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LESSON 9:

GROWTH

Lesson 9A Picture of God
00:00 / 12:05

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Is this God of love watching my every move and every behavior, and if I mess up is He ready to throw me into “hell”?

 

Yes and no.

 

First, the Yes: There is no place you or I can go where God is not watching (Psalm 139:8). In fact, He is recording in books everything that happens here on earth, and we will be judged by what’s written in those books (Daniel 7:9, 10; Revelation 20:12).

 

Now, the No: The Bible says that there is no condemnation to those who are “in Christ” and who walk according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1, 2). Which means that when the book is opened and your name and deeds show up, Jesus (the Judge) looks at the book and sees “Forgiven” written all over your sins. Better yet, He doesn’t even see your sin but sees, instead, His own righteousness in the place of your unrighteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

This is the good news of the gospel. When we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, God doesn’t see our sinfulness. He sees Christ’s righteousness, instead!

 

Should we go on sinning, then, because we have been forgiven (Romans 6:1, 2)? God Forbid! Do you go around cheating on your spouse after you get married? Do you quit showing up to a job after you get the job? No. You live in the new life given you in Jesus, even though, yes, the lure of the old life and the old sinful ways may remain.

 

Yet, still—no matter who you are, your station in life, your level of wealth, your gender, your race, your ethnicity, your class or caste, when you accepted Jesus then you have become adopted into the greatest kingdom in the universe.

 

He has made numerous promises about your inheritance, too. He has given you a down payment on these promises in the person of the Holy Spirit, that is, until you receive the full inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-14). Why would you ever go back to a life of doomed peasantry after you become royalty?

Adoption

 
 

That’s great, but Christians still get hurt and die like everyone else.  Why?

 

Because we haven’t received all our inheritance yet, which includes eternal life with God in a world without suffering, sin, and death (Revelation 21:1-4). We will receive that inheritance when Jesus returns, an event known as the Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Until then, we face many of the bad things of the world, including death.

 

We also at times struggle with our old ways. Being saved is an act of God alone, where the only thing you can do is choose to accept salvation. Growing into the character of Christ is a daily choice that you make to surrender your life to Christ and to allow him to help you shape your decisions, actions, and desires. You clasp hands with God, you study the life of Christ in His Word, and live by faith in surrender and obedience to Him. Your faith in His grace has a transforming power upon your life. With this mindset, you will forever be growing closer to God and your life will reflect His image.

 

What happens, though, after you accept Jesus but mess up? Welcome to the club. All Christians do. Sin is not an act, it is a way of life. Sin is "lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). Living in the Spirit of Christ is a new way to be human. It is completely forsaking lawlessness and exchanging it for Christ's righteousness. Just because you "mess up" doesn't mean you are back to being a sinner, consumed by fleshly lusts, pursing sinfulness which reigns over you.

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

Just come to God and confess what you did and, yes, because of Jesus, He has already forgiven you. If you had wronged someone, make it right with that person. You don’t need to be re-baptized every time you make a mistake. Just confess what you did and then don't do it anymore. (Proverbs 28:13)

Surrender

When we first give our lives to God, we make major changes because we become different people. But God has more to reveal to us about our character, which He helps us change and develop. Christ reveals information to us as we are able to handle it; and He changes us as we follow Him. Christ was the only person who ever lived who never sinned. What a model to emulate!

 

Yet, when you look around the church, you will see that not everyone is at the same spiritual place. Every person’s knowledge and understanding might be different. Every person’s self-control might be different. People might have different levels of patience. So, Jesus tells us not to condemn others (Matthew 7:1, 2) because we can’t know where they are in their spiritual journey. We look at everyone like a child of God in the kingdom, not like a bunch of sinners.

 

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. (2 Corinthians 5:16)

 

Jesus tells a story about a man who plants wheat and watches it bountifully grow. Later, his servants say, “Hey, there are a bunch of weeds growing in around the wheat.” They ask the owner of the field if he wants them to go pull up the weeds. He tells them, “An enemy has done this. Don’t pull up the weeds until the harvest. In pulling up the weeds, you might pull up some wheat too.” (You can read the whole story in Matthew 13:24-43)

 

Jesus says that the wheat and weeds represent people who will grow together until the end. It is not for you to distinguish between the wheat and the weeds. God will separate them at Christ’s Second Coming. Your job is to live, by faith, the Christian life. Treat everyone like wheat.

Jesus in Focus

 

Jesus used some interesting metaphors to talk about how we are to live the Christian life. When Jesus says that He is the bread of life, He is essentially saying that we should consume His life. He isn’t saying that we need to actually drink His blood and eat His body. It is figurative language that means we should read about the life of Christ, and then surrender our lives so that we can be like Him. Christ and the Holy Spirit work to reshape our thoughts and actions to be like Christ’s. When we read the Bible and see the way that Christ acted and lived, we desire to be like Him. We submit our will to His will, and they become indistinguishable. His desires become our desires. His actions become our actions. This is God working in us and with us until He completes His work (Philippians 1:6) at the Second Coming.

 

The Bible is His Word. He speaks to us through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. If they aren’t in agreement, then you have the wrong spirit. He tells us that our growth is like a vine. If we abide in the vine (Jesus) than He will send us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and we will bear fruit (John 15:4). The fruit of the Holy Spirit is Love and a character like Christ’s (Galatians 5:22, 23). The evidence of Love in your life is that we keep Christ’s commandments (John 15:9, 10).

Metaphors

 

Finally, God has always had a faithful remnant. Abel was the faithful one, as depicted in Genesis 4. Noah and his family were the faithful, in Genesis 6-9. Abraham and Sarah were the faithful, in Genesis 12. The nation of Israel was the faithful in Egypt. The Levites were the faithful when Israel went astray, in Exodus 32. Caleb and Joshua were the faithful at the edge of the promised land. Elijah was the faithful when Israel had accepted idolatry. Prophets were faithful when Israel was on the verge of exile. The disciples were the faithful Jews who carried the gospel of Jesus to the world. The Waldenses were the faithful Christians when the universal Christian church apostatized in the early centuries. John Wycliffe and the Reformers were the faithful during the Reformation.  

 

God, today, has a faithful remnant as well. They are depicted in the Bible like this: People who keep the commandments of God and have faith like Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)

 

You can be a part of this remnant. It will require making Christ the Lord and Savior of your life by surrendering to Him, and living your life baptized by the Holy Spirit (John 3:6-8).

Remnant

 

Course Work

Next Lesson:
Lesson 10 - Covenant