Summary: New Life with God Sept. 5, 2020 – Brad Bailey

New Life with God

Sept. 5, 2020 – Brad Bailey

A big welcome to all who are joining this morning or who may be watching at a later time. Today is a

special day for the Westside Vineyard. We are holding an outdoor gathering down by the beach. And as a

part of that time... we have the privilege of celebrating some who are choosing to be baptized today in the

ocean. We wanted everyone gathering on our livestream to hear from a couple of them as well... so they

are going to share with you in just a bit.

Baptism is essentially a celebration of new life. As we come to this celebration of new life... I am struck

by the unique dynamic of doing so during a global pandemic. The global pandemic creates a dynamic


The essence of this pandemic is a virus that can bring disease. And because we value the gift of life... we

believe we should be stewards... and are gathering outdoors... and honor one another by minimizing even

the minimal risks of transmission by maintaining some space... covering our mouths and noses when

close to others.

These are ways we can help mitigate the disease. (That’s the way we gather.) But the purpose of gathering

is to allow God to speak to a deeper dis-ease of the soul.

We gather not merely as physical bodies. We are not just biological bodies but rather we are relational


While we may have to cover our noses and mouths... I’m thankful that we can see each other’s eyes. The

eyes are said to be a window to the soul. And I believe that what we see in one another’s eye... we see

something that is not merely chemical compounds. We see more than biology...we see a being... we see

that which bears longings that are more than biological life... longings to be seen and loved. We long to


We long for that which exists beyond us. Because our existence is rooted in that from which it came. Life

came from life. We exists as persons... endowed with thought and wills...because human life bears the

image of its source... the image of God. We sense that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

God is infinite...and we are “finite.” Our very finite nature looks beyond ourselves to understand who we

really are. As someone once said...“We were created to look up to God before we look down at ourselves

and the rest of creation.” We cannot find our lives in ourselves because nothing exists merely unto itself.

Everything exists in relationship to its source and purpose. [1]

And as we allow ourselves to listen to those longings ... we can hear the ultimate great news that Jesus

declares... that we can discover that our source... God... loves us so much that he came and took our

separation... that he bore consequences of our declared independence...upon himself... so that we could

have the opportunity to live forever.

He gave his life... to give us his life with God. That is the exchange that baptism represents. In baptism

one is expressing symbolically that in going under the water....they are joining in his death... and in rising

up again...they are joining in his new resurrected life... that lives forever with God.

So a celebration of receiving new life. It is a profoundly personal exchange...but it is never

just personal. Like a marriage in which two individuals give themselves to a covenant relationship... while

it must be is never just personal. Such a commitment is bound within the community that

surrounds them. And that is the privilege we have today... to be that community that recognizes and

surrounds this new covenant that provides new life.

Much could be said... about this new covenant... this new life... but I want to us to recognize three core

truths about this new life.

God speaks these three truths INTO this juncture for each of those getting baptized.

To each who has been baptized in the past... God REMINDS us of these three vital truths.

To those who have yet to receive that life or be baptized...God speaks these three truths as an

INVITATION to that new life.

The first truth God would remind us of is a new life begins through...

1. A New Means

The means to life with God is not based on what we have proven by our own means but what God has

provided. Every human life exists in relationship to the source of life... and has chosen to claim it’s own

independence. Every effort we make to claim we deserve to live with God forever...reflects pride in


It’s interesting that we live in a world that thinks of some people as religious and some as not religious. In

fact many people today see forms of religion as what divides us....and understandably people may tend to

say that they are spiritual but not religious.

The Bible reveals something very different. God speaks of all humanity as going it’s own way... and

therefore being separated from life. Some may claim they don’t believe in God and some may use

traditional religion to claim they are good enough in themselves to prove they are not independent...but

even such a claim is independent from God.

In a sense...the rebel and the religious are not so different.

This is what Jesus explains in the story of the Prodigal son... it’s really the story of a father who had two

sons. One is a classic rebel...and one is a classic dutiful religious life. It’s really the story about there

being a way to come home. The one who thinks they have always been at home...but refuses

never home.

