New Life in Christ
God created us for a wonderful purpose: that we might live forever with him in joy, love, perfect holiness, and justice. But the problem is that humans do not know how to live in perfect love and justice — and even worse, we don't even live as well as we know we should. And humans ever since the beginning have disobeyed God and rejected his guidance and friendship.
Even if we wanted to live with God, we are unable to bridge the gap that is between us. We are not perfect and we are not holy. We do not deserve to live with God forever. More than that, justice says that disobedience should be punished. When we rebel against the Author of life, the natural result is cessation of life. We do not deserve to live forever with God.
But God's plan cannot be thwarted. His love means that he wants to rescue us from the death we deserve. The natural consequences of our behavior results in death; his love seeks mercy and rescue.
The good news is that Jesus Christ has experienced death for us, on our behalf, and then he was resurrected, so love and mercy can triumph. Salvation is God's gift to us. We can experience his salvation if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
What must we do? We accept the fact that we need the rescue that Christ provides. We admit that we have done wrong and that we do not deserve to live forever with God. We accept the fact that Jesus died for us.
We do not want to live the way of disobedience. We turn away from our old self-centered approach to life and turn toward God, so that we seek a Christ-centered life. We ask him to live in us by means of the Holy Spirit, to lead us in our thoughts and actions. We surrender to his leadership and try to obey what he says, since we know that he has such wisdom and love that all his commands are for our long-term good.
If anyone believes in Christ, the Bible tells us, he or she is a new creation — a new child of God. The Holy Spirit gives us new life. It's not just us trying to live a good life on our own strength — it is God living in us, as we allow him. It is a dramatic change, as a new nature begins to be developed within us — a divine nature. We do not live for ourselves, but for Christ.
To symbolize the beginning of our new life, believers are baptized — dipped under water to picture the death of the old self and the rising of a new life, our sins washed away. We are following Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Christians want to obey God, but because of our weakness, sometimes we disobey. The good news is that God continues to love us, for Jesus' death has paid the penalty of all disobedience. We are forgiven, not condemned, with confidence that we will live with God forever and ever in incredible joy and love.
Just as Jesus had pain and sorrow in his earthly life, Christians also have trials and problems in this life. We sometimes struggle with poverty, disappointment, pain, hurt feelings and persecution. But in all our trials, we rejoice in the salvation we have been given in Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the love God has already shown us. We live the "give" way of life, willing to serve others, just as our Savior served us.