“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

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I received a little more this morning in line with the thoughts I shared last night in Tell Me More about the Jesus You Serve. If you haven’t already, please click on the link, and read the post, and consider it alongside this one.

I see our works as evidence of our faith, which is why I believe James declares that faith without works is dead (2:14-26). Related themes seen in Romans and Galatians, for example, Paul declares to the Ephesians that they had been saved by grace, which is a gift of God, not from themselves, so that no one can boast. Paul goes on to call them God’s handiwork and that good works were prepared in advance for them to do (2:8-10). Our actions testify to our sanctification. It is God who justifies; his love transforms us into the likeness of his son. And there’s so much more to Jesus than what we might be accustomed to reading on the side of a coffee mug, or finding in a feel-good, inspirational meme. There was a reason Jesus was nailed to a cross. There was a reason he caused his critics to gnash their teeth. There is a reason the world hated him then and continues to hate him today. Brothers and sisters, we must cast off the old, and embrace the whole person of Jesus Christ, or we embrace none of him.

I suspect the notion that “once saved always saved” allows continuing in sin is a lot like the controversy Paul was addressing in Romans 3. Paul’s response in verse 8 leaves no doubt about his position on abusing God’s abounding mercy: “Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—’Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is just!” “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). I don’t understand claiming to cherish love, while reviling repentance. Are they not one and the same? The message God has put on my heart is one of love, but not the fallen, distorted love the flesh revels.

Now don’t become too discouraged if your conversion to Christ doesn’t necessarily eliminate all your personal struggles immediately. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that. Your bad habits didn’t form overnight, and they probably won’t be broken any sooner. Our experiences effect us, and it takes time to relearn better ways. But put your faith in the Good Shepherd; he is more than up for the challenge. God plays a long game. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Therefore. let us not be content to remain as lost sheep meandering in the field, but rather, desire to grow and mature, because brothers and sisters we’ve been found! Pray without ceasing, because you will be tested, and yes, you’re going to stumble, but keep pressing toward the prize. For it is in pressing toward the prize that you will be revealed! After all, Jesus doesn’t just save souls, though that would be enough. Jesus changes lives!

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