Revealing God's grace through the 

finished work of Christ!


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The Grace Curriculum


"The newness we have in Christ"


 

  

I want to use what Paul said in 1 Cor 1:10 as a foundation for what we will see in this study— “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and (having) the same judgment.” Notice Paul’s appeal, “that all of you agree… no divisions among you… be united in the same mind… having the same judgment”. How are you doing with this appeal? See, in today’s world, this kind of unity sounds like a pipe dream. However, notice the phrase that makes this kind of unity possible, “by the name of our Lord Jesus”. Paul is telling us that we don’t have to produce this; Jesus already did, and established it on the inside of us. It’s accomplished outwardly by the Spirit of Jesus, and as our minds are rooted in what He already did and finished for us. It’s as we make His finished work our primary focus, that denominational barriers and divisions will lose its strength over us. My observation is that many of us, despite our various denominations, are in unity; I see it all over the internet. That said, I understand that we’re always going to have people with their denominational opinions and approaches, But when we choose rather to look to Jesus and what He did for us, that’s when the other things become unimportant. Also, there will always be the religious deceivers, on this side of heaven, lying and trying to stir up controversies and heresies. But for us who truly desire spiritual growth, there is only one way to grow effectively in Christ, and that’s by being unified by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 


Oneness is seen in newness 


Let me explain. Look at what Paul said in Eph 2:10— “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”. We must understand that we are His workmanship. Workmanship speaks to the quality and craftsmanship that God had in making us in Christ. The word also suggests to us that God’s work has been finished. Because when we speak of a craftsman's workmanship, it’s never ongoing; it’s what he already did (Like The Mona Lisa is the workmanship of the artist Leonardo da Vinci.) There is one word, scattered throughout the New Testament letters, underscoring and describing us as God’s workmanship, and that word is “NEW”. This little word, which is not emphasized nearly enough in our pulpits, describes God’s crowning achievement of us through Christ Jesus. Maybe it’s not emphasized enough because many still have the tendency to think of themselves in the terms of the old man, or in how they behave. Notice this great prophecy about the New Covenant of grace from Isa 43:18-19— “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Notice the sweet words, “now it springs forth”. Everyone who believes in Jesus experiences the NOW moment; he’s born again! Apparently, God doesn’t want him to consider the things of his past life, because He has done something so incredibly new, that it’s as if his past life never existed. See, before we received Christ and our spirits were, as the passage describes, like a ‘wilderness’ and a ‘desert’. Meaning that we were completely dry inside. But now that we believed and received Christ, God has done a new thing; hence, He made a way in the wilderness, and rivers of God’s grace gushed in our desert! God now says to us, “Do you not perceive it?” I want us to perceive some of these new things God has done in us through the rivers of grace. Let’s make a mental note of these grace-things, as we allow them to become our focus; having the same mind and the same judgment. Let our oneness come from the revealed knowledge of our newness in Christ.


* We have a NEW Covenant. 

Heb 8:8 and 9 tell us— “Behold, the days are coming when I will establish a new covenant… not like the (previous) covenant…” Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been given a new covenant. He tells us that this new covenant is not like the former covenant. Everything from the old covenant was based on the 5 senses. But the new covenant is based on faith, 2 Cor 5:7. He also says in v.6, that it is, “much more excellent” than the old covenant, because it’s, “established on better promises”. In v.13, he says— “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” With one word, he tells us that the old covenant is OBSOLETE and outdated. For instance, if I refinance my house, my previous mortgage has been REPLACED with a new one. I now have BETTER terms and promises. I’m no longer required to abide by the terms of the “OLD” contract, because I now have a “NEW” contract. But, even though it’s an old, outdated covenant, in the minds of many, it’s still something to obey. Hence, the words, that it’s “BECOMING and “GROWING old, ready to vanish. Our minds must become renewed by the new covenant.


* We have a NEW kind of forgiveness. In his letter, the Hebrew writer contrasts the 2 kinds of forgiveness: God’s old kind of forgiveness, from the blood of animals, and His new kind of forgiveness, from the blood of Jesus. The blood of animals says that forgiveness is temporary and ongoing; as the blood of Jesus says that it’s finished and complete. Hebrews 10 is a summary of this. In v.4, he says— “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats (from the O.C.) to take away sins.” Then, he says in v.14— “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Everyone who believes in Jesus is sanctified and perfected for all time; in other words, his forgiveness is a done deal! Wow! What a contrast! In Matt 28:28, Jesus said this— “this (cup represents) my blood of the (new) covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” In Christ, we have the new kind of forgiveness; where our sins are removed and no longer exist. Moreover, God declared that He will never remember them, Heb 8:12 and 10:17!


* We are NEW creations. 

