The Gospel of New Creation
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul proclaims, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” What does the word “new” bring to mind? For me I think of words like fresh, untouched and flawless. I see images of beautiful, newborn babies, green leaves in spring after our long Montana winters, and the rays of the rising sun that proclaims a brand new day.
In Greek there are two words for new: neos and kainos. Neos means “new in time”, meaning an addition to something already in existence: for example a newborn baby or new year. In the New Testament, neos is the word used to express the “new” in the New Covenant under Christ (Heb. 12:14). The other new is Kainos, it means “new in nature”, implying the very first of its kind. Kainos is Paul’s choice of words to describe the “new” in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, all who are in Christ are not simply additions to the human race, but unprecedented, never done before, creations. This is the Gospel and it absolutely changes everything! If this is true, the Christian existence is an absolute phenomenon!
salvation did not just remove my sin, but it literally gave me a new existence.
I have been a Christian for my entire life and yet due to my lack of understanding the whole Gospel, I struggled with hating myself. I saw myself as flawed, ugly and without value. I understood that Christ died and suffered for my sins, but I did not grasp what his death and resurrection actually made me to be. God has and is showing me that his salvation did not just remove my sin, but it literally gave me a new existence. If we do not understand this major result of the Gospel than no wonder we are struggling in our Christian identity day to day. If this is the case for you, please allow me to proclaim the Gospel of new creation to you.
THE IMAGE OF ADAM
In the beginning God created mankind in his image to display his glory and be in perfect communion with him. Catastrophically, mankind rejected their Maker bringing sin, death, and condemnation upon the entire race (Rom. 5:12). Just as our father, Adam, rejected God, all of his descendants sin, reject God, and die. For since that awful day, mankind now bears the image of Adam (Gen. 5:3). Being born apart from the image of God, with the image of Adam, comes with an inescapable death. Jesus refers to the sons of Adam as those who have a disease (Matt. 9:12-13). They are slaves to sin and have no concept of freedom. They are therefore children of wrath destined for destruction (Eph. 2:3).
SALVATION BY NEW CREATION
The only way to be saved from this destiny is to be re-created, separated from the “DNA” of Adam’s image. This is impossible for us to accomplish, but through the love and mercy of God, he predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29a), so that all who believe in him will not perish but receive eternal life (John 3:16b). The prerequisite of eternal life is being made new. The only way to be made new is by parting with the old through death (Rom. 6:7). Jesus died on behalf of his creation, however, three days later he re-created by his resurrection. Now all who believe in Christ’s work die with him through baptism, removing the former image of Adam. Rising with Christ, they receive his eternal, imperishable image. It is by this Gospel that Christians have been made new to reflect Christ through good works (Titus 2:7). Through the Holy Spirit Christians have been given the ability to walk in the fruits of new creation: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
LIFE AS NEW CREATIONS IN A CORRUPTED WORLD
The arrival of new creation does not signify that the present evil age has been destroyed. An age of tension has been formed by the invasion of new creation into the corrupted world. Believers have experienced the inauguration of God’s promises, but have not yet received their consummation, which will take place at the 2nd coming of Christ. At the consummation believers will be fully re-created with an imperishable body to house the regenerated image of Christ (1 Cor. 15:50-56). Until then, this present age is still tainted with evil and awaits its full transformation. Christians are a new creation in a decaying world (1 Cor. 7:31). The Bible describes Christians as ambassadors, exiles and sojourners in this present age. It is evident that believers have begun to be transformed, but the time of complete transformation is not yet.
Because our transformation is not yet complete, we are called to put off the old image and put on the new of Christ. As bearers of new creation in a corrupted world, we have a choice everyday to walk in our new life or return to the old. However, this can be hard. This is why Paul encourages the church by saying, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9) Walking out good works in this world is so difficult at times. Time after time throughout my life I felt defeated because I was so tired of trying to do good. I was weary of sinning when I was supposed to be made new. I was weary of loving this world when so much of it proved hateful. If I was truly made new than wasn’t good works suppose to be a natural outcome in my life? Then God showed me that I was trying to be a new creation in my flesh. I was trying to walk out good works in my own strength, rather than recognizing that it is only by God’s grace that enables me to do good. It is God’s grace that has been given to the believer through the Holy Spirit who sets us free from sins’ slavery, empowering us to do good works and strive for the consummation of God’s new creation promises. This reality swallows up weariness. God’s grace is a constant reminder of our new freeing existence. New creation is a really big deal! If we don’t understand this, than we are missing a huge part of the Gospel.
THE IMAGE OF CHRIST
If we are new creations then why live like the world? Christ has done all the work. As we accept this we begin to live out the life he purchased for us! My application is not a step by step how to, but a challenge that from now on, next time you do a “good thing”, recognize God’s grace that enabled you to do so and rejoice because it confirms your new created life! The best part of being made new is the gift of participating in God’s relational grace. In new creation relationship with our Maker has been restored.
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
All of creation has been crying out for this restoration; our very souls long for what is right in front of us! Our new life is like a breath of fresh air after having suffocated for millions of years. New creation is a reality that must be embraced each day. Praise God that the Holy Spirit strengthens us to live as new creations until the Last Day when we will experience the fullness of eternal life. “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Rev. 21:5a) Jesus makes everything new! This is the Gospel and as believers we have the privilege to proclaim its theology by demonstrating it through our lives and inviting all who are dying to be made new in Christ.
Want to know more about New Testament Studies Seminar?
Why attend the New Testament Studies Seminar? The New Testament Studies Seminar is one of a four-part seminar series offered by SBS International (also available are: Old Testament Studies Seminar, Theology of Paul Seminar and Church History Seminar). This seminar is designed to give SBS graduates and SBS missionary members a greater depth of proficiency in the New Testament and the […]