Part 4: The New Creation

(The following is the fourth in a series of excerpts from Pastor Stam’s classic work on True Spirituality. Since this book never appeared as a series in the Searchlight, many of even our long-time readers may not be familiar with these selections.)


“So if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17, New Tr.).

An appreciation of the truth contained in the above passage will prove to be one of the greatest possible helps to the believer who desires to live a truly spiritual life.

We have thus far considered birth and resurrection as descriptive of the impartation of life to believers by the Spirit, but even these two terms fail to tell the whole story. A third, that of creation, must be added to complete the description.

As with new birth and resurrection, the term creation is also used in more than one connection. It is used, for example, in connection with the new heaven and the new earth (Isa. 65:17). There is a general sense, too, in which the saved in any age may be considered a new creation, and even a more particular sense in which redeemed Israel of the future is called a new creation (Psa. 102:16-18; Isa. 65:18) but as with the other two terms we have considered, this term is given unique significance in the great Pauline revelation concerning Christ and the members of His Body. Indeed, it is Paul alone who, by the Spirit, uses the exact phrase new creation, and exclusively in this connection.


The above rendering of II Corinthians 5:17 by J. N. Darby, in his New Translation, is doubtless more accurate than that of the Authorized Version. The idea in this passage is not merely that believers in Christ have individually become new creations (though this is also true) but that they now belong to a glorious new creation which God has brought into being in Christ. Likewise, the latter part of the verse does not mean merely that the old sinful habits have passed away from the life of the individual believer, to be replaced by a new manner of life (however this may, or should, be true) but that with the forming of the new creation an entirely new order or program has been ushered in.

That this is the correct meaning of this passage is evident from Paul’s remarks in general with reference to the new creation, as well as from the context here in II Corinthians 5. Especially is it evident from the preceding verse, which reads:

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more” (Ver. 16).

The whole passage in II Corinthians 5 has to do with knowing Christ henceforth in a new and different way, no longer after the flesh, but as the Head of a new creation, and with knowing men too, no longer after the flesh, but as belonging either to the old creation or to the new creation in Christ.

The Ephesians Epistle has a great deal to say about this important truth. After reminding us, in Ephesians 2:11,12, that as Gentiles we were aliens from God and from His covenant people, the apostle goes on to say:

“BUT NOW in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

“For He is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us:

“…to make [Gr., create] in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Eph. 2:13-15).

In the third chapter the apostle, proclaiming the revelation “which in other ages was not made known,” declares that believing Gentiles now are:

“…Joint heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of [God’s] promise in Christ Jesus by the glad tidings” (Eph. 3:6, New Tr.).

This “new creation,” this “one new man,” this “joint body,” formed of Jews and Gentiles made one in Christ, is called “His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23).


God’s new creation in Christ is the counterpart of the creation of the Adam of Genesis 5:2. Before God gave the woman to the man, his name was called Adam (Gen. 2:18-20). Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, took a part out of his side, formed the woman from it and gave her back to the man to become “one flesh” with him. “And He called their name Adam” (Gen. 5:2).

In like manner the Church which is Christ’s Body was brought into being through His death and taken out of His wounded side, so to speak, to be made one with Him in His resurrection life. And, as in the case of Eve, we are given His name. Speaking of the members of the Body, the apostle says:

“For as the body is one, and hath many members…so also is Christ” (I Cor. 12:12).

We repeat, however, that the “new creation,” the “new man,” is the counterpart of the Adam of Genesis 5:2. Christ Himself was not created, as Adam was, for we read in I Corinthians 15:45,47:

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was1…a quickening [life-giving] spirit.”

“The first man is of the earth earthy; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.”


When the utter failure of both Jew and Gentile had been demonstrated, God concluded both in unbelief that He might show mercy to all (Rom. 11:32):

“And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16).

Thus the new creation, the Body of Christ, had a definite beginning in human history. It was brought into being, historically, with the fall of Israel and the dispensation of the grace of God through Paul.

