Book Club: “Counsel From the Cross” (by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Dennis E. Johnson) Reviewed by Gaila Roper Part 4

The Means of Grace

1)In the Word Preached

“The Word of God, in particular, the gospel message, which is the integrating center of the whole Word of God, is the means that the Spirit uses to transform the hearts and minds of the elect.” By hearing His word we are drawn to Him, desire to obey, receive with gratefulness the power to progress in sanctification. The Holy Spirit, through the gospel preached, brings us life, stability, strength, cleanses our conscience, creates faith and reminds us to love God and one another. Reading daily God’s word is the primary means of God’s grace to you.

2) In Baptism

“Baptism was given by Jesus to display and assure believers of the washing away of our sin, our union with Christ in his death, and our new resurrection life.” “…in baptism we see God’s great love for us in Christ, and we are assured—not only by our baptism, but also when we see others being baptized—that we are completely free: forgiven, welcomed, and loved.” “In addition, baptism is a sign of our death to sin by the Spirits cleansing work.” “Because our union with Christ the Son in His death and resurrection is now being applied to us by his indwelling Spirit, we can be certain that we will continue to die to sin and live to righteousness in our new lives.”(Rom.6:4;Titus3:5)

3) In The Lord’s Supper

Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body…which is given for you” (Matt 26:27-28). This is the gospel. His body was broken and given for us. It cost Him dearly. This gospel also provided for our union with Him.  We are in union with His church, His body. Members of one another. Christ asked us to ‘remember’.  He uses this regular sacrament in our transformation. “We cannot assume that we know better than God what means he will use to transform us, for he says, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”(Isa. 55:8-9).

4) Fellowship with Other Believers

“The gospel of Jesus Christ—that we are all more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe but more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope—is meant to be lived out in relationship:each of us assuring, reminding, confronting, counseling, and listening to one another, praying for one another, and bearing one another’s burdens. It’s here, within gospel-centered relationships, that the spirit will reveal the Son to us.”(all quotes from author) (Rom. 15:14)

From One Degree of Glory to Another

“How are we transformed?” “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” (2 Cor. 3:18) This is not instantaneous, but gradual change. Sin still will be a struggle, but the work of the Spirit will produce eternal fruit, able to bring God much glory. “…seeing Him through the Word, the Sacraments, and the church will impel and motivate our transformation” (1 John 3:1-3)see also I Peter 1:7-8, Philp 3:21.

Moses Beheld the Glory of God

Remember Mose’s second time up on Mount Sinai? This was the visit where he asked God if he can see His glory. And God said “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live”Ex. 33:18,20.  But He did put Moses in a cleft of the rock, cover him with God’s hand until God passed by. When God passes by, He took away his hand, and Moses was able to see God’s back. God did not have to do this, but He wanted to. God did not have to save us, but He wanted to, out of His good pleasure we are told in Ephesians 1. Moses was transformed—he had to place a veil over his shiny face. Eventually it did fade. But we have something that will not fade away, according to I Peter 1:3-9. Reserved in heaven.  Seated in the heavenlies, our life, in Christ. This can make a huge difference in our desires, motives, thinking—our inner man(Col. 3). “ God has hidden the church in His Son, who was cleft for us, and now we are enjoined to behold his glory and be transformed.” “We don’t need to cover our faces before the Lord (as the angels must), nor do we need to be protected from God’s glory by God’s hand (as Moses was) because we are in union with his Son; Jesus Christ is the Rock in whom we are hidden.”

By Gaila Roper

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