Mentoring Minutes

Saved! For What?

Did you know that there are 2 sides to salvation…God’s and ours? We can do nothing to save ourselves but we have a very clear responsibility in salvation.

Everyone loves to hear about God’s Amazing Grace…how sweet the sound! It does sound great and it is amazing! But God’s Word has a lot more to say about salvation than simply what He’s done for us.

The other side of salvation…our side…is all about God’s purpose for our lives once we accept His free gift of grace in salvation and how we can live most fully and freely according to His purpose, design and pleasure!

Don’t know about you but I want that! I know that I’ve been saved for Eternity with Him but I want to know what that looks like now. The great news is that we can know! It’s called sanctification and while it’s not easy because of the world we live in, it is every bit as amazing because it is His plan and will for our lives in Christ.

So what is sanctification? What is our part in salvation?

Sanctification is essentially holiness. When something or someone is holy or sanctified it means that he/she or it has been set apart for a special or specific purpose. God’s plan is not just to give you eternal life with Him. He has a special plan for you right now…that’s sanctification.

It’s also why it is so important that we spend time growing as His disciples, seeking to know and love Him more fully. Only when we follow through on the seeking, knowing and loving Him can we know who we are and walk in the special purpose that He takes great pleasure in fulfilling in and through us!

Let’s see what His Word says about being set apart for His plan and pleasure.

God’s Masterpiece and Purpose

God makes it very clear in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church and to Christ’s Church today exactly what both sides of salvation look like. Here we see His role in salvation that we’ve talked about in previous articles, podcasts and videos…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thank you, Lord! But He goes beyond this to plainly describe our purpose in salvation…literally sanctification, in v. 10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Handiwork literally means “masterpiece!” He has created you and in salvation has recreated you in Christ as His masterpiece for a specific, special plan just for you!

Our Response

Paul tells believers in his letter to the Philippians that we have a responsibility (an obedient response) to His gift to us…

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

There it is! We are to respond with reverent awe and fear in 2 ways:

  1. By walking in obedience
  2. Continuing to work out the salvation God has put in
This is sanctification. But this begs the question…how can we work out what He has put in if we don’t spend time to know Who He Is, what He has given us and how He desires to work in and through us?

Bearing Fruit, Not Producing It

John 15 describes what it means to abide in Christ and let God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in and through us. Here are 5 Truths that are evident in the lives of those who have been saved and sanctified in Christ:

  • Christ is the Source (Vine); The Father is the Vinedresser (Gardener) – (v.1)
  • We are branches that bear fruit…not produce fruit. Any branch that does not bear His fruit is cast away (v. 2)
  • We are to be pruned by the Vinedresser (The Father) – pruning means to be cut back and cleaned up to become stronger to bear more fruit (v. 2-3)
  • We are to abide in The Source, Christ (The Vine) – abide means to endure or remain despite trials or hardships of weather, predators and pruning
  • As we abide in The Vine (Christ) we bear more fruit. Apart from Christ (Vine) we can produce nothing.

God has not only saved you in Christ, He has set you apart as His masterpiece for His special purpose. Are you trying to produce for His Kingdom? Learn to rest, endure and grow in Christ and you will see His fruit coming through you for His Glory!

This does not mean that you are to sit back in your La-Z-Boy chair and say to God, “Ok, get to it, produce fruit in me!” It means you recognize His Gift, work diligently to know Him and allow His Truth and will to be lived out through your life to others. He will produce more fruit for you to bear, as you remain a faithful branch in Christ!

If you’re willing to seek, know and love Him, you will learn what it means to live sanctified you can get rid of the burden of “success” and learn to “bear His fruit” for His good will and pleasure!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Salvation and Sanctification…God’s free gift in Christ and my discipleship response in living out what He has set me apart for? Am I living for God’s good pleasure? Is He having His way in and through me?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Spend some time this week in the Scriptures found in this article and ask The Lord if you’ve been taking His salvation for granted? Also ask Him to reveal to you what He has saved you for and how you can bear His fruit more fully in your life and relationships?

What’s Love and What’s That Got To Do With It?

Dr. Tony Evans said, “Our God is a covenant making and covenant keeping God and every covenant has an order.” 

God is certainly a God of order as is clear not only in all of creation but is stated very plainly in His Word, The Bible.  We would do well to study, learn and apply His order to our lives and relationships. 