The “old things” which “passed away” at that time (II Cor. 5:17) were the conditions and requirements of the Old Covenant. So completely have these “old things” of the “Old Covenant” passed away that God takes the basic requirement of them all, circumcision, and says concerning it:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).

God no longer says: “IF ye will obey My voice indeed…THEN ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me…” (Ex. 19:5). “All things have become new” (Ver. 17) and in this new order “All things are of God,2 Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ” (Ver. 18). With us there is no continual “if.” We, the members of “Christ’s Body,” are assured that we are the treasure of God’s heart because we have been made one with Christ, His beloved Son (Eph. 1:6). Immediately upon believing we are given the position of fullgrown sons (Gal. 4:1-7; Eph. 1:5,6)3 with our standing based on grace, not law (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 3:23-25; 4:6,7). This is a truth which the figure of the new birth does not convey.


But while the new creation had its beginning in human history with the fall of Israel and the dispensation of the grace of God through Paul, it was planned by God long before this.

As we have seen, the doctrine of the new birth contemplates only a new beginning. The doctrine of our resurrection with Christ goes farther, reckoning with the past unregenerate state of the individual as well as with the new life which he receives upon believing, for resurrection presupposes a former life and death. But the doctrine of the new creation in Christ reaches back far beyond our unregenerate state, back beyond the creation of Adam, who brought sin into the world, back even beyond the creation of the old universe, which was ruined by sin, to the eternal purpose of God.

It was in eternity past that God purposed that when the sin of Adam’s children had risen to its height, when Israel had joined the Gentiles in rebellion and both had “set themselves against the Lord and against His Anointed,” He would form a new creation of reconciled Jews and Gentiles, joined to each other and to Christ, the Second Man, the Last Adam. That this was His eternal purpose is clearly taught in the epistles of Paul, as we shall presently see in connection with—


God’s eternal purpose in the new creation was, among other things, that sinners, made in the image of fallen Adam, might be conformed to the image of Christ, God’s sinless Son; that they might bring forth good works instead of evil, and live to the glory of His grace. The accomplishment of this purpose will be consummated, of course, after this life is over, but it is evident from those passages which deal with it, that God would have us enter into the joy and power of our union with Christ now by faith. This will readily be seen from the following representative passages:

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son…” (Rom. 8:29).

“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him,4

“In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:4,5).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it;

“That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,

“That He might present it to Himself, a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).

“…[Ye have] put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

“And [are being] renewed in the spirit of your mind;

“And…[ye have] put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him:

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:9-11).

Perhaps the reader has already noticed that believers have “put on” the new man and are exhorted to depart from evil in the light of this fact. God would have us put on the new man experientially in the light of the fact that positionally we have already put him on by faith in Christ. It will be noticed that in the latter passage quoted above our position in the Body is unquestionably referred to, for the passage goes on to say: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew,” etc.


How helpful the knowledge of these things should prove in the lives of those who truly desire to live pleasing to God! To think that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world! To think that God has fully accepted us in His beloved Son! To think that He has already—and eternally—united us with Christ! To think that our oneness with Christ has also made us one with one another! To think that God has given us a place at His right hand in Christ—a position we may now occupy by faith! To think that He deals with us as fullgrown sons, on the basis of grace, rather than law! To think that He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ—blessings we may now appropriate by faith! What could serve as a greater incentive to “walk worthy of the Lord” than the knowledge of these things?

We do not mean to imply that a mere intellectual knowledge of these facts will afford us any help to live truly spiritual lives, any more than mere intellectual knowledge could save us. It must be a knowledge based on faith in the Word of God, in-wrought by the Spirit, Who wrote the Word.

We must not forget, to begin with, that the Body of Christ, the new creation, is formed of believing Jews and Gentiles by the work of the Spirit:

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles…” (I Cor. 12:13).

Furthermore, we can understand and enjoy the glorious truths concerning our position in Christ only by faith, as the Spirit opens our eyes to understand the Scriptures. This is why the apostle prays so earnestly:

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

“And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe…” (Eph. 1:17-19).

