Our Hope for Holiness

Salvation isn’t just conversion, it is the whole of our life. We are saved by Jesus Christ, and that means we are justified, sanctified, redeemed, adopted, regenerated, and are assured of glorification. That assurance of heaven is by the promise of God in Christ. The gospel announces this, outside of us, done by God. Our work is to believe (trust, have faith in) this good news.

The above may not seem remarkable. But in one particular aspect it flies in the face of what is often simply accepted dogma in modern conservative Christianity.

I was taught that justification was an event and sanctification was a process. I was taught that I grow progressively through life in holiness by my effort in conjunction with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. I was taught that the straining Paul is doing in Philippians 3, and the fear and trembling in chapter 2, were about progression in personal holiness. I was taught that justification was essentially conversion, and sanctification was life now (slow intermittent growth in holiness).  I am a product of schools that teach this, of dear friends who hold to it, and of course have read many books that espouse this thinking. It is really common, so common as to be unquestioned.

What I ran into that has made me think differently was the buzz saw of the Bible, in teaching through Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Hebrews, and more. Slowly I have been faced with how the Bible uses the word sanctification. It’s alternatively translated holiness. It was a surprise to me how it almost always did not refer to progress in personal holiness.

That doesn’t mean we don’t display holy behavior (we do); or we don’t grow in godliness (we do); or we don’t run the race (we do).

But a misunderstanding of sanctification, in my experience, has led many Christians away from the gospel. I don’t say that lightly or without fear and trembling. But when we leave the biblical emphasis, we open ourselves up to difficulty.

If Christians are emphasizing what the New Testament does, then we should see each other as holy, as much as we will ever be on earth, because of what Jesus has done and by his sacrifice alone. That means I don’t lose holiness by my sin. Jesus paid for that. I don’t go up and down in holiness, as it is not by degree. I am sanctified, set apart, by what Jesus did, not by what I do, not ever. If I have been a Christian for 30 years, and someone else has been a Christian for 3 minutes, I am not more holy. I was as holy at conversion as I am at my death. I don’t have any ‘personal’ holiness, because it is corporate. Because all of my holiness is found in my union with Christ, along with every other believer’s sanctification.

God’s favor is because of my union with Christ by faith alone, and not by my own good works, even good works done as a Christian. This does not take away from the reality that my faith produces different behaviors than unbelief would (these are a response to God’s favor, not a meritorious precondition).

Theologians sometimes break up holiness into “positional” and “progressive.” I don’t see the Bible doing this. The Bible seems to have a heavy emphasis on the former, while many in our theological stream have a heavy emphasis on the latter. So perhaps we should reserve sanctification for the former, and use words like “maturity,” “transformation,” and “growth in dependence” or some such for the latter. Because otherwise it is simply misleading as to what the Bible is about. Unfortunately people are drawn back to guilt, self-righteousness, pride, despair – all because they are thinking wrongly in this area.

I do have a part that is critical, for sure, and it is hard – believing in Christ alone. And I do respond, in gratitude, with humility and love and unity and transparency and, yes, with holy behavior. But this holy behavior is not my sanctification. Jesus is.

And thus our hope is in Christ and his finished work alone for justification, for glorification, and yes, for sanctification.

Rest Again

If you are reading this from afar, you’re missing out. Bellingham in the Fall is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. The sky is blue, but not just blue, a piercing, clear blue. Clouds stand out in stark relief, but they don’t overwhelm. The reds and yellows of the fall leaves and the greens of the surrounding hills and the church steeple and even the roads and cars and people are all part of a wondrous landscape of color. And its accompanied by crisp, clean air with a hint of the coming winter. Incredible, this world that God has made. I’m in the midst. I’m blessed.

I experienced this, driving home two days ago. An epiphany, a moment of “wow, thank you Lord, you take such good care of me, look what I get to experience!” Maybe you’ve had such moments, too, where you just have a sense that God has you, in the very best sense of the word.

I say moments, because this experience was transitory. It was broken by my remembrance that I’d forgotten to finish preparing for a talk. Then that I hadn’t talked to my extended family as I’d planned. Then that I needed to mow the lawn. More to do now. The future to plan. I’m a little behind.