2 Cor 5:17 tells us— “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” In Christ, God gave us a new, fresh and righteous start! Our old self, which was controlled by sin, has gone, it’s been removed, because it was crucified with Christ. It has been replaced by a brand-new, recreated life; one that was resurrected with Him. We call this the new birth; being born of God, John 1:13. We are now reconciled to God as His very own righteousness, 2 Cor 5:18-21. As Eph 2:10 also declared, “we are his workmanship”. We are God’s righteous handiwork; His holy and beloved children. We are NEW creations!


* God has given us NEW hearts and NEW spirits that are filled us with His Spirit.

Ezek 36:26-27 prophesies to us— “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you… And I will put my Spirit within you. We just talked about our new spirits in Christ (we are new creations), but now let’s talk about our new hearts, and how His Spirit has filled them. Please understand from the start, that when we speak of heart, we’re speaking metaphorically about our new, inward desires; what we really want and desire at our core. One of the parables Jesus gave was the parable of the new wine. Look what He said in Mark 2:22— “no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” The new wine illustrates God’s Spirit, as the new wineskins illustrate our new hearts, which will be able to contain the new wine of the Spirit. God’s love was poured into our hearts by the Spirit when He came into our lives, Rom 5:5. Through this, we have brand-new, inward love-desires. As these inward desires intensify, they help ward off the temporary desires of sin and of the flesh (It’s important to know that these sinful and fleshly desires are not from you; they are outward desires that come to us from the world, 1 John 2:15-16).


* We have a NEW commandment. In John 13:34-35, Jesus gives us this new commandment for loving others as He loved us. And from what we see from Rom 5:5, the Spirit has poured this love into our hearts. Therefore, it’s our innate propensity to love others, 1 John 4:21. Unlike the 613 commandments of the old covenant law, which were an all or nothing requirement to keep, this new commandment of love describes who we are in Christ, and the law is not burdensome but natural for us to keep, 1 John 5:2-3. It is His love that should drive and motivate us, 2 Cor 5:14. Amazingly, as we grow in His love for us, we effortlessly and without thought, emulate this love towards others, 1 John 4:19.


* We have NEW wine and NEW wineskins. In Luke 5:37-38, we read about the new wine and new wineskins. As discussed earlier, the new wine is His Spirit, that is, His love, joy and peace, as the new wineskins are our new hearts; which are now able to contain the new wine of the Spirit. Immediately following this parable, Jesus said something very interesting that really makes it relevant. He said— “And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says (thinks), ‘The old is good.’” It’s the old mindset, “What I have is good enough!” See, as the new wine represents His Spirit and His grace, the old wine represents darkness and its religion. The old wine represents religious philosophies; based on empty deceit, Col 2:8. It produces the religious thinking that, “I can do things myself.”; the mindset of, “Let me do the word”. But, it’s as we rest in the finished work of Christ, meanwhile, growing in the knowledge of the new wine of the Spirit, and understanding our new wineskin of the heart, that religious distractions lose their strength over us.


* We have a NEW kind of freedom. Look at what we read in Gal 5:1— “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” The kind of slavery he’s referring to comes from DIY, law-based religion, telling you, “To do… in order to get…” In Christ, we have a new kind of freedom; one, religion, the world or the flesh could never produce. Think about it. Our freedom in Christ is so grand, that it took the death and resurrection of Jesus to produce it for us! It’s the kind of freedom, where religious rules and commandments are not required; for it’s freely given to us by God’s grace. Elsewhere in Scripture, 1 Cor 6:12 and 10:23, Paul summarized our freedom in grace by saying— “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not practical: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any… All things are lawful for me… but all things edify not.” Simply put, we have the freedom from rules; so that, by faith, we can let Christ rule, and He rules from within us without us lifting a proverbial finger to help!


* We have a NEW way to think. Look at Col 3:1— “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” In Christ, we have been recreated, and our innate propensity is to seek the things above; where Christ is seated, because that’s where we are too. V.3-4 continues— “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” See, once you see it, you can't unsee it! Once you see the reality of your identity with Christ, that you are seated with Him in glory, you cannot unsee it, see also Eph 2:6! Christ is our life! This perspective causes us to experience a ‘grace-paradigm shift’; dramatically changing the way we think.


* We serve in the NEW way of the Spirit. We’re told in Rom 7:6— “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” There are 3 very important details here. First, we are released from the law. We are not under the Mosaic law, or the law of our conscience, see Rom 2:14-15. Those 2 laws go hand-in-hand. For instance, if our consciousness is not renewed by grace, we’ll mistake it for the conviction of the Holy Spirit; thinking, we haven’t ‘done’ what the Bible tells us. Secondly, this verse tells us that we have died to sin, which used to hold us captive, Rom 6:2. Sin no longer has the power to tell us what to do. Thirdly, this verse tells us that we’re free to serve God from within; by the new way of the Spirit. No longer are we mandated to obey the OUTWARD letter, but to be led inwardly by the Spirit. This is how “we bear fruit for God”, v.4.


It’s by focusing on the new things we have in Christ, we’ll be on the same grace-page.

 
 
 
 

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