Happy New Year!
Most of us in the United States have just completed our Christmas celebrating and are now getting back to our normal routine of life.
I personally think it is a great idea to celebrate Christmas just before the new year starts. Because Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived on earth, and was victorious over death, many things have changed. In Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the ‘mystery’. The mystery is fulfilled because of Jesus.
You ask, “What things have changed?” Well, here are a few:
1. Because Jesus came to earth and ministered, everyone becomes eligible for eternal life with God. Because of God’s grace, salvation is now available to everyone, not just to the Jews. We are undeserving of eternal life, but because of God’s love for us, He made it possible for us gentiles to have salvation.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)
2. When I sin, I don’t have to go to the priest to have my sin forgiven. In the Old Testament, this could only take place once a year. If I committed a sin the day after the priest had sacrificed for my previous sin, I would have to wait another year with the guilt of my sin. Now Christ has become our priest and is available instantly. When I confess my sin, I am forgiven! I don’t have to wait for the right time of year to seek forgiveness. In addition, I do not have to make a blood sacrifice because God has already made that sacrifice for me.
Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:10(NIV)
3. Also, in the Old Testament times, people had to work for their salvation. God gave the people laws that they had to observe, feasts that they were to have, they had to observe special days, they even had to marry their sister-in-law if their brother died. But now we do not have to earn our salvation. God has given us salvation through faith and not because of our works.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10(NIV)
4. Because of Jesus ministry on earth, I have been given the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of the Lord was only given to certain people. And it could even be taken away from those people if God so chose.
When Samuel anointed David to be king, David received the Spirit of the Lord.
”So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. 1 Samuel 16:13(NIV)
A few verse later, we see that God had taken the Spirit of the Lord away from Saul because of Saul’s disobedience. God spoke to Samuel the prophet and told him that He regretted making Saul king.
“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 1 Samuel 16:10 (NIV)
This was difficult for Samuel to accept. In fact he cried out to the Lord all that night.
1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells about what happened when God took the Holy Spirit away from Saul. (Please note: the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit from the Lord are not the same)
14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”
17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”
18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”
19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.
21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”
23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. 1 Samuel 16:14-23(NIV)
When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His crucifixion, he told them that His Father would give them an advocate, a comforter that would continue to minister to them just as Jesus ministered to them.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:23-27(NIV)
What more could we ask for?
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman s 8:32-39(NIV)
Happy New Year!