one you've been raised to sit in heavenly places with, that can do it. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Then blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. And God wants us to be like him. And I think it's a very helpful thing when you suddenly have pointed out to you that you're not actually there yet. And you can humble yourself and ask God to make you more like you eventually going to be in glory. The text goes on further, which we'll save for another day. But these three in particular, things that are meant to be accomplished by your dad, giving you spiritual training, your spiritual dad, Jesus, giving you spiritual training, that you can begin to reflect his personality.

You know, I used to think that God had a special will for every person. It wasn't the wrong thing to think. But I didn't understand it in a way that was too shallow. I think God does have a will for you and a thing to do in your life. And God has varied gifts he gives to people in various occupations even. But nonetheless, the centre of his will is not actually, what is your job? Who should you marry? That's something God wants to help you with. But you can marry different people, perhaps, and even the wrong person, perhaps. The centre of his will is not just where you live and what house you're in. You know what the Bible says is his will? Book of Thessalonians, this is the will of God, even your sanctification, or another version, this is the will of God, even your holiness.

What is holiness but these verses? When you get more like your Heavenly Father. He wants your will for you that matters more to him than the things you do for him or the jobs you get to do in the church. What matters to him is your heart to want to be like him and to let him train you like fathers do with their sons doing the gardening. He wants you to be his child under his training, training to be holy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. You get to see God a lot more when you let him make you like him. And the very nature of God is that he wants you to be his children. I had another verse, and it's in the Book of 1 John, if we can put it up the last of the verses. And this little verse says, see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God. And so we are. The love of God, he wants us to be called children of God. The reason why the world does not know us is that it didn't know him, Jesus. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared. We're going to be like Christ, and when he comes again, that's what we'll be like.

But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him. We're on a path of destiny, not just to be famous, not just to be successful, not just to do a human thing. The destiny is that we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, and we'll be like him. Can you imagine when Jesus comes, and you look at him, and you see him with more than just eyes, tall ears or small ears or whatever it is, you see him spiritually, and you recognize yourself. Because you're like him. Because we shall see him as he is in all the fullness of the beauty of Jesus, the wonder of who he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. You seek through, you have done through your life, to seek to become more and more like Christ. That's all of us on that line of destiny, and that's what these Beatitudes are about. I'm going to finish, but just with three little verses, and I'm going to finish now, it's not very late yet. But the first one is in 1 Timothy, and because I gave you the illustration of looking out the window and seeing Ben with the little kids, I'm very interested about fathers and sons, fathers and daughters.

But 1 Timothy chapter 1 is Paul writing to Timothy, and 1 Timothy chapter 1 in verse 4. And this is, no, that's Titus. We'll start there, that'll do, because it's the same story. Titus, my true, oh no, Titus, my true child in a common faith, grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour. Now it's only grace and peace as that verse has it, but let's go now to Timothy, go to 1 Timothy chapter 1 and verse 4. Verse 2, you got it? Yeah. To Timothy, my true child in the faith. Can you imagine Paul? Now he's an old man I suppose, but Timothy is someone that he had been involved in leading that family, I don't know the exact detail, but to Christ. And Timothy, he sends off, and Timothy is a bit of an apostolic delegate in his gift, and he goes representing Paul and the apostolic ministry. To Timothy, my true child in the faith, grace, mercy, and peace. Now the Jewish people would talk about, and the Roman people too, talk about grace and peace, but now he's added in the word mercy.

Blessed are the merciful. Mercy is that shade of grace that is prepared to give mercy to others even when they don't deserve it. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Now that's 1 Timothy. Just for completeness, let's look at 2 Timothy chapter 1, 2 Timothy 1 and verse 2. To Timothy, my beloved child, beloved child, grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. And Paul was aware of how much he loved Timothy, and Timothy gets letters telling him how much Paul sees him as a beloved child. Can you see what God's wanting for you? He wants you to grow up so that Jesus himself sees you as his special child. Just like when Jesus was baptised and the voice from heaven came, this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. And the Beatitudes are telling you that there is the heart of the Father who's wanting to continue your development as a son or a daughter. There's nothing more important to God than your sanctification.

Not only does he want you to come in the first place so you can say, I have been saved, but he wants you to experience the ongoing work of the same principles so that you can say, I am being saved. I'm glad that this year of 2023 has happened because, Lord, you've done something in me. I'm not just living out the old things I knew. Oh, how important it is that we don't stay spiritual babies happy to know that we've in the door and we're going to go to heaven. We've missed two-thirds of the story if that's all you understand about the fact you're just going to get into heaven. You're on a journey toward heaven and the purpose of the time in between is that you might grow more to know that you're the beloved child and you've become more and more like him. Grace, mercy, and peace from God, the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord. Interesting how the Apostle Paul understood to differentiate grace and mercy. Some people think grace is just that God chooses you and that's it. No, grace is when he gives you mercy that you don't deserve. If you add mercy to what God gives, it's more than just grace. Well, grace and mercy are connected somehow there. I'm probably not articulating it exactly, but Paul added the mercy to the usual greeting. Grace and peace they used to say, but he said grace, mercy, and peace from God because he wants to call you his beloved child. Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the Beatitudes. Oh, I'm so glad that we've gotten into them because, Lord, I didn't understand them very deeply at all before. There's a reason between those first four of being poor in spirit, of being desperate and crying out to you. There's a reason also for the ongoing work of us becoming more and more like you. Help us to be aware of that future we have in heaven when you display us as your trophies because we have become like you. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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