Altogether New Life – A 7 Week Study for New Believers in Christ
An adventure is typically an activity that involves risk, danger and excitement. That is certainly a good description of new life in Jesus Christ. And this is especially true in our time. We may very well be seeing the last generation before the return of Jesus. The Bible speaks a great deal about that generation. They will be bold like John the Baptist. They will minister with great power through the Holy Spirit. Their character will be holy. They will face great adversity from enemies of Christianity. And they will be breathtaking. The Bible’s imagery is “a radiant Bride” (Ephesians 5).
There are some tools that you will need to get the most out of this study. You will need to rely on the Holy Spirit. He is the 3rd member of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). And He brings all the resources of Jesus to you. You have the gift of prayer. The Bible says that right now, Jesus is seated on a throne always ready to hear your prayers (Hebrews 4:14-16). You also have the inspired, authoritative Bible. This isn’t like any other book. It really is alive, that’s because the Holy Spirit speaks through it as you read it. And finally, you have Christ-like friends. Another word for that is Church. But Church is possibly not what you think it is. It’s not about high steeples and pot luck dinners. Church is the people who love Jesus coming together, even two or three of you! We will look more closely at these resources in the next post. Right now, I want you to know how to begin the adventure. And we are going to look at an awesome individual to guide us in our first steps.
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
You may not feel like you have a whole lot in common with a man in the 1st century who had leprosy, but you do! Leprosy is a disease that spreads like cancer, isolates you and ultimately can kill you. It is just like the universal human disease called “sin.” And the Bible says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The ultimate outcome of our sin is death. Not just a one-time death, but a death that keeps on dying, forever; eternally separated from the presence of God in hell (Romans 6:23).
In this story, ten men who have leprosy encounter Jesus. This isn’t the only story in which someone with leprosy encounters Jesus. In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus reaches out and touches a man with this dreadful disease. That is the ONE THING you just didn’t do, touch a leper! People were convinced that the disease would be transferred to you if you touched them. But Jesus had a power that was greater than the disease. Instead of the disease of the leper getting to Jesus, the power of Jesus got to the leper. He was healed!
In Luke 17, ten men who had leprosy encountered Jesus. They cried out in a loud voice from a distance: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus responded immediately, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” In order for them to come out of their isolation, they would have to be OK’d by a priest. As they went, they were healed.
This is the way that you began your adventure with Jesus. There is no other way to become a Christian than to realize that you have a disease called sin. It’s not just about the bad things that you have done, it is about the fact that you were born with a disease that was terminal. You came to terms with that reality and asked Jesus to heal you. No matter what you have done, Jesus was not intimidated. He has no problem touching a leper, and He had no problem healing and forgiving you. His power and authority is always greater than the worst case of sin!
Now here is where the story gets interesting; only one of the ten came back to Jesus (Luke 17:15). This is the first step to ensure that you haven’t just made a decision for Christ, you have become a disciple of Christ. Plenty of people run to Jesus when they find themselves in trouble. The disciple of Christ comes back and keeps coming back. Jesus becomes the center, the constant, the moment by moment friend who stays closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
That is the first key to this great adventure: Keep coming back to Jesus. This is the kind of relationship that the great hymn writer, C. Austin Miles, knew:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
The second key is this: “. . .(He) came back praising God in a loud voice” (Luke 17:15). This guy was not ashamed of his love for Jesus. He wanted everyone he came in contact with to know about the One who had healed him. I read that John’s Grisham’s novel, A Time to Kill, only sold 5,000 copies in hard cover. It was not advertised and it was not even reviewed. He then wrote the novel, The Firm. It wasn’t advertised by the publisher either. It was barely reviewed, and the reviews weren’t even that great. But some people liked it. And apparently, they told their friends.
It eventually sold 7 million copies without advertising or marketing. People just told their friends about it.
That should make many of us who are Christians think, maybe even weep. I read that 95% of those who love Jesus will never share their faith with anyone. We’ve found something a whole lot better than a Grisham novel, haven’t we?
This is a key to our adventure with Christ: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 6). Apparently, you can’t have a full understanding of what you have in Christ without sharing your faith.
The next thing that this leper, no, healed disciple, did was to “throw himself at Jesus’ feet” (Luke 17:16). This demonstrated a posture of surrender and service. That should be our posture as well. Jesus didn’t heal you of your sin disease simply to save you from hell. He rescued you so that you could join Him in fulfilling God’s purposes on this earth. You didn’t find Him as much as He found you. He enlisted you; you’ve reported for duty! God is on a mission and He has never missed a beat. One day His Son will rule and reign on this earth. We get to join in this amazing adventure and help prepare the world for its soon coming King.
The final key to sustaining yourself in this adventure is found in the last thing that this disciple did with Jesus: “(He) thanked Him” (Luke 17:16). There is an untapped resource for many of us in gratitude.
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. Psalms 50:23
G.K. Chesterton wrote: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” The adventure you have begun is one filled with Altogether New Life. It is life to the highest degree. And the fuel for this abundance is waking up each day and choosing to be grateful.
“Praise is our gift to the Almighty. For all He has given us, gratitude is the only gift we can give back. His sacrifice was the cross, our sacrifice is the sacrifice of praise” (Calvin Miller).
Apparently, the sacrifice of gratitude unleashes an even deeper healing in our lives. After this former leper who is now a disciple thanked Jesus, this is what Christ said: “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Isn’t that amazing? This man was already healed from leprosy and now his gratitude opened the door to a wellness that brought a deeper miracle. He now knew a happiness doubled by wonder!
Scriptures to study
As you study the following passages, listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Don’t be skeptical or cynical, ask for a child-like innocence. As you focus on God’s Word and God’s voice, expect Him to give you insight and creative expression. Write, sing, draw, be poetic. Remember how you felt when your parents bought you that big box of Crayola Crayons? You know, the one with the built in sharpener? Why did we stop being artistic? Children draw, make up songs and dance. Maybe we need to “grow down,” instead of always “growing up!”
An honest prayer from a fellow saint
Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly
that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through us
and be so in us
that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us
but only Jesus.
Stay with us
and then we shall begin to shine as you shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from you.
None of it will be ours.
It will be you shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise you in the way you love best by shining on those around us.
Let us preach you without preaching
not by words, but by our example
by the catching force
the sympathetic influence of what we do
the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you
Mother Teresa, Words to Love By