Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review - Christ Formed in You (Part III)

The last three chapters in the first section cover the reality of the gospel in further detail. The first chapter discussed Justification, something of a battleground in evangelical circles today. This is a really helpful chapter, emphasizing the vital fact that transformation comes from grace (based in the finished work of Christ), not to gain grace. The bad news is we are guilty, and we cannot work it off, but the glorious news of the gospel is that while we cannot achieve righteousness in ourselves, we are declared it based on the death and life of Christ. This righteousness is achieved by faith, not striving, and Christ is the basis of our acceptance before God, not our own goodness. We love Christ not for fear of repercussions, but from grateful hearts of those forgiven and cleansed, walking with God as sons, not slaves.

The heart is the center of who we are, and the next chapter covers the reality that at salvation we are made new creatures, and given a new heart. We are transformed not by changes in our behavior, but from within, by changes in our desires. We can now seek God where before we could never have done so. Hedges provides a helpful listing of the characteristics of this new heart (with accompanying verses for each one): godly fear, hope, desire, joy, hatred of evil, brokenness for sin, gratitude, compassion, zeal and love. We have been saved, given a heart transplant, born again...we can be transformed, for 'the cure has begun'.

After showing us the reality of our change in position, and our transformation within, Hedges discusses sanctification. The reality is we are positionally sanctified already, but the rest of the book will be about how we practically progress in our walk to live up to this reality! The foundation for our sanctification is the gospel, and the reality is that sin no longer has the power on the believer it had before salvation, as Romans 6 clearly describes. The gospel story is that sin did its worst to Christ on Calvary, but he rose again victorious, and we share in that victory! If we are in Christ, we have died to sin, and risen to new life with Him. The reality is that sanctification, like justification, comes through faith alone in Christ. Transformation then comes as we think on these truths and the Spirit applies then to our hearts. Sanctification does not bring us into union with Christ, but union with Christ enables our sanctification. So how do we make this a reality in our lives? Hedges spells it out. Count on the truth of Scripture as it speaks on these things, and on the basis of this, do not allow sin to have dominion over you (for it really does not). We must instead yield to Christ, for He alone is the source of our change and transformation.

The reality is that we have extraordinary, supernatural resources in Christ. The rest of the book will discuss in more details how we apply these truths to our lives in practically undertaking the metamorphosis God designed for us to know.

Note: I am reviewing this from a PDF version provided by the author, Brian Hedges


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