Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.

This is the life. Spike (your hair). Do (affirmative action). Study dispassionately (stem cells). Hug passionately (yon tree). Live (for money). Go (to the Laughing Church). Believe (in Yourself). Play (the lottery). Swim (across Lake Superior). Love (the things Madonna loves). Rock. Roll. And Sin (in everything).

The life—saith the world! Come and get it!

But, dear youthful reader—don’t! For the world’s life is no life. Theirs is life without God. Vanity. Terrible depraved death-life now. And then death-death forever. Saith the Lord!

Dear young Christian readers: your life is so different! Yours is Grace life. Life with God. A gift of grace. The Life.

Now we want to talk about getting that life—the grace life you have. That’s right. We have the good grace life. But just a beginning of it. The rest of our life is a getting of that life.

“Getting” that life you already have is simply appreciating that life, and growing in it. It is not getting alive for the first time. It is not reading someone’s manual on how to be born again and then following its directions and conceiving yourself. We’re talking living out of the life we already have. Developing. Maturing. Keeping yourself from and even killing the things that would shrink you and stifle and even strangle your Christian life. Becoming more holy. Being conformed day by day into the image of Christ whose image you already bear.

Like Israel. She of all people had the life with God. She was the covenant-secrets-of-God-knowing community. She really lived! And she was also called to grow in that life. She, fairest woman of them all, had been given the land of Canaan. Once she passed over Jordan on dry ground she was in. Hers was the kingdom of heaven. Her portion was life with God in that kingdom. But she still had to conquer, and to destroy or drive out the Canaanites. She still had to possess the possession. She had to get it. And that done, she had to get it some more. In 1000+ other ways. Like building a temple. Then offering 999+ bulls and sheep and goats.

You young believers have got lots of getting to do too—on the other side of Calvary and Pentecost! A whole life ahead of you (God willing) of getting the life. What a prospect!

Here’s how to get it.

First, Faith. Fundamentally, faith. Faith. Faith. Faith.

That means believing.

That means first of all relying on God. It means looking around and seeing lots of sinking sand. Sinking sand underneath you. Sinking sand holding up Pentagons. Sinking sand under Afghanistan. Sinking sand under Man. Sinking sand under Freud. Sinking sand under the Beatles. Sinking sand under the Koran. Sinking sand under the great guys whohit 70, and under the beautiful girls who top 10, and under the Forbes men and women who’ve accumulated 80 billion. In believing you see that sinking sand. But then the wonder of believing is that you will have none of it, and stand on none of it, trust in none of the people and institutions built on it. On Christ the solid rock you stand.

Amazing! Amazing grace, I say!

No one else even sees the sand. And they are all standing there sinking, and unhappy, and trying to climb to the top, and soon to be destroyed. But to you is given to trust in the living God and the only foundation for life which He has laid—Jesus Christ the Righteous. Amazing! Like the psalmist we believe, and in that activity we cast off reliance on chariots and horses, and, remembering the name of Almighty God, we set up our banners in His name (Ps. 20:5, 7). Believing we use doctors, we hear preaching—all means God uses to help our bodies and save the soul. But in God we trust. And, you see, it is in that activity of utter humility, of earthlings acknowledging earthiness and sinners admitting sinfulness before God that the living is real and the living is good. We’ve gotten the life!

Then this believing involves what I would call “bonding.” If we are going to get the life of the Christian, truly to appreciate it, grow in it, live out of it, it will be by means of this faith, this believing, which is a bonding.

Here’s what I mean. By faith we are joined to God in a living union. Jesus speaks of that in John 15. He is the Vine. We are the branches. Once withering on the vine Adam, now by grace through faith we are joined to Christ. By faith we are engrafted into Christ, the Catechism teaches (Lord’s Day 7). Well now, in believing, in acting out of our faith, we draw nigh to God. We seek to know Him more, we pray to Him, we hear Him, we desire to receive more and more the life that He gives, the blessings which He bestows, the Spirit and grace of Christ.

This is bonding. Bonding which is not only a result of our faith union made initially with Christ when we were first given faith. Bonding which is also a process, and an activity of believing—involving us and urged upon us in the Scriptures.

