Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Recently I read a work of fiction. One line really captured my attention. A wife talked to her father (a preacher) about her husband. Fearful and concerned, she expressed her anxiety. Her father replied by saying, “Just because God saved him does not mean God is not still performing surgery on him.”

There is a tendency among too many to look at baptism as the completion of our covenant with God rather than the beginning of our covenant with God. We forget Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesians (Ephesians 1:1). So for Christians, Paul prayed that they would be “filled up to all the fullness of God.” Or, in Peter’s words, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:1-3).

At creation, people were sinless. They lived in purity and innocence with voice-to-voice contact with God (Genesis 3:8). As long as they were sinless, they were not terrified of direct contact with God. Only when the power of choice was used to rebel against God’s wishes and instructions were they terrified of God.

There again will come a situation in which people will live in God’s presence without terror--in Heaven. In a real way, existence in Heaven will only restore a relationship between God and people that existed when God created people.

However, the current reality: we all exist in a world of good and evil, living lives that are a strange mixture of good and evil. Only by God’s grace and mercy expressed in His forgiveness can we escape the consequences of our evil. Thus, from the time God was the “All in All” until the situation when He again is the “All in All,” God has much to do (with our cooperation).

In a real way, the immersion of a penitent believer is signing the consent form that knowingly, willingly permits God to do surgery as He cuts away the evil rebellion from our lives. God wants us to be all we can be spiritually. What we “look like” at baptism and what we “look like” after years of development in Christ scarcely resemble each other. God’s surgery makes us better. Only to a sinful world are we hideous.

As we exist in a world of good and evil, nothing Satan does destroys us. Causes us suffering? Yes! Destroys us? No! “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 30 August 2007

 Link to next article

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell