Life On the Highest Plane
Vol. 2: The Relation Between Christ and the Christian

Chapter Sixteen
Christ Our Head — A New Creation Formed

Crossing God's bridge of salvation begins with the believer's justification but it does not end there for justification in its twofold aspect deals largely with our past and carries us only over the borderline into the new sphere. It gives us a new standing before God, but it does not equip us to live in a state becoming our standing. It paves the way for us into the presence of a holy God but it cannot make us life. To beloto the new order one must have the same kind of life as the Head of the order.

But the natural man is "without Christ" therefore he is without "life." By nature every sinner in Adam whether rich or poor, literate or illiterate, moral or immoral, religious or irreligious, is spiritually dead. Every child born into this world, whatever his parentage or position in society, enters it entirely destitute of the divine life of God.

The primary need, then, for membership in the new order, for citizenship in the new Kingdom, for sonship in the new family, is life that fits one for his new relationships and environment. To be related to God either as a son in His family or as a subject in His Kingdom necessitates the possession of His eternal, divine, spiritual life. But how would a dead man become possessed of this life? The answer to this all-important question our Lord Himself gives in His conversation with N icodemus recorded in the third chapter of John's gospel.

Nicodemus was a man of the Pharisees. So great was his fear of his coreligionists, yet so insistent was his desire for something the Lord Jesus possessed, that he came to Him under cover of the night. As a ruler of the Jews also he occupied an influential position yet despite his religious privileges his heart was unsatisfied and craved something which Phariseeism was unable to give him. Without question Nicodemus came to the Lord Jesus driven by a deep sense of need. What then did he come for? The answer to this question is important in the light of what Christ Jesus gave him; it may also help some reader to interpret his own greatest need and to understand the right method of approach to the One who alone is able to meet it. We are not told directly why he came but John 3:2 suggests a clue.

Nicodemus was himself a teacher but perhaps he recognized in Jesus' teaching an authority and attractiveness which were lacking in his own. He was a great religious leader yet he had no such miracle-working power as had Jesus. He was a ruler of the Jews and Jesus was only a humble itinerant preacher yet God was not with him as He was with Jesus. Did Nicodemus come seeking light upon the secret of such wisdom and power which possibly even for unselfish reasons he craved to possess? Did he come as a teacher to a greater teacher merely to be taught? As a leader to a greater leader simply to be led? Was the deepest need he felt in his life the need of light? Had he who professed to be the physician of others' soul-sickness failed to diagnose correctly his own? If so, there are many in similar positions today who have made the same mistake.

The conversation that follows shows that the Great Physician instantly went to the seat of Nicodemus's trouble. He who "knew what was in man" diagnosed his case aright and saw a much deeper and more imperative need than that of which Nicodemus himself was yet conscious. Nicodemus came for light but he needed life: and the light he wanted could only come out of the life he needed.

John 1:4, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."

Nicodemus wanted divine wisdom and spiritual power, these are the fruit of divine, spiritual life. Nicodemus came to Him who said, "I am the light of the world" to receive light but he had not come to Him who said, "I am the life" to receive life. Nicodemus came only as a teacher to be taught. The Lord Jesus saw that he needed to come as a sinner to a Saviour to be saved. So in His reply He met not the desire but the need of Nicodemus. He went to the core, He touched the quick of his need.

John 3:3, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

The proof that the Lord was right in His diagnosis and that Nicodemus was devoid of the life of God is plainly seen in his utter lack of spiritual apprehension of the Master's words. He had not the faintest idea of the meaning of the words "born again" as his perplexed question to Jesus revealed.

John 3:4, "Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"

What could Nicodemus have thought a man could gain through a second physical birth that he had not received through the first? What additional inheritance could be given him through the same parents in a second birth? The very question he asked revealed his need of light, but of spiritual light that is the product of spiritual life. Nicodemus was blind because he was dead. The thing which Nicodemus did not know, but which Christ did know, was that he was still in the sphere of death, out-side the Kingdom and family of God, and living on the plane of the natural man.

