The “New Creation” Goes into Action!
1, 2. (a) What creation, of less than two thousand years ago, was more wonderful than that of man and woman? (b) According to Jesus’ words in Luke 24:46-48 and Acts 1:8 the anointing of the “new creation” was for what purpose?
THE CREATING of the first man and woman around six thousand years ago was wonderful. (Genesis 1:26-28) The birth of a “new creation” under two thousand years ago was still more wonderful, still more meaningful for all mankind. That birth took place on the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. with the birth of the congregation of Christ’s disciples, all of them anointed with God’s holy spirit for the proclamation of his Messianic kingdom.
2 Less than two weeks before that historic day of Pentecost, the resurrected Jesus Christ said to his disciples:
“In this way it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day, and on the basis of his name repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in all the nations—starting out from Jerusalem, you are to be witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48) “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
3. How big was that assignment of territory, and when did the disciples begin witnessing to it and from where?
3 Could there be any assignment of territory for witnessing bigger than this? It was global. How about reaching all this territory with the Messianic witness? This would require time, yes, persistence, courageous effort. Yet, no sooner had the promised holy spirit arrived upon them on the day of Pentecost than they went into action as witnesses to others at Jerusalem, first.
4. How did things begin to happen on that day of Pentecost just as Joel 2:28, 29 had foretold?
4 Things happened just as Joel 2:28, 29 foretold: the spirit-filled disciples began to prophesy, even in foreign languages, miraculously! Thousands of Jews who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost gathered to witness the spectacle. They heard the small congregation of Christ’s disciples “speaking,” as they said, “in our tongues about the magnificent things of God.”—Acts 2:11.
5. How did Peter use the first of the two “keys of the kingdom of the heavens” on that day of Pentecost?
5 In order to explain the occasion, the apostle Peter used the first of the two “keys of the kingdom of the heavens” by taking the lead in addressing the inquiring crowd. (Matthew 16:19) He bore witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the one rejected and killed by the Jewish leaders but resurrected on the third day and now glorified at God’s right hand. The conscience-stricken Jews now asked: “Men, brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s response was: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit. For the promise [of Joel 2:28, 29] is to you and to your children and to all those afar off, just as many as Jehovah our God may call to him.”—Acts 2:14-39.
6. The repentant Jews who got baptized had what occur with them, and from what did they get saved?
6 Those accepting Jesus as the Messiah or Christ obediently got baptized in water. Thus on that one day about three thousand souls were added. The glorified Jesus Christ baptized them with holy spirit, and they were born again as spiritual sons of God. They were transferred from under the Mosaic Law covenant to under the new covenant as mediated by Jesus Christ. In this way they heeded Peter’s urgent advice to “get saved from this crooked generation.” Doing this, they escaped from being baptized with fire at the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. at the hands of the Roman besiegers under General Titus.—Acts 2:40; Luke 3:16, 17.
7. In what way were the anointed ones to imitate Jesus Christ, and the doing of the work that he foretold opened up the way to what for the believers?
7 From that day of Pentecost onward, the anointing with holy spirit came upon more and more of those believing in Jesus as the Messiah. What to do now? As anointed ones, they were obliged to imitate the example of Jesus Christ. What did he do after his anointing at the Jordan River? He went throughout the land and preached the kingdom of God. (Matthew 4:12-17) The preaching of God’s kingdom would not stop at his death. A few days before his martyrdom at Jerusalem, he foretold the destruction of that city by the Romans but said that, even before that national calamity, “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14-22) Come Pentecost, accompanied by their being anointed with holy spirit, the anointed ones lost no time in getting to work! This Kingdom preaching opened up the way for the believers to become joint heirs with Jesus Christ in his heavenly kingdom.
8. How was the Kingdom preaching directed to the Samaritans, and with what results?
8 Violent persecution broke out. The disciples were scattered from Jerusalem. But this scattering of the congregation merely worked for the spreading of the Kingdom proclamation. As foretold, the witnessing was carried into the province of Samaria. Forced out of Jerusalem, the disciple Philip turned his attention to the Samaritans. “When they believed Philip, who was declaring the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, they proceeded to be baptized, both men and women.” Later, on the visit of Peter and John to Samaria, the baptized Samaritans received through these apostles the holy spirit.—Acts 8:1-17.