This is more than just “being busy,” that malady that seems to affect us all. It is also the worry that I’m behind, I’m not doing all I should. I feel that worry—there’s lots to do, and we don’t measure up to standards—is ubiquitous. Your tasks aren’t mine, but both you and I could always do better. I know this inside. I stress about it. I relieve the stress, sometimes, by looking around and getting a bit of comfort in comparison. “Yes, I’m not doing all I should, but I’m doing better than them!” This is something of a fool’s game. I know I’m not all I should be. At the extremes, this lack is experienced in guilt and shame, in despair even. In daily experience, I experience dissatisfaction, irritation, worry, and stress.

So often instead of the wonder of the beautiful day, or the enjoyment of my kid’s smile, or the joy of a free salvation, and especially about the truth that God has a plan for me and he will get it done, I am about the reality of a fallen me. I don’t want to be fallen. I want to be better. So I steal a moment of joy, and then head back to work.

I’m reminded of a friend’s recent statement from Hebrews 4. About rest. I see rest as a vacation, usually. You know, recharging the batteries, taking time off so that I can get back to work, at full force. When I’m tired or fatigued, rest is to restore me so I’m back to full capacity. Really, the goal of rest is as a restorative to further work.

And this flies in the face of the gospel. The good news is that Jesus actually did it all. I rest in his finished work. I trust in his once-for-all sacrifice.

When I lose that perspective, it doesn’t become untrue. I can spin my wheels, and all I’m doing is not seeing reality. And when that reality breaks through, whether on a beautiful Fall day or in the middle of a busy week, I see again that Jesus is my rest for all time.

He has me, forever.

Like he had Peter when he started sinking.

Like he had Zaccheus even when he was up in a tree, a sinner through and through.

Like he had Lazarus even when he was dead.

He has promised us heaven. Not on our work. On his promise. On his strength. For me.

I lean back in my seat, resting on the strength of it. Well, for a moment, before the world and my flesh intrude again.

May true rest, true peace, true wondrous trust in his promises, continue invade our lives and color our days even as we struggle. Until faith becomes sight, and we see our Jesus again.

Read Your Bible

I love the Word of God. I think everyone who is saved does, in no small part because Jesus is the Word. But it has been an interesting journey through my Christian life in how I think about the text that informs my faith.

I wouldn’t know who Jesus is without the Bible.

I wouldn’t know how he came to earth. I wouldn’t know he died for me. I wouldn’t know about the incredible truth of the God who became man, to save people.

The heart of God, his character, his love, his justice, all on display for me in the pages of the Bible.

I love the Word of God.

But I have to confess a concern in how I see myself tempted to read it. And this concern is about how I have read in the past, and how I am often encouraged to read right now.

The concerning behavior is reflected in how people take 1 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” Paul writes to his protégé.

And I was taught, then, that every passage, every sentence, every word, is perfectly set up so that I can discern timeless truths for living in them. I mean, Paul was referring to the Old Testament, and saying that it can be used as a basis for teaching, reproof, and correction, right?

Practically that became an exhortation to “search the passage for a timeless truth you can use today.” The procedure was to read the Bible in its context (or sometimes, out of it), and then generalize it to today’s setting, and come up with a truth that we should strive after.

Context was hard, because as a ‘regular reader’ I didn’t have a lot of experience with languages, so what I’d do is go to a commentary and get the ‘real reading’ from someone who was more learned than I was.

So I could read about Joseph being sold into slavery, reading of the jealousy of his brothers at his father’s preference for that firstborn of Rachel. “Favoritism is a killer of families” became a timeless truth. “Jealousy is terrible,” another. “God protects those who are faithful,” yet another as I read on and saw that Joseph didn’t die. Really, the timeless truths were only limited by my creativity and time in the text.

This approach was a direct application of my understanding of 2 Timothy 3. And the approach reinforced ethical guidelines and behaviors that I already knew were good. I was raised in a Christian home. “Be good” was always something we aimed for.

Some readers at this point may not understand why this grieves me so.

Here’s the concern: where’s Jesus? Not like “where’s Waldo?”, trying to find Jesus somewhere in the bushes of the text. But it is a real question.

One answer is that Jesus is the instruction. Jesus is the Word, so the timeless principles you get from the word is Christ himself instructing you in increasing righteousness. That the instruction and the training is Christ himself increasing your morality and goodness. Not sure anyone would actually say that, but that’s a possibility.

