The First Creation
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In order to be with Christ in Heaven we must be in Christ on earth – united as close as that of the branch in the vine. There follows a change of heart with this union – a change of life that is compared to a “new creature” (Galatians 6:15).
Let us trace the resemblance between – the first creation of the world, and the new creation of a soul.
Note: The thought of a ruined condition of the earth succeeding its original creation by millions of years, is merely an attempt to meet the demands of the evolutionist. It is the new birth of a fallen creature which is depicted in the first day's work. In spite of what seems the general tendency of modern thought, Scripture shows plainly that the "days" are literal evening and morning days.
I. Old Things Are Passed Away
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep (Genesis 1:1-2).
Our text says: “Old things are passed away;” “are,” not will. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified” (1 Corinthians 6:11). There are some, who call themselves Christians, but it is hard to see what the “old things” are, that have passed away.
In the first creation among the old things that passed away, was darkness.
“Darkness was upon the face of the deep”; earth shrouded in darkness. This is characteristic of a sinner before the new birth. He is said to “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Psalm 107:10). He is said to “walk on in darkness” (Psalm 82:5). He is said to be “full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:23). As travelers who “stumble upon the dark mountains” (Jeremiah 13:16). “Men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19).
This darkness covers and conceals great depths. “And darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). The policy of Satan is to hide these depths. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
1. The depth of a sinner’s heart is covered with darkness.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). As if it was an abyss whose bottom could not be fathomed.
Nathan uncovered the heart of David and showed a depth of iniquity that he had never dreamed of before. Hear his cry in penitence, “Wash me thoroughly…and I shall be clean” (Psalm 51:2, 7). Simon Magus saw himself “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). The woman of Samaria said (John 4:29), “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did.”
2. This darkness also covers and conceals the depth of the “bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:2).
So we read of “the depths of hell” (Proverbs 9:18). “Which have not known the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24).
No wonder “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9).
The infidel Hobbes on leaving earth said, “I am about to take a leap into the dark.”
Another dying sinner said, with gasps in his last breath, slowly and solemnly, “I – am – going – but – I – don’t – know – where.”
To such, darkness conceals the “title clear for mansions in the sky.”
3. Then there are the depths of Eternity that are covered.
Well may a sinner sing:
“Eternity! O, awful sound,
A deep where all our thoughts are drowned.”
The ocean covers great depths, but its bottom can be reached, but who can look all the way down into Eternity’s depths.
A train stopped on a bridge that connected two mountain-tops on the Catawissa R. R., at midnight. As a passenger went towards the door voices called after him, “Stop and see where you are; this is a dangerous region.” But he would not heed the warning voice. “I don’t care where we are; I am going out,” And so he did. Went out in the dark, and down in the dark through the trestle work of the bridge, into an abyss some ninety feet below.
His body was brought up and laid in the baggage car, bloody and dead, and all because he ventured ahead in the dark.
In Virginia a train was approaching a ravine in the dark midnight hour, from which the bridge had been washed away by a shower. A poor family living near by, aware of the danger, kindled a beacon light on the track. The train delayed coming, and when the wood was burnt, household furniture and bedding was used until at length the train arrived, and seeing the signal of danger stopped. Not only were the passengers glad, but also grateful to have the deep depths ahead revealed by light. And pocket-books were emptied in the hands of the inmates of the log cabin. The passengers were saved. No wonder there is joy and gratitude in the new birth, when the redeemed sinner discovers the dark depths ahead from which he has been saved.
God’s ministers are compared to watchmen on the signal walls calling out, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die” (Ezekiel 33:11).
So there are great depths of love, covered and concealed by this darkness.
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33).
Gold mines in California lay covered and concealed a long while by darkness. So of the rich treasures now found in oil wells. For a long while its value was in the dark. Now the darkness has disappeared and that which was in the deep dark depths of the earth is not only brought to light, but gives light to the world.
B. Without Form
“And the earth was without form.”
It was a chaotic mass. This is also characteristic of a sinner. His life is not shaped with reference to any end. He does not live for the purpose for which he was made.
The first evidence of a change in Paul was, when as a new creature he asked (Acts 9:6), “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Afterwards he writes (Philippians 3:13-14), “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Christ’s life was shaped. “For this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37). While “the whole duty of man” is to “Fear God, and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), yet the sinner never sees it or lives for an end. He drifts along with the currents of his passion, caring not where or how he enters into the ocean of Eternity. He is compared to “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 1:13).
“And it was void.”
Truly a sinner may sing:
“And now I feel an aching void,
The world can never fill.”
Solomon in all his glory had to exclaim (Ecclesiastes 2:11), “Behold, all was vanity.” Vanity means emptiness.
Sinful pleasures are like gilded soap bubbles, beautiful to look upon, hut when grasped prove to be empty, and only leave behind a few water drops; so naught but tear drops for hearts void of the love of Jesus. “It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty” (Isaiah 29:8).
One who is now a minister says: “When a boy I chased the rainbow hoping to get hold of it to fill my hands with gold, but was much vexed after running over hills and valleys, through fields and woods, to find at length when out of breath that I had been all the while after a mere gilded nothing.”
A downcast patient called upon a doctor for medicine. Not finding any disease, the doctor said: “All you need is good cheer. Go to the theatre and hear Catiline, the actor, and he will cheer you up.” “Ah!” said the stranger, “I am Catiline himself.”
