I have written about it before but in light of Chapter 9, I feel compelled to write about it again.
I am going to ask you point blank.
What are you doing to grow in your faith?
Growing in your faith is sanctification. It is what we are designed to do.
When we are brought right with God we experience justification [justifying grace]. All our sins are forgiven and we know that we are in the arms of our loving Lord and Savior. Some report a born again experience. Others do not. Some say that they have felt justified for many years. They have not had a dramatic change of life.
What happens after justification?
RC Sproul says it is like coming into focus. In his book Pleasing God he talks about what a Christian can do to “please God.” To please God, we must grow in our Christian life. Before we get right with God [justified] we are out of focus; have scales on our eyes or cataracts. Ephesians 2: 2-3 says we are born into a spiritual darkness. God’s tender grace brings us into focus. Jesus heals the blind man in Mark 8: 22-25 but that man begins to see in stages. He reports that he sees men walking around and they look like trees walking. Later Jesus applies other healing techniques and his sight comes into focus.
Our sanctification or spiritual growth does not come instantly. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” is in Matthew but this is the end state of man. This is after the growth is over and death has arrived. Life is a series of growth spurts. We are designed to learn.
Sproul cites a book that we have all heard about but probably none of us have read: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. In this book Christian, an everyman character, is the main character and he is on a journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the “Celestial City” (“that which is to come”: Heaven) atop Mount Zion. Christian is weighed down by a great burden—the knowledge of his sin—which he believed came from his reading “the book in his hand” (the Bible). This burden, which would cause him to sink into Hell, is so unbearable that Christian must seek deliverance.
The reason Sproul cites this work which used to be in everyone’s home along with the Bible is that the book does describe a man who is making progress. It is hard. There are many obstacles in his way but he perseveres toward the Celestial City.
The yearning of our Holy Spirit makes us want to move toward improving our lives and we fight it, the world fights it and we can even ignore it and regress in our Christian life.
We are ignoring our Lord and Savior when we fight growth, give into worldly pressure to stagnate or regress. I am convinced that the way to please God is to make the effort to grow in your Christian living. In chapter 9, Pastor Chan challenges us to live better lives and gives us 14 examples of people who are giving their all for our Lord and Savior.
Sproul writes “the Lord is intensely interested in our welfare and our maturing. He wants us to learn more and more about God and how to please Him. He wants us to change, like the healed blind man, so that our vision clears, so that we grow in how we perceive the world and how to act in it. Growth and change in such perception means learning more and more about what pleases God. This growth in pleasing God is called sanctification.”
We might not feed the homeless, we might not go on a foreign mission, we might not nurse the poor but we can grow. We can learn about God and see where that takes us.
Ancora Imparo is a phrase that has much meaning for me. To me it summarizes what Sproul and Pastor Chan are saying.
Ancora Imparo is Latin for “still learning.”