As the end times play out before us, it is of vital importance that Christians be alert. Alert not only to the coming of Christ, but also to the condition He will find us in when He returns. A focused, disciplined Christian walk is essential in order to keep us from succumbing to the teachings of false prophets.
Matthew 24:10-13 (NIV)
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
During these times of high alert, nothing is more important than your relationship with the Holy Spirit. Do not be guilty of quenching His influence in your life. He will convict you, grow you, and discipline you.
Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)
“...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Please notice the partnership between the “work” we are called to do and the “works” God has promised to do within us.
Paul explains that partnership further in another inspired writing.
Romans 8:16-17 (NIV)
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Notice the phrase, “if indeed we share in his sufferings”. What are these sufferings? Obviously most of us will not endure a crucifixion, so how do we share in the sufferings of Christ? The very next verses explain.
Romans 8:18-21 (NIV)
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
Our shared suffering comes when we allow God’s will to work within us. His Spirit partners with us to overcome the fallen conditions of this world. Just as Christ prayed, “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42, KJV), we too must engage in the ongoing battle to keep God’s will first in our life.
Notice what Paul said just prior to our context.
Romans 8:12-13 (NIV)
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
The partnership between us and the Holy Spirit is this, we must work out our salvation by engaging in an ongoing, vigilant surrender of our heart.
When a person receives the Holy Spirit at baptism (Acts 2:38), they do not lose their identity. They do not sacrifice their free will. When a person receives the Holy Spirit, they do not become the Holy Spirit, they become partners with Him. To maintain this relationship, the Spirit works and they do too.
For anyone to suggest that a Christian’s work of spiritual maintenance is unimportant, they must also diminish a Christian’s status as a free moral agent. Christians are not spiritual robots. We are created in God’s image. Our will, our choice, and the work we do to maintain a relationship with the Spirit is significant.
(For more information on the responsibilities Christians have to become a living sacrifice, please see the article,”Why is it important for Christians to be disciplined?”)
Notice what Paul says toward the end of this marvelous context.
Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
God does not want any of His creation to perish. Instead, He wants everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) To assure us of this opportunity, God has called all of us by His Gospel. (Galatians 1:11) However, God “foreknew” that only part of His creation would accept this calling. Because He is not limited by time, God is able to look into the future and know the results of our life decisions before we even make them. With this foreknowledge, He is also able to pre-determine our eternal destiny.
Does this predestination override our free will to chose God? If it does, why give everyone a chance to come to repentance? (2 Peter 3:9) Why call everyone by the gospel? (Mark 16:15, Matthew 24:14). Why “call” us at all? Does not the word “call” indicate an invitation? Does not an invitation indicate a choice? If Romans 8:28-30 is indicating a predestination that overrides our free will, why does Paul instruct Christians just a few verses earlier to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” in order to live? (Romans 8:13, NIV)
Our predestination is determined by what God foreknows about the choices we are making and will continue to make in the future. The only way to be sure of a positive predestination is to be sure to keep your Holy Spirit partnership alive. Be alert! Give God uninterrupted access to your heart and He will join you in the ongoing process of working out your salvation. (Philippians 2:12-13) If you remain within that process, He will remain within you. You will also remain in the light and thereby you will be able to celebrate full assurance of your eternal security.
(For more information about a Christian's blessed assurance, please see “Can a Christian Know for Sure They are Saved?”)
During these last days of a spiritual warfare that will determine the final destination of your soul, few things are more important than your partnership with the Holy Spirit. Don't quench His influence in your life. Embrace the partnership.
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