New Beings in Christ
In order to make us new beings fit for the kingdom of God, God has created in Christ Jesus and cleansed by His blood. Being created in Christ Jesus is an instantaneous salvation process. Paul summed it up in his letter to the Ephesians.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB
There is much to take in in those few verses from the Bible. So, let’s look at a few of the primary things revealed.
Through His workmanship, God makes us new beings in Christ
The moment we repent of our sin and believe in Jesus, God our Father creates us in Christ Jesus and we are born again. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus clearly revealed how being born of the Spirit is vital to seeing and entering the kingdom of God.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:1-8 NASB
And so from now on we don’t think of anyone only as a human being. Once we thought of Christ only as a man, but not now anymore. So if anyone is in Christ, he is a new being. The old things have passed away. They have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 AAT
May I never boast of anything but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world. No circumcision of the lack of it is anything, but only the new life that is created. Peace and mercy on all who follow this rule, that is, on God’s Israel. Galatians 6:14-16 AAT
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:9-11 NASB
God creating us in Christ Jesus is called regeneration
The word “regeneration” comes from Greek root words translated “again” and “birth /genesis.” Jesus comforted and encouraged His disciples with this Word. “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration/paliggenesia when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28b). Jesus was speaking of things too come, the again genesis of the kingdom to come. We look forward to the resurrection and life in the world to come.
In His letter to Titus, Paul explains our regeneration as God gives us new birth, our again genesis for life in the kingdom that is.
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration/paliggenesia and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. Titus 3:4-7 NASB
There, in the washing of regeneration, we see God our Savior, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ our Savior. God our Savior saved us by His grace (Eph 2:8). We are born of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:4-6). Jesus Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. (Mt 3:11). N. T. Wright puts washing of regeneration “washing of the new birth.” (The Kingdom New Testament).
Baptized into Christ Jesus, dead to sin, but alive to God
As God creates us in Christ Jesus, we are baptized into His death, buried with Him, united with Him in His death and resurrection. In this spiritual action of God’s grace, we die to sin and are made alive to God in Christ Jesus. Water baptism is a prophetic sign of this spiritual union with Christ Jesus.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:1-11 NASB
Jesus died to set us free from the fear of death
The ultimate power of darkness is death. Jesus set us free from the fear of death by rendering the devil powerless.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15 NASB
By creating us in Christ Jesus, God rescued us from the power of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son.
You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy and might thank the Father, who has enabled us to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loves, through whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:11-14 ISV
Now we come to God’s throne of grace
God has made us fit for His kingdom by making us new beings created in Christ Jesus and cleansed by His blood. Jesus our great High Priest is our Savior and advocate at God’s throne of grace, the throne of the kingdom of God.
Now that we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, God’s Son, let us cling to what we confess. We have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way just as we are, only without sin. So let us come boldly to God’s throne of grace/charis to get mercy and find love/charis/grace to help us when we need it. Hebrews 4:14-16 AAT
John, who wrote Revelations, began with a doxology that reinforces what we just read and reveals more of how we were saved.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from him who is and was and is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his high seat; And from Jesus Christ, the true witness, the first to come back from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who had love for us and has made us clean from our sins by his blood; And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to his God and Father; to him let glory and power be given for ever and ever. So be it. See, he comes with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those by whom he was wounded; and all the tribes of the earth will be sorrowing because of him. Yes, so be it. I am the First and the Last, says the Lord God who is and was and is to come, the Ruler of all. Revelation 1:4-8 BBE
F.F. Bruce provides this insight: “It must be remembered in the New Testament times repentance and faith, regeneration and conversion, baptism in water, reception of the Holy Spirit, incorporation into Christ, admission to church fellowship and first communion were all parts of a simple complex of events which took place within a very short time, and not always in a uniform order. Logically they were distinguishable, but in practice they were all bound up with the transition from the old life to the new.” The Epistle to the Ephesians, Pickering and Inglis, 1969, page 79