Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is your identity?

What is your identity?

Are you "just an old sinner saved by grace."or a saint (holy, righteous child of God)?

Apostle Paul, as he writes to different assemblies, he addresses them by calling them saints:

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints - Romans 1:7

To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia - 2 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus - Ephesians 1:1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi - Philippians 1:1

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. - Colossians 1:12

It looks like the believers in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi and Colossia were called saints, although their actions weren't so much saint-like all the time. Those were ordinary people just like you and me, they pretty much looked like you and me (may be even bad), they didn't act holy all the time, they had problems in their lives just like you and me, they had questions and confusions, they didn't have the Bible like you an I have it today, they didn't have a stack of 'how to' christian books in their living room, they weren't perfect parents, husbands, wives or children, yet Apostle Paul called them "saints". In other words, God call them "saints". And God call us saints, because we have the very same righteousness of Christ Jesus. Is it too good to be true?

29 comments:

Free Spirit said...

Yep!
Used to be a sinner... and a good one.
No longer... it's sainthood, for me!
Thanks be to my brother Jesus, Spirit, and Papa! :)

theoldadam said...

Declared righteous for Jesus' sake.

That's me!

lionwoman said...

Thank you, Bino. This is a great reminder. The Bible does call us saints - no ifs, ands or buts. Weeding that monstrous "how to" bookshelf has been a chore over the last 1 1/2 years... I'm about 80% done...it is quite amazing how well these people did without a plethora of self-help books or even a copy of the Bible...

Amy said...

Bino,
Amen, amen! It breaks my heart when I hear Believers/Christ-followers call themselves "wretched sinners saved by Grace." Ugh! We who have put our faith in/walk in relationship with Papa Jesus Holy Spirit are saints!

Thanks for this great reminder to us all!

Blessings,
~Amy :)

Gary Kirkham said...

Saint Bino,

Great post reminding us of our identity in Christ. I cringe every time I hear someone, in false humility, refer to themselves as "just an old sinner saved by grace." or a "slimy worm." Such, we were.

Now we are beautiful butterflies, who sometimes feel the need to crawl around in the mud when we have been given grace can soar above it all.

In Christ,
Saint Gary

Joel B. said...

Great stuff, Bino! Our identity is by birth, not by our behavior/actions!

Ike said...

I'm a redeemed sinner. I was saved. I'm being saved. And one day I will be saved w/o sin!
When we do sin...we confess it and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing. To ignore our sin would be ridiculous. The life of a believer is continued repentence.

Joel B. said...

I don't know about you, Ike, but I'm a redeemed saint! (When does Paul ever call his epistle readers "sinners?" :) I've been perfected forever (Hebrews 10:14), and Christ has taken away all my sin!!! When I do things that don't line up with my new identity and nature, I thank God that He's already perfected me and that there's nothing I could ever have done or could do now our could ever do in the future to add to or take away from His finished work!

If that doesn't lead to behavior that lines up with who I truly am, then I don't know how my feeble attempts at repenting could ever do it! :)

Bino M. said...

Joel - Well said!

Ike -

we confess it and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing.

Bible says, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness", it didn't say "without the confession of sins there is no forgiveness"

Bino M. said...

Ike - How many times Jesus shed His blood? ONCE!

How many times you were provided the forgiveness? ONCE!

Ike said...

You are viewing salvation as past tense and ignoring all the conditional grace verses.

Bino M. said...

Ike - conditional grace?

If there are conditions in grace, grace is NOT grace!

Joel B. said...

The phrase "conditional grace verses" truthfully scares me!

Ike, earlier when you used the word "repentance" it appeared as if you were using the term in the "changing behavior" sense. If repentance in that sense is a condition of my salvation (constantly repenting of bad behavior and changing to good behavior), then hasn't that just nullified grace??? It means I'm saved by my own changing of my behavior!

Like I said, I'm staking all my hope in the blood of Jesus alone! The real change of mind (repentance) that was needed was a change from trusting in my own righteousness to trusting in Christ's righteousness. That's true repentance.

As for ongoing transformation, my trust isn't in my own repentance from bad to good! My trust is in the life of Christ who is in me. I've become a partaker of His divine nature, and nothing short of that will bear any lasting fruit!

