• Jon Forrest

a new you for the new year

The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest

A New Life in the New Year

Johnny's Mother looked out the window and noticed him "playing church" with their cat.

He had the cat sitting quietly and he was preaching to it. She smiled and went about her work. A while later, she heard a loud noise; there was meowing and hissing. She ran back to the open window to see Johnny baptizing the cat in a tub of water.

She called out, "Johnny, stop that! The cat is afraid of water!"

Johnny looked up at her and said, "He should have thought about that before he joined my church."

One of my favorite moments in a church service is when someone surrenders to the will of Christ and is baptized into him. Hopefully we are more enthusiastic than little Johnny’s cat. A private baptism is just as real as a public one, but my heart is most thrilled because the church family is blessed with the opportunity of witnessing the new birth of a brother or sister in Christ into the family. The Bible doesn’t teach that baptism is about “joining a church,” but the book of Acts suggests that, when a believer is baptized into Christ and salvation comes to the new believer, the Lord adds that person to the church family (see Acts 2:41 & 47).


In the second chapter of Acts, Peter was preaching that powerful sermon of Pentecost to thousands of people who had come that day to pray in the Temple. After giving the people a historical reminder of God’s preparation for the coming of the Messiah (i.e. The Christ) and telling them how this man named Jesus had been crucified at their hands and had been raised from the dead by the power of God he hit them with the zinger, “’Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’” (Acts 2:36)


Their response was one of great shock and sorrow, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)


“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’” (Acts 2:38-39)


These new believers were sorrowful in their hearts for causing the son of God, the Lord of all and the Messiah promised by God to be crucified because of their sinful lives. They wanted to know what to do about this new found belief. Peter told them how to take the next step toward receiving forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives. That step was to repent (turn from their old ways of false religion and sin) and be baptized (immersed in water) in the name (or by the authority) of Jesus Christ.


Verse 39 tells us that what Peter said in verse 38 was not just a command, but a promise to them that day and to everyone God would ever call to him in the future. That includes believers today.


Verse 41 tells us, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”


The Three Thousand people who were immersed into Christ entered into a new life with God. They were added to the approximately 120 previous members of the Lord’s church on that day. They were transformed into Christ Followers and began a continual transformation into the likeness of Christ that we read about in Colossians 3:1-10.


Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you believed on his name? Have you confessed him as the Son of God and Lord of your life? Have you repented of your old sinful life and turned that life over to Jesus Christ? Have you been baptized into him for the forgiveness of your sins, receiving the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Have you obeyed the command? Have you claimed the promise?


If not, why not enter into the New Year as a new you that will continually be renewed until the day Christ comes to take you home. Obey his command. Receive his promise and enter into the new life in this New Year right now. You won’t regret it.


I’m excited about sharing the third segment of our 4 part series Resolutions That Will Make A Difference, titled Commit Yourself to Restore Your Relationships based on Romans 12:18. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God. We demonstrate that through our relationships with one another. I hope to see you then.


Living the new life,

Jon

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