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A new beginning
When we are baptized, we begin a new life. We are "buriedwith him (Christ) by baptism into death" when we are immersedin the water at our baptism. The life we have lived up to that time comesto an end - it is a thing of the past. Then, as "Christ was raisedup from the dead by the glory of the Father", we too have to walkin newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Such a change is only possible through the grace of God.Being children of our Father in heaven, we can come to Him through Jesus.We shall fail often as we try to please Him, but when we ask for forgiveness,He will hear us for Jesus' sake.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne ofgrace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4: 16)
Feeding on God's Word
A baby needs food, and makes this need known in no uncertainway. Food is essential for growth. And those who are born to a new lifeby baptism can only grow in Christ if the new life is fed and nourishedby God's Word. So the apostle Peter says:
"As new born babes, desire the sincere milk ofthe word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter2: 2)
God has given us the Bible for our guidebook. It will helpus to live as He would have us live, and grow up into that "new man"in Christ. We read in 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God,and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instructionin righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnishedunto all good works"
Looking forward to the Kingdom
The apostle Peter tells us that God is "not willingthat any should perish" (2 Peter 3: 9), and John 3: 16 we readthat God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, so that "whosoever believethin him should not perish, but have everlasting life".
God wants to give us eternal life in His Kingdom.And so He is preparing us now for that life. He wants us to be there, andHe will help us in every possible way.
He has given Jesus to help us, and through Jesus we cancome to Him in prayer.
Help from Jesus
Jesus once said to his disciples:
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Fatherísgood pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke12: 32)
Jesus once offered a wonderful prayer to God for thosewho believe in him. You can read it in John 17. Notice the words of verse24:
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hastgiven me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thouhast given me"
Jesus also wants us to be in his Kingdom. So he will helpus on the way. We will never be left to struggle alone. Jesus is not onlythe Saviour through whom our sins are forgiven; he is also our guide throughlife. He will share our life, with all its ups and downs and joys and sorrows,and help to fit us to live with him in God's Kingdom.
So the apostle Peter, who knew Jesus so well when he wason earth, says:
"Casting all your care upon him, for he carethfor you" (1 Peter 5: 7)
Belonging to a worldwide family
"As many of you as have been baptized into Christhave put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bondnor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in ChristJesus" (Galatians 3: 27, 28)
It does not matter who you are, or where you are; if youhave become a Christadelphian by being baptized into Christ, all other Christadelphiansare your brothers and sisters. (Remembering the name "Christadelphian"means "brethren in Christ".) It is a great joy to belongto such a family, who are to be found throughout the world.
Jesus said to his disciples before his death - and he stillsays it to us today:
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another,as I have loved you" (John 15: 12)
He loved us so much, that he suffered death for us. Helaid down his life for us, so, says the apostle John, "we oughtto lay down our lives for our brethren" (1 John 3: 16).
We know how we should behave to each other but,in practice, it is very hard. Our old self takes a long time to die! Someof us are quick-tempered; some are moody and easily irritated - all of ushave our faults.
These are things we have to fight against, as we try toshow to our brothers and sisters in Christ the love that Jesus has shownto us. There is a picture of that love in 1 Corinthians 13. "Charity"is an old-fashioned word for "love". Below are verses 4-7 of thechapter from the Revised Standard Version.
"Love is patient and kind: love is not jealousor boastful: it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its ownway; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, butrejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopesall things, endures all things."
Loving our neighbour
A lawyer once came to Jesus, and asked him which was thegreatest commandment. Jesus said to him:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thyheart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first andgreat commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbouras thyself" (Matthew 22: 37-39)
Read the story Jesus told about a good neighbour in Luke10: 30-37. If anyone is in need, we are to help him. We are not to stopand think whether we like him or not, or whether he really deserves ourhelp.
The greatest thing we can do for others is to pass on tothem the good news of the kingdom of God, which we ourselves have come tobelieve. As God has invited us to keep His ways and to share the joys ofHis kingdom, so we should want to invite others to share these things.
Praying and worshipping
When we are baptized into Christ, we become God's children,and we can come to Him in prayer, to worship Him and to ask for His helpin our lives.
Yet we must never forget how great God is. His glory andHis majesty are beyond our understanding. We read in Isaiah 57: 15:
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabitetheternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with himalso that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of thehumble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones"
James tells that God "resisteth the proud, butgiveth grace to the humble" (James 4: 6). Even the Lord Jesus,Godís Son, spoke of himself as being "meek, and lowly inheart" (Matthew 11: 29)
So when we come to God in prayer, we need to remember thewords of the apostle who says we should "serve God acceptably withreverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 11: 28). If we come in thisspirit, He will certainly hear us.
"Blessed are the meek"
In this world we are constantly told to fight for our rights.Those who stand up for themselves are admired. The great question in everyone'smind is, "What can I get out of life?"
This is not the way of the Christian. Paul says to thesaints at Philippi: "In lowliness of mind let each esteem otherbetter than themselves" (Philippians 2: 3). That is a hard thingto do: we all like to think we are a little better than the next man! Butwe are told, "By love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13), and in this, as in all things, Jesus is our example. Not long beforehis death, when he was sharing a last meal with his disciples,
"(Jesus) laid asidehis garments: and took a towel, and girded himself. After that, he pourethwater into a bason, and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe themwith the towel wherewith he was girded" (John 13: 4, 5)
The washing of feet was a slave's work. Yet that is whatJesus did, and afterwards he said, "I have given you an example,that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13: 15).
He served his disciples with love and lowliness, and wemust serve each other. Then we shall be the kind of people that God wantsin His kingdom.
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit theearth" (Matthew 5: 5)
We set out, when we are baptized, on the straight and narrowway that leads to God's Kingdom. But we are still very human, and we caneasily forget how much Jesus did for us when he died on the cross.
Jesus knew how easily his disciples would forget; so hetold them to do something to remind them. Turn to the Gospel of Luke, andread chapter 22: 14-20. This happened at that last meal we have just spokenabout, when Jesus washed his disciples' feet.
See how the bread and the wine were to remind his disciplesof how Jesus gave his life for them. He said to them, "This do inremembrance of me".
Now read 1 Corinthians 11: 23ñ28. The early Christiansmet on the first day of each week to remember Jesus in the way he had commandedthem.
True disciples of the Lord Jesus will meet together, asthe first disciples did (and usually Sunday is the most convenient day forsuch meetings), to break bread and to drink wine, remembering how Jesus'body was given and his blood was shed for them.
As we grow up in Christ, remembering Jesus in this waywill become more and more important to us, helping us to realise that heis with us all the time.
Walking in newness of life means:
- reading God's Word every day:
"The entrance of thy words giveth light: it givethunderstanding to the simple" (Psalm 119: 130)
- praying to God and praising Him at all times:
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayerand supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known untoGod" (Philippians 4: 6)
- loving our brethren and sisters:
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love isof God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4: 7)
- being considerate to other people, and helping them wheneverwe can:
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would thatmen should do to you, do ye even so to them"(Matthew 7: 12)
- not taking part in the ungodly activities of the world:
"Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate,saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters,saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)
- above all else, loving God with all our being:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thineheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6: 5)
Chapters to read: 1 Corinthians13; Luke 10: 30-37, Luke 22: 14-20; 1 Corinthians 11: 23-28
A good verse to memorize: 2Corinthians 5: 17
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a newcreature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."
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