In the New Testament

A New Creation

Wherefore if any man  be in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things
are passed away; behold, they are become new. –2 Corinthians 5:17 *

Phillip Mosley

In the transition from the Jewish age to the Gospel age we find a change in the operation of the invisible power of God termed the “Holy Spirit.” Peter tells us the prophets of old spoke as they were moved by the holy spirit (2 Peter 1:21 ). God inspired these men to speak as it pleased him, yet they did not always understand what they were saying. Jesus observed: “Many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see [it], and to hear what you hear, and did not hear [it]” (Matthew 13:17 ).

We may consider it a blessing to live in the time when God is calling those who will make up his family (Acts 15:14 ). Paul says, “He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his kind intention which he purposed in him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, [that is] the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth in him” (Ephesians 1:9,10).

The Promise to Abraham

It is through this family that God will fulfill this promise made long ago to faithful Abraham: By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed [literally “shall bless themselves”], because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:16 -18).

Paul speaks of this promise and gives us a clue as to how the promise relates to those living in the Gospel age: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29 ). Of course the promise was that this seed would bless all the nations or families of the earth. The fulfillment of this promise is still future.

According to the Bible there will come a time when Satan will be bound and will not be able to deceive mankind. During Christ’s thousand-year reign those whom God has called from among men during this age will have the privilege of sharing in this blessing work with Christ: “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

These of the first resurrection are the ones who make up the family God desires to share in his kingdom work throughout eternity. These are the spiritual seed of Abraham.

Two Resurrections

The Revelation text speaks of these as having a part in the first resurrection. If there is a first resurrection, there must also be at least a second resurrection. Jesus spoke of two resurrections: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28,29). Those of the first resurrection are described by Jesus as those who did the good deeds. But notice that he speaks of another resurrection, a “resurrection of judgment.” God’s judgment day lasts one thousand years (2 Peter 3:8). With Satan bound, mankind will have an opportunity to learn the truth. God desires all men to be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

Our eyes of understanding have been opened now to a remarkable truth that has been mostly hidden since the dark ages. The Bible actually teaches that there are two salvations: a spiritual and an earthly phase. Paul writes: “The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:47,48).

God’s original plan has not been frustrated. God said to Adam and Eve in the garden, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

God, through one of his prophets of old, said: “So shall my word be which goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding [in the matter] for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

When properly understood, we can see how truly wonderful it will be when everyone will be blessed in God’s due time. What a privilege it will be for those who make up the heavenly spiritual seed of Abraham to share with Christ in administering those blessings to the world of mankind as they come back to life in an earthly resurrection.

Born Again

How does one become a part of the spiritual seed? Nicodemus, one of the nobler of the Pharisees, had an inquisitive mind. He came to Jesus at night and acknowledged that he must be a teacher sent from God because no one could do such miracles unless God was with him. It was then that Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Nicodemus could not understand these words, this illustration Jesus used to explain what must take place for an individual to experience a change of nature from earthly to spiritual. Nicodemus was not alone. Many noble people throughout the Gospel age have also misunderstood these words of Jesus.

Some of the confusion stems from the fact that the Greek word gennao, translated born in this verse, could with the equal propriety be rendered begotten. Gennao is used 39 times in the first sixteen verses of Matthew and in every instance is properly translated begat.

If the translators of the King James Bible had used begotten instead of born, the idea that Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus would be more accurately understood. Just as an embryo is begotten in the womb and grows until birth, so with an individual who will become a spiritual son of God. Paul says, “If any man is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is this new creature that is begotten by the word of truth and by the power of the holy spirit.

Because there are two salvations, those begotten to this new spiritual life are counted as spiritual sons of God. Their hopes, aims, and ambitions are centered in the spiritual phase of God’s kingdom. The actual births of these new creatures occur after the death of their earthly bodies. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead a spirit being, so will it be for those begotten of the holy spirit. The apostle John writes: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and [such] we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is” (1 John 3:1,2).

Sin Remains a Possibility

Some mistakenly think that once an individual has been “born again,” it is impossible to sin. This comes from a misunderstanding of these words: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).

Although the new creature does not sin, it remains in the fleshly body until the actual birth of this new creature as a spirit being, it remains in a fleshly body. The flesh is contrary to the things of the spirit: “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17).

It is by the grace of God and the imputation of the merit of Jesus that any are counted as righteous in the sight of God. Except for Jesus no human being is without sin: “As it is written, There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

When we understand what it means to be spirit begotten, we can more easily harmonize the Scriptures. The same apostle who wrote, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin,” also wrote, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for [those of] the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2).

The spirit begotten ones of the Gospel age battle the things of the flesh to become, as much as possible, a copy of their Lord and Savior Jesus. It is constant struggle that requires the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11 -13). As Paul encouraged Timothy, these must fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12 ). Peter admonishes them by saying, “Applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in [your] moral excellence, knowledge; and in [your] knowledge, self-control, and in [your] self-control, perseverance, and in [your] perseverance, godliness; and in [your] godliness, brotherly kindness, and in [your] brotherly kindness, love. For if these [qualities] are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

A New Creation

These spirit begotten ones are actually a new creation. Just as a majority of the people did not know Jesus was the Son of God, most do not recognize that there are new creatures in Christ today, individuals to whom God has given a special mission. Paul describes that mission as a ministry of reconciliation: “Now all [these] things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19).

These are the spiritual seed of Abraham who will have a share with Christ in blessing all the families of the earth. God promised this long ago to Abraham and it is impossible for him to lie (Titus 1:2). God plans to bless the world of mankind through The Christ, Head and Body. In the meantime we know that, The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22,23).

* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture citations are from the New American Standard version.