“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB
No doubt, when many of you read the name of this blog, 2 Corinthians 5:17 popped into your head. The Christian believer is a new creation. One who has been transformed by the Holy Spirit’s regenerative power has moved from death into life. Christianity teaches that true conversion involves a death to one’s old self in order to find life.
“But,” you ask, “What does that have to do with creationism?” Everything. If this principle is not understood, then creation science has no value. If someone has not entered from death into life, then whether or not they believe in millions of years or universal common descent is irrelevant. If, as a creationist, you are not passionate about Christ and His transformative work in the lives of people, then you’re doing it wrong. In fact, I would venture to say that many of the problems we have in creationism and creation/evolution debates stem from our misplaced focus. So, what I want to do in this post is realign our thoughts on salvation and the Scriptures that discuss the life of a believer. Doing so will allow us to be more effective for the kingdom of God in our creation science and every other aspect of our lives. The reality is that our preeminent goal in creation science must be reflecting the glory of God in our new nature.
Our preeminent goal in creation science must be reflecting the glory of God in our new nature.
In Matthew 18, the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The obvious implication was that they were previously arguing about this, and they wanted to know which of them was the most important. In response, Jesus showed them a child and told them, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). The disciples were pridefully obsessed with the wrong question. Jesus wanted to redirect their focus. Before you can even understand greatness in the kingdom of God, you need to first understand how one enters the kingdom of God.
Only people who “turn and become like children” are allowed to enter the kingdom of God. This must have been quite a surprise for the disciples. This may even come as a surprise to some of you reading this post. Children? Children are insignificant. They’re helpless. They’re, for lack of a better word, dumb. They have to be helped, taught, corrected, and strengthened. Really, Lord? We need to be like children?
Yes, that’s exactly right. Children are needy. They are utterly and completely dependent upon their parents. But listen to me: that’s a good thing. That’s exactly the kind of character we want to model in our relationship with God. God is our heavenly Father, and we are His children. We are just as helpless, just as pathetic, and just as simple as children. The problem is that we often think we’re not. We think we’re smart, capable, and independent. We take great pride in that, but Jesus is telling us here that that attitude is not only bad, but it will actually keep you out of His kingdom!
What does it look like to become like a child?
What does it look like, then, to become like a child? It means two things in this context: 1) You need to recognize your complete and utter helplessness and dependence upon the Father and 2) You need to fully and completely trust the Father. Children trust their parents. I can tell my toddler the most outlandish things, and he will believe me because he trusts me. That’s the kind of trust we must have in God. We need to be like a toddler by realizing our dependence upon our heavenly Father and trusting Him to really do what He says He will do for us. If you’re depending on yourself for entry to the kingdom in any way, shape, or form, then you’re not going to be allowed to enter.
Jesus then goes on in His sermon recorded in Matthew 18 to explain the relationships that believers are to have with one another. They’re not to cause each other to sin, and they are to lovingly go after the wandering brother. When they do sin against each other, they are to lovingly confront and rebuke one another, with a desire for reconciliation.
This whole time, Peter was listening to Jesus’s words attentively. Upon hearing all of this, a thought pops into his head: “Is there a limit to how many times I should forgive someone?” It’s a very honest, natural question. Peter assumes we should be gracious, based on what Jesus has taught him so far, and he suggests that maybe seven times is merciful enough. Jesus, however, blows Peter and the others out of the water when He counters with an astronomically enormous number: 490 times.
Jesus then launches into a parable to illustrate His point. He says that the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle his accounts with his servants. One of his servants owed the king 10,000 talents. That’s an absurd amount. Commentators disagree on the exact equivalent in today’s money, but it’s probably somewhere in the millions or billions of dollars. As Jesus clearly states, he is unable to pay, and so the master orders him and his family to be sold into slavery. As you might expect, the servant pleads for mercy from the king, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” Out of pity, the king forgives his debt and releases him.
