The New Being

To have a complete idea of Pauline doc­trine, the new creation and its implications must be understood.

FOR neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Gal. 6:15, R.S.V.). In this statement the apos­tle Paul sums up the Chris­tian message in two words—new creation. This teaching is basic in Paul's theology. To have a complete idea of Pauline doc­trine, the new creation and its implications must be understood.

This teaching is implicit throughout the apostle's writings, but particularly in his second letter to the Corinthians he writes about it: "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed awav, behold, the new has come" (2 Cor. 5:17', R.S.V.).

Thus Christianity is the message of the new creation, the new being. This new reality appeared with Jesus, the Messiah. For this reason, and just for this reason, Jesus is called the Christ—the selected and Anointed One, who brought about the new state of things.

Fallen humanity lives in the old state of things. Such is man's natural habitat. The question posed by the Christian message is, Shall we participate in the new state of things made real in Christ? And how?

First of all, what is this new being?

Paul starts the answer by saying what it is not. It is neither circumcision, nor uncir­cumcision. Now, for Paul and the readers of his letter these terms meant something very definite. It was this: Neither to be a Jew nor to be a pagan is decisive. Only one thing really counts, namely, the union with Him in whom the new reality is present.

Circumcision or uncircumcision, what do they mean for us? That no religion as such produces the new being. Circumcision is a religious rite observed by the Jews. Sacri­fices are religious rites observed by the pa­gans. Christianity has its rites; and they

have their place, as we shall see, in the church program. However, these rites are not of a primary nature. God requires a new creation—that is the one thing irrevo­cably needful. And the core of the Chris­tian message is that in Christ, God has made this new creation a reality.

The implication here is a subtle distinc­tion in the area of sin and righteousness. What is sin? We sometimes say sin is trans­gression. The Scriptures stress this thought. But would not our understanding be less partial and more comprehensive were we to say that transgression is the result of sin? When we transgress God's laws sin already has occurred. In transgression, sin simply is bearing fruit. Sin is separation from God, the result of which is transgression.

Righteousness likewise needs clarifica­tion. Righteousness is not just the absence of transgression and the observance of laws, rites, and principles. Righteousness is un­ion with God, resulting in this obedience. Such righteousness precedes any observ­ance.

The line of separation, therefore, be­tween sin and righteousness, is not in out­ward observance or nonobservance, adorn­ment or nonadornment, however impor­tant these may be to a proper Christian life. It lies in the vital area of union with, or separation from, God.

A correct understanding of this vital thought will condition our life and min­istry. It will clarify our thinking too, as we make ready a people for the coming of the Lord.

First, a clear understanding here will help us to let God be God; to recognize that salvation is His work, and that no mat­ter what we might do through adornment of the Christian way and outflowing love we can add nothing to our salvation. When we have obeyed and observed all things, we still have added nothing to salvation. We only have created the conditions under which this salvation can express itself through us. Of course, we will observe laws, rites, and principles, but this observance is subsequent to our salvation.

A further thought should be stated in connection with our purpose to make ready a people for the day of the Lord. When is the child of God ready for Christ to come? Must he do this and follow that, eliminate this and practice that? He will eliminate and he will practice; however, this may be not prior but subsequential to readiness for the coming of the Lord. When the union takes place with God in Christ, the re­deemed one has been made ready for the coming of Christ, for then God, looking down from heaven, sees not us but Jesus standing in our stead. And He is perfect.

Needless to say, as the days of waiting and labor go by, and the work of God is ex­tended to every "nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people," the union with God will adorn itself in the life: right thinking, right doing, and right living. But this will be the fruit of readiness, not readiness.

There is yet a further implication as re­gards our ministry to the world. There is much circumcision and uncircumcision in the world today. There are many religions —Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and the remnants of the classical Judaism. All have their myths and their rites—their "circum­cision," which give them their distinction. Then there are the secular movements—totalitarianism, secular humanism, and ethical idealism. They have purported to avoid myths and rites—they represent, so to speak, uncircumcision. Nevertheless, they also claim truth and set systems and men up in the place of religion and divinity.

How shall the church of God face this array of systems which compete for the al­legiance of men? Shall we simply say, "Come to us for we have a better religion. Our kind of circumcision or uncircumci­sion is higher than yours"? Shall we make the Christian message a success story and tell men like advertisers: "Try it with us, you will see how important Christianity is for everybody."

Some ministers and overseas workers have done just this—and possibly we do it today. We thus show a great misunderstanding of Christianity and how God intends to save men and women everywhere. The core of God's good news is union with God in Christ. This is the new creation. All are called upon to participate in it. Then we must follow through and adorn this new being with the necessary doctrines, rites, systems, and principles of life.

