Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gordon Fee on the work of the Spirit

Gordon D. Fee on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people of God: The Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-6:10).


Paul concludes this list by bringing it back into context: “Against such things as these there is no law.” This means something like, “when these virtues are evident among us because of the presence of the Spirit, Torah is an irrelevancy.” There is no need of Torah to say to people who by the Spirit are loving on another, “you shall not kill,” nor to say to those who are actively pursuing the good of others out of kindness, “don’t covet.”

This does not mean that reminders like this list are irrelevant—Paul himself is long on such—but that the need for Torah to “hem in human conduct because of the transgressions” (Gal 3:19, 22) has come to an end with the advent of the Spirit, God’s own way of fulfilling the promised new covenant. This is Torah being etched on the heart, so that God’s people will obey him (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:27). Here also is the clear evidence that for Paul the elimination of Torah does not mean the end of righteousness. To the contrary, the Spirit produces the real thing, the righteousness of God himself, so that his children reflect his likeness.

Of equal importance, these are the fruit of the eschatological Spirit. In us and in our believing communities the Spirit is at work reproducing the very life of God, so that in our present between-the-times existence, we might live the life of the future, toward which we are walking. This is what lies behind Paul’s command in Philippians 1:27, where in a wordplay on the fact that Philippi was a Roman colony, whose free people were therefore citizens of Rome, Paul urges them “to live out their [heavenly] citizenship in Philippi in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Picking up this same imagery again in 3:20 he says that “our citizenship is in heaven.”

God’s people in Philippi were in effect a “colony of heaven” in this colony of Rome. Paul’s point is that if people are to see what heaven is to be like, they should see it now in the way the heavenly citizens live their life together. Obviously, only the Spirit of the living God can pull that off! But that is what it is all about.

We need, finally, to return to the beginning. Pauline ethics has to do with walking—putting one foot in front of the other, if you will—and doing so in the Spirit, as we are led by the Spirit. Both Paul’s exhortation to the community in Ephesians 5:18 (“be filled with the Spirit”) and his instruction to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (“fan the gift into flame”) imply the need for a continual, ongoing appropriation. The Spirit’s presence is the crucial matter, but that presence does not automatically ensure a quickened, fervent Spiritual life. Both individuals and the church as a whole are exhorted to keep the gift aflame. One way of doing this is by mutual encouragement and growth in the context of community life, especially worship.

Gordon D. Fee: Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God; pg. 123-124 (emphasis GGM).



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Beautiful Sermon by TFT

Thomas F. Torrance—Sermon: Immanuel

Matthew 1: 18-25; Revelation 21:1-8

“Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

What a sharp contrast there is between Christmas, with its lovely carols about the birth of Jesus, and the tense life of our vexed world! That is the baffling incongruity of Christmas which we felt during the war, and which we understand again today. It almost seems out of place to sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.”! But that contrast and that apparent incongruity lie very close to the heart of Christmas, for it was into a world engulfed in darkness and despair that the Son of God was actually born. Indeed, the very coming of Jesus provoked it into fearful savagery, as we see right away in the slaughter of the innocent children of Bethlehem by the command of Herod, who was determined to destroy the new-born King. And yet that was but a portent of even more terrible things to come. For seventy long, bitter years the storm-clouds gathered in darkening intensity over Palestine, and then at last they broke in all their fury upon the Jews, as Jesus Himself had prophesied, when the streets of the Holy City were drenched in blood and Jerusalem was ploughed up like a field. It was right in the midst of those seventy years that Jesus was crucified with wicked hatred, Jesus who was born at Bethlehem to be the Prince of Peace.

What is there about the message of Christmas that makes it speak in such angelic beauty of peace and good-will and yet point straightaway to the frenzied tumult of Jerusalem and the agony of the Cross? What is it that links the birth of Christ with the passion of Christ, and that still makes the tender mercy of God manifested at Bethlehem like fire cast upon the earth?

It is the fact proclaimed by the name Immanuel: God with us. Let us try to understand that.

