My Bible study class is discussing Chip Ingram’s book, The Miracle of Life Change. These few pages are my notes for that class.
Many people don’t understand their identity in Christ, or what it means to be in Christ. Here are some theological words regarding salvation:
Justification: this is what happened when we first came to Christ (Acts 13:39, Romans 3:24, 28, 4:25, Galatians 2:16-17, Titus 3:7). Our debt column now has “paid in full” written across all the entries. Righteousness was imputed or deposited into our account. It’s grace, getting what we don’t deserve.
Sanctification: this is being set apart for a purpose (John 17:17, Romans 15:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 5:23). We can be set apart and transformed into the likeness of the Son (Romans 8:29). This also involves walking by faith. We need to be the master of the contents and doctrines of the Bible. We need daily and systematic reading of the Bible, becoming a part of a small group, memorizing Scripture so that we will not sin against God. I like this tip for getting God’s Word on your hand and in your heart:
Hear it – faith comes by hearing.
Examine it – make sure what it says, look for words and phrases, and meanings.
Analyze it – find other places that teach the same truths, dig in to the text.
Remember it – memorization is a good thing, to help transform the mind, attitude and behavior.
Think about it – meditation is a positive step, to really dwell on the teachings and how God is speaking to you.
A butterfly transforms in isolation while a believer transforms in community. Mark 3:13-14 is a key life verse for me, we are to first be with Jesus, then be sent out on a mission. Other verses on transformation in community are Acts 2:44-47, Romans 12:15, Galatians 6:1-2, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24, James 5:16).
We often fail to see the magnitude of what is at stake in our relationship with Christ. Myopia causes us to not see clearly. This is subtle, because we feel it is no one’s business but mine. But people wonder if the church is real, we are the billboard for Christ that people see everyday. What is your hindrance (of these three so far)? The issue is not if Christianity works for someone, but whether or not we will be obedient to the holy, omnipresent, all-powerful God who’s got a plan for the planet and for us.
Facing Our Biggest Challenge:
What keeps us from morphing? It’s easy – sin (Romans 6:1-4). How do you deal with the sin problem? In Ephesians 4:7-10, Paul is teaching that breaking the power and penalty of sin demands a clear understanding of what it means to die with Christ. He explains what Jesus was doing between the crucifixion and the resurrection. After all, is death punctuated with a period or a comma (John 12:24-25)?
A Glimpse Beyond the Grave:
In Ephesians 4:7-10, circle the words grace, gift and therefore. In Ephesians 4:8, Paul quotes an obscure passage about leading captives and giving gifts to men. Eventually we understand about spiritual giftedness, but the captives are interesting.
What Christ did there: Christ came in power to free the captives. It is a picture of a conquering king riding back on a white horse leading the captives, who would become slaves, these trophies of war. The word is triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14). Wagons loads of the spoils of war followed. Once the king arrived, the next order of business was to divide the spoils. These gifts were a reminder of a great victory over an enemy. Jesus reminds us of the reason He won the battle, over sin and death, and these gifts were proof of that victory.
Where He did it: The “lower parts” refers to sheol, which is a place of the dead. All those who died went there, the righteous and the wicked, all men being made equal. It was not until Jesus time that there became a paradise and a place of torment. Luke 16:19-31 has a story that illustrates what Jesus accomplished on the cross. 1 Peter 3:18-19 tells us where Jesus was while He was in the grave. He went to the punishment compartment and preached, not a message of salvation for the hearers, but a proclamation or royal announcement of victory.
1 Peter 4:6 mentions Jesus preaching to the faithful of God in the Old Testament. This word is different than in 1 Peter 3:19, it is the word for gospel, the good news. He visited paradise to inform and confirm the faith of Old Testament saints.
Why Christ did it: That He might fulfill all things (Ephesians 4:10). He established His right to reclaim creation. He declared the defeat of sin and death. He provided the basis for spiritual freedom and transformation. To be transformed we must die with Christ.