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Birth Is Just The Beginning

                                     Birth Is Just The Beginning 

     When we arrived here as part of our respective families, there was great joy as our parents welcomed us as a new addition to the household.   This was just the beginning of our lives. As we began to be nourished, first with milk and then with solid foods, we continued to grow and learn. This is the normal progression of all things.    All things start at the beginning and then move toward whatever is beyond.

     The same is true from a spiritual standpoint. Even before the church had been purchased by Christ on the cross, Jesus spoke of the kingdom, which is the church, and told how one is to enter it.  Before the church began, Jesus told Nicodemus how all must begin spiritually. This was part of what Jesus did as He called Israel to repentance in preparation for that kingdom. In John 3:3 during that night-time visit, Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Then in John 3:6 He explained that there is a distinct difference in our physical birth and our spiritual birth.   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

     In a physical birth, the planting of seed is required. This is how one is conceived and in the process of time the birth occurs, and in time, the child is brought forth. In spiritual birth the seed is the Word of God.  The Spirit had Peter explain in 1Peter 1:23 where that spiritual birth originates in the New Testament age.   Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.  In Jesus’ parable of the seed in Matthew 13:23 He explained that one must receive the Word before they can be born into kingdom and then be able to produce fruit. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

     Spiritual birth, just like our physical one has a beginning.   Afterward growth is expected to occur in both realms.      In 1Peter 2:2 the Spirit had Peter remind the church, those scattered saints of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, to be nourished with the Word of God, starting with the milk of the Word so they could grow. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:  That growth is expected to continue. This is the message the Spirit had the same apostle write in his second general epistle. This is found at the end of the letter in 2Peter 3:18 and still applicable to all Christians today.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

     There is a reason for physical growth just as there is a reason for spiritual growth that is expected of Christians. The purpose of growth in our spiritual lives is so we can be pleasing to God and also to prepare ourselves for that which lies beyond this life.   We are told in Colossians 1:10 that in order to be pleasing to God we must increase in knowledge. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 

     One cannot grow following physical birth without proper nourishment. The same can be said for our spiritual well-being. The nourishment provided by God for the soul’s consumption is His Word.   2Timothy 2:15 is where the Spirit had Paul remind Timothy (and us), how to receive that much needed spiritual food whereby we can increase in knowledge. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  This food is available to all.

     This was the case for all in attendance at Pentecost where Peter and the eleven preached the gospel for the first time in the New Testament age. All the people there heard the gospel, but only those who availed themselves of the soul saving message and were obedient were added to the kingdom. Acts 2:41 shows how they received the Word, and what they did as a result. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.They were born into the kingdom and in the latter part of Acts 2:47 we see to what they were added.   And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.  This is when they obeyed and were born.

     After their spiritual birth, (when they obeyed), they were expected to grow and learn. This is how we “work out” our salvation. This is what the brethren in Philippi were told as the Spirit had Paul write them. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  Philippians 2:12   Then as we learn and grow toward spiritual maturity, we are to do as directed in Jude vss 20-21as we move toward that which is beyond for Christians as God has promised, eternal life.     But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 

     Obey the gospel now. Be born spiritually, then begin to grow and learn and continue to live faithfully for God. Your eternity awaits.  

                                      Dennis Strickland -Mooresville church of Christ

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