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Christian Biblical Studies
FREEDOM IN SERVING CHRIST
Scripture references are to the NIV-UK
Once we accept the sovereignty of Christ we discard our former independence. We cannot serve two masters simultaneously: the flesh and the spirit. Each one of us likes to have our own way. The sense of identity — the Me — is very strong, and it’s hard to break the habit. There is a lot of Me around today, as British and western society in general drifts away from basic traditional Christian values towards a celebration of a Christ-free world, into an atheistic culture.
As a committed Christian, all that one thinks, says, and does must henceforth be subject to the standards and requirements which Christ represents. ‘Take my yoke upon you’ He says (Matt. 11: 29). Such is the attitude of consecration, which unashamedly declares, ‘Not my will, but Yours’. And so we break down the boundaries of Selfishness and Worldliness in order to let Him in. Our aims and ambitions are no longer our own. And though we may often chafe at the restrictions of Christian living, where else can we go? Who else can forgive, cleanse, save, but Christ, the Son of of the one God?
The Calvinistic notion of ʻtotal depravityʼ is correct only insofar as it asserts there is no aspect of the human condition left undamaged by the Adamic curse. We retain the ability to make choices, but we cannot recommend ourselves to God or win salvation by the inventiveness of our imagination, our works, or on our own merit. Even our cherished free will is impinged on by the perverse tendencies of our fallen nature, scuttling our best intentions. As St. Paul puts it — ʻI have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it outʼ (Rom. 7:18). Nonetheless, varying degrees of nobility, integrity, compassion, common sense, logic, etc., remain — elements of character which Christ can cultivate in us for godly goals.
But without faith, most people will only recognise the goodness of God as they come to witness it first-hand in the future Kingdom of Christ on earth. Christ will then function as the all-powerful representative of God in the earth. Intended to restore and not to destroy, His rule will raise all mankind from the ‘sleep’ of death and bring the race under a benign regime of discipline, education, and reformation, to the end that all will learn to appreciate the Plan of God and to love and honour the Saviour who died for them, submitting willingly to His influence. See Phil. 2:9-11.
1 Cor. 15: 24-28 describes what will happen when Christ’s work is finished (emphasis added):
Then the end will come, when [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For [God] ‘has put everything under his feet’. Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When [Christ] has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
July-August 2018 – no copyright