In this first message of our mission/vision/identity series, Renew Our Convictions, we preview this journey through the six aspects of our Gospel Identity, by going back to eternity past to consider the great and glorious work of the Father, Son & Spirit, the Triune God. And how it is God’s vision to renew us all—personally and collectively—into the image of His perfect Son Jesus.
This seven-part teaching series lays the foundation & framework for the various “WHOS and DOS” of the Renew family.
Listen or download:
- two clips are portions of message
- see below for quotes and notes on maturity from John Newton
Family Verse (Wonderfully Made):
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
“We have work to do in the world, more to do in the Church and in our homes, but most of all, in our own hearts.” —John Newton
“… Creation is headless and desperately searching for its head.” —Richard Lovelace
“People do not drift toward holiness.
Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” —D.A. Carson, For the Love of God
“[Christianity] is a resurrection religion, a life lived by the power of God.” —John Stott (Christ in Conflict)
“I wish we may learn from all our charges, to be sober and watchful, not to rest in grace received, in experience or comforts, but still to be pressing forward, and never think ourselves either safe or happy, but when we are beholding the glory of Christ by the light of faith in the glass of the Gospel. To view Him as God manifest in the flesh, as all in all in Himself, and all in all for us; this is cheering, this is strengthening, this makes hard things easy, and bitter things sweet. This includes all I can wish for my dear friends, that you may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus. To know Him is the shortest description of true grace; to know Him better is the surest mark of growth in grace; to know Him perfectly, is eternal life. This is the prize of our high calling; the sum and substance of all we can desire or hope for is, to see Him as He is, and to be like Him: and to this honor and happiness He will surely bring all that love His name.” —John Newton (Works, 6:73-74)
Maturing in the Christian Life (see audio clip above, or near end of whole sermon), summaries by Tony Reinke from three of John Newton’s three tract-like letters (“On Grace in the Blade,” “On Grace in the Ear,” and “On Grace in the Full Corn.”), a total of 6,500 words, outlining progressive sanctification. These were Newton’s pastoral and practical vision of growth and development in the stages of the Christian life.
Newton illustrates them in the maturity process of a child who becomes a teen and then a father, through an agricultural analogy (farming corn). With a unified common goal of “Christlikeness,” the steps in the process may be imprecise and distinct for each of us, and at the outset of writing he notes he isn’t giving “a copy of my own experience, or of that of any individual.” Nevertheless Newton charts the growth toward maturity in Christ:
- Maturity moves away from a self-centered life and toward a gospel-simple, God-centered orientation aimed at God’s glory.
- Maturity moves away from a circumstantially centered roller coaster of emotions and toward a disciplined life rooted in daily spiritual habits.
- Maturity moves away from a legalistic, works-oriented relationship with God and toward a stable, gospel-centered security in Christ.
- Maturity moves away from a self-centered evaluation of the assurance of salvation and toward a firm confidence in Christ as the ground of assurance.
- Maturity moves away from exalted thoughts of self and toward lower and more humbled opinions of self and greater awareness of the remaining sin within.
- Maturity moves away from the impulse to correct others in harsh arrogance and toward a humbled and loving correction of others motivated by a deep sense of the worth of souls.
- Maturity moves away from a fearful apprehension about life’s circumstances and toward a confidence in God’s sovereign orchestration over every detail of life.
- Maturity moves away from worldly securities and toward an increasing willingness to leave this world in the Lord’s timing.
Colossians 3:10 (ESV)
put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Ephesians 1:1-23 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guaranteeof our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (ESV)
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 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.