It is like this. Say there is a father and a child. They can just stand there and be father and child in name and nose only. Or they do the things father and child do to grow together, appreciate each other, and share life together—to bond. So it is with the heavenly Father and His children. God sovereignly and graciously comes to us and draws us to Himself to bond us to Himself. He is always doing that—He bids us to eat with Him, to spend time with Him, He calls us to church to speak to us, He is there next to us in the car telling us to turn off the radio and to think on His promises—all so that there might be this bonding, this development of the relationship we have in Christ and through His Spirit. And we, on our part, already joined to God, children of the Father, we do draw nigh, enabled by the Spirit within, seeking to grow closer to Him, to bond with Him and His blessings, through believing.

This believing. This believing which is looking up in reliance on God, which is reaching out to draw nigh to God, is truly getting the Life! In that conscious God-dependence, in that deliberate believing movement of the soul toward the living God, is the life! There, in that believing activity, are the vistas which eye hath not seen, and sounds of truth which ear hath not heard. Indeed, through that believing we are taken into another world—the world of God and the gospel.

It was like this. Without faith, and unwilling to believe God we could see (a Monet), hear (Mozart), taste (sugar pops), touch (our nose), smell (like a sweet day in May).

But now it is like this: through believing we who are still in the world are at the same time given to know and enjoy spiritual things. For our faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of these things not seen (Heb. 11:1). In believing, these things of the Spirit Life that we have and are getting are made substantive to us so that we are convicted. So in the believing I can see, that is, I can truly know the God above. And in that believing I can also hear what devils don’t want to hear and no dog can hear—the truth of God.

Believing is tasting and seeing beyond and more than the good World—even that the Lord Creator of the world is good (Ps. 34:8). Believing is touching which is a holding fast the salvation you have, that no man take your crown (Rev. 3:11), and an embracing of the wisdom of God (Prov. 4:8). It is detesting the rat-smell of sinful deeds, preferring by far the sweet smell of the sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18).


Believing. Looking up to God, relying on God, being taken up into Father’s arms, and you reaching to be taken up. And then, getting there, in that conscious fellowship with God, knowing, in delightful anticipation of how you will be known in heaven.

Oh, the knowing! As surely as, more sure than what and how you know and see and hear and touch and taste and smell on earth of earth, in believing you know and see and hear and touch and taste and smell the things of God and God Himself.

THAT IS THE LIFE! THAT IS GETTING THE LIFE!

Believe, young Christian! And you will get and keep on getting this life you have been taught since you were knee high to a pac-man. Christianity and God and Reformed doctrine and going to church twice on Sunday and being called to sacred factory work and World Trade Centers collapsing will then make more and more sense, move you more and more to fear and delight in and serve the Lord.

Believe! It is as simple, and yet as profound, as that. And in believing you can be sure that what you see is what you will get. The Life.

Right in Pockets. Or at the powerhouse gym. Or at the mall. Or in the hospital. Even in church. Monday morning at school or somewhere shingling. Friday night hanging out. In breaking off that relationship which began innocently enough, but is going nowhere fast (it wasn’t innocent enough!). BELIEVE!

But just how, you say? Or believe WHAT, you ask? Well, that leads to the next thing vital in order for your spiritual EKG to register.

It is called the Bible. Let me tell you: this believing—what to believe, how to act in faith, and how in this way of believing we get the life from above—is revealed in Holy Writ. Holy Writ is to be our focus, therefore, in all our believing and in all of our life-getting. The life we get through believing must not be just charismatic, and nicotine free, and emotionally exhilarating, but grounded in and regulated by God’s Word. Believing must be biblical, or we blow up.

God has revealed, discovered to us, what is to be believed. It is in the Bible. The God we are to trust: He is revealed there. The God we see by believing: He is revealed there. The God we are to hear: He speaks there. The salvation we are to taste and enjoy: all from Genesis to Revelation. What we are to touch, and what we are not to touch: in the Bible. What smells good and what will lead to a better sense of smell: it’s in Holy Writ.

So the God above has spoken to us in a book that is down to earth and on earth, like we are. Words from heaven in earthly language. The eternal Father God talking down from heaven to the wee little children we are. Words for our learning. Revelation we can hold. An object of faith, which believing, turns us from itself to the God of its pages and the salvation of which it speaks.


So now you have a standard. Getting the grace life is believing the Bible!

And, if your believing be true (James 2!), living by that Bible.

