Newness of Life 

 

The Genesis record invites us to at least try to imagine the scene at the creation; matter created from nothing (Heb. 11:3), and then about 6000 years ago that matter was organized into our present world; fundamental chemical elements reorganized and restructured, new life forms appearing from apparent chaos.  " Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen (in this present creation) were not made of things which do appear" (i.e. of pre-existing matter). The power of this creation is ascribed to God's spoken word. And now comes something even harder to conceive of: " If any man be in Christ (by baptism), there is a new creature (creation)"   (2 Cor. 5:17 RV mg.). In other words, the cataclysmic power of creation is unleashed upon the believer in the newness of life which comes after baptism. Something totally, fundamentally new  is created in the human brain. Yet this is a process; the six days of creation typify the work of God on the believer throughout his life. As tired Christians worldwide pull out their Bible Companions to 'do the readings' after supper, as God's words drift in and out of their consciousness during the daily grind, it is hard to believe that the power of God is so powerfully working upon us. Yet God is  at work in us, powerfully and mightily; " the word of God ...effectually worketh ...in you that believe" (1 Thess. 2:13). God is a creative God, restless in His desire to create, revelling in newness of life; He is  His Spirit power, manifest through His word.

When we become " a new creature, old things are passed away; behold (i.e. realize this!), all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).  These words are picked up in Rev. 21:5, where we read that at the second coming, all things will be made new and the old things of this life will be forgotten. The connection between these passages suggests that in prospect, we have passed out of this life into the Kingdom's newness of life; the dramatic change that will be seen physically on this earth when the Kingdom is established ought to be seen within the brain of the believer in this life.

Breaking Away...

The idea of old things passing away and being replaced by new things should be read against the context of 2 Cor.4, which speaks of how the Mosaic system had been ended. Elsewhere in the New Testament, " old things" refers to the elements of the Law (Lk. 5:39; Rom. 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:14; Heb. 1:11; 8:13; 2 Pet. 1:21); likewise the idea of 'passing away' refers to the passing away of the Mosaic dispensation (Mt. 5:18; 24:35; 2 Pet. 3:10). Yet clearly 2 Cor. 5:17 refers to the mental newness of thinking and newness of life which should be experienced by the convert to Christ. So, why is there also the allusion to the changeover from the Mosaic to Christian dispensation? Surely this is to show us that the struggle experienced by the early Jewish converts to break their ties with Judaism is a pattern for us, in our efforts to sever our connections with the old way of thinking- whether it be a string of past relationships, mentally dominant parents or priests,  Western capitalism, atheistic Communism or African superstition. We all have to make major breaks with our natural way of thinking and environment. The account of the struggle of the first Christians to break their ties with the surrounding Judaism, intellectually, socially and emotionally, is the burden of much of the New Testament. This is not therefore just incidental history; according to 2 Cor. 5:17, the way they broke away from Judaism is our pattern in breaking away from our  various backgrounds. For we live the same " newness of life" . The early Gentile converts likewise broke away from their surrounding world. Take the Thessalonians. They accepted the Gospel as being truly the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13), whereas generally, the people of Thessalonica despised the Gospel (Acts 17:11).

Newness Of Life

The words of Rom. 6:4 were probably read at our baptism, or taught to us beforehand: " That like as Christ was raised from the dead...even so we also should walk in newness of life" . Newness  of life teaches that our whole life after baptism is in the spirit of freshness, after the pattern of Christ's resurrection. This idea of newness should impart some element of excitement to our lives, the newness of new creation and coming to life should be an ongoing experience. Yet our lives in the flesh are so repetitious, so lacking in freshness. The newness of life of Rom. 6:4 has some connection with the " newness of spirit" spoken of in Rom. 7:6; it is a newness experienced within the human brain. The God who spoke His word of creation in Genesis has shined in our hearts, our inner minds (2 Cor. 4:6). It is quite possible that like some in the early church, familiarity with the new life can breed contempt; we forget that we were purged from the old life (2 Pet. 1:9), through " the cleansing from (our) old sins" (RV), i.e. baptism; the wonder of it all can be lost on us. Even in the Old Testament, the idea of living in a spirit of newness of life is to be found. David six times invites us to sing with him “a new song” (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1 cp. Is. 42:10). Invariably these songs are associated with the experience of God’s redemption (cp. Rev. 5:9). Obviously those ‘new songs’ were intended to be repeatedly sung. Our regular experience of forgiveness and redemption should urge us onwards in the spirit of ‘newness of life’. Like Paul we die daily with the Lord, and the power of His resurrection life likewise daily breaks out in us.

We have shown that the newness of life we experience after baptism is something mental, something intellectual in that it pertains to the intellect rather than our physical life. The outward man will get weaker and weaker as the inward man grows (2 Cor. 4:16). It is highly significant that apostate Christianity puts so much emphasis on God healing our physical infirmities, thus obscuring the good news of the new mental creation which God is making- with the same cataclysmic expenditure of power as He used at the creation of this earth. For example, " the spirit" in Rom. 8 refers to the new mental disposition produced by the new creation, but this is often misapplied to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. The experience of newness of life is first of all internal and mental, within each believer.

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