A time for……..transformed creation
Sermon date: 5 May
Readings: 2 Corinthians 5 v. 16-21 and John 20 v. 1-21
“God’s new creation has dawned; you are part of God’s handiwork”
If that is a summary of this week’s study, how does it make you feel to think you are part of God’s handiwork?
Please use these notes as you feel is appropriate for your group. There is no need to work through it line by line.
Please read 2 Corinthians 5.16-21
You may like to use a modern translation alongside a more traditional one.
“We regard no-one from a worldly point of view” (16a)
Q.1 How do you understand these words?
For Paul, he is thinking of any power opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit; a mind hostile to God; a life which is displeasing to God.
Look again at verse 17
Q.2 Where do you see signs of this “new creation” (a) in the world around you; (b) in the lives of churches and individual Christians?
Surely showing the signs of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5.22-23) in our lives would be such signs?
The idea of a “new creation” was important to the OT prophets. EZEKIEL had a vision of a new temple, filled with the glory of God (chapters 40-47); ISAIAH had a vision of the LORD comforting his people in exile (chapter 40) and of God’s servants bringing justice to the nations (chapter 42).
“The old has gone, the new has come” (17b) The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of this – as a result of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension. There were tensions within the church at Corinth and Paul sees such tensions as part of a larger cosmic conflict between God and all anti-God powers. It is the “god of this world” who works constantly to blind people to the truth of the gospel.
There is a tension here because we still live in the old cosmos which is largely opposed to God. Yet, as God’s redeemed people we have become new and different people. The process is ongoing, but it has begun.
Q.3 In what ways do you think the “old has gone”?
Because of his faith in the resurrected Christ, Paul now sees the world around him in a totally different light. The old restrictions (Jew/Gentile; male/female; slave/free) don’t matter anymore. God is now in the business of reconciling ALL to himself; all are in need of his reconciling love.
“The new has come”
Q.4 Can you explain the difference in your life before you became a Christian and your life now that you are a Christian? Or is it simply that you were a nice person before you became a Christian and you are still a nice person now!?
Reconciliation is about a change in relationship. From being God’s enemy we now have the opportunity to be God’s friend. This is, of course, wholly the work of God in us. It has nothing to do with our own efforts and achievements.
How is RECONCILIATION distinct from:
FORGIVENESS. This is the first step in reconciliation. As sinners we need God’s forgiveness for our sins.
GRACE. Undeserved favour from God.
JUSTIFICATION. Used in the law courts to declare a person “Not Guilty”. God is holy and those who are guilty cannot enter his presence, but those who have been justified can (Romans 5.8-10.
REDEMPTION. Bringing liberty to a captive, usually though monetary payment. Christ is our Redeemer. His death on the cross is the price he has willingly paid for our freedom.
Paul has become aware that the things that the world treasures are passing away. In the end wealth, beauty, influence and power will prove transient. Through Christ we are offered eternal values.
Q.6 SO.… to what extent are we, as Christians, still holding on to these worldly treasures? Why do you think this is so?
As a result of what Christ has done for us, we are regarded as ambassadors (20-21)
Q.7 What is the role of an ambassador? How might we carry out that role in our individual lives?
An ambassador is an agent of a ruler. The ambassador does not decide policy, but delivers messages from the ruler. However, because the ambassador speaks with the authority of the ruler people are expected to treat the ambassador as they would treat the ruler.
You might like to spend some time praising God for his reconciling love and giving us the role of his ambassadors in the world.
You might like to bring those parts of the world which appear to be “out of control” and where God does not seem to have any influence.
You might like to have a time of silence when each one can ponder on how they might fulfil their role as Christ’s ambassador in their daily lives.
Malcolm Raby, 23/04/2019