In today’s study we look at God’s provision for re-creation, our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; and His provision for our reconciliation with Himself in the death of Christ. These benefits are a mystery to the natural man, but as we enter in to this new life we see the reality of it all in our lives, and the need for others to receive this reconciliation as well.
It’s good to be with you as we draw near to the close of another week. My theme this week has been: the necessity of a new beginning and how God has made this possible through the new creation in Christ.
I’ve illustrated this theme from the experience of King David as he himself recorded it in Psalm 51. Confronted with the truth about himself, David saw his need of four things. The first was washing cleansing. He felt himself defiled, and he had no means to cleanse himself. The second was acquittal or the expunging of the record. He felt somehow that in eternity, this record of his terrible sin was going to be perpetuated unless God would graciously expunge it. Third, he saw his need to be recreated. He cried out, “Create in me, O God, a clean heart.” He saw that no act of his own could do. But O, there had to be something that God could do by His own unique creative power and ability. Fourth, he saw his need of reconciliation. He saw that he’d been a rebel all through his life, and that as a rebel he had to somehow come to peace with God.
Yesterday I explained how, through the new covenant in Christ, God made provision for these first two needs, that is the need of cleansing and the need of acquittal.
Today, we’ll see how God has also made provision for the two remaining needs, that is the need of re-creation and the need of reconciliation.
First, we’ll look at God’s provision for re-creation for creating us anew. And this comes as by faith through a supernatural experience made possible by the Holy Spirit, we follow Jesus Christ through His death and into resurrection. And as we come through death and resurrection, we come into a new spiritual realm, the realm of the new order the new creation, and in that realm we too ourselves become a new creation in Christ. This is how the Apostle Peter speaks about it in 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 3 and 4:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (NIV)
So, God in His mercy has brought us into a new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We pass with Jesus through death into resurrection. And in that realm beyond death and resurrection, we find an inheritance that Peter says can never perish, spoil or fade. And bear in mind, we ourselves become like that inheritance. We can never perish, we can never be corrupted, there’s no end of the life, it’s a totally new eternal life in Christ a new creation. And it’s through our identity with Jesus Christ our identification with Jesus Christ in His death, His burial, His resurrection that’s the gateway into this new world, this new order. There’s no other door. There’s no other entrance. It’s Christ crucified and Christ resurrected. Paul explains this in similar terms in Colossians chapter 1 verse 18, speaking about Jesus, he says:
“He is the head of the body, the church, [that’s the church is His body]; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy [or the first place.]” (NIV)
So, Jesus is the beginning of this new creation. He is the first born from among the dead. When He was resurrected, He entered into this new creation. He became the head over the new creation, and He’s the head of this body. And it’s described as a birth. And here’s a very beautiful and vivid and simple analogy. In a natural birth of a baby in the normal order, the head emerges first and the body follows the head. And so, in this birth into the new order, the new creation, the head, Jesus Christ, was the first born. He emerged first into this new order, and then we who by faith have become identified with His as His body, we follow Him, as the body follows the head in a natural birth. So we who are identified with Jesus Christ as His body, follow Him in this spiritual rebirth into the new creation, the new order. So this is the gate way. The gate was opened by Jesus through His death and through His resurrection. And we can pass out of the old order, the corrupt order, the order where things have gone wrong, the order where sin prevails, the order where there’s defilement and disappointment, and frustration. We can pass out of that order into a new order, have a totally new beginning, make a totally new start an order that’s undefiled, that’s pure, that’s incorruptible, that’s eternal, but it’s only by one route, there’s only one way into it. That way is through the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have to experience an identification with Him, both in death and in resurrection. And as through faith on our part, and through the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit on God’s part, we come into this experience. Then we find Paul as has said, “If any person is in Christ, he’s a new creation.” Not the old historical Christ that we read about, but the eternal Christ, without beginning of days or end of life. Identification with Him, revelation of Him through the Holy Spirit, brings us into this new creation.
We come now to the fourth great need that David saw and recorded in that cry for God’s mercy which is Psalm 51 the need for reconciliation. David saw that he’d been a rebel all his life, a rebel from birth, and even from conception. And that as a rebel he had to be reconciled with God. Something had to be done about that rebellious nature. And provision for this also was made by the death of Jesus Christ. In Colossians chapter 1 verses 21 and 22, Paul says this to people who have become Christians:
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. [Notice it was not merely in their behavior that they were enemies, but even in their minds, their mental attitudes was one of rebellion. Then Paul continues...] But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (NIV)
Notice it’s through the death of the body of Christ, through His death that God reconciles us to Himself. You see, Christ identified Himself with that rebel. Christ willingly as the last Adam took the place, was identified with the rebellion and the rebellious nature of every child of Adam. In Romans chapter 6 verses 5 and 6, Paul speaks about our identification with Jesus in His death in these terms. Romans 6:5 and 6:
“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (NASB)
So we see there that by a mystery of God, our old self was crucified. That rebel in everyone of us was crucified when Jesus was crucified, was put to death, and if we’re identified with Jesus in His death, then we have the right to be identified with Him also in His resurrection. And we pass out of death into life. We pass into a life where we’ve been set free from the condemnation, the guilt and the slavery of sin. But it’s only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And then we can go back to the words of Paul that we already looked at in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and just read a little further to get a fuller picture:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! [Then Paul continues...] All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf; Be reconciled to God.” (NIV)
That’s just what I’m doing right now. I’m imploring you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. You see, something wonderful happens when we’re reconciled to God. When we enter into this new creation, we in turn become reconcilers. We being to share God’s concern and love for the rebellious men and women that are all around us.
I describe Christians sometimes as reconciled reconcilers. First, we have to be reconciled with God through the death of Christ, then in turn we become reconcilers ambassadors of God seeking to bring this reconciliation to others. I always question the validity of a person’s conversion and new birth if it doesn’t give him a concern for the reconciliation of his fellow men and women to God.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week I’ll be taking you further in this wonderful theme of “A New Beginning.”
My special offer this week is my book Repent and Believe. In simple, practical terms this book explains the two essential requirements for entering into a totally new life in Christ. The truths in this book have been used by the Holy Spirit to change countless lives.
Also, my complete series of talks this week on “A New Beginning Part 1” is available in a single, carefully-edited cassette. Stay tuned for details.