In a sense, therefore, we do not go out to convert men and women to some special brand of Christianity. We are to proclaim God's redemptive message, invite men and women to experience the new creation, and to live with signs following. We must show something we have seen, and tell something we have heard and experienced. Namely, that in the midst of the old creation there is a new creation; that this new creation is manifest in Jesus who is called the Christ; and that today on the eve of the eternal world, all must participate in this union through reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification.

With such a message we can go to the world and smite its darkness. Whether we meet religionists or secularists, collectivists or totalitarians, scientific humanists or ethi­cal idealists, we are not to boast about rites, nor are we to reproach myths and superstitions. Our aim will not be to con­vert from a secular state to a religious state, from uncircumcision to circumcision, or vice versa. This would be of no avail. We will experience and communicate a new creation manifest in Jesus who is called the Christ. And the power of reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification will achieve in us and in God's church this glorious end.


Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (300x250)

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

April 1962

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Pointers for Preachers

Machinery or Mission, Shepherding the Flock, "The Old Ring"

Candles in the Night -- No. 6

God has always reserved for Himself men and women who would minister to every need of His children. The history of the Christian church abounds in lov­ing humanitarian service. No need has been overlooked and no area excluded. This was true when Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), a Quaker minister, became burdened for the inmates of Newgate Prison in London.

Freedom from Fear

A Bible study.

How to Work for Jehovah's Witnesses

It is just six years since I had the joy of seeing my first Jehovah's Witnesses family step out and accept the Advent mes­sage. Although this family had been connected to the Witnesses for more than eighteen years, and have relatives still in that organization, they are loyal Seventh-day Adventists today, actively working to spread the message for these days.

Ten Times to Call the Minister or an Elder

At our recent elders' coun­cil, we spent much time discussing ways in which we as ministers and local elders can be of greater help to our people.

Evangelism, 1962!

A new day is dawning for public evangelism! The idea that the day of the public meeting is past is being for­gotten and the vision of true evangelism is dawning again. Thank God for it!

The Message of the Empty Tomb

Christianity is founded upon an empty tomb." So said Thomas Payne in derision. But that scornful remark is a tremendous truth. Were there no empty tomb there would be no Christian church.

An Indispensable Element in Worship

Music has proved to be an indispensable element in religious services, as an adjunct to worship as well as evangelism. It has proved to be a great source of contro­versy, probably because it is a property that belongs to everyone, not just a few. Music has been called the "handmaiden of religion," and is used as a vehicle for the expression of man's religious spirit.

The Breaking of Bread in Acts 20:7-11

In meeting the argument that Acts 20:7-11 proves that Christians observed Sunday as a sacred day in apostolic times, a few of our ministers have denied, sometimes even in print, that Paul and the believers at Troas partook of the Communion, or Lord's Supper, on that occasion. However sincere they may have been in using this counter argument, it is a mistaken one in so far as Seventh-day Adventist teaching is concerned. Hence we deem it fitting to caution our workers that such a position is not only untenable, but it may also result in embarrassment both to him who uses it and to the cause that he represents.

"Unto the High Place"

What are the conditions in our day that will cause our wayward and confused young people to come to us for help? There must be a way to span the barrier that too often exists between the pastor and the youthful members of his flock.

Some Books I Can Recommend

Book recommendations from Lyndon K. McDowell.

Great Words of the Bible—No. 9: Atonement (c)-"Kopher" and "Lutron"

The thought of covering, which the previous article showed to be a valid meaning of the word so often translated "to make an atonement," is continued in the words related to kaphar.

We Don't Make the Rules

The modern disposition to soften the judgments of God by trying to change the rules may prove to be an extremely costly experiment in morals. And in view of the desperate struggle in which we are en­gaged, it ill behooves us to make mistakes.

Conservative or Contemporary Church Style?

There are various views on church architecture. Some­times we present viewpoints that are regarded as modern­istic, sometimes the conservative angle is presented. The author of this article gives his views as a contribution to the important subject of church architecture, so vital to many of our readers.

Are You Satisfied With Your Life?

A sermon given in the Temple City church, Glendale, California.

Righteousness by Faith: Concluded

The Master's pronouncements are all master statements, infinitely profound, yet marvelously simple. His meaning is clear: I am your spiritual life. Attached to Me, your life is clean and your witness faithful. Apart from Me, you can do nothing.

The Man Who Lived Again

The resurrection, mentioned 104 times in the New Testament, became the central doctrine of the early church—a cornerstone of Christianity. May the same great power be upon Christ's ministers today as they bear wit­ness of the resurrection.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated


Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - NAD Stewardship (160x600)