Even though we are already in the 2nd month of 2022, and in fact this month is nearing completion, I have wanted to make a simple New Year 2022 post about theology and life in Christ.
Better late than never eh?
I am not going to duplicate this already quality posting by Tom Crandall, but it does get to a key message I want to highlight as a belated ‘Happy New Year 2022’ post – that the reason we like the new year as much as we do is that it offers an opportunity to renew, start again, begin afresh, and the like. This little table generally describes the changes wrought in a person after coming to Christ and after the Holy Spirit regenerates that person and starts the work of sanctification.
We know from the Bible that in the future, real time, Jesus Christ will return to judge the living and the dead and to renew all things.
2 Timothy 4:11: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
But the question is, who is in the kingdom of Christ and who is not?
Well, in a way, everyone is in His kingdom, just be living in the universe.
Jesus is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14). This status is one for all time, everlasting to everlasting, forever in the past to forever in the future. But I am hoping to make another point than that – even though it is a very significant one. Jesus is Lord is a very important simple phrase, whether one admits it or not, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess (Romans 14:11). The notion that every knee shall bend and every tongue shall confess that God is King is not just a New Covenant statement, but in fact goes all the way back to the Old Covenant in Isaiah, where God says, ”
Isaiah 45:23: “I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
So, it is not new that God gets all the glory and that every single person will give that up at some point – either in grace, by putting one’s faith in Christ now, or at the judgment before being thrown in hell.
But the point of this post is that a person who submits to the Lord before he or she dies, that person will become part of the kingdom that will last forever. Otherwise, eternal damnation.
How does one enter kingdom of God? We have the answer to this question put forth in the bible in multiple ways and contexts, but the easiest and simplest verses are in the book of John.
John 3: 3-8: ” 1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
When one is born again, they have been given the ultimate grace, that of being given salvation, yes, but more particularly the remission of sins and reconciliation to God through the perfect life and sufficient death of Jesus Christ. Some refer to this phrase, ‘born again,’ as being ‘born from above,’ or ‘born of God.’ Whichever way you see it in translation or commentary is fine. They all mean the same thing – that no person can see the kingdom of God unless he or she has been granted the new life found in Christ the Lord through faith in Him alone.
Paul the Apostle tells us that whoever has been born of God has been made a new creation and is putting the old man aside. This point is made in many verses, but I will offer a few here:
Colossians 3:9: “you put off the old man with its evil practices” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
Galatians 6:15: “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
Unless one think that this is some newfangled covenant thing found only in the New Testament, declared by Christians, we know that in Christ, these famous words in Ezekiel are found to be fulfilled.
Ezekiel 11:19: And I will give them one heart and give within them a new spirit. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
Ezekiel 36:26: “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
It is this new creation and new heart, deep in our inner most self, that we need and that I believe we are yearning for in our new year resolutions and celebrations (at least, in the abstract). We need it and, I think, we know it. We know that God must be given all the glory and that he holds us accountable to the moral law that was given on Mt Sinai, written in Exodus 20.
Exodus 20: 1-17 “1 Then God spoke all these words, saying,
2 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of Yahweh your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female slave or your cattle or your sojourner who is within your gates.
11 For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male slave or his female slave or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
We also know that we fall short of this law. We know that we have sinned and that we fall short of this glorious law that reveals who God really is and who we are before His holiness.
Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
Who shall bring us gracefully and lovingly into the kingdom of God, who shall renew our hearts and make us born from above? Paul, in his letter to the Romans asks the right question. What hope can we have, if we come to realize that we are sinners in our hearts, and that we fall short of the God’s perfect standard that is himself, and that we require a change from the inside out, to be made anew from the heart?
Romans 7:24: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
Praises to the Lord Jesus Christ! He is our only hope and the only savior!
Romans 7:25: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
Christians, those who have been born of God, born from above, like I mentioned above, have been given the new life, the life that is eternal and that gives glory to the only God. We have been saved from hell, yes, but also washed and set apart for God from the former sin that we so cherished before we came to know Christ.
Don’t we all want to start anew? Don’t we all want to start with a clean heart? Christians are not perfect. Not even close. But God is and since He is holy, we are to purify ourselves and submit everything to Jesus and be renewed in our minds toward God with a clean conscience. Is that not really what we want?
I think it is. We may not want to embrace that truth. In fact, the Bible says we do not want that truth in our lives, that we actively suppress it. Once a person comes to the realization that they have fallen short of that law I quoted above, that we can not do those things the law demands of us, one MUST submit in God to faith.
Habukkuk 2:4: “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith” (Legacy Standard Bible, 2021 BY THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION).
One a person is born from above, born again, they have that new heart, that heart of flesh that was written about in Ezekiel and they will want to worship and serve their creator. The ‘true’ new year, of sorts, starts when a person comes to Jesus Christ in faith alone, and trusts him with everything. That person will be made into a new creation.
Please reach out if you want to talk further or want me to pray with you.