Isaiah’s oracle on the Joy of Salvation says

You will say on that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    and you comforted me.

Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and will not be afraid,
for the Lord is my strength and my might;
    he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

In his imagery, Isaiah likened the Davidic dynasty to a mighty tree springing from David’s father Jesse. When Judah would be taken into exile and Jerusalem destroyed, it would be as though that mighty dynasty was hewn down, leaving only a dead stump behind.

But in Isaiah’s vision, against all odds, a shoot springs up from the stump, holding within it the potential for another mighty tree. The emergence of the shoot is a miracle in itself, but holds within it yet another mystery, for this imagery is of resurrection.

And out of Jesus’s miraculous resurrection will be borne fruit.

  • Sowing: The Gospel being sent across the whole earth.
  • Salvation: All those who have put our faith in Jesus, and now abide in Him.
  • Sanctification: The Spirit conforming the faithful to the goodness of Who Jesus is.
  • Spread: As a direct result of the Spirit’s conforming, works of love, mercy, and grace.
By Thomas Cole – National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., online collection, Public Domain,

Conformed to the Character of Christ

Through the process of sanctification, a believer’s progressive growth in holiness, the fame of the Lord is spread.

Holy

One part of sanctification means being set apart for God and God’s work.

Everybody has the potential for good character. 

We all know people who are not Christians, and they are wise and disciplined, they outdo themselves in generosity and kindness, they are gracious, merciful, and loving.

But to be Christlike, to be godly, goes beyond building good character, there is a qualitative difference. 

To be godly means to be molded by the Holy Spirit into the likeness of the Lord Jesus, something that is possible only when someone is born anew from above.

To build good character is a human activity, but to become Christlike, to be sanctified, is a supernatural activity.

Divine

The actual growth is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Living things cannot grow themselves, God is the source of all life and growth. Spiritual growth is a divine work, as Jesus said that only by abiding in Him could anyone bear the Spirit’s fruit. 

  • Being filled with the Spirit is being filled with the actual life of God.
  • God gives us a new set of inclinations, put into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • And a new nature that is kept alive by the Holy Spirit’s presence.
  • God’s Spirit, God’s life, is a power that is released more and more as you and I become more surrendered to God and understand experientially the depth and breadth of God’s love.

Surrender

Growth is also accomplished in you and me as we make ourselves vulnerable to God to be changed by God’s grace.  

For this reason the apostles sometimes say we are to sanctify ourselves. God gives you and me the desire and the ability to live by faith, to God’s glory, in communion with God’s will, But we are also made responsible to follow through and actually do this.

It requires our effort.

You and I have a proactive, not passive, role in cooperating with God’s working in our lives

Rabula Gospels Folio 14 Pentecost | Public Domain

Means of Grace

You and I do our part in this by a faithful use of what has sometimes been called “means of grace,” or spiritual disciplines God has given us.

Prayer

Communion with God,

Give thanks to the Lord;
    call on his name.

Isaiah 12:4 (NRSV)

Just as the Lord Jesus Christ was set apart to be our redeemer, being sanctified means being set apart for God and God’s work. You and I connect with God, in regular communion with the Lord, in order to cooperate fully with whatever God is about.

Prayer is the habit of attention to God, of having an inward orientation towards the Lord’s voice, and of responding to God.

Study of Scripture

Absorbing, understanding, and applying God’s word,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:9 (NRSV)

Since all scripture was written to instruct believers, and to encourage us, we are able to find hope in the Bible. The more you and I spend with the written words inspired by God, the more our minds will be transformed, the better we will get to know God and the more we will share God’s perspective. 

Fellowship

Sharing our life in Christ together with other believers,

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 12:3 (NRSV)

The word “you,” here, is in the plural, drawing water together. As you and I share the life we have in Jesus with each other, we are transformed more and more into His holy character. We see Jesus in each other, we spur each other on to love and good deeds, we comfort and fortify each other with the comfort of the Messiah.

When we are building each other up, bearing with each other’s failings, looking for ways to encourage each other, then we are going to discover a harmony that reflects the reality of our oneness together through the Holy Spirit.

Worship

Pouring heart and soul out in gratitude, love, and honor of God,

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 12:5-6 (NRSV)

God tells us to sing and make music to the Lord sixty-five times in scripture, three of those times in the Greek scriptures. Singing is a sign of the softened heart, it is often the response of joy to God’s goodness and love, and prepares you and me to go deeper with God. Yet, even in times of sorrow, grief, mourning, fury, despair, horror, or even numbness, singing and music are ways to commune with God, and in the Spirit when words fall woefully short.

Miriam giving thanks to God, The Dormition Church on Mount Zion in Jerusalem כנסיית הדורמיציון על הר ציון בירושלים | By Radbod Commandeur (1890 – 1955); photo by Deror avi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Good works

The service of God and God’s people in the world,

And you will say on that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord;
    call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
    proclaim that his name is exalted.”

Isaiah 12:4 (NRSV)

The process of sanctification cannot happen without a willingness to serve. Messiah Jesus is the example in coming into our world as a servant in order to show God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness. 

The Fruit of the Branch

The apostle Paul spoke of the sanctifying experience when he wrote,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (NRSV)

God knows how hard it is to forbear with each other’s failings, God knows how much concentration and self‑discipline it takes to build each other up. God understands our frailties, fractures, and failings. And God has provided an infinite supply of love and grace to draw from.

When Messiah reigns, the joy of His people overflows in thanksgiving and testimony

Icon of Second Coming (also used for All Saints Sunday). Christ is enthroned in the center surrounded by the angels and saints, Paradise is at the bottom, with the Bosom of Abraham (left) and the Good Thief (right) holding his cross. | By Anonymous, Greece – Public Domain

When you and I believe in and look for the supernatural goodness in ourselves and in other believers that God has personally put there, as well as gently help each other back into the way when we notice that someone is off the path, we are living into sanctification.

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