Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 5: 24

 

When does life begin? This is a question that has been debated for a very long time, and it continues to be a point a real contention to this day. Some people argue that life commences at conception, others say that it is at birth, and still others hold that it doesn’t begin until an individual draws independent breath. I am proposing a fourth alternative. This is that life truly begins for each of us when we accept God’s offer of His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Lord. The rest of what we might consider to be life is a weak shadow in comparison to being fully alive in Christ, and this new state of being alive is ours from the moment that we surrender ourselves to Christ as this is when His Spirit comes to dwell within us and God’s sentence of judgment upon us as sinners is placed upon Jesus as our personal redeemer.

 

Thus, from that moment forward our lives take on a new meaning and a redeemed purpose. In accepting Christ we have also entered into the will of the Father for relationship with Him. Jesus is the mediator who brings people into the holy presence of the Father with our sins removed and the judgment that we so rightly deserved taken on by Him on the cross. As we are right with God, we can live righteously throughout our days in this world. This is an important aspect of the calling that God has for us as His children and that Christ places before us as His redeemed. Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross has an eternal purpose and it also has one that is for this moment in time.

 

The life that w have been granted as a gift from God through the loving sacrifice of Jesus is to be used to bring the character and nature of the Father and the Son into direct contact with this world. As we who know Christ go about our lives and engage in the activities of our days, we can touch others with love, grace, mercy, and the truth that comes from God’s Word. We can have a redemptive effect upon the brokenness of this place where we live in the manner that we conduct ourselves as we follow the example of Christ and the leading of His Spirit. In Christ we are set free to live without fear of judgment, and we are also granted the freedom to proclaim the redemptive love of Christ to a world where death rules. So, this is the primary purpose of this new life that we receive in Christ. We can demonstrate and speak of life as something that we possess and offer that same life to anyone who accepts God’s offer of it through Christ.

And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

 

These are restless times. Anxiety and anger are everywhere, and calm talk with quiet contemplation of the effect of the words shared is almost nonexistent. People around the world are engaged in the unceasing process of staking claims upon a piece of the earthly real estate for the sakes of their own self-determined well-being. So, the more that we have, the more fearful we become of the other people who are out there with minds set on taking it from us. This watchfulness makes it hard to enter into understanding and caring relationships and is, in itself, exhausting.

 

These are days when we need to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the land. This righteousness that the Prophet mentions is not something that we define, interpret, or generate on our own. It is an essential aspect of God’s character and is an extension of the Lord’s nature. It was present with us on earth in and through creation and by virtue of God’s physical presence in that creation and with the first people. That is where things went off of the rails. It happened when we decided that we knew a better way to live than the one that God had laid out for us. At that time peace was picked up above our heads and hurled down to a shattering end upon the hard rocks of ego, passion, and separation.

 

However, our rebellion and God’s resultant rebuke of us did not put an end to God’s presence on the earth or of His active pursuit of relational engagement with us. God’s Spirit continued to engage with people on earth and His Word of Truth was among us. The Son, Jesus, walked with us and explained that Word by means of instruction and actions and took our sinfulness upon Himself on the cross. Then His Spirit has come to dwell with and within us so that the Word of Life would be well known to us. This is the source of the righteousness that leads to peace on earth. Christ can sooth the restlessness of our hearts and minds as He leads us into an external focus upon reaching out to others with the saving love of Christ. We can find our own rest as we set aside striving for what we own and therefore must defend and trust the Lord for all that we need while blessing the world with His righteous benediction of peace.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17

 

The Father had a primary purpose in sending Jesus, the Son, into this world. Jesus came in order to pay the final sacrifice for all of this world’s sin. He came to die in order to end death’s hold on people’s souls. There were many things that Jesus did during His life on earth, but all of them were related to that mission of bringing people back into a relationship with our Creator. Even during the times that Jesus entered into confrontation with people who were living and leading others into lives that were in opposition to God’s will, who were sinning, He did so with redemption as the objective.

