It is always a privilege to speak at my own church, especially when it is about some element of growing closer, deeper, more in tune with Jesus Christ. Last Sunday I shared along the lines of our identity in Christ. What follows are a few excerpts from that sermon. It was a joy to get to talk about what is closest to my heart, and yours I suspect–who we are in Christ, our rightful place in Him.
Prayer for Salvation
There was a time for most Christ Followers when we prayed a basic Salvation Prayer. Most of us remember something like this:
“Heavenly Father, I have seen that I am a sinner and that I have committed sins. I believe you sent your only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die in my place for my sins. I also believe He rose again and now lives, and right now I receive Him into my spirit as my Savior. I surrender all that I am, all I have and all I shall be to you. I turn from my sins and my selfish ways to live my new life in Christ. Thank you for saving me. Amen.”
When we prayed that prayer, we entered into Him; He entered into us; we are in a new life, the old passed away, born again, seen the light, several ways of saying it, but a transaction was made – my life for His, and like Robert Frost the poet wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
A Desire for Something Deeper
At some point about a year after I came to Christ and prayed a similar prayer, I wanted to know Him more. I wanted to go deeper and expressed this to my friend Dorothy. She led me in a study in Romans and reading of a book, Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are? by John Needham. I learned another level – the mystery of “It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.”
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
And I prayed a prayer similar to this:
“From this moment on, I want your son, Jesus Christ, to live His life in me and through me. I am counting on the Holy Spirit to make me aware when I forget and try to live His life for Him in my own human wisdom and energy. I choose to yield my total being to you as an instrument of righteousness, allowing no part of me to be used for sin. Thank you for making Christ and his life real to me. Glorify yourself through me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
So, those are the basics. Different words for different ones of us, some through a pamphlet, some the Roman Road in a bible study, but the same basic truths, the same basic commitments. It isn’t complicated to become a Christian.
So, what else?
Since we know the basics then, is that all there is? Nooooo. We all know there is a growth process that works in us throughout our lives. As is written in Romans:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5: 1-2
Who I Am In Christ
“But… What could that look like? What could life look like if we really believed what is noted in Scripture in so many places? Here are a few statements about who I am, who you are, in Christ:
Accepted – Rom 15:7
Bride of Christ – Is 54:5
Chosen – Col 3:12
Citizen of heaven – Phil 3:20
Favored – Ps 5:12
Fellow citizen with the saints – Eph 2:19
God’s gift to Christ – John 17:24
Having the mind of Christ – 1 Cor 2:16
Holy and blameless – Eph 1:4
Image and glory of God – I Cor 11:7
Indwelt by Christ Jesus – John 14:20
Instrument of righteousness – Rom 6:13
Joint heir with Christ – Rom 8:17
Minister of reconciliation – 2 Cor 5:18-19
More than a conqueror – Rom 8:37
New Creation – 2 Cor 5:17
One with Him – John 17:23,24
Overcomer – 1 John 5:4,5
Priest – 1 Pet 2:9
Qualified to share inheritance – Col 1:12
Redeemed – Gal 3:13
Righteousness of God – 2 Cor 5:21
Royalty – 1 Pet 2:9
Saint – Rom 1:7
Salt of the earth – Matt 5:13
Sheep of Christ – Ps 23:1
Soldier – 2 Tim 2:3,4
Sweet aroma of God – 2 Cor 2:14,15
Temple of the living God – 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19
Wisdom – Col 2:3
Witness of Christ – Acts 1:8
So, I want to live this; studying it these last few weeks has reminded me that I want this ever more deeply. . .Years ago, I decided to live what I believed . . . years ago. . (and re-decided countless times since then.) This week is the latest time I decide anew.
I am inspired anew by a favorite quote:
“Do you know, my friends, that the Spirit within you is very God? Oh that our eyes were opened to see the greatness of God’s gift! Oh that we might realize the vastness of the resources secreted in our own hearts! I could shout with joy as I think, “The Spirit who dwells within me is no mere influence, but a living Person; He is very God. The infinite God is within my heart!” I am at a loss to convey to you the blessedness of this discovery, that the Holy Spirit dwelling within my heart is a Person.” ― Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life
It is my hope that friends of WGA will continue to walk alongside us as we grow in Christ and lean into His purposes for us in the current culture and as we walk alongside Christian leaders, pastors, in their quest to live a life of integrity regarding our sexuality and relationships. And to call our culture to this way of Life as well.
Mary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007. She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development. She currently serves in leadership in her denomination. Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development.
Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motiviation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, indepentent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.
Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.