Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Res judicata

We know that there is a judgment.  God will bring every deed into judgment.  Nothing will be hidden from him.

Each of us will give an account to God.

There will be a separation at the end of the age.  One will be taken and one left.

But we are told that the one who seeks to please himself and mocks God will reap destruction.

And yet we are told and believe that Jesus took away our sin.  When we die we do not fear being punished for our sins.  When Jesus returns, it is not to bear sin once again.  It is to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
But the Apostle Peter warns us about being carried off by lawlessness and falling from our secure position.

And so we wonder, is it once saved, always saved or not?

It would have been a whole lot easier if Jesus would have just added this little bit in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they will be saved once and for all time.  Once saved, always saved—but that’s not what was said.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Once saved, always saved comes from our theologies, and our confessions, and our discernment.

Many literalists contend that the once saved, always saved doctrine is not consistent with biblical teaching.  But the one thing we find about literalists is that they are pretty much all selective literalists or perhaps they have never sinned since birth.

Jesus taught us that if our eye offends us—causes us to sin—then we should pluck it out.  Surely all those who interpret the Bible in literal fashion would also have self induced blindness or they have never sinned.  If their righteousness is greater than the Pharisees, then maybe they don’t need Jesus.
But we know that the Bible is presented mainly in story form.  It tells the story of God’s people.  It tells the story of Jesus.  It tells the story of the early Apostles as they spread the good news of life in Jesus Christ to the world.

It does contain some commands and commandments.  It does contain some law.  But if the law and commandments were sufficient, we would not need the greatest story ever told.

And we do need the greatest story ever told.  We do need Jesus.  Our life comes from Jesus.

This is the Jesus that John the Baptist recognized and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

This is the Jesus who hanging on the cross said to forgive those who were killing him because they did not know what they were doing.
This is the Jesus who with his last breath said, “It is finished.”
That simple statement didn’t mean that his life was finished.  He would rise.  He chose to lay down his life and take it up again.

That simple statement didn’t mean that he was through with this body for the disciples would see the wounds given him at his crucifixion in his resurrected body.

This statement was that the atoning sacrifice had been made.  The blood of the Lamb of God had atoned for the sin of man.

The death sentence that hung over humankind for sin had been executed.  The law had been satisfied.

This was a matter adjudged.  The legal term is Res judicata.  It is a term most often used in civil and common law, but it means that there has been a final judgment and the matter is not subject to appeal.

The matter is not subject to appeal!

The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world took away the sin of the world.  It is finished.  That work cannot be undone.

God even gave us the measure of faith needed to respond and receive this grace.  It is all from God.  We have nothing to boast about in our own salvation.  It’s not 50% God and 50% us.  It isn't even a 90/10 split.  It isn't even a 1% factor from us that gives us salvation.

We sing, Jesus paid it allAll to him I owe.  We seem to garner a lot of our theology from our music, but do we embrace this?  Jesus paid our price in full.  We are saved.  The matter is settled.  Sin does not rule over us.  The work of the devil is destroyed.

We are indeed a new creation.
The matter is settled!
It cannot be undone.
We cannot undo what God has done through Christ Jesus.
We have blessed assurance of our salvation.

It is a matter adjudged that will not be reversed and is not subject to appeal.
It is Res judicata.

But that finality in the certainly of our salvation is not the end of the matter.  In fact, it is the very beginning.  Knowing that sin has no impact upon our salvation, how will we live?

How will we live as a new creation?
How will we live as free men and free women?
How will we live as brothers and sisters in Christ?
How will we live not as slaves to sin but as a friend of God?

Before grace, sin controlled our future.  There was a price to pay for sin.  That price was death.  Under the old covenant, people made temporary atonement for sin.  They accounted for the sin of the previous year.  But in the year to come, they had to account for that sin in another sacrifice.  Year after year and sacrifice after sacrifice, sin ruled.  The law was broken.  People transgressed.  A price had to be paid every year.

Sin ruled.

But today, love rules.  The royal law of love is in effect.  We live in the grace of God that we know through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

We are free.
We are a new creation.

But we look in the mirror and say that the new creation looks a whole lot like the old one did.

No it doesn’t.
No it doesn’t.  The new creation does not have to pay a price for sin year after year.  The man in the mirror is a free man.  She is a free woman.
Sin has nothing to say about life eternal.

Now there is still a wrestling match with sin.  It impacts the quality of our life.  It impacts the fullness of our relationship with God.  It impacts the abundance that we know.

But it has no say in our eternal destiny.  It cannot come between us and the love that God has for us in Christ Jesus.

We confess our sin knowing that it is forgiven.  There is no litmus test.  It is forgiven.  The price has been paid.  We are indeed a new creation.

So how are we to live?
How are we to live?
How do we respond to a God who liberated us from sin?
How do we respond to a God who has preserved us for all eternity?
How do we respond to a God that says he will never stop loving us?
How do we respond to a God that gives us a second birth and makes us a new creature?

How do we respond to a God who loved us so much that he would take upon himself the justly delivered punishment for our sin by becoming flesh and blood and dying on a cross?

We proclaim good news—freedom for the captives.

And we do all of this without the burden of sin upon us.

It is the difference in working as a slave and living as a free man.

Consider the experiences that you may know either in person or from television.  Do you remember the invasion of Grenada by U.S. Forces?  Do you remember the students that were rescued who kissed the ground once they were back on United States soil?

We should awaken every morning with the joy of being rescued from sin and death.  Over the past few decades there have been many accounts of Marines and SEALS rescuing Americans from those who would do them harm. 

We need to have the same joy and exhilaration of those Americans who were rescued from evil men.

We have been rescued from sin and death.  It’s a done deal.  They can’t come and get us again.  We are free.

Now, there will come an accounting before God, but we will not account for our sins for the justice and sacrifice required for them has been completed.
We will account for how we have lived this life as a new creation.

So everything we think, say, do, as well as those things we don’t do will come before God in our accounting.  But the power of sin will not.  Its power has been destroyed.

Paul challenged those who had been liberated from sin to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.  This is not to work for salvation—that just won’t work—but live out our salvation as the most important thing we will ever do.

Paul says to do it with fear and trembling.  We know that the fear of the Lord is the foundation laid for wisdom but Christ is our foundation for salvation.  We know that perfect love drives out fear.  So what is Paul saying?

He is saying that how we respond to God’s grace must be given the gravity it deserves.  This is new lifeWill we live it with reverence to the One who gave it to us?  We have been born of the Spirit.  Will our spirit reflect God’s own Spirit in this new life?

As the product of divine love, will we bear close resemblance to our divine family?  Will we bear the image and likeness of Christ Jesus?

Having been freed from sin and death, we live a life of love.  We live looking forward to the day that the Lord will receive our account.  We will face that day and sin and death will not be part of our accounting. We live seeking the greatest reward we can think of—hearing our Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

We are saved from sin and death.
Will we live fully for God in response to his extraordinary mercy, grace, and love?
How will we live as people who know God’s favor?

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