TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is a cliché that many use to describe a major change you have made in your life either for the better or for the worse. For example, if someone that has been struggling with drugs decides to quit them and stay clean could say that day was the first day of the rest of his life because he is attempting to change his way of life so that drugs are no longer in the picture.
Others might say this is the first day of the rest of my life when they get married or have kids because again this is major change in our life and it will last a lifetime. When we make major changes in our lives, it’s almost like we are born again to live a different life. I am sure you can already tell where I am going with this, because this cliché would apply to every person that becomes a Christian because we must make a major change in our life to become one and continue to live as a Christian. The Bible views becoming a Christian as a rebirth. We can see this in the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus:
John 3:1 There
was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night
and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for
no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered and said to him,
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the
Nicodemus was curious about Jesus and what He was teaching,
but Jesus confused Him when He told him he must be born again. Nicodemus’ first
thought was that of a physical rebirth from his mother’s womb, but Jesus
explained to Him that was a spiritual rebirth with consisted of water and the
Spirit. Without being born again, no one can enter the
These two elements water and Spirit are describing one birth, which happens at the point of baptism. So, one cannot be a born again Christian by simply asking Jesus into their heart. No, they must believe, repent, confess Jesus as Lord, and be baptized. The element water in our text is referring to baptism because there is nothing else it could refer to and the element Spirit is refers to how the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to instruct on what we must do to be saved and how we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when are baptized for the remission of our sins as stated in:
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Later, Peter confirms that it is by the instruction of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God that we are born again:
1 Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
Also James says:
James 1:21Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
When we consider the element water, we can see how baptism in water fits perfectly with the idea of being born again and starting a new life because Paul wrote:
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What better way could there be at describing being born again? At the point of our baptism, we are buried with Christ and we put to death our old self, and our sins are removed. When we are raised up, we are raised up as new person in Christ. Again, Paul says:
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
We are not are not born again until we are buried with Christ in water baptism per the instructions of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
To further show how the Holy Spirit works in our conversion with our water baptism, take a look at the following parallel passages to John 3:5 that shows our two elements: water and spirit.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26)
Notice, the 3 elements: the word, washing of water and cleanse. The “word” is obviously a reference to the Word of God. “Washing of water” refers to water baptism. “Sanctify and cleanse” refers to being saved with our sins being removed.
“…He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Notice the 3 elements: Holy Spirit, washing of regeneration and saved. “Renewing of the Holy Spirit” refers to how the Holy Spirit works through the Word to save us (James 1:21). “Washing” is defined as “Washing, cleansing; water (USB).” “Regeneration” is defined as a new birth or renewal or restoration of life after death (Strong’s).” So, “washing of regeneration” is referring to water baptism and “saved” means salvation.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Notice the 3 elements: Spirit, baptized, one body. Please notice Paul says, “By one Spirit” and not “With one Spirit.” This is important because this shows the baptism being spoken of here is not Holy Spirit baptism, but is by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit instructs us through the Word that we must be baptized in water into the name of Jesus for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). So, “baptism” refers to water baptism. “One body” is the same as saying the kingdom because the body is the church (Col. 1:18, 24) and the church is the same as the kingdom (Mat. 16:18-19). Now, examine the following chart.
1 Cor. 12:13
All these verses show that the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God and teaches us what we must do to be born again, which includes believing Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repenting (Lk. 13:3), confessing Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10) and being baptized (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 22:16). When we obey the Holy Spirit’s instructions, we are added to the kingdom/church/body by God (Acts 2:47) that Jesus will save (Eph. 5:23).
The idea behind making today the first day of the rest of your life especial in regards to becoming a Christian, is that we are to continue to accept the change that we made and move forward without looking backwards. Now this is not always easy to do because change does not happen overnight. Yes you can decide to make the changes, but it takes time and much effort to keep the changes in place.
