The Christian Life, True Spirituality, Really Is,

The question before us is what the Christian life, true spirituality, really is, and how it may be lived in a twenty first-century setting.

The first issue that we must reflect on is that it is impossible even to begin living the Christian life, or to know anything of true spirituality, before one is a Christian.

The only way to become a Christian is neither by trying to live some sort of a representation of a "Christian" lifestyle nor by hoping for some sort of religious experience, but rather by accepting Christ as Savior. No matter how complicated, educated, or sophisticated we may be, or how simple we may be, we must all come the same way, insofar as becoming a Christian is concerned. As the wealthy of the earth and the powerful of the earth are born in exactly the same way, physically, as the humblest person, so the most intellectual person must become a Christian in exactly the same way as the simplest person. This is is true for all of mankind everywhere, through all space and all time. There are no exceptions. Jesus said a totally exclusive word: "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.""(John 14:6 ESV)

The reason for this is that all men are separated from God because of their true moral guilt. God exists, God has a character, God is a holy God; and when men sin (and we all must acknowledge we have sinned not only by mistake but by intention), they have true moral guilt before the God who exists. That guilt is not just the modern concept of guilt-feelings, a psychological guilty feeling in man. It is a true moral guilt before the infinite-personal, holy God. Only the finished, substitutionary work of Christ upon the cross as the Lamb of God,in history, space, and time,is enough to remove this. In our true guilt, that prideful " heaven" which stands between us and God, can be removed only upon the basis of the finished work of Christ plus nothing on our part. The Bible’s whole emphasis is that there must be no humanistic note added at any point in the accepting of the gospel (good news). It is the infinite value of the finished work of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, upon the cross plus nothing that is the sole basis for the removal of our guilt. When we thus come, believing God, the Bible says we are declared justified by God, the guilt is gone, and we are returned to fellowship with God—the very thing for which we were created in the first place. Just as the only basis for the removal of our guilt is the finished work of
Christ upon the cross in history, plus nothing, so the only instrument for accepting that finished work of Christ upon the cross is faith. This is not faith in the now twenty first-century or the “Kierkegaardian” concept of faith as a jump in the dark ,not a solution on the basis of faith in faith. It is believing the specific promises of God; no longer turning our backs on them, no longer calling God a liar, but raising the empty hands of faith and accepting that finished work of Christ as it was fulfilled in history upon the cross. The Bible says that at that moment we pass from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son. We become, individually, children of God. We are children of God from that time on. I repeat, there is no way to begin the Christian life except through the door of spiritual birth, any more than there is any other way to begin physical life except through the door of physical birth.

Yet, having said this about the beginning of the Christian life, we must also realize that while the new birth is necessary as the beginning, it is only the beginning. We must not think that because we have accepted Christ as Savior and are therefore Christians, this is all there is in the Christian life. In one way physical birth is the most important part in our physical life,because we are not alive in the external world until we have been born. In another way, however, it is the least important of all the aspects of our life,because it is only the beginning and then it is past. After we are born, the important thing is the living of our life in all its relationships, possibilities,and capabilities. It is exactly the same with the new birth. In one way, the new birth is the most important thing in our spiritual life, because we are not Christians until we have come this way. In another way, however, after one has become a Christian, it must be minimized, in that we should not always have our mind only on our new birth. The important thing after being born spiritually is to live. There is a new birth, and then there is the Christian life to be lived. This is the area of sanctification, from the time of the new birth through this present life, until Jesus comes or until we die. Often, after a person is born again and asks, “What shall I do next?” he is given a list of things, usually of a limited nature and primarily negative. Often he is given the idea that if he does not do this series of things (whatever this series of things happens to be in the particular country and location and at the time he happens to live), he will be spiritual. This is not so. The true Christian life, true spirituality, is not merely a negative not-doing of any small list of things. Even if the list began as a very excellent list of things to beware of in that particular historic setting, we still must emphasize that the Christian life, or true spirituality, is more than refraining from a certain list of external taboos in a mechanical way.

