Implications of the Word, Pt. 2
Study Guide – June 11, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
A lot of things in our world are similar, but very different at the same time. For example, here are some animals that are similar, but yet quite different. North America has Opossums, but not Possums. And Opossums have bald tails, while Possums have furry tails and bigger eyes and ears. Dolphins have long faces, or long beaks, as they call them, and have curved fins, while Porpoises have more blunt shaped heads with triangle like fins. A Crocodile has a longer V shaped head. And when it closes it’s mouth some of it’s teeth still show, while an Alligator has more of a U shaped head, and it’s teeth don’t show after it closes it’s mouth. And one more: Sometimes people think of Turtles and Tortoises as being the same, but Turtles live mostly in water and have webbed feet, while Tortoises are landlubbers and have stumpy feet. Plus, they are heavier and have a dome shaped shell.
We have begun looking some implications of some Biblical teachings. And in doing so we see that even in the Bible there are some things are are similar, but yet very different at the same time. And sometimes the differences can have far reaching implications for our lives. So let’s look at one of the major examples of this in our study today.
The Word of God teaches us that, as Christians, we are both ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ at the same time. And understanding the implications of being both ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ are to completely change the way we think and live.So let’s explore.
Col 2:8-10- “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority…” NASU Isn’t it great to know that in Christ you have been made complete? It ought to also be a great feeling to know that as a result of receiving Christ into your life that there are now things about you that are are completely complete! There are needs in your life that have been fully met and do not require anything more to be fully accepted, beloved, and secure in your relationship with the God who made you and saved you. And one of the great implications about this is that if we would learn to find our rest in and dwell more upon these things that are ‘complete’ in our lives we would be much better prepared for and enabled to then act on the things which are still ‘incomplete’ in our lives. All right, let’s turn to some ‘specifics’ in order to clarify the picture of all of this.
One of the common things which trouble and dog many Christians and interrupt their peace and their joy, and even their service for God, is a lack of their assurance about their personal salvation. And part of the problem is due in part to some confusion on their part about this very difference between what is complete in their life and what is yet incomplete.
Remember, the Apostle Paul’s assurance of his salvation was based upon something that was complete. And this something that was complete was also something that he could never have produced or could never have achieved himself. Rather he knew that his secure position as a saved man was due to something he now possessed which had been produced and achieved by Someone else, but then given to him to have as his own for all eternity. Look at what he said. Phil 3:9- “…and (I) may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith…” NASU
And let’s also look at the Amplified Version for even more clarity: Phil 3:9- “And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.” AMP
Man’s ‘righteousness’ versus Christ’s ‘righteousness’ is what separates Biblical Christianity from every religion on Earth. Perhaps instead of asking people “Do you think you are going to Heaven?” we should be asking; “Whose righteousness are you depending on to make you right with God, yours or Christ’s?” Because that is the difference between trusting in our own works to make us right with God or trusting in Christ’s works to make us right with God.
Our own works fall short for many reasons, but one reason is that no person on Earth could ever work off their debt of sin. Since the debt of sin is eternal separation from God, that means that it would take an eternity of doing good works to pay off your debt of sin…which would never be paid off because the debt of sin is ‘eternal’. But if Someone who was without sin, who was ‘sinless’, was to both live a life of complete obedience to God for us and then also offer to pay the debt of our sin for us, then we could then be both credited with having completely lived a life of obedience along with having our debt of sin completely canceled.
That is exactly what Jesus Christ did for you and for me. And since He is also the infinite and Eternal God, He could then do that for every person on Earth who would accept His gift of forgiveness and righteousness by receiving Him into their life as their personal Lord and Savior.
That’s actually what the phrase ‘Substitutionary Atonement’ stands for: Jesus Christ lived a life of sinless obedience for you, in your place. In other words, although neither you nor I nor anyone on Earth can earn their salvation, Jesus earned our salvation for us; for you and for me. He lived a substitute life for us of perfect sinless obedience to God in your place and in my place. He is ‘Jesus my Savior’ because He is ‘Jesus my Substitute’. Biblical Christianity is the only religion on Earth that teaches that you get to Heaven because someone else lived the lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died.
