OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew

               With December now ended, we have entered into a New Year.  For many, the New Year also means a new start.  Resolutions are made.  Goals are set.  Plans are developed.  It is refreshing to be able to have such an opportunity.  The old year is past with all of its failures, mistakes, disappointments, and hardships.  We look to the New Year with renewed zeal and great hope.

               As God’s children, we need to be reminded that our God is a God of “new things.”  Let’s look at several of the new things that come from the God of heaven.  In John 13:34, Jesus told His disciples about “a new commandment.”  He said:  “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”  Love was not the new part of the commandment.  The “new thing” was the standard of the love that was to be practiced.  The disciples were to love one another “as Jesus had loved them.”  The love of Jesus was the perfect expression of agape love.  It was a sacrificial love from beginning to end.  His love was unfeign and impartial.  It extended beyond the borders of culture and race.  Jesus loved all men and put their needs far above his own.  The command to love was now exalted to a divine height.  As Jesus loved, so we are to love one another.

               In addition to a new commandment, Jesus also gave a “new testament.”  This covenant had been predicted by the prophet Jeremiah.  “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house ofIsrael and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31).  Jesus also spoke of this new covenant when He instituted the Lord’s Supper in the upper room.  “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:27-28).  Upon the death of Jesus, the New Testament was put in force.  “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  For a testament is of force after men are dead:  otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:15-17).  This testament involves all men, not just the Jews.  It involves the one, single sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  It involves the complete removal of sins and transgressions.  It is a covenant that contains better promises than those found in the old covenant (See Heb. 8:6-13).  It is a privilege and a blessing to live under the New Testament of Jesus Christ.

               In Hebrews 10:20, we read of another new thing, “a new and living way,” that enables us to enter into the holy of holies.  The Most Holy Place is the place where God dwells.  In the Old Testament, only the high priest had access to this place once each year (Exo. 30:10; Lev. 16:1-4).  The way to that place was by a cold, lifeless path.  Now the Most Holy Place, heaven, is opened to all children of God.  Its way is a new and living way.  It involves both the person and work of Jesus Christ.  “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:19).  Because Jesus is our high priest, each Christian can “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22).  Each of us should rejoice when we enter into our closets to pray.  Through Jesus, we walk a spiritual pathway into the Most Holy Place and prostrate ourselves before the mercy seat of God.

               There are still some new things that are yet to come.  One of these is the new heaven and new earth.  In II Peter 3:12-13, Peter asserts that the faithful of God are looking for two things:  1) the coming of the day of God, and 2) the new heavens and new earth.  Let’s listen to Peter’s own words:  “Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  There are some false views that exist with regard to the new heavens and new earth.  Some believe that the present heavens and earth are only going to be purged of evil and renovated.  This supposed “new” heavens and earth, they say, will be the dwelling place of the righteous.  This theory asserts that the present heavens and earth will not be completely destroyed.  Peter’s words, however, indicate something much more than a mere purification and renovation of the earth.  Going back to II Peter 3:10-11, we learn the following:  1) the heavens shall pass away (perish), 2) the elements shall melt (liquefy), 3) the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up (consumed wholly), and 4) all things shall be dissolved.  This present dwelling place is going to be completely annihilated.  It will no longer exist.  A new dwelling place will be prepared for the faithful.  It is called the new heavens and the new earth.  In the Revelation, John confirms this position:  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:  for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1).  The Christian longs for this place.  It is reserved in heaven for all the faithful (I Pet. 1:3-5).

               This new heavens and new earth will contain the New Jerusalem.  “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).  In this beautiful city, they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life will dwell (Rev. 21:27).  “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it…” (Rev. 21:24).  “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).  The Lord God and the Lamb will be its temple (Rev. 21:22).  They, too, will be the light thereof (Rev. 21:23).  The saved with walk the street of gold (Rev. 21:21).  They will enjoy the pure river of water of life (Rev. 22:1), as well as, the tree of life which will bare twelve manner of fruits (Rev. 22:2).  The redeemed will see their Lord’s face, and have His name in their foreheads, and will serve Him for ever and ever (Rev. 22:3-4).  Nothing that defiles or works abomination or maketh a lie shall be there (Rev. 21:27).  All enemies will be destroyed, and the gates of the city will swing outward ever (Rev. 21:25).  This is part of the Christian’s hope.  “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Pet. 3:13).

               In addition to all of these new things, God has given every human being the ability to become a new creature.  Our old man of sin can be cast aside.  In Christ, we can become a new creation.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).  The key is to be “in Christ.”  Paul reveals how we can enter into Christ.  “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).  The culminating act of initial salvation is baptism.  The old man of sin is crucified.  In baptism, he is buried in water.  The individual being baptized arises to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4).  At that time, he will daily submit to the New Testament.  He will practice the new commandment.  He will utilize the new and living way.  And, He will eagerly look for the new heaven and the new earth.  Once there, he will sing “as it were a new song before the throne” of God (Rev. 14:3).  The New Jerusalem will ring with the praises of those who have gained the victory through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ.