Wm. C. Reid.
In Scripture "creation" is mentioned in different ways, each presenting some special feature for the instruction of the saints of God, e.g., Proverbs 8. brings the Lord Jesus before us as the Man of God's counsels, witnessing the scene in which He would be found with His companions for the pleasure and glory of God. John 1, Colossians 1, and Heb. 1, declare the glory of the Person of the Son; whereas Ephesians 3 tells us that the present purpose of the creation was to make known to heavenly intelligences in the church, the manifold wisdom of God. The most detailed account of creation is that given in Genesis 1 and 2; and there man is presented as its head and centre.
The ruin of the old creation.
That God has spoken of "new creation" in His word, implies that the creation connected with Adam has become old, and is passing away. Scripture confirms this, showing too that the creation has become ruined by reason of man's sin. When Adam fell, all under his headship shared the consequences of his fall (Romans 8:19-22). In this Scripture God has shown that before the old creation shall pass away, it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into which Adam brought it.
The passing of the old world: the beginning of a new.
From Adam there has sprung a race of men, connected with him in the old creation, all sinners by nature and practice. Cain, Adam's firstborn, demonstrated the hatred that lay in the nature of man, by killing his brother; and soon the world that was stained with Abel's blood became so corrupt that God had to cleanse it with a flood of water. A new world emerged from the Flood, with Noah as its head; but soon poor Noah showed he could not control himself, much less the new world. Although it was a new world it was not new creation: every successive generation and development of God's dealings with men proved that man was incorrigible, and that the old creation was ruined beyond recovery. Headship in Noah was debased; Priesthood was defiled in the sons of Aaron: the sons of Samuel perverted judgment. Royalty was dishonoured by the sons of David, the Kings of Israel, and by the great Gentile monarchs. All this evil was consummated in the world's rejection of the Son of God. In His cross the world was exposed by God, and its judgment was sealed.
God working — amidst the ruins of the old creation.
When the Jews persecuted the Lord Jesus for healing the impotent man on the Sabbath day. He replied, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5) From the moment of man's fall in Eden, it would seem as if the rest of God was broken, and He began to work afresh in view of a "new creation." In consonance with His Father's activity, the Son had come into Manhood and to the earth to work for the establishing of a scene where the Father could rest in His love, no more to be disturbed by the entrance of sin or any evil that would grieve Him at His heart. To secure this the Son would be found here in toil and labour, laying the foundations in His work and death of that new world where the glory of the new creation could be displayed in those who once were sinners far from God.
God working — preparing vessels for glory.
In the riches of His glory, God is preparing for glory, vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23). These are the saints who at present have earthly tabernacle houses, while awaiting their "house not made with hands eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5) God has wrought His saints for this glorious destiny, by forming them spiritually in new creation; so that while they are connected with the groaning creation in their bodies they are already in new creation as to their spiritual condition. Amid the ruins of the old creation, God is working to produce the vessels in which the glory of the new creation shall be displayed. A beautiful illustration of this is found in 2 Chr. 4, where, after describing the vessels of the Temple, it says, "In the plain of the Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay-ground between Succoth and Zeredathah."
God working — preparing vessels for testimony.
But God has not only been preparing the saints for glory; His new creative work is to produce vessels in which His grace may even here be manifested. This is the teaching of Eph. 2, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Good works can never be produced by man in the flesh, but those who have been created in Christ have divinely given ability to work in a manner that glorifies God and gives Him pleasure. As created "in Christ" we partake of Christ's character and are thus enabled to manifest His features of grace and beauty.
From this we learn something of God's present triumph. Satan in getting rid of Christ doubtless thought that he secured a complete victory, but God wrought in such a way that many vessels, every one of Christ's order and character, as created in Him, are now upon the earth continuing the heavenly life that was perfectly manifested in Him here.
Relationships of the flesh, and the new relationships.
The subject of new creation in 2 Cor. 5 is introduced with, "Wherefore, henceforth know we no one 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 (there is) new creation." After the flesh, the Lord Jesus was of Israel, and the Son of David; but none of the relationships that were His on this line, belong to Him in the new conditions into which He entered in resurrection. These were all relinquished at the cross, when He said to His mother, "Woman, behold thy son," and to John, "Behold thy mother." This was further emphasised when in resurrection the Lord said to Mary Magdalene, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God." In those words, which told that Mary could no longer know Christ after the flesh, there was the divine revelation of the new relationships into which the Lord had brought His own in resurrection. The disciples were called "friends" previously by the Lord, but not until He had entered the new conditions of life in resurrection could they be called His "brethren."
"Old things are passed away — all things are become new."