9. (a) What unexpected conversion now took place among the Jews? (b) How did Peter use the second of the two “keys of the kingdom of the heavens”?
9 Suddenly now, wonder of wonders! The leader of the persecutors turns Christian. Saul of Tarsus is converted to Christianity. He becomes a foremost proclaimer of God’s kingdom in the hands of Jesus the Messiah. (Acts 9:1-30) His former name, Saul, is dropped and he becomes known as Paul the apostle. After that remarkable conversion, there came an outstanding conversion of another kind. It was the conversion of the first uncircumcised Gentile or non-Jew. This occurred when the holy spirit directed the apostle Peter to use the second of the two “keys of the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 16:19) Peter did so by preaching in the home of the Italian centurion Cornelius in Caesarea. At Acts 10:44-48 we read:
“While Peter was yet speaking about these matters the holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word. And the faithful ones that had come with Peter who were of those circumcised were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations. For they heard them speaking with tongues and magnifying God. Then Peter responded: ‘Can anyone forbid water so that these might not be baptized who have received the holy spirit even as we have?’ With that he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
10, 11. (a) From the home of Cornelius, the Kingdom preaching spread out how far, and for whose benefit? (b) Though Peter pioneered the way into the Gentile world, how and why did Paul outrank him?
10 From the home of the Gentile centurion Cornelius the preaching of the good news spread to “the most distant part of the earth.” This was for the benefit of Gentiles as well as for natural Jews.
11 Whereas Peter pioneered the way into the Gentile world, the apostle Paul outranked all others in preaching the Word of God to the uncircumcised Gentiles, in his day. He was not ashamed to call himself “an apostle to the [Gentile] nations.” He did not minimize this fact. He glorified this ministry of his and so he worked hard at it.—Romans 11:13.
12. To what distant point did Paul want to go to preach, but how far in that direction did he get and what did he do there?
12 Paul wanted to carry the good news even into Spain, but the last that we hear of him is during his detention in Rome, Italy. With regard to his first arrest and his detention in his own hired house in Rome, we read of Paul: “So he remained for an entire two years in his own hired house, and he would kindly receive all those who came in to him, preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance.”—Acts 28:30, 31; Romans 15:24, 28.
CREATION-WIDE WITNESS BEFORE 70 C.E.
13. Because they acted according to their anointing, what could Paul write to Christians in Colossae, already by about 60-61 C.E.?
13 Many were the Christians who imitated the apostle Paul and the other apostles in preaching the good news of the Messianic kingdom. The spirit-begotten congregation as a “new creation” was anointed to do such preaching. (Isaiah 61:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) They were filled with zeal and kept on the move in spreading the best news on earth to as many others as possible. Little wonder, then, that about the year 60-61 C.E., or some years before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its gorgeous temple in 70 C.E., the apostle Paul could write from the house of his detention in Rome to the Christians in Colossae, Asia Minor, and say, already at that time: “That good news . . . was preached in all creation that is under heaven. Of this good news I Paul became a minister.”—Colossians 1:23.
14. The accomplishment of that first-century congregation serves as an example to whom today, in view of what obligation on such today?
14 That creation-wide proclamation of God’s Messianic kingdom by the first-century congregation of anointed disciples of Christ serves as a worthy example for the anointed congregation of our twentieth century. This spirit-begotten congregation, as a “new creation” of God, needs to finish the worldwide witness to the established kingdom of God before the “great tribulation” comes upon all the world, and hypocritical Christendom is baptized with fire in its destruction with all the rest of this wicked system of things.—Matthew 24:14-22; Mark 13:10.
WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT CONCERNING SONSHIP
15. What did Paul write to the Roman congregation about the witness of the spirit, and what question now arises about those who today expect to go to heaven?
15 Back there in the first century C.E., the Christian Bible writers and their fellow disciples were in no doubt as to their relationship with God and their responsibility toward Him. They really had the conviction that they were the spiritual sons of God, and they had a heavenly inheritance in view. So, before the apostle Paul ever got to Rome, he could, in no uncertainty, write to the congregation there and say these confident words: “You received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’ The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.” (Romans 8:15-17) Who today, who says he expects to go to heaven, has such a witness of God’s spirit with his own spirit?
