And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
The greatest word that crowns all others is this: “I make all things new!” This is of special support and comfort when we realize how quickly everything passes away and becomes dust and ashes. All things new! God cannot tolerate what is corrupt and destructive but wants to change it. Of course we enter into new life only through repentance (Acts 2:37–38). Sadly, many people think of all sorts of things around them that need to change and not at all of themselves. Or they would like to have only certain things change so as to be able to carry on more comfortably. We should be deeply humiliated to realize that there actually is nothing that must not also become new, especially ourselves. If I were to take a close look at each one of you – all of you must become new!
This is how things are, my friends. A darkness has come over Christianity in regard to this very matter of renewal. We are so easily contented and so quickly satisfied with a Christianity that makes us only a little more decent. That is all people want. And yet if one takes a look at it one must say, “This cannot be all.” Not just a little taste of something new, but all things new, in yourselves first and foremost. How long have we been sitting around here; how long are we being preached to; how long have we let ourselves be admonished again and again! And still there is no breakthrough to something new. It could make one die of grief to see how little has actually happened. So much that is new lies before us, and still there are so few results; it is always at our doorstep, and still it will not come in.
Many people think of all sorts of things around them that need to change and not at all of themselves. We should realize that there actually is nothing that must not become new.
This could depress us very much. Instead, it should unite us in repentance. But why then don’t we turn around? Why do we not receive strength against sin? Why is it that so little happens? “Jesus Christ, our Savior, have mercy on us!” Shouldn’t this be our cry?
There are so many proud Christians; yet they have nothing to be proud of. They are intoxicated by their piety, and each one thinks that he is the one, that he’s got it, that his group is it. This is true for each one of us. Unless this changes, we will perish; we might as well join in the stream of death. Then you will see how in all their customs and practices people trudge along at the same old monotonous pace, till finally they are laid in the grave. Dirt is thrown over them, and everyone goes back home and continues living just as dully and superficially as before.
Therefore, turn to God! God does not say, “Perhaps, if possible, under certain circumstances, I will make things new; I have to think it over.” He says straight out, “I make all things new.” This promise belongs to our time. It is ready for anyone who wants to become new, who is ready to give up his possessions, who does not push his own person into the foreground and does not love his own life. Just try it! Go completely into repentance and then fully into faith. Even if only a few become new, it will still be something. And finally all things shall be made new.
In facing the judgments that have come upon the earth and that may yet come over us, we can lean upon this promise in faith. You know very well how things are. Murderous weapons are ready. The powers of darkness have risen and want to drive things to the point where the earth becomes a pool of blood. Must there be war and rumors of war forever? If we cannot pray for the time to come when God’s almighty arm will hold back warring armies, then it is a mockery to believe that God makes all things new.
God does not say, “Perhaps, if possible, under certain circumstances, I will make things new; I have to think it over.” He says straight out, “I make all things new.” This promise belongs to our time. It is ready for anyone who wants to become new.
Of course if everything is to be made new, then something must break in, not coming from us but from heaven. A new deed of God must happen; something living and real from Jesus must break into the physical world. It must become visible enough to show that the almighty God really is, and in such a way that he will not let himself be pushed to the side. But too many people just don’t believe that God does something from above. They might say, “He guides the destinies of the nations,” but then everything gets labeled as being from God, even when it is the evil one who does it. The time must come when we pray that the threatening dangers to God’s creation will be averted and our prayer will be answered.
There are many things that threaten us. Even if war does not break out, millions of people lose their lives all over the world through all kinds of trials: storms, landslides, explosions, earthquakes, epidemics, all kinds of accidents. At the same time there is an enormous amount of sickness of body and soul. How much sighing there still is in hospitals, how much misery in the mental institutions. And how many are being killed, some slowly, through envy, through hatred, through maliciousness of people towards each other. Just think of all the people murdered in one year. It doesn’t even take guns; people are perishing anyway.
Every family must be prepared for something to happen suddenly that will disturb its peace. Then we have to believe and pray that the judgments may be turned away. If God keeps his word, we can stand up against anything, especially if we ourselves are already living in what is new (1 John 5:3–5). Arise and go to meet what is new. Pray for it. Beg for it. The whole world will yet be renewed through the almighty power of God.
This alone is what Jesus Christ wants. For this reason he is the firstborn from the dead. For this Christ was born, for this he died and arose, for this he is sitting at God’s right hand. Go to meet this renewal so that it may come! This is what we must believe; this is how we must see what is before us.
The truth to which we must open our ears is the new reality the Son of Man brings to the world. It is the message that God now creates a new reality on the earth, beginning among his people.
