A New Creation
Sermon delivered at the Moody Tabernacle by Rev. J. Frank Norris.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
All of us are ministers. Too often we think of those of us who have been ordained as ministers, but we are all minsters of Christ. A minister is a servant; a servant of Jesus Christ.
In this verse I have read, we find a description of our ministry, its character, its motive and its message. There is one of two motives back of every deed; either a motive of love or a motive of fear. Both are given in this Scripture.
Our love for Christ is our motive, but that love is very weak, very frail, and changeable, in comparison with the love which He has for us,—that which He had when He came and took on Himself human flesh. The love which He had when He came to the Cross.
Everything spoken by the Apostle Paul is spoken in terms of the Cross. If we want to settle the question of our money we can go to the Cross. Our Lord who was rich became poor, that we, through his poverty might be rich.
No place in the Scriptures did Paul try to prove that Jesus Christ was made a substitution for our sins. Paul nowhere tried to prove in the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He declared these facts to be true, on the basis of Christ being made sin for us. Paul makes an appeal that we live for Him, which asserts these things to be true.
This motive—how far does it go in its character? “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Here are two sides,—Christ’s side and our side. On His side He gave ALL. All there was of His glory; all there was of His life. It took every drop of the blood of the Son of God to save one soul. He tasted death for every man. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
We sometimes think we have rendered a great service if we have given one day in seven to the Lord. We feel that we have met our obligation if we have given Him one dollar out of ten. It is not one day in seven, or one dollar out of every ten, but the answer of the Cross is 168 hours a week and ten dollars out of every ten. Every minute of our time, presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, is our obligation to Him.
There is much misconception as to what the Cross means. The enemies of Jesus defied the Cross while He hung upon it. They said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” When they used the word, “others” that told the story of the Cross.
My friends, Jesus did not want to save Himself. His coming into this world was that He might save “others.” The world says, “save your life.” The Cross says, “lose your life.” The world says, “save your life by gaining it.” God says, “save your life by losing it.” Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.
A Personal Christ
We do not know Christ the other side of the grave. All that we know about Him is this side of the grave. When Christ speaks He uses these expressions: “I am.” He does not say He will be with you, but “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”He says, “I am the Bread of Life.” He says, “I am the Way; I am the Truth; I am the Life.” “I am the Alpha and Omega.” “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is a personal Christ.
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
“If any man be in Christ!” Take your New Testament and every time you find that expression, “IN CHRIST,” put a circle around it and you will be amazed as you see the glories of that very real relationship of the believer in Christ.
In the Beginning, God
If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Let us read the first three verses of Genesis:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
“And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.”
The first verse tells us of a new creation, or generation. The second verse speaks of a degeneration, and the third verse, of a regeneration.
A friend of mine was trying to harmonize science with the Bible and for the first time in his life, this young lawyer read the first three verses of the book of Genesis. He read, “In the beginning God.”
In the second verse you find another picture. “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
How long between the first and second verses? Nobody knows. When God made it, He made it perfect. He never did a half-way job. Like Jesus, when He healed anybody He finished the task. There was one thing about the healing of Jesus. When He healed, nobody asked any questions or denied what had been done.
Something happened between the first and second verse, but God eliminated the darkness. “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.” God created without sin. Satan comes along and deceives and sin enters into the world, and then comes that Divine power in Jesus Christ, and recreates.
If there is any doctrine that the devil hates every time the church door is open, each time the family gathers around the fireside for prayers, it is the doctrine of the New Creation in Jesus Christ. The devil does not care if you say nice things about Jesus Christ. He will agree with you, but it is the new creation in Christ that the devil does not want us to believe.
I heard a very eminent man speak of the great teachers of the world,—Socrates, Moses, Isaiah, and Jesus. Not only was Jesus a great teacher, but He is God the Lord, or He is not Saviour.
What is that which holds you constant in service? What is that which makes you steadfast? What is that that will take a beautiful young woman of culture and cause her to give her life a living sacrifice for the Cross? It is nothing without. It is something within. The question of being a Christian,—if it is not an inside question, is no question at all.
The one undeniable testimony: “The Spirit of God Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.” A New Creation in Christ Jesus,—to be made over inside.
The New Birth
We make the greatest mistake of our lives if we do not press home the doctrine of the New Birth in Christ Jesus. If we will take the Bible and master this truth, if we will declare this truth, if we will quote this truth, the Holy Spirit Himself will come and make it real in our souls—a New Creation in Christ Jesus. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
It is the ministry of reconciliation. It is the word of reconciliation. That word has volumes in it. If this world has one need above everything else, that need is to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and reconciliation comes to the individual heart. There is only one thing that can free that soul that is deep in sin, and that is the power of Jesus Christ.
All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is not one righteous; no, not one. God, through Christ, reconciles and saves and keeps through His power. “Now are we ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jesus told Nicodemus of the method. He told Nicodemus how. Now He tells him why. Paul says we are ambassadors. Why? Because He was Himself ambassador to this Earth for us. He became sin for us that we might become righteousness in Him. He presented His body a dying sacrifice for us. Let us present ourselves a living sacrifice for Him.
The substitution that is thought of here is not Christ’s substitution for us, but rather our substitution for Him, because we have been made the righteousness of God in Him.
If you want to know what our righteousness is, stand and look at the Cross.