God the Sculptor

Michaelangelo was an incredible sculptor. He did many things, but his sculpting by far most captures my awe. Anyone who’s seen his work is amazed by the skill and patience it must have taken to create it. He’s recorded to have said of one of his works: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” How did he see that? And furthermore, ever have the patience to slowly bring that vision to the surface? I think of this often when I think of what God is doing in his church. God is sculpting each of his people like rock. Stubborn, uncooperative, and at times downright silly rock. But he is fashioning us. Refining us. He is polishing, chipping, shaping, carving, fixing, sanding, and chiseling with an eye far more patient than we could ever dare realize. John wrote to us: “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.” 1 John 3:2. We’re his from day one, but what he’s making of us, like a gold ore being refined, is not yet seen by any of us. The promise that God will finish the work he set out to do in us, however, remains replete in the Bible. Philippians 1:6, etc. I want to highlight this today with you as Hurricane Idalia moves toward my home. Following Jesus’ teaching in places like John 6:39 and Luke 14:28, Paul spoke openly about what he calls the “glorification” to come for the believer in places like 1 Corinthians 15:43 and Romans 8:29-30. I know what God is doing through the use of the means he’s chosen, but I cannot answer as to why he cares to do it. Why does God care to get involved with any of us? With each believer I’m convinced he’s saved us with an image in mind far more amazing than ever meets the clay’s eye. He looks ahead to that glory, delights in it, and does the work to bring it out. He rolls up his sleeves with every David, every Paul, and every you and me and simply seems to delight in the work. In every generation, with every one of his children, he just loves the work. And one day we’ll see it more fully. God, the sculptor, is forming his people into something we’ll only see fully in the life to come. We catch only glimpses of it now in this still fallen world. If we know where to look, we can see much of the result of God’s work in time as we bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but if we don’t know to also look ahead to what’s best yet to come, we will lose heart. Friend, God began a work in you, if indeed he has, with the end in mind and he will not fail to bring that conformity to Christ out in you. He will not fail because he cannot fail.

I wonder at times, given my sinful heart, why God cares about me at all? In considering something very similar to this, if not exactly this, one writer asked a question I’ve asked myself at least fifty times: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Psalm 8:3-4. Now I’ve read that man is created in God’s image. I know that Jesus died to save people. But why he cares at all about me is still a question I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m not entirely certain I can ever really answer. Would I care about someone like me as he does? I understand his care for Jesus while he was on earth, but me?! I bow my head to even ask myself why! But that he does care is made abundantly clear to me in his word and I lay my head on his bosom in that amazing reality. And this is true of all of his people.

I’ve sinned so much after beginning to follow Jesus that it’s certain he must have another way of sanctifying me than one that’s based on my performance. The stone does not carve itself. It is Christ’s righteousness perfecting me and changing me that is that way. God’s love shown to me in Christ does alter what I want to do in life, I want to please God always, but his covenant promise perfects me in a very real sense far beyond my abilities and wants. It has to. God hates all sin. It is a perfect redemption he must give and that is the answer in Jesus. When I taste this in my life, I know it’s all I need. The Cross is truly my boast! The righteousness given to me in him that always rests in the hands that hold me is truly my sure hope. I have Jesus and that is enough. It’s so sublime yet so simple. I have a lawful justification. Christ can and actually will make all things we’ve done wrong in the world right. Murderers will sit glorified with the murdered in perfect fellowship as what was is no more. Only God can do that and will in eternity to come! Revelation 21:5. He alone, being the one to whom all restitution is due, and being alone righteous, can and did already actually remove the penalty for sin and its affects by the terms he set before we were even made. The triune God has determined to save his elect by the life and righteousness of the Son imputed to them. See my book on Imputed Righteousness here. This is the plan and the church both Old and New Testaments has lived this out and been made to see it unfold.

Reader, if the love of God is truly precious to you today, then God began a work in you that he wanted to do since before he made Adam. None of us can see it in full, sure, but he can, and he did. We will all fall short, but just seeing that it’s his sure work is a part of the fashioning work of a free and unmerited grace. Do you know what it means to rely entirely upon Jesus for your salvation? Then you’re in part seeing the work. The more we see Jesus in his word (his love, his truth, his anger toward evil, his compassion, his power) the more we can see that final image he’s making us into, but God’s work in us is toward that conformity is something we can trust in today. Take heart and look ahead with me today. Can you see God’s work in you today? In an arm, a leg, a neighbor, a part of the back, etc.? Like a living garden being carved, can you see his truth at work in you as a man or a woman, a husband, dad, or mother? If so, then rejoice! He’s doing the work! Read his word daily. Pray daily. Draw close to him daily. Delight in the work. One day it’ll be done. It may come in ways we’d never even think to ask, but we can trust that that image he had in mind for us will be brought out. Romans 12:2.
God bless!!!
(If this has been a blessing to you, would you please share it with someone else? Come by anytime for new stuff).

Joseph Pittano

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