Born to Grow
The gospel is not only the “Good News,” but the “best news” anyone could ever receive. Through simple faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, a person can be born again into a new life, an eternal life.
Unfortunately, the meaning of “eternal life” is lost to many Christians. Instead of conceiving eternal life in terms of its quality, their thought is more on its quantity – the fact that it lasts forever. This is certainly understandable. Our sins are forgiven and we are given Christ’s righteousness. Consequently, we are freed from God’s wrath and sin’s punishment of eternal death – thus we live forever.
Our new relationship with God, as children freed from His wrath, is correctly seen by believers as the foundation of the Christian life. But for too many Christians the matter ends there. Radical transformation of our life takes place only when we meet Christ. Yet in the meantime we live as heaven-bound, forgiven sinners with very little expectation of any real change in the quality of our life and our behavior, except perhaps for some reduction in the most blatant outward forms of sin.
Scripture paints a totally different picture. Our “new birth” is the starting point of a continuous process of growth in a new kind of life. As “newborn babies,” we are told to “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 NIV). In the words of a song by the popular rock band Switchfoot, “There’s a new way to be human.” This new kind of life is the quality of life lived first by Jesus Christ and subsequently by those who’ve known Him well and followed Him closely.
The apostle Paul exemplified this in his own life. Meeting Christ on the road to Damascus was only the beginning of his new life. His passion was to “gain Christ” and to “know Him” (Phil. 3:8, 10). The Christian life for Paul was not simply waiting and hoping for his final perfection. Rather, as he expressed it, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12–14 NIV).
In saying that he “pressed on” Paul uses strong language, a Greek word that refers to zealous pursuit. From the time that Christ laid hold of him, his life took off in a completely new direction. He would not allow either his past failures or achievements to divert him from his pursuit of Christlikeness. We “are being transformed into ... [Christ’s] image with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18 NIV).1
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