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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

The lesson text teaches us that one in Christ ...is a new creature, that is, as sinners we are separated from God, but in Christ we become a new person by being reconciled to God; in Him (in Christ) we become the righteousness of God. What a wonderful lesson for all that hear, believe, and obey God's will to be in Christ. Paul mentions being "in Christ" in a number of his inspired letters. There is therefore now no condemnation to them, which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1). In the salutations of his letters he often recognized every saint, brethren, kinsmen, fellow prisoners, and household(s), as being in Christ Jesus, in the Lord, (and) in Christ (See Phil. 4:21; Rom. 16:7, 11). Those blessed ...with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (are) in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Regardless of one's heritage, status in life, or sex, all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). ...faith, which worketh by love abounds in those that are in Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:6). Only ...in Christ Jesus can be found godly wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).

What a great blessing to be in Christ. Since it isessential to reconciliation with God, to redemption, and to eternal salvation, being in Christ should be the most sought-after place anyone can seek to be in. Not only does God's word tell us this, but it also tells us each step that must be taken in order for this to take place. First one must learn God's will. We must hear the word of God, whether we read it for ourselves in the New Testament, or hear it preached before us by godly ministers of Christ. Reading Acts 2, we know that, those on the Day of Pentecost, heard God's plan of salvation proclaimed by the inspired apostles of Christ. Paul also says that hearing God's holy word is essential to salvation (Rom. 10:13-14).

The second step is to believe God's word to be true, and to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world - the promised Messiah. This Jesus, Himself, tells us as recorded in the gospel according to John (See John 3:15-16). Although some "preachers" and "religious bodies" contend this to be all that is needed for salvation, yet God's word tells us that there are additional steps that must be taken in order to be in Christ.

The next step found in God's word is to repent, and turn away from all past sinful ways. Although numerous passages assure us this step is necessary, those found in Acts are sufficient confirmation. (See Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30).

Confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is also a necessary step. It was necessary for the Ethiopian eunuch (See Acts 8:26-40). Jesus said that it was necessary for mankind to confess Me before men, and in doing so, He would confess them before My Father, which is in heaven (See Matt. 10:32-33). Be assured, no one can doubt the necessity of confessing Jesus to be the Son of God that reads and truly understands Paul's instructions to the Christians at Rome (Read Rom. 10:9-10).

And finally baptism is a necessary step to be taken in order to be in Christ. Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of this is essential to salvation, and it is confirmed when baptism takes place (See Rom. 6:3-11). In this passage we find that one is baptized into Jesus Christ. Paul also confirms this in his letters to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 12:13), and to the churches in Galatia. Just as repentance and baptism was necessary to reconcile, redeem, and save three thousand souls, when the first message of eternal salvation was preached on the Day of Pentecost, by the apostles of Christ (See Acts 2, especially Vss. 38-41 & 47),baptism for the remission of sins is essential today, in onder to bein Christ.

These are the steps, God's word tells us are necessary in becoming A New Creature in Christ. In doing so, one replaces the Old Creature with the New Creature, and is able then to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). The outward appearance is changed when one puts on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). Baptism replaces the old man with the new man (Col. 3:9-10). Being in Christ, is being in His body, the church of Christ. Those baptized on the Day of Pentecost were added to His Body by God (Acts 2:47). Follow God's word; become A New Creature in Christ today!