By Peter Amsterdam
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Easter is the day on which Christians celebrate the most significant event in human history—the resurrection from the dead of the crucified God-man, Jesus Christ. It’s an event that forever changed the course of humanity! That day was the first day of God’s new creation.
God created all things, including man, and when He was finished He looked at all He had made, and it was “very good.”1 His original very good creation was changed, however, with the entrance of sin. Once Adam chose to go against God’s will, sin entered God’s created world, and sickness, decay, and death were introduced to humanity. From that time forward, people would return to the dust from which they were taken.2 Adam, the first man, brought sin and death into the world, and God’s creation has suffered sin’s effects ever since.
Fast-forward to the time of Jesus’ life on earth. God the Son, the Word of God, entered humanity as a child born of Mary and of God, without a human father.3 He was fully God and fully man, the God-man. His mission was to defeat the sin and death which had entered humanity through Adam. He lived a sinless life, was condemned and executed as a criminal, and was buried in a tomb. Three days later, He rose from the dead! He was resurrected!
His resurrection was the first phase of God’s new creation. Jesus’ body was changed and was no longer under the effects of the first creation—the effects of sin and death. God created a new kind of human existence—a human body which was raised from the dead and transformed by the power of God into a body that is no longer affected by death, decay, and corruption.
Nothing like this had ever happened in human history! And it will happen again for all of those who believe in Jesus, as believers will be resurrected with their new bodies at the time of Christ’s return (or changed in the twinkling of an eye if they are alive at the time of His return). This will mark the second phase of the new creation.4
Jesus’ resurrected body no longer suffered from the torture He had undergone—His back having been torn to shreds from the whipping, His head bloodied by the crown of thorns, His hands and feet and side pierced. He was no longer battered, nor was He exhausted from all He had endured days earlier, but He was alive and vibrant.
His risen body wasn’t a spirit; it was physical, made of flesh and bones, which His disciples touched. He taught them,5 He walked with them,6 He cooked for them,7 and ate with them.8 He was once together with 500 of them at one time.9 After 40 days,10 He ascended bodily into heaven,11 where He in His new body sits at the right hand of God.12
As Christians and as part of God’s new creation, we can look forward to the time when, upon Christ’s return, He will raise our bodies from the dead! We will receive resurrected bodies like His. Our bodies will not have the weaknesses they have now, but will have the full power the human body was meant to have. They won’t be affected by sin and fallen human nature as the natural body is today.13 As one author wrote: In these resurrection bodies we will clearly see humanity as God intended it to be.14
God’s new creation will not end with the resurrecting of our bodies, but will continue on beyond that. The third phase will involve all of creation being renewed as well. When Adam sinned, God cursed the ground. The world was no longer the sublime place God made it to be. Sin changed that. But as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection, His victory over sin and death, God will renew the entire world.15
When Jesus died on the cross as an executed criminal, in the eyes of the Jewish people this made Him a failed Messiah, as He had promised the kingdom and didn’t come through. But three days later, when He rose from the dead, that picture changed completely. The truth of His messiahship was evident to those who would accept it. He completed His mission by taking our sins upon Himself and thus reconciling us to God. This mission required His death, but once it was completed, God raised Him from the dead, and in doing so showed the world His approval of what Jesus had done.16
After 40 more days on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven, and ten days later a new dynamic was sent into the world—the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ ascension, He sent “the promise of the Father,” which was the Holy Spirit, to dwell in believers.17
When people receive Jesus as their savior, they enter into the new creation, and this makes it possible for the Spirit of God to dwell within them. The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers is a continuation of the first phase of the new creation that began with Jesus’ resurrection. The effect of salvation and the Holy Spirit dwelling in humanity is expressed as new birth, renewal, and regeneration in the lives of believers. The new birth refers to being born of the spirit as contrasted to being born of the flesh. Renewal is a renovation, a complete change in the believer for the better. Regeneration is the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind.18,19
As part of the new creation, God’s Spirit is regularly renewing us, changing us, helping us to put on the mind of Christ, as we develop and reflect some of God’s characteristics by growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we continually grow and mature in our spiritual lives; we are renewed and become more Christlike. This is part of the new creation process within us, as we are gradually transformed by the Spirit.20
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus is celebrating the newness of life. Easter is a celebration of the ongoing process of God’s new creation, as we await its culmination.21
We have so much to celebrate!—That we live today with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and helping, guiding, and renewing us; that we are part of His new creation; that we will live eternally in our new bodies, with perfect health and no effects of aging, with no sickness or disease; and that we have the honor and privilege of sharing this wonderful news with others. For this is the good news of the gospel: the love that God has for each individual, the offer of everlasting life, of resurrection from the dead, of being a new creature in Christ Jesus today and a part of the overall new creation for eternity.
Our commission is to invite as many as we can to become a new creation, to usher them through the door of salvation, bringing them into a wonderful new world now, and an eternity of happiness in the future. As invitation bearers who go through the highways and hedges of life, may we be motivated by the beauty of God’s gift through Jesus to share it and its blessings with all we can. Happy Easter!
Originally published April 2012. Excerpted and republished April 2019.
Read by Jon Marc.
1 Genesis 1:31.
2 Genesis 3:19.
3 Matthew 1:18.
4 See Romans 6:9, 1 Corinthians 15:51–52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17.
5 Luke 24:27.
6 Luke 24:13–15.
7 John 21:9–13.
8 Luke 24:41–43.
9 1 Corinthians 15:6.
10 Acts 1:3.
11 Acts 1:9–11.
12 Mark 16:19.
13 See Philippians 3:20–21, 1 John 3:2, 1 Corinthians 15:35–38, 1 Corinthians 15:42–44, 49.
14 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 832.
15 See Romans 8:21, Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1.
16 See Philippians 2:8–9.
17 See Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4–5, Acts 2:32–33, Joel 2:28–29.
18 Strong's definition of the Greek word paliggenesia: regeneration.
19 See Acts 2:38–39, John 3:5–6, Titus 3:4–6.
20 See 1 Corinthians 2:14–16, Galatians 5:22–23, 2 Corinthians 3:17–18.
21 See Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20–21.