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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What It Means to be a Christian # 5

Well, all this is the setting of the Christian life; this is the background of a Christian. Is it not immense? We struggle for words in order to try to set it forth, it is so great. All I can hope to do is to leave an impression on you. I cannot explain, I cannot define, I cannot set it out, I cannot convey it; but all this, which is so poor an expression, surely, surely, should leave at least an impression upon us. We should at least grasp this - that a Christian is set in an eternal background. It is a wonderful thing to be converted and to become a Christian; it is blessed to be saved; but oh! our conception and experience of the Christian life is such a little thing compared with God's thought. We need to get the eternal dimensions of the significance of Jesus Christ as the setting of a Christian life.

Christianity does not begin when we accept Christ. By accepting Christ we are placed right back there in the eternity of God's thought concerning man. We are brought into something that has been from all eternity in the intention of God, and, as we shall see later, linked on with a realization unspeakably wonderful in the ages to come. To become a child of God, to be born again, however you may define or explain it, is to come right into something that is first of all not of time at all - it is of eternity - it is not just this little life here on earth; it is of Heaven, it is universal in its significance. It is a wonderful thing, beyond all our powers of grasping, to be a Christian. If we could only get some conception of the cost of our salvation, the cost of redemption, the cost of recovering the lost inheritance; the cost to God, the cost to God's Son - the awful depths of that Cross; if only we could get some idea of this, we should see that it is no little thing to be a Christian. It is something immense.

What I have said has not been outside the Word of God; I have been keeping closely to the Book. I have not turned you from passage to passage, but there is a vast amount of Scripture behind what I have said. All that I have given you, and more, is in the Word of God. And the important thing is that what I have said can be put to the test - it can be made true in experience, now, in this life. That is just the wonder of it: a truly born-from-above child of God knows within himself or herself, "This is true; this is why I have a being; now I have the explanation, and much more."

Now if this is true, if all that is the meaning of being in Christ - and I put the "if" by way of argument - what an immense challenge it is to be a Christian, and what a terrible thing it will be not to be in Christ. What an immense thing it will prove to be, not only in this life, but more, infinitely more, in the ages to come, to be in Christ!

If there is one reading these lines who is not yet in Christ, it is a challenge to you. You are not dealing merely with your father's or mother's beliefs or faith. You are not dealing with something that you call "Christianity," or with your own conception of a Christian, which may be all wrong, faulty, or at most, inadequate. You are dealing with a vast thing, an immense thing. May God help you, from this contemplation of the setting of the Christian life, to reach out, if you have never yet done so, to embrace God's gift. If we know what it is to be in Christ, let us make sure that we are set upon knowing all that the Christian life means, that we are not going to be content with a little Christian life, with anything less than God's fullness for us; and if we have a lot of experience and knowledge, let this all lead us to a new determination that we shall not stop sort anywhere of God's full and ultimate intention in apprehending us in His Son.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

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