Yesterday I talked about how some people like the feeling of grandiose identity that comes with certain titles. Religious people can be like this, insisting upon being called “pastor” or “reverend” (yuk!). I only use those terms – especially the “Rev.” title – when absolutely necessary.
Another is the “Doctor” title. I like that one a little bit better, though there is confusion with it, especially with children. I have one of these degrees, but if I insisted upon it being used at church, most of the kids would not understand how to differentiate me from that meanie who puts needles in their arms.
I’m going to use the “doctor” title at the end today, so let me explain a couple things about these degrees. I will sometimes let it stand when someone says I have a Ph.D. Actually, I do not. But most adults understand that a Doctor of Philosophy is different than being a medical doctor (M.D.). But I don’t correct people most times, as I allow that Ph.D. to be used generically, rather than specifically – so that people don’t think I work in a hospital. To be even more specific, I don’t actually have a Doctor of Theology either (Th.D.), though what I have is deeply infused with theology. My degree is a D.Min. – Doctor of Ministry. The standard for this is an application of knowledge, versus an original contribution to knowledge. But my degree, when stated out loud (D.Min.) sounds like something from the satanic realm, so I’ll sometimes go generic and just reference my doctorate as in the field of theology (as later today).
All of this has to do with identity. And we’ve been talking for our second of five themes in this series about our identity as saints. And that’s a big deal (see yesterday!). It beats all doctorate degrees for sure. And we are saints, according to a variety of places in the New Testament (often translated as “holy ones” in the NIV and modern translations, though “saints” in the KJV).
For example, when Paul wrote to the Romans, he referenced them as such …
Romans 1:1,7 – Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God … To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
And even when writing to the “lifestyle-challenged / holiness-challenged” church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1-2), he says, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…”
How do you get to be a saint? Indeed, it is a term that looks toward a future characterization in God’s presence. Though we have it now in a positional sense, we get it fully in the life to come. And the only way to be in God’s presence is to be perfect, to be righteous. And as I’ve spoken and written many times, the ONE THING you need most specifically to be saved is to possess righteousness – the thing you don’t have in Adam, but that you get from Christ.
I am worn out on TV commercials for medications for all sorts of ailments. They show beautiful and happy people enjoying life to its fullest, though you understand from the immediate commentary that they have some serious condition of the heart / skin / liver function, etc. And there is a medication being promoted that will make it all better … saying, “Ask your doctor if ____ is right for you.” And then follows a lengthy, low-voice disclaimer (that is FDA mandated, I’m sure) that warns about all the deleterious things that might happen to you if you take this medication … “Some people have found a worsening of conditions. Severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts and actions have followed the use of this medication. Heart attacks, blood clots, strokes and even death have been experienced by some.”
And you wonder if the alleged “cure” is not worse than just living with the disease!
But that is not how it is for the cure of the gospel in identifying with Christ to solve the condemnation of sin from your identification with Adam. The remedy is perfect … oh, not yet in this world; but it surely is in the world to come. And as a doctor of theology, let me prescribe for you the righteousness of Christ and the justification that comes with it.
And if you’ve been on this life-saving medication for even a long time, aren’t you thankful for its benefits? And don’t you suppose that those around you who are dying without it should be very actively pursued and informed by you who have the prescription for death? Take righteousness; it cures everything.