A friend of mine set me straight yesterday. I slipped into a trap that I know is there and yet I walked into it . . . and he showed me how I got my foot caught . . . in my mouth! We were talking about whether or not, when we’re preaching or teaching, we need to ensure the gospel is part of every message. At one point I said something like, “You don’t have to try and seal the deal every time.” Bam!!! Trap sprung! Walked right into it.
What a narrow view of the gospel . . . that the gospel is for “sealing the deal” . . . that the gospel is for conversion only . . . that the gospel is about “praying the prayer.” I know better . . . obviously my mouth was in gear before the brain was engaged. As my friend so eloquently reminded me, the gospel is not just about “sealing the deal” it’s all about how we run the race. It’s the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16) . . . that’s salvation past, salvation present, and salvation future. And thus, to very loosely summarize my friend, every time we exhort people to keep on keepin’ on, we also need to remind them that it is by the grace found in the the good news of what Jesus has done on our behalf. Our holy determination, His abiding power . . . our desire to obey, His promise to enable us . . . not because of who we are or what we’re able to do, but because of who He is and what He has done.
Maybe it’s because of that conversation yesterday morning that the following jumped off the page this morning . . .
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10, 14 ESV)
We HAVE BEEN sanctified by a once for all offering . . . and by that single offering He has perfected those who ARE BEING sanctified. Set apart and DECLARED HOLY by the work of Christ on the cross . . . set apart and BEING MADE HOLY through the work of Christ on the cross.
Oh, the depths of what was accomplished through the offering of the Lamb of God, as a once for all sacrifice, cannot be fully plumbed . . . the power unleashed by the raising of the Son of God on the third day, cannot be fully fathomed. But through that once for all finished work, is the reality that those who have been set apart are also those that are being set apart. The truth that I have been clothed in righteousness and that I will put on more the character of righteousness by His grace and through His sanctifying work. The mind stretching fact that, in Christ, I have been made a son of God . . . and that, in Christ, through the Spirit’s determined work, I am being conformed into the very image of the Son of God.
The gospel is not just about “sealing the deal” at conversion but, as my friend reminded me, that the good news is that it is in Him, and through Him alone, that “the deal will be sealed” . . . that He who began a good work in me, is He who will complete that good in me (Php. 1:6) . . . that “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (1Thess. 5:24).
Oh, the power of the cross. Praise the Lord for the work completed through His once for all sacrifice . . . our sanctification. Bless the Lord for the work to be completed through His once for all offering . . . our sanctification.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Thessalonians 5:23 ESV)
Now that’s sealing the deal. To Him be all glory for His abundant grace! Amen?