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You've Been Born Again, Now Grow Up!

Discussion in 'Salvation (Soteriology)' started by Patmosman_sga, Jun 17, 2002.

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  1. Patmosman_sga

    Patmosman_sga Member

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    When is one’s salvation complete? That is, when is one’s whole person—spirit, soul and body—wholly transformed into the image and likeness of God, so as to be fit for eternity in his presence? For most of us, it is not likely that we will see our salvation completed in this life. But that is not, ultimately, the “big question.” God will accomplish his plan for each one of us, for his Church, and for the whole creation in his time, according to his eternal will and purpose. We live in joyful expectation of being made complete in this life even if, in the end, that expectation is not fully realized until the life to come. Likewise, we look daily, and with great anticipation, for the coming of Christ, the parousia, when all creation will be restored and God’s kingdom fully consummated. But the real question is not, “When will all things be completed?” but, rather, “How will all things be completed?”

    To this question, God has already provided his definitive answer.

    The Greek word "apocalypse," translated in the above verse as "revelation," means, literally, "unveiling." Therein lies the key difference between prophecy in the Old Testament and prophecy in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, prophecy was hidden, that is, "veiled." In the New Testament, prophecy is revealed, that is, "unveiled" in and through Jesus Christ.

    In the Old Testament, the outcome of history was "sealed" until the time of its fulfillment (cf. Daniel 12:9). In the New Testament, specifically in Revelation, the "seals" are opened (Revelation 6:1-8:5) and John is specifically instructed, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near" (Revelation 22:10). In other words, the outcome of all of history, under the New Covenant, is an open book because, no matter when or where it is fulfilled, it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.

    Salvation, then, is not complete until we are reformed in the perfect image and likeness of Christ, who is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus says that in order to see his kingdom, we must be “born again” (John 3:3). To be "born again" is to be "born" after the manner of Christ himself, "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but born of God" (John 1:13).

    Unfortunately, many in the Church today believe that being "born again" is the be all and end all of Christian experience; that once we are "born again," our salvation is complete. But this is not consistent with biblical teaching. Peter writes, "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Peter 1:22-23). In other words, you have been born again. Now, grow up!

    There are many who claim to be "born again," but precious few who truly want to "grow up.” Yet, Scripture is quite clear that this is precisely what is expected of us.

    The picture Paul paints here is one of growing out of what might be called “spiritual childhood” or “spiritual adolescence” and into “mature manhood,” reflecting the image and likeness of Christ “in every way.” This is not, contrary to popular concepts, an instantaneous, one-time experience. Just as “growing up” physically is a life-long process, so, too, is “growing up” spiritually.

    For each one of us, the experience of being “born again” varies. However, once we have made the initial decision to become a Christian, most of us probably go through what might be called the “fundamentalist stage” of spiritual development. At this early stage in our growth into Christ, we have to have the “fundamentals” or the “basics” spoon-fed to us. During this period, we tend to think of God and his plan of salvation in terms of abstract concepts. We crave the “mother’s milk” of the faith, the “five fundamentals” which lay its foundation: the inspiration of Scripture, the Virgin Birth, the vicarious atonement, the resurrection, and the second coming.

    Yet, the more we become aware of the truth of God’s Word, the more we begin to realize just how far we have fallen from his favor. Ultimately, such a conceptual understanding of the faith only serves the same purpose as the Old Covenant law. It makes us acutely aware that we are sinners in need of a Redeemer who far transcends our attempts to pigeonhole him in a few “basic” tenets.

    It is in coming to this point in our walk with Christ that we must make a very crucial decision to either go further or to fall back. If we choose to fall back, the path of rebellion, we will soon find ourselves either rejecting everything we have learned thus far or remaining trapped indefinitely in a state of spiritual adolescence, knowing the “fundamentals,” but being afraid to venture beyond our comfort zone.

    If we choose to go further, however, we will, by yielding to the Spirit, be led into an understanding of the faith which is higher, deeper, and of greater substance than we could have ever imagined when we thought of it only in conceptual terms. Faith becomes more than a concept; it becomes a reality. Christianity becomes more than a religion; it becomes a Person, and that Person is the One who has been, all along the way, beckoning us, “Follow me.”

    These words from Peter ought to bring great comfort to those who are truly “growing up” into Christ. For, as the Apostle makes clear, following Christ means following the path of suffering, enduring the scorn of the world. It is not an easy path, but it is the only path to true perfection.

    [Continued]
     
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  2. Patmosman_sga

    Patmosman_sga Member

    375
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    Protestant
    [Continued]

    If we choose instead to reject the “fundamentals” or remain static in our understanding of them, we will inevitably fall into any number of theological and doctrinal aberrations, all of which will make our faith less real and Christ more distant, even seemingly absent.

