THE PROMISE OF NEW THINGS
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Every January, we welcome the new year by celebrating the passage of the old and looking forward to the new. It is a time of reflection on what has been and a time of resolutions to change ourselves for the better with all the unknown potential of the future. The new year tempts us with the prospect of restoration, renewal, and regeneration—a promise that we can remake ourselves.
But unfortunately for us, Solomon tells us that what “has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new’? Already it has existed for ages which were before us” (Ecc. 1:9-10). The patterns of human work and behavior—its inane cycles of pleasure/pain, creation/destruction, build up/tear down, hope/despair, youth/old age, beauty/decay, life/death, etc. — are bound by a futility that results in nothing new. Looking into the outcome of every human endeavor, Solomon concluded “all is vanity [or futility]” (Ecc. 1:2b). Futility is the human reality that we are bound to in this world—enslaved to corruption resulting from our rebellion against God’s will in Eden. And within ourselves there is not so much as a spark of potential to rise above this futility, “for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption…For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8:20-22).
Thank God that He is not bound by the futile patterns imprinted in creation by the Fall! “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mk. 10:27). He has, does, and will do new things for us in this world that transcend the limits of the fallen nature in spirit and matter. “‘Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.’ Sing to the Lord a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth!” (Is. 42:9-10a).
Scripture is overflowing with His promises of new things, new life, new creation, new man, new song, new name, new Heavens, new Earth, etc.—a renewal out of futile behaviors and the restoration of all things to the way they were in His perfect will at the beginning. So in the midst of this fallen life’s futility, “we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit...groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). Yes, we taste the first-fruits of this new identity though the spiritual redemption that is in Christ Jesus with its promised redemption of our bodies in the resurrection—we walk in newness of life in the inner man. And while we are all still physically bound in the futility of the Fall’s rule over nature, we look forward to the approaching time when God will make us new in the image of His Son, and “we will be like Him” (1 Jn. 3:2b). Now we live for His Kingdom, not to plan our own way “better” in the world though declarations and resolutions of self-will.
If you belong to God, He is working new things in you, today, tomorrow, and for all eternity. The promises God has given about what he has done, is doing, and will do for us is not futile, but lasting and permanent. “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?” (Is. 43:18-19a).
May we look ahead to this new year secure in the promises of God’s new work in us and the new things He has promised for us, His Church, and His inheritance in Israel—in this life and the life to come. Pray He gives you a new song this year! Even so, Amen.