Intro: Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We are reminded of the evil man has done which is now history. However today we will focus on the future of what is going to happen to every child of God born from above by God. Last Sunday we learned how good God is. Two Sundays before that we took up what offering pleases God. Today we will tie these truths together and see how God will work out His will for those He has saved and what is the responsibility of every one He has already saved. The event of 9/11 has already happened and there is nothing we can do about that. However, in the Christian life after the new birth has happened in the past, God is not yet finish because the future is still ahead and being worked out to bring glory to God. And that’s what we will focus on today, the future for the believer that God will carry out according to His purpose and will.
“God Will Finish What He Started”
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:3-6
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11
This is the 9/11 we will talk about. After God saves a sinner, God’s work in salvation is not yet done. Jesus finished His work and purpose in coming when He died on the cross and has fully paid every sin that a sinner has committed and even will commit. His last word was “It is finished”, meaning that what He came for, He fully accomplished. But what about the work of God in saving sinners which He begun, is it finished? When a sinner enters the door of the kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible refers to him as having been born again. Like our physical birth he is a newborn babe. What he has received is forgiveness of sin and the right to become a child of God. He is now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God while still on earth. Does he have a responsibility? Yes.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:33
This statement by Jesus is not referring to how a person gets saved. We did not seek God. It was God who sought us. He drew us to His Son through messengers of the gospel. Once Jesus Christ is believed, trusted and by faith enters into a relationship with Christ, that’s when he enters the kingdom and become a citizen of the kingdom of God. Seeking God’s business in the kingdom is now what is expected of every citizen of the kingdom, where Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings. As kingdom citizens we are brought to a new life that is entirely different from the life we were living in. There is a new moral order, God’s standard and righteousness. Going back to what we offer that is pleasing to God we are given this command.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:2
The pattern of the world we previously lived in were our sinful activities, our views of who God is, what is right and wrong and bad attitudes. How is this changed? By renewing our mind. We are to dislodge or push out what has been put in and has accumulated over the years in our brains. This new program is found in the Word of God. We are not to empty our minds like those who practice yoga. When you empty your mind you don’t know what thoughts will come in and take over your mind. The renewing of our minds refer to putting in the Word of God to push out the trash that has been deposited by our knowledge and understanding coming from the world in the past years. When we do that and adjust our thinking then do the will of God, God will prove to us the truth and goodness of His Word. We may not even realize it but we will experience how good is the will of God, pleasing to God and to men and perfect that leaves us with a clear conscience.
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether I speak on my own.” John 7:16-17
The will of God that really matters in life is the salvation of our souls. If one is not save, even though he does what is good and right in his eyes all these will amount to nothing. Good works will not save anyone. Here’s the will of God that counts. This is a must in response to the call and God’s invitation.
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
Furthermore, God spoke audibly to three of the disciples of Jesus as His will.
While he was still speaking a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Matt. 17:5
Here’s the test Jesus gives everyone to prove whether they are genuine.
“If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
Whose responsibility is this to hold on His teaching? After I was born again, I started to discard the wrong teaching I learned from the teachings of religion when my mind was renewed by the teachings of Christ. This set me free from error and sin and I’m holding on to it. It is also a must we obey the will of God.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God.” 1 Thess. 4:3-5
Every born again believer has this responsibility and yet on our own we have no power to obey, nor even understand the Word of God. Unlike the Old Testament people of God, they failed to keep the law and God’s decrees because they were only operating on their own strength. But for us today after Jesus returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. This is His ministry to every believer in order to accomplish the will of God. The Bible calls this sanctification. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us to the likeness of the Son of God as revealed to us by God’s prophet.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Isa. 11:1-2
The shoot points to Jesus when He became flesh. He was a descendant of Jesse the father of David. Jesus as human needed the power of the Holy Spirit so that He can do the work of God and accomplish the will of God. He affirmed this at a worship service of the Jews on a Sabbath at the synagogue.
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21
Jesus had to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s will. After His sacrificial death, He is now the mediator of a new covenant in His blood. Jesus did away with the sacrifices of bulls, goats and lambs by His death as full payment for sins that we cannot pay. And because He is alive,
“Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Heb. 7:25
Therefore, everyone who has entered into a covenant with Jesus is indwelt by the same Holy Spirit to do what He did to Jesus throughout His ministry.
And this is His continuing work in us.
“For it is God who work in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13
What then is God’s ultimate purpose in saving sinners?
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Rom 8:29
Is God’s work finished after you and I were saved? Jesus finished His work but God the Father has just begun and will continue until His purpose in saving us is accomplished, until we are conformed to the likeness of His Son.” How long with that take? A lifetime. This is a process called sanctification. This is not mentioned in this verse because it is an ongoing work of God by the Holy Spirit to conform us to the likeness of His Son.
Now notice that in Rom. 8:29, Paul writes the work of God in the past tense. Foreknew is God knowing before hand whom He will save. When was this?
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Eph. 1:4
God already knew whom He will save and His purpose in saving them, to be holy and blameless in His sight, not in the sight of men. We can think that we are holy but only God can see whether we are holy in our walk and blameless. Who is the only one who was holy and blameless? Only Jesus, and this is God’s purpose to work in us to conform to be like Jesus.
Predestined means God has already a predetermined plan for every one He chooses to save. In the assembly plant of cars, the company has already the finish product planned. All the workers work together to do exactly and in detail the specific product. The difference between a car and a human being is, cars do not have life. It does not decide anything, nor feel and get hurt and does not know how to love. Humans have feelings and decide what to do or respond. We have the freedom of choice. However, there is a confusion and misunderstanding whether we are free to will in salvation. An unsaved person cannot will himself to be saved. He has no power to save himself because salvation is in the spiritual realm and everyone who has sinned is already spiritually dead. That’s the reason one has to be born again and this is the work of God and He is the one who wills it. Salvation is the work of God. But after one is saved, we now have the will to obey. Just as Jesus chose to do the Father’s will and not His will. So why should we not?
Everyone God has chosen to save will be called. Everyone who has been saved ought to know when he was called and responded to the call.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” Matt. 4:18-20
Why did they follow Jesus? Isn’t it unusual to be called by someone you don’t even know much about that you will leave and drop your work or job? What made them decide and caused them to do that? God the Father did.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37
Peter and Andrew responded to the call because God the Father gave them to Jesus. It is God who calls and when He calls can we resist?
Justified is the act of God having accepted the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf to save those He has chosen. The debt was paid and the law was satisfied so now God can accept us when we received Jesus by faith after we heard the gospel and the Holy Spirit made us alive to respond to the call.
Glorified is because we share the glory of Christ who is in us. It is His glory not ours and God the Father sees us glorified because He sees Christ in us.
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27
This is our hope and confidence that God will finish His work in saving us.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Phil. 1:6
When is that day? When we are called to join Him in the cloud if we are still alive at the rapture or when God calls us home through death of our body. That is the day of Christ Jesus when we see Him face to face for,
“God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Heb. 11:40
This is the end of our faith when we are with Christ forever and ever. God is faithful and able to finish the work He began with His chosen ones.
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen” Jude 24
So here is our 9/11, remembering the One who died for us. And because of this may our love for God grow and abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. This was the prayer of Paul inspired as the will of God. We love because he first loved us. Have we realized how much we are loved? Here’s another prayer Paul prayed for believers as the will of God.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the full measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17b-19
What about you? You may be here today and your 9/11 has not happened yet. You are here not by accident but by His will and God is calling you.