Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature

by Mike Ratliff

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

All forms of Liberal (so-called) Christianity are another religion, not True Christianity. Why? They are rooted in worldly, humanistic, and non-Christian presuppositions.  On the other hand, the Word of God clearly directs believers to avoid these philosophies and, instead, their presuppositions must be the precepts and doctrines of Christ, not the futile traditions of men (Colossians 2:3, 4, 22; 3:1-2). Based upon this clear division, believers are precluded from any form of neutrality or even seeking after it. Why? As we have seen in earlier posts, neutrality is in actuality veiled agnosticism or unbelief—a failure to walk in Christ, an obscuring of Christian commitment and distinctives, and a suppression of truth (cf. Romans 1:21, 25). 

From this glaring light of God’s exclusive claim on those who belong to Him, we must examine ourselves. Are we obeying God’s commands to be rooted in Christ and to shun the presuppositions of secularism?

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB) 

How do we become Christians? Was our faith generated by the thought patterns of worldly wisdom? “Christian Liberals” teach that this is certainly possible, but the Word of God says otherwise. In 1 Corinthians 1:21 we learn that the world in its wisdom does not know God, but considers the word of the cross to be foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21b). Therefore, those who keep the thought patterns of worldly wisdom and thereby the perspective of the world, shall never see the wisdom of God for what it really is; thereby he will never be “in Christ Jesus” who is made unto believers “wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Therefore, faith, rather than self-sufficient sight, makes you a Christian, and this trust is directed toward Christ, not your own intellect. The way we receive Christ is to turn away from the wisdom of men (the perspective of secular thought with it presuppositions) and gain, by the illumination the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). When one becomes a Christian, his or her faith stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the powerful demonstration of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3 (NASB) 

Carefully read the passage above (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Holy Spirit causes all believers to say, “Jesus is Lord!” Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended in order that He might be confessed as Lord (cf. Romans 14:9; Philippians 2:11). Therefore, Paul can summarize that message which must be confessed if we are to be saved as, “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9). To become a Christian one submits to Christ as Lord; he renounces autonomy and comes under the authority of God’s Son. Whom do we receive? According to Colossians 2:6, He is Christ Jesus the Lord. Yes, in the Greek, the definite article τὸν precedes κύριον. He is THE LORD. He is Lord over the believer, Christ requires that the Christian love Him with every faculty he possesses. This includes the mind (Matthew 22:37). Every thought must be brought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Paul tells us to walk in Christ after the same fashion in which we received Him. Well, we certainly did not receive Him via worldly wisdom nor in any thing having to with the ways of the world, therefore, our walk in Christ must not honor in any way the thought patterns having to do with those things of worldly wisdom, but submits to the epistemic Lordship of Christ (i.e. His authority in the area of thought and knowledge).  In this manner a person comes to faith, and in this manner the believer must continue to live and walk and minister in whatever capacity God has placed him or her. Some are called to serve in ministry. Others are not, but we are called to be ready to give a defense of the hope that is within us.

Some may ask, “What is the evidence of a person who is walking in Christ after the manner in which he or she received Him?” The answer may surprise us in its simplicity. A person who is doing this correctly will evidence this through their commitment to Christ’s personal Lordship and their presupposition of the Word of the Lord as having authority in all parts of their life. This is the evidence. Those who walk this way are “rooted in Him” rather than rooted in the apostate presuppositions of worldly philosophy. Through this, we shall be able to behold “the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5). It is this faith, this firm, presuppositional faith in Christ that will resist the secular world’s demand for neutrality and reject the unbeliever’s standards of knowledge and truth in favor of the authority of Christ’s Word. Here is Colossians 2:6-7 from the NASB again:

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB) 

Here is this passage from the NA28 Greek text:

6 Ὡς οὖν παρελάβετε τὸν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν κύριον, ἐν αὐτῷ περιπατεῖτε, 7 ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ ἐποικοδομούμενοι ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ βεβαιούμενοι τῇ πίστει καθὼς ἐδιδάχθητε, περισσεύοντες ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ. Colossians 2:6-7 (NA28)

Here is my translation:

6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord in Him walk 7 having been rooted and being built up in Him and being firmly founded in the faith as you  were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 (translated from the NA28 text)

What I translated as “having been rooted “ is the verb ἐρριζωμένοι, which, here, is a perfect, passive, participle of ῥιζόω or rhizoō, “to become stable.” This verb tense suggests an action, which has been accomplished in the past but continues in force or effect in the present. Our salvation was a work of God; therefore, the principles, which apply to our walk, are the same that applied to our conversion in Christ. Being firmly rooted in Christ and growing in Him is something that we do as God works in and through us. We abide in Christ because we have the Holy Spirit and He sustains us. We become living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and are transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) because God is working in us, not because we try harder.

Therefore, the new man, the believer with a renewed mind that has been taught by Christ, is no more to walk in the intellectual vanity and darkness which characterizes the unbelieving world (Ephesians 4:17-24). The Christian has new commitments, new presuppostions, a new Lord, a new direction and goal—he is a new man. That newness is expressed in his thinking and scholarship because Christ must have the preeminence in the world of thought (cf. Colossians 1:18b).

Soli Deo Gloria!

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