When the Foundations are Shaken: Retreat, Recalibrate, and Ramp It Up! Part 2b

Picking up where we left off last week with Part 2a, when the circumstances of life are particularly shaken, fractured, and apparently falling completely apart, it’s time to Retreat… Recalibrate… and Ramp It Up!

The Bible includes a variety of examples of when God’s people reach a crux time (of’ times catastrophic) to remember, recapitulate, and get revitalized for the next part of the journey towards holiness and being a witness to the world around them. Philippians 3 is one of my favorites:

Straining Toward the Goal: Slow Down and… Look Back + Reconsider the Present + Press On Anew Towards the Goal = Humbly, Boldly, More Maturely Defend the Ground Jesus has Already Won!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (vv 12-16)

Part 2b consists of the second part of a two section REMINDER of God’s awesome and most merciful Plan of Redemption: If you already know it, please refresh your memory again and “Retreat… Recalibrate… and Ramp It Up…” BASED UPON YOUR THANK-FULL REMEMBRANCE AND RENEWAL. If you do not know it, please realize it is God’s only and exclusive offer for your salvation and eternal foundation that will never leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6; Romans 8)!

And… If you might be put off by such an exclusive claim, please remember, EVERY faith proposition makes exclusive claims! Every one. All religions. The key is for you and me to apply our minds to which truth claim, exactly… which exclusive claim, IS TRUE. It is logically impossible for all of them to be true, and possible for only one to be True and Good.

Please… carefully consider the very explicit steps which are described in the Bible, God’s inspired Word. God desires that no human being be unaware of His Plan of Redemption. [The following is quoted from my book, “The Weeping, the Window, the Way”.]

1) Effectual Calling—This is the supernatural work of God’s Holy Spirit, by his own sovereign and free will, to convince a person of his sin and misery, enlighten his mind in the knowledge of Christ, and renew, persuade, and enable him to embrace Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel. “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”[i]

2) Regeneration—This work of God is closely, yet mysteriously linked with his effectual calling so that the two could conceivably be considered one simultaneous work of God. It is distinguished as that act of God’s grace whereby he supernaturally implants a new, Christ-aware heart and spiritual life in us so that our internal spiritual governance changes.It “carries with it the operative grace whereby a person called is enabled to answer [God’s specific and effectual] call…to embrace Jesus Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel.” [ii] This supernatural work of the Triune God working separately and in union is frequently illustrated in Scripture as God’s gift of a new heart, a heart that is alive and honorably responsive to Biblical truth. It is God’s work alone that initially changes the heart, and yet Christians are called to evangelize and make disciples. This apparent contradiction or tension is God’s to command and ours to obey, nonetheless.[iii]

3) Faith and Repentance—These actions are demonstrated only by those whom God has first effectually called and regenerated. They are interdependent so that faith leads to repentance and repentance requires true faith. Faith, therefore, consists of knowledge, conviction and trust specifically in Christ as Lord and Savior as he is presented in the gospel.[iv] Repentance, most simply, means “to turn.” Christian repentance is a specific kind of turning. It happens when we are first made aware of and grieved by our sin and our utter confusion apart from Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We then hate the sin and turn away from it to Christ for mercy, forgiveness, and the grace for new obedience—all based upon gratitude and no longer hoping to earn merit of any kind for ourselves.[v]

4) Justification—How can sinful people be just or right with a holy God, and therefore justified before our Judge? This also is a work of God alone and is a gift from him, a gift freely offered to those whom he effectually calls and regenerates. It has to do with how we are made just (legally right, righteous, or “at peace”) with the God of the Bible. More specifically, justification is an act of God’s free grace which takes place at one specific point in time. It involves his freely pardoning all our sins and declaring us righteous, not based on anything we have done, but solely upon the righteous life and sin-paying death of Jesus Christ.[vi]

5) Adoption—“But as many as received him, to them gave he the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12). We become children of God because he bestows that right upon us. He gives this right to all who believe on Jesus’ name. God adopts believers in Christ, and we become his own children.  This adoption is the embrace of God made possible by justification. In this joyous movement of God, he receives those he has justified as his own children, puts his name upon them, gives his Spirit to them, and binds them to himself forever for his care and protection.[vii]

6) Sanctification—This is a continual work of God’s grace that begins at justification and ends at glorification. As the word implies, sanctification involves God’s “scrubbing program,” carried out by him as he graciously and sovereignly applies the realities of the Gospel and the various Christian disciplines to the hearts of his regenerated, justified, adopted, and faithful people. In so doing, God works to release us from the power of sin and grows us up to be more like Christ, both in our inward thoughts and outward behaviors. In regeneration, God gives us new hearts. In sanctification, he nourishes and strengthens that new heart, sheltering it so that it may grow as a tender vine to full, fruit-bearing Christian maturity.