Consequently Nicodemus did not know that nothing which he had through the flesh could be put to his account in the realm of the spirit; that the position, possessions and privileges, upon which he prided himself in the sphere of the natural, were like counterfeit coins in the sphere of the spiritual. Nicodemus did not apprehend that nothing which he could have received through a thousand physical births could make him eligible to citizenship in the Kingdom of God or to sonship in the family of God.

The whole purpose of Jesus' conversation was to show Nicodemus that he was an alien and that citizenship in the Kingdom of God required naturalization through regeneration. Is it any wonder that the perplexed cry came from his heart, "How can these things be?" For was he not a Jew by birth, therefore was he not born into the Kingdom of God? Had he not scrupulously and punctiliously observed every ordinance and ceremony and fulfilled every religious duty, therefore had he not earned his way into the Kingdom of God by good works? Was he not a man of the Pharisees, even a ruler of the Jews, therefore was he not eligible to citizenship in the Kingdom of God by his religion? Nicodemus was all that he claimed to be by birth, by good works, and by religion, yet Jesus told him that none of these things in itself or all of them put together would serve as naturalization papers in the Kingdom of God. One thing was absolutely essential in a Kingdom that was built upon the supernatural, and that one thing was supernatural life. Without this no one, whatever his parentage, privileges or position, could qualify for entrance.

Seeing the perplexity of Nicodemus's mind, yet understanding the hunger of his heart, Jesus repeated and amplified His words on the absolute necessity of the new birth.

John 3:5, 7, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."

Is it possible that some reader of these pages is, like Nicodemus, trusting to his godly parentage, his good works, his exemplary morality, his inherited religion, for entrance into the Kingdom of God? If so, will you not heed the words which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus for He is speaking them to you as well?

The absolute necessity of the new birth as a requirement for entrance into the Kingdom of God could not have been expressed in more emphatic words, than the Lord uses here. If you will trace His conversations in the gospels you will notice that He never employs the use of the words "Verily, verily", except when teaching something of paramount importance. In John 3:5, 7, He uses three very emphatic words, "except," "cannot," and "must." The Lord of the Kingdom is declaring the first and fundamental requirement of life in the Kingdom when He says "Ye" — no matter who you are — "must be born again." There are absolutely no exceptions to this law of the spiritual realm.

If anyone could have hoped for exemption from this requirement Nicodemus would have been that man. Yet his high moral character, his clean, upright life, his orthodox religious creed, his influential social position, his membership in the Sanhedrin, his faithful performance of religious duties, and his acknowledgment of Jesus as a great teacher and a good man, were insufficient to gain an entrance for him into the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ, who looks at men from the viewpoint of heavenly standards, told Nicodemus that even he could not see, much less enter, the heavenly Kingdom except this divine miracle of the new birth was wrought in his spirit.

 

THE IMPARTATION OF A NEW NATURE

Jesus has expressed to Nicodemus the imperativeness and the inflexibility of the necessity of a new birth for the implantation of the new life. But has Jesus made an arbitrary, perhaps even an unreasonable demand, or has He only stated a law of the spiritual Kingdom, which admittedly is as reasonable as the law which governs the physical kingdom?

In the physical realm we recognize two laws which operate everywhere and always; physical life is the result of physical birth, and the thing that is born partakes of the nature of that which gave it birth. Like begets like. Natural begets natural. Jesus told Nicodemus that the same kind of a law prevails in the spiritual realm; the spiritual life is the result of spiritual birth and that which is born of God partakes of the nature of God. Like begets like. Divine begets divine.

John 3:6-7, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Ye must be born again."

In these verses Jesus has stated with intentional conciseness and clarity four profound truths:

  1. There are two distinct spheres in which men live.
  2. Entrance to each sphere is by birth.
  3. Flesh begets flesh and Spirit begets spirit.
  4. Anyone who wishes to pass out of the sphere of the flesh into the sphere of the Spirit can do so only by a second birth.