God with us” means that in the birth of Jesus Christ God has given Himself wholly to us, in a love that is absolutely unstinting and infinitely lavish. It is God’s utmost self-giving that stopped at nothing. God could do no more than come Himself into our humanity, and give Himself entirely to us—and that is exactly what He has done in Jesus. The sheer extent, the boundless range, of His act of love takes our breath away. “God with us” means that God Almighty insists on sharing His life with us. Far from abandoning us to the fate which we men deserve, God has identified Himself with us. Once and for all He has become one of us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. God has committed Himself to us in such unrestrained love in the birth of Jesus, and in such a way that now He cannot abandon us any more than He can abandon Himself in Jesus Christ.

That is why the birth of Jesus was heralded with such sublime joy among men and angels, for now that God is with us, the whole situation in heaven and earth is entirely altered, and all things are made new. Now that God is actually with us and of us, everything else is assured. Whatever may happen in the future, God’s purpose of love and fellowship and peace with man will all be fulfilled. If God is with us, there is nothing that can prevail against us. If God has given us His own Son in the birth of Jesus, then He has already given us everything, and there is nothing that He will withhold from us. No wonder that the whole host of heaven burst out in praise, as the good tidings were announced to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.” No wonder Simeon said, when he took the baby Jesus into his arms: “Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

The peace of God was assured, but the peace of man with God was yet to be gained. This is where the gift of Christmas takes on a deeper meaning.

God with us” means God with us sinners in our lost and bankrupt state. Where we have sold ourselves irretrievably into slavery and perdition and are hopelessly broken and damned, God has joined Himself to us. God has refused to let us go. He has insisted on making Himself one of us, and one with us, in order to make our lost cause His very own, and so to restore us to Himself in love. “God with us” means that God is for us; God is on our side; that He has come among us to shoulder our burden, and to rescue us from disaster and doom and to reinstate us as sons of the heavenly Father. That is the meaning of the whole life of Jesus from His birth to His death. It was God taking upon Himself our poor human life in all its wretchedness and need, God living out our human life from beginning to end, in order to redeem it. Think of a son born into a family that has gone down in the world and restoring its fortunes, or of a son recovering the family business from bankruptcy and setting it upon a solid foundation. Those are poor analogies, but they may help us to understand the meaning of the birth of Jesus as the coming of the Son of God into our human family in order to make our lost cause His own and to save it from utter disaster.

Child in the manger

Infant of Mary

Outcast and stanger,

Lord of all!

Child who inherits

All our transgressions,

All our demerits

On Him fall.

Yes, it was on our behalf that Jesus, the Son of God, was born—not for His own sake, but for our sake. It was on our behalf that He humbled Himself to live the life of a human infant, to share our life to the full from its very origin. It was on our behalf that Jesus learned to pray at His mother’s knee, on our behalf that He learned obedience both to His earthly parents and to His heavenly Father, not simply to show us the pattern of true sonship, but to restore our human life to perfect fellowship with our Father who is in Heaven. It was on our behalf that He was tempted in all points as we are. It was on our behalf that He involved Himself so fully in the life of His fellow-men, sharing with sinners their daily bread, and in the midst of it all offering to God a life of perfect obedience where they were disobedient. And it was on our behalf at last that He was obedient even unto death, and in our placed that He meekly submitted to God’s judgment where Jesus from the dead, acknowledging Him as His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased, and accepting in His obedient life and death a sacrifice on our behalf.

Jesus lived a fully human life, but all through that human life it was God who was living it for our sakes that He might reconcile us to Himself and gather our frail human life into union with His divine life. The whole life of Jesus was the life of God with us sinners, God taking our place and doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, God laying hold of our rebellious will, making it His own and bending it back from its disobedience to obedience, form its defiance to love. And so we hear Jesus praying in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

Let us think of what Christ had to suffer in order to do that. Do we remember the parable He told about the man who planted a vineyard and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country? From time to time he sent his servants back to the vineyard to receive some of the fruit that was due to him, but they were all beaten or stoned or shamefully handled and sent empty away. Then last of all the owner sent His only son, His beloved son, saying, “They will reverence my son”, but when the husbandmen saw the son and heir come to the vineyard, they became even more wicked, and they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard, and took possession of it for themselves. When God is in the far country the conflict between man and God does not seem so sharp, but when God is with us, when the Son of God comes into the midst of our human life, then the conflict between God and man reaches its utmost intensity. That is precisely what happened with the birth of Immanuel. With the coming of the Son of God into our humanity, man’s enmity to God was provoked to its utmost intensity, but Jesus Christ came in order to take that very conflict into his own heart and to bear it in suffering in order to reconcile man to God. He came to penetrate into the innermost life of humanity, into the very heart of its blackest evil in order to make human guilt and sorrow and suffering His own. In pouring out His life upon man in utter compassion and love for him , Jesus uncovered the enmity of sin in its terrible depth in the human heart, and drew it out upon Himself that He might bear it on His Spirit and on His body in holy and awful atonement, and bear it all away for ever.

