Friday, July 29, 2011

Justificaion, Sanctification, and Glorified

There's this guy named AJ Newell. He's the youth pastor at this camp I go to each summer, Life Action Camp. He's one of the wisest guys I know and one of the best at explaining the Bible to teenagers. And the things he talked about have been bouncing around in my head since I left. I don't have much to talk about today, but I want to share with you one of the things I learned, and I also want you to watch the video at the end. (I know it's eleven minutes long, but this video so amazingly portrays the Gospel, you simply have to watch it.)

AJ transformed my understanding of justification, sanctification, and glory. Check this out:

When I say that I am justified, what I really mean is that it's just as if I'd never sinned. When I say that I am sanctified, what I really mean is that the Spirit lives in me but I still struggle with my flesh, but greater is He who is in me than he who is in this world. When I say that I will be glorified with Christ one day, what I really mean is eventually, when Jesus comes back or when I die, I will be who God intended me to be.

Justification saves me from the penalty of sin
Sanctification saves me from the power of sin
Glorified saves me from the presence of sin

Isn't that awesome! Because Jesus sacrificed Himself from me, because He stepped in and took the blow, He satisfied the wrath of God and I am justified: because of His love, He took the penalty for my sin. And because the Spirit of Christ lives in me, I now have to option to choose between God and sin, life and death; I will still sin, because I haven't been glorified yet, but the Spirit lives in me and I am growing closer to God. And one day, one glorious day, I will be raised up in the clouds and glorified with my Christ: the presence of sin will be removed and I will be as God intended me to be: a perfect image of Christ.

Oh how I can't wait to meet Him in person! That will be the best day in the history of the world. I can hardly imagine the joy and gratitude and ecstasy and love and emotion that will be displayed when Christ is united with His bride!

That's really all I have to say. Now please, watch this video. It may change your view of the Good News. At the very least, it should inspire you greatly.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Spirit of Christ

It's amazing how easily people can believe a lie. As I was reading through Romans recently, I came across a verse that, while I had read it dozens of times before, it never really quite resonated with me until now. It's Romans 8:9, which says, "...And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." I think if the American church embraced this truth, not only would the church look very different, but our country would be changed as well. Why? Because right now, the common perception of salvation is false. It's incorrect; a lie; completely bogus. It preaches prayer as our salvation instead of the Spirit of God.

As a child, I was taught that all I had to do to become a Christian was Admit that I was a sinner and in need of God's grace, Believe that God sent His Son to die on the cross for me, and Confess to everyone that I was a Christian. And admittedly, at first glance, this does seem like a nice representation of the gospel. But here's the problem: With that kind of faith, the Spirit is no where to be found.

Romans 8:9 says that if you don't have the Spirit of Christ, then you don't belong to Christ. Thus, if you have the Spirit, you belong to Him. The problem is that most people think having the Spirit is just a nice addition or a special power-up. They think we can belong to Christ by simply praying at the altar after an emotional experience or by being a "good" person. But the Bible is telling us that we need the Spirit in order to actually be a Christian. Attending into church doesn't make you a Christian any more than frequently eating at Chick-fil-A makes you a chicken fillet. And what does it mean to be a Christian? The name Christian actually means "Christ-follower", or "little-Christ." Being a Christian means you imitate Christ. And we, being simply human, have absolutely no way and no hope in imitating God in our own strength. Sheer willpower, muscle, or elbow grease won't help. The only way for us to imitate God is if God helps. Here's where the Spirit comes in. The Spirit enters and makes His home in us. So then we have the Spirit of God living in us, but not only that, He's helping us imitate God. Why is this so important? Because He is very good at being God. Only God can imitate Himself. If you try it on your own (and I have: it doesn't work), you will become a fake.

Romans 8:11 says, "And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you." See, this is I love Romans 8! This chapter is overflowing with amazing verses! But let's settle down and, using logic, let's break this verse down. We know that A) the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, B) that same Spirit is living inside of every Christian), and C) that same Spirit will also raise us to life spiritually just as He raised Christ physically! Isn't that incredible? Romans 5:5 says, "...God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." It's by the Holy Spirit that God pours out His love! And Romans 8:15 says, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." There are two major truths about the Spirit here: It's because of the Spirit that we can be called sons and daughters of God, and it's because of the Spirit that we can pray. But let's look at the next verse, Romans 8:17, which brings everything into perspective. "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Not is is it because of the Spirit that we can be called sons and daughters of God, and not only is it because of the Spirit that we can pray, but according to this verse, it's because of the Spirit that we are heirs in the inheritance of His glory. Wow. We have an inheritance in heaven, "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade" (1 Peter 1:4), and we have that inheritance all because of the Spirit.