Nicodemus coveted for himself something which Jesus possessed. That which Nicodemus coveted was a spiritual thing. It belonged only to those living in the spiritual sphere; it could be bestowed only upon those who possessed a spiritual nature. But Nicodemus was living in the sphere of the flesh. He was no doubt living up to the best that he knew in that sphere; in fact he came to Jesus for more light on how to live a still better and more useful life in that same sphere. Was it not a reasonable and even laudable desire and should it not be granted?

Again Jesus goes to the very heart of the difficulty and shows the utter impossibility of making the flesh spiritual. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" and it can never be anything else. It may be educated flesh, cultured flesh, traveled flesh, moral flesh, yes, even religious flesh, but it is still flesh.

Even God makes no attempt to make the flesh anything but flesh. He tells us why in His Word.

Romans 8:7-8, R.V., "Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. And they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

The flesh is God-hating and God-defying. It is irreconcilably hostile to God. Because the flesh is what it is, it is unchangeable and unimprovable. So God makes no attempt either to repair the ruin or to reconcile the enmity of the old, corrupt, defiled, rebellious, lawless nature. Even when outwardly clothed in the beautiful garments of geniality, amiability, kindliness, generosity, courtesy and gentleness, it is still at heart God-hating and God-defying. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God."

How then could God permit one to enter His family as a son, or His Kingdom as a citizen, who had only the old nature of the flesh? How could one obey the laws of a spiritual Kingdom with only a fleshly nature? How could a corrupt, defiled nature that loved sin and hated holiness ever make a man holy? Upon what would God have to build to conform the natural man into the image of His Son? Or what enjoyment would heaven offer to an unregenerate soul? If on earth those living in the flesh find no pleasure in the companionship and converse of those living in the Spirit surely this would be even more true in heaven. The pursuits and pleasures, the desires and the deeds of the natural man, are the exact antitheses of those of the spiritual man. If Nicodemus were to possess and enjoy the spiritual thing for which his heart hungered he must have a spiritual nature.

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The old, fleshly nature equips one to live in the sphere of the flesh but nowhere else. So Jesus held out to Nicodemus no hope of his heart's desire and need being met and satisfied through any change either sudden or gradual in his old nature. Jesus makes no proposal to reinvigorate or reinforce the old nature by the addition of spiritual gifts and graces or by the subtraction of evil tendencies and practices. Jesus will not put a new piece on an old garment. Jesus shows unmistakably that "there is no process, even of divine alchemy, by which the base metal of the flesh can be transformed into the fine gold of the Spirit." The flesh cannot be improved, changed or utilized by God. There is nothing in it which God can accept.

What then does God purpose to do to equip a repentant, believing sinner for membership in the new order of heavenly holy men? He purposes to endow him with a new nature that fits him for citizenship in His Kingdom and for sonship in His family. He purposes to bestow upon him his own divine nature which will fructify in a supernatural life. To live the life of God one must have the nature of God, therefore through the new birth God plants his own seed in the spirit of man to abide there.

2 Peter 1:4, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

1 John 3:9, R.V., "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God."

The believer in Christ Jesus becomes the possessor of something which he never possessed before the nature of God Himself. The eternal life of the uncreated God is implanted in the innermost part of his human personality and his whole being throbs with the divine energy of a new life. The new birth is the impartation of a new intellectual, emotional, volitional nature which produces in man a totally new life and fits him to live in a totally new sphere.

In the light of the Lord Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus it is a self-evident fact that God cannot accept any substitute for the new birth. Reformation cannot be substituted for regeneration. If God makes no attempt to reform "the old man" surely He cannot accept any fragmentary improvement man might effect. Reformation is purely man's work; it leaves the flesh flesh, for it is the human trying to better itself. Reformation may improve the character of the flesh by the lopping off of certain evil habits but it cannot change flesh into spirit. Reformation may make a man somewhat more kind, generous, courteous, but it cannot make him holy, and "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Reformation may help a man to better the condition of his living on the plane of the natural but this does not meet God's requirement for a totally new life on the plane of the spiritual.