Ike said...

Regeneration is not sanctification. The former frees us from the enslaving power of sin, while the latter addresses the ongoing need of mortifying the sin that remains. We are passive as God regenerates, we are justified the moment we believe, but we must 'work out' sanctification because 'God is at work' in us.

Everywhere we look in the contemporary church we see truth that is out-of-balance. Elements of truth are seized upon, isolated, magnified, and thereby distorted. Partial-truths are proclaimed as though they were the whole story.

Joel B. said...

Hi Ike,

In regeneration, we have been made holy. We have been sanctified. We have been made righteous... in fact we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We have become new creations... the old has gone and the new has come! We have been perfected forever. There is no work that we did to make any of this happen, and there is no work we can do to maintain it.

We're not proclaiming partial truths. We're not leaving distorting things. We're simply looking at everything in the context of the blood of Jesus - His finished work! The "working out" of all of this, and the "putting to death the deeds of the flesh" is not a matter of us becoming more holy, sanctified or righteous. It's a matter of the very life of Christ, which we've been joined together with, working its way out of us as we rest in Him.

Sanctification... holiness... righteousness... none of it originates in my own efforts, or in my working to attain anything. If it were up to me, it wouldn't be grace!!!

God saved us. He didn't send us to boot camp!

Joel B. said...

(Oops... Second sentence in second paragraph above - ignore the word "leaving").

lydia joy said...

Yay!! Good preaching BIno and Joel!!! Don't shrink back............

Much love.......

Bino M. said...

while the latter addresses the ongoing need of mortifying the sin that remainsIke - If there are still sins ('remaining') which need to be addressed, Jesus has to go to the cross again and shed His blood again. Remember, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness...

So if there are ANY sin which are yet to be forgiven, someone has to shed blood...

The fact is there aren't any sins remains, he took ALL of them away from the sight of God never to see them again.

Also, if there are still sins remaining, how can a holy God live in you? Can a holy God indwell a person who have any sins unforgiven?

If your entire sins weren't forgiven, when you sin, God's spirit would immediately leave from you. Why is that an impossibility? Because your ENTIRE sins were forgiven and forgotten... This is the good news of the gospel brother!

Ike said...

Justification is an “act”; sanctification is a “work”. Justification took place the moment you trusted Christ-you were declared righteous; the guilt was removed. Then God began a work in you that will continue throughout your life. I believe in instantaneous salvation, but sanctification is a lifelong process. In other words, justification is the means; sanctification is the end. Justification is for us; sanctification is in us. Justification declares the sinner righteous; sanctification makes the sinner righteous. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin; sanctification removes the growth and the power of sin.

God is both an exterior and interior decorator. He is an exterior decorator in that He enables us to stand before Him because He has paid the penalty and removed the guilt of sin from us. But He is also an interior decorator. He moves into our hearts and lives by the power of the Holy Spirit to make us the kind of Christians we should be. God does not leave us in sin when He saves us.

This does not imply that sanctification is a duty that is derived from justification. It is a fact that proceeds from it, or rather, both justification and sanctification flow from being in Christ, crucified and risen. The sinner approppriates Christ by faith for both his salvation and his sanctification. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 1:30, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

bino said...

Ike - I think the 'churchianity' over the many years developed a distorted view of 'sanctification'. What if 'sanctification' doesn't have none of those definitions we have been taught of? We pick certain big words from Bible and try to build our theology around it. I am not against theology. But the issue is, any theology shouldn't contradict the message of Gospel itself. Message of Gospel is about a good news. Good news is supposed to be good and it is that simple.

Sanctification or growing in our trust relationship with Him, is nothing but walking by faith, trusting in Jesus that "He will complete the work He has started in us".

Paul speaking to Galatians, asking them this question: "After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"So sanctification in mind is, resting in Him, abiding in Him, walking by faith in Him, living in a trusting relationship with Him that it is Him who can obey, not me.

Jamie said...

Man...deja vu!!! :D

GREAT DISCUSSION!!!

As if:

As if your realization of the work of Christ is GREATER than HIS WORK.

As if your contribution is greater than His work.

As if YOU can add to Christ's FINISHED WORK.

