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Monday, October 6, 2014

A Good Work

Colossians 2 : 8 - 10, Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. NKJV
Philippians 1 : 3 - 6, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; NKJV
In Colossians 2, Paul explains that we are complete in Christ. Nevertheless, we learn in Philippians 1 that God is still at work in our hearts and in our lives; He is performing His purpose in us so that we will be able to stand before the Lord complete on the Day of Christ. Even so, if we take both scriptures and place them together, as I have in today’s word, it appears as if Paul is contradicting himself. In one letter, we’re complete in Christ; however, in the other letter, God is still working on us until we have been made complete.
Why does it seem as though there is a discrepancy in the scriptures? Inconsistencies are seemingly evident when we take scriptures out of their context and take them at face value. So what was Paul really communicating to us about being complete? We know from scripture that Jesus is the only way to the Father. When Jesus offered Himself as atonement for the sin of the world, His gift was accepted by the Father. There is no other “work or offering” that can be brought before God...it is only through Christ’s blood that anyone can be saved. Therefore, we are complete in Christ.
On the other hand, God is performing a work in us to bring us into completion (or perfection.) While our salvation in Christ is perfect or complete, we are not. Therefore, God allows us to be tested so that through our faith and patience, we can become complete. We must remember that God isn’t angry at us when trials come to test our faith and our hearts...God is examining whether or not we will remain obedient to Him. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver us out of them all. When we confess that our faith is in Christ, it will be tried in order to reveal if it is genuine. If it is sincere faith, then the plans of Satan and his weapons that are formed against it will fail; and we will be successful in overcoming his evil devices.
Do you remember what God said about Job before his faith was severely tried? God said that there was no one like Job on the earth. He also said that Job was a righteous man, one who fears God and shuns evil. Nevertheless, Satan expressed a different view on the character of Job. Satan told God that if He removed all that he owned, Job would curse God. You can read about Job’s response to the trial in the first few chapters of Job. He never sinned against God, nor did he bring accusations against Him. Therefore, the things that Satan spoke about Job’s character were false, and what God said about Job was true. Even so, none of this was established in the natural realm until after Job had been tried.
The trial of Job PROVED that he was a devout man of faith in God. Likewise, when we, who are in Christ, endure the trials and temptations of this world, and overcome them, it is further proof that our faith is in Christ and not in ourselves. James 1: 12, mentions the principle of being approved by trial. He said, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been tried (approved), he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
According to James, we’re blessed when we are tempted, but we do not yield to it. Instead, we conquer it through our faith. Nonetheless, have you noticed that when you tell others you’re going through a trial, or that you’ve been tempted by the world, some will condemn you? Even so, James says, if we will endure the trial or temptation by faith, then we are blessed, not condemned. So why does God allow our faith to be tried?
There are a few reasons; the first of which is to see whether we will remain obedient to Him in the fire (Deuteronomy 8). Another reason God allows us to go through the fire is to teach us to fear Him with reverential respect (Exodus 20: 18 - 20). If we will fear the Lord and remain obedient through the afflictions of this life, then God will reward us... after we have proven ourselves faithful to Christ. The result of such a process is the development of Godly-character in us so that we become like Christ.
The final reason or motivation as to why God allows us to endure trials is because He loves us. Therefore, He doesn’t want us to lose our reverential fear for the Lord and go back into sin. The fear of the Lord will keep us from sin. We’re told in Hebrews 12 that God chastens those He loves and scourges every son (daughter) that He receives. Whenever we are chastised by the Lord, it isn’t because He is angry at us; it is because He loves us. God loves us enough to correct us when we allow our old fleshly ways to direct our paths. His love never fails!
Overcoming This World By Faith in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

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