Another answer, perhaps more honest for most, is ‘who cares?’. I mean, the bulk of Christian experience, in my cultural setting, is squarely aimed at individual improvement. Tell me how to be a good parent, good child, good spouse, good Church-goer, good person. Let’s work on personal holiness, because that is the default understanding of what it means to “do” the Bible. The Word, in this instance, becomes an instruction manual on living, and the timeless principles become the things to do to get there. God functionally becomes window dressing, an enabling power or distant observer.

But what if the foundational assumption of this approach is wrong?

What if Jesus is the message of the Bible? What if the “instruction in righteousness” isn’t personal holiness, but renewal of the mind about who Jesus is, and who we are? What if “timeless principles” towards more ethical behavior really aren’t the focus of the instruction we are to have? After all, the Sciptures are identified as those which make you “wise for salvation through faith in Christ” in the verse before our famous 2 Timothy 3:16.

What makes you wise for salvation through faith in Christ?

Perhaps we should be asking this question of our text. Perhaps our text becomes more about worship, more about humility and trust and wonder and loyalty. And less about timeless behavioral principles.

So Joseph’s story becomes a magnificent opus to the failure of even the chosen (Jacob) to raise his family right, and God’s faithfulness in the midst. Joseph becomes an incredible look at the upside-down ways of God, saving through the least and the little, taking the lowly and raising them up in the midst of the so-called powerful.

Perhaps the training Paul is after is to exalt Christ, forgetting ourselves… not forgetting Christ and exalting ourselves.

That may sound a bit harsh. I mean the reason why people often exhort personal improvement is so that you will “glorify God.” But the work of God is not presenting him your goodness. It is trusting in Christ’s goodness. The work of God, famously identified by Jesus himself in John 6:29, is to “believe in the one whom he has sent.”

This changes the whole idea of Bible reading. We don’t read to get ourselves better, in any normally understood way. We read because Jesus is the Word. He is the revelation, the perfect revelation, of who God is; and by so revealing him, we also see our need for him, our lack. The Bible births things like gratitude and humility simply because the story is one of God reaching down, not us building up.

This doesn’t change one bit the idea that the text is inspired. That it has authority. The issue is, what it is for? Your answer will mark your life. For Luther, father of the reformation, I think he’d distill it to two words: law and gospel. Law to condemn, the gospel to free.  And all of it Jesus, revealing God’s plan for us in Christ forever.

It isn’t too late to change your Bible habits. So change this one. Read your Bible, looking for Jesus. The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory. Go ahead. Behold his glory, in the pages of the most important reading you’ll ever do.

We Are All Theologians

Humility is so not something we work on. It really is what we are, what it means to come to trust Jesus, to need Jesus, because our own works are a crumbly mess.

Thinking that the church at Corinth had the same basic theology as Paul. He calls them saints. He says that they have all things, that they are Christ’s, and that they, like him, have nothing they didn’t receive. Basically they both have received the gift of the gospel. They are Christ’s people, his church.

But then he really goes after them for not living it out. For what kind of theologians they are. He paints this incredible contrast in chapter 4. The “Corinth-way” of being theologians is that they are rich, they have all they want, they are wise in Christ, they are strong, they are held in honor. They are leveraging the gospel to affirm their self-righteousness, their standing.

I’m struck by how amazing this is. You can hear the gospel, believe in Jesus, and live it out in a way that doesn’t go to the core of what the gospel is.  You can, as a Christian, see the Christ and the cross as a means to self-improvement.

Against that way, Paul illumines another way of living out the theology of the gospel. He calls it the apostles’ way. They are a spectacle to all, sentenced to death, fools for Christ’s sake, weak, held in disrepute, considered scum of the earth, refuse. No leveraging, no honor, no climbing some ladder to self-improvement through the gospel.

I’ve never seen this passage used as support by Forde or Luther, but this passage fits right in with the contrast of being a theologian of glory or being a theologian of the cross. Do you see through the cross to a grander purpose for yourself, to be honorable, strong, improved, and not to die? There you are, the way of Corinth, the theologian of glory.

