Raised to Life

Romans 6:4

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

There is a lot of debate about the proper way to baptize and unfortunately many churches have split over this issue.  Romans 6 gives us a depiction of baptism by immersion and tells us exactly what it symbolizes when it is performed.

As a person is lowered into the water, it depicts Christ being placed into the tomb.  As they come up out of the water, it depicts Christ being raised from the grave.

Baptism is more than just a symbolic representation of Jesus’ death and resurrection however.  It is a symbolic representation of the death of our old life.  Our old, sinful ways are buried at the moment of our salvation.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He didn’t return in exactly the same form.  He returned with a new glorified resurrected body.  We too are changed at our salvation.  Not only does our sinful self die, it is replaced with a new self, one that is made to glorify God properly.

1 Corinthians 15 tells us all about a time when we will be physically resurrected and given a new body like Jesus.  In the meantime, we have a new spiritual life.  Our sinful nature has been replaced with a righteous one.  It doesn’t mean that we’ll be sinless but with the help of the Holy Spirit we are better equipped to live the holy life that God has called us to live.

A New Command

John 13:34

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Love is certainly not a new command or a new concept to the Christian.  It is not even a concept that is confined to Christianity alone.  Many religions teach about love and promote it as one of the keys to the religion.

The new command that Jesus gives His disciples is a new kind of love.  It is not a vague and general love that many people feel for each other.  It is a deep and self sacrificing love that only a few of capable of showing.

Beginning in John 13, Jesus warns His disciples repeatedly that He would be leaving them and that He would go to die on the cross.  They don’t fully understand it until later.  This is the ultimate example of the self sacrificing love that Jesus is instructing His disciples to display.

The love that Jesus demonstrates for His disciples and for the whole world is a new kind of love that hasn’t been seen before.  This is why Jesus is able to call it a new command.

People will be able to identify Jesus’ followers by this type of love because it is so different from the way the rest of the world loves.  This new, self sacrificing love will set the disciples and us apart from everyone else.  They will know that we are Christians by our love.

The New Covenant

Luke 22:20

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Anyone who has taken part in communion is likely to be familiar with this verse.  Jesus said it as part of the Last Supper when He instituted communion as a symbol for us to remember His sacrifice on the cross.

Covenants were put into place through blood and the New Covenant is no different.  When God first entered into a covenant with Adam and Eve concerning the coming of Jesus (Genesis 3:15), blood was shed to make a covering for their nakedness.  A sacrifice was made when Noah exited the ark and God promised to never flood the entire earth again.  And blood sealed the covenant with Moses and the Israelites in the desert.

The New Covenant is put into place through the blood of Jesus.  The terms of the New Covenant are discussed in Ezekiel 36; they are a new heart and spirit.  This is only possible because of Jesus’ death however.

The old covenant was one of law.  We are incapable of keeping God’s laws however.  For this reason we needed a Savior and a New Covenant.  Jesus did all that was necessary for this and all we must do is accept it.

Old Is Better

Luke 5:39

And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ “

New is not always better.  It is no secret that things today are made to be disposable, to be thrown out once they break.  Older products were built to last and be repaired when they break.  The new is cheaper, both in price but also in construction.

Any wine expert will tell you that older is better because it has taken longer to ferment and gain flavor.  In Jesus parable, drinking old wine is a new experience however.  Someone who has drunk old wine will not desire the old experience of the newer, cheaper wine.

In this passage, Jesus was asked why His disciples did not fast but instead went on eating and drinking.  Jesus response was to say in essence that there was a new and better way.

The Christian life is not meant to be dull and boring.  It is meant to be exciting.  It is not a matter of what we give up to become Christians but the joy that we gain in fellowship with God.

Any person who experienced the joy of the Lord should not want to ever return to a time when they did not have it.  We do not long for something in the past when we have a better option today.  As is the case of the parable, once we’ve tasted old wine, we don’t want a cheaper substitute.  So it is with the joy of our salvation.

New Wineskins

Mark 2:22

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.

Jesus is using the analogy of wineskins to make a point about how the Christian should live their life.  The point is that old and new do not always mix.

When wine is first made, it gives off gas as it ferments.  New wineskin is elastic.  As the gas is created, the skin stretches to hold it all in.  Old wineskins do not have the same elasticity and when new wine is poured into them, they burst because of the gas that is produced.

Just as new wine is meant for new wineskins, new deeds are meant for a new lifestyle.  As Christians, we are a new creation.  We should act like there has been something that has been changed.

To carry on our life as if there has been no change is like putting new wine into an old wineskin.  It will bring disaster.

There is often a mistake made in believing that a person must first become good in order to become a Christian.  If we were good, there would be no need for Jesus and no need to become a Christian.  After we become a Christian, we do good things however, not because we are required to or are capable of repaying God.

We do good things after becoming a Christian because of the change that has taken place in our life.  Some people see a more dramatic change than others.  Usually it is gradual.  But we should cast off our old, bad lifestyle.