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All Things New
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Track 5 of 8 in the Persuasive Words: Living So Others May Know series
Running time: 32 minutes, 35 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, December 04, 2005

Words to Live By
Persuasive Words
Living So Others May Know

(2Corinthians 5:17)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

One of the workers for Athletes in Action, a young lady by the name of Jan, was sitting in a hot tub at a local motel during one of the conferences that she was attending when two teenagers sat down in the hot tub with her. One, Brittany, was telling her about this wiccan conference that she was about to go to. For those of you unfamiliar with wiccan, that's a witches organization. As she listened to this story unfold and detected in this teenager's passion about this particular experience, she ask her about it. How it was that she felt so passionate about going to this particular conference, the gathering; and, the teenager basically said, "I have had an absolutely awful high school experience. In fact," she said, "I have been through so much junk already, I'll probably spend the rest of my life in therapy."

After Jan returned another comment, this teenager turned to her and said, with tears in her eyes, "What I really want is just to be born again. What I'd like to do is just start all over."

Some of you have probably had that feeling. That you'd just like to back the tape up and start it over at a certain spot. That you could erase whatever it was that happened yesterday or the day before and begin it over again.

Ground Hog Day probably appeals to you. The chance to do it over and over and over until you finally get it right. Well, the good news is, you don't have to start it over that way. You don't have to rewind the track. All you got to do is just let it happen the way the Bible talks about. The promise is that you can be new, that you can start over. That everything has a chance to be changed.

I just want to read a handful of verses. You're welcome to follow if you'd like. And I want to highlight just a couple of things in each one of these before we come to our text of 2Corinthians 5.

The first one comes back in the book of Psalms. Psalm 103. The opening part of that Psalm has been something I have heard now for years. It was one of my professor's favorite verses.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

But when you come down a bit further in the verse. Psalm 103:7. God made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.

Do you hear it? . . . .as far as the east is from the west. Your sins have been removed. You can measure north and south you know. You cannot measure east and west.

Come over another book or two to the Old Testament prophet Hosea. One of my Old Testament favorites. And Hosea 11 is among my favorite chapters in all of the Old Testament part of Scripture.

Hosea 11:1 says, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.

Do you hear the irony in any of that? The more God calls the further Israel retreats.

They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.

And yet here's the irony again.

"Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?

Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans.

My people are determined to turn from me. Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them.

It's like he said, "Okay, I've had it. I've done it. I've done everything I know how to do for you and I have now just frankly, given up."

My particular translation puts a break in the text right there. I'm grateful for that. I don't think it was there in the original, but I'm thankful for the presence because the very next thing that he says is this Hosea 11:8

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim?

Those are the sister cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

He says, My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.

I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.

For I am God, and not man - . . . . . . . .I will not come in wrath.

Do you hear it? Even after God gets fed up with their sin. He says,

"I'm still God and I refuse to punish."

The opportunity for forgiveness, for change.

If you come over to 1Corinthians 6, the letter just ahead of the letter that we're looking at. The first letter, apparently, that Paul wrote in correspondence to this church in Corinth. There is this awful litany of sin.

1Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you. . . . .some of you are looking at that verse. Some of you are just waiting for me to say the next word. Because the verb in that text is critical.

some of you were. Not are. . you were. Look at the rest of the verse.

But you were washed, your were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

"You used to be that way." he says, but you're not that way any more.

You could have been described in those terms but that's not you any more. Everything is different.

You could read Ephesians 2. You could read Colossians 1. You could just go on and on looking at text that reminds us that we have messed up our lives and have ruined everything we have touched. Some of us have had that experience. It's almost as if everything we do comes out bad. As hard as we try, we seem to mess it up.

It's a bit of a reminder of men like Sampson that God was trying to use and God was trying to bless. And he gave him all this ability but he said, the one thing you have to do is to honor me through this particular Old Testament vow and that meant don't touch a dead carcass and don't drink wine and don't be involved with foreign women and what does he do? He throws everything away by touching dead carcasses and drinking wine and getting involved with foreign women. It's as if, in spite of all the things that God was trying to bless him with, he just kept messing it up.

Some of us have been there. We know what that feels like. Fortunately, some of you haven't been there. I'm grateful that we live in a world where not everybody has messed things up. Some of you grew up around the church. You grew up in a Christian setting. You have made good decisions all of your life. You have made the right kinds of choices. And you sometimes look at people like me and think, how could you be so dumb. I mean, those decisions aren't all that hard to figure out. You know, just be smarter.

There are a couple of verses you ought to look at too. For example, Romans 2:1-5 where after condemning the Gentiles, he turns to the Jews and says, "oh don't think of yourself as too high and mighty because the very things that you accuse others of doing, you're guilty of too."