Cool story! But wait… Jesus doesn’t end there. There’s a twist. The man who was forgiven later discovers one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (a tiny, tiny portion of what he had previously owed the king). He begins to choke his fellow servant saying, “Pay what you owe!” The choked man falls to his knees and pleads with the exact same words that the first man spoke to the master, but the forgiven slave refused to forgive the slave who owed him money and instead threw him in prison. Some other slaves saw it and reported to their master what had transpired. The master was furious and told the slave whose debt he had forgiven, “You wicked slave. I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” The slave is then handed over to the torturers until he could pay every last cent.
We might hear that parable and think, “Yes. That is right. That man was wicked.” But Jesus brings it home in verse 35: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
Jesus said a lot of shocking things, but this has to be pretty high on the list. God will hand you over to torturers if you don’t forgive your brother. What does He mean? He means what He said. (Go figure!) A person who is unwilling to forgive his brother demonstrates that they have not been forgiven, or that they have not grasped the depth of their forgiveness.
Think back to the wicked slave from the parable. He initially begs for mercy by saying, “Have patience, and I will repay everything I owe.” Now, either the man genuinely thought he could repay the debt with enough work or he thought that the king was an idiot. Either way, he did not understand the gravity of his debt. There was no way on earth or in heaven that that man would ever be able to repay such an enormous debt. He thought, one way or another, that he could weasel his way out of his predicament if he just had enough time. Wrong! The correct response would have been for him to beg for mercy despite his enormous debt. “Have mercy with me, for I never will be able to pay such an enormous debt,” should have been his cry.
Someone who’s been forgiven of an enormous debt will absolutely be willing to forgive others if and only if such a person recognizes that they were forgiven of an enormous debt. Jesus speaks on this topic when a sinning woman anoints his feet with perfume in the house of a Pharisee: “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
So how about you? Do you love much, or do you love little?
Being a new creation, according to Jesus, means that we must love much and forgive much because we have been forgiven much, much more.
So, what does this have to do with a creation blog?
In creation/evolution debates, as in many other public arenas, it’s become common practice to mistreat, misrepresent, malign, and despise one’s opponent. If you don’t believe me, go to any social media platform (but especially Facebook and YouTube) and read some comments in a creation/evolution thread. See how people mistreat each other. But maybe you think that those are just the unbelievers that act that way. Look again. Look at people who are professing Christians and young-earth creationists and see how they speak to and about evolutionists, Christian or otherwise.
We have to do better. We were created to do better. And then we were recreated to do better.
It’s not just the way creationists interact with evolutionists that needs to change. It’s the way that creationists act in general that needs to change. I have seen many creationist presentations for churches that talk about how dumb people are who reject creation or who don’t believe Genesis teaches God made everything in six days. I have heard people applaud the audience’s intelligence because they don’t fall for that “millions of years nonsense”.
“It’s not just the way creationists interact with evolutionists that needs to change. It’s the way that creationists act in general that needs to change.”
But let’s stop and think about this. Why are we Christians? Is it because we’re smart? Well, that doesn’t make any sense because there are a ton of PhDs in every field who are not Christians. In fact, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” You’re not a Christian because you’re smart, you’re a Christian because the Holy Spirit worked on your heart. So don’t now despise the manner in which you were saved by boasting in yourself. Be the child that God wants you to be.
If you’re a creationist, it’s not because you’re smart, either. It should be because you believe what God communicated in His word in Genesis. After all, Hebrews 11:3 is pretty clear: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
So how should we talk and write and present ourselves as creationists?
We should do so as new creations: as people with child-like faith and full of love and forgiveness. We shouldn’t be boasting in ourselves or puffing other people up – we should be humbly trusting in and glorying in our heavenly Father. We shouldn’t be angrily shouting down and belittling those who believe differently than us (especially our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ) – we should be loving them and ready to forgive them for any way in which they might have offended or hurt us.
Part of our goal with the New Creation blog is to model what it is to be a new creation. We want to strive to set an example of Christ to our brothers and sisters and to the lost. We are human, which means we’re going to fail sometimes. Nevertheless, the calling for the new creation is high, and we want to live that out and call you to do the same. Let’s strive together toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.