T. PIERCE BROWN
For sixty five years I have been reading 1 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” It struck me with a new impact today. I do not know that the best Greek texts support the reading, “all things are become new,” yet if old things are passed away, all things must be new. Although I have preached and heard other preach that Christians are new creatures, with new kinds of thoughts, speech, and actions, today I want to consider the implications that all things are new with regard to all of our relationships.
First, our relationship to the world has changed. We were in and of the world. The fact that we are the “ekklesia” suggests that we are called out of the world. Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.” Jesus said in John17:15-16, “I pray not that thou shouldest take the from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” So, our relationship to the world has been changed as a result of the fact that Christ died for our sin and we demonstrated an acceptance of that by dying to sin. We no longer are controlled by the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life, which is all that is in the world (1 John2:16)
This change toward all that is in the world includes a change in our relationship toward our possessions. Before we became Christians, our possessions may have possessed us. Now we have a new relationship with them, for we are stewards of them to use for the glory of God and the good of humanity.
Simultaneously, our relationship to God was changed. We were at enmity with Him, but now friends. We were aliens from His kingdom; now citizens. We were children of the Devil; now children of God. I have written another article, entitled, “Born or Adopted” in which I set forth the fact that these terms are not, as most persons seem to believe, just two different words suggesting how we get into the family of God. The word “adoption” in the New Testament does not refer to coming into the family, but coming into a position of a full-grown heir in the family. A careful reading of Romans 8:19-23 should show that. In my judgment, when Paul speaks of receiving the adoption of sons in Galatians 4:4, he is speaking of what we will receive at the redemption of our bodies because we are sons. Regardless of the fact that “adoption” as an English term merely refers to a legal change of relationship, but not to a change of nature and does not do justice to what happened as our relationship to God changed, most of us continue to use the terms “adopted” and “born again” as if they were synonymous.
Our point now, however, is that we have a new relationship with God, including sonship with all that entails with respect to honor, rewards, responsibilities, service, and joy. Each of these aspects is worthy of extended study.
Perhaps the fact that we have a new relationship with each other is not as significant as the first two mentioned, but it is very important. If we only studied it in terms of how many times such expressions as “one another” are used, and what they involve, it would demand at least another article. The fact that we are now related to each other as brothers and sisters in the same family involves all kinds of obligations, privileges, responsibilities and joys. The bearing of one another’s burdens, the forgiving of one another even as Christ forgave us, the sharing of mutual sorrows and joys, the special kind of love one has for family members are all new kinds of things that deserve our special attention. We cannot but wonder if some of the slashing, bitter, sarcastic remarks made about brethren would be made exactly that way if that brother happened to be a brother, sister, or mother in our physical family.
This aspect of new things is especially noticeable when we think of racial differences. The middle wall of partition that was broken down between the Jew and Gentile is but a foretaste of the walls that are broken down between races, persons of different cultures and backgrounds. All these relationships are new.
Even our relationship with ourselves is changed. Did you ever consider how you are related to yourself? Most of know that we can love or hate ourselves. We may despise ourselves or think too highly of ourselves. In Christ, we are able to properly evaluate ourselves and have the right relationship with ourselves.
For example, there are those who think of themselves as worthless, no good, unworthy persons. When they learn of Christ, they realize that Christ did not die for a nobody. Our value to Him who knows real value, is greater than the entire world.
On the other hand, there are those who consider themselves as great, and glory in their own goodness, power, wealth, beauty, influence or wisdom. When they come to Christ, they realize the fact that there is not only almost infinite difference in all those things in comparison to Christ, but there is a wide difference in the quality of those characteristics we actually have, and what we should have. In short, in Christ, our relationship to ourselves is changed in that we neither allow ourselves to have an improper sense of modesty or humility, making us relatively useless in the Kingdom of God, nor do we gloat in our possessions, whatever they may be, for we realize as never before that all we are and have is by His grace. In the expression, “all things are become new” of 2 Corinthians5:17, we cannot think of any relationship that is not viewed in a new light by one who is in Christ.