Completed by the Spirit Part 17: The Gospel Brings About All Aspects of Our Salvation

Ed Trefzger
Ed Trefzger
This is the 17th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.
Paul’s repeated expla­na­tions of the gospel and his dox­olo­gies to Christ are not given because the peo­ple to whom he writes do not have Christ — or don’t know Him — but because theydo know him. Paul writes to the Romans words that echo those we saw last time from 1 Thess 4:9:
[14] I myself am sat­is­fied about you, my broth­ers, that you your­selves are full of good­ness, filled with all knowl­edge and able to instruct one another. [15] But on some points I have writ­ten to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God [16] to be a min­is­ter of Christ Jesus to the Gen­tiles in the priestly ser­vice of the gospel of God, so that the offer­ing of the Gen­tiles may be accept­able, sanc­ti­fied by the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:14–16)

Paul is bring­ing the words and truth of Christ to remem­brance, because it is the gospel of Christ that brings about all aspects of sal­va­tion: jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and glorification.
But that’s not new infor­ma­tion to these saints.
Repeat­ing the gospel does, how­ever, con­tinue to ground them in what is trans­form­ing them. Their knowl­edge of Christ brings them closer to Him, increas­ing the love of Christ in them. For indeed, 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. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” ( 2 Cor 3:18).
By behold­ing Him then, we will be trans­formed in an instant.
By behold­ing more of Him now, we are trans­formed bit by bit.
As Jerry Bridges writes:
Our spe­cific respon­si­bil­ity in the pur­suit of holi­ness as seen in 2 Corinthi­ans 3:18, then, is to behold the glory of the Lord as it is dis­played in the gospel. The gospel is the “mir­ror” through which we now behold His beauty. One day we shall see Christ, not as in a mir­ror, but face to face. Then, “we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Until then, we behold Him in the gospel. There­fore, we must “preach the gospel to our­selves every day.“[1] Why then, if sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, do believ­ers, who have received the Spirit, still need instruc­tion and exhor­ta­tion? We’ll look at that next time.

Next: Com­pleted by the Spirit Part 18: If We Have the Spirit, Why Do We Need Instruction?

[1] Jerry Bridges, The Dis­ci­pline of Grace (Col­orado Springs: Nav­Press, 2006) 111–2.

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