New Wine for New Wineskins December 2013

By , December 1, 2013 12:41 am

reallifeinjesusReal Life (Part 1) Born of the Holy Spirit

It’s that time of year again when everyone becomes consumed with the christmas spirit (the lack of capitalisation is deliberate).

On a positive note, it can be a time of opportunity for the church to present the good news of the kingdom in ways that are not possible at other times of the year to people who are not always so accessible or amenable to what, in other seasons they are more inclined to perceive and dismiss as the unwanted religious overtures of over-zealous Christian fanatics.

And so, in the midst of the shopping frenzy and all of the tinsel and party atmosphere it is good to make the most of every open door and to seek to restore meaning to it all by endeavouring to introduce people to the One who is the Reason for the Season, and whose reason for coming into this broken world was to bring the gift of reconciliation and healing to us all.  He is the One who came to give us REAL LIFE!  I’m sure most of us have seen or heard the slogan, “Jesus is for life – not just for Christmas!”

Please don’t get me wrong.  I believe it is right and proper to continue to celebrate the coming of the Saviour into the world.  However, sometimes it is good to get behind the tinsel and the baubles and get back to the reality of why he came so that we don’t miss out on any of the enjoyment of the life that he came to give.

If there is one thing I like it is for things to be REAL!  

Listen to how the greatest move of God the world has ever known began – because this is the way it is meant to continue!

Luke 1: 35

35 And the angel…….said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

The angel put it this way to Joseph:

Matthew 1: 20 – 21

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

This move of God had an impressive publicity team and yet it had absolutely nothing to do with hype, hubris, or hyperbole!  And nor should it today!  When something is born of the Holy Spirit then he organises his own publicity!

Luke 2: 10 – 11

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

If we are going to experience REAL LIFE as God intended it then the first thing we need to understand is:


When Jesus was born into the world the Word of God became a man and revealed to us the real life that God intends each of us to live.  Jesus said that in order to experience this brand new quality and quantity of life we must be born from above just like him!

John 3: 1 – 7 (Amplified)

1NOW THERE was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews,  2 Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonder-works, these miracles–and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him.  3 Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb again and be born? 5 Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and [even] the Spirit, he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. 6 What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not [do not be surprised, astonished] at My telling you, You must all be born anew (from above).

When God created the first man from the dust of the ground he breathed his life into him and he became a living being.  

Genesis 1: 26 – 27; 2: 7

26 God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.  27 So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them……
7 Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being.

Some Hebrew scholars have said that man became a talking spirit!

God created man in his own image and likeness and breathed his life into man so that man became a living being – a spirit being just like God – born from above!  What would man’s relationship have been to God?  Surely he was a son to his Father!

But when man sinned this dimension of spirit life was lost as man fell from his spirit into his soul, and the relationship that he had enjoyed was broken and disconnected by his rebellion.

When Jesus, who Scripture tells us is the second and last Adam, was born from above he resisted every temptation to sin and so his relationship with his Father was maintained.

When we are born into this world we don’t become instantly capable of independent life.  We aren’t born with the ability to walk or talk or feed and clothe ourselves, etc.  It is the same when we are born of the Spirit – born from above.  Obviously, there is a change of environment and so we must be nurtured in this new life and learn how to walk in the Spirit and to talk in the Spirit, and how to live by faith and appropriate all that our Father has provided for us.

2 Corinthians 5: 17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This new creation is created to contain the Creator – God manifesting his Son in and through us.  Obviously, this is going to involve a learning process.  We need the nurture and training that produces a transformed life.

Remember – Jesus invites us to come and learn from him.  He was subject to his parents until he grew in wisdom and stature.  He perfectly honoured them and submitted to them and never once stepped out in rebellion or defiance.  We are told in the word of God to do the same – to honour and to submit to those who are over us in the Lord and who have been given responsibility for our spiritual growth and development.

Hebrews 13: 17

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

1 Timothy 5: 17

17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

We aren’t told much about the first thirty years of Jesus’ life beyond the spectacular circumstances of his birth and a brief survey of the events of the first couple of years. There is an account of what took place one day when he was twelve years old when we are shown that his focus was fixed on learning his heavenly Father’s business, and then it is basically fast forward to his baptism in the River Jordan at thirty years old. In a similar way, Moses disappeared off the radar for forty years during his time of preparation.  Paul also had a season (possibly as long as twelve years or more) where he was in preparation for  his apostolic ministry.

You will find that it is the same in the lives of the vast majority of those who are successful in following through on all that God has purposed for their lives and who often become well-known later on in their lives.  It sometimes seems as though their ministries appeared from nowhere with instant success.  But if you listen to them tell their story you will find that

although there may have been a temporary fanfare at the time of their new birth they then went into a place of virtual obscurity as they submitted themselves to the nurture and admonition of those whose care they were placed under and whose vision God had called them to serve.   Then, after many years those who have humbled themselves under God’s mighty hand are exalted in due season.  Do you want REAL LIFE?  Then this is the way!  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14: 6).

