In light of our current series as well as the approach of the Easter holidays, I thought I’d take a moment to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as it were) and say a couple things about where we’re going in our Sunday morning messages.
In the course of preaching The Gospel and dealing with the depths of God’s grace I think we sometimes forget there actually is a standard of holiness to which God has called us that is made possible for us by the Cross of Christ and his miraculous resurrection. (It should be said that I don’t think I could ever over-emphasize the grace of God. If I were to preach on God’s grace every week for the next seven years I would barely scratch the surface of grace.)
God’s grace is such that we have not been saved so we might hold down a pew (or chair in our case) in some church building. However, it is also true that we have not been saved to hold down a beach chair under a cabana while we sip drinks with umbrellas, nor are we called to simply debate theology in ancient classrooms with ancient professors. Corporate worship is important, as are times of rest and times of study, but if we limit the grace to personal freedom and consign worship to Sunday mornings, we miss why we were saved in the first place.
Christianity is not sedentary; it is alive and moving forward. The kingdom of God is advancing and we have been called to be a part of that advance. The Cross of Christ is a powerful thing. The perfect life of Jesus is what enables us to be holy. In order to stand before a holy God, we must be perfect and holy ourselves. Jesus lived the life we could not live. Jesus’ sacrificial death is what brings us salvation by substituting himself for us and appeasing once and for all the wrath and justice of God. Christ’s miraculous resurrection is how we can be confident in a new life ourselves.
More than a new life someday, however, or a rescue from the trials of this life, the resurrection of Christ is what calls us to action. Jesus was resurrected bodily from the grave. He didn’t ascend immediately into heaven. I believe this was not only to comfort the disciples or to teach them a couple of last-minute lessons. I think this represents for us the new life we have in Christ right now. The kingdom of God is advancing and we get to be a part of that advance. The transformation doesn’t simply take place in the afterlife, it has taken place now.
There is a standard of holiness to which God has called us that starts with us embracing Jesus and laying aside everything else. It continues with us taking up arms, if you will, against the kingdom of darkness. This is not to imply a battle in the manner with which we have become accustomed to seeing battle portrayed. It is not a fight against flesh and blood. It is not a political war. It is a fight for the souls of men and women. We are armed only with the truth of God, but that is all the armament we will ever need. We have been summoned to the cause of Christ that we might take the love and the light of Jesus into the world and draw attention to him, that we might proclaim the excellent mercies and grace of God so that all may know and worship him.
It’s fun to talk about the grace of God, but if we neglect the reason we have been saved in the first place, we miss the point of salvation. The Cross of Jesus Christ is what sets us free, but it is also what compels us forward into battle. May we never neglect the life we’ve been set apart to lead.