Luke 16:16

“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.”

In the Farewell Discourse of our Lord, Jesus spends much time talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, first to teach the Apostles, and then, through their writings, to guide us into all truth (John 14:15–31; 15:26–27; 16:4–15). Scripture tells us that part of this guidance entails the Spirit’s work in our sanctification—setting us apart as God’s holy people and enabling us to do what He approves of (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). The work of the Spirit makes it possible for us to please God. We will now take a break from our study of John to consider the process of sanctification, and Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Pleasing God will be our guide.

Growth in holiness is integral to what it means to live the Christian life, and Scripture describes the Christian life in several complementary ways. Romans 6:14 makes it clear that grace dominates and fuels Christian living. Hebrews 12:1–2 describes the Christian life as a race. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul tells us that to be a Christian is to fight against the spiritual powers of the devil.

The Protestant Reformers came up with a concept to describe Christian living under which we can subsume the many ways Scripture describes the Christian life. They said that the purpose of the Christian life is to live coram Deo—“before the face of God.” This means that we live our lives ever conscious that we do so under God’s watchful gaze. And because God is our Father in Christ, we want to do what is pleasing to Him just as we want to please our earthly fathers when we are in their presence. Being declared righteous in Christ, we desire to do what pleases Him because we are grateful for what He has done to redeem us. We obey not to earn our place in heaven but out of love for Christ and gratitude that Christ earned a place in heaven for His people. Because we love Him, we seek to keep His commandments (John 14:15).

Christian growth requires a single-minded desire to live coram Deo—we endeavor to please God in all things because we are cognizant of God’s presence. Such a focused desire is illustrated in today’s passage, where Jesus says that as the gospel of the kingdom is preached, people force their way into it (Luke 16:16). He is not advocating the extension of the kingdom by violent means; rather, He emphasizes the intense commitment of people who want to follow Him. Such people, as a consequence of believing the gospel, are so intent on obeying the Savior that they will do whatever it takes to be faithful.

Coram Deo

We cannot be half-hearted disciples of Jesus. When it comes to following Him, we must be all in. Although we will sin and may at times fall into periods of spiritual apathy, true disciples of Christ will persevere through these times and press on in full commitment to the Savior. Let us ask the Lord today to strengthen your resolve to follow Him and commit ourselves once more to being His disciple.

For Further Study