Happy New Year, everyone! 2014 is here, the beginning of a new year. As is the case every January 1, many of us are looking at things in a new way. We have new goals and resolutions. We are fixated on the fact that it is a new year, a new beginning. As the film Forrest Gump puts it, we all get a second chance.
However, is that really true from an eternal perspective? Does the changing of the calendar year really make any sort of difference as far as God is concerned? Does the ball dropping at midnight on January 1 change the condition of our souls in his sight? The Bible, God’s message to us which trains us in righteousness so that we may be complete in his sight (2 Tim. 3:16-17), gives no such indication.
What truly gives us a second chance? What makes us truly new in the sight of God? Rather than the flipping of a page in a desktop calendar, God tells us it is the blood of his Son which gives us a second chance. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
The One who sits on the throne in heaven said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Contextually, he was referring to the holy city, new Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God with man in which he will dwell with us, wipe our tears from our eyes, and eradicate death, mourning, crying, and pain…“for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:2-4). While many apply these sayings to refer to the eternal reward of heaven, a more immediate and biblical application would be to Christ’s church, “the assembly (ekklesia, church) of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” which the Hebrew writer calls “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” and in which is that “sprinkled blood” of Jesus which has freed us from our sins (Heb. 12:22-24; Rev. 1:5). That same church is called the body of Christ (Col. 1:18). Do you want Jesus to save you? If so, you must be a part of his body, the church (Eph. 5:23). It is the church God was speaking of when he said, “Behold, I make all things new.” It is only in the church that we find that precious blood of Christ which cleanses us from our sin (1 John 1:7-9).
Do you want to be a child of God? The Bible says you must be “in Christ Jesus…through faith” for that to happen (Gal. 3:26). That means you must be in Christ’s church, because the church is the body of Christ. In fact, the church is said to fill up Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), so it makes sense that conclude that to be “in Christ” means to be in his body, his church. How does one get into Christ? How does one get into his church? Through immersion, the literal meaning of baptism (Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13).
Notice what Paul wrote in Rom. 6:3-7: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
How does God make all things new? How do we get our second chance? When we repent of our sins (2 Cor. 7:9-11) and are baptized (Acts 2:38), we die and are born again in a spiritual sense (John 3:3-5). All things are made new. Our old self is dead. We walk in a new life. A new beginning. A clean slate. The baptism washes our sins away (Acts 22:16), for it is at that point that we come in contact with the blood of Christ that cleanses us (Eph. 1:7; Rev. 1:5). When we come up out of the water, we are in Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). We have been baptized into his body (1 Cor. 12:13), his church (Eph. 1:22-23) of which there is only one (Eph. 4:4), the church of which Jesus is Savior (Eph. 5:23).
It’s January 1. A new year, with many possible new beginnings. Yet, in eternity all of these new beginnings we associate with a new year will very shortly pass away (James 4:13-17)…but God’s Word will never pass away (Matt. 24:35). Do you want the REAL clean slate? Do you want God himself to make all things new concerning you? Do you want your sins forgiven and washed away? Do you want to be saved and born again to a new life? Read and study each of the scriptures previously cited with an honest and open heart (Luke 8:15). If you believe in God’s Word (Rom. 10:17) and believe with all of your heart in Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10), then prove your faith to be alive rather than dead by your actions (James 2:14-26). Obey God’s command to repent of your sins and be baptized into his Son’s body (Mark 16:16; Acts 17:30; 1 Pet. 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13), and you will rise up out of the water with all things new (Rom. 6:3-7; Rev. 21:5).
THAT, my friends, is how to start the new year off right!