Out of the Water to the Newness of Life

Out of the Water to the Newness of Life

The image of coming out of death into life is the unavoidable core message of the Christian faith. It’s illustrated by biblical contrasts like the darkness and the light, the old and the new, the night and the day, etc.

We act out the drama of life-springing-from-death in our baptism. The Apostle Paul wrote: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

I love that phrase, “newness of life”!

Baptism is a beautiful object lesson. Going under the water symbolizes our association with Jesus in His death; being under the water symbolizes our association with Jesus in His burial; and coming up out of the water symbolizes our association with Jesus in His resurrection. So, in my baptism I’m acting out the drama of dying with Him, being buried with Him, and now living with Him in the experiential reality of the “newness of life.”

That’s what Paul means when he writes, “I have been crucified [perfect tense, once and for all] with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

There you have it: Paul’s snapshot of the Christian life. He’s saying, ‘I’ve died – been to the cross, experienced a crucifixion. But look, I’m alive, in fact, I’m VERY MUCH alive! And this new life that I’m living, I’m living by faith in the One who loved me and who gave Himself for me.’

There’s something very beautiful here, two things actually.

First, there’s an assurance: I’ve met Jesus at the cross and now I am forever His. I’m not His because of any good that I’ve done, but rather because of the good that He’s done. I’m not saved because I’m good; I’m saved because He’s good. But, make no mistake about it, I AM SAVED! I have passed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son and I am forever His and He is forever mine!

But, alongside this great assurance, there’s also a process. Paul talks about “the life” he now lives in the flesh. He says he lives this life “by faith in the Son of God” – that is, by actively believing God at His Word, by embracing the Father’s agenda for his life, and by affirming that His promises are ‘yea and amen!’

While Paul rejoices in His salvation, he’s also quick to remind us that each day brings with it the challenge of meeting Jesus at the cross anew. He put it like this: “I die every day!” (1 Corinthians 15:31b).

Paul wanted to experience life every day – not mere biological life, but eternal life, spiritual life with the Father. So, he encouraged Timothy, a young pastor and clearly a born-again man, to “take hold of the eternal life” to which he was called (1 Timothy 6:12).

Now, isn’t that a curious thing for Paul to say? Why would the Apostle encourage a born-again man, a man who already has eternal life, to lay hold of it?

What’s he talking about? I think he’s encouraging Timothy to experience the eternal life that is already his right now, N-O-W, by meeting Jesus at a daily cross.

The Good Shepherd once said, “I came that [My sheep] may have life and have it abundantly.” I think we see a hint of both the once-and-for all and the take-hold of aspects of our eternal life in this statement.

Maybe we should reconnect with our baptism each morning – re-entering the waters, putting ourselves under with Jesus, and re-emerging to experience the “newness of life.”


To consider …

  • In a number of passages, Jesus and the writers of the New Testament speak of a life that we can experience now, not only in the future. Have you ever thought about your eternal life in the ‘sense of the now’?
  • What does Paul’s admonition to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” mean to you? Is there perhaps something that God wants you to experience that you’re missing? What’s keeping you from realizing it?
  • How might revisiting your own baptism lead you to the experience of what Paul called “newness of life”?
  • What do you think of the assurance and process aspects of your life with God? Do you struggle with either of these? Both? How might you resolve your disconnect with either?
  • Have you died lately? Today? Yesterday? The day before?

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  1. The prayer of my heart has been, “Lord, I know you want me to die to myself and to walk in newness of life, but can you give me some step-by-step instructions? Because I cannot figure out how to escape how I feel about the minute by minute terror of walking through this minefield we call our life.” And it just gets worse and worse and no answers. I get up in the morning and pray that this is the morning that I don’t lose my cool the minute the first child calls my name at 4 o’clock in the morning asking for a glass of water. I have begun to realize that maybe you don’t just all of a sudden “get” newness of life, but you have to “learn” newness of life. You have to know that newness of life is possible and then submit to the trials that either guide you there or make you lose your way entirely. Two days ago Lindsay brought Hannah and Dakota down from their nap and looked at me with a very apprehensive look. She looked like she was waiting for me to erupt like a volcano and was trying to decide which way to go to find cover. And then I LOOKED at the girls. They had found a pair of scissors and cut each other’s hair. No…scalped each other is a fairer word. I waited. Looked for that inevitable rise of anger that has been my default emotion lately. And waited…nothing. Okay, then. Let’s just deal with this hair mess and move on. And then I giggled to myself realizing that I had just made a baby step into newness of life. Later I told someone that on the grand scale of the horrible things that have happened this was pretty low. See? My trials had taught me contentment.