Jesus Himself gave us a precise order when it comes to love.  The religious leaders were trying to capture Jesus in his own words so they set Him up with what they thought would be an impossible question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Matthew 22:36

LOVE HAS AN ORDER AND PRIORITY…HOW ROMANTIC?  IT REALLY IS!

Jesus not only gave an answer that blew the religious leaders away but did so in a succinct order that gave them (and us) clear direction in how to love and live.  He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-39

We should pay close attention to 3 words in particular, “first,” “greatest” and “second.”  Why?  They signify tremendous importance and priority order for us to learn how to love and teach others to do the same.  WE DON’T BEGIN BY LOVING OTHERS (common default in many churches).  WE BEGIN BY GETTING TO KNOW AND LOVE GOD!  

The ordering of this in the original language (Greek) informs us that the priority is of absolute importance.  If we do not first love God with all we are then we cannot begin to love who we are in Him.  Only when we take the time to know and love Him does He reveal who we are by His design and learn to love ourselves.  THEN we can begin to give ourselves away just as Christ did in loving others.

In 1 John, we see that everything comes from and begins with His Love for us and then His love in us to others – 1 John 4:7-11, 15-21 (emph. v. 19).  Jesus has given us an order and priority to love and we can only love as He overflows through us! 

This is why so much of our service may be rooted in the flesh rather than in God and His Spirit.  We allow and give very little time and effort to teaching and discipling new believers to know and love God above all else and totally…body, mind, soul and spirit.  Where’s our love spring from if we do not first love Him? 

Here is what you will see in your life as you follow Christ’s priority of Love in the Greatest Commandments…

1) You begin to realize that you can only love because of His Love for you (1 John 4:19) – He is Love and is the only true Source of Love;

2) In receiving His love, you are now capable of loving Him with all you are and you desire to grow in doing so;

3) As you receive and grow in His Love you begin to understand you are defined by His Truth and can now love who you are in Christ rather than trying to do so through the world’s false idea of love based on rating, ranking and comparing;

4) Finally, as you mature in your love for God and self, you begin to understand that loving others is giving yourself away for their sake…so they can know His Love!

LOVE IS COMMITMENT…FEELINGS ARE REAL BUT SECONDARY

This is LOVE and it doesn’t come naturally – see Luke 10:25-37.  The best we can do apart from God in Christ is a “pretty good lust” and it falls so far short of all God has for us to experience in His Real Love!  Think about it?

God’s Love is real because it gives completely without demanding anything in return.  His is the greatest example and definition of Love.  If you’re familiar with the story you’ll know who said it, where He was and what He was enduring in that moment.  If not, take a few moments to read the story in Luke 23 (also Matthew 27:11-44; Mark 15:1-41; John 19:1-37).  Think about the real Love shown in these few words in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Let me ask you this as you think about what love is and how you’ve lived it in your life and relationships?  Is it based on feelings?  On reciprocity…give and take?  Or is it based on His kind of love in and through you?

IF LOVE WAS A FEELING?

One simple question should suffice to help us understand what love really is and why we can’t discern or live it apart from Him…Based on the story in the Scripture texts above, if love was a feeling where would we be

How do you think Jesus felt socially?  The crowd cried out, “Crucify Him!”

How do you think He felt relationally?  His 12 best friends all abandoned Him.

What about mentally and emotionally?  He sweats drops of blood because of the great anguish that He knew He had to face for us.

How did he feel physically?  To this day, crucifixion is one of the most horrific and painful deaths a person can experience.

Finally, how did He feel spiritually?  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

So I’ll ask again, if love were (or is) a feeling, where would we be when it comes to salvation and knowing God?  We would be lost! 

But Praise The Lord, He persevered, He stayed the course, He remained committed in spite of the pain and suffering and all He endured…because Love is commitment.  He is Love!  And we can know Love…and love others!

Let’s begin to help people see His kind of Love, help new believers to grow in His Love and in His priority order regarding Love, so we can love and serve them out of an overflow of His Love for us! 

Then we can send out disciples who don’t just serve but know what it means to serve from a heart of Love…His Love!  This is how others will know we are His and know that He loves them and so do we! 

Contact us with questions, comments, if you desire to know The Lord or be encouraged and/or mentored in your life and relationships!  It’s completely FREE!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Has your concept of love been defined by emotions or the Truth of God’s Word?  What would those closest to you say?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take time this week to read the Scriptures from this article with the understanding of Love as a commitment rather than feelings. Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Thanks, Jesus, for Saving Me…I’ll Pass on Your Lordship!

Here’s the BIG Question…Are you claiming Christ is Lord but not surrendering to His Lordship in your life?  Remember, we don’t MAKE Him Lord, He always has been and always will be…are you submitting to Him as Lord?

Whether intentional or just careless, often after grace and salvation are taught and “achieved,” we either assume or ignore what we are saved for and called to be…His disciples.  In order to be His disciples, we must submit to Him as Lord.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3:15

As preachers, teachers and any/all followers of Christ who take seriously the Great Commission, we can’t just assume that mature disciples just happen upon receiving salvation and then send out babes in Christ to show others how much God loves them (and for that matter how much we love them) by simply serving them.  This requires humility and patience…neither of which we have much, or any of, outside of Christ and our maturing as His disciples. 

Don’t get me wrong, we need to be in and be His Church, we need to serve and give. But we first need to understand what it means to surrender to Christ as Lord: 

  1. His Love is the Source – We love because He first loved us and only as a believer can we grow in His Love and Lordship and as we…
  2. Learn to love Him above all else and with all we are
  3. Are set apart for His purposes
  4. Know and learn to love who we are in Christ so we can then
  5. Love and serve others as we do ourselves, then we can…
  6. Build loving relationships that
  7. Glorify Him and draw others to His Love and Lordship!

Grace by Faith

If a person is not moving in faith in Christ then they are not being motivated by His Grace but by something else…emotion, pride, reward/gain, etc. 

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  2 Corinthians 4:5

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore some of God’s commands, principles and teachings for the sake of our maturing in Christ and The Holy Spirit.  Only when we take the time to do so can we begin to build loving relationships and make disciples.  Obedience is expected and we should be held accountable, and graciously hold others accountable, upon our decision to receive His gift of salvation.  However, maturity takes time and as mentioned earlier…humility and patience.

GOD’S GIFT AND OUR WORK

How are we doing with the following teachings and principles from God’s Word? How are we to help and expect young followers of Christ to be able to love, share, disciple and help grow others as disciples in Christ if we’re not teaching and training these principles from His Word?  Love (it’s commanded); seeking Him with all our heart and His Kingdom and righteousness as first priority; sanctification (big word that I’ll explain in time); study; discipleship; authority; relationship, including and especially, marriage and family and His Church.

How can we disciple others if we are not growing and maturing in the disciplines of His Word and in His will ourselves?  We will discuss spiritual disciplines as we continue with the L&L message but so we are not pushing folks out the door to serve who are totally unprepared to do so. 

We’ve flipped the script!  And when it’s God’s script that’s flipped, there’s trouble!  Let me ask a couple more questions…Why do we spend all our time trying to “save” people…a work that only God can do?  NOTE: We are certainly to share the Gospel message as the foundation for everything else we’re doing but salvation is ultimately His work and gift to us. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23…It is a gift and it is in Christ OUR LORD!

Why is it that we spend so little time and energy doing the very work that He has called us to do…maturing as disciples that make disciples?

HIS KINGDOM, HIS FRUIT

We cannot let programs, buildings, pride or “success” get in the way!  We need to move from a corporate success model to His Kingdom fruit model and in faith let Him be responsible for the fruit that we simply bear!  His Fruit is disciples growing together in genuine, loving relationships in Christ…the currency of His Kingdom!  Every relationship flows from our relationship with Him.

For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.  Romans 14:7-8

If we think that showing up, signing up and serving is what makes Him Lord then we’re sorely missing out on what it means for Him to be Lord and for us to be His disciples.  It is good and worthwhile to show up, sign up and serve but it must be an overflow of who we are in Him.  Are you spending time to know and love Him above everything else?  When you do this it will make all the difference in all you do and especially in all other relationships.

 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Ephesians 5:21

It will require all of us who truly know Him as Savior and Lord but He is able!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – When you consider your relationship with Christ do your actions reveal Him only as your Savior or are you submitting to His Lordship?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Spend some time in His Word and in prayer and ask The Lord to reveal areas in your life that you have not submitted to Him? 

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!