God makes a promise to the person whose trust in the resurrected Jesus expresses itself in two ways. (1) His or her faith in Jesus produces repentance, a redirection of life. (2) His or her faith and redirection of life results in baptism. The combination of faith, repentance, and baptism enables a person to participate in Jesus' death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-7).

What promise does God make? God gives these people newness of life. The person who was dead is now alive. The person who was captured by the darkness of evil is now liberated by the light of Jesus Christ. The person who was dead in the evil that he or she committed is resurrected to life in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-6).

How is that possible? God's grace. His goodness makes it possible. Can the goodness of the person make it happen? No. Can the worthiness of the person make it happen? No. Can a person "obligate" God through correct human deeds? No. Can a person through human deeds and acts manipulate God? No. Is God "in debt" to this person? No. The person trusts God's promise in Jesus Christ. God who cannot lie honors His promise. The person receives newness of life as a gift, as God's gift.

No person can give another person newness of life. Christians collectively as the church cannot. Christians as individuals cannot. Elders cannot. Deacons cannot. Preachers cannot. Ministry leaders cannot. Missionaries cannot. Only God can give newness of life.

Newness of life does not exist in a person by "collective human consensus." A person does not have newness of life because we agree he or she has it. Newness of life is not absent in a person because we declare it is absent. Newness of life is in the person who is in Christ. That person has newness of life because God gave it to him or her.

Can God give it to anyone who enters Jesus Christ? Yes. A drug addict? Yes. An alcoholic? Yes. A prostitute? Yes. A thief? Yes. An adulterer? Yes. A divorced person? Yes. A rejected person? Yes. A greedy person? Yes. A liar? Yes. A materialist? Yes. Someone addicted to pleasure? Yes. A selfish person? Yes.

God gives newness of life to every man or woman who trusts what God did in Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, who chooses to redirect life, and who participates in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not given to those who "deserve" it. No one deserves it. It is a gift. Only God can give it. Only those who trust God can receive it.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 6 February 2000

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