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To a fish swimming in the ocean its whole world is contained in that water. It's a beautiful world...colourful and full of variety with many different species of fish and plants. But that is all it knows. It has absolutely no idea that there is a whole different dimension of life above its sea. It has never watched the sun rise, or seen it brilliantly lighting up a world of trees and grass and waterfalls; animals and beings that walk on two legs. It has never felt the pitter-patter of rain on its face, or the breeze, or the crunchy bite of snow. It has never seen the moon shining at night, or the stars twinkling from their awesome domain.
But suppose a miracle happened and in an instant of time our fish could breathe oxygen and stand erect. It would come out of the world it has known all its life, walk up onto the sand at the shore, and discover a new world...a whole new dimension of life that it never knew existed.
That is a picture of what has happened to you! You started a brand new dimension of living when you received Jesus into your life.
One man has said "When you find Jesus Christ, life finds you!"
The Living Bible puts it this way: "When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!" (2 Cor. 5:17-20).
Salvation is not something you do, but something Jesus does when you receive Him. No way can you save yourself, any more than a drowning man can. He needs the help of someone else. He's saved when he puts his total trust in the life-saver. That's what Jesus has done for you. He has rescued you from a life that was overwhelmed by sin, under the control of Satan, and heading for the well-deserved judgement of God...and He's planted your feet on the firm ground of God's domain, taking you out of your old ways and giving you eternal life.
The Bible says that God has "rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan's kingdom and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins" (Col. 1:13,14 - Living Bible).
An eternal transaction was taking place as Jesus was dying on the Cross. He was representing you and me before His Father.
God's righteous judgment had pronounced us guilty because we had sinned...but in His great love had sent His Son to take the punishment we deserved instead. When you received Jesus into your life this is the wonderful exchange that took place..."God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then in exchange he poured God's goodness into us". (2 Cor. 5:21 - Living Bible).
Now a whole new way of living spreads before you...and it all revolves around a special person. . .Jesus Christ. When you opened your life to Him, you started living under His control.
The Bible has another way of describing what has happened to you. It calls it being "born of the Spirit".
A man came to Jesus one night. He was a very religious man, but Jesus took one look at him and knew that he was lacking the most important thing of all.
"Nicodemus" he said, "You must be born again". Poor Nicodemus. He'd never heard of such a thing. He tried to fathom it out. How could he possibly enter his mother's womb and be born a second time! Then Jesus explained it to him: "What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; so don't be surprised at my statement that you must be born again" (John 3:5-7 - Living Bible).
Jesus was using birth as an illustration. He was picturing the experience of coming alive to God in the realm of the Spirit.
A baby has no knowledge or contact with the outside world before it is born, and in the same way every individual who has not been born of the Spirit of God has no knowledge or contact with God, and with the things of heaven and eternity.
For nine months before it is born a baby is alive. It has all the potential of life, without the ability to use it.
It has eyes -- but it can't yet see. There is another eyesight lying dormant in each one of us, waiting to be "turned on" by the Spirit of God. It is the ability to understand the things of God. Imagine if two unborn babies could communicate with one another and one said to the other, "I don't believe in what I've heard about this life after birth!" To us that seems ridiculous when we realise all the tremendous possibilities that lie before a young life as it's born into the world. But the same thing is true of spiritual life. The Bible puts it this way:
"The unspiritual person doesn't accept the things of the Spirit of God; to him they are foolish and he can't understand them because they are spiritually understood". (1 Cor. 2:14)
Before birth a baby has ears but it can't hear. Many times before He spoke to the crowds Jesus would cry out: 'He that has ears...let him hear!' There is an ability to hear God through spiritual ears. God has always desired to communicate with you. He's made you alive in the spirit so that you can hear Him!
A baby also has a mouth and the potential of speech before it is born...but has no ability to communicate. God wants to have fellowship with us. That is, He wants to have mutual communication...to talk to us, and for us to talk with Him. It's only possible as we are spiritually alive.
The first thing a baby does when it is born -- is cry. It breathes air for the first time. The Bible calls the Spirit of God the "breath of life", and when you received Jesus, God "breathed" His Spirit into you and you were "born again".
Next, the nurse will take the baby and wash it. When we are born spiritually a cleansing takes place in our souls. All the grime and dirt we have picked up throughout our lives from the things we have thought, said and done, is washed away by the Spirit of God.
