The Story of Our Lives

“….then face to face.” 1 Corinthians 13:12b

This life is complicated. Every day is filled with concerns, fears, doubts, pressures, success and (mostly) failures, warmth and love, loneliness and longing to some extent or another.  “For now we see through a glass darkly,…” (1 Corinthians 13:12a).

Mostly we wonder what this life is all about, even the Christian life.  We want to know that our life is making a difference to someone.

God’s Word speaks to us in this by telling us our story. He teaches us the plan of our lives from beginning to end. Our story can be summarized in a few, seemingly “dry” theological terms:  Creation and Fall, Redemption through Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.

These explain the mystery of the Cross and illustrate what the Resurrection really means. The puzzle pieces fall into place. Life makes sense in this bigger picture, and there is peace. But they are, at best, just terms.

The refrain of a song[1] I heard in church, however, kept playing in my mind days after church service.  I woke up with it gently speaking to my heart, and I realized that it beautifully represented this full Christian life–the reason for my faith.  I would like to share that with you.

Creation and Fall:  “He Made Me”

“In the beginning,…”  (Gen. 1:1), God made the heavens and the earth and on day six, he made mankind.  We were made the crowning glory of God’s creation (Psalm 8), given authority and servanthood over all creation (Gen 1:26-31; 2), and were blessed (given favor) by God in peace and fellowship with our Creator (Gen 3:8a).

You and I are not merely a process of godless change. We’re not mere “tissue matured”.  We are designed creatures; made for relationship with our Creator. We are made for a purpose and life has meaning: to worship Him (Isaiah 43:7,21; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 95:6; Psalm 100:1-5).

But the Word of God tells us that something did change.

We know the story: mankind chose another god (Genesis 3).  We fell from God’s wonderful grace and lost the purity and fellowship God intended for us with Himself (Gen. 3:8b).

And we feel this condition daily.  This fall, this tendency to choose another god to worship instead of our Creator, is now inherent in our very natures.  We sin.  We rebel. We feel irritated, annoyed, afraid, and defensive.  We hide.

But thankfully our story doesn’t end there!

Redemption through Justification:  “He Loves Me”

“In the beginning was the Word, … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. …’This is the one I spoke about’ …. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”… Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….born of God” (John 1:1a, 14-15, 16-17, 12-13).

Out of God’s great love, our doom was not the eternal death knell it could have been.  God gave us Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. All human in physical nature and all God in spiritual nature, He was born a helpless baby into poverty and obscurity.  He lived a life of obedience to the Father (Creator) God even though he lived in the same broken world we live in today.  He knew great suffering and shame. And at the proper time, Christ gave Himself to suffer the extreme punishment our fall from grace deserved:  death on the cross.

Justification is a courthouse word which means that the solution to the problem has been satisfied in Christ’s death and Resurrection.  “For the wages [payment] of sin is death,…” (Romans 6:23a).

I feel that death inside as I struggle with my sin.  I feel that I deserve death, I don’t need someone to tell me this.

But what I can’t feel inside, what I must receive from outside of my own feelings is that my sin-debt has been paid!!  I have received GRACE through Christ who died for me.  I am redeemed from my unworthy status, justified in the court of God as “not guilty” by Christ, my Defender.

This is true for me; it is true for you.  No matter what you have done in this life, your sin nature has been paid for by Christ. You are a free person in Christ, if you accept this gift through confession and repentance of sin, and faith in Jesus as the Master in your life.[2]  The gospel (“good news”) of all scripture, all of life, is the person of Jesus Christ!

But my story continues!

Sanctification:  “He knows all my story”

Christ didn’t just die for my sin, He arose from death and lives!  We celebrate life and Christ’s Resurrection in the spring.  After the chill winter of death, the fresh sap of spring rises and we follow Christ in life.

Here’s my story: I continue to sin.  My sin nature has been redeemed, but my sin behaviorcontinues.  This produces a struggle.  The apostle Paul knew this struggle.

“I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (ref. Romans 7:15-20).

God knows my story. Christ died to save me from the punishment of my sins, but being a failed creature, I am now caught in a battle of choice.  Every day, I am learning what it means to choose my Redeemer Christ, and the Father (Creator) God instead of my self and sin.  Every moment, I exercise that choice.

