Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17—NKJV)

I have always been fascinated by the stories of inventions and inventors. The sheer genius of inventive minds that can conceive of new useful things causes me a pang of jealousy. I would love to be able to bring into the mainstream something that would make the lives of others more convenient. Thomas A. Edison is one such inventor who stands above others, if not for his 1093 patents, certainly for his notoriety.

His story of inventing the incandescent light bulb is quintessential American ingenuity. Edison knew of the various discoveries that preceded his work, each producing short-lived successes but with little practical use. He began to research ways to make electric lighting a reality. Utilizing a great variety of materials from his well-stocked workshop he was able to finally settle upon a filament that worked. The filament was made from carbonized bamboo and lasted 1200 hours. The rest is history, as they say.

As many varied and astoundingly brilliant discoveries and inventions that have come from inventors, all pale in comparison to the creative genius of our God. Man “creates” from what is available to him; God creates out of nothing! He spoke the worlds, and everything in them, into existence. At one moment, there was nothing and in the next instance there was the creation of the heavens and the earth! All of the possibilities ripe for any inventive mind came from the original Inventor, the Author, and the Creator.

It is just such a sharp distinction that Paul is trying to make in our text. While there are some incredible stories of inventive self-reformation accomplished by unsaved people, none remotely compare to the miracle that the Creator works when he saves an ordinary sinner of a man like you or me. The truth is that no amount of self-reformation, re-invention, counseling, maturing, and learning can do what God does in granting new birth! Man works in the realm of what is already here, just reapplying what he discovers in the best way that makes sense to him and within the realm of his control. God makes each believer something brand new. It is high time every believer grasps the powerful truth of God’s promise, and utilizes the life-changing wonders and consequences of God’s creative work directly operated in him.

Note the words that Paul uses to disclose the creative work of God in your salvation:

  • Each gift of salvation is a universal truth. “Anyone in Christ” is all inclusive. There is not one authentic Christian who has not experienced the creative hand of God. Not a single Christian has been invented, reformed, matured or learned how to be a better human being. On the contrary, God made each one a miracle of new creation. Your life is a miraculous act of creation.
  • This creative work of God is a profound truth. “New creation” is a fascinating choice of words in the Greek language. From the days of Homer, the word kitisis was understood as only something God can do. It was used to describe something that came from nothing; it was not there before, not even in a latent or potential form. It is used in other New Testament passages such as Romans 1:25, Ephesians 2:10, and 1 Peter 4:19. “New” specifically does not mean new in age (newly minted fads are usually not all they are represented to be and “new” things all too quickly turn shabby), but rather new in form and new in substance. As pertains to form, it means recently made, fresh, unused, and unworn—new in quality. As pertains to substance, it means new of kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of previously, far different than before.
  • His work is a practical truth. “Old things” is a translation of the Greek word from which we get our word archaic. It means ancient, primitive, old. You can picture something moldy, dusty, decrepit, corroded, and fallen into a state of disrepair, never to be resurrected again. “Passed away” is like a driver passing by your house—some time soon, just around the bend, he will forget he went by your house because he has passed by and your home and you are “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • Paul then declares a rallying truth. Every healthy believer’s mind ought to be captivated by the next words, “behold, all things have become new.” Paul wants you to “look upon and perceive with your mind, experience” the reality that if you are truly saved you are transformed. The idea behind “have become” is that you “have emerged,” meaning a change of condition, or state, or place. You have received the state of “newness” (the same word from above—new in form and new in substance)! You are a new creation in every sense of the word, presently, irrevocably, undeniably.

Verse 18 goes on to describe the fact that this creative work of God in you is also a sustained truth and a proclaimed truth. No, God did not just save you by assembling various parts he found lying around within you for some inventive purpose; He worked a miracle in you creating something out of complete nothingness—the saved you never existed before! You need to begin “beholding” what He has done in you, reckon that what is past is passed by, and what emerged is for His glory and His alone (James 2:14–26)! He is a faithful Creator. Trust and obey.