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“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

IF WE ARE OUTSIDE OF JESUS CHRIST, IN A LOST CONDITION BECAUSE WE’VE NEVER OBEYED THE GOSPEL, GOD WOULD SAY TWO THINGS TO US. He would say, first, that we need to accept His forgiveness by obeying the gospel. But He would also say that, having been forgiven, we need to start growing in godliness each day.

The first is the most immediate need, obviously. If a person is lost in sin, the most pressing question he or she must ask is, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). If that is our situation, the passages in the New Testament we need to be focusing on are those that tell us what is required in order to pass from death to life, spiritually speaking. What are the initial things a person must do? What is required by God in order to come into a saved, forgiven, and reconciled relationship with Him? If we’re honest in our search, we will let passages like Acts 2:37,38 and Romans 10:9,10 speak to our need. Without letting our own opinions intervene, we will let the Scriptures tell us what God’s conditions for salvation are.

But growing in godliness is no less important than our initial obedience to the gospel. Peter was speaking to Christians when he said, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). The point of becoming a Christian is not just to receive the forgiveness of our past sins; it is to enter the process of having the damage of sin repaired. It is to start becoming less like the old person who died when we were baptized (Romans 6:1–4) and more like the new person Christ will enable us to be (Ephesians 4:22–24).

It is regrettable that so many seem to view salvation as nothing more than being saved from their past sins. In reality, however, it is also being saved from the person we used to be. Outgrowing that old person is a process — one that takes time to be completed.

So, spiritual growth must be established as our priority, and the earlier we establish it, the better off we’ll be. Neglecting this is not just undesirable; it is dangerous. As Christians, there is no safe plateau where we may complacently sing “Just As I Am.” Either we grow toward God’s likeness, or we go back to being dead.

“All growth that is not toward God is growing to decay” (George MacDonald).

Gary Henry — +

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