Here’s the story of sanctification:  I am being made holy.  That is what the word means.  No longer alone in my sin and under God’s wrath, all my mistakes are now learning opportunities to see the depth of the ugliness of sin, and to see the beauty of holiness.

I have two paths open to me at all times, and Christ has said that He is with us in the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to help us grow more like the Christ we follow.

 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. For I have not left you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).

We don’t make ourselves holy; that is the Father’s work through the power of the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-27).

But if we left the story there, we would still wonder, “What’s it all for? Is all of this just for this life and then we die and that’s it?”  If so, I would get very tired and I may not make the finish line.  I’ve felt this and I’m sure so many more have as well.

God knows my story:  He knows I grow weary (Galatians 6:9a).[3]

Thankfully, there’s yet more!

Glorification:  “We shall look upon His face by and by”

Christ is coming again in righteousness to judge all evil. All sin and suffering and death will be abolished.  The Chief of all Sin, Satan, is crushed as promised (Genesis 3:15).

This is good news indeed! It gives me strength to know that as I battle through growth and the process of being made holy, there is a sure end to the war!

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also;….Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:10-11; read all of Rev. 20).

But more than that–so much more than that–we who remain, who have placed our faith in Him in this life, shall see our Savior face to face as our comfort:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads….And they will reign for ever and ever” (Rev 22:3-4).

ALL of God’s creation was made for worship (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 15:4; Revelation 5:15)!  Our worship will not be polluted with temporary, selfish desire and unfounded hope, but will be pure and sure. We who have chosen Him as Lord in this life will be restored in all fullness to the relationship we had in Adam as he and Eve communed with God in the garden. We will rule with Him in all goodness and joy.  That’s something to live for!

The Alpha and Omega

From the first opening lines of the Bible to the last Word, the story of my lifeis found in the story of Jesus Christ, my Savior.  I can’t see the hope of the Cross or the Empty Tomb if I do not have the Hope of Heaven set before me.  Christ is the Hope of Heaven.

We experience all these promises fulfilled in our daily walk more and more until that day when all will be complete.  We live this life by faith in Christ for the Restoration to come in all God’s glory (magnificence).

Every obedience I choose today is a step forward to the promise fulfilled that “all will worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

 For “it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.” (C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, 93).

Again, “Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” (Lewis, 97).

My story is a love story that has a fulfillment with no end.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life….He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”  (Rev. 22:20-21).

Christ Jesus, my Savior, thank you that you don’t leave me in mystery. The historic events of Creation and Fall, your life and ministry, death and resurrection, are all part of my own story today.  Because I have placed my faith in your promises, you are shaping me into a creation that reflects your light in this world more and more.  The struggle is worth the process, Lord, because of your promise that all mystery shall be revealed and all separation between you and me now shall be removed in joy. Fix my eyes on you, the founder and the finisher of my faith.  Help me live a life of hope to a hopeless world so that all my know You and be prepared at your Coming again in righteousness and truth.  All praise to You, my King of Glory!  Amen!

© Feb 2019, readpsalm119.com.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] See and hear “He Made Me, He Loves Me” in Further Resources below.

[2] For more information, please see “What is the Gospel?” at The Gospel Coalition, thegospelcoalition.org.  This is an extremely brief overview.  A succinct explanation with an important ending is found at “John Piper – What is the gospel?”, uploaded by The Gospel Coalition, May 15, 2017, [YouTube; 3:32 min.].   See also the letter to the Romans, Holy Bible.

[3] In many of these scripture references, I have cited them as “a”; the first part of the scripture verse.  But go back and look at the END of those verses for the promises they contain!!

____________________________

FURTHER RESOURCES:

I like to include music to extend our worship together.  Click on the links to hear the music and join with me in praise this morning!

He Made Me, He Loves Me,uploaded by Integrity Music, Oct 9, 2018, [YouTube; 4:26 min.]. Written and performed [acoustic version] by Ben and Noelle Kilgore.

