Too much Christian living is old covenant living. We consume ourselves with trying to become what we already are, when our present task is to be who we already are.
Too much Christian ministry is old covenant ministry. We minister to Christians as if they are still non-Christians. We counsel saints as if they are still unsaved. We disciple one another as if we are still under the old covenant of law and not the new covenant of grace through which we enjoy our new nurture and our new nature.
Our new covenant salvation in Christ implants within us a new nature and a new nurture. We are cleansed (new purity) and invited in (new family). Sanctification does not involve making myself a saint, but living out my sainthood. It does not involve making myself a child of God, but enjoying my new sonship. The key to our victory is our faith in our new identity. The following narrative speaks to the new you in Christ
The Vilest Offender
Imagine the vilest offender. As cruel as Hitler, as depraved as Manson, as corrupt as Jack the Ripper. Desperately wicked. Self-deceived. Anti-social. Amoral. Mr. Mass Murderer. The day his trial begins, every major news network, cable news station, news magazine, and newspaper in the country, and hundreds around the world, join the coverage.
Shocking every reporter, every spectator, every member of the jury, and even his own legal team, Mr. Mass Murderer pleads guilty. Begs forgiveness. Asks for mercy.
The Amazing Grace of Justification
Imagine the worldwide outrage as the judge responds, “Not guilty!”
“What a charade! Fool! He just said he was guilty. What is wrong with you? Have you gone mad? Retrial! Ethics probe! He must pay for his crimes.”
“His crimes have been paid for,” the judge retorts. “By my son. I have judged my son in place of Mr. Mass Murderer. They’ve exchanged places. My guiltless son, charged with nothing—his good standing I now transfer to Mr. Mass Murderer who is now free to go.”
The Amazing Grace of Reconciliation
“But he’s still evil through and through. A man like him can never change. He’s a danger to society. He must be locked up. Looked after.”
“He will live with me,” the judge replies. “Enjoying all the privileges my son enjoyed. I’ve adopted Mr. Mass Murderer into my family. He’s my adult son.”
The Amazing Grace of Regeneration
“That guarantees nothing. All your good intentions, all the love in the world, all the good nurture and best environment in the world does not guarantee that Mr. Mass Murderer will not continue his rampage.”
“I’m not finished. Hear me out,” the judge insists. “I’ve consulted the best medical, psychiatric, and psychological experts on the planet. Mr. Mass Murderer will receive a heart, brain, and soul transplant along with a DNA graft infusing into his very being my very nature.”
The Amazing Grace of Redemption
Momentarily silenced. Totally stunned. Then a hand shoots up. “But that only means that he has a clean start. What about all his old acquaintances, his old habits? They will still come around clamoring for his attention, demanding his loyalty and affection.”
“Fair question,” the judge agrees. “We’ve thought of everything. I’ve jailed all his old acquaintances. His foes are defeated. Plus, we’ve infused his new heart, brain, soul, and DNA complex with core power to remain free from and victorious over these past tempters.”
Living Out Our Complete Salvation
You’ve not been watching The Twilight Zone. Not The Outer Limits. Not even reality TV. But reality. Spiritual reality.
God our Judge justifies us, declaring us not guilty, forgiving us our trespasses, and reckoning his Son’s righteousness to our account. The amazing grace of justification.
However, God the Judge could have stopped here—forgiving us and then leaving us on our own. Left to our same old nurture we would return to our old haunts—the world, the flesh, and the Devil. We would continue our maddening quest for relationship apart from God.
But God the Judge takes his legal robes off, replacing them with relaxed family attire and comfy slippers, inviting us into his home, into his family—reconciliation. Forgiveness (justification) as great as it is, would have been hollow had we remained separated from Father. The Judge becomes our adoptive Father, granting us access to his home and all the privileges of adult children. The amazing grace of reconciliation.
Justification and reconciliation combine to form the first perfection of the new covenant—our new nurture. However, as the story of Mr. Mass Murderer correctly indicates, new nurture without new nature is insufficient to change us.
The Judge of the criminal and the Father of the adult son becomes the Creator, Parent, Progenitor, Begetter, Life-giver of a newborn infant—regeneration. Like Father, like son. Born again of incorruptible seed. Born from above to reflect the image of the Creator. Born with a new nature—new soul, mind, will, spirit, emotions. Born with a new heart—new capacities, disposition, inclinations, purity. The old dies. The new lives. The amazing grace of regeneration.
As amazing as all this is, we still need one more salvation grace—redemption. Freedom from the power of sin. Freedom from bondage and slavery to sin. We need victory. Resurrection power. The Judge of the criminal, the Father of the adult son, the Creator of the newborn infant, is also the Champion, Victor, Warrior, General, and King of the overcomer, of the empowered, freed, victorious soldier. Set free from the power of sin and death, united with the resurrection power of Christ. Victorious over the world, the flesh, the Devil, sin, and death. The amazing grace of redemption.
Join the Conversation
In your life and ministry, are you living out the amazing grace of our complete salvation in Christ: justification, reconciliation, regeneration, and redemption?
Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians.