Dec. 31, 2000 A.M.
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City, MT
I was reading in Friday’s paper about what the first baby born in the new year was going to receive from various businesses around town. I have even heard that there are couples that try to have their baby be the first born where they live so that they can receive these prizes ---- I have to wonder if they’re in it for the prize or for the baby? There is something about the new year that has people making all kinds of promises of how life will be different – how there will be changes – how they will become someone new. Well, I want to tell you the same thing this morning – about how you can become someone new and there won’t have to gamble on receiving a prize because each and every person who accepts the challenge to become new will receive one – and its called eternal life.
We’re going to be looking at few different Scriptures today, mainly in the books of John and 1 John – the first Scripture I want us to look at is in John, chapter 3 verses 1-3
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (New Revised Standard Version)
As we come to the end of one year and start another, many look forward to changes that they will make or at least hope can be made. Its like they want to be born again and become new – well, Jesus says that we can be born again, not from a woman but from above, through the grace of God. But there are requirements to being born again – it doesn’t happen like most people think, at the close of one year, there are things that need to be done. Let’s look at the first of these requirements – turn to 1 John 4:14-16.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (We did that last week by celebrating Christmas) If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
Just because the date changes from Dec to Jan doesn’t mean things are new, but we are told that if we “acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, God will live in us and we will live in God.” And how do we do that? By confession. We must say those words, that we believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. You see, that’s the first step.
Now, flip back to the Gospel of John, the 4th chapter. Just claiming that Jesus is the Son of God does not save you either – you must face the truth of sin, that you are a sinner. Remember the discussion that Jesus had with the woman at the well? John 4:16-18
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
The woman faced her sin and admitted it to Jesus. There’s another key point, we have to admit our sins to Jesus, not to man. I can do nothing to forgive your sins, that’s between you and God and Jesus said that He would be our go between. He goes before the seat of God on our behalf – He started it that day on the cross, when He died in our place for our sins!
Eph. 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has always wanted us to be with Him, His will is that no one die, but that is not the will of so many people. Yet, year after year they make false promises to themselves about how they are going to change and become a better person. The only way for that to happen is for them to accept the grace of God and ask Him into their lives, then and only then will they become better people – changed people, new people!
1 John 5:1 tells us, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” – I know that sounds a lot like confession but its not --- you have to truly believe it with your whole heart. There are many people who say that Jesus is the Son of God, but if they truly believed it they wouldn’t be walking in the ways of the world and doing the things that the world wants them to do. We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, we must know it with all our being and one of the best ways to do that is to say it out loud – proclaim what you believe in your heart. And if you proclaim what you believe in your heart – that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, then your actions will show that. 1 John 2:29 says, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.”
If you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that of course means that you believe He is righteous, then you are able to see that in others, you can see those that are a part of the family of God. Don’t get to hung up here on being able to see if others are following God or not – don’t become a judge of your brothers and sisters. But if a person tells you that they are born again, that they believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, then their actions should show it! Or at least we should be trying with all our might to do what God wants us to do. There are many in this town who will tell you they are saved, that they are born again, yet you can find them in the bars every Friday night and you hear the most vulgar words come out of their mouths. When you say you are a child of the King, your life show it. We are not of this world, we belong to a new order, an order that causes us to look and act different than the rest of the world.
As Christians we are born from above, born by the Spirit of God and the water of baptism. Jesus tells us in John 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” We are a product of our parents, we take on some of their traits and likenesses – as I get older I am looking more and more like my dad – the same is true of Christians that are born of the Spirit of God – be start looking more and more like our heavenly Father. We take on His traits and characteristics, we become more holy, more righteous. We start looking less and less like the rest of the world and more and more like God! Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
We have been given everything we need to live righteously in an unrighteous world and it can be found in the Word of God. His Word will never pass away it goes on forever and ever, its imperishable and so are we, for the Word of God is our nourishment, it helps us to grow and develop and become mature. That’s why its so important to read the Word each and every day, to study it and apply it to our lives.
We can be new this coming year, we can be new starting this morning. Turning one more time to the Gospel of John the 1st chapter we are told – “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” There is nothing that can compare to becoming a child of God! And to every one who does, He gives a prize – the gift of true life, life everlasting. You don’t have to wait for a specific day to receive this prize – as a matter of fact you can receive it today and all you have to do is, “receive Jesus, truly believe in His name, and you will have the RIGHT to become a child of God – born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” This could be yours today!