When the divine comes, look out. Then we shall pass through judgment, through fire. Then we shall have to be purified, to become gold, not wood. Then we must become completely true, just as what is in heaven is true, just as the Lord Jesus is whole and true and all the angels are true and God himself is true (Heb. 6:13–18). So you also must become true. This is what new means. And this new thing is not something unheard-of. It is at our doorstep; it is already on the earth. Whoever has had a little to do with the Savior always sees something new.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” What is at stake is the truth. This truth must become a new reality. It is not a matter of new teachings, new laws, new institutions. True, Christianity has made many teachings and laws and institutions in the name of Jesus. Yet this is not the truth Christ speaks of. The truth to which we must open our ears is the new reality the Son of Man brings to the world. It is the message that God now creates a new reality on the earth, beginning among his people, and later in the whole creation. Heaven and earth will be renewed in this new reality (2 Pet. 3:12–13).
Too many of us live in the old reality, which completely occupies all our senses. It is the old story of perishing, of wasting away, and behind it lies a mighty darkness: death. We live and die. Nature lives and then dies. Sin enters into life. There are failures; people go wrong. In Jesus, however, a new reality appears, a reality that is opposed to the world’s history. Something new begins alongside the old.
The old reality does not suddenly disappear; it continues alongside the new. Yet in Jesus a new history begins, a new working of God (1 John 2:8). True, God has always been present in the old, and the Spirit has worked upon it throughout the ages. But now, yes now, something new has begun in Christ. God has meant it to be like that from the very beginning, but death still has its dominion. Even in the lives of the believing, death makes itself felt. This death was particularly strong when Jesus appeared, this darkness caused by the law, this deadliness of human teachings. Death’s power is so strong that Jesus had to struggle greatly in order to make people see that in him something completely different had come, a new history.
Two currents are now running alongside and in opposite directions. Sin wants to rule; it wants to wreak destruction wherever it can. Against this current, however, runs the movement of Jesus Christ.
This history is to be revealed in each individual person. It must become evident in you, in me, in all of us. Now something new is possible. Unless we place ourselves within this truth, we can accomplish nothing. This is no dogma; it is not just a new word. It is the Word that has power. It is the living person of Jesus Christ, in whom humanity’s new history dawns and in whom history culminates. Are you living in the reality of Jesus Christ? Have you placed yourself under the authority that has been given to him for you and for all people? Can you really grasp this? Can you accept it? Can you take it into your life? Can you let it guide your whole life, even in the midst of the deepest suffering?
Unless you do this you have no business striving after the kingdom of God. For what is God’s kingdom anyway? Certainly not Christian causes or institutions. God’s kingdom is the power of God. It is the rulership of God. God’s kingdom is the revelation of the divine life here on earth, the birth of new hearts, new minds, new feelings, new possibilities. This is God’s kingdom. Yet who can grasp what God’s rule means? Who can grasp what God is at all?
To fully understand this we must acknowledge that Jesus has come from God. He is the light that shines throughout the centuries (John 1:9). Only by him can it be said, “Can any of you convict me of sin?” Jesus has come from God to triumph over death. Jesus Christ has come into our midst as one of us so that death can be conquered. He has laid the foundation for a completely new life, a new order. In him we can become completely different men and women in the very depth of our beings.
We do not want to cling to what is human: Everything must come from the ruler, from Christ the Lord. He alone is victorious. No human being, no human movement can do it. Not even the best will achieve it.
This is the power, the true nature of God’s kingdom. Of what use is our Christianity if we keep falling back into death and if darkness continues to dominate our lives? What use is our faith in Christ if everything goes on in the old ruts? We are in a bad way if the power of sin continues to work in us. Then our Christianity, our belief and worship of God, is of little value. Facts must become visible, facts of life, of new life, new strength, new joy. We no longer live under the rulership of death, nor under its power of sin. We live in the reality of the true life that comes from God.
Two currents are now running alongside and in opposite directions, one to the other. Sin wants to rule. It wants to reach its goal; it wants to wreak destruction wherever it can. Against this current, however, runs the movement of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life. He leads us into something completely beyond ourselves. Even death can be overcome. Even if we still have to die, he promises, “Whoever believes in me shall not see death, even though he die.” What greater promise could be said to us than this? If we can hear these words and realize them, then even the history of the nations will be renewed.
In Christ a new day has dawned. It has come into the past, and it will come into the future. It is the eternity of God. For Christ is the one who rose from the dead. And because he is risen, it is he alone who matters. We do not want to cling to what is human, not even to those who are religious or godly. Everything must come from the ruler, from Christ the Lord. He alone is victorious. He alone pierces through the powers of sin and death, both in the world and in our own hearts. No human being, no human movement can do it. Not even the best will achieve it. But there is a new possibility. God can rule the world again. This possibility must live in our hearts. Then the true Christ will be with us, he who came to make all things new.
From Action in Waiting.
Photo by Genessa Panainte/unsplash.