A New Life in Christ
3 Sep 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
A New Life in Christ
We have been reminded again this morning that the natural world in which we live provides abundant evidence for a creator God. John Muir, Scottish-born American naturalist and writer who lived from 1838-1914, noted that there '…is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once, a shower is forever falling; vapour is ever rising (Whitaker, 1996: 7).
The angle at which the sun strikes the Earth is the key factor in determining the seasonal changes we observe on the surface of the earth. Because there is very little change in the length of day and amount of sunlight in the tropics only two types of seasons occur in those areas: the wet and the dry. However, in the middle to high latitudes of the earth where we experience the greatest changes in sunlight and heating, we experience four distinct seasons. It is here that we see the grand show of nature at work. After being locked up in the throws of winter, spring provides a constant reminder of new life instilled by God throughout the natural world. As we look about us this morning we can see evidence of the creative power of God and because in each natural element is the inherent power to reproduce itself, it tells us something about the God we serve. The apostle Paul in Romans 1: 20 makes this very clear when he says that 'The things that are made - [whether they be animate and inanimate]- reveal God.'
However, to fully appreciate this revelation of God, we need to understand how these things came to be. Therefore, the creation account, as revealed in the book of Genesis, becomes an integral part of God's disclosure of Himself to us. I would like to briefly share this extraordinary and wonderful story with you this morning particularly in reference to the creation of mankind and the need that we now have to be renewed in Jesus Christ - TO HAVE A NEW LIFE IN HIM.
We first of all should recognise that the Scriptures make plain that God is the only one who is not dependant on pre-existing matter in order to create. By His mighty power God called matter into existence, and then by that same power imparted life to creatures formed from it. The author of Hebrews in the New Testament makes a strong definitive statement when he says in Heb. 11: 3 that 'By faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of the things which are visible.'
The Bible teaches that God was before creation and it tells us that He called the physical world into existence out of nothing. Once again, this event is one of the intricate mysteries that we will never fully comprehend this side of the kingdom. This creative act becomes an issue of faith as we have already noted in Heb 11:3 and becomes one of the first articles of faith ever given to man - "BY FAITH WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORLD WAS FRAMED BY THE WORD OF GOD…'
God's first creative act was to bring into being the great watery chaos described in Gen 2 where it says the earth was without form or void and then He was to bring order out of chaos. He separated the land from the water and thus set the stage for the creation of inanimate life in the provision of grass, other vegetation and trees, adding those that were to provide the abundance and variety of fruits, nuts and grains. Then the sea was filled with living creatures, the air with those who could fly, and the earth with creeping things. In orderly fashion God then moves on to create land animals and also on the sixth day comes the creation of man who was designed to rule over what God had already provided (Lockyer, 1986: 261).
One of the most fascinating statements in all Scripture is to be found in Gen 1: 26 that says: 'Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness'. This verse, believed by theologians to have been made by the three persons of the Godhead, has challenged the thinking of mankind for centuries as to its real meaning. Because to be created in God's image would mean that man, even though a creature, is akin to God.
IN WHAT WAYS COULD THIS BE SO?
While man was created to resemble God, both in outward appearance and character, he was also created with a mind capable of comprehending divine things and was given the capacity to be able to create. It was God's purpose that the longer man lived, the more fully should he reveal this image and more fully reflect the glory of the Creator (White, 1952: 15). His God-given creative ability was not only to be seen in the arts, music, engineering, medicine and many other areas affecting their daily lives but was also seen, through the marriage relation. It was to be within this loving relationship that man was given the most awesome ability to create new life in his own image and his own likeness - a replica of himself. This very special gift reflecting one of the attributes of a loving God was only given to the inhabitants of this world as part of His very special plan to fill the earth. This announcement was made very early in the Holy Scriptures in Genesis 1:28 where God said to Adam and Eve to 'Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth…'
We all know from the inspired record, that, as a result of sin, this image of God in man was disfigured and well nigh obliterated before the flood. Man's physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessoned, his spiritual vision dimmed and he became subject to death (White, 1952: 15,16). Much of his creative energies were now put into the things of this world that were to glorify self and yet God was not to leave him without hope.
In love God provided a plan 'to restore in man the image of his maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of his body, mind and soul, that the divine purpose of his creation might be realised - this was to be the work of redemption' - THE PLAN OF SALVATION (Ibid). This plan was to involve the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary, which, in turn, was to provide the opportunity for every sinner to accept this very special gift of divine grace.
It is only through Christ, and the express image of His person (Heb 1:3) that our nature can be transformed into the image of God again (Col 3: 10; Eph 4: 24), We have a need to be reborn - TO HAVE A NEW LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST.
'It is [through] the Holy Spirit, the comforter, which Jesus said He would send into the world, that changes our character into the image of Christ; and when this is accomplished, we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord.' (Nichol, 1953: 1097,1098). 'We are [gradually] changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of His character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect His image' (Nichol, 1953: 1097,1098). We are reminded that 'It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed' (White, 1958: 91).
Our hope today rests in our knowledge of the sovereign power of Him who created the world. Even though it is an earth marred by sin, its beauty and complexity still speak of His love and concern for even the smallest of His creatures. As we look about us in this church today and see the results of new life we are again reminded of our need to be recreated into a new life in Christ. This will enable us to once again be heirs of that immortal inheritance once promised to our original parents in the beautiful garden He created for them.
Lockyer, H. Sr. (1986) Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Nichol, F. D. (1953) The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol 6. Washington DC: Review and herald Publishing Association.
Whitaker, R. (1997) Weather. Castle Hill, NSW: Lifetime Distributors Pty. Ltd.
White, E. G. (1952) Education. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association
White, E. G. (1958) Patriarchs and Prophets. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
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