A New Creation

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Some of my favorite kinds of entertainment are improvisational.
You guys have heard me talk before about my days of following the Grateful Dead and other jam bands around the country. What made all those shows special was that they were never the same. Even the same songs played from one show to the next were always different.
One night, the band would play a basic five-minute rendition of one of its popular songs, and then a week later, they’d play that song again, this time stretching it into a 15-minute version that took them and the audience to places they never would have imagined that song could go.
That’s one of the reasons I like jazz music. Some guys get on the stage, grab a few instruments and then create something that has never existed before, something that will never be heard again unless the show is being recorded.
Once in a while, we’ll turn on the television to reruns of a show we used to watch all the time, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Perhaps you’ve seen it, as well.
There are four comedians on stage, and a moderator (for a long time, it was Drew Carey) will give them prompts and, sometimes, props, and the comedians have to create a funny skit or song based on the prompt.
Sometimes the result is laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes it’s a bit risqué, but it’s always amazing to me that they can create comedy on the fly. Whenever I try to do that, I get into trouble.
But I think that creativity like this is in our very nature. After all, we were CREATED by the God who made us in His image. We were made to represent His character in and to the world around us.
And so, perhaps such creative acts as a jazz saxophonist noodling over a bass line or a comedian creating a funny skit from a simple prompt should not surprise us. After all, we have within us the very breath of the God who spoke all things into existence.
We see this in Genesis, chapter 2. Now, it may seem odd to us that this chapter restates so much of what we see in Moses’ first account of creation in Genesis, chapter 1.
What you need to understand is that this is a characteristic of Hebrew storytelling, and it’s a characteristic we see quite often in the Old Testament.
A Hebrew writer will give one account of an incident, and then he will follow that account with another of the same incident that has a slightly different perspective, one that includes certain other details missing from the first account.
And what’s normally going on when we see such dual accounts is that the first is a general recounting of something that happened — in this case, creation of the universe.
And the second account, along with its different details, focuses our attention on something specific within the greater story — in this case, the Garden of Eden and the relationships between God and mankind and between Adam and Eve.
And so, it wasn’t necessary for Moses to repeat the details of chapter 1 in chapter 2 or to present everything in the same linear fashion.
In chapter 1, he is describing the greatness of the God who creates only good things.
In chapter 2, he is describing the graciousness of this God, who breathed into man the breath of life and set him into a garden where he had everything he needed to flourish in peace and then gave him a mate who would complete him, and together, they would help one another be the people God had made them to be.
And the central verse here — at least for our study today — is verse 7.
Genesis 2:7 NASB95
7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The Hebrew word that’s translated as “formed” here means to shape or mold something. Whereas God had spoken light and plants and animals and fish and birds into being back in chapter 1, he FORMED man. He made man with His own hands, as it were.
The implication is that God took great care in making Adam. He created Adam much as an artist might create a beautiful sculpture.
By speaking everything else into existence, God demonstrated His creativity. By shaping and molding Adam out of the dust, He demonstrated His artistry.
When God breathed into that first man the breath of life, Adam became a living being, a living soul. And we know from what Moses wrote about this sixth and last day of creation back at the end of chapter 1, that this culminating act of creation made it all very good.
At the end of each of the previous five days, God had looked over what He had created, and He had pronounced it good. Now, with this final work of creation, God looked over everything, including Adam and Eve, and he announced that it was VERY good.
We must not miss the point that everything God created was good. That’s the kind of God He is. He makes good things. He ONLY makes good things.
He made everything out of nothing. He brought light out of darkness. He brought peace and prosperity and order out of chaos.
And as the people who had been made in His image, He charged Adam and Eve with doing as He had done.
Genesis 1:28 NASB95
28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Be fruitful and multiply. Create life, just as I have created life. Fill the earth. Extend my creation beyond this garden. Subdue the earth. Bring it under subjection; take what is disordered outside this garden and bring it into order. Rule over every living thing. Be my representatives on earth and rule in my Name.
He took us from the dust and made us to reign over the dust and everything else on earth.
And so, how did we respond? You all know the story. Adam and Eve were disobedient. They failed to trust that God was good and that He had their best interests at heart.
He had forbidden them to eat from one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He had given them one boundary that they must not cross, because He loved them and because He knew that on the other side of that boundary were suffering and death.
But Adam and Eve wanted to set their own boundaries. They didn’t believe God had set this boundary for their own good. They wanted to decide for themselves what was good and what was evil. And so they disobeyed.
Their first recorded activity together as a couple was to disobey God, to turn on Him.
And the result was disaster.
Whereas God had brought light out of darkness, they brought the darkness of spiritual separation from God out of the light of His presence in the Garden.
Whereas God had brought life out of nothingness, they brought the curse of physical and spiritual death onto everything and everyone.
Whereas God had brought order out of chaos, they brought the chaos of sin into the peaceful place He had created.
We were made in the image of a God who creates only good things, but our first creative act in history brought evil and corruption and death.
And this has been the problem of all mankind ever since the Garden of Eden. We are made in the image of God — made to reflect His character — but we also bear the image of our first parents, Adam and Eve, the image of sin and death.
And we confirm that we are their children — that we bear their image — in ways great and small every day.
In every lie, in every selfish act, in every lustful thought, in every greedy behavior, we commit for ourselves the same sin of disobedience that caused their separation from the God who made us all to be in fellowship with Him.
Each one of us creates chaos and darkness and death in our sins. This is not what God made you for. This is not how things were ever supposed to be.
But you and I are all helpless to make things right. We cannot fix what we have broken, no matter how we might try.
The hurt that we cause within this world by our sins is never completely healed here. And our rebellion against the Creator-King cannot go unpunished, because He is perfectly righteous and just.
The Bible tells us that the punishment that awaits us as sinners — as people who have rebelled against God by failing to reflect His perfectly righteous character, by failing to trust Him — is eternal suffering in Hell.
And that would be the fate of us all if God did not love us so much.
But He does love us. And because of His great love for us, He sent His unique and eternal Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life among us as a man. He came to show us how a life lived in complete obedience to and perfect fellowship with God should look.
He came to live the life that you and I can’t live because of the nature we inherited from our first parents. Jesus, the image of the invisible God, came to show we who were made in the image of God what it looks like to reflect the character of God.
And He came to give His very life at the cross, where He took upon Himself the sins of mankind and their just punishment, so that we who follow Him in faith can have eternal life, life the way it was always meant to be, in the presence of and in fellowship with Him and with the Father.
The Bible says that, as Jesus hung on that cross at Calvary, He BECAME sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
In those hours on the cross, this perfect and sinless Jesus took upon Himself the image of sin that we bear as descendants of Adam. And he did this so that we who follow Him in faith would now bear the image of God’s righteousness in Christ.
This is God’s new act of creation. The Apostle Paul describes it this way.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB95
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Just as God’s brought order out of chaos, light out of darkness, and life out of nothingness at the beginning of time, He brings life out of death for those who place their faith in His Son.
He makes us new creatures. You don’t have to be what you are. You can be what God always intended you to be.
For the follower of Jesus, old things have passed away, and new things are come. Indeed, the Bible says that Jesus will eventually make ALL things new.
If you have placed your faith in Jesus and in His sacrificial death and supernatural resurrection, then you are part of God’s new creation. You have been redeemed through the blood shed by the sinless Christ, but your redemption is just part of the story.
There will come a time, after Jesus has returned to reign on earth for 1,000 years, when all his enemies are placed beneath His feet, when even death and sin are vanquished.
And the Apostle John describes in the Book of Revelation what will happen next.
Revelation 21:1 NASB95
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
A new heaven and a new earth. But the Greek here can also refer to a REnewed earth, and I think that’s probably closer to what John saw.
You see, I don’t think that in the end, God is going to say, “Well, they messed everything up so badly that I’m just going to have to start over.”
This is the same God who makes beauty out of ashes, who took the prophet Ezekiel into the valley of dry bones and gave them flesh and blood and skin and breath and brought them back to life before him.
I think God will take this broken and sin-cursed earth and give it new life, the same way He does with broken, sinful people who turn to Him by placing their faith in Jesus.
“Behold, I am making all things new,” Jesus says in that same chapter in the Book of Revelation.
John was one of Jesus’ closest friends and disciples, and he had an amazing Holy Spirit-inspired understanding of Jesus’ role in creation. We see that in the introduction to John’s gospel account.
John 1:1–4 NASB95
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
Jesus was there at the beginning. And He was participating with God in the great creative acts of Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. In fact, He was and is the source of all life.
The Apostle Paul says it this way:
Colossians 1:17 NASB95
17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Jesus Christ, our King of kings and Lord of lords, is the one through whom all things came into being. He is the one who holds all things together.
