All Things New
There is a rhythm to our lives, lived in time. We operate in cycles that seem to reset at particular points. Whether it is a solstice, a season, or the celebration of a new year, we return to hope again. Despite the obvious continuum, reaching a milestone causes us to reflect and re-tool. New cars, new shows, new styles all suggest things are changing and maybe getting better.
New generations are born, and they are distinguished from those who have preceded them. They, too, will try new things, using new technologies. New terms will become vogue like “progressive,” which will reinforce the idea that we are moving forward, which has been the promise of every politician from ancient times.
Christians are futurists, too. In fact, the Bible is abundant with the term “new.” For instance, wise King Solomon observed, “…so there is no new thing under the sun (Eccl 1:9).” This is one of the paradoxes of living in a fallen world, or as someone once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” In other words, we convince ourselves we are being progressive, but in reality, we have been here before, and we have done that. Others say, “If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.” Clearly, we are not learning.
Whatever version of “new and improved” we are subject to, the fact remains, we came into the world with nothing and we will leave the world with nothing (1 Tim 6:7). Our lives are but a vapor (Jas 4:14) and only a few will be remembered in the distant future, usually related to the number deaths attributed to them. They are always replaced with another notorious despot, selling us a vague utopia, before a whole lot of people die.
The tomfoolery of humanity serves as a foil for Jesus’ defense, “My kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36).” The promise of King Jesus is, “Behold, I am making all things new (Rev 21:5),” and because He is eternal, He says, “It is done (Rev 21:6).” Thus, there is no “new” for the Eternal One, but for us, the potential scope is, “all things new.”
For this reason, having been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), our focus moves from the things of earth, to the things of heaven above (Col 3:2). There, Christ is seated (Eph 2:6), with all authority in heaven and earth (Mt 28:18), to execute the will of God (Eph 1:11; 3:11), according to His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).
In His sovereign providence, which is in perfect alignment with His eternal decree, God moves history along with the precision of a spinning earth and orbital path of solar systems and galaxies. You my dear reader, are playing your part in this cosmic drama. So why is “new” exciting to us?
Our Lord Jesus taught His disciples about the new covenant, which is the eternal covenant of grace, with a new feature. The unfolding revelation of God kept His story fresh for His people, while the cement of the old was now firm. There is new wine for every generation, who will grow to appreciate the old wine. Theologians like to say, amidst their humble attempts at ingenuity, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.”
Jesus came into the world to mediate a “new” covenant (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 9:15; 12:24) that would be the basis, the terms of agreement, whereby God would be justified, in granting “new” life to His chosen people, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16). Israel’s debt of sin is canceled (Col 2:14), by the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross (1 Pet 2:24), the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 5:6, 12), in redemption payment with His precious blood (1 Pet 1:19). The kingdom of God had come into the kingdom of this world, and that was a new thing. A fresh bouquet of flowers is set next to the tomb. The fragrance means death to some but life for others (2 Cor 2:14–15).
Christ died for us (Rom 5:8), but His body of death became new, glorified, following resurrection. Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection life. For those in Christ, resurrection is new life for the body that follows regeneration, which is new life for the soul. Man made new will inhabit the new heavens and a new earth (Is 65–66; Rev 21–22). There, the former things will not be remembered (Is 65:17).
The Bible is engineered to keep hope alive for the children of God, who suffer in this world because of imputed righteousness. The Apostle Paul was torn between wanting to leave this world, in order to be with the Lord, and staying to minister to his fellow pilgrims (Phil 1:23). He knew which was better. He was on the doorstep of mansions of glory, at the heavenly house of God…his new home. He was ready for something new, something better, something eternal
This world is not our home. It is not our future. The new has come, but it is just the beginning — a token (2 Cor 5:5). Our new role is ambassador for Christ (2 Cor 5:18–20), serving in our new life in the spirit, which is where the kingdom of God is located upon the earth (Rom 14:17). As children of God (1 Jn 3:1, 10), our new task is to represent our King and His kingdom, as witnesses (Acts 1:8), until we are called to our new and eternal home.
“New” never ends in eternity because there is no time, no sin, and no entropy to change things for the worse. The eternal new is what every “new” thing in this world points to…imperfectly. New things are occasional to us here, but as Jesus promised, it will be all things new in the world to come.
It is customary to look to a new year with hope and optimism, but some years surely disappoint. This year, having just ended should renew our fervent pursuit of the kingdom of God. That may be a new thing for you, or it may be an old thing, but it is the only hope we have that does not disappoint.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 1, 2021