What Is A Christian -1
2 Cors What Is A Christian? - 1 - 2 Cors 5:17
I want to draw your attention to several passages in our Bibles that describe what a Christian is, The Bible’s definition; not simply the general view of what a Christian is.
What has happened to him or her at conversion, and what continues to happen over the weeks and months and years following conversion. The process continues - a true Christian never gets to the point where he or she knows it all and does not need to grow or to develop.
The first passage I want to consider this morning is in 2 Cors 5:17:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
As we look at this phrase - we need to look at those things that surround it. Otherwise we will not see what is really there.
1) The Context - vs 16
From the moment when Paul saw the risen Christ, he was a changed man. A radical transformation had come over Paul -
He was religious before, a Jew, but from that point there was such a difference that people would say that he was a different man.
He tells the world in 5:16 that he doesn’t view or recognise any person as once he did.
From now on I am not the same man, something happened to me.
From now on I see everybody else differently than I did.
From now on my thoughts are not the same as the everyday man in the street.
From now on my feelings are not the same as the everyday man in the street.
My hopes are not the same.
My expectations have been changed.
Once I stood condemned before God, and I didn’t know it!
Now I do know it; but I also know that there is one who stood in my place and took my punishment, Jesus Christ.
Once my religion was my pride - now it isn’t.
Once my family and all they had achieved was my boast - now it isn’t.
Once, anyone who differed from me in thought, religion and hope, were my enemies. Now that must not be the case.
Once I viewed Jesus Christ was a sheer impostor, whose name should have been eradicated from human memory; but now I see Him has given me life!
Why should this be the case?
Because I am In Christ – my soul has struck roots and they have gone into Christ - His very life is where mine comes from: It is not merely that I believe in Him. It is not that He loves me and I Him!
I have been made new! His life has entered my very soul - it is because He lives that I live.
Because He has a mind and thinks - so I too think His thoughts after Him.
Because He knows God the Father and believes in Him - so I do.
There is identification at every point with Him.
Because Jesus Christ loves so I am enabled to love others, even unlovely people.
This, in simple and incomplete terms, is the background to what Paul is saying.
2) The Reality Of The Verse.
“This has happened to me”, Says Paul. If this is the way other Christians I know say it is with them; then I take it as a settled rule that it is so with every true believer -
“If any person be in Christ, really be In Christ” there is a difference.
There is a difference in 2 ways:
a) In Position.
Before God, a person who lives the life that God has put into him or her, there is a different relationship.
By nature we have all become guilty before the true and pure God. We have a sinful nature that is how we are; we were born in this way; it as much a part of us as the colour of our eyes or the size of our shoes.
If something does not happen to change that situation, there is no hope for any.
But something did happen, God, in love to those He made, provided a way that they could be changed; a way in which the guilty record that belongs to us could be cleared. He sent Jesus Christ to deal with all the past sinful things in our lives.
He dealt with them all when He permitted Himself to be nailed to that cross outside the city of Jerusalem, and when he laid down His very life. But the amazing thing is that 3 days later, God breathed new life into him again!
When a man, woman or a child looks to Jesus Christ, and believes in Him as He is, then he/she will know that He became a substitute for them.
Then the status of that person is changed. God is no longer angry at you because of your sins. You would be a new person; you would be as changed as the great Apostle Paul was.
b) In Practice.
Paul assures us that old things have passed away - the ancient things, the worn out things; the things that could only ever be bad for us.
There was old ways thinking about God.
There were old thoughts and hopes.
There were old fears.
There were old ways of thinking.
Now we must not think that, the very moment a person trusts in Christ everything changes in practice – we are however changed in status. Sometimes it takes years before we recognise how little we have changed.
But there ought to be some degree of change in practice .
In the lives of professed Christians here this morning - how much have you changed?
How much of a new creature have you become?
How like the thinking of unbelievers is yours?
How filled with positive thoughts of the glory of God, even though you and I might seem at times to be cast down.
How much do you really praise God?
How thankful are you for what you are this day?
How joyful are you?
We really ought to be among the most outstanding of men and women. How will the world remember you?
What memories will you leave behind you?