The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 31, 2014
1) If Any Man Is In Christ He Is A New Creature (Brooks Cochran)
2) Doing It Willingly (Robert F. Turner)
3) News & Notes
If Any Man Is In Christ He Is A New Creature
by Brooks Cochran
"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a
new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things
have come" (NASB).
Paul, in answering the charges made against him by false teachers
and brethren in Corinth, declares that, "If any man is in Christ, he
is a new creature"; the old things have passed away and "new things
have come" (2 Cor. 5:17). The particular change, of which he had
just spoken; i.e., knowing "no man according to the flesh" (2 Cor.
5:16), is one indication that a transformation has taken place in
"any man" who is "in Christ." At one time, in the days before his
conversion, Paul judged Jesus by external standards in the light of
the teaching he received from Gamaliel and thus concluded that Jesus
of Galilee was not the Messiah (Acts 22:3; Phil. 3:4; Acts 26:9).
Now he no longer judges Jesus by such standards. He is a "new
creature" old things have passed away and all things have become
new. Likewise, it was time for the Corinthians to quit judging him
in much the same way. They were placing too much emphasis on
externals and should have been emphasizing the spiritual. They were
Paul's "letter, written in" his heart, "known and read by all men;
...written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God" (2
Many, as the Corinthians, fail to grasp the significance of what it
means to be in Christ and the transformation of life and character
that goes with such change. Upon examination of this passage one can
learn some truths that will help him appreciate and understand what
it means to be "in Christ."
The text emphasizes: 1. The Universality Of The Gospel ("If any
Man"); 2. The Location Of The New Life And Relationship ("In
Christ"); and 3. The Standard One Is To Follow Once He Makes The
Decision To Come Into Christ ("He is A New Creation; The Old Things
Have Passed Away; Behold New Things Have Come").
"If Any Man"
Though Paul is directing his remarks to a specific group of
individuals, those designated as being "in Christ," his words infer
that any person can become a member of this group. The group may be
limited in number, but the invitation to join is universal. This
invitation was extended by the apostles in their "ministry of
reconciliation" as they preached the "word of reconciliation" (2
Cor. 5:18- 19). Today their word has been left for us in permanent
form on the pages of the New Testament.
While the invitation is extended through the "word of
reconciliation" one must make a conscious choice as to whether or
not they will accept the offer to "be reconciled to" and "receive
the grace of God," namely, the forgiveness of their sins (2 Cor.
5:20; 6:1). In Romans 5:1,2 one is said to obtain their
"introduction by faith into this grace" and as a result has "peace
with God." Such actions on the part of an individual infer a change
But more than a change of heart is involved. There must also be a
change of relationship. I.B. Grubbs, in Exegetical Analysis of The
Epistles, states that, "It is a very prevalent error to regard a
change of heart as constituting the whole of regeneration. It is,
indeed, a fundamental requisite apart from which there can be no new
creation. But more is embraced according to the conception of Paul
in this and other passages. ...A change of position or
spiritual relationship must follow a change of disposition" (110).
"Be in Christ"
This change of relationship occurs when one comes "into Christ."
When one submits to the will of God and is immersed in water for the
remission of his sins he is brought into this union with Christ and
enters a new relationship (Gal. 3:26,27). He is now reconciled to
God "through the death of' Christ and no longer considered an
"enemy" (Rom. 5:10).
Reconciliation with God is possible only for those "in Christ,"
since he is the means by which one is made acceptable to God the
Father. They will be "saved from the wrath of God" that will be
poured out on all unbelievers at the judgment (Rom. 5:9; John 3:36;
1 Thess. 5:9). It is this latter group that has been "destined" for
One chooses his destiny; either by electing to be among those
"predestined to be conformed to the image of" Christ and "glorified"
(Rom. 8:29-30), or those that will experience God's wrath. God
allows men to exercise their free will; but they will have to accept
the consequences of their choice. That is why the apostles extended
the invitation to "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).
"A New Creature"
When one has been reconciled to God he is described as being "a new
creature" or "a new creation." He is now a product of God's
"workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10).
Old things have passed away, new things have come. In the words of
Isaiah: "Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of
the past. Behold, I will do something new" (43:18-19). In commenting
on this passage, Hailey states that "the people are urged to cease
looking to and appealing to the past (except to learn from its
examples and warnings), and to look to the future instead" (Homer
Hailey, Commentary On Isaiah, 365).