An actor on the stage, who afterwards became a Christian, said that often when greeted with shouts of applause, would weep behind the mask that covered his face at the emptiness of earthly glory. Well may the empty-hearted sing:
“O where can rest be found,
Rest for the weary souls?
Twere vain the ocean depths to sound,
Or pierce to either pole”
II. All Things Are Become New
“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:2-5, 11-12).
The second analogy is seen in the things that become new.
“Behold, all things are become new.”
What a change has taken place in this illustration. From darkness, – shapelessness – void, there is now light, life, beauty and form. It brings us at once into a fruit bearing world. Fruit trees of all kinds gilded by the sun’s rays. The clouds as they are dispelled by the influences of the sun, seems to linger long enough to crown this mighty agent the king of the universe.
“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
God’s spirit moved upon the surface of the newly formed earth. This motion always attends the new creation of a soul. “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created” (Psalm 104:30).
“It is the spirit that quickeneth” (John 6:63).
The moving of this Spirit was in connection with the use of the spoken word, “And God said.” So on the day of Pentecost the Spirit moved as Peter preached and the result was the new birth of 3,000 souls. The word of God and the spirit of God still work together. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
The first thing that was new in the first creation was light. So also the first thing that becomes new in is light. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” This was the first thing that Paul met in his change – Light above the brightness of the sun. Scales fell from his eyes. He says also to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 4:6), “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
The object of this sun shining is to give light to see “the face of Jesus Christ.” Without light we cannot see any beauty. Naturally man sees no beauty in Jesus. This is for want of light. “We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3). When seen in the proper light he becomes the fairest among ten thousands, and the one “altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16). “Do you think we will know each other in heaven?” said a wife to her dying husband.” “When I get there, and get a fair look into the face of Jesus, I will want to stand gazing 10,000 years before I turn around to see who else is in heaven.” The woman lights a lamp and goes after the lost piece of money with a lighted candle. The Philippian jailer called for light.
Light rising over dark sin clouds and causing them to disappear is God’s Bible picture of pardon. “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins” (Isaiah 44:22).
When an inventor gives a method by which the individual can procure for himself and neighbor a beautiful illuminant to light his home, he is giving to humanity a most important opportunity for health and good cheer. God gives us the most beautiful, healthful sun light each day without which we could not live. Are we thankful for it and do we give thanks to him?
“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7).
Christianity is light. The church in its appointments must keep steps with the progress of the age, but as a rule few churches are well lighted either within or without. The saloon is always a well lighted place. Young men are drawn into such a place in part by legitimate desires.
Companionship, social enjoyment, a comfortable seat, a beautiful room, light – these are some of the inducements held out by the gilded saloon to attract patronage. The church ought to learn something from the world on this point.
A brilliantly lighted room stimulates the mind and all the spiritual faculties, while the opposite depresses them. People sing better, think better, listen well and the preacher preaches better if the church is well lighted.
The second resemblance to the new creation is in fruit bearing.
“The fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind” appeared upon the earth.
The earth not only assumed form but became fruitful.
So too we read of “fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8). “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (John 15:5).
In Paul’s conversion he asked (Acts 9:6), “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Lydia opened her lips as soon as she opened her heart, and then opened her house.
“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
When the steamer Henry Clay was burnt on the Hudson, a boy was picked up in the stream and safely landed. When his feet were placed on solid ground he sat on the bank, wiped the wet hair from his eyes, and exclaimed as he reached out his arms, as he saw others sinking, “Would to God I could save some.”
A man was picked up on a wrecked vessel floating at sea. As he was carried to a passing vessel he whispered in his weakness, “There is another.” He was not willing to be saved alone while another unobserved was left behind.
“He first findeth his own brother Simon…and he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42). “Fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10). Other examples: As soon as Mary Magdalene found Jesus she hastened to tell others of the risen Jesus; so also the woman of Samaria; so also the converts (Acts 8:4).
III. Resting in Eden
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).
Here see a further resemblance between the first and second creation, in God’s image being reflected.
Hitherto there was nothing upon earth to reflect God’s image.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
A new-born child is called a Christian, for he is Christ-like, and Christ is the express image of God’s person.
“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).
Paul says (2 Corinthians 3:2), “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.”
To each disciple Christ says (Matthew 11:29), “Learn of me;” so we bear and show Christ’s image.
When Moses was with God on the mount his face was made to reflect God’s glory.
Of the early Christians it is said that others “took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). There was a reflection of the divine image in their very looks and ways.
Here we also see another analogy in the dominion that followed. “And have dominion…over every living thing,” This should always be the result of the new, creation.
There are passions and appetites over which we should gain dominion in the new birth. “He shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “Let not sin therefore reign” (Romans 6:12).
Evil imaginations are to he brought into subjection.
We are no longer to be under the lash of the schoolmaster.
“Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The eighth chapter of Romans reveals how we no longer walk after the flesh, but after the spirit, as characteristic of the new birth.
Then there followed rest, a Sabbath of rest; complete rest and peace in Jesus culminates this new birth. “There is therefore now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace” (Romans 5:1). “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3). “And I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The last analogy is seen in the joy that ensued. “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). “Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7).