This is the human story. We have taken the goods of life and tried to deny God ...or we have claimed to

have a right to the goods based on our goodness...which refuses God’s grace. The story is explaining the

good news that Christ comes to reconcile all sinners with God. He offers a new covenant. The whole of

what we call the New Testament testifies of this. The Gospel accounts tell us of how God has come to

meet us on the road of return... and the writings that follow explain how it changes everything. As the

apostle Paul explains...

Romans 3:20-25, 27 (NLT2)

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us

how sinful we are. 21  But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the

requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22  We are

made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no

matter who we are. 23  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24  Yet God,

with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed

us from the penalty for our sins. 25  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right

with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. .... 27  Can we boast, then, that

we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law.

It is based on faith.

Paul is explaining that everything in their religious history... was revealing that what could never be

fulfilled in itself... was now fulfilled in Christ alone. God had given them these profound means to be

right with Him... to belong to him... but human life could were never fully met. They were there to help

us see what we needed that we could not fulfill in ourselves.

The Word of God... known as the Torah...was never fully met....the human heart could never fully

embody the goodness of God’s nature ...but Christ came as the living Word of God.

The place in which humanity might meet with God was established in the temple...but never could the

holiness that such a temple represented be met by Christ has come as the meeting point at which

we can meet with God. His righteousness will be extended to us.

The sacrifices which could be made to atone for our sin... could never satisfy the separation that still

existed in the heart of God came and provided that ultimate and final sacrifice that would satisfy

as an atonement for all himself.

All that the law of God had revealed... was fulfilled in Christ.

It is all about recognizing that our hope lies not in what we can do...but in what God has done. Not our

merits...but his mercy. [2]

We are saved only by faith in what Christ has done.

So the great news ... the gospel news... begins with recognizing that there is a new means to life with

God... it is faith in the life and merits of Christ.

As Paul says... we have nothing we can boast in. So to those getting baptized... it is not by the merits of

what you’ve done but by faith in what God has done. And let us ALL humble ourselves afresh to receive

what God has done.

But the second thing to realize is that this leads to....

2. A New Life

The new life brings a new life. Something new begins.

It is important to realize that we are not just receiving a ticket to a future event...but rather the beginning

of a new life that starts now. We are not just accepting a proposition that lives in our heads... but rather a

new life that we should live. We are receiving a new life with God.

Sometimes the new means can become confused as the end in itself. Some may hear that we are saved by

faith in Jesus alone...and think it means we are not changed in any way here and now. But that is not the

case at all.

We are not saved by our own works...but we are saved for the working of God.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). He is the source of new life....but also the

source of the way in which that life is then lived.

So when we speak of being saved by faith alone in Jesus... it is vital to realize that

real faith is not what only lives in our heads... but what becomes evidenced in our lives.

The now out of favor comedian Louis C.K. made this very honest statement about what we can be called


“I have a lot of beliefs .… And I live by none of them. That’s just the way I am. They’re just my beliefs. I

just like believing them—I like that part. They’re my little “believies.” They make me feel good about

who I am. But if they get in the way of a thing I want, I sure as heck just do what I want to do.”

“I have a lot of beliefs…and I live by none of them.” That’s the kind of false idea about belief or faith that

we need to dismiss.

In the Biblical Book of James, Jesus' half-brother and one of the most influential pastors of his time, sets

forth how faith is not what only lives in our heads... but what becomes evidenced in our lives.

The truth is that real faith will bring real change in the real world. And James wrote his work to bring that

out. And I am excited to share that we are going to launch into engaging the pursuit of real faith this

Fall...starting NEXT Sunday.

This season of living through a pandemic has brought up so many challenges to how we react. It has

challenged by postures. As my friend noted... this season has the potential to forge the worst version of ourselves...or the best version of ourselves. And what we find in the Book of a guide

to developing the best version of ourselves. So on behalf of our entire pastoral team... I want to encourage

you to come join this journey every week this Fall.

And it’s vital to see that Jesus never understood that choosing to enter the new life... is never something

we do alone.

One final truth about for us to see... is that the new life is shared by...

3. A New Community

The new life that Jesus provides is a shared life. It is a life that is given citizenship in a new kingdom...

the eternal kingdom of God. We are united as co-citizens of that kingdom. It is a life in which we return to

the household of God as our Father... in which we are united as family again.

