Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

3. Step #3: Receive New Life From God

In this lesson we look at how Jesus not only came to call us to live a new kind of life – Jesus came to make this new life possible for us.

The focus verses for this lesson are from Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

As we will see, these verses call us to ask for and receive the new life that Jesus gives to us.

Our situation

Jesus has to act to make it possible for us to live the new life, because we are stuck under judgment. If you do evil and stubbornly rebel against God, this is the result. God judges your sin. You reap what you sow. And your sins will find you out. What is this judgment?

We have been given over to Satan. Luke 4:5-6 tells us that the whole world is under the power of Satan. And he holds on to us. In Luke 11:21-22 Jesus pictures Satan as a “strong man, fully armed” guarding us in his fortress. We are prisoners of Satan.

We have also been given over to death. As Ezekiel 18:4 says, “the soul who sins shall die.” Jesus agreed. In Luke 13:3 he talks about how everyone “will perish” because of sin. He also talks about “Hades” in several places, the prison house of the dead. This is the realm of the dead until the final judgment. We are spiritually dead and we will all physically die at some point.

So our situation is that, due to our sin, we are in prison, as it were, miserable and waiting for death. Or to say it in another way, we are not able to respond to Jesus’ call to live a new life.

But there’s good news

Despite our sin and rebellion, God has chosen to be merciful. God sees the world – its misery and suffering under Satan and death (which is God’s judgment). But God has had a change of heart. God has heard our cries. And so God has sent Jesus to save us; so that we can begin a new life in Jesus.

This salvation (or, what Jesus calls the kingdom of God) is pictured for us in the ministry of Jesus:

  • He casts out demons setting people free from the power of Satan
  • He heals people of their suffering
  • He raises people from the dead

But he didn’t just come to give us a picture, or something temporary, or partial (these people all still suffered and then later died). He came to change the whole world and how it works, inside out. He came to bring about a new creation. Jesus came to save us completely. And this required that he give himself completely for us.

Jesus’ love for us

Jesus said about himself in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came . . .  to give his life as a ransom for many.” As this verse says, he “gave his life.” He was not guilty or deserving of death, but he willingly gave himself up anyway. And he did this “for many.” He died for us – for you and for me. It is what we deserved; our judgment. But he bore it for us.

This reveals God’s love to us, that he sent his Son to die for us. And it certainly shows us Jesus’ love that he freely gave himself for us. So, yes, there is judgment for sin, but God’s last word is a word of love and grace, for all who will receive it.

Now lets look at how Jesus brought about salvation.

Jesus’ Victory

First of all, Jesus defeated Satan. That’s because Jesus never sinned, even though Satan tested him. His whole life was summed up in his prayer to God just before he went to the cross and an unjust death – “Not my will, but yours be done” – Luke 22:42. Yet Satan had Jesus killed – Luke 22:3-6, for no good reason. So, therefore, Satan is judged and cast down, while Jesus is exalted. God stepped in to bring justice for Jesus. So there is a reversal. That this happened can be seen from the gospel narrative itself. At the beginning of the story Satan has all authority on earth – Matthew 4:8-9. But at the end, Jesus has “all authority in heaven and on earth” – Matthew 28:18. There has been a switch, a reversal due to God’s intervention.

Jesus also defeated death. Jesus was raised from the dead. Death could not hold Jesus down. He broke out of Hades, which no human has ever done. That’s because death had no right to him. As the angel said after the resurrection, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” – Luke 24:5-6.

Jesus not only defeated Satan and death, our enemies, next we see how he makes it possible for us to be set free.

Our salvation

Through Jesus’ death, we can be forgiven. Jesus’ death has established a new covenant. In Matthew 26:28 he spoke of his death on the cross as “my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” It is like the sacrifice that established the first covenant (Exodus 24:8). The language of “blood of the covenant” is used in both places. But this is the promised new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) that provides free and full forgiveness for our sins.

So Jesus teaches us that though his death, our sins can be forgiven; we can find God’s mercy and kindness. And since we can be forgiven, we can be freed from Satan and death! We can start over again with a clean slate. All our guilt and shame, our sinful acts, our selfish behavior can be wiped away, through what Jesus has done. But that’s not all . . .

Through Jesus’ resurrection, we can receive new life by the Spirit. Being exalted to the right hand of God, Jesus received the promise of the Spirit. In Luke 3:16, John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” And after his resurrection Jesus poured out this promised Spirit upon his followers (Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2).

And when the Spirit comes into our hearts, something miraculous and amazing happens within!

  • We come alive to God and everything becomes new within. We are not spiritually dead anymore. We can know God and be in relationship with God.
  • God also enables us to live the new life Jesus models for us. For although “the flesh is weak,” “the Spirit is willing” – Mark 14:38. The Spirit strengthens us each day to help us to do God’s will.
  • And also, the Spirit gives us power to serve God, as Jesus says in Acts 1:8. We are given gifts and abilities and anointings so that we can work for the kingdom of God.

