“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” (Luke 11:13)

There was something about Jesus and his prayer life that impressed the disciples. In Luke 11 we see that they observe Jesus at prayer and as they do they are compelled to ask- “Lord teach us to pray.” Jesus at that point, gives them a model prayer (the one we call the Lord’s prayer), and then he tells them a parable about boldness in prayer, and an extraordinary promise that the one who asks receives and the one who seeks, finds. He then does something that gets right at the heart of revealing to us- what it should look like when a Christian person prays. He gives a story about a Father and a Son and he says of human fathers that they are fallen, flawed and broken and yet they- know how to give good gifts to their children and then Jesus says to us- how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask. This story is more than just a story, giving us a principle to remember as we pray; no it gets at the heart of true Christian prayer. True Christian prayer, is quite simply the prayer of a child talking to ones Father. Did you know that if you are in Christ, you are indeed a child of God. This means that the only way you can approach God is as his child coming to a Father-a Father who far exceeds in moral beauty, power and authority anyone’s own experience of Dad and yet has pledged himself to be our ABBA, our Father. You want to know how to pray- a pray as a child to a Father and expect his goodness, expect his gifts- the chief among which is the gift of his very presence- the Holy Spirit.

Grace and peace from Marcus

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
(Ps 119:10-11)

For Christians we agree that the bible is important for our discipleship and growth. But organisations such as Scripture Union suggest that Bible reading is a neglected practice among God's people, it is also true that from time to time we can be guilty of having a superficial knowledge of scripture. So what can we do about that?

Recently I returned to the practice of memorising scripture. The reason that I did so is because I know that my thinking can take me on some pretty unhelpful journeys. I remembered how helpful it was in the past to, within the context of idle mental moments, park my mind in part of God's revelation in scripture and consciously think about things God would have me think about.

Navigators use this little picture to teach disciples different approaches scriptures and learning them. Together they can help us as we seek to be a people who are having our minds renewed by God.

Grace and peace from Marcus

When we read the New Testament, we quickly come across an apparent contradiction. We are already declared to be holy or set apart as his possession; “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) At the same time we are told that we are not yet holy, and admonished to become holy in all that we do? (1 Peter 1:15) So which is it? We can reconcile this apparent contradiction by realising that sanctification (the process of becoming holy) has two dimensions: “positional and conditional sanctification)”.

Positional sanctification speaks of our position before God as those who are in Christ. Through Christ’s work on our behalf, God has pronounced us as holy. We belong to God & that is rock solid unalterable reality, that is based in the finished work of Christ extended to us by a gracious heavenly father. This status is not affected by our day to day attitudes, conduct or feelings. Our relationship with the Father has a solid footing.

Conditional sanctification: This is a matter that relates to our present spiritual condition and level of Christian maturity. This conditional sanctification speaks of the way in which the Spirit works in us to help us to bring into reality in our lives those positional realities that God has already declared over us in Christ. This kind of sanctification is fluctuating, variable subjective and changing. It rises and falls on our obedience and disobedience. But if our lives are on track we will observe genuine observable maturing over time, we will be becoming more Christlike.

So know who you are in Christ, and grow up into your identity in Christ.

Grace and peace from Marcus

(These words taken from Stanley Grenz’s Created for Community)

Positional sanctification: our holy status before God is ours solely because of the gracious gift of God, if we are in Christ Jesus. From this perspective there is nothing we can do to become holy, it is a status conferred upon us by faith in Jesus. We can only receive it with gratitude. What about our present spiritual condition and level of Christian maturity or conditional sanctification? Here too we must first acknowledge that holiness is God's work. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in us (Gal 5:22-23). We gain victory over sin in our lives only because God empowers us to do so (Rom 8:12-14). We grow only because the Spirit is making us more like Christ (2 Corin 3:18).

Yet the Bible clearly reveals to us that we have a role to play in our becoming more like Christ. Whilst the Spirit is the agent of our sanctification, he works through our cooperation. We must diligently apply ourselves to the task of being made more into the likeness of Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-11).

So it requires diligence to become more like Christ. Even of this of course, we are again to recognise our dependence on God, utilising his provision as we seek to combat sin, Satan and self (Eph 6:10-18, 2 Peter 1:3). But of course there is more to the Christian holiness than "sin management." There is also a positive dimension to the quest, putting on Christian character and fruit. In both these aspects of holiness our resources are many. They include Bible Study, prayer, the support of other Christians and the strengthening of the Holy Spirit.

Grace and peace from Marcus

(These words were taken from Stanley Grenz's 'Created for Community')

As we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, 
for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out
according
to his plan. (Ephesians 1:11)

We may ask, why be holy? Why should I worry about holiness? After all, (one might reason) I am saved. In the end I'll "make it to heaven." So why concern myself with the matter?

The Bible offers a straight forward, terse answer to this question: "Be holy because God is holy” (1 Peter 1:15). And the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives seeking to do just that- to make us holy after the pattern of God.

The Scriptures place this summary response in the context of God's program for creation. God is calling out a people to be his own. God wants to establish a people who reflect the divine character for all creation to see. That is why God chose Israel in the Old Testament and that is why the Holy Spirit is now calling out a worldwide fellowship in the present age.  

This means that holiness begins with a frame of mind. In view of God's glorious purpose, we are to see ourselves as God's own possession. We belong to God who has chosen us. And we exist in order to honour God and to serve his purposes. (Ephesians 1:11-12)

Grace and peace from Marcus

(These words were taken from Stanley Grenz's Created for Community)