And when we are baptized into the new life...we are baptized into the new community... of which the

local church is the local body of Christ.

The new community shares a profound distinction from the claims of this world.

Sometimes the way in which this distinction from the world is understood relationally is tragically

misunderstood and misdirected. Sometimes the call to be distinct from the powers of this world has been

uses to shape a tragic sense of separation and superiority. Some may think that they are to separate

themselves from relationships with those who do not share their relationship with Jesus...and do so with a

spirit of moral superiority. They may deem the new community...the church to be a club for the superior.

But if we look at Jesus...what he set forth was anything but a religious club for the morally superior. Jesus

creates a new community of sinners saved by grace... who have nothing in themselves to boast about.

In the way of Jesus, separation from the world did not imply that one had less relationship with those in

this world. Far from it. Jesus confronted that kind of false separation.

But what he did was create an entirely different type of community .... a whole new way of belonging. He

created a new way of belonging that is no longer defined by all the differences that try to define us and

then divide us. In this community the differences that divide us by gender...or socio-economic

position...or ethnicity... no longer define us. We are united in the common grace that of God.

Every times we gather together around Jesus...we are declaring that new life is now represented in a new

type of community.

This is what we are baptized into. Inner distinction... knowing who I am... is not something we were

created to do alone. The new community is a vital way of both defining who we are...and developing who

we are.

That is why this week we are launching our group life. Never has the opportunity to be joined in a

consistent and purposeful way been more vital.

At this juncture in navigating life in a pandemic...I want to encourage you to realize that the role of

community is a serious issue. The need for relational connection is vital. Many have noted that there was

a significant epidemic that was sweeping through our lives even before the biological coronavirus

pandemic. It is the epidemic of loneliness ... of becoming more and more alone. We need to face the fact

that we have become increasingly surrounded by connections that don’t really know us.... and that can’t

really strengthen us. It’s not simply about whether we know other’s about how we are

known...and the quality of influence that such relationships have. We can slowly withdraw into the safety

of our shells.... not realizing that what feels safe... with no where we will actually lose


If you are unmarried... I want you to know that you have spiritual family... that you belong... and I want to

encourage you to come take your place at the table... an equal place... a vital place.

And if you are married... I know that you may not feel as lonely but your partner can’t be your only

source of belonging and sustaining and growing. I want to encourage you to engage the wider table of


We are so blessed to have so many great lives facilitating our Life Groups and Special Focus Groups.

We believe that our groups are to be a healthy place to focus on our spiritual growth... and to be a safe

place to gather amidst political diversity. And as such, we have some healthy guidance that encourages all

who participate to create a space that shows healthy regard for one another.

So let your spirit respond to the call this fall... to join with others to grow in the grace of Christ... to help

become the best version of yourself.

[Closing:] For those joined in the Live stream... you may feel you aren’t as connected to these getting

baptized... because you are not physically present. Let me assure you... you are. The way in which Jesus

has begun a new community of belonging.... is not bound by one’s physical presence at their baptism.

They are being baptized into an eternal community... into a new life with the Father, Son, and Spirit... into

a new life shared with all who have received that life.

And a couple of these lives wanted to help you on livestream hear briefly about their testimony.


I want to close by challenging you to know that through belong with others. Such belonging

challenges each of us. Some of us will resist because of our vain pride... our sense of superiority. Christ is

calling us right now... to come as sinners saved by one life and one Lord.

Some may resist truly uniting with others in community because of the power of shame at work... a sense

of inferiority. You may believe that there something no one really knows about...something that may be

controlling your life... something that should disqualify you.... something that if others did know... they

would reject you from belonging. I want to encourage you ...don’t let that sin claim your identity. That sin

is not your identity. It is not your destiny. It is merely the unfinished enemy.



1. Human Nature and Christian Apologetics by DOUGLAS GROOTHUIS and E.J. Johnston,

DECEMBER 22, 2015


2. This is central to so much of what is being explained across the writings of the New Testament.

Another notable passage is:

Ephesians 2:7-9 (NLT2)

So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness

toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8  God saved you by his

grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9  Salvation is not a

reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

See also: 185 Verses on Faith Alone in Christ Alone By Jeremy Myers