Because this is true, there almost always comes into being another group of Christians that rises up and begins to work against such a list of taboos; thus, there is a tendency toward a struggle in Christian circles between those who set up a certain list of taboos and those who, feeling there is something wrong with this, say, “Away with all taboos, away with all lists.” Both of these groups can be right and both can be wrong, depending on how they approach the matter.

If we are focused on outward behavior in relation to true spirituality, we are face-to-face not with some small perceptional list, but with the whole Ten Commandments and all of God’s other commands. In other words, if I see the list as a screen, and I say this small list is trite, dead, and cheap, and I take hold of the screen and lift it away, then I am not face-to-face with a looser prescription for just " me and mine", I am face-to-face with the whole Ten Commandments and all that is included in them. I am also face-to-face with what we might call the Law of Love, the actual fact that I am to love God and I am to love my fellow human beings.

In Romans 14:15 we read:"For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died."

This is the law of God. In a very real sense there is no liberty here. It is an absolute declaration that we are to do this. It is perfectly true that we cannot be saved by doing this, we cannot do this in our own strength, and none of us do this perfectly in this life. Nevertheless, it is an imperative. It is the absolute command of God. The same thing is true in 1 Corinthians 8:12-13:"Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."

Therefore, when I take hold of the screen of a trite list and say, “This is too superficial,” and I push it aside, I must see what I am doing. I am not now confronted with a libertine concept, but I am confronted with the whole Ten Commandments and with the Law of Love. So even if we are dealing only with outward commands, we have not moved into a looser lifestyle; we have moved into something much more profound and heart-searching. As a matter of fact, when we are done with our honest wrestling before God, very often we will find that we will be observing at least some of the taboos on these lists. But having gone deeper, we find that we will be observing them for a completely different reason. Curiously enough we often come around in a circle through our liberty, through the study of the deeper teaching, and find we do want to keep these things. But now not for the same reason, that of social pressure. It is no longer merely a matter of holding to an accepted list in order that Christians will think well of us. However, eventually the Christian life and true spirituality are not to be seen as outward at all, but inward.

I am interested in your thoughts, and discussion of this thought.

Grace and Peace
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2 Responses May 16, 2012

WilliamC thank you for that!!! It's not just WordCard that you've helped with your words, helped me too. It's helping me a lot! Thanks!<br />
Feed my faith and my doubts will starve. . .<br />
Wordcard, me too! I've been struggling like that too. I don't get in touch with other Christians except here on EP. And my family's beliefs are SO different. You're lucky you can go to church. I can't even go to church. It's me, i'm afraid. I've no courage to tell my family that I want to go to a Christian church. I can tell them if i have the money to go there; anyway the problem is with me i'm so weak. . :( They are catholics and it just don't feel right to be here anymore. But i love them and i do hope they'll have Jesus too. But they won't even ask me about it or talk to me about Christianity. My father says i'm worshiping a different God. They're the ones worshiping idols!!! But i feel so so so guilty because I do not have courage. I lack a lot. a lot of faith. I can't witness to them. I'm afraid.

thank you wordcard! i have to trust God's timing and learn to love my family so much more, like Jesus did. . . I get easily discouraged when I see them living carnal lives, ignorant of God and the gospel. They think they already know Jesus but they don't. I feel sad and bad for them, and sometimes i feel angry at them. I easily forget that I was once like them too, and if not for God's mercy and grace, i'd still be like them, blind and deaf to God, living in the dark. That's why, i must love them more. you're so right, He wants us to love them. I will trust God's timing, get a job as soon as I can, but not worry too much about it anymore, just trust and trust God's timing... :) i will remember what you told me. i really appreciate it all, thank you! ^_^ :) :) Love is supreme! Oh Jesus is so amazing!!! By His grace, may we all grow in love love love!!!!! :D :D :D