Hey folks! Michael here...its been a while since I've been on here, but now that I am on break from the semester I thought I'd post a few blogs on my thoughts from the semester. For this post I will first recommend a great book that I read this semester called Children of the Living God by Sinclair Ferguson, and give some of my thoughts about a couple of themes from the book and tell you what I have learned from them...so stick with me and hopefully I will do Ferguson's book justice and maybe you will find an interest in reading it for yourself.
Born Into a New Family
In chapter 2 Ferguson discusses the reality of man's need to be born again so that he can be become a child of God. He says that to be “born again” means to share in the resurrection life with Christ and to enter into fellowship with Him as family. Ferguson says that our tendency is to think of being born again as some “inexplicable, private, mystical experience while forgetting the magnitude of what it means to enter into “fellowship and brotherhood” with Christ. He goes on to say that when we grasp the weight of what it means to be born again (to enter into brotherhood with Christ) there will be no such thing as a boring conversion experience, but rather, we would have a deep gratitude for what God has done for us.
I think that Ferguson has accurately depicted the way many Christians view being “born again.” As he stated, we often focus more on having the experience than we do on what it meant for God to give us a new birth. We tend to think of our new birth as a “get out of jail free” card while forgetting that our “getting out of jail” was far from free. It cost Christ giving up his own rights as the true Son of God so that we might become sons and daughters of God. Christ Himself said, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
I am so moved by Ferguson's thoughts in this chapter. It is a wonderful reminder to us to think of what it really means to be born again, and what it cost for us to be given this new birth. Being born again is not just a check on a list of experiences for the Christian. It is entrance into a new life and membership into a family. It is incredible to think that we were once enemies, rebelling against God, but now as a believer we are brothers and sisters with Jesus Christ, and therefore also co-heirs with Christ as well! When I am reminded of this reality, I am overcome by the power of my new identity in Christ.
Our Freedom as a Family Member
In chapter 7 Ferguson expounds on the freedom that the believer has as a child of God as well as how that freedom is to be exercised in the context of community. He begins by saying that we are freed from the traditions of men and bound only to the Word of God. He says that we “must permit that liberty to be enjoyed by other members of the family.” In the following section, he reminds us of the proper use of this freedom. We are not to use the freedom as a license, nor are we to exercise it in a spirit of indifference toward brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is an excellent reminder to us for the two reasons I mentioned above. One is that we are bound only by the Word of God, and two, that we should always we mindful of others as we exercise this freedom. “True Christian freedom does not consist of the increase of 'my rights.' It consists of service!” (p. 98) I think a great example of this is when Paul discusses eating meat which as been sacrificed to idols. He says we have the freedom to eat it, however, we should never cause another brother or sister to stumble in doing so.
I think this applies to our lives in how we view the purpose of our freedom as a child of God. God has freed us because he loves us, but our freedom is not primarily about us. We are freed by God from the things that kept us from loving God and loving others. From the things that kept us from glorifying God out of a response to his love for us. We are freed from the bondage of the law in order that we might respond in love and obedience to God. When I exercise my freedom as a child of God, I must always ask the question, “Am I loving my heavenly Father who freed me, or am I only loving the freedom?”