 

It seems to me that there is much for us to learn from this approach to righteousness. As followers of Christ there is no question that we are to live in a manner that is honoring to God and that follows the guidance and the dictates of His Word. Yet, the way that we apply this same righteousness to others is a place where caution, prayer, and consultation with other people who live out mature faith are essential. Jesus, Himself, routinely and regularly went to the Father in prayer for guidance, encouragement, and strength. We can do no less when we seek to serve as a voice of faith in our world.

 

That is exactly what I believe that we are called by Christ to be. As Christ’s people, we are here to do His will as we live out the day-to-day functionality of His redemptive work in each of us. That means that we can and should speak the truth of God’s Word to others and into this world; however, it also means that the purpose of this utterance of the word of truth is redemptive and not condemnational. The Father has granted Christ the authority to judge and to pronounce the resultant sentence; we are here to speak forth the experience of those who have been redeemed from death by the blood of Christ so that we live in the full freedom of His redemption.

 

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

1 John 5: 12

 

There is being alive. This is the state of breathing and moving about while working hard at crafting a meaningful life. Then, there is having the life. When Christ becomes real for an individual, and we surrender our selves to Him, we gain a form of life that is impossible otherwise, and we gain an existence that is both eternal and has eternity written all over it.

 

The only way to become infused with the wisdom, understanding, and love of God is to have His Spirit enter into our beings. Thus, the only way to gain access to the presence of God in our lives is through trusting Jesus enough to accept who He is. Then, by surrendering control of my life to Him, I am able to enter into a relationship with Him. The yielding was a one time decision that has been followed by a lifetime of accepting the fact that God is continually gracious toward my wandering heart; thus, He needs to keep on redirecting my heart and mind toward His loving purposes. The fact that Christ is gracious and patient with me is one of the most beautiful ideas that I have ever encountered. At the same time, however, His righteousness is unrelenting. He will not allow me to just get away with it. This patience, grace and righteousness in balance with each other is the essence of the life that we have in and through Christ.

 

In the few simple words of this verse John sets forth the fundamental truth and the basic need of all people’s lives, everyone requires the life if we desire to truly live. Each of us needs to stay in intimate touch with the giver of the life if we want to live fully, boldly and noticeably as children of God. When we live in this manner, Christ will seek to compel us to share the simple truth of the importance of this relationship with others. He commands us to boldly share the truth of the means for others to transition from simply being alive to living in the full expression of the life through Christ.

 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world.

Hebrews 1: 1, 2

 

There is absolutely no question in my mind that we should be interested in the Old Testament of the Bible. In fact, interest is a really big understatement. God spoke to the people who populate its pages, and His nature and will are portrayed in vivid detail in the accounts of their lives and in their various expressions of joy, sorrow, pain, grief, delight, deliverance, and salvation. The full range of human life is portrayed in these various writings. God’s desire to be in constant relationship with all people is also laid out for us to see as He engages with these diverse individuals and groups of people throughout time. Yet, all of these writings point forward.

 

The Old Testament provides us with a picture, an account, of God’s relentless drive toward reconciliation, healing, and restoration for all of creation. Although the Son is actively present from the account of creation in Genesis all the way through the Old Testament narrative, He is the focal center of everything that follows. So, as understanding God’s word as it was spoken by and through the patriarchs and prophets of old is vitally important for us in knowing God well and in living within His will, even more so it is vital to know Christ, the Son, whose life is God’s living testimony of love, grace, and salvation.

 

As Christ is the center of the New Testament and He is fully participatory in all of the Old, He is also our way to gaining the fullest possible understanding of the Old. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us so that His will and His word are expanded off of the pages of text and are made alive in a way that is both mystical and tangible. This gift of understanding is one that God grants to His own people, and it is one that we can enter into at all times and in each circumstance of life. God’s Word is life for His people. Christ’s voice is the one that provides us with true and deep understanding, for, “God has spoken to us by His Son.”