And this new life doesn’t end here. We can live on into eternity. At the resurrection, when Jesus returns, the righteous will be raised up and given new bodies (like Jesus has) and will live forever. In Luke 20:35-36 Jesus said – “those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead . . . cannot die anymore . . ..” He also said in Matthew 25:46, talking about the final judgment – “the righteous (will go) into eternal life.”

Because of what Jesus has done for us, in his great love, we can receive all this.

What must you do to receive new life?

Having acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and Savior, and having heeded Jesus’ call to repentance, ask God for forgiveness, for mercy, for a new start, for cleansing. Forgiveness is a gift of God to us, but you need to ask for it. No one else can do it for you. You have to come before God and ask yourself. It doesn’t happen if you don’t ask. God holds out the gift, but you have to reach out to receive it.

The promise comes to us from our focus verses – “Ask, and it will be given to you.” – Matthew 7:7. This applies to all of God’s “good gifts” to us, as it says in Matthew 7:11. And it certainly applies to forgiveness. Claim God’s promise in faith for yourself and receive the gift.

Also, ask for the Spirit to come into your life and make you new. The Spirit is God’s gift to you, but you need to ask for this, as well. Pray – “Come into my heart, fill me, bring me new life!”

Again the promise is: “Ask, and it will be given to you” – Matthew 7:7. In Luke 11:13 Jesus specifically applies these words to asking for and receiving the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Claim this promise in faith for yourself and receive God’s gift to you.

William Higgins

10. A New Courage To Suffer

In this lesson we are talking about a willingness to suffer for our commitment to Jesus and the kingdom of God. A willingness to give things up and to go through hardship because of our faith.

The focus verse comes from Mark 8:34:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Jesus is saying that anyone who follows him will be persecuted. So you have to be prepared to deny your self-interests and take up your cross – an instrument of death.

From Jesus’ point of view persecution is a certainty. He says, “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” – Luke 21:16-17. So lets look at . . .

How persecution works

1. We follow Jesus. We do what Jesus teaches and models for us. Specifically:

  • We confess Jesus as Lord. We bear witness to him as the Messiah and the Son of the living God and the one who has given us salvation.
  • And we live according to Jesus’ teaching and example; by his standards and values.

2. People in the world don’t like this and so they respond in negative ways. As Jesus says in Matthew 10:24-25, it won’t be different for you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you when you follow me.

  • We are persecuted for confessing Jesus; for witnessing to others about Jesus. In Matthew 10:17-18 Jesus says to those he sent out to be his witnesses – “they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.”
  • And we are persecuted for living according to Jesus’ teaching and example; for obeying Jesus’ moral code. In Matthew 5:10 Jesus talks about being “persecuted for righteousness’ sake;” for doing what Jesus says, instead of what the world or a particular government says.

Persecution comes in many forms

It doesn’t always mean death (certainly not in our context). There is, rather, a scale of negative reactions that can come our way:

  • You can be slandered – Matthew 5:11. Jesus talks here about how they will   “. . . revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” In Matthew 10:25 this can include being called “Beelzebub” or Satan.
  • You can be excluded socially – Luke 6:22.
  • You can receive various expressions of hatred – Luke 21:17.
  • You can be taken to court for your faith (where it is illegal to be a Christian) – Mark 13:9.
  • You can be put to death – Matthew 10:21.

So there are different levels of  persecution, from something as simple as ridicule, to being put to death.

But there is good news  . . .

The Spirit gives us the courage we need to stay true

In these situations Jesus tells us not to be ashamed of him and his words – Mark 8:38. He also tells us not to fear those who can only kill you, that is your body and not your soul – Matthew 10:28.

But he doesn’t leave us alone. As Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses . . ..” – Acts 1:8. The Spirit helps us, where we would not be able to do it in our own strength. Although we would give in to our fear, or shame, the Spirit gives us the courage and boldness we need.

The difference that the Spirit makes can be seen in the example of the disciples. When Jesus was persecuted and eventually killed, they were cowards. They abandoned Jesus, ran and hid in fear. But after they had received the Spirit, they were willing to give their lives (e.g. James – Acts 12:1-2).

The promise of eternal blessings

If we remain true in times of persecution God will reward us. It will be worth it. Jesus said:

“Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Mark 8:35.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10.

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” – Mark 13:13.

If we endure, we will enter the kingdom eternal.

[Follow this link to read some stories of perseuction from the time of the Protestant reformation – Martyr Stories]

[Follow this link to read stories of persecution in the world today – http://www.persecution.com]

William Higgins