Saturday, September 17, 2016
2 Corinthians 3:4 "Such confidence we have through Christ toward God."
2 Corinthians 4:1 "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart."
I'm sure readers can remember the first car they ever had the privilege of either purchasing or being purchased for them. After my first year in Bible College, my father and I went down to a used car lot to look over some potential automobiles. It had become very clear that I needed a car to drive the two hour trip to and from college to home. When we started meandering our way up and down the rows of pre-owned vehicles - there it was: a 1979 yellow Pontiac Firebird. I remember begging and pleading with my dad for that car. Sure, it was faded in the paint, the tires were worn and the motor was on its last leg; nevertheless, it still had the famous Phoenix (which by now was a little faded, or is it my memory of the car?). Anyway, my dad denied my request. Instead, we ended up purchasing a 1988 Ford Tempo, like the one pictured below:
At the time I was not completely happy with the choice of the Ford Tempo, but as always, my dad knew best. As I got to driving that car, I began to realize what I truly had. For one thing, that little car was unbeatable in the snow. The gas mileage was great for a guy like me who lived on a shoe-string budget. Truly to have my own set of wheels made the initial disappointment fade away. My wife and I had that little Tempo as our first vehicle. I'll admit the day we had to sell that car was a sad day. It had been a good little car.
Whenever it comes to the Christian life, the New Testament urges the Christian to understand what all they have in Christ. We may at times be tempted by the world, the flesh and the Devil. Yet, all three conspire to detract followers of Jesus from their true identity. In 2 Corinthians 3-4 we find at least four things in the Christian's possession. Today's post will cover the first - positional standing with God.
1. Positional Standing with God. 2 Corinthians 3:1-6
When the Christian understands who they are and whose they are in Jesus Christ, they realize that they are accepted in Him. God accepts the Christian due to the fact that at salvation, His life and achievement were exchanged for my sin and rebellion. On the cross, Jesus had already exchanged Himself for me so that He could be treated as the chief of sinners (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
So what does the Christian have in their new position with God in Jesus Christ? Whenever we survey 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 and other passages, we discover the following:
a. New Heart. 2 Corinthians 3:3 "being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
b. New role. 2 Corinthians 3:6 "who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
c. New Guest. 1 Corinthians 3:16 "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
d. New Wealth. Ephesians 2:6-7 "and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
e. New identity. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
f. New Address. Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
The Christian is valuable to God due to who they are in Christ and what He is expressing Himself to be in them. Now when we look through 2 Corinthians 3:1-6, we find Paul making mention of how the Holy Spirit as written on our hearts in such a way as to make us a living epistle or "letter" of Jesus Christ.
In my desk drawer is an envelope with my late-father's handwriting. Do you know that what makes that envelope so precious? it is not the paper, nor the ink; instead, its knowing that he had written on that envelope. Do you know dear Christian what makes you valuable in God's sight? your new life in Jesus. As a Christian, your life has upon it the handwriting of Deity. The Holy Spirit began writing on your heart at the moment of saving faith. The Father had planned from all eternity what He was going to do in His loving intentions toward you (Ephesians 1:4-5; 2 Peter 1:1). He sent His Son to purchase you (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:10) and His Spirit in the Son's name to call you to Himself (John 16:8-12). Ever since the beginning of your salvation, God had declared you worthy by justification. The Spirit of God is working forth a process, called sanctification, whereby He is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ. Once God begins writing His letters on your heart - those words of love cannot be erased, nor repealed.
So in Jesus Christ, the Christian has a position with God. In the next post we will consider a second thing possessed by the Christian - power for living.