Beyond Sunday – Easter: New Life

wesblackburn —  April 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

…by Brian Walker

Amazing…simply amazing what we experienced together this past Sunday! Across all our campuses, over 100 baptisms this past weekend! That’s over 100 new lives that were started in Christ. That is beautiful. Take a moment and just praise God for what took place and what is taking place still.

This new life that we have in Christ is something that comes with a new adventure. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians helps us to see this new adventure that is set the new life in Christ. Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.  So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

This portion of the Paul’s letter is set in the context of the “new bodies” that we will have in heaven and the hardships that Paul had faced as he spread the message of Christ. These new heavenly bodies are eternal bodies that won’t decay like our current ones. Having a glimpse of these bodies helps us to picture what is to come in heaven and demonstrates that the new life that we have in Christ is eternal. Similarly, Paul’s hardships remind us that the new life God has called us to is something that is challenging. It is in this challenge though, that God’s power is made complete and we become fully dependent upon God. Now that we understand the context of hope and challenge that this passage is set in we can begin looking at what this new life is calling us to.

“Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

In the first two verses, Paul demonstrates the shift that has taken place in our lives. Because we have identified ourselves with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection we no longer live for ourselves. Now we live for Christ because of what H e has done for us. Our old life has been crucified as Christ was and we have arisen with new life in Christ.

What does this new life look like? Paul describes this new life as selfless “those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves”. (Reading through the Sermon on the Mount [Matt 5-7] is another great place for seeing what this new life looks like.) This selflessness is driven from the understanding that “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God bought us with the price of his Son’s life. What a great price that is! It is from this place of selflessness that we now serve God and others.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

The way that we have come to see Christ also influences the way that we see other people. In acknowledging Jesus as “the Son of God,” we affirm that He was both fully God and fully man. We see Him no longer as simply “human,” but now we see His full glory revealed in His heavenly identity. Because of our new view of Christ we now see other people in a different light. We not only see them as other human beings who will eventually die, but now we see that we all have an eternal destination, either heaven or hell. The understanding of an eternal destination creates a sense of urgency in the here and now because we know that only two things in this life are certain…taxes and death.

This is why God gives us “this task of reconciling people to him”(v18). In the new life, we are Christ’s ambassadors to the world. We are to spread the message of hope and love that is found in Christ.

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

Another meaning of baptism that helps us to see ourselves as Christ’s ambassadors is that through baptism we are identifying ourselves with Christ’s Body. This is to say that we are His literal hands and feet and mouth in this case. Paul even says that “We speak for Christ.” Did you catch that? We actually speak on Christ’s behalf as if Christ were speaking through us! Likewise, since Christ died to reconcile or restore humanity to God. We too are invited to help restore people to God by sharing the Good News of Christ.

Because Christ died to restore us to God, we too die to ourselves to restore others to God. We live a new life that is not our own. I’ll leave you with the lyrics of a song that helps to sum up what this new life is and what we are to do as we live in it. We are to be Alive and Running.

Salvation came to us
Now we are free forever
Made alive by the Savior’s touch
Now death can’t hold us under

We have seen the Son
Jesus, Risen One
His light came down to us
Now we’re alive and running to the world

Beauty revealed to us
Our eyes are wide with wonder
Caught by the brightness of
The glory of the Father

Our eyes have not seen
Something so captivating
We’ll go where you lead
To the ends of the earth, proclaiming

We have seen the Son
Jesus, Risen One
His light came down to us
Now we’re alive and running to the world

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wesblackburn

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Suncrest//Highland Campus Pastor. But more importantly, 26th place finisher in the 2013 Highland Jack o' Lantern Jog 5k.

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