There is the tendency for many "new creatures" in Christ to look
back to the past and long for their former manner of life. Such
thoughts and desires must be expelled from the mind. Paul forgot
what was behind him in his life in the Jews' religion and reached
"forward" and pressed "on toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14). So too, the
"new creature" must not entangle himself in the defilements "of the
world" of which he has "escaped" (2 Peter 2:20). Such a step
backward indicates a lack of love and appreciation for the new found
blessings "in Christ."
The world, being under the power and control of Satan (1 John 5:19),
does not and cannot make a man "new." It is the desire of Satan for
a man to keep "the old self' and continue to be "corrupted in
accordance with the lusts of deceit" (Eph. 4:22). One day there will
be "new heavens and new earth" (2 Peter 3:13), but it will only be
populated by those that are new creatures in Christ. Therefore, it
would be in the interest of our soul to become a new creature in
Christ and remain faithful to him during the time of our stay on
this earth so we might inhabit the "new heavens and new earth"
(heaven) with him.
-- Via Guardian of Truth XL: 1 p. 17-18, January 4, 1996
Doing It Willingly
by Robert F. Turner
This is "old hat," so much so that I would not repeat it but for a
"new generation" that needs reminding a fallacy does not become
valid argument by virtue of its age.
"We are very sorry that you have felt that the Highland elders have
misused their authority and are taking the oversight from other
congregations. This is simply not true. There is not a congregation
supporting the Herald of Truth work that cannot withdraw their
support anytime they wish, they can begin anytime they wish, they
are kept informed of the way the programs are being operated and the
things that are being accomplished" (From actual letter).
The basic issue, in H.O.T. and all other church-hood projects, is
collective action of churches (a plurality of churches acting as a
team) versus each church acting independently. Congregational
independence is the operational structure and polity of New
Testament churches, to which most brethren agree -- in word if not
in practice. Operating via some different structure (and collective
action is "opposed" to independent action, as defined in dictionary)
is without divine authority. There is no authority for a plurality
of churches to pool funds in the treasury of one church, or of some
human organization, and allow the elders of that ''sponsoring
church" or the board of directors of the human institution to
oversee a work on their behalf.
Whether they do it willingly or not is not the issue. The thing they
are doing is wrong -- they have no NT authority to function as a
team of churches, willingly or otherwise. In fact, willingly doing
so puts the sin in a worse light, not better. If they were being
"forced" to operate collectively we could at least be understanding
and sympathetic. But the letter ignores the issue, and assumes a
thing is right because it is done "on purpose" or deliberately.
Sometimes defenders of collective projects argue churches acted
collectively in assisting needy brethren in Judea (2 Cor. 8, etc.).
Concurrent action (at the same time, having the same purpose) is not
collective; but if it were, then how claim congregational
independence and autonomy as the N.T. way of organization? What is
to prevent our organizing State and National conventions of churches
-- on a "free-will" basis, of course -- not a single shot fired to
"force" anyone into line? Are we to understand that if all churches
agreed to put all of their evangelizing in the hands of a single
church, or an executive hoard of some national organization, it
would be acceptable to God? Of course each church would have to do
it willingly, and would have to get monthly reports of "the way the
programs are being operated and the things that are being
This "doing it willingly" is about the weakest excuse for argument
to come out of the institutional debacle of our generation. I am
continually amazed that it is still used, and apparently some
brethren are taken in by it. It does prove one thing, viz.; brethren
on both sides are still unaware of the true issue in the case.
-- Plain Talk, July 1981
News & Notes
It was good news to hear how well Myrna Jordan's surgery
went for her September 2. Let those of us who are Christians
continue to remember her as she is now healing.
Norma Burton recently began receiving hospice care.
Please be remembering her and her family in your
Danielle Howard is now back at Jesup Health and
Rehabilitation. Let us also pray that her calcium level will
keep where it should and that her bones will continue to grow
Dexter Roberts has been receiving treatment for esophageal
cancer for several months. Let us pray that they will soon be
able to cure him of that.
Though we will miss them, let us also be praying that all will go
well for A.J. and Pat Joyner who will soon be moving to
Others on our prayer list: Virginia Fontenot, Ronnie Davis, Rex
and Frankie Hadley, Jewel Wilson, Mary Vandevander, Deborah
Medlock, Shirley Davis, Sue Wooten, and Colleen Henson.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom.
10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins
(Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet.
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can
be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
(Gospel Observer website)