Surely the apostle speaks here of “knowing” these things experientially, not merely intellectually. Thus we must ever look to God to make these truths real to us by His Spirit, that the knowledge of faith may become the knowledge of blessed experience.


  1. Not “was made.”
  2. I.e., declared to be of God. Essentially “all things” necessary to salvation were always “of God,” but this was not yet revealed to be so. Under the Old Covenant and right on through until Paul, men were always instructed to do something to find acceptance with God. Now God declares that He Himself has accomplished all that is necessary and offers salvation “to him that worketh not, but believeth” (Rom. 4:5).
  3. The terms “adoption of sons” and “adoption of children” (Gr., Huiothesia) in these passages should have been rendered “placing as sons.” The word Huiothesia alludes to the ceremony by which the lad, having come to years, was officially declared to be a fullgrown son.
  4. The words “in love” probably belong to the next verse. There is no punctuation to determine this in the original.

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Part 6: The Importance of the Local Church

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (I Thes. 1:2,3).


If you plan to build a house, it’s often difficult to visualize exactly what it will look like from a set of architectural plans. This gave rise to the “model home” which enabled homebuyers to see the house prior to it being built. Today virtual tours serve the same purpose—they are a multi-dimensional model of how your floor plan is going to be arranged. We also have models in the Scriptures which help to point us in the right direction.

Everywhere the Apostle Paul traveled he sought to evangelize the lost to Christ, with amazing results. But his ministry among those whom he won to Christ didn’t end there; he faithfully taught them the Mystery and formed a local assembly before leaving the city. Paul was a church planter! He understood that the testimony of Grace in the regions beyond was dependent upon those who make up the local assembly. When the apostle came to Thessalonica they received the Word of God “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God” (I Thes. 2:13). Because these saints were so responsive to Paul’s special revelation they are often appealed to as being a model church.

There were three things that typified the church at Thessalonica that should characterize the local church today—faith, hope, and love. If we follow this divine pattern it will bring light and blessing to those who sit under our ministry. This assembly was well known for its work of faith. After they had turned from idols to the true and living God these saints were so grateful they wanted everyone to hear the good news of Christ and Him crucified. They were not ashamed of Paul’s apostleship and message, but had received it as the Word of God. Those at Thessalonica boldly made known Paul’s gospel, so much so that their faith was the subject of conversation as far away as Corinth, Philippi, and beyond (I Thes. 1:6-8).

Another crowning grace that characterized this assembly was the patience of hope. These brethren had received the Word in much affliction; consequently, they found comfort in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope (I Tim. 1:1). In Him, they had the hope of eternal life, the hope of the resurrection, the hope of heaven, and the hope of Christ’s soon return, commonly called the Rapture! Having suffered persecution himself, Paul understood better than most the importance of this grace. In fact, it was one of the first things he committed to those who trusted Christ. With hope we can face anything in Christ, even death itself.

Finally the apostle touches on this assembly’s labor of love—as Paul said to the Corinthians, this is the greatest crowning grace of all. In eternity, faith will give way to sight. Hope will give way to reality, for Paul says, “hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24,25). Love abides in both time and eternity!

The grace of God had so enriched the saints at Thessalonica that they made a conscious effort to allow the love of God to shine through them. Love enabled them to rise above a condescending attitude, petty jealousies, or the cold shoulder syndrome that plagues many assemblies. These saints loved one another and received the brethren despite their social status or lack of understanding. Love is longsuffering and kind; it is not envious, nor does it boast, or behave itself in a discourteous manner (I Cor. 13:4,5). You received a genuinely warm welcome when you visited the local assembly at Thessalonica.

So then, the three crowning graces that should characterize every assembly are faith, hope, and love. This is God’s standard for the Church today.


“For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10).

Whatever strata you find yourself ministering at the local assembly, there is accountability in the Lord’s work. This is true within the local assembly itself, but more importantly we must bear in mind that every believer must also appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of his actions.

