Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A new place, new rules

We established that new heart is necessary for a Christian walk. That's the underlying assumption of the Epistles, we are new creations.

Now, as we read the New Testament with the assumption of new birth, we find a surprising feature: a new heart is necessary, but it's not sufficient. It's not just that God has given us new hearts and set us back to live better. No, God has placed us into an entirely new position: He's put us in a new place where the old rules just don't work.

When Moses brought the people to the Jordan river, he warned them that the rules for Canaan aren't the rules for Egypt (Deuteronomy 11:10–15). In Egypt they got crops by carrying water from the river out to the fields to water them. That won't work in Canaan, he warned. You can't force crops to grow in Canaan like you can in Egypt. In Canaan you depend on God for the crops: you rely on Him to bring the rains.

To use that language, we've come into a new land too: a land where human effort doesn't work. We've come to a place where we depend on God to send us the rains in season. So when we survey our lives and we don't see a lot of fruit there, we shouldn't decide we need better irrigation equipment. We need to heed Moses' warning: the rules are different here. What worked in Egypt won't work in Canaan.

Adam's creation is all about human effort: it's a lot like Moses described Egypt. If there's no water you just need to go out there and get some. The new creation's not like that. In fact, that sort of thing is counter-productive in the new creation.

So how do we get fruit in this new creation? The Lord Jesus said it very simply, "He that abides in me and I in him, *he* bears much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:4–5). In this new place where we've been brought, fruit is solely the result of abiding in Christ.

And so we're back to Philippians 3:9. What does it mean to be "in Christ?" It means to have nothing of our own to offer to God. It means we stand before God and say, "Christ is my righteousness". That's where fruit comes from in the new creation.

5 comments:

Rodger Goertzen said...

"There ought not to be anything forced about us as Christians; effort of any kind betrays the absence of power. The presence of Christ not only imparts to us, but secures through us, all that is suitable to His presence; effort tells the tale of our being out of His presence, and is invariably resorted to for the purpose of acquiring that which is the simple result of being in His presence, and of being acted upon by Himself."

(WT Turpin, "The Artificial and the Spiritual"
http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/turpin/OP2_2.html )

Robert Thomson said...

I was asked at the weekend, 'what does it mean in practice to abide in Christ'? I think John's answer may well have been, it means to be at the table and lean on His bosom John 13:23.

Paul's answer to the same question would have been, 'But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit' 2 Corinthians 3:18

Robert Thomson said...

Apologies - had I read the Stem article first, I would not have posted the last comment, as it's exactly what bro Turpin wrote!

Rodger Goertzen said...

I actually think that is kind of wonderful...

clumsy ox said...

I've been thinking about Exodus 24:11, "they saw God, and ate and drank".

It seems to me the description of the elders of Israel on Sinai illustrates what the Christian life should be: we are called to gaze on the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, while feeding on His flesh and His blood.