¶600 THE GOAL OF THE CHRISTIAN JOURNEY
The Scriptures affirm that God’s purpose for humanity, from before creation, was that we should “be holy and blameless before him in love” (Ephesians 1:3-4; I Timothy 2:4). God’s purpose was far from empty. For, from before creation, his purpose had reality in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4; II Timothy 1:8b-10). The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are God’s clear statement of the origin, purpose and goal that he has for humanity. For “with all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:8-10).
The Christian journey is a part of this plan, which was set forth in Christ. The Christian journey is only possible because of God’s eternal purpose, the redemption he made for us in Christ, and the living presence of his Spirit in our lives (I Corinthians 11:1; II Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:12-13).
Because of God’s plan, the goal of the Christian journey is nothing less lofty than to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” and to attain “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1, 13). The goal of the Christian journey in this life is that we should grow into Christ-like maturity. When we enter the life to come, our journey will be complete because we will be like God in an even fuller way than is possible now: “What we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” (I John 3:2)
Therefore, we as Free Methodists affirm with God’s Word that the proper goal for our Christian life is this Christ-like maturity, which the Bible describes as holiness and righteousness (I Peter 1:15,16; Romans 6:19). We acknowledge that this is only possible because of the grace that he so richly provides
This unit of The Manual is intended to describe some significant features of the Free Methodist understanding of the Christian journey. It is intended to promote in our churches an understanding of the way of salvation, Christian character, and Christian responses to modern issues. It is also a place to find some resources for Christian discipleship. This unit has the following sections:
- The first section (¶610) describes the way of salvation, including the process by which God, through the activity of his Spirit, makes it possible for sinful humans to enter the Christian journey and to grow into Christ-like maturity.
- The second section (¶620) is a description of genuine Christian character and the spiritual disciplines that nourish and support Christian life.
- The third section (¶630) addresses the Christian response to certain pressing issues that are a part of Christian life in the modern world, as it relates to God, oneself and to others.