Monday, December 22, 2008
In 1 Peter 1:2, Peter writes that believers are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood. This verse relates very well to what I've written concerning Numbers 21 and the Bronze Serpent. Peter explains that the Holy Spirit's work is to sanctify us, to enable us and to empower us to grow in grace in Christ. He also explains that the means by which we grow is as we are sprinkled more and more with the blood of Christ. Again, each time we become aware of an area of sin or disobedience, we confess that sin and trust the Holy Spirit to sanctify us based on the power of the shed blood of Christ...in other words, the power of the blood is applied to us in a fresh way, resulting in a supernatural change of life. It is being sprinkled with the blood of Christ that changes us...or, as 1 John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to not only forgive our sins, but also to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness. What hope we have as we live out our lives which so often is characterized by 3 steps forward, 2 steps back! Do not lose heart! Our growth in Christ is more dependent upon the blood of Christ than our own strength or competency!! Yet the power of the blood assures our ability to live the life we are called to live!!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I just returned from St Petersburg, Russia. In the Russian Museum there is a painting of Numbers 21...snakes everywhere, people bitten, dying. In the background is the Bronze Serpent on a pole...to which people could look, and according to the promise of God, be saved. According to Numbers 21 and the picture we get, there was real, liquid venom coursing through the peoples' veins, but the look of faith released real, supernatural power from God, and the power neutralized the poison. Jesus talks about Numbers 21 in John 3 and says that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up and whoever believes in Him (looks to Him in faith), will be saved. The look of faith to Christ, hoping in the promise of God's grace and forgiveness, frees us from the fatal venom of sin coursing through our "veins." That is the great doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. But there is more to Numbers 21 than the doctrine of justification. In Galatians 3:5 we learn that the same faith that leads to justification also leads to sanctification...so, the look of faith releases supernatural transforming power in our daily lives. Say, for instance, we struggle with anger...we blow up...to use Numbers 21, we've been "bitten afresh" by the venom of sin. We need to be cleansed from the power of sin afresh...what do we do? Trying to suck the poison out through some kit won't work! We look again to Christ, this time trusting the power of the blood to cleanse and transform us! Look to the cross again and again and trust in the release of supernatural, transforming power...the look of faith released power to neutralize snake venom...and the same look of faith can progressively neutralize the power of sin in our daily lives as well!