Summary: A sermon for the New Year. We have a bright new hope. We’re not yet what we should be but we’re not what we once were--without hope and without God.
"He who sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new" (Revelation 21:5).
It is January 2nd, 2011…so far, so good! How pleased we are with things that are new. Economists are optimistic about first quarter growth; pastors are optimistic that Christians will renew their commitment to Christ and strive for spiritual growth.
The newness which Jesus brings is bright, clear, heavenly, enduring. We’re ready for a new year, hoping it will be an improvement over the last. Ring out the old, ring in the new! The former troubles are put aside and hid from our eyes. We’ve learned from the past, but choose not to live in the past. We’re eager for a new start. For people of faith, this isn’t mere wishful thinking or blind optimism. We trust divine Providence, convinced that God is with us and is working all things together for good.
The Bible opens with a beginning, and closes with a beginning. Creation is the first word, and new creation is the last word.
One day Jesus will right every wrong and create a new earth; a new order will replace the old order, polluted by sin…but one way Jesus makes “all things new” right now is talked about by Paul in II Corinthians 5:17. “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old way is passing away and all things are becoming new.” We don’t have to wait for the 2nd Coming; we can be made new now. Salvation is Paradise restored--a return to the Garden--as the curse of the Fall is reversed in us, and we are restored to our intended status as God’s children…and the Holy Spirit begins His work of ongoing renovation in our lives (sanctification). When we trust Christ our sins are forgiven, and this new heavenly process begins in us. Our salvation is something Jesus has done, is doing and will do. Renewal is not a hollow word for believers. The newness Jesus brings about has many facets…
• By His sacrifice, we have new birth.
• By His grace, He’s given us a new outlook and way of life.
• By His love we have a new relationship; we are God’s children and friends.
• By His power we have a new freedom; we are no longer enslaved to sin but set free.
• By His Spirit we have a new heart; we are dead to sin and alive in Christ.
• By His word we have a new direction, one that leads to Heaven.
• By His promises we have a new confidence; fears are gone.
• By His authority we have a new security, assurance of salvation.
• By His church we have new resources for spiritual growth.
• By His wisdom we have a new purpose, meaning, and reason for living.
• By His sovereignty God makes all things new!
We have a bright new hope. We’re not yet what we should be but we’re not what we once were--without hope and without God. Czech poet and former president Vaclav Havel, was a man who had plenty of time to think about hope during decades of Soviet rule. He made the following distinction: ‘‘Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out." We trust God, even if it seems our situation isn’t improving.
People are prone to improve life by means that diminish it. We can become enslaved by things we think will help us cope with the stresses of life, only to discover these things have taken over and are destroying us rather than improving our lives.
God’s work in making all things new is something we pray about constantly. We pray for His Kingdom to come, His will to be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. This can start right now. A friend of mine wears a t-shirt that says, “Where’s the Rapture when you need it?” We don’t have to wait for the return of Christ for things to be made right. And we need not fear. “If we’re trusting the One who holds the last minute, we need not fear the next minute” (Anon). The future can impact the present, because we know the outcome. We can be “more than conquerors through Christ who loves us” (Rom 8:37).
Some people find confusing the term “new birth”, also described as being “born again”. Yet this is an integral part of all things being made new. Nicodemus was puzzled by this. Even though he was a religious leader, he was totally perplexed, and took this literally, in John 3. He asked Jesus, “Does this mean I need to return to my mother’s womb?” But the new birth is about being reborn spiritually--going from death to life, from despair to hope, from sin to salvation. We are born broken. “If you’re born once, you die twice; if you’re born twice, you die once.” This new birth brings about a new perspective as well, a biblical outlook in which we see everything in God’s hand…even the mysteries of life we can’t understand. When we’re born from Above, all things are new in us.