1-1-3 The New Creation
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation... all
things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). As a new born baby sees a chair,
a table, a brother or sister, for the very first time, so do we after
baptism. It is so hard for us to appreciate the newness of everything
to a baby or small child. " All things are become new" in our attitude
of mind after baptism. Yet we live in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), as if
this process of birth is ongoing throughout our spiritual lives. After
baptism, therefore, we set out on a life in which we should be
gazing, in wide eyed wonder, at new spiritual concepts and realities.
How patient we should be with others who are in this position. "Old
things are passed away" at baptism, just as the old world order will "
pass away" at the Lord's return (Rev. 21:5). The dramatic change that
will come upon this planet in the Kingdom should therefore be
paralleled in our new spiritual vistas after baptism, and throughout
the process of being re-born and becoming a new creation. Nothing
exists in the same light as it did before baptism. Yet we would all
admit that this is not totally true of how we see or saw things after
baptism. The reason is because at baptism, the life of newness just
began; we were born, but we must grow now to maturity. The challenge
goes out to us all our mortal lives to more zealously and fundamentally
allow God's word to make us new.
Israel's passing through the Red Sea was an undoubted
type of baptism and the new creation (1 Cor. 10:1). God brought
them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea baptism, " and brought you unto
myself" (Ex. 19:4). It was as if God was waiting for them there, in the
wilderness; as He waits to receive every man or woman who passes
through the waters of baptism. Time and again they were bidden look
back to their exodus/ Red Sea experience. In times of dire spiritual
failure or sluggish indifference to their God, as well as at their
pinnacles of faith, the Spirit in the prophets directed their minds
back to these things- either by explicit statement, or by indirect
allusion. We too, as the baptized new Israel, ought to likewise look
back to our baptism with an ever-increasing appreciation.
The Red Sea was parted by a great
wind, or Spirit, from God-
pointing forward to how the path to baptism is created by the work of
Spirit in a person’s life, so that we are born of water and
Spirit (Jn. 3:3-5).
The new creation is modelled on the natural creation, again brought
God’s Spirit. But much of the creation record doesn’t
actually talk about God
creating things out of nothing, ex nihilo. Rather did He create
situations where life and growth was possible. Thus the light was revealed,
the waters were gathered together to reveal dry land, and we read that
earth brought forth…” and not something like “God
caused the plants to grow”.
The earth as it were cooperates with God to bring forth fruit. The same
in the spiritual creation- God doesn’t force spiritual growth,
rather does His
Spirit enable the environments for it to occur; in another figure, He
that could be thought of so that His vineyard brings forth good fruit
(Is. 5). We
of course may be tempted to doubt this, considering that if only this
situation in our lives were different, we would be enabled to grow
But God knows best, and His Spirit works in various ways to provide [by
the best situation for our growth and new creation. There
is a very positive feel in the record of
the natural creation- each creative action is concluded with the
it was so”- literally, “it was Yes” (Hebrew). This
same positive upward spiral
will be found in lives which submit to God’s new creation.
Old Testament Types
The New Testament principles outlined above are founded
in several Old Testament types.
Israel crossing the Red Sea is one of the most
well-known types of baptism / the new creation (1 Cor.10:1). They were
being chased by the Egyptians, and were trapped against the sea. The
only way of escape was for that water to open and allow them to go
through it. If any Israelite had refused to go through, there would
have been no salvation. Going further, it is evident that the people of
Israel as a body were going through the death and resurrection
experience of the Lord Jesus, through the process of the Passover and
Exodus through the Red Sea:
|Ate Passover (Ex.
| Died on the
cross as Passover lambs slain
Egypt the next day (Num. 33:3)
days (Ex. 8:27)
| Jesus three days
in the tomb
|Came through the
As we come out of the baptismal water, we really are
united with the resurrected Lord- a new creation. His newness of life,
His deliverance and successful exodus from the world- all this becomes
ours. Israel were slaves in Egypt, and then after the Red Sea baptism
became slaves of God. Ps. 68:18 pictures them as a train of captives
being led out of Egypt, merging into the image of a train of a
captivity led into a different captivity. Romans 6 powerfully brings
home the point: we were slaves of sin, but now are become slaves of
Noah entering the ark (representing Christ; 1 Pet. 3:21)
is equally powerful; it was no use standing near the ark when the rain
came. The only way of escape was through being inside the ark.
Col. 2:11 speaks of circumcision as another type of
baptism, in that only the circumcised were in covenant with God. " The
uncircumcised...that soul shall be cut off from his people" (Gen.
17:14). We either " cut off" the flesh, or God will cut us off. He who
would not accept Jesus as Messiah in Messiah were to be
“destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:25), using a very
similar phrase to the LXX of Gen. 17:14, where the uncircumcised man
was to be “cut off from his people”.
