April 5th marked the 28th anniversary of the day the Lord saved me by His grace. The day I experienced new life that only He can give.
Warmer days found me watching for new life as I strained my eyes for the first glimpse of the daffodil bulbs I had planted last Fall. And then one day, there they were! Little shoots of green, rising out of deadness to newness of life. And once they started, how they've grown, with many other plants springing up to join the first. Buds have appeared on tree limbs. Grass has turned green. Spring has finally come.
Easter arrived: a remembrance of Christ's death for our sakes, but a celebration of His triumphant resurrection. God the Father raising His Son to newness of life - without which we would have no hope of eternal life - ever.
And also this month, we had the joy of witnessing a young person obey the Lord in baptism. The following verse was read,
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:
that like as Christ was raised up from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life.
New life. Spring... once again.
So we also should walk in newness of life.
Walking indicates movement. Forward, purposeful advancement. Newness of life signifies growth. Fresh, tender, new. Just like the shoots of my daffodil leaves. Each day I go outside to check on their progress and the new life of other plants around them. I enjoy seeing how much taller they've grown since the day before. And they've been speaking to my heart. How is my walk? Am I like them, walking in newness of life? Am I walking at all? Am I running on the spot? Standing still? Sitting even? One has rightly said, "In the Christian life, there's no such thing as standing still. You're either moving forward or backward."
Peter wrote in his epistle,
As newborn babes,
desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby.
Oswald Chambers wrote, "When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it." *
Growth happens as I nourish my soul in the quietness of my time alone with Him. As I feed on His word, talk to Him and listen to Him, I will grow in the knowledge of Him. Growth happens as I meditate throughout the day on what I've read in His Word. I'll never exhaust Him. He is limitless. I will always find something new to feed upon.
The writer of the book of Hebrews expected growth in the lives of the Jewish believers and he was disappointed in what he saw. As he wrote, he rebuked them with the following words,
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers
ye have need that one teach you...
and are become such as have need of milk,
and not of strong meat.
Paul also rebuked the Corinthians in the same manner.
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat:
for hitherto ye were not able to bear it,
neither yet now are ye able.
1 Corinthians 3:2
Feeding on milk when it should have been meat. Needing to be taught when they should be teaching others. How about me? Could this rebuke be meant for me as well?
Peter wrote of the great promises given to those who believe in Jesus Christ, but he expected growth in their lives as well.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue;
and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance;
and to temperance patience;and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound (increase),
they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful
in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8
Add to your faith. Grow! Abound. Increase. Be fruitful. Walk in newness of life - each day!
And notice that these things have to do with our character - our inner man. While "doing" things for the Lord has its value, daily nourishment and growth in the Word of God is a must or starvation will be the result. As Paul said, our inner man needs to be renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). God is more interested in what He can do in us than through us. Listen to what He said to the church at Sardis.
I know thy works,
that thou hast a name that thou livest,
and art dead.
The Lord saw past the work they were involved in, past the name that they lived, past their reputation before others, to what really mattered - the inner man. I know your works, He said, but you are dead.
Dry stalks. No newness of life. All doing and no depth. What does my Lord see as He looks at me?
Paul had accomplished much in his life before his salvation (Phil. 3:4-6) and as one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, he laboured more than them all (1 Cor. 15:10), and yet he wrote,
... I count all things but loss for the excellency
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord...
that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings,
being made conformable unto his death.
Peter encouraged the Christians to...
Grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
Colossians 1:10 also says,
... walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Grow. Increase. Mature. This is what our Lord desires for us - just like the fresh, tender shoots of my daffodil plants reaching up to the warmth of the sun. If you've ever had the privilege of being with Christians just newly saved, you'll know the difference new life in Christ makes. Our Lord wants us to experience that freshness of new life always. As much today as we did when we were first saved. No, in fact, more today than when we were first saved. God wants us to get to know Him, to experience Him anew each day. Walking in newness of life, opening up to the warmth the Son, will be the result.
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.
May the words of this hymn bring joy to your soul as it has mine.
Life! Life! Eternal life!
Jesus alone is the Giver.
Life! Life! Abundant life!
Glory to Jesus forever!
*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Westwood, N.J.: Barbour & Co., 1935), 28 August