Respectability cannot be substituted for regeneration. Many people are deluding themselves into thinking that if their character and conduct conform to the moral standards of the best society, that is a sufficient passport into the companionship of an altogether holy God. But God's standards are as far above man's as the heavens are above the earth.

Religion cannot be substituted for regeneration. Nicodemus was an ardent, active religionist but he was not a son of God or a citizen in the Kingdom of God. Over the doorway to the Kingdom of God no one will ever see written, "Admittance granted to those who have been baptized, who have been punctilious in church attendance, who have partaken of the Holy Communion, who have read the Scriptures and prayed, who have given their tithe." In His holy Word God has already written these solemn and irrevocable words over that doorway, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Jesus Himself, the righteous Judge, bars the gate of heaven to the unregenerate. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27). "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." (See Diagram 10.)

Diagram 10: A New Creation

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT — THE AUTHOR OF THE NEW LIFE

But Nicodemus did marvel at what our Lord was saying and could only reply "How can these things be?" Nicodemus like many others today had preconceived ideas and prejudices which made it difficult for him either to understand or to accept the divine simplicity of God's plan of salvation. "He had to descend from the lofty heights of Rabbinical learning and traditionary religion and learn the alphabet of the Gospel in the school of Christ." Then, too, it would be a most humiliating thing for this prominent leader in religious circles who was supposed to teach others concerning the Kingdom to admit that he himself could not enter the Kingdom except he came as a sinner to a Saviour, confessing his need of a new nature.

But the Lord Jesus takes infinite pains to throw light into the darkened mind of Nicodemus because He knows that He is dealing with a hungry soul. So He tells him the "how" of the new birth.

John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

John 3:6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

As in justification so in regeneration God takes the initiative and does the work. BY grace are ye saved. The spiritual man is born of the Spirit. The new birth is God's work alone. It is a birth from above.

1 John 3:9, R.V., "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God."

John 1:12-13, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

"Born" — "not of blood." Regeneration has no connection with natural descent. Recently I asked a gentleman if he were a Christian. Instantly he replied, "Certainly, I was born a Christian." I have a friend who felt quite sure that her first baby was born a Christian but now she has come to be more sure that not one of her seven could have been born Christians. God says distinctly that the divine, eternal, spiritual life of God is not passed to son but is implanted by God, the Holy Spirit, directly in the spirit of man. "Salvation does not run in the blood." Eternal life is not an inheritance from godly parents but it is the gift of God in Chririst His Son.

"Born" — "not of the will of the flesh." Regeneration has no connection with natural volition. The will of the flesh is hostile to God and left to itself it would never move Godward. Did not Christ say to those who opposed Him, "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life"? Self-will would never abdicate in favor of God. But even if it would choose to do so it is altogether "without strength" (Romans 5:6). Good resolutions made when the heart is touched by an emotional appeal, or the turning over a new leaf on one's birthday, or at the beginning of the new year, or the fixed determination to cut one's self loose from an evil practice, do not constitute regeneration. Except grace takes the initiative and the Holy Ghost operates on the will of man he would never desire a new nature or be able to obtain one. "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16).

"Born" — "not of the will of man." Regeneration has no connection with natural relationships. God uses the faithful preaching and teaching of the Word by pastor and Sunday school teacher, the believing prayer of parents and friends, the earnest exhortation, warning and pleading of the personal worker to show another his need of a Saviour and to teach him the way of salvation, but no effort of theirs can beget in another the divine, supernatural life of God. No ordinance or rite, however sacred and holy, administered by priest or preacher has life-begetting power.

"Born" — "but of God." Regeneration is solely the work of God. It is patent that no one can give the life of God to another but God Himself. To become a son of God one must receive the life of God from God. God, the Holy Spirit, is the sole author of this new life which He implants by a creative act in the sinner.

