“You can get there, from here!”
All that could be heard was the soothing, and yet somehow annoying droning of the engines as the plane cut through the evening sky. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have some Bad News and I have some Good News. The bad news is we are lost. The good news is we are making excellent time!” Have you ever felt as though you were in a hamster cage, running as if your very life and happiness depended on it, only to recognize the obvious?...You are not getting anywhere!
All too often, this is the sense of the struggling Christian. With discipline, intestinal fortitude, and good intentions they apply themselves to their life as a follower of Jesus Christ, only to feel that they are no closer to the ‘promised’ “victorious Christian life” then when they began their journey of faith.
From ancient scrolled parchments, to folding maps, to trip booklets, to car navigation tools, to the ubiquitous smartphone maps and location apps everyone has access to, anyone can instantly determine where they are...physically. Where are we spiritually? This is a whole nother story. For the Christian, it is very easy to feel confused. Having embarked on their Christian journey by placing their trust in Jesus Christ as their necessary payment for sin, life still seems fraught with the same struggles that were present BC, Before Christ!
Maps give information on where you are, where you have been, where you are going, and how to get there. It can provide relief if you are lost, instruction if you are confused and timing of arrival, for a hopeful sense of anticipation! Mapping the Christian Life can provide the same kind of benefits, from a spiritual perspective.
Included in this article are two diagrams, or ‘maps.’ Map #1 is completed, from numbers 1 - 22, and Map #2 has numbered blanks for you to fill in yourself if later you would like to test your own comprehension.
Map #1 (Numbered & Complete)
Breaking up the Christian Life into three tenses helps greatly. The (#1. Past) is inked in black because we are dead and separated from God because of our sin. The (#2. Present) is inked in red because of the shed blood of Christ for our sins. The (#3. Future) is inked in blue because we will be with Christ in the Heavens.
The (#4. R.I.P.), Rest In Peace Tombstone illustrates that, according to Ephesians 2:1, “you were (#5. dead in your trespasses and sins).” Fallen man is not spiritually sick. He is spiritually dead and unable to live any kind of life, especially a perfect life which is required by a perfect God! Why does fallen man behave in evil ways? Because he is a (#7. Slave To Sin), and according to (#6. Isaiah 64:6), even his “righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” (Look up what filthy garment Prophet Isaiah ben Amoz is referring to!) We all understand the bad things we do are ugly, to say the least. But God says because we are spiritually dead, even our good deeds are ugly as compared to the standard of His righteousness. We can, for a funeral, try to make a corpse in a coffin look alive and well and ‘peaceful,’ but it is not well. It is not sick. It is not peaceful. It is dead and has no life. So it is with man spiritually. He does not need reformation...he needs salvation! He does not need education...he needs resurrection! He does not need resuscitation… he needs regeneration! He does not need “good works”...he can’t do anything! He’s dead!
This is the desperate predicament of mankind. This is why social reform is not the ultimate solution to man’s woes and ills. That is also why Jesus Christ came; to be the perfect substitute sacrifice for our sin that we needed in order to be reconciled to God and to spend eternity with Him. This is the Good News!
The crux of the matter (lit. cross or resolution of a problem) on the Map of our Christian Life, is in fact the instrument of torture and execution itself was the Cross of Calvary. For the Believer, life and eternity changed there. The moment someone places their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the (#11. Penalty of Sin) is completely paid for, (#8. Salvation) is forever secured because of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. (#9. Hebrews 10:11-14) says in part that animal or ceremonial sacrifices “can never take away sins; but He [Christ], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God...for by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
Now, about this word, “sanctification”...what does it mean?! (#13. & #22 Sanctification) literally means “to make holy, to set apart for a particular purpose.” God says that I am holy. But I’m not. But I will be. Which one is it? The answer is, “Yes”! However, while our (#12. Position) spiritually is that we are (#10. Ephesians 1:3) “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” and are seated “with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6), life often doesn’t seem very “heavenly”! (#12. Positionaly) I am holy in the eyes of God because He has declared me righteous in Christ. But in (#9. Practical) terms, I still struggle in the Christian Life, yes, and still sin. It is a progressive life where God changes me day by day to be conformed to the image of His Son--that is--to become more like Christ, moment by moment. (#14. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) says in part, that “the God of peace Himself [will] sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are in the process of being fashioned into the (#17. Ultimate) state that is yet to come. No longer should the (#15. Power of Sin) rule over our lives. We have the Holy Spirit residing in us, convincing us of sin, comforting us in suffering, and empowering us in service in the life we are still living in this world!
Then, in a moment, whether we pass from this life through the shadow called death, or at the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we shall be be changed through the (#19. Glorification) of our mortal bodies, we shall be changed to be like Him. (#20. 1 John 3:2) says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
Here is the great ‘wonderment’: From the (#1. Past) we have been born into God’s forever family by His Son. In the (#2. Present) we are being changed, moment by moment to be like Christ in this roller coaster ride of life, knowing one day in the (#3. Future) we will actually be delivered from the (#21. Presence of Sin) in (#18. Heaven)!
Map #2 (Numbered & Blank Self-test)
Do you better understand Mapping the Christian Life, or are you still a little lost?!...To test yourself, here are the answers to fill in:
Words to number:
__ POSITIONAL __ PRACTICAL __ ULTIMATE __ SANCTIFICATION
__ PAST __ PRESENT __ FUTURE __ GLORIFICATION
__ HEAVEN __ SALVATION __ 1 JOHN 3:2 __ REST IN PEACE
__ SLAVE TO SIN __ DEAD IN SIN __ POWER OF SIN 22 SANCTIFICATION
__ EPHESIANS 1:3 __ PRESENCE OF SIN __ PENALTY OF SIN
__ HEBREWS 10:11-14 __ ISAIAH 64:6 __ 1 THESSALONIANS 5:23,24
How did you do on your test?! More importantly, how are you doing in your journey through the Christian Life? Remember, you are not where you were. You are closer to your destination. Knowing you will get there can make today an amazing adventure! Press on brothers and sisters! You are making progress, Pilgrim! You’re almost Home!
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