I may be a friend and have friends. But, do I have friends like Jesus did?
I heard this in part of a sermon weeks ago, it's still on my mind, and here it is paraphrased with additional comments...
Jesus earned a reputation of being a friend of those whom religious leaders rejected. 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' (Matt 11:19, Luke 7:34).
Why? What did 'tax collectors and sinners' find in this friend that attracted them? For what reason did God's only Son actively seek them out and invite Himself over to their houses for dinner? How did these relationships transform lives and not simply modify behavior?
More importantly, I ask myself, if Christ is in me, would so-called 'tax collectors and sinners' be attracted to me for the same reasons? Am I ready to give a reason for the hope that is in me? Am I willing and able to be used as a privileged instrument in His hands to do His will, the work I was created to do, which is to do my part in the building up of the body of Christ?
I would absolutely love to do these things. Christ even said, "Greater works than these you will do" if I abide in Him. He wasn't talking about performing miracles; that was to show who He was. He was talking about executing the Father's eternal plan, the very reason we were created and exist on earth (Eph 2:8-10): to build on the foundation, Jesus Christ, and become a dwelling place for God (Eph 2:18-22).
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10)
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Eph 2:18-22)
My greatest desire is to delight in Him. Therefore, I will study His thoughts and His ways, expressed in His word, and...
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)
Do you also long to discover the truth and grace that filled Christ? Do you honestly desire to know God's thoughts? Be teachable, humble, then ASK...
A - ask, and it will be given you.
S - seek, and you shall find.
K - knock, and the door will be opened to you.
Remember, salvation is His responsibility and doing. It is by grace through faith you are saved (Eph 2:8-9). As John MacArthur said, "If you could lose you salvation, you would."
And remember this common verse, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)?
Sanctification, on the other hand, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God, follows salvation. It is optional and requires humility. Humility is your choice. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
God wants and expects us to grow up into Him who is the head of the body of Christ: the church. How? His word. "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17).
Sanctification is not about repeatedly going over and over how we are sinners and don't deserve salvation. Are we to remain infants in thinking and forever wonder about the birth process?
Growing and maturing in Christ requires cooperation with the Spirit of Truth, who's job it is to guide you into all truth. That is why Scripture says do not grieve the Spirit; because you can. The issue isn't "once saved, always saved." It is "once saved, now grow."