Faithlife Sermons

Am I There Yet?

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Who here has been on a vacation with a child? No matter how long the trip is, be it 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days … you are bound to here that wonderful question, “Are we there yet?” Now then, Have you ever asked that same question in terms of the Christian life? “Lord, am I there yet?”

The fact is, the Christian life is a journey, and it takes time and when we feel like it may never end…to some extent that is true. The life we now have is eternal, so it will never end. But the life in this body, it will come to an end, and at that time the struggle against the flesh will cease and we can become what Christ had intended for us to be.


          1. the first verse of the pray highlights God’s plan for every believer
              1. what is God’s plan for your life and mine?
                  1. ask that question to a dozen different people and you will probably get a dozen different answers
                  2. rarely will anyone put the emphasis where this text does
          2. God’s plan is that you be sanctified through and through
              1. on the night before the cross, Jesus prayed,
                • "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:17-19)
              2. to the elders of Ephesus, Paul said,
                • “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32)
              3. to the church at Corinth, Paul begins his letter,
                • “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:1)
          3. there are three aspects that describe the believers' sanctification
              1. it has a past, a present, and a future


          1. first is the past, fixed aspect of our sanctification
              1. it is a positional sanctification which God effected at the time He saved each believer
          2. God secured positional sanctification through the death of His Son:
            • "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.…or by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb. 10:10, 14)
              1. through Christ’s atoning work, God rescued all believers from the dominion of sin and spiritual darkness and placed them into the dominion of His righteousness and spiritual light
          3. this initial work of God in our lives accomplished three things
              1. 1st, He gave us a new nature
                • "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
              2. 2nd, He gave us the Holy Spirit to live in us
                • "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." (Romans 8:9, ESV)
              3. 3rd, He gave us imputed us with the righteousness of Christ
                • "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)


          1. the second aspect of biblical sanctification is experiential sanctification which concerns present Christian living
                1. this is where we learn to flesh out the positional sanctification that we have received in Christ through our regeneration
          2. at the present God is sanctifying us through and through
            • "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)
              1. experiential sanctification is the ongoing spiritual process by which God increasingly sets believers apart from sin and moves them toward holiness
              2. in all of Paul's epistles, whenever he moves from doctrinal exposition to practical exhortation, he has this aspect of sanctification in mind
                  1. his passionate prayer for the Thessalonians and for all believers was that through experiential sanctification God would progressively conform them to holiness
          3. God’s goal for each believer is total devotion
              1. but note how our verse says it—sanctified through and through
                  1. God wants all of you
                  2. He isn’t satisfied with Sunday only
                  3. He doesn’t want a tenth of your resources
                  4. He isn’t interested in your soul and the rest can belong to the world
              2. He wants you inside and out—all that you are, and all that you have
          4. the temptation of our secularized world is to segregate life into different pockets or categories
              1. a secularized world talks about the separation of church and state which is certainly a valid political principle for liberty and freedom
              2. but our world often takes that a step further’
              3. it is suggested that a person’s faith has no place being applied to social, public, or political issues
                  1. that’s not Paul’s prayer
                  2. that’s not God’s will
                  3. the Lord wants you sanctified through and through
          5. notice in v. 23 that this experiential sanctification is to affect our spirit, our soul, and our body
              1. this is the Apostle’s way of saying that there is not a corner of our personality, or a behavior of our body that God is not concerned with
                • ILLUS. C.S. Lewis. When I was a child, I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother, she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother--at least not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from my pain; but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they would start fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. Our Lord is like the dentists. Dozens of people go to him to be cured of some particular problem. Well, he will cure it all right, but he will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if you once call him in, he will give you the full treatment.The Lord wants to fiddle with your whole self. Not just what you do but what you think and feel as well. He wishes to transform you from the inside out.


