Monday, December 26, 2016
Ephesians 5:1-2 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
How the experiential walk with God begins - conversion
What is the purpose of the Christian life? Knowing God. When a man, woman or child is born-again by trusting in Jesus Christ by grace alone through faith alone - initiation into an experiential walk with God begins. Paul lays out for us in Ephesians 5:1-10 what it means to have this "experiential walk with God". He uses such statements as "imitating God" in 5:1; carrying forth a "sweet aroma" of Christ in 5:2 and "trying to do what is pleasing to the Lord" in 5:10.
This initiation into the Christian life is what we call "conversion". Included in conversion is that first work of regeneration and its attendant Spirit-wrought workings of conviction, faith and repentance. The sinner responds, believes and is saved. All such works are simultaneous and instant. At conversion the Heavenly Father declares the sinner "just" or right-with-God in a judicial declaration called "justification". In justification, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is credited to that sinner - henceforth making him a "saint". The Father then, simultaneously, declares the saint of God to be an adopted child by what the scriptures call "adoption unto sonship" or more simply "adoption" (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:4-6). So the sinner becomes a saint and the old way of life is forsaken in favor of Christ. The convert is given a new heart - a heart that beats with the desire to obey its Lord.
The ongoing experiential walk with God ought to continue on in post-conversion Christian living - i.e sanctification
The first major step of obedience following conversion is and ought to be believer's baptism (Romans 6:4-11; Colossians 2:11-12). The new convert is given the opportunity to profess their faith publicly before the local church body. Whatever had privately transacted between that convert and God in saving faith goes public. The miracle of salvation is re-enacted in the rite and symbolism of believer's baptism. Already the convert is declaring that they so desire to continue in their experiential walk with God not only as a private affair, but more so as to their public life before others.
In Ephesians 5:10-13 we see the battle one faces against the world, the flesh and the Devil when attempting to grow in one's post-conversion, experiential walk with God:
"trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light."
One's experiential walk with God begins in conversion. What follows from thereon is the progressive onward and upward growth in Jesus Christ. This ongoing, post-conversion life is what the Bible refers to as "sanctification" or being "set-apart" (Romans 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-12). Just as one "sets-apart" or "sanctifies dishes" to be ready for the next meal, sanctification is an ongoing process whereby the Christian is being made more and more like Jesus in thought, attitude, word and deed. Truly, the grace of sanctification emanates from the converted heart like a stem from a root. The stem of sanctification ought to then spring forth a blooming flower that emits the sweet aroma of a life saturated with Jesus Christ. Sanctification informs the post-conversion Christian life with respect to the priority of experiencing and knowing God on a daily-basis. Tomorrow we will continue by considering the heart of one's experiential post-conversion walk with God.