Or even the apostle Paul who in Philippians 3 reminds us of all of his great heritage, his litany. "I was a Jew. I was born into the right tribe. I was named after the right person. I was a Rabbi. I was trained in all the things Godly. I was zealous for righteousness. And all of those things, he said, I ended up discovering, weren't going to do me any good either."

So whether you have grown up on my side of the tracks or you grew up something like Nicodemus in John 3, we all end up discovering the same thing. That without Jesus Christ our life is a mess. And we are absolutely hopeless.

But the text we're looking at this morning is such incredibly good news.

2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold the old has passed. The new has come. It's a wonderful word for new. Unfortunately, in English, it's spelled exactly the same way as every other word for New. N E W . It sounds like it means more recent. You get a new car, 1999 versus 1995. It's just NEW. That's not this word. This word is such a radically different word. This is the word that my father understood, having grown up in the horse and buggy days. Standing in our backyard watching an airplane fly overhead, my father looking at that, and then engaging me in conversation about the difference in his lifetime of traveling from Missouri out west on horseback versus flying someplace around the world. Now airplanes are newer than horses. But they're not just more recent, are they? They're a whole different kind of transportation.

I think of those of you in the medical field and I watch the old western movies, you know. And you get this picture of some guy that's been shot. He's got a bullet lodged in his chest, and what do they do? They take him out by the campfire and stick the pocket knife down there in the fire and they get that baby rosy hot and then they dig that bullet out, ya know. And I'm thinkin', I kinda like lazer surgery better. It's not just that lazer surgery is more recent, it's a completely different kind of surgery. That's this word "New". It's not that you are just more recent, having been born more recently. It's that when you are reborn in Christ, you are absolutely NEW. You're a completely different kind of creature.

The Bible's word for that is the same word that you biology teachers have taught your students for years. Metamorphosis. It comes from a great word Metamorpheto to be transformed. It's the word you learned about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. And you look at that little squiggly worm and you think, how in the world did it ever sprout wings? I don't know. But I'll tell you what. When I saw a butterfly, I didn't make the connection to the caterpillar. I didn't figure that out until a biology teacher said, "This is where that comes from." Because they are so radically different.

And when you look at the life of a Christian who has been transformed by the grace of God, this text comes to life. Behold, all things have become new. Isn't that remarkable? I mean, that is among (has to be among) the greatest things ever said to humanity. We have the chance to just simply be totally, completely, transformed. The old, he says, has past away. It is a word that means, it is gone and it is permanent and it is over and it is removed and it can't be dredged up. It's that image from the Old Testament. That our sins have been buried in the depths of the deepest sea. That they have been removed from us, as far as the east is from the west. You can look for them forever and you will never find them because when God forgives you, they are gone.

If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Behold, all things have passed away.

Oh, by the way, your translation probably doesn't have the word "behold" in it. It's a little archaic sounding. The NIV Translation committee didn't think that it should be in there because it reads sort of funny. But doesn't it give a little different feel? If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Behold, all things have passed. . . . . It's that word in the text that makes you stop and look and listen and realize what he means. If everything is NEW, the OLD is gone!

There is not even a "system restore" in God's Book. The computer geniuses of the world will never find traces of it on the hard drives of heaven. It's gone. It's over. The only people who even remember it are you and you've got to let it go.

So, what's new? This text is so clear. Do you remember back in verse 13. Things are so new that we even view ourselves differently.

Paul says, "If I look like a "mad" man that's okay, because it's for Jesus." He doesn't care how you look. If I appear to be "mad", that's alright. Some of you are sitting there thinking this preacher is really just bizarre. He's a bit too excited this morning. I'm sorry! I've experienced this. I know what it means to be NEW. I know what it was like to be OLD. I don't want to go back. I don't want anybody to remember it. Sometimes I keep kicking myself for reminding you of that. 'Cause it's gone.

Not only do we see ourselves differently, we see everybody else differently. Remember that? We no longer look at people according to the flesh. That's what he said in this particular text, down here in verse 16. We see people differently. That's changed. We no longer prejudge folks. We just take them for who they are.

Oh man, am I grateful for that. What's in this text? We see life differently. We no longer live for ourselves. Verse 15. We now "live for Him..." Look at number 15. We "live for Him. . ."

Now 14. Our motivations are different. We're "compelled by the love of Christ". That's changed.

We even see our calling in life different. We haven't gotten to that part of the text yet, but we're going to in a couple of weeks. We are now "ambassadors for Christ." Verse 20.

