June 13, 2021

I'm a Christian, Now What? (Part 3)

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 incorporate into your thinking.  You’ll find these concepts throughout scripture, developed in various ways.  We are going to explore them as they appear in the second part of the book of Romans (chapters 5-8).  In the first part  Romans (chapters 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 entry, 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 is next, what the gospel does to you.  This is the subject of Romans 5-8.  We will examine this text in four parts.Part 3: New PowerGod’s gifts of new identity and new purpose are apparently not enough.  He also gives us a new power to become the people we were meant to be.  Carl Sandburg said, “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippo who wants to wallow in the mud.”  We might know that in Christ we’ve become eagles, we might understand that our new purpose is to fly but we often find we can’t get off the ground.  Eagles are powerful creatures, but the eagle in us can’t lift the hippo.  We need power from the outside.  Jesus brings that power through the Holy Spirit.  “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).  The same power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work in us, since we’ve been cleansed by the work of Christ and thereby made fit to be temples of God.But how do we access that power?  Ultimately, it is the power of God that accesses us.  Empowerment is first and foremost God’s work.  And yet, it is possible to place ourselves in the path of that empowerment.  As some have said, we don’t make the wind, but we can throw up a sail.  There are many ways to do so but Paul gives two in this text.  First, we can live by the Spirit (8:4).  The word “live” can also be translated “walk,” in the sense of strolling around (a market place, for example).  Most of us “live” at such a pace and with such blinders that no outside influence can grab our attention, including the Holy Spirit.  We access the power of the Spirit by slowing down and remaining open to his promptings.  Second, we access the power of the Spirit by setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (8:5).  This is not positive thinking, this is setting the mind on the things of the Spirit so that we’re ready to see and seize upon the movement of the Spirit when it comes.  We don’t determine the movement of the Spirit but we can be alert so that we notice when the Spirit starts to move in a particular direction.  And if you find you don’t know what the things of the Spirit are, this is where Scripture study becomes critical.  The more familiar we become with the personality of the Holy Spirit, the quicker we are to recognize his presence.And when he is present, he brings the strength to lift the eagle above the hippo, just like he lifted Christ from the grave.  So know that there is a new power available in the Holy Spirit.  Listen for his movements and become familiar with his ways.