Sermon Series—Six Decisions That Will Change Your Life: The Decision for a New Life
1 Corinthians 15.45–50 MSG
“We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam (from the Garden of Eden) received life (from God), the Last Adam (Jesus) is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.
I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?”
Week 2 of our series “6 Decisions That Will Change Your Life” is The decision for a new life. Last week saw that the decision to follow meant following Jesus into every area, sphere and circle you can imagine. Following Christ means being Christ in every way, in very place.
Today’s text from the Apostle Paul teaches us about the great need to take on a new life, or as it is elsewhere called, being born again. Some of us may be familiar with the Gospel of John text where a man named Nicodemus comes to Jesus, confessing that Jesus must be a teacher whom God is with, because of the great miracles and works Jesus has performed. But Nicodemus hasn’t yet seen Jesus for Who He really is.
True faith in Jesus is accepting within your heart–of–hearts that Jesus is the Son of God who has come to save. This moment of acceptance is when faith is born in the heart and we are what Christ calls “born again”. Miraculous works are meant to lead people to repentance and faith in Christ. If these works only lead to “awe” or respect for Christ, then there is no saving faith and therefore there is no re-birth. Nicodemus, like us many times, was focused only on what was in plain sight. When we look with eyes of flesh, we see flesh. But if we look with eyes of the Spirit, we see the Spirit.
Now, this re-birth / being born again / new life idea we’re talking about today means just what our text from Paul tells us. Paul wants his readers in Corinth to see that like Adam in the Garden of Eden, we are born into the this world as flesh and blood. And because of the sin that has entered into this world, we are bound by that flesh and blood and kept from being complete.
In the eyes of God, the complete person is someone who is born of flesh and blood and then takes on the gift of heaven—the Spirit within their heart and life. Only then, when they are made new, are people born again and able to be a citizen of heaven, a member of the kingdom of God. They must be born from above, a gift that the second Adam, as Jesus is affectionately called, can bring to us.
Many who come to Christian faith try to experience new life without having put on Jesus Christ as their life. They have not taken on Jesus as their way of being. The Scriptures tell us, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes” (Galatians 3.26–27 NLT).
To be united with Christ in baptism is to accept what God has done in that sacramental moment for the rest of your life, meaning, that you have been provided with grace that forgives you of all your sins and equips you for a SPIRITUAL life, rather than an earthly one. That grace is applied in your life over and over again, as you call on it, as you accept it throughout the span of your existence.
The decision for a new life means taking on the spiritual in a world filled with flesh. It means exchanging the things of this world for the things of the world to come. It means to anticipate God’s next move instead of our own. It means putting your hope in what you can’t see rather than in what you see around you every day; things that continue to fail, to disappoint, to push us down, time and time again.
Hebrews 11.1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Faith is leaning on the spiritual. Jesus reminds us of this when He speaks to the Apostle Thomas in John 20.19, “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”” (NIV).
The great hope is that each of you will make a decision for a new life; a life that comes from Heaven instead of Earth. Will you put on the Spiritual or will you cling to the Earthy? Will you trust in what you see or will you reach out to receive that which is unseen? What is your decision: the same old earthly life or a new life from God that prepares you for eternity? I say, choose a new life. Amen.