None of us will go to Heaven because of what we have done, but only because of what we are wearing. What do we mean by that? Isa 61:10- “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness…” NASU
Our assurance of salvation is based upon whose robe we are wearing; whose robe of righteousness; ours or Christ’s. It’s like Paul was essentially saying, “I’m not counting on my own robe of righteousness to get me to Heaven. That one was all stained with my sin. I’m wearing the robe of Christ’s righteousness, which represents a life of sinless obedience and qualifies me to live eternally in Heaven.”
Christ’s robe is totally complete. The robe of righteousness that you and I are wearing looks exactly like Christ’s, because it is. And that’s actually part of what God sees when He looks at you and me. He sees us wearing His gift that He gave to us that represents the perfect sinless life of obedience of Jesus Christ. And it is complete!
So now we could say that because we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and since we now wear His robe of righteousness, when God sees us, that outer part of us looks completely like Christ. But now, there are some other things about you and me that don’t yet look as much like Jesus as they ought to look. In other words, the clothing is complete…it’s the character and conduct that are not yet complete. And that’s exactly what the Apostle was talking about when he also said this to these Colossian believers: Col 1:28-29- “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” NASU
There is something that is yet incomplete in us that we are to be working on in order to be more complete. Remember, being complete in Christ speaks of the ‘Salvation Righteousness’ which belonged to Jesus, and in turn, He gave it to us, as a free gift of His grace. And then as we ‘work out’ of our salvation we produce ‘Sanctification Righteousness’ by which we then become more and more like the One whose righteous robe we are wearing. We belong to Christ because of His perfect righteousness that He gave to us. And now we are to become more and more like Christ as we practice righteousness in our conversation, in our character development, and in our conduct.
And, by the way, understanding this also relieves some of the angst people read into what Paul said in Phil 2:12-13- “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” NASU Some have tried to ‘read into’ the verse some idea of working for their salvation. But reading into Scripture what is not there, like your own ideas, is called ‘Eisegesis’. Rather, by reading out from Scripture what is there, like God’s revelation, is called ‘Exegesis’. We are to always be looking for what God has revealed from His Word rather than injecting our ideas or opinions into God’s Word. And when you read out from Scripture what is there you get what the New Living Translation states, as in Phil 2:12-13- “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” NLT
So, from the salvation that we have by an eternal gift from God to us of both His forgiveness and Christ’s very own righteousness, we are to work hard at now ‘practicing righteousness’ in forming the character and conduct of Jesus Christ more and more in our own lives. Meaning, that we are to ‘rest in the righteousness of Christ’ for the assurance of our salvation. But as we ‘rest’ in our saved and right relationship with God we are to also then ‘work out’ God’s purposes for our lives in order to please and obey our God who saved us. And one of the primary purposes is revealed in that great passage of Rom 8:28-29- “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” NASU
There’s no end to the revelation of amazing truths in the Word of God. That’s one of the reasons we’ll still be studying the Bible throughout all eternity. There’s no end to the depth and wisdom and wonders and truths that God has compiled for us in the Scriptures of the Bible.
But notice that a primary purpose for which God redeemed our soul was to then restore His image in us, of which He originally created in us, but was lost in the Fall of Man into sin. Again, our redemption is complete, but our restoration of Christ’s image in us still incomplete. And that is what we are to primarily be focusing on, working on, striving to see restored and formed in our lives; more and more of the character and conduct of Jesus Christ in us.
Remember, what was lost in the Fall was not the part of God’s image that consists of mind, emotions, and will. No, every person still has mental, emotional, and volitional capabilities. No, what was lost in the fall was not only our spiritual life connection with God, but also the image, or the essence, of the holy moral character of God.
In the righteous robe of salvation we wear, God sees Jesus upon us. But now, in the practice of sanctification righteousness, the question is; ‘How much of Jesus does God now see in us?’ And the answer to that is the degree that we are carrying out God’s purpose of becoming more like Jesus, and thus doing the will of our God and pleasing our God; as well as preparing for our service privileges in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Therefore, ‘rest’ in the salvation gift of the righteous robe of Jesus that you are wearing. It feels wonderful. It is our confidence and joy and peace and assurance. And then ‘work out’ of that salvation to practice that righteousness that Jesus performed perfectly for you. Sure, we will never do it perfectly. That’s why Jesus did it for us. But we can do it more and more, better and better, as we work with God to form more and more of Jesus in and through our lives. Remember: Christ’s life is completely ‘full’ in you, but not yet completely ‘formed’ in you. And that is what God is working on in you and in me. Let’s work with Him. That is to be our daily goal.
Gal 4:19- “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you…” NASU