Monday, February 23, 2015

All Things New

The Bible is a remarkable book! One of its most fascinating characteristics is that it begins with an account of Creation and ends with a vision of a new creation. In between, it tells how we messed up the first, creating a need for the second. You see, God is in the business of creating, even takes delight in creating. I love the way poet James Weldon Johnson expressed it:

                        Then God smiled,
                        And the light broke,
                        And the darkness rolled up on one side,
                        And the light stood shining on the other,
                        And God said, That's good! (Italics are mine)

Again and again, Genesis one echoes with the words, "That's good!"

Then man messed things up by sinning. That's not good! But God is also in the business of re-creating. It goes by many names--restoration, reconciliation, regeneration, redemption; but it still takes an act of God, and it is still an act of creation, bringing  about something that is new. He sent His Son to begin the task of renewing His creation; and in the end, His Son will complete the task. Theologian Bernard Ramm explained it this way: "The culmination of redemption is to bring into existence the new, so that the theme of eschatology could well be that given in Revelation 21:5, 'Behold, I make all things new.'"

Eschatology is the study of last things, things that will happen at the end of the age. And at that time, our Lord will have made all things new. In the meantime, however, He has been at work already making things new. In fact, the word make in Revelation 21:5 is a present tense verb, which means that He is making all things new even as I write this sentence. Redemption began at the beginning when God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins. Actually, it began before the beginning, since God chose us in Christ "before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." (see Ephesians 1:3-5) Now, in Christ Jesus, He continues to make all things new. And will continue until He consummates His work into eternity.

The Bible has several words for new. The one John uses in Revelation 21:5 is the Greek word kainos, meaning new not in terms of time, such as recently occurring, but new in terms of form or quality. It is something of a different nature from what is old.

To make "all things new," He began with us. Paul says, " if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17, italics mine) God doesn't just patch up the cracks we've created in our lives. Remember Jeremiah's potter? "But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make." (18:4) Jeremiah pictured what God is doing for us this very day, remaking us into another vessel as it pleases Him.

He is changing the form and quality of our lives to make them more like His (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). In Ephesians, Paul described it. He said, "... that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Ephesians 4:23b-24, italics mine)

Our new self is characterized by righteousness because righteousness is a vital quality of God's character (John 17:25). Our new self is holy because He is holy (Leviticus 19:1; 1 Peter 1:15-16). And it bears the integrity of truth because He is the truth (John 14:6).

As we begin each new day, week, month--yea, each new year, we can praise the Lord that Jesus will not present us to His Father as merely the "old man" improved, but as an entirely new creation with a new name, a new heart, a new nature, and a new body  "holy and blameless" in Him (Ephesians 5:27) who specializes in making "all things new!"

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