When it seems as if he’s hiding

I’ll wait with hope in him

and even if he’s silent

I’ll wait, I’ll wait on him

And though my heart is lonely

I’m longing for your home

If Jesus is my portion

Forever I will know

            REFRAIN

That he made me

He loves me

He knows all my story

I shall look upon his face by and by (2x)

Let not my heart be troubled

Because he’s faithful and he’s true

And though my heart is lonely

I’m longing for your home

If Jesus is my portion,

Forever I will know (Refrain)

            Bridge

Do not tell me that wrapped in His glory

He hears not my voice when I cry (2x)

Turn to me and hear my cry (4x)

 

Fix My Eyes, “KINGS KALEIDOSCOPE” – Fix My Eyes”, uploaded by kingskaleidoscope, March 12, 2014, [YouTube; 3:15 min.]  Written by Chad Gardner, copyright by Music Services, Inc. This is a good song in reflection of the previous post, The Single Eye”.

When my heart is weary, When my soul is weak

When it seems I can’t traverse the trail before me

I survey the glory of your agony

And I find the will to fight for what’s before me

‘Cause you ran the race, enduring for your glory.

            Refrain

I fix my eyes on you, the Founder and the Finisher of our faith

I fix my eyes on you, the solace in your suffering is my strength.

As I fight to follow, you’re my righteous guide

And you train me to delight in all that’s holy

Heal my broken body, cure my crooked stride

[Help me to] Throw off every weight and sin that clings so closely

I will run the race enduring for your glory

Bridge

You help me breathe, you’re the only life I need

You died for me, you’re the only life I need

 

Face to Face with Christ, My Savior,uploaded by SE Samonte, October 11, 2013, [YouTube; 4:08 min.].  A capella version of an old, old hymn written by Carrie E. Breck (1898) and sung by the Altar of Praise Chorale.

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,

Face to face–what will it be?

When with rapture I behold Him–

Jesus Christ who died for me.

            Refrain

Face to face shall I behold Him

Far beyond the starry sky

Face to face in all His glory,

I shall see Him by and by.

Only faintly now I see Him

With the darkening veil between

But a blessed day is coming

When His glory shall be seen.

(Refrain)

What rejoicing in His presence

When are banished grief and pain

When the crooked ways are straightened

And the dark things shall be plain.

(Refrain)

Face to face — oh, blissful moment!

Face to face–to see and know!

Face to face with my Redeemer,

Jesus Christ who loves me so!

 

One thought on “The Story of Our Lives

  1. Just a thought: What if we write our own unique story using the framework here? I’ll start, and I invite others to contribute!

    HE MADE ME – Creation: Born into a Christian heritage of faith, God brought me to worship Him at a young age. The Fall: I became aware of my sin as I tried to be holy but couldn’t be consistent. I gave up on God when I didn’t get the perks in this life that I wanted. I ventured out on my own, placing God “on a shelf”, to try the world’s methods of achieving those desires. I got what I wanted, but with a heavy price I couldn’t shake.

    HE LOVES ME – Christ came to me again and again in His love, protecting me when I wasn’t aware at the time, drawing me back to the love I found in the scriptures. Through all the mess I’d made of my life, I found God’s grace pouring toward me through His people (one of whom I married). Teaching the Cross in adult Bible study, I discovered the freshness of that old, old story and a new appreciation of Christ’s work on the cross for me sprang up all brand new. That stabilized my faith and set me on a firm path forward.

    HE KNOWS ALL MY STORY – My walk with Christ has been fervent, and stale; consistent, and spotty; beautiful and really, really ugly. My failures exceed my successes in this life. Right in the middle of seeking godliness, I find my sin nature rising up to drag me down. However, I am precious to the Lord as a continually new creation. I am kept with an everlasting love through the power of the Spirit of the One Who redeemed me. I am, by God’s grace, still pursuing God in faith…and happy in the pursuit. I am a holy work of God.

    I SHALL LOOK UPON HIS FACE – This is the unwritten chapter of my life. But it is coming! Every church service, I worship together with “the not-yet-perfected” saints of God in light of that promise. In prayer and in the lives of fellow Christians, and in the faces of those for whom Christ died (but don’t realize it yet), I see the promise ahead.

    What is YOUR story? Go ahead….

    Like

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