Birthed Through the Gospel

Birthed Through the Gospel

By Erin Bird

Last week, I opened the series Gospel Facets letting you know that for the next several weeks, we are going to look at different “facets” of the gospel. This week, we jump into possibly one of the most well-known “facets.”

Even if you are not a follower of Jesus yet, I suspect you might be familiar with this week’s “facet”. For it is heard in our cultural and Christian nomenclature to refer to certain types of Christians. The facet I am referring to is the idea of “birth.”

In his conversation with a religious leader named Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus said a person must be “born-again” in order to see the kingdom of God. This really confused Nicodemus, causing him to ask Jesus if he has to climb back into his mother’s womb. Jesus responded:

“Truly truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

newborn baby with outstretched handsI have heard some people say the phrase “born of water” is baptism. Perhaps, but to me, that doesn’t make sense when Jesus says someone must be “born again.” Hear me out: I believe Jesus is referring to physical birth when he uses the phrase “born of water.” After all, when a woman goes into labor and the amniotic sac breaks, releasing the amniotic fluid, we say her “water broke.” This is what I think Jesus is referring to when he says someone must be “born of water.”

But a person can’t just be born physically of water. To enter God’s kingdom, they must also be born of Spirit. They have their first birth – physical birth. Then they can go through the second birth, being “born again” by the Spirit.

The cool thing about this image is that if you follow Jesus and have been “born again” through the Gospel, God is your Father – your Heavenly Daddy! And just as new parents love their helpless newborn, God the Father loves you passionately. You don’t have to do anything to impress Him. He simply loves you because He has created you. His image is in you, marking you as His.

So may you contemplate today and this next week just how much God loves you if you have been “born again” through the gospel, letting this thought lead you to rejoice!

Gospel Facets

A New Series

by Erin Bird

Because my upcoming podcast will be about how the gospel speaks into our everyday struggles, I spent some time reading books about the gospel during my sabbatical (as well as a lot of fiction!). Through my reading, one of the things that hit me about the gospel was just how multifaceted the gospel is.

If you have ever held a diamond or precious stone in your hand, it has most likely been chipped or shaped in such a way to allow the beauty of the stone to shine through. As you turn it in your hand, you see different reflections and colors. The whole thing is the diamond, but you appreciate its beauty through the facets.

Spiritually, the gospel is a diamond. The Scriptures teach us a wide variety of  “facets” about the gospel. Because I want you to be passionately in love with Jesus, over the next several weeks, I want to help you contemplate how, through the gospel, a person can be:

  • given new birth
  • adopted
  • justified
  • reconciled
  • ransomed
  • assured
  • and so much more.

My hope is that you will be overwhelmed by the realization of how much God loves you, and get a glimpse of what has taken place in your life through the life, death, & resurrection of God’s Son if you have chosen to put your faith in Jesus.

So join me next week as we kick off the “Gospel Facets” series.

Easter is Coming!

by Erin Bird

In case you didn’t know, this is Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Normally, liturgical churches are holding services almost every evening of the week, but the coronavirus has put most of those plans on hold.

However, the presence of a pandemic doesn’t mean this can’t still be a meaningful week. Here are some ideas to make this weekend full of worshipand connection with your God:

Just because you are cooped up inside doesn’t mean this has to be a wasted weekend. Find ways to connect with Jesus and thank Him for what He did for you through the cross.Easter Sunday

We have a unique and memorable sermon planned for Easter Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Rather than watch me preach on video for 35 minutes like usual, we have turned this week’s sermon into a short film. We want to encourage you to not only attend with your family, but to invite someone to attend “with” you for this unique experience.

To invite someone, all you need to do is send a friend a text, email, or direct message on their favorite social media platform. The link to share with them is https://weareriverwood.online.church.

We also encourage you to make a general invitation on your social media platforms. Riverwood is active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so go to the social media platforms you regularly use and share Riverwood’s invitation which you can find in our feed.

Let’s make this a memorable Easter, not simply because we were forced to participate online, but by truly worshiping Jesus and inviting others to hear the life-changing news of the gospel.

Pursued by Love

Pursued by Love (Sheep running)

by Erin Bird

Let’s continue with our series in Psalm 23. This week we are going to look at the first part of verse 6:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,”

Chased by Nice Enemies?

Remember back in verse 5 that David was sitting at a table in the presence of his enemies? According to the NET Bible study note on verse 6, the word “follow” in Hebrew should actually be translated “pursue” or “chase,” and usually the word is used in Hebrew literature to reflect the actions of an enemy.

But it isn’t David’s evil table-mates that are chasing him, it is “goodness and mercy.” Interestingly, the word translated “mercy” can also be translated as “loyalty” or even “devotion.” In other words, David is saying that God loves him so much that God’s goodness and loyal-devoted love pursue him no matter what.

running sheepThis is good news! No matter what is happening around you (COVID-19, lost job, health crisis, etc.) or in you (anger, sadness, confusion, worry, etc.), God is right there pursuing you with His love. And we see that pursuit perfectly in Jesus.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

At Riverwood, we talk about being a “Jesus-follower.” But maybe to follow Jesus is to realize He is following you. What a comforting thought to think that no matter where we go and no matter what is happening to us, God’s goodness and loyal love shown through the gospel is pursuing us each and every day we experience.

May you rest today in the knowledge that God is with you, and His goodness and mercy are chasing you all the days of your life.

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