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The New Creation - Galatians 6:14-16

The new creation is the Israel of God.

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Jun 24, 2012 12:00 AM

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It was reported this week that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the Voyager I spacecraft which was launched by NASA in 1977 will leave our solar system and enter into interstellar space.  Currently, the spacecraft is 11 billion miles away from Earth and will leave the heliosphere, the vast area around the Sun which is influenced by the gravitational and electromagnetic forces of the sun.

To give us some feeble idea of the amount of space we’re talking about, the heliosphere is about three times larger than the orbit of Pluto.  Pluto’s orbit is an average of about 3.67 billion miles from the Sun.  The Space Shuttle used to orbit the Earth at 17,500  mph.  So if we left today and flew the Space Shuttle to Pluto traveling at 17,500 mph, Sarah would be more than 23 years old when we got there.  She would almost 70 years old before we could reach the edge of the heliosphere.  That’s how far Voyager 1 has traveled: 11 billion miles, give or take a few hundred million.

So the Sun’s heliosphere extends very far beyond the farthest planet in our solar system.  Voyager I is about to leave our sun’s environment and enter into a new spacial environment which we have never been able to access before.  This is a very significant scientific event.  We are on the verge of going where no man-made craft has ever gone before.

The same could have been said of Christopher Columbus.  In 1492, Columbus discovered what came to be referred to as “the New World”.  He boarded his spacecraft of sorts, left the environment of continental Europe and cross over into an entirely unknown environment.  In effect, he discovered a new planet.  In the 15th century, the Atlantic Ocean was the equivalent to our outer space.  To travel west across that vast, uncharted sea was the ultimate exploration into the unknown.

However, Columbus did not actually discover a new world.  He simply discovered more of the same world, a different region of the world with which he was accustomed.  The “New World” was just more of the old world and it would not take long to realize that.  The New World would contain a number of previously unknown plants and animals to be sure.  And previously unknown people and nations.  But the sad commonality which both worlds shared in abundance was sin.

Everything which God created and declared to be good in , was spoiled by the rebellion of Adam.  Consequently, he and Eve were ejected from Eden and men have been writing about, dreaming of, and longing for a return to our original environment, Paradise, ever since.  Sin produced a perpetual groaning, a constant suffering throughout all creation.

However, the Christian gets “a foretaste of glory divine”.  As believers, we can smell the aroma of the new creation while we still live far removed from it in the old one.  We can sense the new world from this old world.  There is a new environment, a new reality to be had, a renewed universe which the sons of God will inherit, and we can experience some of that to a small degree even now.  The day is coming when we will leave the heliosphere, when we will cast off from Europe, and set off for those glorious realms which no man has ever experienced before.  Look with me please, at .

14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. ( ESV)

We have already discussed the cross of the Lord Jesus and how the Jews were embarrassed by it, they were ashamed of those fellow Jews who believed the crucified Jesus to be the promised Messiah.  We talked about how the crucifixion has always been a stumbling block for the Jews as a whole, as a nation.

But for us who are being saved, the cross and the Lord Jesus who hung there are the very things in which we boast.  We see in the cross the love of God for sinners, the love of a Savior who sacrificed Himself for us.  We see the wisdom of God in the cross of Christ and we boast in His execution of divine justice and infinite love in the death of Christ for our sakes.  The cross represents to us the greatest display of the love and wisdom and power and wrath of God.  We see there the successful accomplishment of the redemption of sinners from the condemnation of our sin, and the triumphant victory of our Redeemer over sin and death and hell.  We have abundant reason to glory in the cross.

Then in verse 14 Paul makes this very interesting statement concerning the cross of Christ: “. . . By which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” That is a profound word of encouragement.  Two reciprocal deaths take place for the believer by means of the cross: the world dies to us, and we die to the world.  We die to one another, us to the world and the world to us.  Here’s what I believe Paul means:

First, the world dies to us.  In the cross of Christ, our desire for the things of this world died, and the importance of the things of this world died.  In Christ, we became citizens of heaven and this world is no longer our home.  It does not hold the appeal to us that it once did.  We feel less and less at ease here.  We see friendship with the world as something to be avoided because that puts us at enmity with God.  We don’t love the world as we once did.  The work of Christ upon the cross has that affect upon our thinking and upon our lives.  The closer we move toward Christ, the more we feel our status as aliens and strangers here.  This is how the world has died to us.  It is how the word died to Paul.

Secondly, we die to the world.  If we live godly in Christ Jesus, the world will have no use for us.  The world crucified Christ, it eventually murdered Paul, it persecuted the apostles and the early church, and it will hate us.  The world has very little patience for people characterized by godliness and holiness.  The world certainly has little regard for any who would say Jesus is the sole means of salvation.  That is precisely what Paul was preaching, and that is precisely what he was repeatedly attacked for by the Jews.  If you get online and start posting tweets in your Twitter account or start saying stuff on your Facebook page about the exclusivity of the Lord Jesus as the only way to heaven, the only means by which we can approach God, then you will find out quickly just how dead you have become to the world.

When we believe the gospel, there is a sanctification that takes place in which we are separated from the world and the world holds us at arm’s length.  But it is a mutual arrangement.  We don’t want the world, and the world doesn’t want us.  In fact, when the Lord saves us and brings us out of darkness and into the light, we enter into a new world, a new existence, a new life that is truly other-worldly.  We die to this world, and the world dies to us.  We are now members of the real, spiritual “New World”.  And it at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ where this was accomplished.