As the perfect representation of the character of God, He is a Creator who creates only good things. He is in the business of making new creatures out of broken and sinful rebels. He will make we who were born of dust to be rulers over the earth. He will succeed where Adam failed.
He creates where Adam destroyed.
"The first man, Adam, became a living soul,” Paul writes to the Corinthians. But “the last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving spirit.”
We who follow Jesus in faith are His new creations, His new creatures. And so is the church.
This collection of all believers from all times in all places is something that never existed before Jesus told Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”
This collection of believers from all cultures and all nations and all walks of life was something that wasn’t seen in the Old Testament.
The church was something completely new in history when the Holy Spirit came down on the Day of Pentecost and indwelled believers, knitting them together into one body of Christ, stacking them as stones to build a temple for God, arranging them into a kingdom of priests, clothing them in white robes to be presented as the Bride of Christ, and gathering them into a flock that is led by the Good Shepherd.
Just as the Holy Spirit now dwells within every follower of Christ, He also dwells within the corporate church, guiding the church, empowering the church, correcting the church, and sanctifying the church.
This new creation of Jesus, the last Adam, is the current manifestation of the kingdom of heaven.
When we are operating in submission to the Holy Spirit, it is the tool God uses to show the world how His kingdom looks. When we are working against the Spirit, it tends to look just like the rest of the lost world.
This should be a point of conviction for us all.
Will we operate as the new creation of the last Adam, displaying God’s kingdom by loving those whom Jesus loves?
Will we display His kingdom by sacrificing time, talent, money, prestige, and the things of this world in order to show grace and mercy to those who do not deserve such things, even as we did not deserve to receive them ourselves?
Will we be, as a church, that which we were created to be? Will we be a city set on a hill, lit up for all the world to see, shining with a light that attracts the weary, the downtrodden, the outcasts, and all those discarded by society?
Or will we be a moated castle with its drawbridge raised and waiting for the right people to come along, the people who look like us and vote like us, the people who are proper and good and don’t make us uncomfortable?
That doesn’t describe the church that Jesus created. It doesn’t describe the people He ministered to during His time on earth. And it doesn’t describe the church we have been called to be.
Let us find a way, brothers and sisters, to speak the truth of the good news of salvation to the very worst sinners, because their need for a Savior is no greater than our need for a Savior.
The world is hurting, and it needs healing from the only one who can provide it. We are the new creatures He has created to bring them to Him.
Let me challenge you today to do as Jesus said and go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.
Let us be the laborers whom Jesus will find doing the work He gave us when He returns.
Let’s pray.
Jesus commanded that we observe the Lord’s Supper as an act of obedience to Him, as a way of proclaiming that we who follow Him in faith belong to Him, and as a way of remembering what He did for us.
He gave this ordinance to the church as a continuing memorial — a reminder of what He did for us — and as a sign of the unity the church has as the body and bride of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Supper reminds us that our hope for salvation rests entirely on the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf at the cross. It reminds us that our life is in Him.
And the fact that we share bread from one loaf reminds us that we are, together, the body of Christ. It reminds us that we are called to unity of faith, unity of purpose, and unity of love.
We remember through the Lord’s Supper that just as Jesus gave up the glory He had in heaven to come and live as a man, we who have followed Him in faith are called to give up any claims we might think we have to our own lives and follow Him.
If you are a baptized believer who is walking in obedience to Christ, I would like to invite you to join us today as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Now, this sacred meal dates all the way back to when Jesus shared it with His disciples at the Last Supper on the night before He was crucified.
The conditions during the Last Supper were different than the conditions we have here today, but the significance was the same as it is today.
While the deacons are distributing the bread, I’m going to ask Andy to play My Hope is Built. After that, we will pray and then eat the bread.
SONG/BREAD
Jesus told His disciples that the bread represented His body, which would be broken for our transgressions.
Let us pray.
Matthew 26:26 NASB95
26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
As Jesus suffered and died on that cross, his blood poured out with His life. This was always God’s plan to reconcile mankind to Himself.
While the deacons are distributing the juice, I’m going to ask Andy to play again. After that, we will pray and then drink the juice that represents the blood of Jesus.
SONG/JUICE
“In [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”
Let us pray.
Matthew 26:27–28 NASB95
27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
Take and drink.
“Now, as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
Maranatha! Lord, come!
Here at Liberty Spring, we have a tradition following our commemoration of the Lord’s Supper.
Please gather around in a circle, and let us sing together “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”
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