New life doesn’t come from enlightenment. New life comes only from the message of the good news of Jesus, which God has unveiled and made known for anyone who is willing to listen. To believers Peter wrote, “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23 NLT)
Here’s the blunt truth – mankind is hopelessly lost in sin, unable to saved ourselves or fix our mess. And into the middle of our mess, God has spoken. He has revealed Himself and His truth, which culminates in the message of the cross. Jesus died for sinners, paying our price, and then rose again in victory over sin, death, and the grave. This is our only hope, and this is the good news God has revealed for our redemption.
The Word of God is directly involved in our being born again to new life in Jesus. Without a word from God, we’d wander endlessly in our search for truth. But God has made His truth available to us by inspiring the Bible’s various authors, breathing His words through them as they wrote. And though it has been banned and burned in the fires of persecution for centuries, it survives, preserved for us today by the protection of the Father.
The Bible that often sits on a shelf in the closet or cooking on a car’s back dash between Sundays is the most precious possession we can own. It contains the message that transforms us, not just once when we are born again, but continually, daily, throughout eternity. It’s worth reading and heeding.
I grew up in the country in rural Kentucky where giving someone directions usually involved turning right just past the bridge, left after the third dead skunk, and if you see the red barn you went too far. Thankfully, the directions God gives us in His word for living life well are far more explicit. He tells us repeatedly that if we want our lives to move in the right direction, we need to start thinking straight.
Peter said to “prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.” (1 Peter 1:13 NLT) How do you prepare your mind for action?
Peter actually speaks in military terminology here. He says we ought to guard our minds the way a soldier cinches his belt tightly on the way into battle. This gave him a feeling of security and strength. Peter says we are to cinch up our minds for security’s sake. This means establishing healthy boundaries in our thought life – thinking purely and positively and shunning thoughts that are harmful or impure.
Thinking purely is half the battle, and thinking positively is the other half. Peter says we are “hope to the end.” There are two extremes to avoid when it comes to thinking positively. Obviously we need to avoid fatalism – the belief that all is hopeless, there is no God, there is no heaven, and everything is going to turn out badly. On the other hand, we need to avoid idealism – the ability that everything is fine just as it is, sin isn’t a reality, and everybody is basically good.
When the gospel guides our thinking, we are very realistic about sin, its effects, and its potential destructiveness. But we also are extremely positive because our hope is rooted in the redemption of the cross, the victory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the certain promise that God will make all things right and keep His word about our eternal home in heaven.
To sum it up… Think. Straight. Forward.
Let me focus in for a moment on Simon Peter, one of the key disciples surrounding Jesus. You may know the story by heart in which Peter asserted that He would never dessert the Lord Jesus, to which Jesus replied, “Before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” Sure enough, Peter forsook his allegiance to the Lord Jesus and denied Him, even cursing, to distance Himself from the cross.
For Peter, the story didn’t end there. There was a time of restoration and healing. Two elements would dominate Peter’s life for the rest of his existence. First, healing now. Second, hope forever!
Let’s listen to the heart of one man who was radically changed by the first Easter… one man who would never be the same again…
Continue reading Easter Means Healing Now, Hope Forever
One of the most powerful phrases in the New Testament is found in Acts chapter 12… “but prayer was made.” James was martyred, killed with the sword, and Peter was thrown in prison, “but prayer was made without ceasing by the church of God for him.”
The result? Freedom for Peter. Imagine how some of the church’s powerlessness might be remedied if we followed every difficulty with “but prayer was made.”
Continue reading Acts 12 Is Powerful… But Funny!
There’s a scene in The Lion King I really like when the old wise monkey hits Simba in the head with his cane. Simba demands, “Hey, why’d you do that?” The monkey replies, “It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that!
Continue reading It Doesn’t Matter – It’s In the Past!