When we think about this life that we are invited into through the Gospel, we can find our thoughts turning to just how this new life came to be ours.
Think about that for a moment. Did you respond to a message you heard preached? Did you step into this life through a conversation with a friend? Was it a book you read or a video you watched that seemed to be instrumental to your experience of new life with Jesus? Did you do some “soul searching”? Did you pray? Did you tell someone? Did you stand up, take a step forward, go to the front of a church? Although all those things may have been part of your experience in the moment, in and of themselves such things were not the essential ingredient to your new life.
Just how does it happen that anyone comes into life in Jesus? Peter explains:
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” ~ 1 Peter 1:22–24
In this passage Peter does not fully explain the marvelous working of grace that brings us into this new life–but he does highlight a few significant aspects. Notice specifically:
Obedience to the truth: Whatever else was part of your entrance into life with Christ, it was truth that was shared and truth that was responded to that was critical.
The living and enduring word of God: And what was that message of truth? It was a message anchored in, defined by, shaped by God’s own communication. New life comes not through good advice or human wisdom but through God’s own message.
This is the word which was preached to you: The accent here falls on the “preaching” or the proclamation of the message. A message from God was announced. A message from God was heard. And that proclaimed message came with God’s power and the result was new life!
You have been born again: This phrase, short as it may seem, captures a crucial part of the mystery of entrance into newness of life. To be “born again” pictures something so much more than a mere change of mind or a new awareness of what life could be like. Like one’s first birth into the world, to be born again is to go through a God-orchestrated creative experience.
So how does one come into this life with Christ? Through a gracious and creative work of God, mediated through the proclamation of His message of truth that comes through His very word, the heart responds and a new kind of life ensues.