    What is sadly lacking among most high profile Christian leaders today is precisely the kind of spiritual maturity which Peter, Paul and other New Testament writers said was an absolute prerequisite for exercising spiritual leadership. “Fundamentalists” chose at some point in their lives to remain in their comfortable “system” and not to venture further into life in Christ. “Liberals,” on the other hand, chose at some point to reject all they had learned about the faith. As a result of their respective decisions, neither “fundamentalists” nor “liberals” have the strength “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:!8-19).

    The embarrassing public squabbles which often erupt whenever representatives from these two groups appear on television is to be expected when two overgrown adolescents are put in the same room. They start fighting over who gets to play with the toys. They scream at each other, hurl insults, and call each other names until the “parents” come in and take the toys away from both of them. The writer of Hebrews indeed has “much to say” about this sorry state of affairs among Christian “leaders.”

    Note what is included in “the elementary doctrine of Christ.” Such “fundamentals” as “the resurrection of the dead” and “eternal judgment,” not to mention some other rather important ideas, such as “repentance” and “faith toward God.” What the writer is saying is that “grown up” believers do not need to keep being reminded of how important such doctrines are. They are the building blocks of the faith, but once the foundation is laid, it must be built upon. This does not mean that we “outgrow” the basics but, rather, that we grow in our understanding of them and, thus, begin to comprehend the deeper reality of life in Christ. Peter echoes this same truth.

    Paul also adds his agreement.

    What, then, is the end result of a decision to “go deeper” and “grow up” into Christ? Paul's expression of Christian maturity can only be made by someone who has long since passed the early stages of being "born again.”

    If being "born again" is the entry point into life in Christ, then dying with Christ is the passageway into a deeper experience of union with him. For only if we share in Christ's suffering and death will we also share with him in his resurrection. As Paul says elsewhere:

    Paul sees "the resurrection from the dead" as the end, that is, the outcome, of his relationship with Christ--a relationship in which Paul shares in every aspect of Christ's salvific work, from being born of the Spirit to suffering the scorn of the world, to being
    nailed to the cross and, finally, being raised from the dead. Even Paul could not, or would not, claim to have been made whole in this experience at the time he wrote to the Philippians:

    But how is this relationship brought to completion? The Bible tells the story of God's relationship with humankind through the establishment of two covenants: the covenant of the law and the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is the superior covenant and is, in fact, the eternal covenant God established from the foundation of the world. It alone leads to salvation. Yet, we call it the "New Covenant" because, within human history, it is revealed after the covenant of the law, that is, the "Old Covenant." Both covenants, however, do serve a purpose in God's plan of redemption. The Old Covenant convicts us, that is it makes us aware, of our sin and our fallennes. The New Covenant brings salvation by grace through faith to all who believe. The words of an old Gospel hymn sum this up very well.

    So, what we have is, as Paul says on several occasions, a mystery. The "New Covenant" is actually older than the "Old Covenant." If our relationship with God is on the basis of grace through faith, we are thus to become, under the New Covenant, the people we were before the law (Old Covenant) was necessary to reveal to us the people we are. Under the New Covenant, we are restored to the state of perfection which was lost in the fall. We are back where we were in the beginning, that is, with God for all eternity. Yet, it can only be said of Christ that "He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:2). So, if human beings are to be restored to that relationship whereby they can be "in the beginning with God," they must be "in Christ." That is what life under the New Covenant of grace is all about!

    Where is Jesus? He is "in the beginning with God." Thus, his promise to "come again," in the context of John’s Gospel, is a promise to restore us to the perfect relationship with God which was “in the beginning.” The “end” of our faith is complete salvation, which John sees as perfect union with God in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

    So, as members of God's New Covenant community, the Church, we look not to world events for the "fulfillment" of some ancient prophecy, but to Jesus Christ, God's ultimate revelation ("unveiling") of himself, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End; and the ongoing fulfillment of the eschatological kingdom which is the consummation of all of history. In him, we find our rest.
     
  3. Reformationist

    Reformationist Non nobis domine sed tuo nomine da gloriam

    +412
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    Very insightful and well worded post. Thanks for sharing.

    Here's some blessings for you.

    God bless.
     
  4. Patmosman_sga

    Patmosman_sga Member

    375
    +3
    Protestant
    Uh, I'm not sure what the last post has to do with the subject of this thread.
     
  5. Reformationist

    Reformationist Non nobis domine sed tuo nomine da gloriam

    +412
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    Christian
    Single
    Not sure if you were PM'd about this but I'm pretty sure mjwhite's post was inadvertantly posted in this thread so we moved it to the appropriate thread.

