As we enter this New Year together we have great reason for rejoicing. I’m truly grateful that our God is a great God of second chances, actually endless chances. In fact, God is always willing to stand with us in our new beginnings. No one probably understood this better than Paul the apostle. Paul was used mightily by God to impact his first century world through the Lord Jesus Christ. He traveled on 3 missionary journeys and planted churches all over the Asia-Minor world. Yet let’s not forget that Paul the apostle was once Saul the persecutor. We read of his actions in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts. “Now, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus so that if any belonging to the way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (v.1-2 NASB). He was willing to go all the way to Damascus in Syria in order to arrest Christians. What hatred must have filled his heart and yet it was on the road to Damascus that this Jesus would break through and so profoundly change the course of Saul’s life and in some ways change world history. Remember, it was Paul who brought the gospel to the gentile world.
This little bit of background helps us understand better Paul’s words in his second letter to the Corinthians when he writes “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NASB). This new creation is an instantaneous experience the moment we place our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t grow into a new creation. We are born instantly into a new creation. The process of Christian growth and maturity is a lifelong process but the salvation experience is a moment in time transformation. This word “new” in this verse speaks of new in quality, something new and different, a superior innovation or advancement.
Think of the transformation that occurred in Saul’s heart and life that changed him from Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle. Think of what happened in Zaccheus’ life when he met Jesus in a saving way in the nineteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel. Jesus delights in making new creations and so radically changing hearts and lives for His glory and honor. The old things referred to in this passage refer to the old selfish carnal view of ourselves and others. Before I knew Christ I was totally enslaved to the lust of the flesh. My whole life was consumed with fulfilling my flesh and my desires. Now I want to live and walk to honor Jesus Christ. He is the one who has made me a “new creation.”
How about you – are you in Christ today? Notice again Paul’s words, “Therefore if any man is in Christ.” To be in Christ is to find a spiritual union with Christ, to have placed our trust and faith in Jesus, trusting Him entirely for our salvation. No person can save or transform themselves. Jesus is the one who changes us from the inside out. He is the basis of our acceptance and love. There is no greater new beginning that you can have then a living relationship with the God of the universe through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. How about you? If you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior there would be no greater way to begin 2014 then finding the key that opens heavens gates through the Lord Jesus Christ; may God’s peace bless your path in 2014.
Pastor Rich Sivo