Or do you see the cross… and stop. The hidden mystery of God in suffering and death. It proclaims our total unworthiness. And we identify with this Jesus, and we await the resurrection from the dead that brings no status here, no strength that the world is attracted to.

Being a theologian of the cross, it seems to no small degree, is essential humility, because it is being struck with the suffering and death of Jesus for me. All is him, naught is me. And in my own suffering, in my own death, in the insufficiency of all I do, is not futility to be railed against, but a trust that, in Christ, I will be raised. There is no hope in me; there is no hope but Christ.

I’m coming to see you, Paul says to the church in Corinth, we will see. The issue is, where is the power? Is it in us, seeing through the cross, stronger and better now? Or is it in our identification with Jesus, because the power is the resurrection? May we all be theologians of the cross.

Law to Gospel, or Gospel to Law?

“If one wants to have the gospel as a source of power that makes it possible for one to successfully fulfill the law, then one ruins both. The law still remains unfulfilled and the gospel does not remain the gospel. The gospel means a completely new way to God, not through our own successful fulfillment but through that which Jesus has done for us.”


Bo Giertz, Commentary on Luke

Real Change For Those In Christ

Change is a funny thing. It is hard for most people. We like predictability, really. Too many sudden alterations in the landscape can make us uneasy, make us feel unsafe.

But that’s not true of our desire to see ourselves change. Almost everyone has something they’d like changed, internal or external to them. And we are really good at pointing out how other people should change.

We bring our expectations of change into our Christian living. We desire to be stronger, to improve, to be better. We see the amazing example of Jesus, we hear the commands of the Bible, and we expect to see change. We logically think there really should, over time, be a difference, a movement toward the instructions given, especially in the New Testament.

Take, for example, simple commands like “rejoice always” or “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:4-6). We read and agree that we should rejoice, and we should not be anxious. But we also see that we are not fulfilling those commands. So we begin to plan out how to accomplish these commands given by God.

Our impulse is, naturally, to progress toward the fulfillment of the command. We know we don’t rejoice always, but we think it is reasonable to expect to rejoice more this week than last week. We do fall into anxiety, but are encouraged if it is not as often this year as last. To get closer to the goal, which is actual personal obedience to the command, is the measurable. The delta between us and perfection should be decreasing, and this is the change that we begin to measure. Change in the Christian life becomes a measure of how we are moving toward completion of the commands we find.

We often get discouraged when looking at others. They seem closer to fulfilling these commands than we are. We take comfort that what is needed, what is measured by God, isn’t actually accomplishing, but showing signs of improving. So if we start from a very low place, our movement towards more behavioral obedience might be more remarkable, really, than someone who already rejoices a lot and just improves a smidge.

Regardless of how far we get, this becomes for many people the objective of the Christian life. This kind of change.

You probably can tell by now that I’m troubled by this approach.

My discomfort is not in the beauty of the command. I long to love like Jesus loved. I see the beauty and goodness of rejoicing always. I see the practical beneficial effects on my life that being anxious for nothing would bring. Oh, how much time I’ve wasted in worry!

Here’s my difficulty, and it is twofold. First, this approach takes the command and lowers it. What we measure is not whether we are obedient, but how close to obedience we come. Does it matter if I rejoice thirty percent of the time, or fifty percent of the time, if the command is to rejoice always? In fact, we are quick to take heart when we appear to be improving, but we actually are never obedient to the given command. We never actually do what the Bible is commanding, and yet we act (and even think?) like we are doing it.

That’s a problem, but there’s a more fundamental difficulty. Our focus is on our behavioral change, and that’s not what has changed in us. I mean, all well and good that some change happens behaviorally, but I’m thinking it is neither promised nor foundational.

The change we need is the change that has already happened to us who believe. My hope has changed. Where I was self-oriented, self-righteous, self-justifying, self-hoping, wanting to see myself be the hero, now I trust Jesus. I trust in his work, his blood, his death, his righteousness, his life for me. This is the change the Bible actually accounts to us.

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4). That’s a statement of something that has already changed, without further measurement.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This refers to a fundamental change, I think. This change has happened, rather than being something I work toward. The work is to trust that it is true.

