Peace to you from God! First, may I bring the greetings of Beverly Hills Chinese Baptist Church to you all. We always pray for each other and thank you for supporting our mission ministry here. We thank God for this!
I think you all know that those who have just married are called newlyweds as per tradition. Today, the topic I will share with you is: The New Creation in Christ. As in the beginning of 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul uses a series of comparisons, such as a tent and a house, earthly and heavenly, at home in our body and away from it, away from the Lord and with the Lord etc. In verse 17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Let’s look at the 3 points below:
1. In Christ
“In Christ” this word appears in the New Testament 33 times. This appears in 9 Pauline epistles, mostly in Romans and 1 & 2 Corinthians in particular, also in Hebrews and 1 Peter. Other words like “In Christ Jesus” (36 times), “In him” (24 times), “In the Lord” (14 times) have similar meaning. From the New Testament, we will find that this word has a significant and rich meaning in the context of biblical truth, teaching and theology. “In Christ” is when a person acknowledges, believes and accepts God into the Lord Jesus, “that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:15) Then, we believe, accept Christ, reunite with him in God, enjoy his providence in our lives and regard him as our lives. The Apostle Paul says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11) This of course does not only describe a visible situation, for example, you come to church and join a small group or fellowship. You turn up there. But it more concerns if you’ve built up a relationship with the Lord by heart, a life connection! So, John says, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13) Now let each of us think: Today we have come to church, are our lives already “in Christ”?
2. A New Creation
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17) “New Creation” is God’s new creation, opposite to the old creation of the flesh. This means those belonging to Christ are new creations, we are no longer to know them by their old creation of the flesh. “The old has gone, the new is here!” “The old” refers to the old (the flesh) lives, habits, favorites, ways and history etc. All this now has become anew. Paul demonstrates this with his own experiences. He looked at Jesus through the lens of worldly views before his conversion. Considerations were from human perspectives, words from others. Then, he persecuted churches of Christ. Now he has become a new creation. He knows his old understanding of the Lord is all wrong. Now he knows that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, Messiah. His life has been radically transformed. Now he strives to proclaim Christ. Paul also reminds believers “In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col 2:11-12) Also, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do…But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” (Eph 2:10,13,19) Besides, he urges believers in Ephesus “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:20-24) In Eph 4:25-32, Paul also advises them of what attitudes, speeches, acts and so on they should have.
Today, we are grateful for having a pair of new creations to be baptized into Christ. God’s words are encouragement to them, also to us. Are we the “New Creation” living in Christ everyday?
A “New Creation” believes in Christ, unites with him and experiences the spiritual rebirth, the person will then naturally long for God’s will and a new life. The New Creation is determined to no longer do things according to the desires of the flesh, but to have new life goals and mission. This mission is mentioned in 5:18 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” This explains those in Christ are entrusted with reconciliation ministry so that other people can also enjoy the blessings given to “New Creation”. Not only ministers but also everyone belonging to God are entrusted with this ministry. Like what Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matt 5:9) Paul continues to explain this ministry in the next few verses: verse 19 tells us 3 important points:
1. God actively reconciles us to him;
2. God has actively prepared a way of reconciliation;
3. God actively entrusts his servants with the words of reconciliation and sends them to persuade others to be reconciled with God.
Then, Paul in 2 Cor 6:1-2 urges believers to grasp opportunity now, “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Paul boldly says that both he and his fellows work for God. He, bearing an identity of God’s coworker, urges believers not to receive God’s grace in vain. Although we freely receive God’s grace and have nothing to return to him, we need to always keep a heart of repaying God so as not to let God down. If we keep our hearts like this, then we can live for God. How can we not receive God’s grace in vain? It’s to make the most of every opportunity. The prophet Isaiah says, “This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances” (Isa 49:8) Thus, verse from 2 Cor 6:2 refers to Isaiah to urge us to save the lost people while God is at work saving people. Now there is an opportunity, the harvest, isn’t it?
Now, we have become the “New Creation” in Christ. We are remade according to the image of Christ. Christ inside our hearts has become the centre of our lives. We are submissive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our thinking and deeds have changed. Our character is not gone but is more rich and powerful through union with Christ. It’s all because we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, confess our sin and are reconciled with God. The aim for the reconciliation with God is very great, such that more people can be reconciled with God during the period between the fall of men and return of Christ. This is God’s will that requires people from generations to generations to accomplish it. God has chosen this pair of “New Creation”, and also has chosen and called us all here today. All those truly trust in Christ should share this good news of reconciliation with other people. Dear brothers and sisters, do you always share the good news of reconciliation with other people? Both you and I know that we have a special identity before the Lord – “New Creation in Christ” Amen.