Alive to God in Christ Jesus
The Glory of God's Grace is a wonderful book. Boice is a teacher in the mode of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer, one who in not interested in filtering the Bible through his own personal lens, but in seeing it and explaining it, as best he can, whole and clear.
In dealing with Romans 6:11, Boice lists 5 aspects of the alive-to-God life.
1. We have been reconciled to God. Before, we were subject to the wrath of God, living a downward spiral of sin and death. We were not alive to God, because we either did not acknowledge him or feared him. Now, he has become our friend.
2. We have become new creatures in Christ. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." [2Cor 5:17-18] Now the Word of God is intensely interesting to us, now the worship of God is our heart's desire, now prayer and witnessing and works of service, which once had seemed ludicrous and lifeless, are our "chief delight."
3. We are freed from sin's bondage. Before, we were slaves to sin. We were non posses non peccare("not able to not sin"). Now, we are posse no peccare ("able not to sin"). We can achieve real victories.
4. We are pressing forward to a sure destiny and new goals. Before, Boice writes, "we were trapped by the world and by its time-bound, evil horizons. Being saved, we know that we are now destined for an eternity of fellowship and bliss with God." But now we can echo Paul with fervor:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [Phil. 3:12-14, ESV]5. We can no longer be satisfied with the world's weak offerings. "To be sure, the world never did really satisfy us. The world, which is finite, can never adequately fill beings who are made with an infinite capacity for fellowship with and enjoyment of God. But we thought the world and its values were satisfying. We expected to be filled." But now we are different. We see things in a new light. "The tangible things no longer have any hold on us. We have died to them, and in their place we have been made alive to God, who is intangible, invisible, eternal, and of grater reality and substance than anything we can imagine." In this world, we are but pilgrims.
Like most Bible truths, these five aspects of the new life in Christ are both inspiring and convicting. We sense the truth of these things, and at times we have experienced the reality, but we are aware also that we so often fall woefully short. The things of this world still entangle us, don't they? Grace is as necessary to us now in our new lives as it was then, in our old. This is the dilemma of the Christian. Hear the words of James Montgomery Boice and consider them carefully:
Some people try to find the key in an intense emotional experience, thinking that if only they can make themselves feel close to God, they will become holy. Others try to find sanctification through a special formula or methodology. They think that if they do certain things or follow a certain prescribed ritual, they will become holy. But Godliness does not come in that way, and in fact, approaches like these are deceiving. A holy life comes from knowing,--I stress that word--knowing that you can't go back, that you have died to sin and been made alive to God. You are no more able to go back to your old life than an adult to his childhood. ... There is no way to go but forward.