The works of Christ are displayed not only in history, but also in the experience of every Christian. The first or nearly the first miracle that every Christian can remember in his own life is conversion. At the moment he believed in Christ, the benevolent hand of the Holy Spirit touched him and wholly transformed his life and character. Whether his former life was, in human estimation, sinful or exemplary, he became
a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
The metamorphosis at conversion does not produce a perfect butterfly. Yet the convert does not remain the same old caterpillar either. The beauty that now shines forth from his face and heart defies natural explanation.
A convert displays this metamorphosis in many ways.
1. He forsakes old sins.
He uproots and casts away the worst of his bad habits and misplaced affections. He abandons fierce self-centeredness and adopts more kindness toward others. He finds that unashamed involvement in dissipation, immorality, or dishonesty is no longer possible.
2. His life acquires new meaning and purpose.
From victory over besetting sins of the past, the new believer goes on to a restructuring of his whole life. He develops a new love for members of his own family, and he settles down to peace and good order in his domestic affairs. Perhaps for the first time, he is able to discern a vocation, set practical goals, and work steadily toward their fulfillment. Old friends and associations rapidly fade away, and Christians come into his life to fill the vacuum. He becomes active in a church, which he discovers to be a storehouse of divine benefits. Despite all the failings of the church today, it is still the true church, and as such it extends to people a love not found anywhere else. Among Christians, a convert finds people who notice him and care for him.
He now takes opportunities to serve others. That is, he no longer lives selfishly.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
3. He gains a new perspective on life.
Before, his eyes were set on this world as the only realm where he could hope to find fulfillment and satisfaction. Now, he sets his eyes upon heaven. He no longer has only a few years to achieve the ambitions of his heart and to gain all the pleasure he will ever enjoy. He realizes that the whole of eternity stretches out before him. He comes to this new perspective by heeding the counsel of Scripture.
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
4. New virtues of indescribable sweetness possess his inner self.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Though subject to many vicissitudes, the love, joy, and peace within the heart of a believer are clearly different from every form of self-contrived happiness. They are unattainable by mere discipline or resolve. Any secular therapy with results rivaling conversion would be worth many fortunes to its practitioners.
5. He enjoys fellowship with God and sees answers to prayer.
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. . . .
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ephesians 2:13, 18
The believer's certainty that he knows God is founded not on vague impressions, but on the concrete results of prayer, for the Christian life involves daily communication between the believer and God. Through the counsel of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the believer discovers the sins he needs to repudiate and the directions of growth he needs to pursue. He then petitions God for the power to follow the Spirit's bidding, and with this power he achieves the goals set before him. Every inward or outward change in his daily walk comes, therefore, as a specific answer to prayer.
In his ever-expanding prayer log, a believer finds clear and consoling evidence of God's presence in his life. God invites him to pray for his own spiritual needs, for his own temporal needs, and for the spiritual and temporal needs of others. Moreover, God promises that He will answer every prayer affirmatively, unless it proceeds from an unbelieving or backslidden heart, or unless it contradicts His will. After conversion, a new Christian quickly learns that answers to prayer cannot be mere coincidence. In time, he sees so many that he no longer finds them extraordinary. Praying and receiving become as natural as breathing. He learns that the doubter of God's existence is like the dweller in a dark cave who denies the existence of light he has never seen.
6. As he matures and meets difficulties that would ordinarily be insurmountable, he receives divine aid to overcome them.
Perhaps he is called into Christian service. There, despite personal weaknesses and deficiencies, he achieves success. Perhaps he is stricken with great suffering. Then, through the power of God he endures it without bitterness, and in his spirit he gains the sublime quietness that the Lord treasures as refined gold.
Whether a man enjoys these six benefits of belonging to Christ is a good test of his spiritual condition. If he lacks them, he should examine himself to see whether he has been truly born again.
God does not promise His children health and wealth. Rather, the Christian life may lead them through many troubles.
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Yet all the believer's troubles are like divine spinach. They come not for vengeance or retribution. Although unpleasant, they do him good.
© 2007, 2012 Stanley Edgar Rickard (Ed Rickard, the author). All rights reserved.