So …

You know, from the Bible, that sin is the problem, your problem. In believing you will then be upset about sin, more upset than about the car you just totaled or the prospect of having to tell your parents. And you will deal with this problem of sin. Repentance. Going to God and pleading the blood of the cross for forgiveness. These will be the things you will do in believing, and with that holy desire to get, and to enjoy with uninterrupted communion, above all things, the life.

So …

You know, from the Bible, that to be clothed with the righteousness of the Christ is better by far than being decked out with the latest from Fitch. Believing, getting the life through believing, is then by far more concerned with righteousness than fashion. And all—because the Bible tells you so, and that is what you believe!

So …

From the Bible we derive our understanding of what beauty is. And we believe it. So we have warts, or a bit of flab, and are not cheerleader material. The Bible says believers are the real beautiful people of the earth, for God will have nothing less than the most beautiful bride! So we will not to lose weight throw up. We will admire virtue more than brawn. And Christ will be the model we adore.

So …

From the Bible another valuable lesson we learn in order to get the life is this: No fear! Or, as our delightful Tasmanian and Aussie friends tell us, No worries! Young people and adults: fear not! Though we think we are missing out on life, that we are too sinful—the Bible says there is a God who loves us. Though the World Trade Centers and Pentagons of our nation crumble before the terrorist attacks. Though there be a tornado threatening to suck us up and put one limb here, another there. Though there be the loneliness of single life sucking us down into depression’s pit. Though we play and play but the NBA and not even Mr. DeVries (esteemed Charger coach!) takes notice, the Bible says: no reason to fear! For God is our refuge and strength, the Bible says, a very present help in trouble. And, because God says so, THEREFORE will not we fear! And because God says so, there is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High (Ps. 46).

So …

Because the Bible calls us to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16) and that this life is not a playground but a battleground (II Tim. 4:7), life will not be a baseball game or a beach or a strolling through the park. Young life won’t be that way either. We will play. But as God’s children. We will relax and play. And not live to play. Or play just to win. But play to be refreshed, and to enjoy, win or lose. And that, in order once again, after two sets not five, after one round a week not seven, after twenty miles a week (of running!) not one hundred, to get on with our work.


So …

So …

And so …Believing God and His Word and our living by it in every so and so detail of our life is the way we get the life we have by the grace of God through faith.

What a getting! I bid you too it, young friend!

Such a getting will be much thinking on God’s Truth. I urge you to that. Think! Want to float down the world’s river, live its dismal, hopeless life? Don’t think! Just feel your way through life. Or grope. Or look goggle-eyed. Or drink, drink, and be stupefied. Or do the hokey-pokey. Or react to a pounding like a silly old knee. Or join the Church of the sacred woofers and tweeters. Want to live the Christian life? Think! Think on the Word of God. Remember God’s truth. Delight in doctrine. Cogitate. Meditate. Muse upon it (Ps. 143:5). Be transformed by that Word by the renewing of your mind as you think upon it (Rom. 12:2). And behold how you will know and experience the salvation of the Lord!

So think! And you will get the life!

And pray! Your Christianity dullsville? Well, the Christianity is not! But the reason yours is is either because you ask not or you ask amiss! God gives His grace and Holy Spirit to those, and those only, who ask for them (Lord’s Day 45, Heidelberg Catechism). God gives spiritual growth in our life only to those who ask for it. Have you asked lately? Not demanded. Not made it second or third on your list, somewhere up there among your longings for wheels or a mate. But first. And humbly. And ardently. With the groanings and pleadings of a man or woman longing, truly longing for God.

Get the life! Pray for it! Because without God enabling, the Spirit moving, the grace sufficient, no one dead will live, and no one alive will grow.

And what shall I more say? Time would fail to tell me of all those who have gotten and are getting the life of faith! They, one and all, have believed the truth of the Scriptures. They have sought and are seeking to live according to God’s revelation. They think on God’s Word. They pray. They love the preaching. To them to live is Christ and to die is gain. To them obeying their awful parents is virtue and yielding to youthful lusts is not. Indeed, to them the worst thing in the world is the bin Laden and World Trade Center-sins they find in their own heart and life. To them, repenting and fleeing to the cross and trusting in the cleansing blood of the Lamb and living for God’s praise is the way of life.

And the way to get it.

Yes! You!

Get the life.

Though it be a cross.

Get it!

Do, or die.

Believe.

And live!