All that belongs to the meaning of Immanuel, God with us. That is why it is only with eyes that have looked upon the Cross that we can look upon the birth of the infant Jesus at Bethlehem and understand the boundless love of God in giving us His only son to be our Saviour. Now we can understand why they called Him Jesus, for He had come to save His people from their sins. And now too we can really understand why  He was born to be the Prince of Peace, for it is through the blood of Christ alone that we have peace with God.

It is because of this that we can really enjoy having God with us, and so enter fully into all the rapturous joys of Christmas, and know that when all the festivities are over the joy remains because the peace in eternal. There are some people for whom Immanuel can only bring anxious and disquieting thoughts at Christmas, for they have not found peace with God. But to those who have, Immanuel contains a prophecy of a day when Christmas will no longer be celebrated against the background of a harsh and troubled world, for there will be a new heaven and a new earth, such as John saw in his vision, when he heard a great voice out of heaven saying: “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne,” that is, Jesus, born to be King at Bethlehem, “said: ‘Behold I make all things new’.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Prayer

My Father who is in heaven, who is also present with me in Christ by the Spirit, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, in me and through me; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven by me in how I think, in how I judge, and in how I act.

Let me be content with your daily provision.
And forgive me of my sins, as you’ve called me to forgive those who have sinned against me.

And keep me from falling into sin when tempted by delivering me from the evil one and his influences.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Simply Jesus--simply read it!

N.T. Wright: “Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters”

I’ve just finished reading “Simply Jesus” and I must say that it was simply wonderful. In this book, Wright brings us a vision of Jesus that is sorely lacking in the church (and world) today. Wright gives us fifteen beautifully written chapters explaining how, by-and-large, the church has misunderstood who Jesus was, what He did and why He matters. The “new vision” part of the subtitle is provocative because it suggests that Wright is going to give us his own novel ideas about Jesus; but in point-of-fact, all he is doing is bringing us back into Jesus’ first century context to help us understand the vision of Jesus that the Scripture and the early followers of Jesus believed and proclaimed. The “new” vision is, in fact, the “old” vision that the church has largely forgotten or, in some cases, suppressed. Thankfully there are many churches, SGCC included, that have been reviving the original vision of Jesus and His mission and challenging the church at-large to re-think the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Rather than write a lengthy review of my own I will link to two reviews (here and here) that sum up my thoughts fairly well. I will, however, “simply” state that I loved this book. Wright rightly captures the importance of Jesus in fulfilling the purpose of God to, as he says, “bring heaven and earth together”. It’s the story of Jesus becoming King and inaugurating a new world, a new order of things. This is not so much the story of “How God became King” (ironically, the title of his book published a year after Simply Jesus), but that God became King in Jesus. And why did God become King in Jesus? To fulfill His purpose to bring New Creation by renewing this creation, by making it what He originally intended it to be. Jesus’ coming was not simply to “forgive sins” and take believers up to heaven. No. Jesus’ purpose was to bring “heaven” to earth and create a brand new world where God is King and the world, the Cosmos, is His (king)Dome.

Simply Jesus is an easy read and should be a wake-up call to the church. Simply read it!

If the above links did not work, try these below:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Christian" Zionism is not Christian

What Christians Don't Know About Israel: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1998, Pages 112, 126 Special Report What Christians Don’t Know About Israel By Grace Halsell American Jews sympathetic to Israel dominate key posit...

This is an old article, but it highlights a persistent problem: Christians are, by and large, ignorant of their Scripture and unaware of the history of the Palestinian people and the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. I challenge those of us who call ourselves Children of God and followers of Christ to distance ourselves from the cult of Christian Zionism and let the world know that as Christ's ambassadors we agree with our Lord that violence has no place in His Kingdom.

