"And He that sits on the throne said:
Behold, I make all things new!" Rev. 21:5.
"...That He might create in Himself of the two one new man..." Eph. 2:15-16.
"If any man is in Christ he is a new creation." 2 Cor. 5:14-17.
"...His body shall not remain all night upon the tree... for he that is
hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land..." Deut. 21:23.
"...Whom they slew, hanging Him on a tree..." Acts 10:39.
"Christ... having become a curse for us." Gal. 3:13.
"...The Lamb that has been slain from the foundation of the world." Rev.
"...The glory which I had with thee before the world was." John 17:5.
"...By the blood of an eternal covenant." Heb. 13:20-21.
All these passages have a relationship with one
another, and are linked with the word: "Behold, I make all things new."
We see in it God's plan with three main phases.
The first phase is related to the foreknowledge
of God. Some of the passages we have read refer to something which happened "before
the world was". Jesus said of Himself that He had a glory with the Father "before
the world was". The Lamb had been slain "from the foundation of the world".
God saw, in His foreknowledge, the need of a
redemptive work, and laid the ground of a new creation. He saw the end of the
redemption in its consummation - fulfilled through the Cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ who was slain, according to God's purpose, from the foundation of the
world; that is, before the ground of the new creation was laid.
In Hebrews 13 we read of the blood of "an
eternal covenant". That does not refer to a 'future' eternity. That word
points to the past, a past as seen from our standpoint; because for God the past
and the future are alike: an eternal present time. But the Word, being written
for our sakes, and taking account of our limited realm, wants to show us that in
the foreknowledge of God the blood of an eternal covenant was already set apart.
Then this creation came into being. It appeared out of the chaotic state of a
judged world, and "it was very good." After that came the fall. Through
sin the evil one got the upper hand and saw to it that the history of the world
became one of darkness and human misery. Now the creation is waiting for the
redemption - "the unveiling of the sons of God".
This leads us to the second phase of God's
purpose, the Cross of the Son of Man. In Him appears, at the same time, the new
creation. On the one hand the old creation was judged, and came definitely to an
end in Him as our Representative. In the death of our Lord Jesus Christ all have
died. On the other hand He is the resurrection and the life, "the firstborn
from among the dead". But this new creation is not like the old one. The new
heaven and the new earth are of a different order. We now live "by faith and
not by sight". It is a spiritual world, entirely new; new in an
The third phase is presented to us in the book
of the Revelation, chapter 21: "Behold, I make all things new." That is
the new creation in its consummation. It is a spiritual creation as the ultimate
outcome of the Cross of Christ. This spiritual creation will take a form which
is adequate to its nature: a new heaven and a new earth.
These three phases of the divine plan are very
clear in God's Word. But let us now turn to the central thing, namely the fact
that it is the Cross which is at the basis of the all things to become new.
The Cross has two sides. It represents the end
of an old creation, and the coming in of a new one.
Shall we now see the point from where God takes
up His new work? Well, there was a moment in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
when this whole creation was, so to speak, in ruin. Spiritually we meet that
which is told us at the beginning of the book of Genesis concerning the state of
the earth. We read: "The earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the
face of the deep." That was the result of a fall. It meant judgment. When we
come to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and see again the darkness upon the
earth which lasted until the ninth hour, and hear Him cry: "My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?", we understand what He meant when He said: "Now
is the judgment of this world." In Him, the Son of Man, God has brought the
creation in its fallen state, and the whole work of the devil under His
judgment. God abandoned and rejected it in its Representative. That terrific
judgment fell upon one person. One man became the representative of all.
Jesus Christ on the Cross represents the whole
creation under the judgment of God. God was visiting in Him the sin of the whole
world. The whole creation went down into death. God cut the very light of His
countenance from His Son. All the sin of this creation, searched through the
heart of one man. The answer to His cry: "Why hast thou forsaken me"
would be in effect: "Because of the sin of the world which is upon You. Because
of the work of the devil who has to be destroyed." The apostle Paul says: "One
died for all, therefore all died." We know that in His Cross the whole world
is put away. "The old things are passed away."