Then in verse 15, Paul goes on to explain himself briefly with this statement: For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. In the immediate context, Paul is talking about the old world order.  There were Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised, God’s chosen people and pagans.  He is referring to the separation of Israel from the rest of the world and the exclusion of all people but the Jews from access to the true God.  He’s talking about that wall of separation that surrounded the Temple to keep Gentiles from approaching so as to avoid a painful death by stoning at the hands of offended Jews.

But the new world is quite different.  In fact, he calls it a new creation. There is a new covenant that has been instituted which has not only extended the reach of the saving grace of God to the Gentile world, but it has actually changed the entire world.  Not only has it changed the world, but the new covenant in the blood of Christ anticipates the recreation of the people of God and of the world itself.

In we read a very similar statement by Paul:

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ( ESV)

Paul says here that the person who is in Christ, whomever he may be, regardless of race, that individual person is a new creation. He is a person that is not to be known according to physical terms and distinctions, but according to a new and different standing before God and before the world.  The new creature is now a Christian, and the new creation is the Israel of God.  The Christian is a member of the Body of Christ.  He is a citizen of heaven.  He is an adopted member of the household of God.  Not only that, but all of his sins are forgiven and he has been promised a new body in which he may dwell in the presence of God forever.  The new body will be suited to the new world, the new heavenly environment which he will inhabit for eternity.  He is most certainly a new creature, a new creation, even if he has not yet fully realized all the benefits of the new life he has been granted.

The New Creation which we become through faith in Christ is directly connected to the new heavens and the new earth which God will create where only the righteous will dwell.  Look again at , v1.

1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. ( ESV)

As believers in the Lord Jesus, God has already prepared us for our heavenly home.  The ties to earth are cut, and it is just a matter of time before we enter into the new world with new immortal physical bodies, as new creatures in the new creation.  Peter speaks of it as well, but in somewhat more detail:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ( ESV)

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. ( ESV)

We have been born again, we have been granted the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our eternal destiny in Heaven, we have a sure and living hope of a future inheritance in heaven, or more specifically, in the new creation, the new heavens and the new earth.  We have become new creations for the new creation by means of the cross of Christ.  This world is dead to us, and we to it.  But we live for Christ and look forward to a life that never ends in a world that welcomes us, a place in which righteousness dwells.

Then in verse 16, Paul makes this statement:

16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. ( ESV)

And as for all who walk by this rule, or, as for all who live according to the truth that race, color, sex, and whether a person is a Jew or Gentile, simply does not matter when in comes to salvation . . . For those who believe in salvation by means of the work of Christ upon the cross alone . . . peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God.

Paul ends his letter with this prayer for the blessing of God upon His people.  God’s people are those whose faith is in Jesus Christ alone.  The biblical gospel message is that salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Anything else is not the gospel, and those who preach anything else should not and will not receive the peace and mercy of God.  They are accursed of God.  Paul began his letter by speaking anathemas against the Judaizers and anyone else who would promote a salvation by any means other than grace alone.  He ends his letter by calling upon God to grant peace and mercy to those whose allegiance is to Jesus Christ exclusively for salvation.

These are those who make up the Israel of God. He said it very plainly and clearly back in chapter 3:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. ( ESV)

If you are Christ’s, you are Abraham’s seed, you are the Israel of God, you are the recipients of the promises, you are co-heirs with Christ, you are the New Creation.  That is what matters and it matters supremely.  No more of this, “Many ways to God” tripe.  No more of this “Faith in Christ AND _____ ” nonsense. If you are not Christ’s, and if your faith is not solely in Him and His miraculous work upon the cross, then you have no hope of ever seeing God, you have no hope of ever entering into glory, you have no hope of ever surviving the wrath of God’s justice on the final day of judgment.  Hell is real, the fire burns forever.  And the anger of God towards all those who have rejected Him and His Son, who have rebelled without repentance against His law and against His Christ, -- His wrath will burn against them for eternity.

The New Creation is what matters.  Being made new is what counts.  And our being made a new creation through the cross of Christ is directly related and inextricably connected to the work of the Lord Jesus in making ALL THINGS NEW.  In , John says:

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." ( ESV)

This is the New World Order!  The whole universe will have that wonderful “new car smell”, so to speak.  There will be a reversal of the effects of the Fall of Adam.  The new human race, the Israel of God, will live in a new world which is totally devoid of all things that offend -- all things that offend God and His holy people.  It will not only be a new heavens and a new earth.  We will also have new bodies fitted for a new environment in which there is no death.

There will be a new and perfect governing of all things.  Satan and his demons will have no access to this world to spoil it in any way.  We will live under a direct theocracy with God Himself as our great Monarch and King.  There will be a complete and visibly evident change not just in where we live, but in how we live.  Everything will be made new by Christ our King!

All of this newness is because of the cross of Christ.  We seldom grasp the infinite significance of the cross.  Paul says that the deadness of this world to us, and our deadness to it, and the reality of the new creation of which we have become a part -- all of that is precipitated upon the singular event of the cross.  We have much in which to boast when we boast in His cross.  It was the Lamb who was slain upon that cross who is worthy of our praise, and it is that Lamb who makes all things new, even us.



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