He’s making me new?

New?

It’s imperative for the believer to know what Jesus is actually intentionally doing in his or her life. Unfortunately, so many people who believe in Jesus for salvation don’t understand the work He intends to do. And it is much more than simply getting you and I to heaven.

So, what is it that Jesus intends for your life? In in a word: new.

I have met many people, whom after they become believers memorized 2 Corinthians 5:17. You may be able to quote that verse right off the top of your head now. Its a great verse.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

But what did Paul mean by “new.” This, I believe, is where many Christians miss what Jesus desires to do in a life that knows Him as Savior.

What is the opposite of new? Well, old, of course.

Did you know that Jesus didn’t make you new so that you, then, in Him might become old. Now, of course I’m not talking about age. We’re all going to grow old unless God is gracious enough to take us out of this world before we do. But, “old” in Christ is not found anywhere in the New Testament and is definitely not the goal. We’re always “new” in Him.

Jesus did not save us into a religion that becomes old. 

He saved us into a life with him that is constantly becoming new. He didn’t call you into life with Him to be new once, in the past. He called you into life that is constantly being made new.

That’s a great goal to live!

Here’s why I say this. As Paul talks about what Christ, through His Word and Spirit, is doing in the Christian’s life, he speaks of it in a progressive manner.

You and I are a work in progress.

Earlier in the epistle of 2 Corinthians Paul speaks of Christ’s work in us as being “from one degree of glory to another” or “from glory into glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

This is a process that is to occur in us from the day we meet Christ by faith until the day we meet Him face to face. That being true, there should never be a time in a Christian’s life that he or she seeks to stay the same. Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is Christianity.

How do I know I’m growing and changing in Christ the way He wants me to?

  1. When I no longer live my life trying to reclaim the past or afraid of the future. 

In Christ, the future is always bright!

  1. When I do look to the past, I always see that I’m different than I was. 

If you look to the past and see something you’d rather be today, you’re going in the wrong direction.

  1. When I’m committed to becoming more like Christ as a part of my every day life. 

That includes personal Bible reading and prayer as well as a committed connection to the local church where disciples are made.

  1. When I begin to think more and more like Christ. 

This is a goal that has a very large scope in meaning. How do I know I think like Jesus? I’m sure He has a lot on his mind! But, here’s a few goals that are worth while:

  1. Humility – I mean a humility that puts others above myself. And, not just others but others who may actually want to do me harm. That’s what Jesus did when He came to earth and went to the cross. He put everyone else’s life and needs above his own. Those for whose sin He died and even those who killed him.
  2. Jesus straight up dealt with sin. He didn’t hide from it, pretend it didn’t happen or overlook it. He paid for it.
  3. Jesus had a priority to reach, with His Gospel, those who did not yet know God.
  4. Jesus developed a community around Him that majored in unity.
  5. Jesus displayed and called people to the greatest aspect of God’s work and character ever, forgiveness.

Did you know that Jesus has called you into a life of new? And you and I haven’t arrived yet. Not even close. But, you and I are His workmanship and He’s constantly changing us from the inside out, making us new. Or, at least, that is His supreme desire for you.

What’s a Christian? (Part 3)

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This is part three of the series, how many parts there will be I don’t know. But, it’s fun just to continue to write though I’m confident the subject will never be exhausted.

My desire is to find, Scripturally, what a Christ follower is and what one isn’t. I’m positive that I’m growing in my understanding that what we in the American Christian culture call Christianity, in ways, does not measure up to what Jesus would call it. So, I continue my pursuit to find out what Jesus wants me to be, in Him.

I preached a sermon last Sunday from the book of Ephesians, and the text in chapter 4 brought me to what I think is a pretty major conclusion. (My text was Ephesians 4:17-24)

The point that jumps out at me the most is when Paul writes to, “put on the new self” in verse 24. This after a lot of language explaining that our old life, old thoughts, old drives and old wisdom are worthless for the pursuit of this new life in Christ. Worse than that, the old life is actually a major rub, a stark contrast, against the new, Spiritual life.

Here’s the problem. Widely in Christianity, and I think in my own life too, we’ve reduced our faith in Christ to learning a set of principles and trying to apply or live up to them.

Please know this truth. Jesus cannot be reduced down to a set of rules to follow or reduced down to some kind of philosophical salve that’s used as a momentary relief to the pain of life. He’s much more than that! Christianity that defines itself as a new principle to learn and then to apply which continues like the instructions on the back of the shampoo bottle; lather, rinse and repeat, is a painful substitute for real faith and a true relationship with Christ.

So what is Paul’s “put on the new life?” He speaks of this “putting on” also in Romans “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14)

Paul’s statement isn’t that we would have Jesus as a proverbial monkey on our back but that we’d have the connection to Him that He desires. In my estimation, Paul’s “put on Jesus” is equivalent to Jesus’ “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” (See John 15:1-5) The key to this new life is not leaning and applying new principles, it’s simply about abiding in the Vine; in Jesus. That is the very thing Jesus said we must do. He never said, “learn and apply principles from my word,” He said, “Abide in me!”

What is a Christian?

A Christian is not someone who is trying learn something about Jesus that my help out in this life, though learning Jesus’ principles certainly do. A Christian is a person who is learning Jesus and learning by the Word and by His Spirit how to truly, fully abide in Him.