Elder's Prayer - April 8, 2018
Please find below the notes from the Elder's Prayer this past Sunday.
While engaging with a church-going neighbor last weekend, she informed us that she was to have open heart surgery - Monday in fact. Sarah made the comment that the physical trial she was enduring was part of her sanctification, part of her maturing spiritually as a believer. The woman’s response was that she “was through with that”. She had arrived…in fact, she went to a Southern Baptist church, she was raised a Southern Baptist, her parents were Southern Baptist, and so were her parents’ parents.
The Corinthian church, you might remember from 1 Corinthians 4, viewed themselves to be spiritually wealthy. Spiritual kings reigning on earth. They had arrived! So much so that Paul and other apostles were disdained, thought of as no better than the crusty scum on a dinner plate…
The Corinthians had forgotten that spirituality is a gift, not an accomplishment. It’s a gift, not a matter of works. That everything we have, spiritually and otherwise, is a gift of God. Our salvation, our sanctification, our spiritual stature - it is all sourced from the grace of a merciful God. It is all of grace. Nothing is earned. And here we see the gospel. Manifested in our own salvation. Manifested even in our own sanctification.
Paul writes to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. The spiritual blindness over eyes is removed - by God, because of Christ! Not because of anything we’ve done! Now the Lord is the Spirit. That is, the Holy Spirit is God. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom to grow spiritually, freedom to access God, in all his holiness, through Jesus. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from God, the Spirit.
We are being transformed, progressively, daily, one lesson, one trial at a time, even one failure at a time, into the same image of Christ. And not because of anything we have done; for this comes from God, the Spirit. All is of grace. Nothing is earned. And we see the gospel continually played out in our own transformation.
Father, everything that we have has been given to us. Our salvation. Even the maturity of our own spiritual condition. We don’t do it. God does it! It is a gift. Not an accomplishment of our own. Every practical way that spirituality is displayed in our lives is because of God’s gracious work in us.
All is of grace!
And so we express unbounded gratitude! For it is of God, we are in Christ Jesus! Let us see others through the same eyes of grace. That they are common recipients of undeserved mercy and merit from God. Let us exhibit humility before you and before others. Let us approach others with humility and with grace equal to the grace with which you saved us.
You alone are able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of your glory with exceeding joy. You are the only wise God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. And to You, we give glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.