Tit. 3:5-7 implies that the priests washing in the laver
also typified baptism: " They shall wash with water, that they die not"
(Ex. 30:20). All God's people are priests, in a sense (1 Pet. 2:5,9);
the washing of baptism is an absolute necessity before we can be God's
These Old Testament types were related to entering into
covenant with God. Having crossed the Red Sea, God sealed His covenant
with Israel at Sinai. After emerging from the ark, God made a covenant
with Noah. And circumcision was the entry point of covenant
relationship with God. The record of these Old Testament occurrences
also brings out the converse- what happened to all those who were not
in covenant with God, who had not received the typical 'baptism'. The
unbaptized Egyptians were " cut off" " (Ex. 9:15); " all flesh" that
was not baptized into the Christ-ark was " cut off" (Gen. 9:15). " The
uncircumcised man child...that soul shall be cut off" (Gen. 17:14). The
New Testament matches this by the oft repeated teaching that outside of
Christ, there can be no salvation.
Being outside Christ does not mean that we are just in
spiritual limbo; our sins provoke the wrath of God. We are " saved from
wrath" through being in Christ (Rom. 5:9). Before baptism we were " the
children of wrath" , " having no hope, and without (any relationship
with) God" (Eph. 2:3,12). The enmity and alienation which there was
between us and God is only ended by becoming " in Christ" (Eph.
2:13-16). There is a constant, unending hatred and conflict between the
seed of the serpent, and that of the woman (Gen. 3:15,16). Without
baptism, we are the seed of the serpent. We are in the Biblical devil,
the man of the flesh. Through baptism into Christ, our real spiritual
selves are " not in the flesh, but in the spirit" (Rom. 8:9). We are
then allied with the seed of the woman; and the conflict between us and
Christ ceases. Of course, by nature, we are still in the flesh. Our
natural mind will always have violent enmity with the man Christ Jesus
which is growing within us. But by baptism into Christ, the fundamental
enmity between us and Christ has been breached; there has been a
reconciliation, an at-one-ment.
The Surrounding World
Many new converts express confusion at how to treat the
world and especially, the surrounding religious world; 'Shouldn't we
kind of feel more in fellowship with them than the others in the
world?', it is asked. Grasping the importance of baptism will help us
have the correct attitude to those who are unbaptized. We will see them
as out of Christ; to court or fellowship them is so illogical!
Instead, we are driven to pity them, seeing the urgency of our task- to
help them to baptism. In the Old Testament types, our attitude to the
unbaptized is typified by the relationship God intended between Israel
and the Egyptians and the Canaanite tribes, and between Noah and his
surrounding world. Israel were intended to be a missionary nation,
witnessing to the world around them, as they did to the Egyptians. Noah
preached to the world around him. God desired Israel and Noah to be
very clear in their minds as to who was in the world and who was not.
There was no blurring at the edges.
Unless a person has believed the true Gospel and been
baptized, they have no relationship with God. Being a " nice" person by
the world's (so-called) standards is irrelevant to how God sees them.
For those in Christ to openly declare themselves 'in love' with one who
is in the world is therefore highly obnoxious to the Lord Jesus. We
cannot love God and love the world. If we do love the world, we hate
God, we are again at enmity with Him. James 4:4 is painfully clear
about this. This shows that God counts us as one with those whom we
love and fellowship. If we fellowship those who hate God, He counts us
as hating Him. If we fellowship with the darkness of apostasy, we share
the same relationship with God as they do.
Realizing the true position of the unbaptized world
helps us to be better motivated in being separate from worldly
organizations and politics. Abstention from voting is an obvious
example. But being part of any worldly group should be avoided as much
as possible. Any intimate linking of ourselves with other human beings
who are alienated from God should be something we come to
subconsciously sheer away from.
In these matters we must be very careful that we do not
become self-righteous, and that we do not try to separate ourselves
from the world in the wrong ways. We must be ever mindful that " the
world" is right inside our very natures; John defines " all that is in
the world" as the inherent lusts of our very natures (1 Jn. 2:16 cp.
Ecc. 3:11). And we need to be aware that unless we are " in the world"
to some extent, we will not be able to save them. Christ went right
into the world, He mixed with all types of people, but He did not allow
them to corrupt his own understanding of God. We must do the same. We
must go forth with true spiritual love into this God-forsaking world,
just as God does with the Gospel. By learning how other people think,
why they refuse to accept the real Christ, we will be better able to
present our message. The parables of Jesus show that He was a man who
had carefully reflected upon the everyday experience of his fellow men,
and brought true spiritual values to bear upon their crises and
situations in life.
Recognizing others as being “in Christ”
imparts an altogether higher quality to our relationships. The cynicism
and negativity which we naturally bring to many inter-personal
encounters is taken away by a deep recognition that our brethren are
indeed in the Lord. Having noted that the Galatians did not any longer
“believe the truth”, Paul can say that he has
“confidence to you-ward in the Lord” (Gal. 5:10 RV).
Because they were “in the Lord”, he could hope against all
human indications, that they would indeed rise up to an imitation of
the Lord in whom Paul believed them to be. And so we have to ask
ourselves, whether we indeed have that “confidence” about
others, because we know them to be “in the Lord”? Or do we
judge them after the flesh…?