The Wife and I have been watching a different Christmas movie each evening in the run-up to Christmas.
In the midst of a party-less pandemic, it is the next best thing.
We started the first night with A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version), followed by How the Grinch Stole Christmas, then the next night, my favorite, The Bishop’s Wife.
Then last night we watched a movie neither of us had ever seen, The Man Who Invented Christmas, a loose biopic on Charles Dickens’s writing of A Christmas Carol. The movie is as much fiction as fact, but it led me to a realization: I had never actually read the story Dickens wrote. I had seen several versions of the movie, and my wife and I go every year to the local theatre to see the play, but I had never read the actual words Dickens wrote.
After the movie, I went to my study to do some writing, and while there I noticed one of the temperamental track lights on the mezzanine in our library had flickered off again, so I scurried up the spiral staircase to tinker with it. My tinkering brought light, and when I looked down on the bookshelf where the light shone I noticed on top of a row of vertically stacked books a thin leather-bound book, with gold embossed pages, and gilded lettering on the cover:
A Christmas Carol
I then remembered the book was a gift from my wife, but I had not yet read it.
So, this doesn’t really have anything to do with the kingdom per se.
I’m going off topic.
But I was recently hired to defend a company sued in an overtime case by a young attorney who used to work in the same building with me. In fact, because he was a young attorney and knew I was a specialist in employment law, he would ask me for advice on and questions about employment law.
When I was hired to represent the defendant in this case, because of our cordial relationship, I thought it would be an enjoyable experience working with him. Boy was I wrong.
As it turns out, he won’t agree to anything—even the most basic rudimentary procedural protocols that everyone agrees to—because he seems to think I (or my staff) always have an ulterior motive. I thought it bizarre that someone who so eagerly sought my advice just a few months before would so eagerly distrust me or others in my office on the simplest of issues. I also thought it odd because I have a reputation for being a straight shooter.
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work according to His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12-13.
This scripture has always interested me.
In speaking about salvation here, Paul must be talking about sanctification. As I mentioned in my last post, this is the “being saved” part of the salvation process.
What interests me is that in admonishing the Philippians, Paul reveals insight into the process by which we are conformed into the image of Jesus. We are to “work out” or bring it about through our own will because God is at work in us. It is a partnership, or as we say in the law, a joint venture. Continue reading “How Your Sanctification Happens”
Salvation in theological terms consists of justification, sanctification, and glorification.
Justification is what happens when we first give our lives to the Lord and are reconciled to the Lord. It is being born-again. It is what happened at Billy Graham Crusades when people walked forward to repent and pray the sinners prayer.
Sanctification is the process by which, after being reconciled to God, Christians are progressively conformed to the image of Jesus. We all start at different places on the continuum toward Christlikeness, but all Christians should be moving in that direction.
Glorification occurs upon the Christian’s death and spiritual resurrection whereby the Christian is given a glorified body and enters into eternal life.
Unfortunately, evangelical Christianity has for too long been focused almost entirely on justification and, to a lesser extent, glorification. We have been quick to count how many people raise their hands or get baptized and less concerned about seeing them discipled and developed into Christlike human beings. Continue reading “Why Your Sanctification Matters”