See, I have placed before you an open door – Revelation 3:8a (NIV)
A literal threshold is a sill of a doorway or the entrance of a house or a building. A threshold marks a clear dividing line as we exit from one environment and enter another. This idea of environmental transition has spawned other meanings for the word threshold such as any place or point of entering or beginning, i.e. the threshold of a new season and the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect, i.e. a low threshold of pain.
A Christian comes to faith in Jesus Christ by crossing the threshold of faith. Jesus issues the call to faith (stimulus) and for those answering the call, it is of sufficient intensity to produce the effect of acceptance. I believe this is often why someone who becomes a Christ follower as an adult does so in response to some crisis in his or her life. The crisis was the catalyst to accept Jesus’ call to faith in him. Upon accepting the call of faith another dimension of a threshold is in view; a place or point of entering or beginning. This perspective is captured in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV).
Crossing the initial threshold of faith is not the only threshold of faith that believers will cross. The initial threshold represents salvation; the redemption of the soul from sin and its effects. Beyond salvation is the call to sanctification; to be set apart for God’s use. The call to sanctification is a lifelong, never-ending call. It results in crossing multiple faith thresholds as we rely increasingly on God and his power and authority and less on our own natural abilities, intellect and reason.
In the physical realm when we cross the threshold of a door, we can typically see into the room we are entering. As we cross ever increasing thresholds of faith this is often not the case. We may not be able to “see” anything in the next room, or what we do see is downright dangerous or harmful. Yet as Jesus called to Peter to step out of the boat into the darkness and raging storm, we hear Jesus calling us to himself, regardless of the uncertainty and danger of outward appearances.
There is a common trait among the Biblical characters we revere. They were all willing to cross the thresholds of faith. In the 20th chapter of the Book of Acts, The Apostle Paul speaks to his companions of the destination of his current trip to Jerusalem, And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)(NKJV).
In the next chapter of Acts, the prophet Agabus does indeed prophesy that Paul will be bound and delivered to the Gentiles. Upon hearing this, Paul’s companions begged him to call off his trip to Jerusalem. Paul’s response reinforced what he said earlier, I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13b)(NKJV).
An important aspect of sanctification is becoming more Christ-like. Romans 8:29 famously says, For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (NIV). We cannot become Divine like Christ but we can emulate another of his most important attributes, self-sacrificing love (Philippians 2:1-6).
Benchmarks are commonly used in corporate settings. They are standards or points of reference against which things may be compared or assessed. While on earth we will always be in process spiritually, but that does not mean we cannot evaluate our spiritual progress. Love is God’s benchmark and the unit of measure is giving. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13). This is how we’ll know we are continuing to pass the thresholds of faith. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. (1 John 3:14a).