All things New
J. Hay Ritchie is a banker who spent many years in Argentine. Since his transfer to Canada, his spiritual ministry has been a blessing to God’s people.
God declares in His Word that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Such is the blessed experience of the child of God: quickened by the Holy Spirit, he is called upon to enter into the joy and power of a life which has been given him by God. In effect, only the Christian can enter into the real significance of that which is new, that which is completely unknown to the natural man.
After exhaustive inquiry in quest of satisfaction from the things of this world, Solomon, the wise king, stated, “There is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? … Behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:9-14).
Before considering several of the new elements to which the child of God is called, it would be useful to note the biblical use of the word, “new.” Mr. W. E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary explains that its use in Scripture denotes: first, something of a different nature. For example, the “new” tongues of Mark 16:17, and the “other” tongues of Acts 2:4. It does not denote that these languages had never been heard before, or that they were new to the hearers, but that they were new to the speakers, different from those they were accustomed to speak. Second, this word denotes that which is new in respect of time. thus, the “new” man of Ephesians 2:15, is new by differing in character, but the “new” man of Colossians 3:10, stresses the fact of the believer’s new experience recently begun, and still proceeding. The old man in him dates as far back as Adam. A “new” man has been born and is therefore fitly so called. The “new” covenant in Hebrews 12:24, is new compared with the Mosaic covenant which is old in character and ineffective.
We draw attention, then, to the three “new” things to which the believer is brought by the power of the Gospel. These are for his present obedience and realization, and constitute a new creation, a new service, and a new Heaven and a new Earth. This third one is definitely future in character.
A New Creation
The Scriptures are quite significant in this respect: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:15). “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24).
It is evident that the force of the word in these passages does not suggest the addition of another unit or the reformation of something already in existence. The stress is obviously placed on the creation of something entirely different in origin and nature: something of God: a new life whose resources are in God Himself: life everlasting implanted by the Holy Ghost through faith. Humanly speaking, no explanation of this blessed experience can be given; it is an experience known only to the true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, he who is born of God. Man has nothing to do with the imparting of this new life. That fact is an untold blessing in itself, for were this life the produce of fleshly man in any degree, it could not be of God. While, like Nicodemus, our finite minds fail to grasp the mystery, we know that everlasting life is our portion because God has declared it thus, and faith appropriates the blessing. “I know,” said the Apostle Paul, “whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
Now, this new creation will give evidence of its presence. John chapter three teaches that we do not know from where the wind comes nor to where it goes, but we do hear the sound thereof, and feel its effects and its power. These are the evidences of its presence. In like manner, this new creation, the new man, will give evidence of the new life by manifesting new desires and new customs, and by engaging in a new service.
A New Service
Christian service is a very practical evidence of the New Creation. Nowhere in Scripture are we called upon to give up immediately our secular employment to serve the Lord either at home or on the foreign field. The Lord might eventually lead us into such service, but immediately on conversion, God calls to new service.
In writing to the Thessalonians the Apostle Paul declares, “Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from Heaven” (1 Thess. 1:9-10). The attitude of the believer should ever be one of service.
It is significant to note the number of exhortations given in the epistles to servants and masters. God would have it understood that the first great opportunity of service is the manifestation of the New Creation within us, precisely in the faithful performance of our daily duties. Consequently, we find that the most menial tasks can be performed as service to God and to His glory, or otherwise. This is decidedly something new. Man has been trying to bring about a reformation in the labour world for some generations. Notwithstanding his efforts, conditions are further from a satisfactory state than they ever were. This New Creation of God, however, offered in the Gospels solves the most complex relations between capital and labour. The Christian is called to serve God in his secular work. When this is undertaken in that light, a perpetual motive is provided for waiting on our heavenly Master in regard to guidance and wisdom. Thus may His name be exalted.
“Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:9-10).
“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:5-7).
Alternatively, in this same chapter, exhortations are given to masters that consideration be shown to servants and that justice be practised for the sake of the Master in Heaven. Only God could produce such a life, such a service. New, indeed, it is never even thought of by men.
Then again, take the labourer called of God to evangelize in foreign lands. He looks to the Lord, and to Him alone to supply all his needs. Definitely this is a new form of service. Without this impulse of the New Creation of God, man could not conceive such a life of faith in God alone. By man’s measure, it is the utmost folly. But how wonderfully beautiful it all is, because it is divine, it is new, the Creation of God.
Every Christian is called to this service. It is to be performed in all places at all times. Many of God’s servants who have been privileged to be used of God in remarkable ways in world-wide service, have passed through the school of humble service first. It is not so much what we do, but how we do it. At our best we have to confess that we are unworthy servants, and that only by His grace are we sustained in such a high calling. May we stir ourselves to serve the Lord in His own way.
A New Heaven and a New Earth
The Apostle John wrote: “And I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth for the first Heaven and the first Earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1). This is the future environment into which God has called His children. At present, in the body, they are beset by many hindrances. An analysis of this situation reveals that their greatest problem lies within their fleshly hearts. The believer who has not yet made this discovery, is, indeed, ignorant. However, it will not always be so for there is a time to come in which he will be loosed from all the ties of earth which hinder him. The Holy Spirit directs the attention of the Christian forward into the unsullied presence of God where his soul will find unlimited satisfaction and joy in perfect service. God will provide a new Heaven and a new Earth in which the New Creation within him, and the new service to which he has been called, will express themselves within the intimacy of the Father’s house.
We, God’s beloved people, then shall be in our own element; an element suited to the new nature begotten in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, and now made perfect. While we have good reason to lament all the grief caused today, it will not be thus in Heaven. The presence of God there will be really visible. Nothing will veil His glory from our eyes. There will be perfect and eternal satisfaction, joy, and peace in that new state to which we actually belong. All former things will have passed away, and all new things will be of God.
As if to give us the assurance of this future bliss, God places His seal upon the description given by John; He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6). He cannot fail! The Eternal is the fullest revelation of God! Eventually, we shall be with Him, and like Him. In Him we shall inherit all things; the new Heaven and the new Earth will be ours, and God shall be all in all.