Christians are called to be willing participants with God in this grand work of sanctification, much like a little child is called to cooperate with his mom who is giving him a bath. Cooperation does not necessarily or ultimately determine whether growth happens. But it does certainly determine the joy and depth of the endeavor to the one sanctified. True Truth, as it has its way in the re-born human heart, sanctifies it. In contrast, when falsehood has its way, it condemns, defiles, desecrates, and disintegrates our hearts.

Ultimately, we are sanctified and made more holy, not for ourselves (Romans 15:1), but for service. Sanctification sets us apart for serving God by serving those around us—just as Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve. We grow more and more like him as God applies the Gospel to our lives, day by day.[viii]

7) Perseverance—Like all that has come before, perseverance has to do with God’s work in and for his adopted children. Many mistakenly pivot perseverance on a new Christian’s dutiful discipline or continued faithfulness. While these things are essential to our experience of security in Christ, they do not determine it. Perseverance is a work of God whereby he seals and secures his adopted children as such to the very end, to glorification. This Christian teaching glorifies God in his kingly power to keep his children spiritually safe in his arms for all time. It is upon this platform of divine security that an adopted child of God joyfully, not fearfully, nourishes his relationship with Christ and freely, not full of guilt, serves him.

The lesson of the seed sowed on rocky ground,[ix] is that the seed took root and sprang up, but when the sun rose, it was scorched (the heat of the battle) and brought forth no fruit. It did not persevere. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Everyone who is truly called is called to persevere. As Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained this oram already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal forthe prize of the upwardcall of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

8) Glorification—If justification is God’s freeing his people from the penalty of sin, and sanctification is his freeing us from the power of sin, then glorification is his freeing us completely from the presence of sin. Even more, glorification is God’s giving us, his beloved, adopted children, other indescribable gifts as well: a) Impenetrably holy souls. b) Unfettered and direct access to himself. c) Complete freedom from all sin and misery, and pure and unending pleasures and peace of immeasurable magnitude and timelessness.

As we addressed in the previous Training Table (and virtually every meal at this table we’ve partake in together in some form…), the God of the Bible—the one and only True and Living God—has made a way for us to stand before Him Who is perfect and can abide no imperfections whatsoever: The atoning sacrifice of His Son for the sins of the world—for those who repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t placed your faith in Jesus, but you are feeling any sort of inking to do so, this is the Holy Spirit’s touch on your heart.

Take all the time you need to know for the first time, or to refresh your memory and rejoice in the Gospel of Jesus Christ “TODAY…” (Psalm 95:7-8)!

Until we meet again to chow down on Union with Christ, may God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bless you,



[i] Westminster Confession of Faith; see also Matthew 22:14; John 6:37; Romans 8:7-9; 30; 9:11; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; and 1 John 3:1; 3:9; 5:1.

[ii] Berkhoff, Systematic Theology

[iii] See Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26-26; John 1:13; 3:8; 6:44-45; 1 Corinthians 2:5,12, 14; 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6; 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18; James 1:18; and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

[iv] See Isaiah 45:21-22; Ezekiel 33:11, 18:23, 32; Romans 19:17; and Ephesians 2:8.

[v] See Thessalonians 1:9-10; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:37-38, 5:3; Romans 6:2, 6; and Hebrews 6:1.

[vi] See Deuteronomy 25:1; Psalm 89:15-16; Proverbs 17:15; Romans 3:14, 20, 4:2, 10:3, 8:33-34; Galatians 2:16, 3:11, 5:4; and Philippians 3:9.

[vii] See Matthew 6:9; Romans 8:15-16; 1 Corinthians 2: 9-10, and Galatians 4:6.

[viii] See Matthew 5:48; Romans 7:22; 1 Corinthians 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Phil 3:21; 1 John 2:16, 3:3, 4:4, Deuteronomy 30:1-10; John 14; and the Book of Titus.

[ix] Mark 4: 5-6, 16-17

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