And people think you can be a Christian without the Spirit? That prayers or actions are what earn our justification? No. It is undeniably and irrefutably the Spirit. Anyone who tells you different is a liar.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Victory Over The Sting Of Death

I've been swimming in the book of Romans lately. My focus has primarily been in chapters 5-8, and 12. Such raw life in these chapters! Nearly every verse is underlined in my Bible because of how powerful the words are. Would you like to read the passages that have racked my brain? I probably won't be able to share them all because there's so many but I'll list the references of the major passages. Romans 5:12-19, 5:20-6:4, 6:11-23, 7:14-25, the entire chapter 8, and the entire chapter 12. There is such amazing truth and revolutionary theology here! Paul writes about life, death, the cross, slavery to sin, slavery to righteousness, the Spirit, God's love, our flow of thoughts, transformation, renewal, and the qualities of love.

Look at Romans 5:12-19. Here, Paul talks about death and life. He says that just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), the gift of salvation also entered the world through one Man (Jesus Christ). I love Paul's analogy here. He describes sin as "the trespass", which to me paints an image of God drawing a line in the sand and instructing Adam to not cross it, but Adam did. Adam trespassed on God's property. Paul also refers to salvation as "the gift", which is later explained in Romans 6:23, "...the gift of God is eternal life..." Romans 5:15 says, "But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!"

If that wasn't deep enough, let's jump right into the next verse: "Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." In case you didn't catch it, the first "one man" Paul mentions is Adam, and the second "one man" is Christ. So what Paul is saying here is basically that God's grace is bigger than our sins. All it takes is one sin to be condemned. But because of Jesus' righteous act on the cross, there is justification and life for all people. Romans 6:10 says, "The death [Christ] died, He died to sin once and for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God." These verses completely debunk the misled belief that you can lose your salvation. Believe it or not, there are some misguided people who think some sins are worse than others and when a Christian does one of those sins, he's loses his salvation. Scripture says otherwise. Christ only had to die once to justify us. He doesn't have to get back up on the cross each time we sin. He took the blame once and for all. Sin is no longer our master (Rom. 6:14) and it has absolutely no control over us anymore ("us" referring to Christ's church). We have been set free from sin and we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:18)! We have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, and that leads to holiness, which leads to eternal life (Romans 6:22).

Do you see why I love Romans so much? 1 Corinthians 15:21- says, "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Are you loving this as much as me? In Adam, all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. What paradox. 1 Corinthians 15:47-48 says, "The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man." In other words, those who are of the earth are like Adam (sin) and just like we used to bear the image of Adam, we will bear the image of the heavenly man (righteousness). Paul continues: "I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable... For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

How great is His love and grace that He gives us the victory over the sting of death. Death has lost its sting and sin has no grip on me.

At Ichthus Music Festival 2011, Lecrae told a parable; it went something like this: A girl and her daddy were walking in a field one day. Suddenly a bee buzzed frantically around the girl's head and the girl, for fear of being stung, screamed and cowered. But the father reached out calmly and caught the bee in his hand. After holding it for a few seconds, he released the bee. "Daddy!" screamed the girl, "Why did you let it go? Now it will sting me!" But her father said, "No sweetie. That bee can't hurt you anymore. You see, daddy took the sting out of the bee."

Death no longer has a sting, just like that bee has no more sting. And you know the thing about bees is that they die very soon after losing their stinger. That's why death has no sting and why the grave holds no grip on us! Because Christ, our perfect and heavenly Father, reached out and took the sting for us. How great is His love and grace that He gives us victory over the sting of death.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Reformed Blog and A Journal Theme

Hey guys! I'm back from the best four weeks of my life: camp at Life Action. I've got so much to write about and to share, but before I start posting about all that, I want to talk about a few changes on my blog. The first thing is that I've changed the purpose of my blog. Previously, many of my posts were almost like short sermons, but now, my posts will be more journal-istic. I'll put more heart, more authenticity, and more Logan into my posts. Second, you must've noticed my new background. The purpose of the new color theme is to coincide with the journal theme. Thus, I selected a background that reminds me of a journal cover. Third is the name. For the past eighteen months or so, my blogger ID has been LoVizzle. I changed all my monikers to my first name, Logan, in an attempt to sound less corny and more me. I even tried to change the URL to but that was already taken by some guy who apparently created a blog and then forgot about it. No posts, no real design, nothing. But oh well, life goes on.

So what can you look forward to on my blog? More authenticity. More posts from the heart. And I'll be often be sharing simple things that have inspired me, like quotes or Scriptures or songs; not all of my posts will be journal entries. I'm really excited to share what God has done through me and to me and I'm thankful to have this blog to channel that passion out. So check back often because I can't wait to share what's happened to me in the past four weeks!