Sin's first devastation was wrought in the human spirit. So here is where the Holy Spirit begins His work in regeneration. In the human spirit of the believer is implanted the life of God.

Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."

Ephesians 2:5, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved:)"

Into this renewed human spirit the Holy Spirit comes to dwell. Here He will operate to make the implanted life a living reality. So the believer will be traing reality. So the believer will be transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory.

Ezekiel 36:26-27, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

In regeneration the Holy Spirit uses both a divine and a human instrument. The divine instrument is the Word of God.

1 Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

James 1:18, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

To place the Word of God in the hands of those not yet born again or to unfold its truth to them God uses human instruments.

1 Corinthians 4:15, "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

Galatians 4:19, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."

 

THE CROSS — THE PLACE OF SPIRITUAL BIRTH

The Lord Jesus has told Nicodemus of the necessity, the nature, and the Author of the new birth, but he still said, "How can these things be?" Was it a personal question? Did Nicodemus want to know how such a miracle as regeneration could be wrought in himself even though he might still be unwilling to admit the need of it? Whether this be true or not Jesus now used the Scriptures with which this master in Israel was very familiar to tell him how he could be born again.

John 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

The Old Testament incident was well known to every Jew. The Israelites were murmuring against God and Moses. The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, they were bitten by them and large numbers were dying. Moses prayed for their deliverance and the Lord told him to make a serpent of brass and to put it upon a pole that every one who was bitten, when he looked upon it, should live.

The serpent of sin has put its deadly poison into every descendant of Adam. But God lifted up His Son, "made in the likeness of sinful flesh" to the cross where He put away sin and all its deadly effects by the sacrifice of Himself. One believing look at the serpent meant life to the death-smitten Israelite. One believing look at the crucified One means life to the one dead in trespasses and sins.

"There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
    There is life at this moment for thee;
 Then, look, sinner, look unto Him, and be saved,
    Unto Him who was nailed to the tree."

The cross of Christ reveals to us the Son of God dying as our Saviour. We look to Him in faith and the Holy Spirit implants in us the life of God and imparts to us the nature of God and we are born again. The cross of Jesus Christ is the believer's spiritual birthplace.

At the cross of Christ through the new birth the sinner leaves the family of Satan and becomes a son and an heir in the family of God. The new birth causes a radical reversal in his filial relationship.

Galatians 3:26, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."

1 John 3:8-10, "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."

Romans 8:16-17, R.V., "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him."

At the cross of Christ through the new birth the rebel, the alien, the outlaw, becomes a citizen in the Kingdom of God.

Philippians 3:20, R.V., "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."

 

A NEW CREATION FORMED

The new birth entitles the believer to membership in the new order of beings of which the risen Christ is the Head. Through the implantation of the divine life and the impartation of the divine nature in the believer a completely new entity is formed. The man in Christ is a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17, R.V., margin, "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things are passed away; behold they are become new."

Galatians 6:15, R.V., margin, "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."

In this new creation everything must partake of the character of the new nature which is its fountainhead; therefore the old things must pass away. Members of the new order have a new ambition which is to be altogether well pleasing unto the Lord, its Head (2 Corinthians 5:9). To be like Christ is their supreme ambition. To attain this they are willing to count all things belonging to the old life but loss.

Philippians 3:7-8, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."

Members of the new order have new affections. The object of their affections has changed from self to Christ. The Holy Spirit has made the Lord Jesus so attractive and so satisfying that they can say from the heart:

"Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in Thee I find."

The love of Christ constrains them to live unto God instead of unto themselves and to love God with all the mind, heart, strength and soul.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, R.V., "For the love of Christ constraineth us: because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died: And he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again."

Matthew 22:37, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."

Loving God in this way with every faculty of the whole being means loving the things He loves and hating the things He hates. The expulsive power of this new affection removes the old things that grieve and displease Him; the things which are not to His honor and glory. The creative power of the new affection produces within us love for the things He cares for most, His Word, His house, His people, His day, His Kingdom.