But we have to realise this in our
consciousness; we must see it. The natural mind cannot know it. The wisdom of
the natural is, according to James, inspired of the devil. We see a devilish
wisdom at work today. Only if God is giving us light can we see the things in
His light. Then we see what the natural man really is. We see the Cross as the
revelation of God's wrath over our sinful nature. The Cross of Calvary is the
judgment over this sinful world. And because we belong, by nature, to this world
which God has abandoned, therefore the Cross of Jesus Christ has to be
registered in our lives; that what we are by nature has to come under the
judgment of the Cross. We have to repudiate ourselves continually that our life
may not come under the wrath of God. We dare not serve God with that which He
has rejected. God has rejected the wisdom of man. He will not have it in His
service, neither will He have any other 'abilities' from ourselves. God can only
use that which comes straight out from the new creation.
So we have to be very careful. There is a
constant need for heart-searching in this matter. How easily something of the
natural man creeps in. Again and again we want to serve and do things - with our
best intentions - where we can do nothing, where we must do nothing, where God
has to be doing all in us, where it has to be in the strength of a new life to
bring in a new ministry. There is a need to keep very close to the Cross of
Christ. The Holy Spirit must be allowed to keep this natural man on the Cross
that all things may be truly "out of God", and not from ourselves.
Is it not a terrible thing that we can come
under judgment even in the work of God? It is impossible to live an acceptable
life before God with resources which are under His curse, with that which we
produce, in the strength of our ability. In the book of Deuteronomy we
read that the body of him that is hanged upon the tree "shall not remain all
night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is
hanged is accursed of God". In the letter to the Galatians Paul interprets
this word in speaking of Christ, "having become a curse for us". One
hanging on a tree overnight would pollute the whole land. Our Lord Jesus Christ,
as the Representative of the whole creation, would pollute the whole earth, if
He remains all night on the cross! There can be no more terrible thought in the
Word of God. How this unveils to us the awful condition of this creation which
is abandoned of God. It is so cursed that everything of the old nature, without
any reservation, is left, rejected and put away in Him who, as its
Representative, has become a curse for all.
If ever we see the necessity of a new creation,
the need of an absolute new creation, we see it here. Everything must
become new. The Word of God says: "Behold, I make all things new! God has
raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Again we come to the book of Genesis. "The
earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." And
God said, "Raised from the dead through the glory of the Father!" God
raised His Son from the dead. He brought Him forth as "the firstborn from the
dead". It is a new creation which is rising. In Christ we too are a new
creation. It is true, without a doubt: "All things are new".
"But all things are of God". All things
are become new. Our wisdom is a new wisdom. Our strength is a new strength. Our
heart is a new heart. Our capacities are new capacities. All things are become
new. It is Christ in us!
I realise in a new way that we have to be very
diligent to see to it that we do nothing out of our own strength, that God is
doing all. Looking into the work of my own mind there are my own thoughts, there
is the strength of my own desires, strong passions of heart and will. But I ask
the Lord to keep me in dread of myself, for this whole creation, all of what I
am in Adam, is cursed. It lies where God has abandoned it. He cannot use it.
Everything now must be of God.
I do want to urge upon you to have more
heart-searching in this matter. Oh, there is a wonderful new creation with
divine resources! There are marvellous possibilities, because they are God's
possibilities for us. All things are possible from God's side. Shall we not take
the place where all things are possible? We can be there where all things are of
God. HE is initiating things, HE is doing all. Let us reach out to come into our
God-appointed place in Christ - the fulness of God in Him. Therefore we have to
come to the Cross, and accept its implications from both sides. We must see that
awful side of the Cross of Jesus Christ - the curse of the cross - that He was
crucified for us, and we in Him. We dare not bring anything of that old
creation into the new life, for it would continually come under God's judgment.
The day might come when all our work would have to be burnt. There is a big
difference between that which is done for the Lord, and that which is of the
Lord in us. "He that is hanged is accursed of God." With Christ we
have hung upon the tree, and God has forsaken us in His Cross. But that is not
the end of all, but the beginning of a far bigger thing, something altogether
new. Let me say it again: we cannot come into the new thing unless the old
things are passed away. "Behold, I make all things new"!
May the Lord bring us there where it can be
said of us in truth: All things are new! And may He establish us in it moment by
moment. May the Cross be registered in every realm of our lives, working in our
spirit, soul and body, in mind, heart and will. May it operate in our words and
works, that all may be governed by His Cross, and a clear way made for the glory
of God, and the fulness of our Lord Jesus Christ.