The Christian’s Chief Goal
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.”- Luke 16:16
Over the past week, we have been looking at sanctification, our growth in holiness, which is a fruit of our justification in Christ (Rom. 6:1–14). In sanctification, we learn how to become more pleasing to our Creator in how we think and live. In order to get a better idea of what the whole of Scripture says about how we grow in holiness, we will take a break from our study of Romans and spend the next few days looking at other aspects of sanctification. Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Pleasing God will guide us.
Given that the Bible says many things about the Christian life—it is a race (Heb. 12:1–2); a wrestling against enemy powers (Eph. 6:12); an existence dominated by grace (Rom. 6:14)—it can be helpful for us to be able to subsume everything Scripture says about serving Christ under one big idea that can help us to focus our attention and keep us from being distracted in Christian growth. The Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century believed the big idea of the Christian life is to live coram Deo. This Latin phrase conveys one simple notion: being a Christian means living our entire lives in the presence of God. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we stand holy and blameless in His presence, and we gratefully live in a manner which will be pleasing to Him. We should live our lives in faith and repentance, trusting Him in every moment. In reality, this is just another way to say that we should be obedient to Christ. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
Of course, when we are converted, we do have a strong desire to follow our Savior and grow in our knowledge of His ways that we might please Him in all things. Yet as in other areas of our lives, we may find ourselves starting out strong down the path of obedience only to run into a spiritual brick wall, so to speak. We find ourselves encountering obstacles that we cannot get past, sins that we cannot seem to overcome. At such times, we often get discouraged and are tempted to give up. Before we give in to this temptation, however, we should consider today’s passage and Jesus’ enigmatic statement that as the gospel of the kingdom is preached, people force their way into it (Luke 16:16). Given what Jesus says about violence and the good news (Matt. 26:51–52), He cannot be advocating a violent extension of His kingdom around the world. Instead, He emphasizes our need to press on when the going gets tough, to have a single-minded determination to know Him that motivates us to do whatever it takes to overcome spiritual apathy and keep on growing in grace.
Our Lord does not want people who enlist in His army only to quit after the first battle. Instead, He is seeking soldiers who press on in even the most difficult circumstances, men and women who spend their whole lives seeking to please Him. We cannot work up such zeal and strength in ourselves, but we must ask God to grant it to us, knowing that only those who persevere to the end are saved and that only those who are truly saved persevere to the end.
Passages for Further Study
Luke 15:1–10; 19:1–10