As if you're to do MORE THAN BELIEVE!

As if God's redemptive plan for men depended on men!

Grace: too good to be true, BUT IT IS!!

Ike said...

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:6-7)


Repentance is a positive word in Scripture from the heart of God. He is lovingly calling on people to repent and believe the gospel. It is impossible to go in two directions at once, we either follow our own way or we follow Christ's way. Biblically, repentance is far more than "a change of mind". It involves a change of direction and a forsaking of sin. You turn from sin and turn to God. Repentance is the way of thinking and the lifestyle of those who are in the kingdom of God.

God's grace is promised on a condition, but even those conditions are a work of God's grace in enabling us to perform them. For example, both faith and repentance are conditions we must meet in order to receive the grace of forgiveness. "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). But we see later on in Acts (and many other places) that even repentance is a gift of God grace, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18).

Other verses that speak of grace given upon conditions:

Grace given to those who love God Jesus says in John 14:21, "And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (also see Romans 8:28, Eph. 6:24, 1Cor.16:22).

Grace given to those who are humble James says in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (also see 1Peter 5:5).

Grace given to those who fear God Luke writes in Luke 1:50, "And his mercy is for those who fear him".
from generation to generation. (also see Isa 11:3, Psalm 145:19).

Seeing that we have become "partakers of His Divine nature", God will see it that we preserver in the faith and meet these conditions of grace.

Jamie said...

Ike,

With all respectfulness, it is sad to think that our action are more important than God's provision to you.

There will NEVER be anything that outweighs the cross.

lydia joy said...

CONDITIONS????? ON GRACE????? DON'T THINK SO!!!!!

God's love is unconditional - THANK GOODNESS!!!! That's why Jesus could go to the cross for all mankind............He so loved THE WHOLE WORLD.

Bino M. said...

Ike - If sinlessness or sanctification or our own pursuit of holiness was a condition for God's grace, why would Bible say "while we WERE YET sinners, He died for us"?.

His forgiveness is unconditional, brother! Jesus prayed for those who were trying to kill Him and said, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing". Did those people pursue any holiness? Were they worthy of His fogginess? Did Jesus ask them to confess their sins? Were there ANY conditions?

He voluntarily forgave them. That is Grace my brother! Apart from God's grace, we have nothing to boast about. We have no capacity to obey and reach upto God's standard of holiness. That is why Jesus had to do it for us.

Now all we need to do is accept what He has already accomplished for us by faith...

Joel B. said...

Ike,

That's a really good word from Isaiah about the Israelites turning from their wicked ways and returning to God, etc. In fact, I could bring up a whole lot of other similar Old Testament verses that say the same thing. For example, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Come on, people, just humble yourselves and turn from your wicked ways and turn to God!

The only problem is that it never worked! The reason: People. :) It's impossible for people to be good enough - to turn from their wicked ways enough - to be close to God. The only thing that has ever brought man close to God again is the blood of Jesus.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph 2:13)

Repent and believe the gospel! Yes, another great word, from Jesus. "Metanoeo" (think differently, reconsider) and BELIEVE the good news!!!

"What is the work of God?", Jesus was asked. "This is the work of God," Jesus replied, "that you believe in Him whom He sent."

It occurred to me pretty quickly in my Christian walk - even though I remained in legalism for a while - that if "repentance" means me changing my behavior, and I can't be saved without "repentance," then the only way I can be saved is by changing my behavior. Believing in Him whom He sent isn't enough! But then I began to understand repentance as a change from unbelief to belief, and we're saved by the blood of Jesus, through believing the good news (saved by grace through faith), and NONE of it has anything to do with my own change of behavior. In and of myself I don't have what it takes to change my behavior!!! And so my repentance was a change from unbelief to belief, and my sins were blotted out, as the verses from Acts say, that you pointed out. My work is to believe.

ANYTHING that I try to add to that, nullifies it! Ike, if you can do it... go for it! But I'm humbling myself and saying, "God, I just can't do it, so I thank you for the BLOOD OF JESUS WHICH WAS SHED FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN!!!"

I fear Him (stand in complete awe and reverence of Him), because He has loved me with an everlasting love and has done ALL the work necessary for my salvation. It's all of Him, none of me, otherwise I'm joining the devil in his eternal cookout.

