Summary: The After Picture
All Things New: The After Picture
Beartown Road Alliance Church
May 13th, 2007
A few years ago I read an article in one of my youth ministry magazines that was attacking the unrealistic and unattainable view of beauty that fashion magazines had created for young women. It was about a cover photo of Michelle Pfeiffer on Vanity magazine. The read; “What Michelle Pfeiffer needs…Nothing.” The premise was that she was beautiful and needed nothing. A reporter found that this wasn’t really the case when he obtained a receipt for brush up work on the photo. Read what was done: hair added, lines softened, armpit hair removed, etc.
It’s amazing what they can do with pictures today! Michelle Pfeiffer needed a lot of work to look like she did! And all of it was cosmetic, it didn’t change who she was on the inside. This morning we are going to be looking at the way that God changes our pictures. The headline for us would read: “What We Need…Everything! The changes that we are going to be looking at this morning go way beyond any touch up work. They are more than just minor adjustments to make us look better on the outside. God doesn’t gloss over the old picture and tweak a few things here and there. When God makes the changes, the old picture is destroyed and a new one, not even recognizable as the same person, takes its place.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes these words: If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! The NLT says: anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. These last three weeks, we’ve been setting the stage for a look at this new person, this new creation. We’ve been ramping up to a picture of who we are in Jesus Christ, the after picture. We spent the first week looking at the before picture. We took a snapshot of humanity, what it is that we really looked like in our humanity. It’s not a pretty picture. It is a picture of dirt and guilt and sin and selfishness, and struggle. This is who we are in ourselves, this is the old. This is the picture that we have to understand so that we can truly appreciate what we’re going to be looking at this morning.
The very next verse in 2 Corinthians 5 begins with these words: All this is from God. The newness of who we become is an act of God alone. It is He who transforms us into a new creation, this is not something that we can accomplish on our own, in any way! So, if we are going to understand this idea of who we are, we have to be convinced in our minds that what God promises to work in us, He is capable of doing. The last two weeks, we have been looking at the character and attributes of God, the things that set Him apart as God and enable us to place our faith and trust in Him. We looked at God’s Sovereignty, we saw that He is All-Powerful, we talked about the fullness of His presence, He exists in all things and in all places at all times! These are the qualities that show us that He is certainly capable of accomplishing this change in us. We also looked at His holiness, His Wisdom, and His love. These are the attributes that ensure us that not only is God capable, powerful enough to change us, but that power is governed by His perfect love and wisdom, He knows what’s best for us and wants what’s best for us. We can trust that in His Sovereignty He is capable of bringing about what He wills and that in His wisdom and love, that will always be what we need to become what He created us to be in the best possible way.
So, we have the before picture, and we have the qualifications of the One who promises to change us. And this morning, we’re going to look at the work that God does in our lives, at the change, but, we need to understand one more thing before we can really look at these changes. This is where I want to begin this morning.
We’ve got to look at the Condition.
I. The Condition
Everything that we look at this morning hinges on one thing. It’s an if/then kind of thing, if we do this, then we God will do this. We use this as parents all the time. If you get good grades, then I’ll let you live, that kind of thing. The one is conditional on the other taking place. When we talk about anything that is conditional, some people get nervous. There may be some here this morning that are thinking, I knew it, here it comes, God wants me to give all my money, God wants me to do this and that, and until I do, He’s going to make my life miserable. That is not the case, in fact the condition is much simpler than many people make it out to be. It does not have anything to do with what we can do, we cannot do enough good in our lives to earn the favor of God and to earn the changes that we’re going to be looking at. It involves only one thing. It is not what you do, it’s what you believe.