I Am New
God is Saving Sinners Through the Death and Resurrection of His Son
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God is Saving Sinners
In Genesis 3, we learned how sin affected our relationship with God, with each other, and with the rest of creation. Trust and community with God and one another were exchanged for fear, shame, and blame shifting. The fruitful creation was cursed with thorns; transforming joyful work into toilsome labor. Life was supplanted by death. In the middle of the mess, God made a promise to make things new. The Gospel is the good news that God has kept his promise to make all things new through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians makes it abundantly clear that the Gospel is all about what God has done to save us. Jonah 2:9 tells us that “salvation belongs to the Lord”. The Gospel is all about what God has done for us. It’s not good advice, but rather, good news that God has acted decisively in Jesus Christ to save us when we were helpless and hopeless. Through Jesus, God is making us new!
Through the Death and Resurrection of His Son
2 Corinthians says that God is reconciling us to himself by not counting our sins against us. We know that sin separates us from God. Sin puts us at odds with the ultimate and Divine judge of the universe. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) How could a good and just God not hold our sins against us? The answer is Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus, the perfect, holy, obedient son, took our sin upon himself. Our sin was imputed to Jesus. Isaiah 53 tells us that Jesus has borne, or carried, our sins. What this means is that on the cross, Jesus was treated as the worst of sinners. He was punished in our place, for our sins.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This means that the penalty for our sins has been paid in full by Jesus on the cross. His death was our death. His suffering was our suffering. His shame was our shame because our sin became his on the cross. He endured the full wrath of God so that we could be reconciled to God. There is nothing that we need to do to earn God’s love and forgiveness. Jesus has accomplished it all.
But 2 Corinthians doesn’t stop there. Reconciliation means that Jesus has taken our sin, and given us something else in it’s place. What Jesus gives us is nothing less than his own perfection. Jesus not only died for us, but he also lived for us. He takes our place on the cross in his death and he takes our place in life through his own perfect obedience. This is commonly referred to as imputed righteousness. This means that God accepts us exclusively on the grounds of Jesus’ perfect life and substitutionary death (substitutionary atonement).
R. C. Sproul
When Martin Luther spoke of the state of a Christian, he used the Latin phrase simul justus et peccator. This statement means “at the same time righteous and sinner.” It maintains the idea of our possession of an alien righteousness. In a legal and positional sense, we are righteous once we are justified because when God looks at us He sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. But this righteousness is not something that we have within ourselves or something that we do. It is a declared righteousness. That is why at the same time, in more of an existential sense, we are still sinners, working to put sin to death. We are no longer legally subject to the punishment due our sin; nonetheless, sin is still present in us until we are glorified.
Jesus didn’t just die for us; he also rose again from the dead. The resurrection is God’s vindication of Jesus as Lord. Jesus’ resurrection was literal, physical, and historical. Just like his death, his resurrection was according to the scriptures and is of first importance. Individuals, smaller groups, and crowds of over 500 saw the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Because Jesus rose from dead, we know that we too shall rise with him (Romans 6:5). In fact, even now, we are with him as he is seated at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1-3). It is the resurrection power of Jesus that is at work inside of us, continually conforming us to his likeness (Ephesians 1:18-19).
What Is Grace?
Grace comes from the Greek word “Charis”. It means a gift from God. It is God acting lovingly towards us in spite of what deserve (Acts 15:11, Ephesians 2:1-10, Galatians 2-3). Grace is God’s gift to us. It is salvation given not based on our good or potential good, but given solely based on God’s character (Romans 9:15-16).
Grace is not only the means of our salvation, but it also sustains and empowers the believer. (Acts 4:33, Romans 3:24 & 5:15) God’s grace towards believers is also expressed through the giving of spiritual gifts that enable believers to serve God. (Romans 12:3-8) Ultimately, Christians know that any good that comes from their work or service is the fruit of Grace alone and therefore, God is worthy of all praise, credit, and glory (1 Timothy 1:12-17).
Responding To the Gospel
Repentance comes in response to the conviction that the Holy Spirit brings. It is an aching in the soul and longing to change one’s heart. It’s the cutting of the heart, which results in hatred for sin and love for Jesus. It is the turning from one way, sin, and walking in a new direction, towards Christ... holiness... righteousness (Acts 3:19, 11:21, 14:15, & 20:21)
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) Without faith, it is impossible to please God. This word occurs 232 times in the Bible and is the primary way that man enters into relationship with God. 1 Corinthians 1:21 tells us that God is not found through human reason. This is because man’s ability to reason has been severely flawed by the fall (Romans 1:18-22) Thus, we must come into knowledge of, and trust in, God through faith. Because of our condition, God enables us by faith to know Him. He gives us the faith to enter into communion with Him. (Ephesians 2:8-9) The question with faith in the Scriptures, as well as for us, is not the quantity of faith we have, but the object of our faith, which is always God. Proverbs 3:5 instructs us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and to not lean on our own understanding. This is Biblical faith.
In Scripture believers were baptized by immersion (Mark 1:5 & 1:10, John 3:23). The believer was lowered into the water to show his unity with the death and burial of Christ and raised out of it to illustrate his unity with the resurrection (Romans 6:1-7, Colossians 2:11-12). Baptism is performed in the name of the Trinity (Matthew 28:19) for Christians who demonstrate saving faith (Acts 2:41, 8:12, & 10:47-48, Galatians 3:27). Baptism does not save anyone, but instead shows that God has saved him or her by His free grace alone (Galatians 1:10 & 5:4, Ephesians 2:8-9). God commands all His people to be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38).
Communion was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper as a means by which God’s people could continually remember and celebrate His body (the bread) and blood (the wine) shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-29). The final communion for God’s people will be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb with Jesus in His kingdom at the end of history (Revelation 19:9). The church is to celebrate communion with a sober confession of sin and recognition of Jesus’ redemptive work (I Corinthians 11:17-34). They should partake together to show their unity in Christ (I Corinthians 10:17).
Communion is only intended for Christians (I Corinthians 11:29-30). It was the custom of the church, until a disagreement at the time of the Reformation, for the church to partake of communion each week. The elders of Coram Deo have chosen to celebrate communion every week as a reminder to confess our sins to Christ, be cleansed and transformed by Him, and celebrate the goodness of the gospel in our lives and church.