So it doesn't make any different what you do for a living, whether you're a doctor, or a lawyer or you work in the fields, or you work out here as a mechanic, or you work down here at a grocery store, that's just your job. Your calling is to be an "ambassador for Christ". So you may teach school for a living, but your job is to be a witness for Jesus. You may bag groceries in order to take home a paycheck, but your job is to share Christ. Your calling in life is to be His ambassador. And it doesn't matter where you are. That's the beauty of the Kingdom of God. Wherever you are, He has commissioned you to be His ambassador for Christ. 'Cause you're going to touch people nobody in the room can touch. They're in your circle. And God knows that the people who are going to touch them are sitting right here. Because you're ambassadors. So what's new?

Well, if you read the rest of the New Testament. Can I just tell you some of the things that are new? Let's see if I have enough time to tell you. I don't have enough time to tell you all of them. But I'm going to tell you some of them. Okay?

Here are some of the things that are new according to the New Testament.

Because you are in Christ, because things have changed, because the old has passed away, here are some things that are new.

You have a new name. According to Revelation 2:17 Anybody who is in Christ has been given a new name. Now I don't think it just means a name change. You've got a new identity. It's who you are.

You know it's an amazing thing, you can actually get a name change in Illinois for $139.00. If you don't like the name you got, for $139.00, if you don't use a lawyer. No offense to the lawyers, but if you don't use a lawyer, it's only $139.00. If you use a lawyer, it's a lot. Want your name to be different? See, I think I could throw some names out here and I'm betting you don't even know who these people are. Well, at least if you're under thirty. Are you ready? Lou Alcyndor (??). Any of you under thirty probably remember Lou Alcyndor, I said, under thirty. What are you nodding your head for? I know that you're not under thirty. Yeah, who is he? Oh! See, that's the problem. But that's the beauty isn't it? When you've been given a new name, nobody knows who you were.

My name is Christian. You have no idea who I used to be. Isn't that remarkable? See, I could get tears thinking about that. I don't know what that does to you, but that just turns me inside out.

Not only are you given a new name, you're given a new song. I don't know what song you used to sing. I know which song I used to sing. I don't even like it any more cause it brings up too many bad memories. But, you're. . . . .I don't know what that means, by the way. You know, it's all through the songs. I'll ask Lacey. We're given a new song.

There's an eleven year-old kid up in Michigan. He decided to write a new song the other day. . . . just recently. He's an eleven year-old kid from a church in Michigan.

This is the song he wrote. Did I mention he's eleven?

"God the Trinity in One; sits among the stars and sun. He doth rule with faithful hand; peace and love, His valiant band. High above the clouds He reigns. Ne'er with Him you'll feel sad stains. Chains of sorrow He doth break; none shall feel thy painful stake. Angels high doth praise His love; we sing to our God above. With Him as our resting place; there we'll meet His wondrous grace."

I read that and think. . . . that kid's eleven!

He decided one day, instead of playing with his Lego, to sit down and write a song to God.

I hope you're writing a different song.

See, my guess is, when you became a believer in Jesus, you not only began to sing a new song, you began to write a new song. Not only that.

Not only in the Psalms and Revelation are you given a new song, but according to Ephesians 4, you're given a new "self". A whole new character. It's a fascinating passage. We won't look at a lot of it but Ephesians 4:24 says this. . . . .put on the new (there's that word again) self, created (there it is again) to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore. . . . .and then he begins to walk through all the stuff that you shouldn't be anymore. "Put off falsehoods. Speak the truth. Don't sin in your anger. Don't give the devil a foothold. Don't steal any more. Don't let unwholesome words. . . . . . ya hear it? There's a whole new character that comes into play when I become a believer and given a whole new life.

I'm a Hallmark movie fan. That's awful. I want you to know it because that means I'm sentimental. And last night was a Hallmark movie, The Longest Journey, or something like that. And it's an old west thing and, of course, I have to like the old west because that's where I'm from.

And so, we're watching this young couple do the old west thing and they're really a delightful young couple and they've got their act together and they're really Christian about everything, although they're not overtly pushy about their faith and they've hired a bunch of bums to work on their new ranch. I mean, you talk about a motley crew. They brought in a bunch of just guys that could have been hired by anybody else. And they're sitting around the barn talking one day on a Sunday. People are. . .well, three or four of them are gathering for worship every Sunday. That's what you learn in the movie. And this old codger says, "If a life like that comes from believin' like that, it might be worth checkin' out."

I wanted to rerun that except it was on TV and I couldn't back it up. I don't have TIVO or whatever that other thing is that you do that with. So I don't know if I got the quote exactly right. But boy, I got the message.

They looked at this young couple's life and they said, "If that's what believing produces, then I want it."

That's what new is, isn't it? It's a new character. It's the kind of thing that changes you from the inside out. So that when people look at you, they say, "man that is something I would really want."