16. What kind of interaction was there between God’s spirit and the spirit of the first-century Christian congregation?
16 Certainly God’s spirit would not bear such a witness to a professed Christian who is actually not an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ. For every action there is a reaction. The reaction can be either responsive or unresponsive, repellent. In Romans 8:15-17, the apostle Paul speaks of a responsive reaction. He describes a harmonious interaction between God’s spirit and the spirit of the real spiritual child of God. Well, now, how did God’s spirit bear witness with the spirit of the members of the first-century Christian congregation, that “new creation”?
17. (a) Did the first-century congregation dispute the testimony of God’s spirit to them through his inspired servants? (b) Hence, how did the congregation in Thessalonica regard the message presented by Paul?
17 If God’s spirit bears witness to us about our Christian identity and our tie-in with God and his provisions for us, then we ought to agree with that spirit and not dispute it. So, when the first-century Christians had a letter from an inspired apostle or disciple of Christ read to the congregation of which they were baptized members, they accepted what that letter said to them and about them as to their standing, their obligations, their hopes for the future in God’s arrangement. They recognized that God’s spirit was active in such authoritative apostles and disciples and that it acted and wrote by means of these human instruments. The apostle Paul’s letter to the first-century Christian congregation in Thessalonica, Macedonia, bears out that fact. They knew the truth of it when Paul wrote: “When you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.”—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
18. To be consistent, how would those Thessalonian Christians accept Paul’s written word, and why had God chosen them, according to what Paul said?
18 Hence it would be consistent for these believers to accept also the written word of Paul to be likewise “the word of God.” In this letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers about God’s “choosing” of them. Why had they been ‘chosen’? “Because the good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction, just as you know what sort of men we became to you for your sakes; and you became imitators of us and of the Lord, seeing that you accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.”—1 Thessalonians 1:4-6.
19. The imparting of gifts of the spirit by means of the apostles would signify what relationship of the recipients to God?
19 They knew that, by means of holy spirit, God had spoken to his chosen people in pre-Christian times. Similarly, in their own first century C.E., God could speak by means of the same active force through the inspired apostles of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God was using those very apostles to transmit to the baptized believers the various gifts of the holy spirit. Certainly the reception of those gifts would indicate to the receivers that they had been made God’s spiritual children.—Acts 8:15-18; 19:2-6.
20. How, through the letters of the Christian Bible writers, was holy spirit bearing witness to the first-century congregation that their relationship to God was of a specific kind?
20 Were those apostles and other Christian Bible writers setting before the baptized believers an earthly hope, the hope of becoming the children of the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, and living on a paradise earth forever? No! They were setting before those to whom they preached and wrote the hope then of those begotten as children of God, the sons of Jehovah. (Isaiah 9:6, 7) In the inspired Christian writings the disciples of the day were assured that they had the calling to a kingdom that was heavenly and that their hope was that of being joint heirs with Jesus Christ above. (Colossians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Peter 1:10, 11) Only one thing was set before them; they were left in no uncertainty. In this way holy spirit was bearing witness to those first-century disciples that they were children of God, heirs of God. This meant that, at the same time, they were joint heirs with the glorified Jesus Christ.
21. How did the spirit of such first-century Christians react to the witness-bearing of God’s spirit, with what effects upon them?
21 Their own inward urge, their own spirit, responded harmoniously to that witness-bearing by God’s holy spirit. The heavenly Father’s spirit was encouraging and strengthening them as his spiritual children and heirs. He had implanted in them, not a sense of sonship to their earthly father, but a sense of sonship to their heavenly Father, a spiritual sonship.
22. (a) No longer did the Christianized Jews feel themselves under what covenant, in what condition? (b) In response to God’s spirit, how did the spirit of the Christians move them to demonstrate that they were God’s spiritual sons?
22 No longer did the Christianized Jews or Israelites feel that they were slaves under the old Mosaic Law covenant and still waiting for the Messiah. They felt, they knew that they were the spiritual sons of the God whom they worshiped according to the new covenant. Their own spirit, the impelling force that issued from their hearts, moved them to react to the operations of God’s spirit. Spontaneously, as sons, they cried out to God, “Abba, Father!” Their Father’s commandments for his spiritual sons they applied to themselves. His assigned work for his sons they lovingly took up. His heavenly promises to his spiritual sons they accepted and strove to prove worthy of the fulfillment of these in their case. The heavenly hope that he held before his sons they entertained, and by this hope they endeavored to live. Willingly they suffered mistreatment at the hands of this world.
