John Frame was certainly correct when he wrote, “The Christian life is a rich journey, and it is not easy to describe.” Maybe that is why the New Testament has multiple pictures of what it means to live for Jesus Christ in this world. The Christian life is depicted as a walk (I John 2:6; 3 John 4); a race (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:7); a battle (Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Timothy 4:7); and as we have seen in Romans 12, a living sacrifice.
Transformed and motivated by God’s mercies, believers are to live their lives as an offering to God. This is what we are calling in this series of posts, “Life on the Altar.” This life is not one we would have found or desired on our own…ever. (Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 2:1-4). This life in Christ begins for believers with the miracle of the “new birth” or “regeneration.” This powerful, transforming work is an act of God’s sovereign grace in which, through the power of the gospel, one repents of their sins and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul described this wonder of wonders as God delivering us from the domain of darkness and transferring us to the kingdom of his beloved son (Colossians 1:13).
In our last post, we looked at a couple of examples from the Gospels at the power of Jesus to transform lives. Zaccheus was changed from the town cheat to one who was willing to give back fourfold to those he had defrauded (Luke 19:8). To such a response, Jesus declared, “Today salvation has come to this house (Luke 19:9).” The Gerasene demonic was transformed by the power of Christ from a frightening menace to a man at peace, who was found clothed and in his right mind (Mark 5:15). Adding to these the woman at the well in John 4, who had a storied past with a handful of husbands. However, in a mid-day conversation with Jesus, she received the living water he spoke of in salvation. Her witness for Christ spread as she invited others to come and see the one who “told me all that I ever did (John 4:39).” The life-changing encounters found in the Gospels are presented so that we would believe in Christ and follow him all of our days.
The gospel is not a self-help program. Jesus is not a personal life coach to help us on our way to self-improvement. He is the only one qualified to be the all-sufficient Savior for sinners, and His transforming power is our only hope of redemption from the slavery of our sin. Christ is the exclusive mediator who has built the bridge of reconciliation with God and who makes it possible to live a life pleasing to him.(more…)