(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to just about anything! So it is with the Christian life. And these three stages, the beginning, middle, and end are shown in the featured Scripture of Romans 8:28 through 31:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be con- formed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first- born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
I said ‘just about anything’ had a beginning, a middle, and an end because something (or someOne) is excluded from this! For when it comes to God…
- …He has no beginning!
✡ Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God....” In this simple but profound opening phrase of the Bible, when creation began, God was already there! ✞ Colossians 1:16 and 17 – Speaking of Jesus Christ, God the Son: “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Jesus was already there before anything else existed!
- …He has no end!
✡ Psalm 102:27 – Speaking of the LORD: “...You are the same, and Your years will have no end.” ✞ Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13 – Three times in Rev- elation, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet).
- …He has no middle! (God does not change between the beginning and the end).
✡ Malachi 3:6 – The Father states to the Jews, “...I am the LORD, I do not change....” ✞ Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
But, when it comes to the Christian life we humans are called to live, we have a beginning, a middle and an end!
- As we are born into this physical life, so we must be born into the Spiritual life!
✞ John 1:13 – “[We]...were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The Wycliffe Bible Commentary gives this explanation of verse 13: Believers...are born of...God. This is not a natural process such as brings people into the world — not of blood (litterally bloods), sug- gesting the mingling of paternal and maternal strains in procreation. The will of the flesh suggests the natural human desire for children, as the will of man (the word for husband) sug- gests the special desire for progeny to carry on a family name. So the new birth, somethiing supernatural, is carefully guarded from confu- sion with natural birth. ✞ John 3:3, 5, 6 – “Jesus...said to [Nicodemus]..., ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....he can- not enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’”
How does one get born again?
✞ John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], to them He [the Father] gave to right to become children of God, to those who believe in His [Christ’s] name.” ✞ Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved....” ✞ Romans 10:9, 13 – “...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved....For who- ever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
This is the beginning of the Christian life! But some people go no further than this beginning! It is like they step into the kingdom of God, having come through the gate, and there they stand, beholding the initial wonders of eternal life, but going no further to explore their inheritance!
- The gate (or the door) is Jesus Himself!
✞ Matthew 7:13, 14 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (see Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 – King James Version). ✞ John 10:9 – Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved....”
- Abraham was told by God in Genesis 13:17 to explore the Promised Land of Canaan that the LORD would give to his descendants: “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
- We are told to explore the kingdom (the new life of the Spirit), and to grow and mature in Jesus Christ! (see Ephesians 4:15; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18).
When I was the pastor of my first church almost 50 years ago, I got to know the town mayor. One day he told me of his daughter Melanie. She was in her 20’s but had never matured. I asked if I could see her and, after some hesitation, he said yes. Melanie was no bigger than a child of four or five. She lay in a crib, not being able to speak or interact with anyone. Although she was loved and well cared for, she was totallty dependant on her caregivers. I asked her father if I could offer a prayer for his daughter and her family. With his permission I prayed for Melanie and for those who loved her.
This visit left a life-long impression on me! When someone is born into this world, the family and friends are excited for that one to grow, mature, and fully explore what life has to offer them. It is a tragedy if that one never matures out of the infant stage of life.
Far too many Christians are like Melanie! They are born into God’s kingdom but they remain spiritual infants!
- Paul wrote concerning such immature believers in…
✞ I Corinthians 3:1 and 2 – “...I...could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able....” ✞ Hebrews 5:12, 13 – “...though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of...God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”
- No wonder the apostle writes in Ephesians 4:15, “…speaking the truth in love, may [we] grow up into all things into Him who is the head — Christ….”
So how is the beginning of the Christian life shown in Romans 8:28 through 31?
- Romans 8:28 – Paul wrote of “…those who are the called according to His purpose.” Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him….” Through the Holy Spirit, the Father draws sinners to His Son so they can make a decision to accept Him as their Savior!
- Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….” God is omniscient, which means He knows everything, past present and future! So God knows from eternity past who will accept the sacrifice of the Son of God to save them from hell and into eternal life. Such acceptance is the beginning of the Christian life! And so knowing, He predestined those who would be saved to become more and more like Jesus! But this is getting into the middle and the end of the Christian life, which is the subject of two future Gems.
- Romans 8:29 – “…that He [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brethren.” That term, the firstborn refers not to His physical birth, but to His resurrection! For it was by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that the Father put His stamp of approval upon His Son’s sacrifice on the cross, taking our sins upon Himself and paying for them fully! (see II Corinthians 5:21). But “…the firstborn…” also hints at the spiritual rebirth we must all experience to be saved from sin, death, and hell! See above where Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 through 5, “…you must be born again….”
But this is just the beginning!
There is still a middle and an end!
And it is the middle where the hard work begins!