What has changed is that, by faith, I have died. I don’t live a life of measured self-improvement or progress, personally, toward some partial obedience. I trust in the perfect righteousness of Christ and his obedience that I partake in by faith. I live in him. I have his righteousness, his holiness, and have been promised his resurrection. Putting my trust in this promise is a huge, monumental, fundamental, seismic change. It is out of this change, this death to life, that my perspective shifts, my viewpoint is forever altered.

Death to life has occurred, says Paul, and while it is true I will certainly (and gladly) see the effects of it here, they are in reality spotty and intermittent. The commands of the Bible continue to push us not to our own behavioral perfecting but towards seeing our own failure, towards dependence on the only one who ever really did obey to the standard required. The one we live in union with. Jesus.

There is a reason why faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I see my small improvements, here and there, behavioral alterations that may or may not spring from faith. But I don’t see the major change, which is death to life, resurrection accomplished, by the power of Jesus Christ alone. Assuredly, convincingly ours, not seen but trusted in. May we walk by faith in the assurance of change.


J. Gresham Machen on the Law

“The truth of Christianity cannot be established by the intellect unless an important part of the argument is based upon the fact of sin which is revealed by the law of God; the beauty of Jesus, which attracts the gaze of men, cannot be appreciated without a knowledge of the holiness upon which it is based; the companionship of Jesus is possible only to those who say first, in deep contrition; ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord’; the example of Jesus is powerless to those who are in the bondage of evil habit, and it is not even a perfect example unless He be the divine Redeemer that He claimed to be. The true schoolmaster to bring men to Christ is found, therefore, now and always in the law of God— the law of God that gives to men the consciousness of sin.

A new and more powerful proclamation of that law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens. Mr. Legality has indeed in our day disguised himself somewhat, but he is the same deceiver as the one of whom Bunyan wrote.

‘Making Christ Master’ in the life, putting into practice ‘the principles of Christ’ by one’s own efforts these are merely new ways of earning salvation by one’s own obedience to God’s commands. And they are undertaken because of a lax view of what those commands are. So it always is: a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace.”

(J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith?, p. 141-142)

h/t monergism.com

Remember That Time When…

You remember that time when Jesus was asked what was the great commandment in the Law?

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So there it is. Love God, love your neighbor. If you browse through various evangelical churches online, you’ll find these two commands echoed, over and over, as themes and purpose and mission. Love God, love people.

You’ll hear sermons on how we need to love God more, and love people more. Ten ways to increase your love of God, three practical steps to love people.

Yet if you’re honest with the context, Jesus is very specific in what he is laying out: law. Law, in the sense that you are not affirmed by it. It isn’t what you accomplish. The Bible clearly says that no human being anywhere will be accounted good in the sight of God by doing law. Law doesn’t give you something to accomplish. It stops you. Law exists to show sin.

So how in the world has this become the mission statement for churches? “We are on mission to accomplish the law?” What?

Confusion, that’s what we’re fighting. And the confusion is over what our mission really is. Our mission is not to accomplish the law, and we are not enabled to do so. We affirm it’s truth, we affirm our Savior’s commands as right and true. But they don’t strengthen us, these statements of law. They reveal our weakness.

And this is the way of the cross. This is the way of salvation. To hear the law, and die. And to see our savior, and live. When Jesus gives a new command, to love as he has loved, we see yet again that we cannot love as he loved. And we marvel that he does love in spite of our undeservedness. We are left with trusting that he has loved us totally and completely, shown on the cross, continuing to this day.

We hear the good news that he has done everything we need, that the work is finished, that we are secure. And we believe it. That’s faith. We grab hold of the word of God’s love even though we see our ugliness. Gratitude and wonder and amazement, they are ours. Not because we have done anything, but because we haven’t. We’ve received the gift.

The law is beautiful and good. And it always condemns.  And to the heart that is broken, there is another word. The word of the gospel.  We receive the body broken and the blood spilled. We hear the news from a distant land. We who ought but don’t, receive a love undeserved, more than we could imagine.

So please don’t make the church’s mission to fulfill the law. Except as an exposure that we don’t. We are more broken than we know, and the law helps us know more. And we are more loved than we can comprehend, which is what we always need to hear. Thank you Jesus.

More than a Babe

Every birth of a baby is miraculous. To see new life enter the world, eyes opening and first breaths taken, there is something magical and wondrous in it.

