Recently I had this thought:
Salvation may occur in a moment, but it takes a lifetime to become a Christian.
When we come to faith in Christ, do we instantly become godly, righteous, and sinless? Of course not. Some people try to convince us that our “in Christ” life means we are given Christ’s righteousness and are therefore actually righteous. However, it only takes about 10 seconds of looking into our heart and another 10 seconds of looking at our behavior to see that we are far from being righteous.
The popular verse John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life – is often used as a proof text for how to “get saved.” But, there’s so much more going on here than your salvation.
In the context, Jesus is talking with Nicodemus explaining to him who he really is. He is the one from heaven, the Son of Man, who knows heaven and is of heaven. When He is presented before others (“lifted up”) those who commit their whole being to Him (“believe IN Him”) begin to experience eternal life – the quality of life reflective of God and heaven.
The whole passage is really about the WHO of salvation more than the how of salvation. It’s in knowing Jesus Christ that you experience eternal life.
The passage is about knowing Jesus.
Connect this with Jesus’ teaching in John 17.3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent – and you get a fuller picture of eternal life and how it is experienced.
You experience eternal life as you commit your whole being to Jesus Christ and continue to experience (“know”) Him. It’s not a one time event. It’s an ongoing marathon. Experiencing Jesus Christ – knowing Him – never ends. It even will continue in eternity when you pass from your earthly existence.
So, what’s this got to do with your struggles?
1. You are not “good to go” because you “made a decision” many years ago. That one time event may have been the beginning of a relationship with God in Christ but it’s only a beginning.
2. You’ve got work to do. You have the responsibility to know Jesus Christ – to experience Him more fully everyday of your life. Jesus will not force Himself on you. Your commitment to Jesus must be wonderfully lived out every day.
3. If you focus on your struggles and not Jesus Christ, you will not experience the good and grace of eternal life. By committing your whole life, every moment of it, to Jesus Christ, you will experience your struggles in the grace and mercy of God. That will make all the difference.
4. If you’re going to struggle with something, struggle with knowing God.
Eternal life is not a one-time gift. Eternal life is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day experience of God in Jesus Christ. This is a lifetime of relationship with the Trinity.
You may get saved in a moment, but it takes a lifetime to become a Christian.