One of the greatest hopes we have as born-again children of God is a regenerated life. But this goes beyond just regeneration. When we are born-again, God’s grace and love fall upon us as a complete package.
Repentance is the first step in coming back to God and it results in a new mind and understanding about God. Justification brings us into a new state before God. Through Regeneration, we have a new life from God.
Conversion then brings us to a new attitude towards God, and a Sonship which is a new relationship with Him. Being adopted by God, we go through a lifelong process of Sanctification, which is a new position and lifestyle before God. Ultimately, as Scripture promises, all this would result in Glorification, which is a new place with God.
None of these 7 promises stand alone; they are all part of a whole, resulting in new and transformed lives that become testimonies of God’s glory before others on this earth (Matthew 5:14-16). And they are all for every believer, not for some super-duper people or followers of God and we get crumbs from their hands.
We can see the transformation brought by Repentance in the example of the apostle Paul in Acts 20:21 and Acts 18:5-8. Paul had a lot of what we would call sophisticated knowledge. He was an academic, well-versed in both the Jewish Law and the Greek and Roman philosophies. He used to be all out to destroy the Christian faith. But in Acts 20:21 he was defending his faith in Christ before the Ephesians. From a persecutor of Christians, now he was preaching and calling the Ephesians who were idolators to repentance. After his encounter with God on the road to Damascus, he was now preaching the Gospel fervently.
The Gospel message is simply this; that Christ died for our sins, that He rose again from the dead, that because of this we have a new hope through repentance in Him, and that He would one day come back. When Paul was preaching here, there was no such thing as the New Testament. He was preaching as a witness; the Old Testament is the key to the New Testament and the New Testament is the key to the Old Testament. There was a completely new mindset and understanding about God. And this time he was bold about his witnessing.
Earlier in Acts 18:5-8, we have read about how every Sabbath, he would reason in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks, even in the face of abuse. After his repentance, Paul possessed a passion for Christ, standing firmly for his faith.
Romans 4:25 tells us that Christ was delivered to death for our transgressions and raised to life for our justification. This Justification that comes from Repentance brings us to a new state before God. There is power in this resurrection. Why was the tomb of Christ opened after the resurrection? Christ did not need to open the door of the tomb. He could have risen easily up to Heaven in any way He wanted. It was for us, so that we could see that Christ has risen again. He writes our names in the Book of Life.
Justification comes as a gift by God’s grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). Jesus’ blood was shed so that we could be saved from God’s wrath through Him (Romans 5:9). More than that, now being justified by His grace, we have become God’s heirs even unto the hope of eternal life.
This is significant and powerful. Now that we are heirs through Christ, we need to know what we inherit and we need to know our positions and identity. Do not be like the chickens who are engrossed in the concerns of the worldly life but begin to be heavenly-minded, developing the new mindset and perspective that is like Christ. When we know our inheritance and identities, the devil has no hold upon us.
The Regeneration that is from Christ comes from inside out. It is not something physical; we don’t suddenly develop halos and we do not suddenly float above the worries of the daily life. But the Bible also says that the word of the Lord is like a double-edged sword.
A double-edged sword has two sharp sides. Carried by the Roman soldiers, it was remarkably effective; it facilitated the speed of the soldier’s movement, and no matter which side struck the enemy it had the power to slash and cut.
There are two parts to the double-edged sword mentioned in Scripture. One part is the word of God. We need the word of God for they are spiritual food to our spirit and souls. It is the way God has chosen to nourish and empower us. But there is also another part to the sword. This other edge is our positions in Christ.
In our spiritual warfare, do not show mercy to the devil. We are in the position to ride on the wind of Christ like an eagle. We must know how to handle our power and identity as children and heirs of Christ.
Develop a mindset like Christ’s. God looks at the world with love. He looks with love at all. To Christians He is the loving Father, but He also looks to the world as the loving Creator. The Bible says He created them all and that He died for the world, Christians and non-Christians alike. As Christians we need to see the hurting world with love. Our fight is against the system of the world and God has given us such positions.
This is just the start of what we gain in our new relationships in and with Christ. There is so much more in the Sanctification and Glorification, but even with this new start, there is already so much that God has given us, in a new walk with our heavenly Father.
NOTE: This write-up was inspired by a message shared by Bishop Gopala at Faith Oasis USJ21 on the 12th of November 2016.
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