Luke 15: 11-31
Looking in more depth at the blessings that are available to us, it has been well said that what the Gospel of the risen Lord offers today is not a new start in life but a new life to start! A new life with new desires, new values, new love, and new hope. This life is best described as eternal life, no less.
The writer to the Hebrews affirms that those who are enlightened by the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of God’s holy word have also “tasted the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:4ff.A.V.). This life is confirmed in our hearts by the inward witness of the Spirit but it can only begin, like physical life, with a new birth.
The living Church of Christ has no alternative but to pulsate with resurrection life! The Saviour we worship is a living Saviour and his words are words of life (Jn. 6:63, 68). The apostle Paul explains: “We know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him” (Rom 6:9). Jesus was not resuscitated on the third day only to die again, but resurrected never to die at all.
This means that already we have the resurrected life of new birth encompassing the redemption and adoption of our souls. But we have not yet experienced the resurrection of our bodies. That is yet to come (Rom. 8:11, 23;1 Cor. 15:22-23). Even so, life reigns already. But what exactly is this resurrection, eternal life?
LIFE AND DEATH
Before we can answer what life is, we must ask what death is. Death then is the cessation of life? Ceasing to exist? But this is not primarily how the Bible defines death at all. In the story of the Prodigal Son, the Father says on the return of his son: “we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive…” Of course, the younger son was not dead at all, but what is being described is the lack of fellowship whilst the son was away.
Now we can ask: “How can we, who are dead in this way, become alive?” There is an answer of great simplicity and it comes in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. Physical life comes through a physical birth. There is no other way. Similarly, spiritual life can only come through a spiritual birth, effected by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:12).
For reflection: The apostle Peter explains that: “In his great mercy he (God) has given us new birth into a living hope…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead....” So new birth is God’s work, attributed here by Peter to the resurrection and not to be separated from it. Ask God to fill you with resurrection life today.