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A NEW CREATION (part one)

By J.C. Metcalfe

Dr. Andrew Murray once wrote:” God did not work out the great redemption in Christ as
a whole and leave its application in detail to us. The secret thought that this is so, lies at
the root of all our feebleness. The revelation of Christ in every individual believer, and in
each one the daily revelation, step by step, and moment by moment, is as much the work
of God’s omnipotence as the birth or resurrection of Christ.”
This ‘secret thought’ is more commonly indulged in than we would care to admit. We all
of us incline to regard God as a kind of absentee landlord! He has, in the past, done
wonderful things for us, especially that great work of love whereby He gave His Son to
die on the Cross ‘for us men and for our salvation’. As far as the present is concerned, it
is now up to us, we feel, to do our best with the material He has provided. We, in our
estimation, are the doers of the work; He is an interested spectator upon whom we can
call for help when we are at our wits end. This is not only NOT true, it is an attitude that
contains real danger. What frustration and turmoil can be caused when we attempt to do
things, which only He can do, and which He has reserved as His own special province. To
invade this realm is to put forth our hands to steady the ark of God, and so to risk His
displeasure (see 2 Samuel 6:6-7).

Mu English dictionary says that the verb – to create – means: to bring into being or form
out of nothing; and Bishop Ellicott in his comment on Genesis 1:1 expands this thought.
He says: “Creation, in its strict sense of producing something out of nothing, contains an
idea so noble and elevated that naturally human language could only gradually rise up to
it. It is quite possible, therefore, that the word bârâ = He created, may originally have
signified to hew stone or fell timber; but as a matter of fact it is a rare word, and
employed entirely in connection with the activity of God. As, moreover, ‘the heaven and
the earth’ can only mean the totality of all existent things, the idea of creating them out of
nothing is contained in the very form of the sentence”. I have actually just been through
the references in my concordance concerning both the Hebrew and Greek words used in
Scripture, and it is striking to note how consistently they are used only of the activity of
God. Another fact also emerged. The Greek word is used not only when dealing with the
creation of the universe in which we have our being, but also with the new creation in
Christ. Both alike are – to use Dr. Andrew Murray’s phrase ‘the work of God’s
omnipotence’; and cannot by the biggest stretch of imagination be ascribed to human
ability or operation. God’s protest to Job comes down the ages to you and to me: ‘Where
wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4). So we find ourselves in a
realm, whether it concerns the original creation or the new, where man is helpless, and
only the power of God avails.

All Died
It will perhaps be good at this point to turn to the New Testament, and look together at the
significant passages, which speak particularly of the power of God displayed in His work
of new creation. 2 Cor. 5:14-21 makes a good starting place. In verse 14 we have the
great declaration:” We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead”, or as J.B.
Phillips has it: “We look at it like this: One died for all men then, in a sense, they all
died”. “The for here”, says The Century Bible, “is not instead of but as representing. Paul
does not say that they all escaped death, but that they all died. He speaks as if Christ’s
physical death effected in men an ethical death: so immediately does he pass from one
thought to the other”. Verse 15, as so often happens in Scripture, provides a fuller
explanation of the apostle’s meaning. “And that he died for all,” he continues, “that they
which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for
them, and rose again”. Their life on the human level is now no longer meaningful except
as it is linked to the larger reality of the will of God. This is something quite unique in
human history. Christ died on our behalf so that we might live in Him and for Him. His
Kingdom which is ‘not of this world’ (John 18:36) – that has no roots in the things of
sense and time – is now active in our world. “The mystery … hid from ages and from
generations, … now is made manifest to His saints … which is Christ in you the hope of
glory” (Col. 1:26-27).

Bishop Ellicott has an illuminating comment to make on verse 16. He says: “The logical
dependence of this sentence on the foregoing lies in the suppressed premise, that in living
not to ourselves, but to Christ, we gain new standards of judgment, new ways of looking
at things. To know a man ‘after the flesh’ is to know him by outward accidents and
circumstances of life: his wealth, rank, culture, knowledge. Paul had ceased to judge men
by those standards. With him the one question was whether the man was, by his own act
and choice, claiming the place which the death of Christ had secured for him, and living
in Him as a new creature. That is the point of view from which Paul now ‘knows’, or
looks on every man.” But it is not only our fellow men we now regard in this way, but
also the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Our faith does not rest on the facts about the
historical Jesus, but is founded deep in the risen, glorified Lord, who was crucified for us,
and lives for ever by the power of God. As John boldly expresses it:“ We know that the
Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is
true, and we are in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and
eternal life” (1 John 5:20). By means of the reconciling love of God moving out to us by
way of the Cross, we are born into a totally new life, and become new creatures – a new
creation – in Christ Jesus. As Peter says: We are ‘begotten… again into a lively hope by
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). Describing the man who has
thus become a new creature Bishop Ellicott says:“ The old things of his life, .. heathen
philosophies, lower aims, earthly standards – these things, in idea at least passed away
from him at the time when he was united with Christ. We may trace an echo of words of
Isaiah’s that may have floated in the apostle’s memory: “Remember ye not the former
things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I make new things” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
The words in Italics are in the Septuagint the same as those Paul uses here.” (note from
EstherG: so, not meaning an action of God and not repairing the old person, but meaning
something created by God, completely new; not formerly existing)

END OF PART ONE


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