The things that have been corrupted and defiled by man in the old creation have no place in the new creation. Everything in this spiritual sphere is new and of God. The life and relationships are new; so are the affections, joys, blessings, riches and glories. In this new order our thoughts and feelings are new, and the desires of the heart and disposition of the renewed mind are toward things that the natural man has never known. Much that exists in the old creation was introduced by man; but in the new creation all things are of God. Not a single principle of man's world is there; none of his philosophy or vaunted learning, none of the embellishments that adorn his city, nor any of the attractions that appeal to the flesh.
Reconciliation and New Creation.
All the things of this new creation have their origin in the God Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Evidently God has brought us into right relations with Himself to have us engaged with the things that belong to Him. Through the death of His Son He has brought us near, who once were far off; and in shedding abroad His love in our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit He has displaced the enmity towards Him that once was there. Now, as before God in the sense of His love, and as being His workmanship, we are free to explore the wonders of the new creation centring in Christ His beloved Son. These two matters are not only associated in 2 Cor. 5, but they are found together in Eph 2:16. In the latter Scripture, Jew and Gentile are reconciled together to God in one body. As forming the body of Christ in new creation, the church is the vessel in which the features of Christ are manifested now upon the earth and in which the glory of God shall be , displayed in the coming ages.
A man in Christ.
Paul by the Spirit said in 2 Cor. 5, "If any man be in Christ (there is) new creation." Chapter 12. of this epistle gives the experience of a man in Christ. Viewed abstractly as a man in Christ, Paul reveals that he was caught up to the third heavens, the home of the man in Christ. There, in Paradise, the place of delight, he heard things he could not speak of on earth. Our present condition of flesh and blood hinders our knowing the full blessedness of what is ours in Christ, for we only "see through a glass darkly"; but there are many things we can know, the things freely given to us of God, the things "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man — God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit."
The new man — his creation.
When the Lord Jesus was on earth, the Father opened the heavens and said, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I have found my delight." Here was a Man entirely different to every other man; and it was God's purpose to have a race of men, all like Christ. In the "new man" this race has been created. The Jew and Gentile were two men at enmity, because of the law; but in the cross the cause of the enmity was removed, and Christ created in Himself of both one "new man," and so made peace. Neither of these two men could give God pleasure; so that an entirely new kind of man had to be created in Christ's features. This new man has been created after God in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24); and in him there is nothing of "Greek, Jew, circumcision, uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman, but Christ is everything, and in all" (Col. 3:11). Not only are the distinctions between these different kinds of men not found in the new man, but not one of them bears his features, for all his features come from Christ; and Christ is the life of all partaking in this new created man.
The new man — his testimony.
After disclosing in Ephesians 4 that the new man is created after God, the saints are exhorted, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak truth every man with his neighbour." From this and the verses which follow we learn that the features of the new man are to be manifested in all our dealings with our neighbours. Then there are exhortations with a view to the manifestation of the traits of the new man in the family and business circles. Finally, in the conflict, with the panoply of God, which is the dress of the new man, we are to stand for God in the evil day. In all these spheres the features of the new man are to evince the testimony of God.
The display of new creation.
God's purpose in quickening us and setting us in Christ in the heavenly places is in order "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus." This is the display of grace in glory; and for this God is erecting a Temple, a shrine, in which His holy nature shall shine forth, in those united to His Son. The church is this vessel of glory; seen in Eph. 2:21 as "A holy temple in the Lord," and in Rev. 21 as "The bride, the Lamb's wife — the holy city — having the glory of God." Amid the tumults of the systems of this present age, loudly proclaiming their own greatness and glory, God is silently raising His structure, which is the fruit of Christ's work, and the crown of His workmanship. Long after every human system has perished for ever, this glorious church, conceived in divine wisdom and wrought by God's power shall subsist in the eternal display of His love and glory in new creation.
The rule of new creation.
After discoursing on law and grace, in his defence of the Gospel, towards the close of the epistle to the Galatians, Paul says, "For in Christ Jesus, neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision; but new creation. And as many as walk by this rule, peace upon them and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Judaism and its ceremonial rite of circumcision were for man in the flesh, and in them Israel boasted; but in the light of new creation they have been exposed as valueless. The old order, which supposed there was ability in man to obtain divine blessing, has been closed in the cross; and the new order, in which "all things are of God" has been opened up for us in God's grace in new creation. Those who walk by the rule of law cannot have peace while striving for blessing which they cannot obtain; but those walking by the rule of the new creation, who do not depend on their own efforts, receive divine mercy, and the peace which comes from relying solely on God. May we therefore live by the faith of the Son of God, seeking the things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, and thus be blessed by walking by the rule of new creation. Wm. C. Reid.