Any WORK that I do, is not me! Paul said he labored more abundantly than all the other apostles. "And yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." His stance was that of a clay jar, with no power of his own to change his ways or labor as he did, and the power of God was shown in him in some mighty ways!

If we want that same power to change, and labor in the gospel, it CANNOT be of our own changing of our ways or work. We must step aside and realize that it's solely HIS work and none of ours!

Ike said...

"Ike - If sinlessness or sanctification or our own pursuit of holiness was a condition for God's grace, why would Bible say "while we WERE YET sinners, He died for us"?.

His forgiveness is unconditional, brother! Jesus prayed for those who were trying to kill Him and said, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing". Did those people pursue any holiness? Were they worthy of His fogginess? Did Jesus ask them to confess their sins? Were there ANY conditions?

He voluntarily forgave them. That is Grace my brother! Apart from God's grace, we have nothing to boast about. We have no capacity to obey and reach upto God's standard of holiness. That is why Jesus had to do it for us.

Now all we need to do is accept what He has already accomplished for us by faith..."


IKE COMMENTS: God's Electing love in eternity past and his Regenerating grace are unconditional, unearned & unmerited. There is nothing we could do to merit or earn our own salvation or righteousness. Election and Regeneration are free gifts of God's grace. They are the foundation and fountain of all other graces, because it is centered in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Election sets us apart from eternity past and Regeneration cause us to be born again in time, both unconditionally. However the bible also speaks of "conditional" grace. Grace is still free even when it is conditional (please don't equate conditional grace with earning or meriting something). For example, faith is a condition for the grace of justification. But even our faith is a gift from God. God graciously enables us to do what He requires. Never-the-less, forgiveness is conditioned upon saving faith.

In Acts chapter 2, the crowd Peter was preaching to responded to his sermon and where cut to the heart asking, "what must we do to be saved"? Peter in verse 38 responded by telling the gathered crowd what their needed reponse to the gospel message should be: Repentance and Baptism will bring forgivness of sins. Now you can go ahead and interpret the meaning of repentance and baptism in that passage anyway you want. But my point is that Peter did lay down conditions for receiving the gift for forgivness and the Holy Spirit. But again, to be clear, faith and repentance are also gifts from God. He alone enables us to meet the required response to His grace.

In my last comment, I gave plenty of other biblical examples of what I am calling "conditional" grace. For example, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Here we have a another condition expressly set forth in Scripture for receiving grace; Humility. God gives grace to the humble but not to the proud. Whatever else you want to believe, we simply cannot ignore these type of verses if we are to take Scripture seriously. In all the responses that I've read, I haven't seen anyone deal exegetically with the passages I provided?

Joel B. said...

Ike,

The way you were talking, it seemed as if you were saying that grace was conditional upon people changing their ways. !!![[shudder]]!!!

I guess I personally didn't deal "exegetically" with the verses you brought up, according to a strict definition of the word, but I did tell you what I believed about them.

In short, to be humble before God, in the "grace receiving" sense, is to end all sense of being able to do it yourself and to trust solely in His grace. That's the humility that's in opposition to the "proud" that God resists.

The biblical word "repent" (metanoeo) means to change your mind or think differently about something. That's the "condition." Change your mind and BELIEVE the good news!

Growing in our lives in Christ is not a requirement. It's a wonderful benefit of believing, resting and abiding.

Bino M. said...

Ike - I do not see the verse "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" contradicting with anything I said before.

First of all, I do not see a condition there for God to provide His grace for you. He provided it while you were his enemy (or while you were prideful for that matter). Your lack of humility didn't stop Him from going to the cross. He did it without your 'support' of humility.

Now, for you (or anyone) to receive that grace, the pride can be a hindrance. After all, why would a proud person need grace (eg: Pharisees)? So, it is when we realize that we are dead in our sins and God, out of His mercy, has already provided a solution for it, it humbles us and we are ready to receive it.

When somebody gives you a gift, you have two choices - either reject it (out of your pride) or accept it (out of your humility). The gift or the giver put forth absolutely no condition, but you still have a choice to make.

I find it interesting that you making that verse to sound almost like there is a condition from God's side. I do not see that there.