Blessed are the peace-makers....

Individuals or Church's or Christian organizations that condone (or worse, promote) violence against any nation or people in the name of Christ are not following Christ. We are called to love one another and to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute you, etc. Nowhere...nowhere are we called to support violence against anyone! Even if we are hit in the face, we are called to turn the other cheek. For any Christian or Church or Christian organization to be linked with the promotion of violence and hatred is completely antithetical to who Jesus is and what He taught.

We who name the Name of Christ should have nothing to do with the infliction or promotion of violence against anyone. If we knew our bibles we would distance ourselves from the Zionist movement altogether simply because Jesus would be against it; instead of siding with war-mongers, we would be on the side of the Prince of Peace. Christian Zionists do not read the Old Testament in light of the coming of Christ and thus they miss the point of "Israel"; they completely by-pass Christ and the New Testament when forming their "theology of Israel". The New Testament is the explanation of the fulfillment of the Old Testament (and all things) in the Person and Work of Christ.

Everything, Jesus says, has been fulfilled in Him. This means that all the promises of God in the Old Testament finds its purpose and fulfillment in Christ. Whether we're talking about Adam, the Garden of Eden, the Temple, the Abrahamic, Mosaic, or David Covenant, the Sacrificial system, the Land or "Israel" itself--the purpose of God for all things has been fulfilled in Jesus the Christ. Sadly, in the view of many Christians the "nation" of Israel belongs to a separate "plan" of God with respect to Christ. In their understanding, God has one purpose and plan for Israel and another purpose and plan for everyone else. The problem with this is it's unbiblical! It creates a separation between Jew and Gentile that undermines the work of Christ who has united both together in Himself. In effect, this view divides Christ! The Scriptures (Old Testament and New Testament) are against Christian Zionism.

Paul (as with the rest of the NT writers) understands that the true Israel, and thus the true people of God, are those who have undergone the true circumcision (the circumcision of Christ) and are therefore the true “children of Abraham”. But this is only true of those who are  in Christ, who is preeminently the true Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). The gospel that was preached to Abraham beforehand (as Paul says) was that “all the nations shall be blessed in you”—this is the Abrahamic Covenant. We know that the first-level fulfillment of this prophecy was the institution of Israel (the “seed” of Abraham) as God’s “chosen son”. Israel was to be the “light” to the nations whereby people from every tongue, tribe and nation would come to know God as their own father. This was accomplished through the circumcision of the flesh which identified all proselytes with Israel, God’s “son”. A person must have been joined to “Israel” to enjoy the covenant blessings of being God’s “son”. There’s no question that in the OT Israel was considered to be the people of God; we also know that everyone who joined himself to Israel (through circumcision) was also considered to be a part of the people of God. Proselytes were “grafted in”, so-to-speak, and enjoyed all the privileges of “covenant sonship”. And this is now fulfilled in Christ! This is only one fairly strait-forward way in which Israel was prophetic and typological as a first-level fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

But Paul (especially, but in agreement with all NT writers, I believe) understands that all things find their fulfillment in Christ. He (as with the rest of the NT writers) understands Jesus’ words to the men on the road to Emmaus as declaring that all the Scripture is prophetic and finds its terminus point in Christ. It’s in this way that all of God’s promises are true (“yeah” and “amen”) in Christ.

The idea that “Israel” is prophetic because it is typological is found all throughout the OT, but the prophet Isaiah explicitly identifies the singular Servant of God not only as “Israel”, but also as the “covenant of the people” (Isa. 42:1-9; 49:1-13; cf. Ex. 24:8, Isa. 52:15, Matt. 26:28, and really the whole book of Hebrews). Christ, as the fulfillment of Israel, is this Servant and He is the covenant to/of the people; and it’s in Him (and only in Him) that a person—any person—can have access to the Father. The Abrahamic covenant (and all subsequent covenants) is fulfilled in the “New Covenant” in Christ. Circumcision in the flesh (as a Jewish identity-marker) means nothing to God—it is the “New Creation” (in Christ) that determines sonship (Gal. 6:15-16). There is “no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised (in the flesh), barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” The Servant, who is the True Israel and True “Son” of God, is also the “covenant” of fulfillment so that all those and only those who are joined to Christ are now the covenant “people of God”.

