Wednesday, June 22, 2011

God restores us: Atonement and new birth (part 3)

Salvation runs far deeper than settling accounts with God. In addition to God's forgiveness, we are given new life. If our problem were only a debt, that could be settled by accounting. But our hearts and minds become corrupted and need to be re-created. God gives us new life that is a re-creation as the persons God intended us to be.

Some speak as if the "new life" comes mainly through the Holy Spirit. But Jesus is also part of how we receive new life.
I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

This idea of new life is part of Jesus' teaching to us about the kingdom of God. Over and over as he explained what the kingdom of God is like, he often started by speaking of a seed, a new life that grows:
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who cast seed on the ground. (Mark 4:26)

It is like a grain of mustard seed. (Mark 4:31)

A sower went out to sow his seed (Luke 8:5)

Christ gives us the picture of growing things -- things started by seed and maturing to bring fruit -- as a way to understand how the new life leads to growth and maturity:
Other seed fell into good ground and brought forth fruit. (Matthew 13:8)

Every good tree brings forth good fruit. (Matthew 7:17)

Jesus and his followers speak of the last judgment using the same "seed" theme, speaking of a harvest of the good that the earth has grown:
When the fruit comes forth, then he gathers with the sickle because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:29)

Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the harvest time has come; the harvest of the earth is ripe. (Revelation 14:14)

If Jesus says new life comes as a seed, where does it start? What is the seed?
Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. (Luke 8:11)

Being born again, not of perishable seed but imperishable, by the Word of God, which lives and remains forever. (1 Peter 1:23)

Peter's proof that our new life is imperishable is this: the new life comes from the Word of God, and the Word of God is imperishable, therefore the new life is imperishable. It is more than a figure of speech to Peter when he says that we have new life by being born again from the seed of the Word of God. He pictures the word of God as living and active -- able to bring us to new life and cause us to be born again.

To be continued ...

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

The seeds of flowering plants contain the embryo, but also two other tissues, the seed coat, which comes from the parent plant, and the endosperm, nutritive tissue, which is the result of a second fertilization, one in addition to the one that produced the embryo.