Saturday, January 11, 2014

"New life in Christ!"

Day #15:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - January 12th

Scripture Reading:  Romans 5 - 6 ...

Most people know the truth ... deep down in their hearts.  They look at life in this world and they know there is a problem, but try as they might to figure it all out, most never discover what is causing the never-ending dysfunction in their lives.  Yet, here in these two chapters is the key to a new life!!

Having explained that in the Gospel a "righteousness from God" (3:21) has been made known, a righteousness that is received by faith, Paul went on in Chapter 4 to emphasize that God "credits" righteousness to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.  Now, he goes on to lay out the heart of the Gospel in a way that brings rejoicing to the heart of everyone who has believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!!

In one word, we have been RECONCILED to God!!  How?  What about our sin and what about God's wrath and just judgment?  Jesus took our place!  Jesus died for the ungodly, for the unrighteous, for those who were powerless to change themselves.  "God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" (5:8).  God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ (II Corinthians 5:19).  WE didn't seek God; HE sought us!

Salvation is a gift!  That simple statement is rejected by so many; not only those in other religions, but by many in the church.  "Justification by faith" is the heart-cry of God's grace that calls to those who are separated from Him and says, "Come to Me!  I have made a way!!" 

And if that is not enough, there's more!  God reconciles us to Himself through faith in Jesus, and then unites us to Christ by the baptism of the Spirit to empower us to turn from sin and to live for Christ.  We are now "dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (6:11).  Rather than being slaves to sin, we are now free to become "slaves to righteousness" (6:18).  Indeed, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:23).

While many in the world consider "freedom" as following the desires of the sinful nature, Jesus offers true freedom to those who are united to Him by faith in His sacrifice on the cross.  We now approach God without fear and rejoice in His love and grace, testifying, boasting, resting in His love ... love revealed on a lonely cross on a hill outside Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago.  Have you received God's  love?  Have you placed your faith in Jesus?  Have you been reconciled to God?  The gift of God is new life in Christ!!

"Father in heaven, through faith in Your Son, Jesus, I celebrate Your gift of life!  Thank You for loving me before I was able to love You.  As You have given me life, I now desire to live for You.  Fill me with Your Spirit and help me to live as a slave to righteousness, for Your glory and my good.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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