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: 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.  But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God  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.“
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?