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

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
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)

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)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)

God is love. In his nature and being- scripture asserts that God is love. This passage of scripture maintains more than that though, it suggests that love itself has its origins in God, that is, true love, comes from God. So what is love? Well John illustrates what love is by telling us how God’s love was expressed to us. It was expressed to us through the gift of God’s son, his Son that atoned for sin and gave us life.

This kind of love that God has given us freely is also imperative. Because he, the origin and definition of love has loved us, then because we are loved- we are called to love one another. Love is our mandate, because our God is a loving God and if we are to represent him, witness to him and experience him- then we ought to love as he has loved us.

May God empower us to love one another, because this is of first importance.

Grace and peace from Marcus.