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The Nature, Growth, and Works of the New Life


Jesus said, I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)  “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12); “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)


Andrew Murray wrote, “How glorious, then, is the blessing which every one receives that believes in the Lord Jesus.  Not only does there come a change in his disposition and manner of life; he also receives from God out of heaven an entirely new life.  He is born anew, born of God: he has passed from death into life. …..This life is a life of inconceivable power.  Whenever God gives life to a young plant or animal, that life has in itself the power of growth, whereby the plant or animal as of itself becomes big.  Life is power.  In the new life, that is, in your heart, there is the power of eternity.  More certain than the healthful growth of any tree or animal, is the growth and increase of the child of God, who in reality surrenders himself to the working of the new life.  What hinders this power and the reception of the new spiritual life is chiefly two things.  The one is ignorance of its nature, its laws and workings. …. The second is that the young Christian … fails to believe that he shall grow with Divine power and certainty.”


Hopefully we can acknowledge our ignorance so that God may reveal His mystery to us because “He gives grace to the humble”.  It is imperative for us to know the nature, the laws of growth, and the works of the new life in order to ensure its healthy growth. 


I.   The nature of the new life


Andrew Murray wrote, “Man, even the Christian, cannot conceive of the new life which comes from God.  It surpasses all of his thoughts.  His own distorted thoughts of the way to serve and to please God – namely, by what he does and is – are deeply rooted in him.  Although he believes that he understands and receives God’s Word, he still thinks humanly and carnally on divine things.  God must give salvation and life.  He must also give the Spirit to make us understand what He gives.  He must point out the way to the land of Canaan.  We must also … be led by Him every day.”


  1. The new life is received through faith (acceptance):  We absolutely cannot receive new life based on our own works or merits.  God has prepared the salvation plan for us.  All we need to do is to believe (accept) Jesus as our personal savior.  When we do that, we will have a new life from being united with Christ.  Just like a branch that is connected to the vine (Jesus is the vine and all believers are branches), we are thus united with Christ and this relationship will never be severed (i.e. “eternal life”, see John 3:1-17, Hebrews 10:14).  By faith and faith alone, we receive new life and become newborn infants of this new life; and by faith and faith alone, will our new life grow.


  1. The new life is born of the Spirit:  By God’s salvation plan, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit enters into our hearts and gives birth to us anew.  This Spirit-born life is a spiritual life.  Anyone who has a spiritual life is a new man with a new life.  That’s why the Bible says the new life begins with the Holy Spirit (Galatian 3:3).  The life from earthly parents is of the flesh which is controlled by the sin nature.  We call such man of flesh (enslaved by sin) the old-self (old life).  The new life is not an improved version of the old life, but is a life born again of the Spirit -- it is a life not under control of the sin nature.  An old life can never be improved into a new life because they are two completely different kinds of life. 


  1. The Holy Spirit is the nurturer of the new life:  Since Christ lives in you through the Holy Spirit so the full abundance of Christ is given to you by the Holy Spirit.


  1. This new life is eternal:  It does not mean that our current physical body will live forever.  This eternal life is God’s life that has been in existence from the very beginning.  It is manifested in Christ and now becomes the life of every child of God.  In other words, the new life is a life from being united with Christ -- is the life of Jesus.  It is a life that participates in God’s divine nature (characterized by holiness, goodness, righteousness, faithfulness, kindness, etc.) (see 2 Peter 1:4).  It is a life with peace and joy that will never pass away (i.e. eternal life).  Andrew Murray wrote, “Let everyone then that has received this new life cultivate these great convictions.  He must depend on the life that is in Christ for him, although he neither sees, feels, nor experiences anything.  It is eternal life that works in me.  It works with divine power.  I can and will become what God will have me be.  Christ Himself is my life.  I have to receive Him every day as my life, given to me by God, and He will be my life in full power.


  1. The new life will grow with certainty because it is a life of wonderful power. 


  1. This new life is the light of men (John 1:4).  For this very reason, the more our new lives grow the more we will realize just how corrupt our old-self was.  (We will first notice our obvious transgressions and then gradually uncover the hidden ones.  We’ll first become aware of our outward immoral behaviors and then gradually move to examine our inner thoughts.)  We will also grow in our delight of the goodness of the new-self.  Once our new life is growing and we have come to this great realization, what are the concrete steps to take so as to put off our old-self and put on the new-self?  We will discuss this in detail later and in the Lectures on Ephesians 2:1-10.


  1. The principle of the new life is to allow Christ to lead and teach you in all things.  Andrew Murray said, “Do not forget that all the laws and rules of this new life are in conflict with all human thoughts of the way to please God.  Be very much in dread of your own thoughts.  Let Christ, who is your life and also your wisdom, teach you all things.  The principle of the new life is -- first to call upon the name of the Lord in all things and look to His leading and guidance.  It is through calling upon His name that we are united with the spiritual life and the Lord more intimately and in a more tangible way.  God has divine judgment, wisdom and power.  By calling on His name and being in close union with Him, will enable the wisdom of Christ to actually become our wisdom, and the power of Christ our power (Proverbs 8:14, 9:10; Colossians 1:9).  In contrast, the natural human inclination is to try our ways first, to use our own intelligence, talents and abilities to think through, analyze, and resolve the issues in our life.  This natural human inclination because of its reliance on “my own way” is actually rooted in our old-self (old life).


II.      The laws for the growth of  the new life


A.    The new life is to grow with certainty: God provides sufficient power for it to grow and mature. 


1.      The new life grows naturally in God’s grace (Philippians 1:6; Matthew 6:27).  In Mark 4:26-28, Jesus said, This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”  This passage can be applied to illustrate the gradual growth process of: (1) a church; (2) God’s words in our heart; and (3) the life of a “newly created man”.   It is the third application we are talking about here.  Since the new life is a “living being”, so as a natural process, it will grow.


