Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Creation

The New Creation
It all begins with the new creation. The new creation is to the church what maternal birth is to the human race.  Without it we will cease to exist. It is absolutely vital that we produce what we are. The next generation’s existence depends upon the present generation. They will not exist without us. We must produce after our own kind.

Consider the Animal Kingdom

What makes the dog bark?  Why does the bird fly?  Why does the fish swim?  Why does the cheetah run 60mph?  Why does the cat meow?  Why does the sinner sin?  Why does the believer believe?  BECAUSE, they were born that way!!!  They cannot help it; they were born to do what they do.  Birds fly because they were born to fly.   Fish swim because they were born to swim.  It is in their nature.  They are born with a nature to do these things.  As soon as a duck is born he knows how to swim.  Why?  Because he was born this way!  The ability to swim was encoded in the genetic structure of that species.  Why does that newborn colt struggle to his feet right after birth?  Because he was born to run!  He cannot help it he was born to run.

The Nature of Mankind and the Nature of the New Creature

When we were born the first time we were born sinners.  All since Adam were born with the nature of sin.  When I was Born Again I was born with a new nature!

2 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.

People ask me: Why do you shout?  Why do you praise the Lord? Why do you preach like a crazy man?  Why do you go to church all the time?  I was born to go to church!  Why do you pray?  Why do you read your Bible?  I can’t help it!!!  I was born this way!  I was born to go to church – I was born to pray – I was born to love the word of God – I was born to walk in victory over sin. These character traits are a part of the new creation.

Sinners sin because it is in their nature to do so.  They are only doing what is in their nature for them to do. When I was born again I put away this old nature – this nature was crucified with Christ – and I was raised again a new person. This new creature, which I now am, is victorious over sin.

From the fall of Adam the entire human race plunged into the nature of sin. One man’s sin brought destruction upon the entire human race. One person said to me once that it was unfair that we should all be penalized for the sin of Adam. Jesus balanced the scales. It is also unfair that all of us can become the beneficiaries of one man’s obedience.  One man’s sin brought destruction and one man’s obedience brought salvation. What was unfair in the beginning has been made fair in the end.

I was born with the Adamic nature to sin and this was the heritage of my birth on this planet but when I was born again I received a brand-new nature and this nature gives me the power walk in holiness. Sinners sin because it is their nature to do so.  Christians live righteously because it is in their nature.  We are what our birth has made us to be.

Like Produces Like

Genesis 1:11-13
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Genesis 1:20-28

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

God created each of the animals on this planet to produce after their own kind.  Contained within each of these animals was the genetic material needed to propagate its species. Contained within that spiritual church is everything needed to produce the next generation of believers. We must produce after our own kind. If we produce defeat then defeat must be within us. If we produce victory then victory must be within us. We cannot produce something that we are not.  I am a product of Christ and the church.

Like produces like!  I was born again to obey God!  I am Pentecostal!  Evangelist Steve McQuiston tells the story of a squirrel that he saw fall out of tree.  He said he walked over to pick up the squirrel but it ran back up the same tree it had fallen out of.  Why?  Because that squirrel was born in that tree!  When I fall away from God’s altars, I get right back up and run to the altars.  Why?  Because I was born in those altars!                        

There are many different species, but I am talking about the Pentecostal species!  I was born a Pentecostal!  I was born in the fire!  I was born in glory!  When I was fifteen years old God filled me with the Holy Ghost at the Polk County Campmeeting, kneeling in sawdust.  No matter what comes my way I was born in a Pentecostal altar and to that altar I must return.  It is in my nature to do so.

Family Resemblance

You can pick your friends, but not your family.  I was born a Herridge in 1963.  I look like a Herridge, act like one, think like one.  I can’t help it, I was born this way!  I was born again when I was seven years old.  I think like a Christian, I act like a Christian, I dress like a Christian, I look like a Christian.  I can’t help it, I was born this way!

The new birth made me a part of the family of God. I am no longer a part of this world’s family but now I am a part of the heavenly family. Just as sure as Jacob took on the new name of Israel, I have taken on a new nature. Just as certain Saul the persecutor became Paul the apostle I have become a new person in Christ. Abram became Abraham – I have become a child of God.

To Be or Not to Be

John 3:3-8
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.
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?
5 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.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
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.

