Are You Making Progress?
A special thanks to Rev. Rowland Buck, pastor at Burks United Methodist Church, for writing today's iDevo!
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." Romans 5:4-5
We sang an old hymn yesterday in church and a phrase jumped out at me:
"All to Jesus I surrender, no I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to His name!"
Those words were penned by J. W. Van Deventer in 1896 after a five year struggle with God - to give up a successful career or to become part of an evangelistic team. A successful musician and artist, Van Deventer was conducting music for a church event when God moved in his heart and he surrendered his desires completely to God. He made the decision to become a full time evangelist. And this song was born in his heart.
Full salvation is the line that jumped at me as we sang.This is a technical phrase, referring to God’s total work that He does in people’s lives. Not just forgiving them, making them right with Himself; but also making them holy - sanctifying them for His purposes in the world. One is about restoring us in relationship to Him, the other is about making us useful to Him. Both together are the full gospel, full salvation.
Paul in Romans 5 makes clear that this is a process God initiates in every person that comes to faith in Christ. Life goes on, with hurts, and trials, and difficulties, good times and bad times; the question is: are we making progress? I was asked the question at ordination: "Are you going on to perfection?” It was then explained by saying, “If you aren’t going on to perfection, where are you going?” Are we surrendering our wills to Him in the midst of all of life and becoming sanctified? This process looks at life’s difficulties through the lens of God’s grace and purpose. Hard times are not necessarily to be avoided, but endured. Because endurance develops our character (imparting the very character of Jesus), and character strengthens our hope in God.
"Lord Jesus, I surrender to Your full work in me. Thank you for bringing me into a new, good relationship with you. By the power of your Holy Spirit, continue to develop my endurance that shapes my character that gives me Your hope. Let me be useful to you in Your mission in this world, so that I might enjoy you for ever in the next world. Amen."