June 13, 2021

I'm a Christian, Now What? (Part 1)

You’ve just taken the big step.  You placed your faith in Jesus Christ.  You are probably wondering what’s next.  The first answer is that there are a lot of things you could do.  This is a relationship with a living God, not a to-do list.  But, there are a few important concepts to ponder.  You’ll find these concepts throughout scripture, developed in various ways.  We are going to explore them as they appear in the book of Romans, chapters 5-8.  In Romans 1-4, the Apostle Paul describes what the gospel is: the grace of God made available in Jesus Christ.  For the purpose of this blog, I’m assuming you have a basic understanding of the gospel and that you have received Christ Jesus as your Lord and your Savior.  Now you need to understand what the gospel does to you.  This is the subject of Romans 5-8.  We will examine this text in four parts.Part One: New PersonhoodRomans 5-6 tells of a simple truth.  When the gospel comes into your life, you become a new person.  You used to be a slave to sin.  Now you have died to sin and so are no longer a slave to it (6:6).  You have gone from slavery to freedom.  You have a new identity.  Of course, you still struggle with sin.  That’s because you have not yet fully embraced your new identity.  A slave who’s lived a lifetime of subservience to a harsh master often finds it difficult, even uncomfortable, to embrace a sudden freedom.  The impulse to acquiesce lingers on.  A familiar hell sometimes wins out over an unfamiliar heaven.I think this is why Paul highlights baptism in the discussion of the new personhood Christ brings (6:1-5).  Baptism is a means for driving home the point that we’ve been given a new identity.  Baptism symbolizes our union with Christ in his 1) death (dunking), 2) burial (submersion) and 3) resurrection (emergence from the water).  A person is baptized in front of his or her family and loved ones and they serve as witnesses to the fact that a new identity has come.  The deeper the impression of this new identity, the stronger the impulse to live according to it, in freedom and newness.  The gospel changes us, in part, by bringing us a new identity.  But this is an identity that we need to come to embrace.”I’m a Christian, now what?” you ask.  Be baptized.  Let your community help you embrace your new identity.hand-in-water.jpg

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