          1. in the future, He will present us blameless at Christ's coming
              1. sanctification has a second, future aspect to it
              2. it is our ultimate sanctification
          2. the Apostle Paul writes that His ultimate goal is that we be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord
              1. the affect of our diligent effort and God’s divine power is that we will be presented before the throne of God absolutely blameless
                • ILLUS. This idea of being found blameless before God really impressed the Christians at Thessalonica. It is interesting blameless is the word that archeologists have found on Christian tombs from ancient Thessalonica. When people wanted to identify a deceased friend or loved one as a Christian, they inscribed “blameless” on his or her grave.
          3. this is when God actually makes believers sinless in body and spirit forever
            • “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory,” (Phil. 3:20-21)
          4. in ultimate sanctification, God joins the new nature with our transformed and glorified bodies for all eternity


          1. God who calls is also faithful to complete and bring to pass His sanctifying purpose in our lives
            • "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6, ESV)
          2. God pledges to all believers that God has the power to guarantee our ultimate sanctification
              1. the salvation God grants is secure
                  1. He graciously and efficaciously calls individuals unto salvation
                  2. supplies them the faith to repent and believe
                  3. provides them the grace to persevere to the glory of ultimate sanctification



          1. Paul uses the word brethren to underscore his strong affection for the Thessalonians
          2. Us includes Paul’s co-laborers Silas and Timothy
              1. all three had been faithful in praying for the Thessalonians:
                • “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers,” (1 Thess. 1:2)
              2. now Paul asked them to return the spiritual favor
                  1. the word pray is in the present tense, indicating that Paul wanted the Thessalonians to make these prayers a habit
                    • ILLUS. Gardiner Spring, a nineteenth-century Presbyterian pastor in New York City, understood the vital role prayer has in spiritual warfare and made an impassioned plea for Christians to pray for their pastors: O it is at a fearful expense that ministers are ever allowed to enter the pulpit without being preceded, accompanied, and followed by the earnest prayers of the churches. It is no marvel that the pulpit is so powerless, and ministers so often disheartened when there are so few to hold up their hands. The consequence of neglecting this duty is seen and felt in the spiritual declension of the churches, and it will be seen and felt in the everlasting perdition of men; while the consequence of regarding it would be the ingathering of multitudes into the kingdom of God, and new glories to the Lamb that was slain! On his behalf therefore, and on the behalf of his beloved and respected brethren in the ministry, the writer would crave an interest in the prayers of all who love the Savior and the souls of men. We are the dispensers of God’s truth and at best fall far below our mighty theme. The duties of our calling return upon us with every returning week and day. They often come upon us with many and conflicting demands. They sometimes put a demand upon all our thoughts, and at the very time when we have lost the power of thinking; and sometimes they call for all the intensity and strength of our affections, just at the time we are the least capable of expressing them. There is also associated with these demands that pressing distress, and decaying anxiety, which exhausts our vigor, cripples our courage, and drinks up our spirits. And then, in addition to all this, there are so many disappointments in our work, that we desperately need the sympathy and comfort of the prayers of God’s faithful people!


          1. Paul’s second parting desire for the Thessalonians was that they would display loving affection for one another
              1. his wish that his readers would greet one another with a holy kiss
          2. the word greet conveys the intention of a friendly and righteous gesture, as opposed to a formal, reserved acknowledgment
              1. it’s the difference between the “I’m very glad to meet you,” to the “Hey, how ya do’en!”
              2. the phrase all the brethren leaves out none of the Thessalonian believers
          3. in Paul’s day, it was customary for people to greet a superior with a kiss on the foot, knee, elbow, or hand; but friends kissed one another on the cheek
              1. among believers, the holy kiss became a symbol of genuine love and affection
                • ILLUS. Eventually people in the church began to abuse the holy kiss and by the thirteenth century the Western church abandoned the custom. Christians in Western culture now generally express affection by shaking hands or embracing one another. Our Eastern Orthodox brethren still practice this tradition—even among men—and it’s probably not a bad tradition.


          1. the word read connotes a reading aloud in the public worship service
          2. public reading of Scripture was essential to the spiritual accountability of the people of God


          1. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you

When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished, and not until that moment shall I even claim perfection. But like Paul, my hope is that God will present me—and each of you—blameless before Him.

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