After it has been washed, the baby is clothed. Think of the hours a mother spends preparing those little garments for the new member of the family. The Bible says God clothes His spiritual children with the garments of His righteousness.
Then the baby is nursed and nourished by it's mother. The Apostle Peter writes to the new Christians and tells them:
"Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation". (1 Peter 2:2).
You will grow in your faith by reading God's Word, the Bible...it's your spiritual food.
Finally, the baby is given the family name. When you were born of the Spirit you became part of the family of God. God is your Father who loves and cares for you. Now you bear His Name, and everywhere you go you represent Him.
Here you are then...you've stepped out onto the threshold of a new dimension of living. Suddenly you're seeing life around you in a new perspective. You feel so clean inside, and so full of the joy God has given you, even the trees and the flowers look brighter. You see your friends...and even your enemies...in a different light. You understand why they sometimes act the way they do...they need Jesus just like you did. God has been so good to you, now, instead of being full of your own selfish thoughts, you want to help others and bring them into the same blessing you have received. Life is wonderful!
And that is just what Jesus said he'd come to do...
"I have come that they might have life...and have it more abundantly!" (1 John 10:10).
But not only that! You're also finding that you have a new awareness of eternal realities. God is no longer some great influence way up in the sky somewhere ...He's a real person to you. He's a loving father! Jesus is so real you can talk to Him every day, and hear Him speak to you in that quiet voice deep inside. You'll never be alone again. Jesus said
"I am with you always...I will never leave you nor forsake you'. (Matt. 28:20, Heb. 13:5).
Every day, for the rest of your natural life, you are going to be discovering more and more about your wonderful Lord. In fact, stretching before you is a life-time of exciting discoveries. You'll need a map and a guide to help you...and God has provided both. The Bible is His written word to you. It maps out for you all that Jesus has done, is doing, and is going to do. It contains all the wonderful promises of God that now belong to you because you belong to Him. It is a complete manual for life, which covers instruction and promises for every aspect of your life and future. You will be wanting to really get into it like all your Christmases have come together! As you read you will learn the wonders of God's love for you; His plan for your life both now and throughout eternity. You will start to have unfolded to you the fulness of what Jesus has given you, and the kind of person you are now because you are His.
Just as God has given us the Bible to be our map for life, so He has given us the Holy Spirit to be our constant companion and guide. As you begin to walk along your road of discovery, the Holy Spirit is leading you every step of the way. His work is to lead us into all truth, and to reveal the many qualities of God's character to us...not only showing us what God is like, but changing us to be like Him. God's plan is for us to live with Him forever, so we need to develop the capacity to live comfortably in the atmosphere of purity, holiness, peace, joy and truthfulness. The work of the Holy Spirit in us performs the initial miracle of new birth, and thereafter continues a progressive growing in our new life until one day all Christians will be fully matured and made perfect before the Lord.
This is how the Bible describes the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives:
"But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him". (2 Cor. 3:18 - Living Bible).
This is a real time of rejoicing. You are now part of God's family...the Royal family of the universe! Sons of the King! The Apostle Paul describes it like this:
"Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God's very own family, citizens of God's country, and you belong in God's household with every other Christian. What a foundation you stand on now: the apostles and the prophets; and the cornerstone of the building is Jesus Christ Himself! We who believe are carefully joined together with Christ as parts of a beautiful, constantly growing temple for God. And you also are joined with Him and with each other by the Spirit, and are part of this dwelling place of God". (Eph. 2:1922 - Living Bible).
The Bible uses many illustrations to describe the new relationship we have with God and our new spiritual family. We are called "living bricks being built into a spiritual house that God dwells in" (1 Pet. 2:5), or "soldiers in the army of the Lord" (2 Tim. 2:3,4), but perhaps the main illustration God uses is that of a Body.
"And God has put all things under his (Jesus) feet and made him the supreme Head of the church -- which is his body, filled with himself..." (Eph. 1:22,23 Living Bible).
"Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the "body" of Christ...All of you together are the one body of Christ and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it". (1 Cor. 12:12-27 - Living Bible).
You have now become part of a spiritual Body, and just as every part of your physical body is important to the rest of it, so are you important to the rest of the Body of Christ and every other individual Christian is important to you.
Go to[ Part 2].
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Copyright © 1983, 1996 Paul Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.
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