Powerful Passages, Pt. 9
Study Guide, January 8, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
I was thinking about how do you conclude a series on Powerful Passages from the Bible? You don’t really, because the Bible is filled with powerful passages that we will be learning more about for all eternity. And that’s another amazing thing about the Bible, the Word of God. Do you remember what the Apostle Peter said about the Word of God? The Amplified Version puts it like this: 1 Peter 1:24-25- “For all flesh (mankind) is like grass, and all its glory (honor) like [the] flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower drops off, But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever. And this Word is the good news which was preached to you.” So God’s Word…all God’s words endure forever. And since God is the only person in the world who is ‘omniscient’, or ‘all knowing’, that means we will be learning more about the wonders and the depths of the Scriptures for all eternity. So don’t feel bad when you come across passages in the Bible that you don’t feel you understand very well…it’s going to take some time. Fortunately, Peter also told us that we will be able to understand everything that we need to be saved by God and to then go on and live a life of godliness. 2 Peter 1:3-4- “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” NLT
So we may not know everything we want to know now, but we can know everything we need to know now in order to live a godly life and become more and more the person God created us to be. And I do love that principle – that it’s never too late to become the person God created us to be. A New Year…a new commitment; here’s our recommendation: Make a new commitment this year to become more of the person God created you to be. And really, why would you want to become more of the person God didn’t create you to be anyhow? And when we put it that way, it shows how ridiculous and foolish that kind of thinking is, right? Who thinks, “With this New Year I’m going to make a new commitment to become more of the person that God didn’t create me to be.” Again, ridiculous!
And yet, that is exactly what so many people have done and are doing each day. How so? Well, think about it: By the way they choose to think and by the way they choose to live, day by day they are choosing to become more and more of the person that God didn’t create them to be. And thus, this points out an important point about human nature: Human nature naturally defaults to it’s faults. There is a bent in human nature, which even drags on after conversion to Christ and receiving a new nature, a bent in our nature that lingers, we could say, like a virus in the old nature, which is this: There is within the human nature a destructive drive to become more and more the person that God didn’t create human beings to be. And unless that drive is conquered by conversion and then constrained by commitment, it continues to be the driving force in a person’s life.
Plus, as we mentioned, it puts people in direct conflict with God. Even converted Christians can remain in conflict with God if they have not constrained this inner resistance by continually committing themselves to becoming the person God created them to be. Again, many people, some Christians included, are living their lives each day in direct conflict with God. And thus, this is a major reason why so many people are living conflicted lives. And this inner conflict is ruining their lives.
Think about it: You can’t be living in conflict with your Creator and not be conflicted. How strange that our culture pursues wellness and wholeness with a passion, while continuing to live in direct conflict with their Creator. If people spent half as much time pursuing wellness and wholeness in their spiritual lives as they do in their physical lives we would become a land of God fearing people who are seeking after the living God and finding Him. And in finding Him they would then find themselves, and find out more and more the person that God created them to be.
Now, here’s the interesting thing: I had no intention of talking about this today when I began writing this up. This is not the study I had started preparing to get into. We will get into that one. But again, this just shows how powerful the passages of God’s Word really are. If you let them get a grip on your mind and heart they will. And wow, what a grip!
And so here’s what we need to do. With this being the beginning of a new year, this is another opportunity to make a new commitment or to continue a commitment that you may have already made to this great quest that God has laid out for us in life; To become more of the person that God created you and me to be. The most important thing that you can accomplish in life is becoming as much of the person God created you to be as possible. This is priority number one in what God is seeking to accomplish in you and in me. Note it well: Rom 8:29- “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” NASU And now look at it in the Amplified Version for even more clarity: Rom 8:29- “For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness]…”
Were you aware that this is the central thing that God is seeking to do in you: to mold you more and more into the image of His Son so that you will inwardly share Christ’s likeness? And in sharing Christ’s likeness then God will use you to carry out the purposes for which He created you. This is God’s highest ideal and purpose for you and for me. It’s been stated this way: ‘God loved His Son Jesus so much that He wants to make a whole world of people who are just like Him.’
Like with Jesus, God has special assignments and works for us to do, of course. But God’s highest purpose is focused not on what we are to do, but on who we are to be! God destined us, designed us, to be like Christ Jesus. In fact, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which is believed to be his first letter, he stated what his highest goal or greatest labor was in the lives of other believers. It was this: Gal 4:19- “My little children, I am in pain again over you, like a mother giving birth. I will feel this pain until people can look at you and see Christ.” ERV That was Paul’s passion. That was what Paul labored toward in his service to his fellow believers, to help them in this God destined, this God designed purpose for their life, to become transformed more and more into the image and character of Christ, because before others can see Christ through us we have to let Christ become more and more formed in us.
