GOD’S PLAN FOR OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
God had a plan for a family. He designed the heavens and the earth and all that is in them toward this purpose. He sought people who would respond to His love. He planned that His love would draw people to Him. The death and resurrection of His Son, the promised Christ, was the masterstroke in this plan.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ASV)
Jesus Christ is the way or the means by which anyone can know God as their Father and grow into His purposes. Anyone who believes this message of Christ’s death, resurrection, and lordship accepts God’s loving invitation into His family. Jesus Christ did this redemptive work so that we could be freely given new life. As with a physical life or birth, our spiritual life or birth begins a lifelong adventure of growth. So with our acceptance of or believing on Jesus Christ we are to mature into the new ways of this new life.
So what are these new ways? We have a new spiritual identity as a result of Christ’s redemptive work. He has bought for us a new identity. We are no longer identified with our physical, fleshly nature according to Adam, the first man, but we are identified with our new spiritual nature according to Christ. This is a new life, a new way to think and live. We are in a new kingdom, God’s kingdom. These ways of the kingdom of God, called our new life in Christ, are to govern us. It is like we now have a new citizenship. We are citizens of God’s kingdom, so we are governed by His ways. Some of the first steps in walking in the ways of the kingdom of God are the acceptance of basic concepts such as “we have passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24). We’re of a new kind of life now, the life of God.
One way God has communicated our new life to us is by the word “baptized” used in Romans 6. Let’s first look at how this word was used in the culture in which the book of Romans was written. Then we can glean valuable insight as to how we’re to think of ourselves and others who have believed on Jesus Christ.
Prior to, and during, the time of Jesus Christ here upon earth, this word “baptism” was used in reference to coloring or dyeing clothes. An article of clothing would be baptized into a dye for the purpose of permanently coloring the clothing. The article of clothing permanently took on the qualities of what it was baptized into. Baptism was also used to describe the process of pickling. A cucumber would be baptized into a pickling solution. Again, its baptism resulted in its permanent association with what it was baptized into. Once baptized, the cucumber is no longer called, or thought of as a cucumber, but as a pickle. It has a new identity. It is identified by the “pickling solution” into which it was baptized.
This is the word “baptized” used in Romans 6:2-4:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (RSV)
Just like the clothing and the cucumbers we have taken on the permanent qualities of what we have been baptized into: “Christ Jesus”. Our baptism into Christ Jesus resulted in our permanent association with him, which is now our new identity. We are not to identify with the way we were previous to our baptism into Christ, but with the way we ARE “in Christ”. This is referring figuratively to our baptism into what he accomplished. Now you can see why we are “a new creation in Christ, old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new” according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. Now it makes more sense why Colossians 2:6 says “As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.”
So how do we live or walk in Christ? Simply by thinking according to our new identity we are walking in God’s kingdom! Our attitude is one of a son of God, one who has been identified with Christ, not with the earthly, fleshly negative concepts and ideas.
Another basic concept that accelerates our growth in God’s kingdom is “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are now a new creature, or creation. New things have come. We can now be governed by these new things that are “in Christ” because we are a new creation in him. It’s like we've been transferred into a new kingdom where life is to be viewed according to new realities. As we acclimate to our new life in Christ we mature toward all the potential in Christ.
Colossians 3:1-2 says:
“If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.”
God our Father has blessed us immensely through the work of His son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise God for His love for us and that we have been so blessed by Him through His grace!
As we practice thinking and living according to our new life in Christ our minds become patterned accordingly. This is how we become transformed into the very image of Christ. Romans 12:2
“And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God’s will is—that will which is good and beautiful and perfect.” (Weymouth)
2 Corinthians 3:18
“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.”
How can a message be so powerful? This message called “the gospel” is stated to be “the power of God …to us who believe” in Romans 1:16. It mightily produces its effects in us. Our part is to practice thinking and living according to the new realities in Christ. God’s part is to change us into the likeness of Christ. This is how we become unified with the purposes of God.
God’s plan for our spiritual growth begins with us responding to His love toward us in believing that He sent His son Jesus Christ to die and be raised from the dead. This begins a process for us of learning our new life in Christ and adapting to it. These gracious and powerful realities that we’ve been blessed with in Christ are what we have been directed by God to walk in. In our culture we say, “You are what you eat!” In the East it is said that, “What you look at you become!” Eat and look at your new identity in Christ Jesus. Allow the power of this message of God to transform your life!