How much more the arrival of Jesus. I’m not thinking of the virgin birth, or the announcement to the shepherds, or the manger scene. Those are all marvelous in their own way. I’m thinking of more. I’m thinking of who Jesus is.

Christmas isn’t about a particular day, or the general wonder of new life born. We worship in awe because this particular child was born. The Bible is a cacophony of sound about this child. In fact, in a very real way, the Word is this child.

Hundreds of years before his birth, he is prophesied to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), to be the suffering servant (Isaiah 53:5), to establish David’s throne forever (2 Samuel 7:16). The government will be on his shoulders, this child who will be called “prince of peace” and “everlasting God” (Isaiah 9:6). And that’s just getting started.

Image after image, story after story in the Old Testament proclaims he is coming. The new Adam, the better Moses, the true Passover lamb. He is the Joshua that will come, the kinsman redeemer, the King in the line of David, the Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. He’s God and man, united. Quite literally.

Jesus is the beginning and the end. He’s all of time united, the alpha and omega.

Jesus brings together heaven and earth. He even tells Nathaniel that there are angels ascending and descending, like Jacob’s ladder, on him (John 1:51).

Jesus will go into death to bring forth life. He is the light in the darkness, the living one, the breaker of walls and kingdoms.

Whether you are energized by the Christmas season, or ready to be done with songs played a hundred times since Thanksgiving, there’s no way we could ever get to the bottom of the depths of what he’s done, the wonder of who he is. This is who loves us. This incredible God who came, this man who died, this one who lives forever. If you live a full life, you will only celebrate it on earth 80 or 90 times. It’s not enough. He is more, of everything, to us, than we can ever imagine.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). This is our Jesus.

A Future

We are overwhelmed with blessings. Personally, I am grateful for my wife, my kids, my health. I’m surrounded by beauty. I love rain, and we get lots of it. I rarely eat the same food two meals in a row. I attend a church where the gospel is the main thing. I drive a car, have a cellphone, get to study the Bible. This isn’t at all exhaustive… I could go on and on.

Even as I list out personal blessings, I realize that you may be reading this and have an entirely different experience than me. You might have none of the things I list. You may have others I don’t.

And the truth is, any of these blessings could be lost in a heartbeat. Cancer strikes, and a loved one is lost. Health crumbles. Cellphones get dropped. Money gets tight.

So it is critical, I think, that we identify what our inheritance is.

When Peter writes that we are “kept by God for an inheritance” in 1 Peter 1:4, he’s not referring to these temporal blessings, this passing earth. He’s speaking of something greater. And most importantly, something imperishable, unfading, unable to be lost, secure forever.

We get to be with Christ forever. We get to dwell with God forever. He’s made a place for us forever. This is our inheritance. This is what is reserved for us. We’re like the Levites, who didn’t get a piece of the promised land, because God himself was their inheritance (Joshua 15:33).

Acknowledging a future inheritance isn’t hard for us, generally. Heaven is coming, and it will be better than here. What is hard for us is understanding the security of our inheritance.

No matter what happens here, we have a future and a hope that is secure.

I struggle with this because I see my own failings. I don’t avoid sin as I ought. I am lazy. I get frustrated. I am not proactive. I am prideful. Shouldn’t then I think my inheritance is on shaky ground?

The answer is a shouted, firm “no!”. And it is no because of what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t just rescue me from sin and get me started on the road to my inheritance. Jesus secured my inheritance on the cross. Jesus didn’t wipe the slate clean, he clothed me in his righteousness. The cross proclaims the great exchange–Jesus actually became sin. My sin. So that I get righteousness. His righteousness.

The cross proclaims the greatest mystery known to man. By simply receiving Jesus, simply trusting in Jesus, I have a secure inheritance. Which is just another way of saying that I’ve been adopted forever. I’ve been put in union with Christ. I’ve been redeemed. I’ve been given his righteousness. I’ve been justified and sanctified by what Jesus has done. I’m awaiting the fulfillment of the promise, glorification, when I get to see what now I don’t see.

The life of Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, they proclaim to me what I need to remember every day. That my temporal blessings are not my inheritance. Jesus is my inheritance. He loves me. And he will be with me forever, because of what he has done.