A Moment of Change
I was once told about an incident which occurred in a newly-settled portion of the United States in the 1800s. According to the story, the son of a young farming couple had grown very ill, and a doctor was called. Upon examining the child, the doctor declared, “I know exactly what is wrong with your son. Last year, this same disease spread among the children of a nearby town. Every one of those children died.”
Imagine how these words must have pierced the hearts of those parents! But the doctor was not finished speaking. “Last year,” the doctor continued, “we could do nothing for those children. But now we have a cure.”
Whether or not this incident actually occurred, the story serves to illustrate the power inherent in the two short words, “but now.” These words indicate a change in circumstances, a new set of conditions which did not exist in the past. That change might be joyful or disappointing, but in either case it is absolute.
The words “but now” occur frequently in God’s Word. Perhaps because they are such common, seemingly insignificant words we tend to disregard them in our reading of the Scriptures. Yet they hold great significance for us. Let’s consider a few examples.
The opening chapters of the Epistle to the Romans deal primarily with man’s condition. Even a cursory reading of Romans 1:18 — 3:19 shows us that, due to Adam’s fall, we are irrevocably tainted by sin, and powerless to do anything about it. Indeed, the section concludes with these ominous words:
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Even the Law, given by God, was not able to restore man to his former position of righteousness. What a sad declaration! In it we see that even God’s own people, Israel, continued to be separated from Him, and had no means whereby they could bridge that gap.
But the record in Romans 3 continues…
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [emphasis added]
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
Glory, hallelujah! In the past, no man or woman could hope to stand righteous in God’s sight, but in a moment of time, that situation changed. That moment was the moment when our Lord declared, “It is finished,” indicating that via his sacrifice on our behalf he had fully done away with all that separated us from God. In that one moment, the possibilities of life were changed forever.
Now, all that remains is for us to believe on him, to accept him as the one who saved us, and is now our Lord. In the very moment that we believe, we are changed as well.
I Peter 2:9–10 (New International Version, 1984 Edition)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. [emphasis added]
Consider some other things that changed in that moment:
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. [emphasis added]
Romans 7:5–6 (New International Version, 1984 Edition)
For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. [emphasis added]
I Corinthians 15:19–20
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [emphasis added]
Freed from sin, freed from the law, and freed from the fear of death! In the moment you believed on Jesus Christ, all of this became yours. What a change from the past!
There is another significant moment referred to in the New Testament ─ the moment when God revealed to the Apostle Paul the fullness of what Christ had accomplished. This truth, referred to as “the secret” (“the mystery” in some Bible versions), was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets. One reason it was kept hidden was so that Satan would remain unaware of the full purpose of Jesus Christ.
(I Corinthians 2:7–8) But that secret is no longer a secret!
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. [emphasis added]
In the revelation of this secret, we discover that God intended for the work of Christ to be made available not only to Israel, who had been God’s chosen people, but also to the Gentiles, who had previously been entirely excluded from the things of God. Speaking of the Gentiles, we read the following in the Epistle to the Ephesians:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [emphasis added]
And, as the record continues, we discover that both Jews and Gentiles who believe on Christ are brought into an entirely new condition, one that had previously been both unavailable and inconceivable.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [emphasis added]
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
For those who take time to consider the Scriptures, it becomes clear that the moment we believed was a moment in which, for us, everything of significance was changed. Should not our lives reflect this change?
Ephesians 5:8 (New International Version, 1984 Edition)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
As Christians, we should desire nothing more than to exhibit all that is now ours in Christ, all that was paid for by his precious blood. But even when we fail to do so, the fact remains that in a moment of time the work was done for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in the moment we accepted his gracious work we were transferred from death to life, from darkness to light, from the claws of Satan to the loving hands of God. And thus, peace with God and access to His grace are ours in this very moment, and will remain ours forever.