Shakespeare penned the words in Hamlet, “To be or not to be”.   How true!  The real issue facing people today is the issue of BEING, not DOING.  To be a Christian or to not be a Christian is the real question.  Jesus said to “BE Born Again”.   Paul said, “If any man BE in Christ.”  The real issue is one of BEING not DOING.  If you will BE a Christian then you will DO what a Christian does.  The Old Testament is about DOING.  The New Testament is about BEING.  We must concern ourselves with being a Christian not just in doing what Christians do.  To focus completely on doing, and obeying rules and regulations, we forget that the Christian is what he is by the blood of Jesus.  We are a product of our new birth and this birth enables us to be everything that the Bible tells us we can be.

In recent years WWJ D has become a fad.  You see it on T-shirts, necklaces, billboards, and bumper stickers. We know these initials stand for, “What would Jesus do”.  Jesus does what he does because of who he is.  We do what we do because of who we are.  It is a fruitless endeavor for us to try to do with Jesus does without first experiencing the new birth. Any attempt to achieve righteousness through religious activities is a work of the law – it is law keeping. I am not suggesting here that Christians are exempt from obedience. God forbid!  Paul addressed this same issue in his letter to the Roman church.  Nothing has changed and we are still required to live obedient lives under God, but this obedience must come after the new birth. Obedience does not produce the new birth but the new birth does produce obedience.  We must not get the cart before the horse.

Law keeping does not produce salvation but salvation does produce law keeping from the heart. Even Jesus said to his followers, “If ye love me keep my commandments”.  Jesus taught that obedience is the hallmark of the Christian life.  WWJD is more than just a clever marketing strategy. It is the very heartbeat of the new creature. We need no T-shirts to remind us of this for this has been branded within our hearts.

The Cart Before the Horse
I need to say something again about the new birth and obedience. Some religious people believe mistakenly that obedience will produce salvation. While we understand the importance of obedience we also know it’s proper place in relation to the new birth. Obedience is always a product of the new creation, it is never the other way around. You cannot earn your salvation through good works but once you are saved you will do good works.

To try to produce salvation through good works is to live by the law. We know that the law could make no man perfect but the bringing in of the better covenant (hope) does (Hebrews 7:19).  This new covenant enables us to do the will of God, to obey God’s voice. Without the enabling of the new birth we would fail just as certainly as all those living under the law failed. The new birth gives us the ability to do the will of God.

Any attempt to bypass the new birth and keep God’s word is law keeping and doom to failure. We must not get the cart before the horse. The new birth always pulls obedience – never the other way around.

Ephesians 2:9-10
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Look at the above Scripture closely.  Notice that our salvation is not produced by good works – you can see this at verse nine. Also notice, in verse 10, that we are created to do good works. What has changed? Verse nine is before the new birth and verse 10 is after the new birth. Once we are born again we will walk in obedience.

The Virgin Birth
The virgin birth is an essential doctrine of the church. Without the doctrine of the virgin birth the church would not exist. It is the virgin birth that gave us Christ.  This is why we are so insistent that this doctrine be held as one of the most sacred and essential beliefs of the body of Christ.

The virgin birth of Christ gives us insight into the new birth. Through the virgin birth Jesus had access to heaven – through our new birth we also have access to heaven. Through the virgin birth Jesus was the son of God – through our new birth we are the sons and daughters of God. Through the virgin birth Jesus could call on his father – through our new birth God is also our father.

The new birth of the believer is a spiritual virgin birth.  This birth connects us to heaven and separates us from the world. Without the new birth our connection to this world would be greater and we would be unable to have communion with the father. We are virgin born believers. It is the new birth, being born again, that makes this possible. Spiritually we have become like Christ.

One Final Word
There is much more I would like to say on this subject but time and space will not allow. I do want to say one final thing: all Christian effort, all Christian activity, and all other exercise done in the name of Christ must be preceded by the new birth. We are new creatures in Christ and all that we do is a result of being born again. To try to get in any other way, by any other door, will make you a thief and a robber. You must be born again!

If you find it hard to go to church then maybe you are just religious and not born again. If you find that the word of God is boring to you then maybe you are religious and not born again! If you find that you hate to pray and to worship God in maybe you need to go back to the altar and pray to be born again. For all of these exercises are part of the new creature and they all come with the package.

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