Forgiveness washes our sins away, but that's not all there is to living the Christian life. Prophetic teacher Sterling Sawyer of Liberty Tree Ministries says we're just telling part of the story if we only teach forgiveness. Instead, he says, we must present a "whole cross" message.
"Being washed by Jesus is exactly where we should start," Sawyer says. "It prepares you and me for the further work of the cross, where the Spirit starts the renewing of our minds and hearts. That's where things get good! We cheat the people when we stop short of teaching them that they must pick up their cross. The Bible doesn't stop at John 3:16, and neither should we."
Sawyer, a recent guest on the Charisma Connection podcast, points to transformation as the second part in the whole cross message.
"We're pretty good at talking about forgiveness, but we're not as good about talking about transformation, and transformation is really what people long for deep down inside," he says. "We need and want forgiveness, but we also have a great need and a want to be transformed. And this is the second part, where the cross begins to do a transformative work."
For instance, as one of Jesus' disciples, Peter needed to change. He had to learn who God made him to be, and it was more than the life he knew as a fisherman. Sawyer says Peter had a false image of himself that had to die before his new life could come forward.
"We all think we know who we are and what is best for us, but we are not the Creator," Sawyer says. "We did not design this person. God changed the names and directions of many people in the Bible: He took them from mediocre to magnificent. That's what He is offering you. Peter had to give up his fishing business to become a 'fisher of men.'"
Sawyer teaches that the believer has three functional roles, prophet, priest and king, and understanding and applying these roles can help the Christian walk out greater freedom in Christ. Download Sawyer's "Prophet, Priest and King" paradigm chart here.
The priest is the one who makes the sacrifice that leads to life transformation.
"The priest must kill the false you, the old man, to make room for the new you," Sawyer says of the transformation in Peter's life and in the life of every Christian.
"For one part of me to live, another part of me has to die. But the good news of that is in Romans 6:5. It says, 'For if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.' So the priest's portion of us brings us to the likeness of His death and then we wait on the Holy Spirit to bring us on into the resurrection life. And once we start touching that resurrection life, that's a real blessing to the community around us."
Click here to listen to the second episode of the Prophet, Priest and King podcast series.
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