Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 13
I have realized that eventually, what I will need to do is complete this series and then start a new one. The new one will focus on our fellowship with and in Christ. I will probably call it, “Christ, Our Fellowship” – catchy title, eh? Not sure when we’ll get there, but you’ll be the second to know. In the meantime, I’m going to continue focusing on the fact that Christ is our righteousness because I don’t think that can be emphasized enough, quite frankly. So, let’s continue.
It’s not the degree of salvation for the Christian. It’s the degree to which each Christian enjoys fellowship with God.
I’m betting that many of you are analyzing what you just read above, right? That’s fine. You should analyze it, but don’t get caught up into the concept of over thinking this so that your theology tends to bump up against it. As I typed it, there were certain things I meant by it.
Here’s what I mean. I realize that having salvation is having Jesus. I get that. Without entering into a relationship with Him, there is no salvation. A person cannot have salvation unless they have Jesus. In my comment above, I’m trying to make a necessary distinction between having salvation and enjoying fellowship with God in Christ. There is a huge difference and that is the only point I’m trying to make.
The salvation that you and I have (if you’re a Christian) came at the expense and full substitutionary death of Jesus on Calvary’s cross. It is the exact same salvation that Moses, Abraham, David, Paul, Peter, James, John, and multitudes of other Christians who came before us, are living now, or will receive salvation in the future. Because God exists in the eternal present, He clearly saw (sees) all that would come before, during and after (on our timeline) Jesus and who would receive salvation from Him. As far as God was/is concerned, all of it happened at the exact same moment since He exists in the eternal presence. There is no “before” or “after” for God. Before, during, and after is for us. That said, we need to understand that there is absolutely no difference between salvation for those who came before Jesus or after Him. There is no difference between Moses’ salvation and mine or yours. Salvation is salvation, is salvation, is salvation! I know you get that, but maybe you did not consider it in this light before. Since we exist within this dimension we call time (and God does not), it is natural for us to view things from our perspective, not God’s. That’s what SELF is all about.
The reason I began writing this series is because God seems to be opening my eyes to the reality that just having salvation is not enough. Yes, I knew that and so did you, but now, it’s really dawning on me in a big way. I don’t know why it’s happening now, but it seems like the very bad, no good, horrible, tragically sinful day I caused for myself and others a short while ago was the major catalyst for it.
Salvation is what all people need. Christians get that. We cannot gain access to God – we cannot enter boldly into His throne of grace – without it. However, the quality of our fellowship and even whether or not we have fellowship with God once we receive salvation is almost always and completely on us and our willingness to constantly be seeking after Him.
Like the Prodigal Son who deliberately walked away and broke off fellowship with his father, we are guilty of doing the exact same thing all the time, some Christians more than other Christians. From the looks of things, neither son in that narrative seemed to have a great relationship with their dad and it was solely due to the way they viewed their father. The father had done nothing wrong at all.
It wasn’t until the young son walked away though, realized his stupidity and came “to his senses” that he was actually able to see his father as he actually was instead of how he thought his father was. The older son was another case and simply didn’t seem to get it. Though he never physically left or broke off fellowship with his father, it is clear that his relationship with his father was not honest. In that case, how could he truly have experienced any sort of truthful fellowship?
They were both sons, legally, physically, and otherwise. They weren’t even adopted, but were born into their father’s family. Nothing could change that and certainly, even though the young son at least wanted to be on his own, the father desperately wanted his son to realize the mistake he was making. The father wanted truthful fellowship with both of his sons.
Out of the two sons, who ended up being better off? Clearly, it was the young son who initially walked away, squandered his inheritance (that he had no right to take at that point since his father was still alive!), almost starved himself to death, and in the end, became truthfully humbled. It was this humility that brought him back to his father, not to “regain” salvation that some say he lost, but to enter into fellowship with his father, fellowship that should have existed from the get go. Would it have been better off had he never gone through any of that? Of course, but please note that it seems like he had to go through it in order to cast off the things that kept him enslaved to SELF. He needed to be divested of a good amount of arrogance and pride before he would be ready to begin fellowship with his father. In the end, he truly became his father’s son! Do you think he ever broke off fellowship with his father again? While it’s possible, I can’t imagine it because he always had that lesson to draw on. He may have even exercised a great deal of compassion toward his older brother, we just don’t know.
Have you ever been around Christians who know everything? They’re always right and they’ll tell you. They have all the answers and they don’t hesitate to share them with you. Beyond this, they have an “edge” to their personalities too. They have no fear in pointing out your evil ways and they also pride themselves in thinking that they though they constantly struggle with their own areas that need work too, they have plenty of time to help you out too. It’s a cross they must bear (sigh…).
Christians like this can and often do judge based solely on externals. I will step up here and confess that this has been ME, big time, in the past! I still have a tendency to do it. Oh, I can pick out the faults in others very easily, while beautifully negotiating around my own issues. At one time in my life, it was automatic. Yes, yes, I would often spend some viewing my own life and finding this or that thing that needed work, but they are usually small things. By and large, it’s easy for me to critique and even condemn other Christians. After all, I have a doctorate, which means that I automatically know more than you (cough, cough!). Knowledge is one thing. Humility is another. I’d prefer not to be a clanging gong any longer. It’s beyond time to stop.