What else is new? You're part of a new covenant with God. Most of you who are members of here have been through the peace treaty. You've been exposed to that covenant idea. We enter into a relationship with God that is new. That we are no longer part of that old thing under the law of God but we're now under the grace of Christ and we enter into this covenant relationship with Jesus. That's a promise from the Old Testament that comes up fulfilled in Hebrews 8 and 9 particularly.

We obey a new command. Jesus said, "I give you this new thing I want you to do." I want you to "love one another". And the whole world takes a look and He says, "those folks are different."

Did you see this come out? I think I mentioned this before. I saw this the other day. That there was an atheist making a comment about what was going on down in the Gulf Coast after Katrina. Do you remember that? This atheist said, "I'm not becoming a believer but I want you to know, the only people who are down here making a difference are Christians." He said, "There's not an atheistic league or atheistic group or atheistic club that has done one thing to come down here and try to help." He said, "I may not believe in God, but I believe in this one thing. Those who do are better people!" Huh? That's right. Because we are new and we live in a new relationship and we live by a new command to "love each another".

And we have a new hope. We believe in a new heaven and a new earth and quite honestly, if it weren't for that, this life would be pretty miserable.

I'm really tired of people getting sick. I'm tired of people dying. But I live with the hope of a day when that never happens again. And the redeeming value of being a Christian when you die is that you are healed and you never have to worry about it again. Because we're new. We're new.

In fact, I think the apostle John sums it up well.. . . .when he says, "behold, I make all things new". He's quoting Jesus at that particular point. "I make all things new."

Is this not a marvelous text? If you can't get excited about 2Corinthians 5:17, you're just not awake. Either that or you don't know you're a sinner. 'Cause if you have any self-recognition at all, you've got to realize that your life the way it is, is a mess. And if it isn't now, it will be 'cause you're human and humans just mess it up. That's what we do. We're good at it. It's the only thing we're good at.

"If any man is 'in Christ'" behold, all things are new. We're new!

Oh, by the way, did you happen to notice? It's probably not fair to mention it at this point, but, I probably should. "IF," see, sometimes the little words are the most troublesome aren't they? "If you are in Christ" you are a new creature. If you're not in Christ, you're just the plain 'ole scroungey self you used to be.. No offense intended of course. Just trying to be honest. Just trying to look in the mirror.

See, newness comes when Christ comes. "IF," you are in Christ, you are new.

Some of you have seen these floating around. We've been using these in our kids department so if you've got little kids over in elementary worship, they've been getting this and they've probably been coming home practicing on your cats and your dogs. And hopefully on your neighbors, I don't know. It's just a little thing to help kids. You know how this works? You hold up the black card. That's sin. That's what we all are. You know, we made a mess out of our lives and we're sinners and because we're sinners we're in trouble 'cause frankly, God's a just God and He has to do something about sin and then Jesus comes along and He sheds His blood. That's the red card. He dies so you don't have to. Somebody's got to die for sin but if you die then you're in trouble because you can't be alive long enough to have anything done for you. So if somebody doesn't die in your place, you're just stuck.

So the sinless One comes and lives and dies for you and He turns you just as white as snow. That's Isaiah. "Your sins are as scarlet, but they shall be made as white as snow." When the blood of Christ covers you, you become clean. New is the word we're talking about. And then you start to grow. You begin to change. Develop. That new character begins to surface in your life. You begin to mature as a believer. You just get stronger at what you do. You believe harder than you've ever believed. And you trust more than you've ever trusted. And one of these days, one of these days you walk on streets that look like this. They're gold. In fact, you're going to go to a place where they use the most precious metal on earth to pave the streets.

Are you "in Christ"? 'Cause if you're "in Christ", you're new and you can walk out of here just as excited as you can be about life, so free of what you used to be. But if you're not "in Christ", then I don't know what else to do, but to do what this text says,

2Corinthians 5 says this, "We beg you, be reconciled to God." If you're not "in Christ", we literally beg you to don't wait. Don't put it off. Now if you just don't know, like this is your first Sunday here and you're thinking, "what's this guy talking about?" Then come and ask. I mean, come on, I'll explain it. I've got more cards! We just want you to know Jesus. We just want you to experience newness and there are some folks sitting around here, that if they were a vocal crowd, which they are obviously not, because we don't allow people to like clap and say "amen" in our church, but when I said, "becoming new is a really good thing" there are some folks who could say "amen" to that. I thought so.

If you'd like to join them in being able to say, "amen" to this, that's what this song is for. You just come and let us help you say, "amen" and if you're already new, then just sing it like it really mattered.

Let's stand.