Luke 2: 39 – 40

39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

We must never forget that the life that is in us is the life of Christ and that which is conceived in us is of the Holy Spirit.  God commands us to honour our father and mother because they are our life source in the natural – they are the ones who gave us life.  He said that obedience to this command could actually impact the length of our life.  Likewise, in the spiritual, we must realise that it is essential to honour our heavenly Father and all of the spiritual gifts that he has placed around us to help train and equip us until we reach a place of maturity in the faith.  When we were born from above we were added to the church – we were placed in a safe environment where we could be fed, watered, and clothed and where we could grow in wisdom and stature.  Honour for those to whom God has committed our nurture and development will determine whether or not we will continue to access and live the life that has been conceived and birthed within us!  Those who sow honour will reap favour.

Ephesians 4: 11 – 16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

We often talk about this Scripture as though it is referring to some future event for the church but in reality it is revealing to us the Father’s plan for the growth and maturity of each one of us in the family of God in every generation.  

Sadly, in our days of a scattered, separated and divided church there is the opportunity for people to pick and choose according to their religious preferences – but this was never God’s plan for us.  He very carefully chose the place where he gave life to his Son and the environment and the people under whose care his Son would be raised.  In the same way, he carefully chooses a church family for us that is exactly what we need to bring us to maturity.  Every child has been faced with the temptation to quit on their family and leave home in a fit of rebellion, and every child of God will encounter the same temptation!  

As an example of the craziness of our modern world I remember reading an article a few years ago which related the story of a young teenager who an Australian court had allowed to divorce his parents.

It is true that sometimes, in this imperfect world children need to be transplanted from one family to another because of a lack of provision in their home, or their lack of response to the discipline within their home, and it can be the same in the church.  However, that is not a decision that is made by the child themselves, but that move is directed by whoever has responsibility for them.  The Holy Spirit is well able to show us where we need to be in order for us to receive all that we require to grow and mature spiritually.

How do you know that someone is born of the Spirit?  Well, you will never have to plead with him or her to come to church or have to fight to keep them saved!  You see, when they were born from above there was a cry opened up in them – “Abba, Father!”  Scripture also clearly states that we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.

And so, you might have a newborn phoning you several times a day, or you might get forty emails from them every week asking for something that will satisfy their hunger and quench their thirst for spiritual food and drink, or you might have them begging you to have a meeting every night of the week so that they can stay fed and watered and have the opportunity to be changed.  

But you will never have to call them up and ask them why you haven’t seen them for several weeks!

They have a new nature and that new nature wants to be in church!  According to 1 Peter 2: 2 – 3

2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.  NLT

Many people say that our childhood consists of the best years of our life, that it should be a time when we enjoy being care-free and where life is simple and uncomplicated.  We should have a similar attitude towards the early years of our spiritual development and not be in too much of a hurry to grow up.  God has a plan and he is not in as much of a hurry as we are.  We ought to make the most of our opportunities to learn how to walk in the Spirit while we are surrounded by those who can support us when we stumble and fall and who can equip us with the wisdom that we need to effectively launch out into all that God has planned for us, and who will faithfully release us into the fullness of our destiny when the Holy Spirit says it is time.

Think of the circumstances of Paul’s conversion.  People still talk about it.  But there was a lengthy period of preparation in his life from that point before he was released into the ministry that Jesus spoke to him about on the day he first met with him.

Acts 13: 1 – 2

1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Our children are forced into adulthood much too early – often with devastating results, and it is the same spiritually.  New believers are expected to grow up too fast, and can end up in a mess as a result.

1 Timothy 3: 1 – 7

1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

The happiest and most content children are always those who are the most obedient and responsive to instruction.

Matthew 18: 2 – 4

2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

If we are going to have REAL LIFE as God intends it then we must be born of the Holy Spirit into the family of God and be nurtured there until we come to a place of maturity.

I used to think that it was terrible that some people’s only witness line was, “You should come to our church” But as I was meditating on this message I remembered how kids are always trying to get others to come to their house.  I remember when I was a child and how all my friends loved to come to my house because it was a large house with lots of nooks and crannies and so it had the potential for all kinds of interesting activities for inquisitive and imaginative children.  Also, they weren’t left standing on the doorstep when they called for me as happened at some other people’s houses.  I can recall new converts from other churches saying to me in their excitement that I needed to come to their church.  I have had to tell them that unfortunately I am otherwise engaged most Sundays!

1 John 5: 3

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

We must be like Mary who in order to conceive, carry and birth the life of God said, “Let it be to me according to your word.

When we are born of the Holy Spirit and submit ourselves to his nurture and admonition we cannot fail to experience the fulfilment of his plan for our life!

Remember – this is how the move of God begins but he wants an unashamedly full-blown and mature church that continues to manifest his life in the earth until all have heard and all have seen the glory of God!  And so, although it all begins with the necessity of being born of the Holy Spirit – born from above – that is only the first stage!  

Are you born of the Spirit?  Is the fire of enthusiasm and excitement for the things of God still burning within you?  Are you crying out to be fed and watered – and changed when you mess up?

Be Superabundantly Blessed this Christmas season!  Give thanks to God for his indescribable gift, and take every opportunity to reach people with the good news of the kingdom – the word and the ministry of reconciliation!

Next time – we must be filled with and baptised in the Holy Spirit!

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