Here’s what I’m learning. I don’t have time to focus on what I might see as faults in other Christians (or non-Christians). If I see someone who professes to be a Christian, my first obligation is to pray for them, to lift them up before the Father. If they truly have salvation, He’ll deal with it and while He might use me to help encourage them to enter into fellowship with Him, the truth is that He may not depending upon what my own issues may be. If they are dealing with something that I myself have absolutely no issue with (like alcohol or drugs), then I can try to come alongside them in encouragement. I should try to encourage them to see that they have a problem and ask them how I might be of some help to them.
My job – as a Christian toward other Christians – is to encourage them to entering into and maintaining fellowship with God. But all too often, we are still focusing on issues and on the “do’s” and “don’ts” of religion. Yes, there are quite a few things we should avoid as Christians, but I’m thinking that too many of us are very guilty of focusing on issues instead of fellowship. The former focuses our attention on something, while the latter focuses our attention on God.
Let me ask you. Do you think the Prodigal Son would have listened to anyone? Nah, he had to find out for himself. Ultimately, he had to come to the end of himself before he could begin to see that his father was actually correct.
My problem – as I’ve mentioned before – is that I can be critical. As I realize this, the anger at myself is bubbling up within because that attitude is nothing more than hatred for them and/or their actions for being so “mousey” and “weak.” Can’t they get it together?! Who do they think they are?! Don’t they know they’re dragging the Mighty Name of Jesus through the mud?! A pox be upon them! This is as if God is powerless in their lives and unless we step up (again?) to help them see the problem, it’ll never be fixed. My goodness, talk about hubris! I’ve actually thought like that before! That is embarrassing, to say the least.
That’s me, folks. Dr. Fred, advice-giver to other Christians. Hypocrite. Unloving. Condemning. Hyper-critical. As long as I have that attitude in my heart, I had best keep my mouth shut! Where’s the Duck Tape?
I do no good for anyone with that attitude. In reality, that attitude is a pride that tends to make me think that I am so spiritual, it’s just too darn bad I have to be around all these other truly immature and unspiritual Christians, isn’t it? Oh my Lord, when will you take me home? I so wish I to be in your presence? Really? Okay, if I say so, but why am I so busy condemning people instead of encouraging them to enter in and maintain fellowship with our God? Is God not capable of convicting sin out of His children’s life? You don’t think He really needs you for that, do you?
We’ll, we all have our crosses to bear, don’t we?
Do you see how easy it is for me to be disgusting? Do you see how quickly I can revert to SELF, so that I become dishonoring and displeasing God? When I do that, I break off my fellowship with Him and who can blame Him for not wanting to fellowship with me when I am like that?! I certainly can’t.
The only Person who chastises us perfectly, beautifully, and for our own benefit (not to mention His glory) is God in Christ through the Holy Spirit! When the Spirit convicts, I know for a fact that His conviction – while often heavy upon our hearts – should never make us feel as though we are worthless. We may feel that way on our own when we begin to see His perfection and love toward us when our sin comes into view. But God is not in the business of making those He has declared righteous feel like filth. That’s not part of His game plan. It’s counter-productive, therefore, it is part of Satan’s game plan, which we can and should reject.
Go back and re-read the narrative about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and this time, pay very close attention to the FATHER in the story, will you? Please note his demeanor from start to finish. Show me even one place where he offered anything that smacks of condemnation toward either of his sons. I’ll wait…
Christians today need to become aware of the fact that our righteousness is solely predicated on the fact that Christ lives within us, via the Holy Spirit. He does so because our faith allows God to literally provide salvation, as a response to that faith in Him. This foundational aspect of salvation is seen in the fact that God legally declares us to be righteous.
Christians also need to learn and appreciate that once we have salvation, true fellowship with God in Christ is finally within our reach. The picture of this is seen in His persistent knocking on the door of our hearts (Revelation 3:20). He yearns for the believer to open that door of fellowship to Him so that He can come in and have fellowship with us. While many gain salvation from God in Christ, in comparison, few find fellowship simply because they either fail to seek it or ignore His knocking on their hearts. Fellowship is something that we pursue with God after we have salvation. Jesus standing at the door knocking is proof that He longs for that fellowship with the believer. This particular image is not intending to mean that Jesus stands there and waits to be invited into the unbeliever’s heart for salvation, as is often explained. The context clearly denotes that Jesus yearns to enter into fellowship with believers.
We’ll talk more about the differences between salvation and fellowship as we progress through this series.
We will use a few more examples from God’s Word where we can hopefully firmly cement the concept of our righteousness in Christ into our heads and hearts. However, we will also segue into the realm of learning much more about God’s meaning and desire for fellowship. Salvation is the start, the foundation upon which fellowship with God can occur. It doesn’t have to occur though. That is up to us.
We receive salvation from God. We enter into fellowship (or not) with God because we have salvation from Him.
Thanks for sticking with me I’m looking forward to writing more on this.
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: fellowship with god, luke 15 the prodigal son, salvation from god.