Isaiah 63:7-9 ESV
“I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord,
the praises of the Lord,
according to all that the Lord has granted us,
and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
For he said, ‘Surely they are my people,
children who will not deal falsely.’
And he became their Savior.
In all their affliction he was afflicted,
and the angel of his presence saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”
When I recount the steadfast love of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, according to his compassion and to the abundance of his steadfast love, I think of his great salvation he provided for us by his grace.
I think of how God the Father sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth, to take on human form, to be born as a baby to a human mother, to live to adulthood, to minister his love and grace to the people of God, to share the gospel message, and then to be crucified on a cross for our sins so that we might be crucified with him in death to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, by the grace of God, and in his power and strength.
I think of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully human when he lived on this earth, in being willing to give his life up for us on that cross to free us from our slavery to sin so that, in his power and strength, we might now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God. For whoever has been born of God by his Spirit practices righteousness. Therefore he is righteous, as God is righteous.
But it isn’t just forgiveness of sins and new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and freedom from slavery to sin, and the empowerment to live holy and godly lives on this earth that he granted to us, by his grace, and by his death and resurrection. He gave us the Holy Spirit to live within us – God within us – to teach, counsel, guide, rebuke, exhort, strengthen, empower, comfort, and encourage us in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ.
And he gave us communion with our Lord via time spent with him in his word and in prayer, and the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds as to God’s will and purpose for our lives. And he called us to holiness and righteousness and to forsake our sins and to follow him in obedience. And he called us to specific areas of ministry, and he gifted us with spiritual gifts, for his glory and praise, and for the salvation of lives, and for the encouragement and maturity of the body of Christ, and so much more.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16]
Isaiah 63:10 ESV
“But they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit;
therefore he turned to be their enemy,
and himself fought against them.”
We live in a day and time, at least here in America, where those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ have largely turned away from following him as Lord of their lives and they have become worldly, and there is not much of a distinction between the church and the people of the world anymore. For, so many who profess faith in Jesus Christ have been convinced that they are to be like the world in order to attract the world to the church.
But “the church” they are talking about is not the people of God, the called out ones, i.e. God’s holy people who have been set apart from the world and set apart for God and for his service. “The church” they speak of is a building built by human hands, and it is a church denomination of man, not of God, and it is a business of human origin and a corporation under the state, all of which are not of God but are of the flesh of man.
They have been convinced that if they make “the church” more like the world that the world will be attracted to their gatherings and thus “the church” will grow. But that is not God’s design and purpose for his church, for his called out ones. His design and purpose for us is that we be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into the likeness of Jesus Christ, according to his holiness and righteousness.
God’s design for his church, for his people, is that we forsake our lives of sin and that we follow him in obedience to his commands, and that we live lives which are morally pure and upright and godly and therefore pleasing to God. And it is that we gather together for mutual edification of the body of Christ, and that we minister God’s love and grace to one another in exhorting one another daily so that we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
The purpose of our gatherings is to be for the building up of the body of Christ to maturity in Christ as EACH PART does its work. And it is for the teaching of the word for our instruction in holy living, and it is for the saints to gather together in prayer and for spiritual fellowship in the Lord Jesus with one another for our encouragement in our walks of faith in our Lord. And it is to be for the breaking of bread with one another.
But the church has turned the gatherings of “the church” into a marketplace to be marketed to the world just like any other business might market its products. And so they are not functioning like the body of Christ but more like a place for mostly clean and family oriented entertainment, fun, laughter, and more worldliness, just slightly Christianized. Pastors have been turned into clowns and times of worship of God have been turned into stage productions in order to attract large crowds of people from the world.
Thus, in order to attract the world to their gatherings they also diluted (altered, adulterated) the gospel of our salvation to make it more appealing and acceptable to human flesh and to the people of the world. So, they removed God’s requirements for holy living, for moral purity, for repentance, for obedience, and for submission to God. And they now give carte blanche to their followers to keep on in their deliberate and habitual sins, only now guilt free and without fear of punishment in hell.
And so God must discipline his people who have joined in with this world in this endeavor to turn God’s plan of salvation, and his holiness, and his righteousness, and his church (called out ones) upside down to where people are no longer being confronted with their sins and called to repentance and to submission to Christ as Lord. And they are not being called to obedience to our Lord’s commands nor to holy and righteous living. And so many who profess faith in Jesus are still headed to hell on the false promise of heaven.
And if you are party to all of that, and thus you are not surrendered to Jesus Christ to doing his will for your life, but you are still living to the flesh and in sin, claiming that God’s grace covers it all, please know that if you walk in sin that you will die in your sins and you will not inherit eternal life with God.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; Heb 12:3-12; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-8; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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