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Rooted in Christ

Reborn This Way

God’s handiwork of grace in our lives is transformative.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5.3, NKJV). 

What makes you say that? We will often ask someone that question to find out what led them to the conclusion they have drawn. “Are you from Philadelphia?” “What makes you think that?” “For one thing, you actually used the word ‘jawn,’ you’re eating a cheesesteak, and you’re wearing a Phillies jersey.” Your response might be, “that’s three things.” 

When we say that we believe Jesus is the Christ, John’s answer to what makes us say that is not our rationale but our rationality. Are we regarding Jesus with the liveliness of faith characteristic of the Spirit’s work of regeneration? Are we speaking by the power and new life of the Holy Spirit who has borne witness with our spirit that Jesus is the Christ. 

John makes this sweeping statement: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1). John is not merely pointing us to a statement of faith or some decision we have made. He is highlighting the supernatural work of God that enables us to acknowledge who Jesus is and to provoke love for Him. 

John transitions from the generality of “whoever” to the individuality of “we.” “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2–3). 

God’s handiwork of grace in our lives is transformative, particularly in respect to God. John has already emphasized a love for the brethren because they, too, are loved by God. Together, we have fellowship with God who is love and so love as we have been loved. It’s a message no Hallmark card could every capture. 

Love for God who first loved us involves a sincere desire to obey His commandments. As religious people, we may have tried to tow the line in keeping God’s law, but as regenerate people the law of God is written on our hearts. We love God’s commandments because we love the God whose commandments they are and we want to please Him as children to their father. As the psalmist put it, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:8). 

It was Augustine of Hippo who was reputed to say, “Love God and do what you will.” If we love God we will find freedom and fulfillment in doing what He wills. 

What evidences of the new birth do you see in your life?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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