23. For what hope were they willing to suffer with Christ and to die in the likeness of his death?
23 They knew that they were to become the glorified sons of God together with Jesus Christ, “provided we suffer together.” (Romans 8:17) So they were willing to suffer for living in harmony with their heavenly hope. They accepted the fact that they must die in the likeness of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in order that they might share in the likeness of his resurrection.—Romans 6:5-8.
24. (a) Their spirit joined with God’s spirit in a united testimony over what fact? (b) Their prayers and lives harmonized with what hope, even to what eventuality?
24 In that way the spirit of those first-century spiritual sons of God joined his holy spirit in the united testimony that they were God’s children, by a second birth and with an inheritance reserved for them up in heaven. Accordingly their own spirit acted as an impelling force in their lives so as to fashion their prayers to their heavenly Father in perfect harmony with the witness that His spirit bore to them and not contrary to it. They wove the Scriptures that pertained to their heavenly inheritance into their prayers to God. Such prayers brightened their hope of entering into the heavenly inheritance. So they lived, thought, spoke and acted in accord with their prayers and their hope. Their prayers strengthened them to endure trial and persecution in order to gain an approved standing with God; and they knew that this approved standing with Him builds up a hope that will never be disappointed. They knew that, in order to realize their heavenly hope, they must prove themselves “faithful even to death.”—Romans 5:3-5; Revelation 2:10.
25. Why should the foregoing serve as a guide to a dedicated, baptized Christian in determining his relationship to God, especially since the spring of 1935 C.E.?
25 All the above should serve as a guide today for dedicated, baptized Christians to determine whether God’s spirit is bearing witness with their own spirit that they are His spiritual children and his heirs, as well as joint heirs with Jesus Christ in his heavenly kingdom. This has to be the case, especially since the spring of 1935 C.E. Why since then? Because then the “great crowd” described in Revelation 7:9-17 was explained to be an earthly class that is not “born again.” Instead, it has set before it the prospect of surviving the world’s “great tribulation” that is just ahead and coming out of it into God’s righteous new order, there to enjoy an earthly paradise under the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ and his 144,000 joint heirs. (Luke 23:43) By being obedient to the Kingdom and proving their devotion to the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God under the final test, they need never die in the flesh from off the surface of the earth. They belong to the “other sheep” of whom the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ spoke in John 10:16.
HOLY SPIRIT AS INTERCESSOR
26. According to Romans 8:23-27, what other function does holy spirit serve in behalf of “holy ones”?
26 Besides being a witness-bearer to God’s spiritual children, this holy active force serves another function. The apostle Paul calls attention to this function in his letter addressed to the congregation in Rome, which, Paul says, was composed of Christians “called to be holy ones,” these being also “heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 1:7; 8:16, 17) Paul writes:
“Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves, while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom. For we were saved in this hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, we keep on waiting for it with endurance.
“In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the problem of what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered. Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.”—Romans 8:23-27.
27. Under what circumstances do Christians need holy spirit as a pleader?
27 In this connection the words of Proverbs 13:12 are quite fitting: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” In the midst of this groaning human creation, Christians who are God’s spiritual children are hoping for their release from the imperfect human body and their entrance into their heavenly inheritance. At times it is a problem for them to express themselves clearly in prayer to God, not knowing exactly what to pray for under distressing circumstances. Here is where they need an intercessor, namely, God’s holy spirit, as a pleader.
28, 29. (a) In the case of the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures, why was it as if holy spirit were doing the speaking and writing? (b) How do those Hebrew Bible writers compare with members of the Christian congregation as to emotions and infirmities?
28 The apostle Paul says that “we ourselves,” that is, Paul and his Christian brothers who are begotten by God’s spirit, “have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit.” (Romans 8:23) Paul here means having the invisible holy active force of God. This active force has inspired men to speak and also to write down what they have spoken. It was as if the spirit itself were speaking and writing. In harmony with this fact, we read: “No prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20, 21) The inspired Hebrew Scriptures that were quoted from by Paul in support of Christianity were written by mere human creatures. They had the same emotional feelings and physical weakness that members of the Christian congregation have. So we can feel akin to them in these respects.
