Author: Ron Graham
A sermon for the New Year 2011 and a new decade. New years and new decades come and go, but Jesus Christ has provided three new things that will last forever —a new covenant, new life, and a new world.
Here's one of the great facts about Jesus Christ: "He is the mediator of a new covenant" (Hebrews 9:15). "He has obtained a more excellent ministry because he is the mediator of a better covenant enacted upon better promises ...a new and living way" (Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 10:19-20).
This new covenant is called the “gospel” meaning “good news”. The word “news” is simply new with an s on the end. At Jesus’s birth, the angel said to the shepherds, "Behold I bring you good news of great joy" (Luke 2:8-11).
This new covenant, the gospel, "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). It is powerful because it is ratified by the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28).
The best new year’s resolution we can make is that we will devote every effort to "walk worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27)
This gospel covenant is based on love. The old covenant was based on love, but the standard was "love your neighbour as you love yourself" (Matthew 22:34-40). In the new covenant there's a new standard of love: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34).
The purpose of the new covenant is to provide new life. This is the second new thing.
In order for people to understand why the gospel is good news, they have to receive some bad news first. They are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
The good news is that we can be raised up from that spiritual death, "made alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-6).
This new life is granted to us by the grace of God when we submit to Christ our Saviour in baptism. "All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death... buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4,8).
Have you ever wondered how Lazarus felt when Jesus gave him new life? (John 11). Yet, although it was a wonderful and joyous occasion, the new life that Lazarus received when he came out of the tomb was not everlasting.
When we come out of the “watery grave” of baptism, the life we receive is eternal.
As Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God... For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:5,16).
If you have not yet been baptized and received God’s gracious gift of eternal life, wouldn't doing so today be the best possible way to start this new year and new decade?
Of course eternal life does not mean living in this world forever. Like believers from ancient times, "we desire a better place to live, that is a heavenly one... for God has prepared a city" (Hebrews 11:15-16). This is the third new thing...
Peter says, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. In that day, the heavens will pass away with a roar... the earth and its works shall be burned up... but according to his promise we look for a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." (2Peter 3:10-13).
"Behold, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:5). When John heard Jesus say those words, he had seen a vision of "a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away" (Revelation 21:1-7).
What John saw in a vision, you can see in reality. You can live forever in the new world, in the city of God in heaven.
At the end of the Revelation, Jesus gives a promise, a warning, and an invitation...
“7Behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is the one who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book... 12Behold I am coming quickly and my recompense is with me, to render to every man according to what he has done... 17The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’ and let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:7-17).
Give heed to these things, and you will not only have a happy new year but happiness for ever and ever.