The apostle Paul described a contrasting view of Jesus that probably represents his own conversion to Christ. Paul wrote: “In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!” [2 Corinthians 5:16-17].

What changed Paul? At one time, he arrested Christians and threatened their lives. His sudden endorsement of Jesus and his followers angered fellow religious leaders. And truthfully, Christians themselves were bewildered and nervous. Was Paul a “new creation?” How did it happen?

Many Bible passages report Jesus saying something about “new.” For instance, Jesus spoke about a new commandment for loving others – “as I have loved you” [John, chapter 13, verse 34]. Those words may be telling us what changed Paul the persecutor of Christians to Paul the Christian! We believe Paul’s changed life started when he realized how much he was loved by God. He discovered that the cross on which Jesus died was not the end of a troublesome teacher. It was the beginning of a story about unparalleled, divine love for sinful people.

After his conversion to Christ, Paul told believers in the ancient city of Corinth that Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave were “most important” [1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 3]. Paul said that his preaching meant nothing and all their faith was worthless if Christ has not been raised from death. Then, he added a very sobering statement; “If Christ has not been raised . . . you are still guilty of your sins” [verse 17].

The resurrection of Jesus opened the door for new beginnings. Jesus is the source for changing people into new personalities with new goals and new perspectives about life. Instead of being proud of family heritage, education, wealth or racial superiority, sinful people are grateful for their forgiveness and new creation fashioned by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul wrote in another letter to believers, “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” [Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 10].

People have always been perplexed about Jesus being raised from death. There are people today who question the resurrection of Jesus, and we do not criticize anyone who may be asking for some assurance that Jesus was raised from the dead. We invite you to consider the biblical evidence for his resurrection in the eye-witness reports from disciples like John, Peter, James, and Paul’s dramatic encounter with the resurrected Lord in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 9. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus has always been, and continues to be, the central element of Christian faith.

Jesus Christ changed the apostle Paul and he is a good model for us. We are more than human beings struggling to keep pace with the everyday demands of hunger, security, shelter, health, peace, companionship, and aging. Humanity was originally created in God’s image but our sinful humanity needs a new creation that comes from our belief in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Believing in Jesus’ death on the cross will save us from our sins, and believing in his resurrection from death will re-create new life in us. We will develop a new love for others and a new purpose for living. We will build a daily confidence in the Bible’s truth that liberates us from false ideas and superstition. And, because Christ has been raised from death, we will look forward to our being raised from death because he promises he will make “everything new” [Revelation, chapter 21, verse 5].

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