July 2013

SPIRITUAL NEW BIRTH AND CHRISTIAN GROWTH

P. Samuel Manoharam

May it be said about us that we lived better than we preached.

Martin Luther said, “A man is never a Christian, he is only becoming one.” It implies that one requires a lifetime to build Christlike character after being regenerated (born spiritually). This regeneration is a miracle moment in the life of a person who experiences God’s forgiveness after he confesses and repents of his sins.

Our spiritual birth is the beginning of our new life in Christ. Growth in this new life is a lifelong process which culminates in our attaining full stature and maturity in Christ when we meet Him face to face in His kingdom. Christians who do not grow spiritually (by reading the Bible and applying its truths to life) remain carnal and show no signs of being set apart (sanctified) by God as His own.

God’s Best For Us
The most amazing thing God has done for us out of His unfathomable love is the offering of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer a sacrificial death for our sins on the cross. This was God’s salvation plan for us sinful humans to bring us back into His fold. This plan offers us the benefits of Christ’s death when we receive Him into our lives. By Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been raised to a new realm, which is God’s reign in our hearts, where we learn to live and walk by God’s Spirit and grow spiritually.

God has not left us alone in our physical and spiritual journey in this world. The Scripture says, “Whatever is born of God (born of the Spirit), overcomes the world” (1Jn.5:4). God is aware that there is much evil in this world. As our Father in heaven, He cares even about the minutest details of our lives (1Pet.5:7). He works “for the good of those who love God” (Rom.8:28). He longs for our constant companionship (Isa.40:11). He wants to provide for us, protect us, counsel us and guide us through life. He expects us, His children, to trust Him and have an intimate companionship with Him. He promises to strengthen us through His Spirit in our inmost being, to give us joy and peace.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you” (Jas.4:8). Every born again Christian is closely bound with the life of God, because in Him we live and have our being. He has put something astounding within us, something capable of developing into us Christlike character—His breath of life! Since God is the Giver and Source of life, He has the right to expect us to be His loyal and loving children.

If we are to enjoy the peace of God, we must fix our minds constantly on Him, “Looking unto Jesus…” (Heb.12:2). Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Peace With God And Peace Of God
There is a distinction between peace with God and the peace of God. Before we were saved from sin’s guilt and power, we were at enmity with God. By His sacrificial death, Christ has made peace between us and God (Rom.5:1-2;Eph.2:13-18). To experience the reality and the serenity of the divine peace within us, we need to allow the indwelling Christ to have His way in our lives (Col.3:12-15). Every child of God who has experienced peace with God can also experience the peace of God, provided he submits himself willingly to Christ’s rule in his life daily. No one can enjoy the peace of God who is not at peace with God in the first place (Jn.14:27;Php.4:6-7). So, a life without Christ is a turbulent life. The peace of Christ, the Prince of peace, is the antidote to all our problems—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Our Best For God
Who can fathom the breadth, length, depth and height of God’s love for mankind, revealed in all its fullness in the vicarious death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ? God is still saying to us, “All this I did for you. What have you done for me?” Does this not compel us to present our whole life to God as a living sacrifice, rather than conforming to the godless lifestyle of this world? (Rom.12:1-2).

The best we can offer to God is ourselves as a ‘living sacrifice’, holy and pleasing to Him. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?

All born again Christians are ‘members of the household of God’ (Eph.2:19); together they are to grow into ‘a holy temple in the Lord’ (Eph.2:21). What a high calling! The apostle Paul urges us “to walk worthy of the calling, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph.4:1-3). What a joy it is to live in harmony as a blessed family belonging to God!

Running The Race
For a wholesome Christian growth, we need to throw off everything that hinders it and run with perseverance “the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb.12:1, 2) who said, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Lk.9:62). Christ does not want us to be superficial, insincere and easy-going believers. He does not want to see us as double-minded Christians, unstable in our walk. He wants us to be disciples who are fully dedicated and committed to Him. “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt.24:13).

Being Christlike
As Christians, we need to grow spiritually by regular Scripture reading, praying, meditating, witnessing and evangelising. We have been given the gift and power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate Christ’s love in a hurting world. Our new life in Christ will be seen by the world in our thinking, in our speech and in our conduct. Christ, who has begun a good work in us, will change us moment by moment, day by day, until we become like Him (Php.1:4-6). When we allow Christ to have His way in us, we spread His fragrance among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

May it be said about us that we lived better than we preached.

I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back
The world behind me, the cross before me.
No turning back.

Editorial: THINK OR BELIEVE? - Jacob Ninan

CAREERS AND JOBS - Shantanu Dutta

CHOICES - Francis Sunderaraj

THE CROSS AND THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP - Peter Pothen

GOD’S EXCHANGE RATE - J. R. Jayabalan

SPIRITUAL NEW BIRTH AND CHRISTIAN GROWTH - P. Samuel Manoharam

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