The themes of redemption and judgment are woven throughout the Scriptures. So it is important to rightly divide the Word of truth to ascertain which judgment pertains to us. Since Paul uses the personal pronoun “we” in the above passage and foregoing context, we can safely conclude that he is addressing the members of the Body of Christ. This particular judgment will be a review of the believer’s conduct and service and will take place at the Rapture of the Church. According to I Thessalonians this is a planned meeting that was kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25 cf. I Thes. 4:17).

Paul says, “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). The terms “every one” and “himself” clearly indicate that each of us will stand individually before the Lord to give an answer for our behavior. We believe this can only mean that others are going to be present during the course of the examination. Little wonder the Scriptures warn both leaders and those who sit under their ministries accordingly:

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (I Cor. 3:10).

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

While Paul makes frequent references to the Judgment Seat of Christ in both his early and latter epistles, he deals extensively with the subject in the Corinthian letters. This isn’t without rhyme or reason, the apostle wanted the Corinthians to understand the gravity of their ungodly conduct. They seemed to be oblivious to the fact, as many are today in the churches, that someday they are going to stand before the Lord and give an account of their actions.

Some may have even denied this based on the assumption that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Although this is true positionally, the practical outworking of the matter is determined by our present conduct. The Corinthians would one day have to answer for the turmoil they caused in the local assembly, due to their envy, strife, divisions, carnality and immoral lifestyles.

Another area that the Corinthians were lacking was in their giving to the Lord’s work. The apostle reminded them that they abounded in all the supernatural gifts, even love, but they were deficient in the grace of giving. Therefore, he challenges them to “see that ye abound in this grace also” (II Cor. 8:7).

Giving under Grace differs from the former dispensation of the Law. The law of the tithe, while binding under the Mosaic system, has no place whatsoever in the administration of Grace. Israel was primarily an agricultural community; therefore, God only required those who owned livestock or crops to pay one-tenth of their yield. These tithes were paid to the Levites who were the ministers of God (Lev. 27:30-34 cf. Num. 18:20-26). During the harvest, the excess grain was to be placed in the storehouse which adjoined the Temple to meet the needs of the Levites throughout the year, seeing that they did not receive an inheritance of the land. Based on Malachi, many Bible teachers teach what’s known as “storehouse tithing.” In my denominational days we were taught the storehouse was the local church, which is a flagrant misrepresentation of the Scriptures. As Pastor J.C. O’Hair used to say, “Those who spiritualize the Scriptures tell spiritual lies!” We should also point out that there was a difference between the tithe and offerings under the Mosaic system. The offering of the children of Israel was something over and above the normal tithe (Ex. 25:1-3 cf. Mal. 3:8).

Paul teaches us in Romans that we are no longer under the Law but under Grace. Today, believers are to give according to how God has prospered them, which varies from person to person (I Cor. 16:2). Giving under Grace is voluntary not mandatory! While we can never repay the debt that was paid for us at Calvary, the very least we should do is generously support the gospel. If God required ten percent under the Law, does not grace grant us the opportunity to give even more, as God has prospered us? We have freely received all things from God; therefore, we are to freely give to the Lord’s work. God loves a cheerful giver who gives with the proper attitude, not grudgingly or out of necessity, for this would only serve to bring loss at the Bema Seat. When a need is made known the cheerful giver is usually one of the first to respond! (II Cor. 8:7).

Today, our first responsibility is to support the local assembly where the gospel of the grace of God is proclaimed. As Paul says, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel [of the grace of God] should live of the gospel” (I Cor. 9:14). We are accountable before God to support the message that has brought us into a fuller understanding of His will. We firmly believe that those who have received an understanding of Paul’s apostleship and message have a responsibility to support those who proclaim it. If we who love the grace of God don’t support it, who will? Beloved ones, you are mistaken if you think the Acts 2 brethren are going help us; they openly oppose us!

As you are probably aware, David Livingston almost single-handedly opened the door to missionary work in Africa. The story is told that on one of his return visits to England he was approached by an elderly woman who inquired, “Mr. Livingston, aren’t you in danger there in the jungle?” He answered, “I am in danger all the time.” “Would it help you if you had a servant at your side 24-hours a day?” He replied, “Most certainly!”