Which takes us back to our premise: We can let go of our culture’s fixation on finding ourselves. No, the great quest of life is much bigger than that! Our God given quest and our foremost focus is to be on finding the person God created you and me to be. And that calls for our eyes to be fixed on Jesus, and not on ourselves. That’s the person God wants you to find and to more and more then become. And actually, in becoming more and more like Christ you then become more and more of that person that God created you to be, with His character working through your personality. And as a result you will discover that this is the very person you had always wanted to be all along, but didn’t know it.
Where do you start? Where do you look? Well, God gave us the exact blueprint to follow in order to help make us the person He created us to be. Now, don’t confuse the fact that God loves variety in things like our personalities. We are all very different in personality, different in likes and dislikes, different in preferences and appearances and so on…. And God loves all of these differences, and so should we. But there is something in which we are to reflect in the midst of all of our different personalities and such, and that one thing is this: The Image of Christ. In the midst of countless personalities in this world of ours, there is to be one character to which we are formed, or into which we are transformed, and that is the character of Christ. Think about it: Christ-likeness is what will one day characterize the people of God in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, it is Christ-likeness that is to characterize the people of God in this world, helping point others to Christ in preparation for God’s Kingdom.
We did an entire series on the character qualities of Christ so we won’t go into each of those as word studies again. But the point we are making here is that we each need to make a point of carefully and continually following this God-given blueprint, for this is God’s pattern we are to follow for becoming in character the person God created you and me to be. Here it is: 2 Peter 1:5-10- “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” NASU
As the Apostle Peter revealed here, these are the seven character qualities that render our lives as either useful or not useful, or as either fruitful or not fruitful. And again, what believer sets out to live a life that is not useful nor fruitful to God? We don’t consciously think that way, but that’s the way it is unless we do consciously commit to become more and more the person God created us to be. And so in essence, these seven character qualities are what God determines to measure the true success of your life. Consider it carefully: What determines the measure of your success in life is the measure that you became the person that God created you to be. Even the works that God created you to do are evaluated in terms of ‘who’ God created you to be, as measured by these seven character qualities of Christ. Again, these character qualities exhibited in and through the works and service of your life are what determine your usefulness and fruitfulness in the Kingdom work of Christ.
We often focus so much on asking is this thing right or is this thing wrong…is this thing okay to do or is this thing not okay to do…and on and on? And in doing so, we just kind of default to the Pharisee habit of focusing on what’s externally permitted according to the rules of their religion instead of focusing on what’s most internally profitable in order to deepen our relationship with our God, and then also with others. No, in order to deepen our relationship with our God, as well as others, we need to be asking a different set of questions. We need to ask questions that are foremost in relation not to what this or that will do for our fulfillment in life, but in relation to what this or that will do for our faithfulness in life. Or, rather than thinking so much in terms of what you and I can or can’t do, we ought to be thinking more in terms of what this or that will contribute to our quest; our quest of becoming more and more conformed to the image and character of Christ. Will whatever it is that you are thinking or doing cause your character to increase in Moral Excellence? Will it help you grow in Biblical Knowledge? Will it strengthen your Self-control? Will it deepen your Perseverance? Will it further develop Godliness in you? Will it display Brotherly Kindness to others? Will it demonstrate Scriptural Love to those around you? Remember, our personal fulfillment in life is to be superseded by our personal faithfulness to God. Whatever we hope or want out of life is to be superseded by who we are to become and who we are becoming for the sake of Christ in our life, Who gave His life for us, and to whom we now owe our very life.
So how about we think of it like this: We have a New Year before us. Okay, and as followers of Christ we plan to make it our goal to do just that: follow Christ. But now, unless we make our highest goal in following Christ to first become more like Christ, then we are rather just ‘spinning our spiritual wheels’, aren’t we? Because, remember, what makes our Christian service and works count for Christ is if our service and works are Christ-like. And in order for our service and works to be Christ-like, you and I have to be…’becoming more and more like Christ’. And Christ-likeness is the image into which God is working to transform us more and more. Or, the person God that created you and me to be is this person who is more and more like Christ in whatever it is that we do and whatever it is that we say. For remember: Who you are is even more important than what you do, because what you do, and even how you do it, is determined by who you are. And how you do something is often more important that what you do.
So what if we were to spend each day this new year seeking to become more and more the person God created us to be? What would happen is that others would then see more and more of Jesus in you and in me. And more of Jesus in you and me is really the person this world needs to see. So there’s the key to becoming the person God created you to be. The person God created you to be is a person who thinks and acts a lot like Jesus. Again, the design is this: Christ’s character working through your personality. Let’s go for more of that this year.