In dealing with the principle of “Israel”, Paul explains that the true people of God are those who have been joined to the true Son of God who is also the true Seed of Abraham (Galatians). The principle of God has not changed: Abraham’s “seed” (Israel) was to be a light to the nations so that when a person identifies with Israel by uniting with “Israel” (as God’s chosen “son”) through circumcision, he would become a member of “Israel” and a citizen of the Kingdom; in this way he/she will then enjoy the covenant blessings of God as his/her Father. Israel, however, failed to be God’s covenant son, as expressed over and over again in the Scripture. A new Israel was needed (read especially, Isaiah); and this must be so because “Israel” was simply the first-level fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant—it was typological and spoke of Abraham’s true Seed to come. Paul sees “Israel” as having it’s fulfillment in Jesus as the true Seed of Abraham who, therefore, is the true Israel and the True Light to the nations.

Now it’s only by being joined to Christ through the circumcision made without hands that a person becomes a “covenant child” of God. We who have been “born again” or “born by the Spirit” have had our eyes opened to see the truth (we have come to the Light, who is “Israel”) and have become “new creations”, united to the true “Israel”, the true “covenant Son”; therefore we are called the people of God, the Children of God. We can rightly be considered the true Israel because, and only because, we have been joined to the True Israel by God’s grace through faith in Him. "Not all Israel are Israel", but only those who have been joined to the True Israel. The Kingdom has come in Christ because it’s in His person that the True Israel and the King of “Israel” has come!

Christian Zionists simply do not know who "Israel" is. And with respect to the "land", the New Testament is loudly silent on the matter. Nowhere in the New Testament is God's purpose in Christ tied to the land of Palestine--nowhere!

Christian Zionism is simply not Christian. In fact, it is decidedly anti-Christ. Christian Zionists, in their unbiblical zeal to support the political nation of Israel, actually end up denying Christ and work contrary to our Lord's purposes.

Jesus is love, peace, compassion, etc.

Other interesting articles:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Man's Destiny--Union With Christ

From Philip Hughe's excellent work, "The True Image: Man's Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ"

“The kingdom of God in the new heaven and the new earth is also the harvest of God, the fruition of all his purposes from the foundation of the world. The realization of man’s glorious destiny in Christ is the flowering and fructification not merely of the good seed of the gospel planted in the soil of his heart but also of the good seed of Christlikeness, which is the true significance of his constitution in the image of God, planted in the heart of his being at creation. The purpose of creation is reestablished and achieved in the grace of regeneration. This involves the realization of the cosmic order and harmony of all things—not, however, in a merely static sense, as though it were no more than the recovery of the [way things were before], that is, of an original fixity of being, but in accordance with the dynamic and vibrantly progressive will of God which is the energy that interpenetrates the whole of his creation. Eden ordered and harmonious though it was, was but the beginning, not the full end, of the Creator’s design for the cosmos. Man…was made lower than the angels only for a little while; [Man’s] true destiny was always intended to be higher than the angles, in union with Christ, the true Image of his being, crowned with glory and honor, ‘far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,’ participating in his [Christ’s] lordship over all the works of God’s hands.” (410-411, emphasis GGM)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"My God, My God..."

In light of some recent online discussions, I thought I post my thoughts on Matthew 27:46. The following is essentially the content of my “blurb” that I spoke to the church congregation back in May. I think this is a very important issue because many want to interpret Jesus’ words as if God actually abandoned Him while on the cross bearing our sin. I think this is wrong and dangerous because it calls into question the perichoretic unity of the Godhead; and in calling God’s oneness and unity into question, it also calls into question our confidence that nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

This is basically what I said:

Every time I sing Great is Thy Faithfulness I can imagine that these were Jesus’ thoughts even as He cried out, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” I believe that even in this His greatest moment of despair as He is seemingly abandoned by His Father He never doubted the Love of His Father toward Him. In fact, I submit (and this is not a novel teaching) that even as He was dying on the Cross, with those words He was declaring His undying trust in the faithfulness of His Father. Why do I say this? Because these words of anguish and despair are the opening refrain of Psalm 22 which ends in praise for God’s deliverance!

