Editor’s Note: In celebration of what would have been Rolf Veenstra’s 101st birthday, this week and next I am posting a talk that he gave to a “Women’s Aglow” meeting. The latter half of his ministry was centered around telling people who they are in Christ, hence the name of the blog site.
The Church owes a great debt to its women. They have always been its spiritual leaders. Even Jesus said of Christian women, “You are my mother”. This is not the same as headship. Parents, together, are the head of a home. And a wife supports (under-stands) her husband, not because it is his right. Christians have no rights, but because he needs it. (Gen 2:18) And a Christian husband is expected to lay down his life for his wife.
All this requires that any Christian must know who he is. And God has explained all this in the Bible. “Things which have not entered into the human mind God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” (I Cor 2:6-16) So we are wiser and should be more successful as parents, partners, and individual Christians than the “wisest” non-Christian psychiatrists, counselors, etc. (Psalm 119:99,100) As an aside, psychiatrists are often good at diagnosis, but no cures without Christ. So I am writing to you not as a minister, but as a fellow Christian. I did not learn these things in seminary or from books, but from fellow Christians and through the Bible.
Who are we, as Christians? Or, what does it mean to be saved? The simple answer is, to have Christ in you. Not just to believe in him or try to follow him but to be one with him. “Christ in you” is found 150 times in the New Testament. John 3:16 is a good evangelistic text, but Galations 2:20, II Cor 5:17 should be the testimony of every Christian.
Most Christians are only “half” saved; for them it means only to have your sins forgiven and to go to heaven when you die. (Nobody gets into heaven by only having their sins forgiven.) A Christian is a brand new person; he is not just the same person that he was when he was born, only improved, changed. He has been replaced, born over again. Jesus said that to good Nicodemus. Read also Romans 6 and 8. Jesus is a second Adam, father of a new race. When we are born the second time we start a new, eternal existence. We are given a new name (one of Jesus’ countless ones) that nobody else has. (We should try to find out now what that name might be.)
Negatively, this means that my old self, what I am by “nature” (inherited from my folks and all the way back to Adam) has died and been buried, just as really as Christ died and was buried. As a Christian I do not have two natures that fight each other and the old one gets weaker until at the end of life it dies completely. I am just one person; my old self is replaced, when I become a Christian, just like a worm changes into a butterfly. This means that you should not call yourself a worm (which sounds so pious) or even a “sinner” (saved by grace). The Bible doesn’t. We are called sons of God, little Christs, partakers of the divine nature, saints! (I John 3:1-3) God does not regard us as if we were all this; this is what we actually are. This is our condition, possession. Paul says, “Reckon!”
The blessed result of all this is: 1. A Christian never has to die! He, his old self, has already died, and his new self is immortal, eternal. The crosses we wear and see should be reminders of this. 2. There is no judgment that he has to face some day. He has already been judged, condemned, and punished. His only future judgment is like an award a judge grants an aggrieved person in a law-suit. (The psalmist prays, “Judge me, O God” – be my vindicator.) 3. Being identified with Christ, a Christian is stronger than Satan and able to overcome ALL sin and temptation. (I Cor 10:13 “He always leads us in triumph.”) 4. Positively, a Christian is enabled to obey God, do his will, to live the Christ-like life. “Work out your salvation…for God is at work within you, both to will and to do.” This is as much a part of our salvation as being forgiven, and it is not something we do (or try to) by ourselves, in gratitude for being saved. Note also that this is not doing (good deeds) so much as being. The angels out-do us, but they are not God’s sons. Children bring honor and pleasure to their parents because of who they are.
All the foregoing is true of every single Christian, young or old. The trouble is, very few realize all this. This is what grieves God. Coming into an awareness of this (and practice of it) is what “fullness” is all about. This is the theme of Hebrews. Most of our songs have to do with the “first half” of our salvation – forgiveness, repentance, atonement, substitution – of which Hebrews 6:1-6 says we must not keep trying to repeat. (This is like Israel’s 40 years in the desert; we must enter Canaan now!)
In the next post, I’ll discuss how a person can enjoy, know, experience this fullness, this “So great a salvation,” as well as answer some questions that this raises.