Some people like sun-tea. Sun-tea is made by placing tea bags in a container of cool water and letting the tea bags steep in the water. Over time the quality of the tea steeps into the water. The end result is that we now call the container of cool water “tea”. The realities in Christ listed below work much the same way in that by learning to think according to them they steep their qualities into us. The potential power of the gospel of Christ becomes exercised power when it lives in us. The end result is that our thoughts and actions become Christ-like, our condition comes into alignment with our position.
1. I am a child of God (Rom. 8:16, I John 3:1&2, Gal 3:26).
2. God is my Father (Rom. 1:7).
3. I am a saint, a holy one (Rom. 1:7, Eph. 1:1).
4. I am sanctified, set apart from others who are not sanctified (I Cor. 1:2).
5. Jesus Christ is my Lord, my master. (I Cor. 1:2, Rom. 1:3).
6. I am a recipient of eternal life through God’s son, Jesus Christ (I John 5:11-12).
7. I am delivered from this present evil world by the ransom of Jesus Christ’s life (Gal.1:4).
8. I have peace with God through my lord, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:14).
9. I am made righteous through Jesus Christ’s obedience (Rom. 5:19).
10. I am cared for by God’s mighty hand (I Pet. 5:6-7).
11. I am an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
12. I am passed from death unto life (I John 3:14).
13. I am dead to sin (Rom. 6:2).
14. I am baptized into Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:3).
15. I have been raised from the dead to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Old things are passed away, new things have come (II Cor. 5:17).
16. I am one who shall not come into condemnation, but I am passed from death unto life (John 5:24).
17. I am immersed/baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38).
18. I am one who has put on (been clothed with) Christ (Gal. 3:27).
19. I am united with all who are in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).
20. I am alive unto God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).
21. I am free from sin (Rom. 6:18).
22. I am identified with [him in] the likeness of his death, so also of [his] resurrection (Rom. 6:5).
23. I am made free from the law of sin and of death (Rom. 8:2).
24. I am an heir of the world with Abraham my father (Rom. 4:12-13).
25. I am forgiven of all my sins (Rom. 4:7).
26. I am one of whose sin the Lord will not take account (Rom. 4:8).
27. I am justified through the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
28. I am one in whom Christ is, and I have the spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9-10).
29. I am delivered from the power of darkness, and I have been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear son (Col. 1:13).
30. I am one into whom the love of God has been poured (Rom. 5:5).
31. I am blessed with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3).
32. I am more than a conqueror through him that loved me (Rom. 8:37).
33. I am appearing as a luminary in the world having on the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16).
34. I am married to him who was raised from the dead (Rom. 7:4).
35. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 2:24).
36. I have received and have been sealed with the holy spirit of promise (Eph. 1:13).
37. I am holy and without blame before God (Eph. 1:4).
38. I am an adopted child of God by Jesus Christ (Eph.1:5).
39. I am triumphant in Christ (II Cor. 2:14).
40. I am God's own handiwork, created in Christ Jesus upon good works which He has predestined me to practice (Eph. 2:10).
41. I am going to be clothed upon with my body which is from heaven (II Cor. 5:1-4).
42. I am reconciled to God by the death of His son (Rom. 5:10).
43. I was foreknown by God (Rom. 8:29).
44. I am one who has eternal life (I John 5:13).
45. I was predestinated by God to be conformed to the image of His son (Rom. 8:29).
46. God is for me who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31).
47. Who will bring any charge against me whom God has chosen? Shall God who justified me? (Rom. 8:33).
48. My citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
49. I have fellow-citizenship with all the saints (Eph. 2:19).
50. I am a fellow-heir, a fellow-member of the body, and a fellow-partaker of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel with all who believe (Eph. 3:6).
51. I died, and my life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
52. I am going to appear with Christ in glory when he appears (Col. 3:4).
53. I am a partaker of the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1).
54. I have access through one spirit unto the Father (Eph. 2:18).
55. I am of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).
56. I am built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).
57. God supplies all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
58. God who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).
59. I have received the spirit of God that I might know the things that have been freely given to me of God (I Cor. 2:12).
60. I am a member of a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (I Pet. 2:9).
61. I am completely complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).
62. I am forgiven of all trespasses (Col. 2:13).
63. I am the object of God’s grace in the Beloved one, Christ (Eph. 1:6).
64. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20).
65. As he is so am I in this world (I John 4:17).
66. I am a new creation in Christ (II Cor. 5:17).