Where does spiritual life come from? How do we get it? What role do we play in gaining and growing spiritually?
We all have a desire to truly live a full and rewarding life. When we have spiritual life we experience the abundant life that Jesus promised us.
Where spiritual life begins
Spiritual life has as its beginning a realization that we do not have it.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1–3)
We all share a common starting place — dead in trespasses and sins. We are spiritually dead. This is true because we live in rebellion against God — stubbornly refusing his will. Even when we try to be good we end up missing the mark. And sometimes we miss the mark of spiritual life because we are aiming at the wrong target.
We live by our passions. Our passions include:
- Desires — what we want at any given time. Our desires drive many of our daily decisions.
- Reason — what makes sense to us. We want to be reasonable so we generally do not do things that make no sense to us. We have to have a good reason for what we do.
- Culture — what makes us fit in. We have a desire to fit in, so we go with the flow much of the time.
These passions are evidence that we are dead in trespasses and sins.
What God does
We never have to stay in that dead place because God makes a way for us to truly live.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)
He is rich in mercy. God’s mercy makes spiritual life possible. He expresses his mercy in so many ways. Two of the most important expressions of mercy are:
- Forgiveness — he desires to forgive more than we desire forgiveness. He wants to erase our sin so we can truly live the abundant life.
- Compassion — he recognizes our utter inability to help ourselves. His compassion overcomes our weaknesses.
His love is overwhelming. He loved us before we loved him and he loves us more than we can ever love him. He expresses his love better than we ever can and his love is inextinguishable. We cannot be separated from his love because of who he is and his power.
He provided redemption. This is an act of pure grace. Before we desired it, in spite of continual rebellion and at a very great cost to himself, he made the way to save us from our sin and death that is the result of sin.
He provided a new position for all who believe. When we accept the gracious gift of salvation we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realm, at the right hand of the Father — the favored position.
Our Participation — because God always invites us to participate with him
We see that throughout history God invites our participation in his plan. From creation to the second coming, our story is intricately woven into his story. Entering into spiritual life is no exception.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8–10)
His grace is the initiative and our participation is the response to God’s grace.
Faith is the requirement — we must believe what God has done by his grace. What has he done?
- Jesus death and resurrection is the defining event — God’s love and grace manifested most profoundly — that brings spiritual life.
- He provided a way for personal transformation — we can be different people.
- This leads to eternal abundant life
We cannot earn our salvation by works. There is nothing we can do that will earn God’s favor. It is a pure gift. However, once we are saved we embark in a life of service that God has laid out for us — and to reject this is to reject his grace.
Our path to spiritual life — our response to this passage of scripture
Spiritual life starts with embracing the truth of the gospel. Accepting the gift of salvation and enjoying our new position of being seated with Christ become an expression of faith. Along with this we must surrender feelings of unworthiness. Although we are truly unworthy, Jesus makes us worthy. This is also a gracious gift. We are a treasure to God — and most precious.
Spiritual life continues with communication. It is absurd to think we can live a spiritual life without communicating with the source of this life. We must be committed to this continual communication. This communication will grow and mature with time.
Spiritual life thrives with service — we find our kingdom work list.
Finding your kingdom work list
How do you find the work God has prepared for you? These four approaches will help you discover it.
- Pray and ask God what it is. Ultimately, the list is short: make disciples. The question is how? What is my part in this process. For me, personally, it is preaching, teaching and writing.
- Discover your spiritual gifts. God gives you spiritual gifts to help you accomplish the work he has given you to do.
- Read the Bible. He still speaks to us through his word and he will apply passages to enlighten your path of service. This is part of the continual quest for God’s leadership in our lives.
- Follow all the impressions he gives you. These impressions will be consistent with his word, his mission and kingdom values.
Let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear from you.