The elderly woman returned home that evening to get her savings and gave it to Dr. Livingston. When Dr. Livingston returned to Africa a lion attacked him in the bush and would have killed him had it not been for the servant by his side who shot the beast, saving his life. What joy this brought to this dear old saint—she had abounded in every good work!

It is our desire that you also might abound in every good work by faithfully supporting Paul’s gospel financially. Whether you support the message of grace at the local Grace assembly you attend or through a national Grace organization such as the Berean Bible Society, the goal is the same: “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9).


“For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (II Cor. 5:10,11).

As the opening phrase implies, Christ will be our Judge. According to John 5:27 the Father has placed all judgment into the hands of His dear Son. He is the perfect Judge! Even though the Mystery was still a secret when the events of John Chapter five occurred, the principle of Christ as Judge certainly applies during the age of Grace.

The apostle says in Colossians 2:9, “In Him [i.e. Christ] dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” As God, He knows our innermost thoughts and motives and the intent of the heart. On the other hand, He took upon Himself the form of a human servant and dwelt among us. No one will be able to stand before Him at that day and say, “Lord you just don’t understand!” Oh, but He does, my dear friend. Christ suffered in all points as we, yet without sin. As Isaiah said, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”

The Greek word for Judgment Seat here is Bema. In biblical times it was a raised platform with ascending steps where rulers handed down decisions (Acts 18:12-16). It was also the place where the judges presided over the Greek games. From this vantage point they could see the entire field of events. To be summoned to the Bema meant one of two things; either the participant was disqualified for disobeying the rules or rewarded with a garland for winning a particular event.

When we appear with Him in glory, Christ will hold a position of exaltation. As the righteous Judge, He will be clothed in glory, honor and majesty as we stand before Him. Unlike the Great White Throne, condemnation is not the issue at this judgment. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Since the sin question was answered for the believer at Calvary, this examination has to do with whether or not we have devoted our life to Christ and faithfully served Him.

There has been an ongoing debate if the phrase “the things done in his body” is speaking of the believer’s body or the Body of Christ. It seems clear that Paul has the individual believer in mind. The original dia tou somatos has the idea of the things done through our body. In other words, there is a moral accountability insofar as our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are, therefore, accountable for its deeds, whether they are good or of no value. For example, we believe Paul’s instructions to the Colossians capture the moral responsibilities of slaves and masters, which translates into employees and employers today.

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Col. 3:22-25).

In the final assessment, the Lord is going to repay both employees and employers for the good they have done and whatever wrongs they may have committed. Every believer in Christ can expect to receive a reward for good conduct or loss for misconduct. Little wonder Paul adds: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

While those at the local assembly at Corinth lived as if there was no tomorrow, Paul cautions them regarding the terror of the Lord. Some have concluded that the apostle is now turning his attention to the unsaved, but this interpretation does a great injustice to the context in which the passage is set. The terror or fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. But in what sense should the believer fear the Lord? Consider for a moment standing before the Lord with perfect recall of every idle word, thought and deed. We should fear the possible devastating consequences of a misspent life, not to mention the inspection itself.

With this in mind, Paul sought to persuade men as to the gravity of the occasion. Of what did the apostle seek to convince men? Since the behavior of the Corinthians left much to be desired, Paul is passionately trying to persuade them to walk worthy of their calling. This beckons the question, are we living up to God’s expectations in the local assembly in which we serve? Paul could confidently say, “But we are made manifest unto God.” You see, Paul had a clear conscience concerning his actions among them. Thus, he desired that his manner of life before the Lord would be manifested in his hearers’ consciences so that they, too, would be to the praise of His glory at that day.

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.

Berean Searchlight – May 2005

Free Mail Subscription

For a free subscription to the Berean Searchlight by mail, visit the Berean Searchlight Subscription page.

Subscribe to the Berean Searchlight Monthly Email to receive an email announcement when each issue of the Searchlight is posted online.