From The Second Half of the Cross
When we are spiritually “born again” through repentance and faith in Christ, we take on the nature of God. An animal that is newly born takes on the nature and character of its parents. A baby whale stays close to its mother, copying the mother’s every move. The young elephant takes on the nature of an elephant, observing and learning from every member of the elephant herd.
A journey of faith is the relational vehicle that God created for us to begin to relate to and become more like Him. Picking up our cross daily is the effective means created by God to remove the stubborn, rebel-nature we inherited through our fall into sin. Being born-again is the first step in beginning a new life taking on and exhibiting our new natures “in Christ.” The Holy Spirit is the seal that we are born-again because he lives within us to help us grow daily toward becoming more like God.
My greatest desire in my own journey of faith is that God will prove Himself to be brilliant and insightful beyond my imagination. That God can set up a program and capably manage it toward an eternally beneficial outcome fulfills the deepest in-built need we have for purpose and meaning in this short life.
Once a new Spirit-born Christian realizes that Jesus Christ is alive today and that He is Savior and King, the next step is to get to know Jesus personally and to discover what God is really like. This requires a God-composed journey of faith life-script, and like salvation, this requires a work of God. This is what separates Christianity from all other religions and philosophies. By God’s design and intention, this is one element of our Christian experience that validates and authenticates the God of the Bible, because it cannot be duplicated or counterfeited through horizontally conventional, worldly thinking.
“As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (Jn. 1:12). God gives the Spirit-born Christian the power to become a son of God. Becoming a son of God occurs after Spirit-born salvation, and is energized by God. This is why a God-composed and orchestrated, biblical-quality journey of faith erases merit and self-generated works from the spiritual equation.
A journey of faith through the second half of the cross, as described in this book, should never be confused with the notion of salvation by works. Earning or maintaining our salvation through works has no place in biblical Christianity (Jn. 5:24). “It is of faith that it might be by grace” permeates the true Christian experience from beginning to end. The outcome of discovering God’s nature and true motivations drives the entire experience. God is love, and He wants to get us rightly connected to Him so He can share His love with us in a positive relationship for all eternity. This is the biblical record from beginning to end.
Salvation through a Messiah who dies on a Roman cross as the penalty paid in full for the shortfall and deficit of our sins, a scenario that we could never invent and that was missed ahead of time by absolutely everyone living in first-century Israel, validates and authenticates the God of the Bible as the one true living God for our eternal benefit. A new-covenant journey of faith following Jesus Christ in our own lives as Spirit-born and Spirit-led Christians, in life-scripts we could not possibly imagine or orchestrate on our own, is in complete harmony with the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.
“That not of yourselves” is the well-intentioned, love-filled theme that runs throughout the Bible from beginning to end both in our salvation and in our journeys of faith. It defines the second half of the cross in the highest moral and spiritual way. It is a vital and key ingredient in the preparation of end-times Christians for the challenging times ahead (Mt. 24:44).