One of the greatest Biblical examples I can think of that goes along with everything we have been talking about so far is Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a radical Pharisee who stood above the rest of his peers and who was too stubborn and unwilling to accept anything other than the teachings of Pharisees. He was taught by one of the most famous teachers of the Law, Gamaliel. In fact, notice what Saul says about himself:
Acts 22:3 "I am indeed a Jew, born in
Philippians 3:4 If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 … concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
I want you to think of the most stubborn person you know that is stuck in their ways and who you do not think would every change their ways. Well, if you lived during the 1st century, Saul would have been one of the first men that popped into your head. When Saul found out about Christianity, he did not allow its message or its people to break His zeal for the law, and he set out to destroy Christianity as we read:
Acts 26:9 "Indeed,
I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of
The first recorded example of this was the stoning of Stephen:
Acts 7:59 And
they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord
Jesus, receive my spirit." 60
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge
them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts
8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution
arose against the church which was at
Of course, Saul was not satisfied
with destroying Christianity in
Acts 9:1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As I said, Saul was a radical Pharisee. He was the type of man that other Pharisees looked up to and wanted to be like. None of his fellow Pharisees would ever think that a man Saul would ever change his ways because he was becoming a legend among his peers.
As you and I know, God’s Word has a way of making radical
people change their ways, and that is exactly what happened to Saul on the road
Acts 9:3 As he
journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from
heaven. 4 Then he fell to the
ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you
persecuting Me?" 5 And
he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus,
whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the
goads." 6 So he,
trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"
Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you
will be told what you must do." 7
And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing
no one. 8 Then Saul arose
from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him
by the hand and brought him into
Saul could not have seen this coming. As he had his mind focused on finding more Christians to put into prison, his thoughts were interrupted by appearance of Jesus. Jesus knew that Saul was smart enough to know that the things he had been hearing about Christianity from the Scriptures were true, which why He said it was hard for Saul to kick against the goad. In the back of Saul’s mind, he knew there something to this new teaching he was hearing, but his pride and stubborn attitude was keeping him from accepting it, that is until now.
It took a radical move,
to change this radical man, and Jesus’ appearance did the trick. Jesus knew
that Saul would do great things for the
Acts 22:12 "Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 "came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 "Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 'For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'
God has given mankind the
responsibility to carry out the great commission of making disciples by
baptizing them in the name of the father, the Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19),
and that is exactly what Ananias was doing, because He told Saul the will of
God. We can know that Saul was not born again and had not been put into the
When Saul was baptized in water for the forgiveness of his sins by the instructions of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, he was born again, and he could truly say this is the first day of the rest of my life. Now as great as his conversion was, that was the easy part, because the challenge is maintaining that change and continuing in the faith. That is exactly what Saul did in his life. In fact, shortly after he was baptized we read:
Acts 9:19 So when
he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the
Saul immediately began to teach what he knew. Even though he was being guided by the Holy Spirit, everything had not been revealed to him yet because they only received their revelation in part according in 1 Cor. 13. So, a Christian does not have to wait until they have had years of training or have received a degree in Bible to teach others because they can start the day they are converted teaching others what they know about Jesus and what it takes to become a Christian.
When you read though the NT, you will discover that Saul starts going by the name of Paul and that he was one of the apostles of Christ. This man took his zeal for living like a Pharisee and used to live like a Christian. Paul struggled with Christianity just like every other Christian does, but he persevered and he learned to put his past behind him so he could continue to grow and press toward the goal of heaven.
That is exactly what we must do as Christians. I know that it can be difficult to remain committed to God, but if we want to live the life of a Christian and continue to make our conversion the first day of the rest of our lives, we must continue to fight the good fight of faith and deal with each day as it comes.
If you have been struggling with your Christianity, I want you to admit it to yourself right now, because if you continue to deny it, then you will find yourself falling further a way from God. Once you admit that you are struggling and recognize it as problem, then you can begin tackling the problem by praying about it, and making an effort to get closer to God by studying His Word and surrounding yourself with your brothers and sisters in Christ and by allowing them to encourage you and pray for you.
The worse thing we can do is to ignore our problem and do nothing. So, if you need the prayers of our congregation, why not let us pray for you this morning.
Or if you have never been born again as the Scriptures teach, which includes being baptized for forgiveness of your sins, why not make today the day of your salvation, why don’t you stop kicking against the goad as Saul did and accept God plan of salvation so that you can be born again and make today the first day of the rest of your life.