The Lord has adopted us to be his children on this condition that we reveal an imitation of Christ who is the mediator of our adoption.
Unless we ardently and prayerfully devote ourselves to Christ’s righteousness we do not only faithlessly revolt from our Creator, but we also abjure him as our Savior.
I think it would surprise many that those are the words of John Calvin. Typically when Calvinist’s are talked about, most of the time they are portrayed as Christians who are passive in their pursuit of holiness. All Christians are to be holy, right? The Christian life consists of pursuing holiness. If it doesn’t, then what’s the point? Is it to continue living your life how you were, with the assurance of going to heaven when you die? It can’t be. Jesus’ blood that purchased you on the cross 2000 years ago doesn’t give you a license to sin. Instead it makes you a new creation, one that no longer wants to, or has the desire to sin. It empowers you to live a new life, one radically different than you did before. Now because of Jesus’ justifying finished work on the cross for sinners like us; how does the rest of the story look?
I grew up understanding that once I become a Christian, I had to take over and make sure I stayed a Christian. I needed to make sure my walk with Jesus was a healthy, whole and pure walk. Daily devotions and bible reading were important, because if I didn’t do those things I felt I was in danger of losing my salvation. It wasn’t until the age of 17 when God got ahold of me and opened my eyes did new convictions shape who I am today.
It is dangerous, scary and unnecessary to believe in a temporary salvation. It is also very dangerous thinking that you are in charge of your sanctification (the process in which we are made holy). Over the past few years I have wrestled with the tension of human responsibility and God’s sovereignty and how that applies to a life of holiness. The truth is “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2”13). And that “the God of peace himself sanctify you completely” (1 Thes 5:23) is also true. Does that mean what we do has no significance at all? Is there any point in pursuing holiness if it is God who does all the work anyways? If you are asking that question, you need to keep reading.
The great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “If you are idle in Christ’s work, you are active in the devil’s work.” This statement packs a lot of punch, and besides the punch, a lot of Biblical truth. We were created as worshipers. More than worshipers we were created to be active free agents in participation with that worship. Even Adam, our first father was created to be an active free agent in participation with his worship to God. In Genesis 3:15 it says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Was Adam coerced to do this work? Absolutely not! In Genesis 1:28 it is written, “And God blessed them.” It’s not like God said in any way to Adam that he would no longer be blessed if he chose to stop working. The fact is that Adam was blessed and nothing would change that (except sin, that’s for another post) and God had given him work to do, and out of love for his Maker, he worked.
Baptist Evangelist, Josh Williamson said in a conversation we had, “It’s the curse of the new-Calvinists. They have a low view of holiness, and a high view of ‘liberty’.” My hope is that we be moved to be active agents in our holiness by the Spirit of God that makes us willing. We would be active agents in the lives of our family, friends and strangers around us by the Spirit of God that makes us willing. To quote Spurgeon again, “we are taking what is meant for meat and turning it into poison.” Unfortunately many Christians have slipped into this pattern where their resources, time, wisdom, knowledge, leadership, encouragement and so much more have become a passing thought in the act of worship to God. I pray that by God’s grace you will be moved into action for Jesus’ sake and say with Paul, “Him (Jesus) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:28-29).