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06.07.15 We are God’s Creation and Providence 2 Corinthians 5:1-21 Sermon Summary

by on June 8, 2015

If we could ask Paul his opinion on mega-churches and rock-star pastors, he might refer us to this passage of scripture.

Sermon Summary

  • Paul’s problem with “super apostles”
  • The purposes of the old creation: humility, stewardship, praise and thanksgiving
  • The purposes of the new creation: revealing something new about God and empowering us for a new way of life

Paul had reason to be discouraged about the Corinthian church. After he founded it and left to start other churches, other missionaries came in and began troubling the congregation. They were dynamic, eloquent speakers and philosophically sophisticated. They claimed to have had out of body experiences and boasted in other things Paul characterized as “outward appearances.”

These “super-apostles,” as he called them didn’t suffer the kinds of self-denial that was the hallmark of Paul’s ministry. He had denied himself a spouse and family. He didn’t receive financial compensation for his ministry. He suffered physical abuse, poverty, and homelessness.

And yet people in Corinth were saying to Paul what people today say about popular pastors and churches: “They must be doing something right.” To Paul, though, they were selling the gospel short. They resembled too much the old creation.

The old creation is wonderful when it fulfills God’s intent for it. These purposes are outlined for us in Psalm 8. The old creation is supposed to put us in our place. First, it humbles us: “when I look at the heavens, what are humans that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4) But then it calls us to stewardship: “You made us a little lower than God, and crowned us with honor, giving us dominion over creation.” (Psalm 8:5-6) So the old creation humbles us without causing us to despair; it dignifies us without evoking pride.

But the primary purpose of the creation is to inspire us to praise and thanksgiving: “O LORD our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1, 9) The old creation is beautiful in this purpose. It reveals a God of power, of providence, and of magnificence, glory, and beauty. It makes us humble and grateful stewards.

But to Paul, a new creation was revealed with Christ. And with this new creation, Christ revealed something new about God.

From Paul’s perspective, we live in two places at the same time. On the one hand, we inhabit an earthly tent. But we also have a heavenly house. He says we can be at home in the body while longing to be at home with the Lord. We can be beside ourselves, and in our right minds. In a memorable statement, Paul says we walk not only by sight, but by faith as well.

This dual existence is possible, Paul says, because “one died for all, so all have died.” Because of this dying, the old creation is passing away and everything has become new. In this new creation, God’s people live no longer for themselves, but for Christ. The super-apostles appear to Paul to be living too much for themselves.

Paul goes on to describe how God has prepared us for living in the new creation. God has reconciled us to himself, and does not count our sins against us. God has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. And now, Paul says, we are able either to do good or to do evil in our bodies, so we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer how we lived in the old creation given the existence of the new creation.

In the new creation what is mortal is swallowed up by life. We are clothed with this body, but we are also further clothed with our heavenly dwelling. From the new creation, we see not just a God of power, providence, and beauty, but a God of reconciliation. This is a God who knows us not only from a human point of view, but who knows us through Christ.

And Paul calls us to do this same thing—to look at the world through the new creation in Christ. When we do, we will be further clothed with our heavenly dwelling, and thus we will not be found naked when we take off this tent of an earthly body. We will become, Paul says, “the righteousness of God,” for we will have done good works in this body by living as Christ lived: forgiving sin, accepting those who are different, welcoming strangers, and serving the needy.

One Comment
  1. Hey Tom-Tom. Cool message with some good points and reminders. Thanks.

    Something else to consider, given your last paragraph about living as Christ lived.. I realize your list is not exhaustive. But it seems just as important to say Christ called people to repentance, and commanded his followers to make disciples.

    Also, I wonder about Paul’s phase, “one died for all.” Specifically, who is the “all” to whom he refers? All people who have ever lived? All followers of Christ? All of God’s elect? All who live a so-called “good” life? (Though Christ himself said God alone is good). I’m genuinely curious about what you think.

    Just some thoughts that came to mind as I was reading through your manuscript. Thanks, bro.

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