2.      The growth of the new life follows a gradual progression.  It can’t be forced into speedy growths or aided by any external good works. 


3.      The maturing of our new life is through “growth” rather than by us working to achieve it or worrying about it (Matthew 6:27).  Through our own efforts to be good and being good through the growth of our new life are two entirely different ways of living (see Matthew 7:13-14).  “Striving” to be good and “grown” into being good are not the same at all. 


B.      There are many factors that enable the new life to grow.  The most fundamental factors are: renewing the heart, having faith, reading the Bible and praying.  As far as the new life is concerned, the Bible is the food of life and praying is like breathing air.  The more we pray the more the Holy Spirit works inside us to help us digest the words of God.  Through reading the Bible and praying, you will remain in Christ so that “His words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:7-8).  In other words, through Bible reading and prayer, our union with Christ becomes more real and our new life will thus grow more.  From another perspective, through bible reading and prayer, our faith increases and that will lead to further growth of our new life.


C.    The new life grows in the way of “He must become greater, I must become less”


1.      What prevents us from having a solid union with Christ is “I”.  “My” opinions, “my” thoughts, and everything about “me” are all barriers that prevent us from having a solid union with Christ and the growth of our new life. 


2.      God uses many big and small difficulties that we encounter in our daily life to nudge us towards the road of “depending on the Lord, praying to the Lord, lifting up the name of the Lord, and praising the Lord”.  Through calling out to Him constantly, depending on Him rather than on ourselves and feeding on His words, He will naturally become greater in our lives and we naturally will become less; thus our new life grows.  Habitually, we don’t call on God regarding minor issues because we don’t want to trouble Him with minor stuff.  So strangely, when we face great trials or tribulations, we often receive peace and joy because we call out to the Lord.  Yet we regard things such as our relationship with co-workers and family members as minor issues, and do not feel the need to bring them to the Lord in prayers, therefore resulting in a lack of harmony in our life.  God wants us to call out to His name in all things -- whether they are major or minor, favorable or unfavorable, easy or difficult, and no matter whether we are healthy or sick.  In order to teach us to call out to Him in all things, God allows certain things to happen so as to remove our crutches, so that we have no choice but to depend on Him. 


3.      In other words, the new life grows through “taking up your cross daily”.  Jesus said, ”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”(Matthew 16:24-25).  The phrase ‘will find it’ refers to the growth of the new life. 

What is “our own cross”?  “Cross” refers to all matters -- people, things, and objects that we encounter that go against our wishes or not to our liking.  “Our own” cross refers to all the difficulties that happen to us.  Often we would look at the situations that others are in and wonder what I would do if I were in their shoes.  But that is someone else’s cross.  Jesus specifically told us to take up our own cross and not someone else’s. 

What is “to take up” one’s own cross?  To take up is to lift up.  So to take up one’s own cross is to lift up the difficulties or disappointments we have in our life. 


“To follow the Lord” is to call upon His name, to lift up and look to His name, and to praise His name.  We shouldn’t just do this with our lips, but should do it in spirit and in truth.  That is, when faced with daily occurrences of difficulties – people, things, and objects, we should not try to deal with them by our own ways and efforts, but rather, we need to call upon the Lord’s name, exalt and praise His name.   In all circumstances give thanks to God for we believe He has the power and wisdom to resolve our issues.  When we call upon and exalt His name (manifestation of “He must be greater”) we experience dying with Him on the cross (i.e. “I must be less”, dying to self), and we will resurrect with Him (growing in the new life).  Therefore, in the passive sense, we are surrendering our own intelligence, opinions, rights, and abilities to the Lord. [“Christ …leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps; He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)]  In the active sense, by doing so, the power of God’s resurrection, His might and wisdom will manifest in us and in our surroundings, “so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).  Oh, such a wonderful salvation it is!  “He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you.  For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power.  Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him.” (2 Cor. 13:3-4)  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).


III.    The works and deeds of the new life


On the surface, the works and deeds of the new life may bear some resemblance to those of our old life; but their sources, paths, and foundations are entirely different.  The Bible repeatedly tells us that Christians should have good deeds; yet it also repeatedly stresses that good deeds should not come from our own efforts, but rather they should be the natural outcome of the growth of our new life.  The passage in Matthew 7:7-27 gives us clear illustrations that by choosing to follow different paths, we will be led to different lives, each having a different source of power, and so the works we will achieve in reality are also different. 


Even though sometimes the outward appearances of the two lives, the new and the old, are similar, but they actually produce very different works, and their respective values in eternity are also different.  The manifestation and fruits (deeds) borne of the new life are everlasting and won’t be destroyed by wind, rain or floods.  In contrast, the fruits of the old life are temporary and can’t withstand the forces of wind, rain or floods; they will pass as the world passes -- without eternal value. 



Comparison of the New and Old Life:

Paths, Sources, and Foundations of Good Deeds and Eternal Value



New Life

Old Life

Path to good deeds

Pray to the Lord; depend upon the Lord; look to the Lord; and praise the Lord

By sight (not by faith); rely on one’s own reasoning and analysis

Source of good deeds

In Christ; of new life

In Adam; of old life

Foundation of good deeds

Call upon the name of the Lord; submit to the will of the Holy Spirit; and rely on His power

Rely on one’s own efforts, intelligence, and abilities

Eternal value

of gold, silver and precious stones (can withstand the test of fire)

of wood, hay or straw (cannot withstand the test of fire)