15-11-15 ON BECOMING
A NEW CREATURE
By John Aldworth
Colossians. 1:15-18: Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or power: all things were created by Him and for Him
And He is before all things and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the church, who is the Beginning, the Firstborn of every creature that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.
Genesis 6: 7-9: And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beasts, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth Me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
How do you find grace to be saved? Noah found it in the eyes of the Lord in Genesis 6. The virgin Mary found it in Luke 1: 28-3; the angel told her, ‘Fear not Mary, for thou hast found favour with God’.
Paul and Titus found it in Titus 3:3-5. As the Apostle Paul says of himself and his fellow minister: ‘Not by works of righteousness we have done but according to his mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost … that being justified by his grace we might be made the heirs according to the hope of eternal salvation’.
How many are eternally saved? Answer: very few if the testimony of scripture is heeded. True, millions still make a profession of salvation according to the tenets of what is called ‘conventional Christianity’; i.e. they respond to an alter call, ask Jesus to come into their heart, repent and get water baptised – all things they do.
But rarely indeed do these people become heavenly minded, rarely do they ‘seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God’ (Col. 3:1). Rather they seek and are content with the blessings of God only in this life.
Real salvation, however, is to find grace to be justified and made perfect and thus become a fit candidate to live forever with the Lord in his kingdom, which is the ‘world to come’. That means becoming a new creature, part of a new creation.
Before my eyes were opened to higher spiritual truth I used to read Col. 1:15-16 as though it referred to God’s original six-day creation of earth, animals and man. But it doesn’t, for that world was destroyed in Noah’s Flood. Neither does it refer to ‘this present evil world’ (Gal. 1:4) which had already been sentenced to death by God. (2 Peter 3:10). It references a new creation of which Jesus Christ is the ‘firstborn’ or prototype. To be blunt, we either find ourselves in Him or we perish.
That understood, it follows that the ‘all things’ of Col. 1:15-18 are the ‘all things’ found in this new creation, also termed Christ’s ‘heavenly kingdom’ (2 Tim. 4:18). They are no the ‘all things’ that exist now.
The question we are addressing now is: How do you and I become a new creature, how do we find grace to be justified and made fit to be ‘translated into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13)?
The short answer is found in Titus 3:4-5 where we are encouraged to find the ‘kindness and love of God our Saviour (which has) appeared unto all men’. Paul and Titus did find it, or, rather, it found them, for verse 5 makes plain that it was not their ‘works of righteousness’ that saved them but the mercy of God.
Actually they were saved, and so are we, by God’s ‘tender mercies’ that David prayed for and received (Psalms 40:11, 104:4, 119:56).
‘Mercy’ here in Titus 3:5 is the Greek word elios meaning ‘tender mercy’. Another word for elios is compassion. It is God stooping down and taking pity to save fallen, inferior, helpless sinners such as we are. Of course, if you don’t feel you are a helpless sinner and think that you can make yourself right with God by better behaviour then you neither need nor will receive his mercy.
The example of Noah
How many righteous men did God need to create a new world after Noah’s Flood? Answer: Just one, Noah. How many righteous women did God need to bring his holy Son to be born into this world? Answer: Just one: Mary. How many righteous men does Christ need to form his new creation, to create his ‘world to come’, to complete his holy and heavenly kingdom? Answer: Again, just one, Himself.
Often we wonder why so few are saved. Fact is few ‘find grace in the eyes of the Lord’. How did Noah become the only man fit for God’s purpose to form a new world? The following are his qualifications:
- Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord
- Noah was a just man
- He was perfect in his generations
- Noah walked with God.
And for you and I to be preserved unto the Lord’s heavenly kingdom we also need to find grace, be just, be perfect in our generations and walk with God. Notice that grace comes first in the Bible description of Noah’s character. His other qualities all stemmed from grace.
For example, Noah was ‘a just man’ because he was made right by God. The word ‘just’ here means just that: to be made right. Was Noah a sinner like us? Yes, for ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23). Noah was ‘justified by grace’ (Titus 3:7) just as we must be if we are to be ‘made heirs according to the hope of eternal life’.
Secondly, Noah was ‘perfect in his generations’. But how could that be when all else had corrupted themselves by mingling themselves with fallen angels or their offspring? The answer is: by grace. Recently I was asked if the corrupt, genetic seed of Genesis 6:4 affected us in our generation. My answer was yes, for two reasons. First, that fallen angels again genetically corrupted mankind after the flood (Gen. 6:4). Secondly, this is why God has to ‘quicken’ us because we are ‘dead in sins’ (Eph. 2:5).
To be made ‘perfect’ we need to be circumcised with the ‘circumcision of Christ’ (Col. 211-3), buried with Him in baptism’ and ‘risen with Him by faith of the operation of God’. Just as God arranged for Noah to retain a pure line of descent from Adam so God by grace creates us a whole ‘new man’ in and with the risen glorified Christ. Doesn’t Col. 2:10 say that we are ’complete in Him’? And complete means perfect. If we have ‘put on the new man’ (Col. 3:10) then, like Noah, our very genetics have been changed from corruption to incorruption too. For by grace we are now ‘members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones’ (Eph. 5:30).
But how can you and know this in everyday experience? Answer: by grace through faith, for ‘we walk by faith not by sight’ (2 Cor. 5:7). This is how Noah ‘walked with God’. It means received God’s specially sent word for us for today (the ‘sound words’ of the prison epistle revelation to Paul) just as Noah received grace and God’s righteousness by faith to him in his day.
It means studying and believing scripture; it means learning to listen to and to obey ‘the still small voice’ (1 Kings 19:12). Truly today God’s word is not found in the hurricane, the earthquake or fire (the perils of this world and the big noise, shaking and conflagration made by man’s contrivances and organised religion) but the ‘still, small voice’ that Elijah heard.
God is not shouting today: He is whispering. Are you listening to what He has to say?