    It was a bit confusing though, wasn't it? :scratch: :D

    God bless.
     
  6. theseed

    theseed Contributor

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    I think I agree. :scratch:
     
  7. Mustaphile

    Mustaphile Be the change you wish to see in the world. Supporter

    +183
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    Married
    I disagree. :D But only to a point.

    Faith is our salvation. Growth is by surrendering to the Spirit, the death of flesh has been accomplished by Christ. We are still subject to the desires of the flesh, but by faith we overcome that. We have no law now but the law of the Spirit, evidenced by the fruits of the Spirit.

    One particular point, the verse you used to show that we need to grow up.

    The corruptible seed is the flesh which grows up like grass, flowers and withers away. The incorruptible seed is the Spirit of Christ within us, bringing us life eternal.

    Here is it is in the Bible in Basic English:-

    The quote from Ephesians
    The maturity is the steadfast knowledge that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and our flesh nature has been put to death in God's eyes. We are now covered by the blood of Jesus and his Spirit inside us must be revealed by the surrendering of ourselves and our desire to view the world from a fleshly nature. We now view the world through the eyes of Christ, who sees all of us as sinners, and still loved us all and paid the necessary price for our salvation. Our maturity is in a Spirit filled life bearing fruit. The fruits of the Spirit. Against such there is no law. Love, joy, peace, a quiet mind, kind acts, well-doing, faith, gentle behaviour, control over desires. This is maturity, bearing fruit.

    Christ's gift to us has made us a new people of God. There was no mercy before, now we have mercy. As we cast off our fleshly desires, we no longer bear the fruit of corruptible seed (evil desire, unclean things, wrong use of the senses, worship of images, use of strange powers, hates, fighting, desire for what another has, angry feelings, attempts to get the better of others, divisions, false teachings, envy, uncontrolled drinking and feasting etc.). We bear the fruit of the incorruptible seed(Love, joy, peace, a quiet mind, kind acts, well-doing, faith, gentle behaviour, control over desires).

    You will notice here that Paul makes a request. He doesnt make a command. He request us to keep from the desires of the flesh. He doesnt say we wont have them anymore. He understands we are still in our fleshly body.

    This passage talking about Pauls request to keep the laws of men, and is referring to the laws of the king or his servants. We would look upon this as the laws of our government. We should be a good witness, by not seeking to break the rules of the government. We must resist the desires of the flesh, which still weary us as we take up our cross and carry it, we do so by surrendering ourselves to the Spirit of Christ within us, giving up our own lives and allowing Christ to shine his light through us and strengthen us on our journey. We do this not by keeping religious laws, as the Pharisees did, as the laws apply to the living, but our flesh is now dead in God's eyes and we are no longer subject to those laws. Those who have not accepted God's grace and forgiveness in their lives, my look upon you as evil-doers, but in the time of judgement when we stand before God, they will know that we were doing good. God's laws are now written in our hearts and fulfilled in us through Christ Spirit dwelling within us. Those of us who are free (which is many in this modern age) should be respecters of all, knowing that we are no greater than any other man. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and no effort of the flesh on our part will bring us closer to God. The flesh is a servant to sin and whatever is of the flesh is not of God.

    So what form does our salvation take? It takes the form of knowing our salvation rests in our faith in Jesus Christ and his cleansing sacrifice. We take up our cross and bear our burden of the flesh to Calvary and when our fleshly body dies on that cross in this world, the Spirit within us takes us on to everlasting life, through our faith in the promises of Jesus Christ. Faith that is the opposite of fear. Fear of our salvation is the opposite of Faith in our salvation. Faith brings certainty. Fear brings condemnation. We are free of condemnation now.

    It's not about growing up. It's about giving up. We give up the flesh and we allow the Spirit of Christ to shine through. He dwells within us now and transforms us. As we surrender to his Spirit, it guides us to living a life of Christ. We are renewed by Christ. We don't renew ourselves. It's not about us. All Glory goes to Jesus our Lord.

    Christ has made us free. Let no man put a yoke on you again. We need to dwell on those words when we feel the yoke being put on our necks again. We are free! We have through the Spirit of faith the hope of righteousness. Continue to hope dear friends, and let no man bring you into condemnation again.

    The Spirit guides us now, our flesh is dead. It's been put to death on the cross. The mystery that Paul speaks of us the mystery of us still being in flesh but being transformed by faith. How is our flesh dead, but I am still in it? I can pinch myself and still feel my flesh. This is the miracle of Jesus transforming gift of salvation by faith. In God's eyes our flesh is dead. We have been redeemed by our Saviour, who speaks to God on behalf of those who believe in Him.

     
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