WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN? Are you one because you signed a pledge card, or raised your hand at a crusade, or walked to an altar and prayed the sinners prayer?

In our last post we saw that conversion is likened to going through a New Birth. But there are other metaphors. One of the most conspicuous is becoming a New Creation—an analogy of the apostle Paul.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6

Then in the next chapter, to clear up any confusion about what he meant, Paul follows up with these words.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

To be a Christian, therefore, means becoming a New Creation. Paul likens it to the first day of creation when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” At that moment the physical creation began. In the same way, God says to a sinful, fallen individual, “let there be light” and the eyes of his or her heart are opened to see something of “the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That is conversion, and when it happens everything changes. A new creation has begun. “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” It is the first stage in entering the new creation that God promised through the prophets (Isaiah 65:17ff). The unbeliever’s nature changes internally. It becomes new. Eventually, God will also make it physical. On the last day, the body will be raised immortal, imperishable, and glorious to be placed in a newly created world free from pain, stress, disease and death.

The new creation begins when the unbeliever sees the “glory of God in the face of Christ.” So, what is the glory of God and how is it experienced practically?

The glory of God is his essential nature. It appears in the face of Christ. That is because we know a person by seeing their face, not their knees or elbows. The face reveals the personality, and God’s personality is infinite goodness and trustworthiness. Seeing this produces a faith that is best characterized as trust. This trust empowers us to take risks to obey Christ. In other words, conversion means seeing something of the infinite goodness of God, (his glory), and it produces growing obedience.

The eye that sees the glory of God is not physical. It is spiritual. It is the eye of the heart. The knowledge that the eye of the heart sees must first pass through the mind. But if only the mind sees it a new creation has not begun. The Pharisees had knowledge. They had large sections of the Bible memorized. But the eye of their heart did not see the glory of God in the face of Christ, so they rejected him. A New Creation does not occur until the knowledge of God’s moral beauty drops 14 inches from the mind to the heart. This is God’s work. It is supernatural, and it is a miracle.

In some cases, (a minority), the experience of becoming a New Creation is sudden, easily remembered, and dramatic. That was how Paul experienced it on the Damascus Road (Acts 9). But for most of us, it is otherwise. My two oldest daughters don’t ever remember a time when they didn’t trust Christ this way. At some point, they became New Creations, but the experience was more like a drop of water in a bucket—soft, sweet, and difficult to detect or look back on.

How would one know that they had become a New Creation? What is the acid test? As with New Birth, the test is fruit. The Holy Spirit indwells all true Believers that God has made new creations. That means he is present, slowly communicating a “conviction” (Hebrews 11:1) to the Believer about the moral beauty of Christ. He is good. He loves you. You can trust him. That conviction always produces increasing fruit. That is why Paul was convinced that the indwelling Holy Spirit always produces fruit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24

Is this you? Do you possess a conviction that God is infinitely good? I know it’s not perfect, but is it growing? That conviction will make you increasingly fruitful. Are you changing? If you are a true Believer you will never change as fast as you would like, or be satisfied with your growth, but you should be able to detect change, and that is the acid test of conversion. It is the only ultimate proof that God has made you a new creation.

In addition, all growth in sanctification is linked to beholding this glory daily. We do this through the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and church attendance.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18