I appreciate the godly people that call LifePoint Church Home. Sometimes I get emails that I think it would be good for more people to read than just me... here are a few from Brenda, one of our leaders and a great servant of the Lord. She has been teaching a class on ROCK solid doctrines of our faith on Sunday Nights... here are a few emails that have come out of these teaching times. I hope you enjoy reading them.
Jesse (her son) told me an interesting fact from his sociology class. He said the teacher said that our culture today is much like the Roman culture 2000 years ago because the people then were very much about themselves too. He told them that to say that that was one of the things that led to the Roman's downfall, but when I heard it I thought how interesting it is that Jesus came the first time to a culture like that, and now he's coming the second time to a very similar culture. I guess it's interesting to me because I'm teaching that one of the reasons sin is so bad is that it destroyed the image-bearing nature we had been given (which really should define our purpose) and made our nature so "all about us", kind of like a black hole that pulls everything toward us!
Maybe when Paul said we "fall short of the glory of God" he wasn't referring to our many sins but our sin nature which is consumed with "me". I've been referring to the sermon when you brought a hammer on the platform and talked about the purpose things were designed for...and I think that the reason we have so much trouble finding out what we are supposed to do with our lives is because of this centripetal effect of sin...it's so clear in Genesis that our purpose is to bear God's image. It's a sad reflection on us that that purpose seems less somehow than a purpose like going to Africa, etc., and I think that's because even as Christians we want everything to be about us! Why is it that bearing God's image (bearing Christ's image - who was "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being") seems less to us when it is such a high and holy calling!!!???
I have been blown away by the fact that we stand in grace. I read Romans 5:1-2 for about the 299th time a few weeks ago and I honestly have never understood so clearly that I stand in grace - and without it I can't even stand. Now everywhere I look and read I am reminded that I stand in his grace.....can't even put it into words yet, but I will keep pushing in to it.....He poured out his grace, lavished his grace on me! I am undone!
I do really believe that we (the church of this culture) have softened our take on sin to our people's detriment. I find it so interesting that the 2 kinds of sin the doctrine of sin categorizes as resulting from the Fall - imputed sin guilt and our sin natures - are NOT both taken care of in our justification/atonement.....our sin natures need to be dealt with through the process of sanctification - in effect becoming like Jesus reverses that effect of the Fall and brings us back to that "made in the image of God" state. We've got to look like Jesus who is "the radiance of God's glory and the EXACT representation of his nature"!!! Wow!!! That's bearing his image! Getting saved is just the beginning.
But both types of sin ARE dealt with through the cross! Atonement through Jesus' death on the cross, and sanctification through my death on the cross. I started to think that when we were going through Romans last year.....and I really had to meditate on Romans 6 about being united with him in his death, and I think I'm finally starting to get it....a little anyway.
One of the teachers I listened to a lot this summer said "put your faith in justification, your hope in heaven (he said glorification) and your blood, sweat and tears into sanctification". Well said.
And I'm re-reading a classic - L.E.Maxwell's "Born Crucified" (used to be called "Embraced by the Cross") and he says "God's way of victory over sin is not through the suppression of sinful desires, nor through the eradication of the old nature, nor yet through the cleansing on inbred sin. God's way of victory over sin is through crucifixion - deliverance is only through death."
There's a couple other things I think we may have gotten wrong as a Church (capital C) and that's why I have been obsessed with this study since before the summer. Sin isn't so bad because it sends us to hell; sin is bad because it marred God's creation and made it impossible for us to do what we were intended to do - which was to display God's image [Note...I made it bold]. And the big one, when we see sin as totally dealt with in our by faith acceptance of atonement, it becomes a done deal, a past event, and we think we no longer need the gospel. But Jesus didn't just die for my sins, he died for my unrighteousness.........and I need the grace of the cross every day. I need to put myself on that cross every day. Sanctification is part of my redemption. Bonhoeffer said that when Jesus calls you he calls you to die!
Thanks Brenda... really great thoughts... Thanks for giving me the permission to post them for all to read!