29 “We also are humans having the same infirmities as you do.” So said the apostle Paul and his missionary companion Barnabas to idol-worshiping pagans who mistook them to be superhuman, gods appearing in flesh to men.—Acts 14:15.
30. (a) The Bible writings are really expressions of what force and hence of what profitableness? (b) The situations and conditions of Bible personages covered what areas needing more than human help?
30 The inspired Bible writings were in reality expressions of God’s holy spirit. For that reason those inspired writings are “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Included in those “beneficial” writings there were prayers offered to God, not alone by Bible writers, but also by other persons who were devoted to Jehovah God. Under all sorts of circumstances those prayers had been offered to God. Those persons with our common human infirmities felt the pressures of the special circumstances and threatening conditions that existed. Their needy situations were varied enough to correspond with situations in which genuine Christians even of today may at times find themselves. These become cases in which more than human help is needed. How, then, shall we pray?
31, 32. (a) Thus to what extent are the Christians at a loss as to how to pray? (b) How, then, does the spirit that inspired Bible writings plead for the Christians, and how does God understand and answer?
31 In our helplessness and perplexity “we ourselves groan within ourselves.” (Romans 8:23) We just do not know how to petition or supplicate God with properly formed sentences or what utterance to make to our heavenly Helper. However, God understands our situation and perceives exactly what we would sincerely like to have.
32 If we ourselves cannot formulate prayers, well, prayers have already been framed for us. Where? In the prophetic Holy Scriptures that were inspired by God’s holy spirit. God is fully acquainted with the prayers recorded in his Word. He knows the “meaning” of them. He knows the ones that befit us who want to pray aright. So God considers such appropriate recorded prayers as if they were being offered by the groaning Christians themselves. Such prayers were not uttered by the needy Christians themselves, but God hears as if the holy spirit were pleading with him according to the spirit-inspired prayers in the Bible. Likely he answers in a way similar to the way in which he answered the recorded prayer of long ago, in Bible times.
33. So how does the spirit join in with help for our weakness, and with what success?
33 Since the holy spirit inspired the recording of the original prayers in which pleading to God is done, it can be said that the spirit is pleading “in accord with God for holy ones.” In this manner “the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness.” (Romans 8:26, 27) God does not fail to respond to such pleadings by his holy spirit as an intercessor.
34. What do we find about what is expressed in prayers recorded in the Bible, and why are our “groanings unuttered,” not in vain?
34 So it is not strange that, if Christians examine the inspired prayers that are recorded in the Psalms and other parts of the Holy Scriptures, they will come across prayers that express just the way that they felt, prayers that say just what they wanted to ask of God either for themselves individually or collectively as a Christian congregation. They are stirred to the bottom of their hearts at finding such prayers that were prompted by holy spirit to say things with such precise fitness. Their own “groanings unuttered” have not been in vain, have not been misunderstood or disregarded. Thus from the spirit-inspired Scriptures they come to know the articulate words with which the “spirit” has pleaded for them before God. They themselves are strengthened in the conviction expressed by the apostle Paul as he goes on to say: “Now we know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God.”—Romans 8:28.
35, 36. (a) What force is powerfully operative as God makes all his works cooperate together for his lovers? (b) What release is at hand for the “new creation,” and what does this also signalize for groaning mankind?
35 Powerfully operative in the cooperation of all God’s works together for the eternal good of those who love God is his holy spirit. What a grand provision this holy active force from God is! God’s spirit, which expresses itself so powerfully through the inspired Bible, is infinitely more effective than any pagan prayer wheel or any prayer book compiled by clergymen of Christendom with specially worded prayers to be read off for specific occasions, circumstances or personages.
36 The old human creation of mankind does not have this spirit, and in this twentieth century it is groaning as never before, seeking in some way to be liberated from the bondage of corruption under the old system of things. But nineteen centuries ago God’s “new creation” came alive and went into action. It did so under the energizing force of God’s holy spirit, which began to be poured out on the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. Vain have been the efforts of the majority of the old human creation to destroy God’s “new creation,” the spirit-begotten Christian congregation. Today that “new creation” nears the time of its release from its earthly body of corruption. The nearness of its glorious release signalizes great good for all mankind. It signalizes that the deliverance of groaning mankind is also at hand. It signalizes that there is now at hand a righteous new order backed by God’s holy spirit.