Forgiveness Is Just The Beginning:
Saved to Grow
“... grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”
(2 Peter 3.18)
There is a vast difference between being saved from the punishment of death and hell and being a mature disciple of Jesus Christ. What is paramount for the Christian is to be led from being born again to being a Bride who has made herself ready (Rev. 19.7). We are called to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3.18) and this call has eternal consequences.
Just like a natural tree, we can only grow the fruit of the Spirit to the degree that we have matured in Christ.
These Fruit (listed In Galatians 5.22-23) are of a tremendous high order. Each Christian is called not simply to be a person saved from the consequences of his/her sin, but to flourish in the spiritual life and moral development that God has, and does, intend for each person. For this reason, the apostle Paul explains that the purpose for the church and its various ministers is to aid in spiritual growth. He states that we are to grow into the full stature (character and nature) of the Lord Jesus Christ:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Eph. 4.11-13).
Each Christian has been called to grow into the full stature (the complete nature) of Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate goal of God for man, and the means by which the Bride will have made herself ready (Rev. 19.7). God wishes for us to have the fullness of Christ and nothing less. It is therefore our goal at Christ Gospel Church of Mansfield to lead all who are willing into a saving knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ, and into the full vivacious intimacy that is so brazenly promised throughout the scriptures.
Whether you are meeting Jesus for the first time, or walking into a deeper union with Him, we wish to walk with you as your will becomes married to the Savior’s.
Reward of Growth: A Bride to Jesus
“...Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
“Reward” is a biblical buzzword that can make many Christians uneasy. The Scriptures consistently state that we are going to be rewarded for what we do for Jesus, yet we are often concerned that to desire a reward from God makes us less sincere for God: greedy for spiritual rewards rather than Jesus Himself.
In one of C.S. Lewis’ most famous sermons titled The Weight Of Glory, he explains that there is nothing wrong with desiring the reward that comes from loving Jesus, because the reward is a natural part of being in love with Him. He explains that there is nothing wrong with a man who wishes to marry the woman he loves, because it is “the proper reward for a real lover.” The same is true with Jesus.
The scriptures are full of the promises of the ‘proper reward’ for the Christian who loves God, and at the height of various parables, types and imagery is the metaphor of the Bride. The Bride is the ideal example of a mature relationship with Jesus Christ. When God’s people grow into the height of intimacy with God the Bible distinguishes them as a Bride.
For example, we find the believer’s spiritual growth pictured through the experiences of the nation of Israel. Once freed (by the blood of the lamb) Israel journeys to Canaan’s Land, which God refers to as the land of marriage (Isa. 62.4). While on their journey, God does not call Israel His bride, but rather His son. Only after they have entered Canaan does God call them His Bride. In other words, though saved by the blood of the lamb, the people of God still had to increase in intimacy and obedience to His Law to be His Bride. This does not mean that they did not love God -or He them- until that point; it is merely a way to demonstrate that they had reached a new maturity in their relationship with God.
In like manner, we christians are on a spiritual journey to become a mature lover of Jesus. We too must grow in intimacy and obedience (Jn. 14.15) until we reach the spiritual unity of the Bride. The ‘proper reward’ for spiritual growth is more of God Himself; God told Abram, He is the “exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15.1). What then could be a greater reward than the opportunity to have our will married to His, in a loving intimate relationship?
The Garments of Growth: Robes to Linen
“And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints”
Reward for spiritual growth is not a caste system for those more ‘spiritual’ than others; it is the natural effect of varying degrees of love and surrender for the Savior. The scriptures clearly explain how these varying degrees of love/maturity are revealed in the age to come.
In a letter to the church of Corinth, Paul the apostle explains that each person will be resurrected with a glorified body, but each person will not have the same kind of glorified body. There are different degrees of glory to these bodies: some will have a level of glory that shines like a little star, while others will shine as the sun,
“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15.41-42a).
The resurrected saints of God shine in a manner akin to different levels of natural light. The same analogy of saints covered in light is found in the book of Revelation. Here John writes of three varying degrees of spiritual garments: some wear white robes (Rev. 6.11, 7.9), some white raiment (Rev. 4.4), but the Bride wears fine white linen (Rev. 19.14). A quick look into a concordance reveals that the word for white in Greek refers to light. Thus, each redeemed person in the end times is covered in a different light, just as Paul had explained.
The difference between the three garments is found in the amount of light. From robes to linen there is an increasing amount of clothing, which signifies an increase in the amount of light (just as Paul refers to the stars, moon, and sun). A robe is a single garment, raiment refers to an inner and outer garment, thus representing more light. In all of this the Bride wears the most intensely pure garment of light (in Paul’s terms Sunlight) for it is made of the finests linen, the righteousness of the Saints. She, therefore, dwells forever in the New City where, interestingly, there is no need for the Sun due to the uninhibited glory of God (Rev. 21.23).
What then do varying degrees of resurrected light mean for the Christian? It means that we each have the opportunity to grow in profound intimacy with God, but we also find that our choices here on earth have eternal consequences: if we choose not to seek a mature intimacy with Jesus it will forever be the case in the ages to come. Our relationship will shine in accord with how much we have chosen Him to be our exceeding great reward.
In short, forgiveness of our sins (through the blood of the lamb) is just the beginning!
Christ Gospel Church is dedicated to leading each person into the full shining glory of spiritual maturity that has been promised to each person who has dedicated his/her life to Jesus Christ; “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4.11-13).