I want to emphasize that in bearing our sin and guilt, in so completely and fully identifying with us in His humanity, Jesus experienced as real our alienation from God; He really did feel abandoned & forsaken by God; He experienced as real an “aloneness” that brought Him true grief and anguish and despair. We can’t overemphasize this enough. He was truly one of us and bore in Himself our guilt & shame; in bearing our full humanity, Jesus experienced as real our darkness and “exile”, as it were.

But “In the Greatest of Ironies”, as one author put it, this cry of forsakenness & abandonment by our Lord was His announcement to the people of God’s “divine presence and rescue and salvation”.

Again, in His identification with us and our guilt I have no doubt that Jesus truly feels alone and abandoned as He bears our sin; but He also knows and trusts His Father. Jesus uses Psalm 22 (and even 23 and 24 as his hearers, I believe, would have continued meditating on) to declare the meaning of what is now taking place. In effect, He is saying, “You think you know your Scripture; now Learn your Scripture and watch and see the salvation—yours and mine—of our God!”

Now the Jews did know their Scripture; and as we often do when we hear the beginning of a favorite song or story, they would have begun reflecting on the rest of the Psalm. This Psalm then was Jesus’ answer to those who were mocking Him—yes I do trust in God and yes He will deliver Me!

Read Psalm 22 (and 23 and 24) in this context.

Again, one author says this: “Psalm 22 moves from agony to God’s victorious intervention and to a prophecy that the coming generations will look back upon this moment as the salvation of the Lord of Hosts.” Jesus is saying “This moment is now!”

This is the declaration of our Savior: “My God and Father is the Faithful and Merciful God who Delivers His People! Watch and See!” And they did! Three days later—an empty tomb!

And since we have died with Him and have been raised in Him, we know this Deliverance and we too experience the Salvation of the Lord of Hosts! Jesus’ Faith is our Faith; His trust & confidence is our trust & confidence; His Resurrection is our Resurrection. And His Life is our Life.

And because the Father never abandoned His Son but Saved or Delivered Him and Raised Him and Seated Him at His right hand, we can be confident, as Paul says, that nothing shall separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus!

Praise and Glory to our Great God and Savior!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thoughts on Resurrection, New Creation and Love

When we celebrate the Resurrection we’re celebrating the fulfillment in substance of God’s purpose for His Creation: His purpose to sum up everything in Christ by establishing the New Creation in Him. And He does this not just by bringing to life that which was dead; it’s much more profound than this. In Himself through the Spirit, Christ establishes the New Creation by giving His Life to that which was Dead, and then raising it up—raising us up—in Him! New Creation then is the fulfillment of the principle of Life out of Death that we see throughout the Scripture & ultimately fulfilled in Jesus’ Resurrection.

As our resurrected Lord, Jesus the Man as the second Adam, is the “first fruit” of New Creation. Christ in Himself is the Life and the Resurrection that we share in when we are joined to Him by the Spirit. We died with Him and we have been resurrected in Him. His Life is our life. His death is our death and His resurrection is our resurrection. So, as New Creations ourselves now in Him, we are the proof of Jesus’ Resurrection! We are the proof that He is alive and active because the Church as His Body is His life and activity in the world. We are the very presence of Christ on earth.

Our challenge as Christians, then, is to manifest His Life by living into our identity as sons in the Son. Our only obligation as Christians, as sons and daughters of God in Christ, is to live out His life that is in us. In other words, our obligation of obedience is be who we are—the presence and fragrance of Christ! How? Not by following a bunch of rules or by “keeping the Law” or by being the doctrinal police, but by living lives of Love in the power of the Spirit! As Children of the living God, as those who have been united to God in Christ through the Spirit, love is the only measure of our lives.

For Paul the only thing that mattered is the New Creation; which is to say, Faith working through Love. And the love that we exercise toward one another and the world is the proof of the Resurrection because love is the proof of Christ in us.

So the question we should be asking ourselves is not, Do we have all our “doctrinal ducks” lined up correctly? No. The question is: What does the world see when they look at us? Do they see love? If so, then (and only then) will they see Jesus—as He said they would.

As “New Creations” in Christ, as those who share in Jesus’ Resurrected Life and thus participate in the very life of God Himself (the life of the Father, Son and Spirit that is love), our calling is simple: we are to be who we are—by living lives of love.