Friday, September 16, 2011

Proven Character Brings Hope

I was reading this evening in Romans 5 and the first several verses jumped out to me:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
This is such a beautiful description of the Christian life. We are introduced to the grace by which we stand found only in Christ. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God being revealed both presently in His work here on earth and also when He comes again and reveals Himself completely in all His glory. Because of THAT hope, we can take joy in the difficult times of life because we know that perseverance honors the Lord. When we persevere, we and proving the character that Christ has formed in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not character that is natural, it is completely the Holy Spirit's active work of sanctification. It is this proven character that brings hope--the hope of being completely sanctified when we see God face to face. I love how Paul then takes us back to the beginning. We were absolutely helpless without Christ. Yet, He loved us while we were sinners and enemies of God. His love is something that I will probably never be able to fully grasp. One thing is clear: we cannot take any credit for our salvation.

I have been listening to a song that Cal Baptist University Choir & Orchestra sings called, "Christ Has Conquered All". These truths have been so fresh on my mind. I am so undeserving of any kind of grace and yet He took the fullness of God's wrath that was on me and in exchange, gave me His righteousness. Meditate on these truths. Let them fill your soul with joy in what Christ has done.
Heavy laden weary soul,
Bearing up a heart of stone;
His Spirit comes to dwell in you,
And Christ, the weight of sin, assume.
All my guilt is cast on Christ
And his righteousness is mine.
What guilt should weigh upon my head?
For Christ has cleared it all!

The sum of all my sacrifice,
Though joyful, fails to justify;
I cannot pay for grace that’s free
Nor add to work that is complete.
Jesus paid it all for me;
This my ransom and my plea.
What debt I labor to repay?
For Christ has paid it all!

Through the law comes sin and death,
But faith is counted righteousness;
So I will trust in Christ alone,
My debt to pay, my sin atone.
And I’ll stand in confidence,
Covered by his righteousness;
What shall become of boasting tongues?
For Christ has done it all!

Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Swallowed up in victory!
The Lord of glory reigns on high,
Sov’reign over earth and sky.
Yes, he triumphed o’er the grave
And he comes again one day.
What lesser name shall draw our praise?
For Christ has conquered all!
For Christ has conquered all!

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