    • This just blessed my heart so much, Teri! Beautiful insight and clear articulation of my own struggle to live in the newness each day (moment)! Thank you!! ❤️

    • Kathryn Boisvert : November 16, 2017 at 8:24 am

      What a blessing to see you change and transform and become more like Christ, Teri. Thank you for your transparency. May God bless you in this journey called life it is wonderful he’s alongside you helping you to grow and holding your hand as he does for us all who place our trust in him ! Keep fighting the good fight! 💕

    • Michele von Hein : November 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      You know, I appreciate you trying to keep your cool–I had a tribe myself–only about half the size of yours–but it felt like a dozen…You are expecting to be gentle and patient and perfect–and this fruit of the Spirit certainly does manifest itself. HOWEVER, this mama had a rope, and sometimes, I just came to the end of it. You are doing an amazing job, remember, this is a herculean task! Be gentle with yourself–I remember hearing something like never get too tired, too hungry or too lonely–this can result in us falling into fleshly behavior. I don’t know how–with all those kids–you aren’t always too tired! When I blew it, I apologized. The kids learned I was human. It was humbling, but I think it was valuable for all of us. And as much as we always want to be gentle, nurturing moms–we are human, too. Sometimes God’s grace is just letting them all live through the lunch hour! LOL!

  2. Kathryn Boisvert : November 16, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Yes. I just died to self, yesterday. My deepest desire is to have my children and grandchildren with us the holidays. ( specifically Christmas) Dan and I both had to gave tthis up because we knew financially it was impossible for them to to come. Even if they had the money they shouldn’t spend it this way because they’re just getting on their feet financially, recently acquired their own apartment as of February. of course that was very painful! 🤣😭But that’s what God asks of us -he asks us to die to self and his will be done. So I have the assurance and the trust that he knows what’s best .

    • Turning the corner from full-time parent to parents of adults is definitely a time to learn to die to self. Every power and authority you are used to wielding is wrenched from your hands. Right from a season of fighting tooth and nail to keep your teenager yielding to authority to suddenly having none. I cried for a year when our first child was no longer in our home! Actually, we moved to New England and left Adam in NY… but, yeah…prayers for this journey. Newness of life and new seasons of life!

  3. So…we had another amazing Bible study in school today reading about Saul changing from his hateful behavior toward the new Christians to being the most world changing disciple that ever lived. He really walked in newness of life! I would love to share our object lesson and the observations that kept coming but I’m hogging way too much of this blog. My facebook page is called Life in a 10 Passenger Van. Is it ok if I share these lengthy explanations there?

    • I’m taking a seat even if it’s sticky! Your lessons with the kids reveal why they know so much about the Word. Great job bus driver!

  4. I will never forget the day I was baptized. It was seriously a life changing moment. I remember coming out of the water going to the back room of the church where I went to get baptized by my youth pastor and being so emotional because I knew it was something huge. Then life happened. I questioned whether what I had felt was real or just an emotional experience. I wasn’t completely perfect and still stuggled mightily with sin. I think back on that day often and some days with joy other days with disappointment with myself. Why haven’t I become more mature? Why am I still stuggling with things that should have been conquered? When I read the words “take hold of the eternal life for which I have been called” this meant a lot to me today. That feeling of being overwhelmed by the joy of being one of Christs followers and sharing it with the world was not just a “feeling”. It WAS real, I am a new man who has been called to eternal life. I am not always taking ahold of it. That was my challenge from today’s blog. Take ahold of this.

  5. Life is full of opportunities, order by our Father’s hand we see, everything is the best that it can be, so let’s gain Christ! I think of Paul ‘I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the high prise’
    This word is so precious and the fellowship is… well let me put this way I have discovered an am discovering a well of spiritual riches that I never before had an opportunity to experience. Our Father is so intensely meticulous in how He weaves each tapestry to perfection. Surly He is the master builder but get this we are His Masterpiece!

  6. That is one word picture I’m going to think about for some time. Thanks for painting it Kerin.

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