Love for the Father includes love for all His children. The love of the Head of the new order constrains every member to love all the other members. Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is one proof of our own rebirth.

1 John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

The new order demands a new standard of life. Self-exaltation was the norm of the old life. Sin was less sinful than it really is and holiness was less holy than it really is.

In this new creation there is a new conception of sin. Things that before seemed altogether right now seem altogether wrong. Habits, haunts, practices, pursuits, pleasures, companionships, conversations, clothes, that were harmonious and suitable in the old sphere seem wholly out of place in the new. Their presence in the new sphere spoils its harmony and vitiates its atmosphere. After breathing the fresh, pure air of the higher altitude, the truly born-again one finds the atmosphere of the natural plane reeking with worldliness, selfishness and sin, stifling and sickening. The one born of God cannot go on sinning as he once did: he cannot continue in the practices which he knows to be contrary to God's will and Word. He has now a conception of sin which makes him loathe them.

1 John 3:9, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

In the new creation there is also a new standard of measurement. In the old life the sinner measured himself by himself or by others like himself. But in the new order the victorious, obedient, holy life of the incarnate Son becomes the believer's pattern for his own life on earth and all his living is measured by that perfect standard.

Christ's unchanging and unchangeable teachings and principles are now the rule by which he lives and he rejoices in being free from the despotism of the constantly shifting customs and styles of worldly society. The new creation in Christ has a new standard of values. Time becomes an extremely precious thing, the use of which is to be sacredly guarded and prayerfully made. Money becomes invested with new meaning and power, for consecrated to the Lord and used in His service it may be the means of saving souls infinitely precious in God's sight. Men and women, boys and girls, become vastly more than flesh and blood; they are seen as God sees them, human souls lost in sin, redeemed by the precious blood of the Son of God, and waiting to be saved through faith in Him. In all things Christ the Son becomes the believer's Example.

John 13: 14-15, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."

1 Peter 2:21, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps."

But need we continue to enumerate the things made new through the new birth when God says so plainly that "all things are become new"? Indeed, they must become so because we have a new spring from which all things in our life come. "All things are of God" (2 Corinthians 5:18). The source of all our thoughts, feelings, motives, ambitions, aspirations, actions, affections, purposes and plans, is God Himself. The new birth is just the beginning of a new life. "It is a crisis with view to a process; a rebirth with the prospect of a constant renewal."

Have you, my friend, been born again? Are you a member of the new order? Are you a new creation? If not, will you not begin that new life just now by one believing look at the crucified One?

But perchance, you have professed to come into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ and yet you are discouraged today because of the countless old things that still persist in the new life. Is yours the case of new pieces on an old garment?

One day on the streets of Peking I saw an old countryman. He had on an old, faded, worn-out garment. It had been blue once but it was blue no longer. Right across the front and across the back of his faded garment were big, bright blue, new patches. On seeing the innocent old countryman's garment I laughed aloud. I could not help it for it looked so funny. But why did I laugh? The patches were all right. They were big and new and bright and blue and covered the whole of his garment, front and back. There was nothing the matter with the patches! Then why did I laugh? I will tell you why. Because the garment and the patches were out of harmony with each other. The garment was old and faded and worn out; the patches were new and bright and blue. The garment and the patches did not belong to each other.

I wonder if as God looks down upon us today He sees some patched Christians! Some professors of Christianity rather than possessors of Christ! Perhaps you go to church, read your Bible, have daily prayer, partake of the Holy Communion, all of which are part of every genuine Christian life. But in your life are these things like new patches on an old garment? Are they simply good habits added on to the old life of sin and self? Are you a patched Christian? A professor instead of a possessor? Or have the old things passed away and all things become new because you are in deed and truth a new creation in Christ?

 

Chapter Seventeen

 

the curtain torn
stephen@smithworks.org