What's New?

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: New Things; New Life; New Year

As I thought about our having recently begun a new year, I thought of how sometimes one person will say to another, “What’s new?” Usually that isn’t so much an actual request for information, as it is simply a greeting, a way of beginning a conversation--and it is generally asked in a lighthearted manner.

But this morning I want to raise that question, “What’s New?” in a very serious vein, because when considered soberly and thoughtfully, it is an exceedingly important question, with extremely serious implications. “What’s New?” is a question that God deals with in his Word, and if you and I will take to heart what he has to say in that connection, we will be greatly helped as we face the remainder of this new year. So, with a prayer that God will speak to every last one of us at our point of deepest need, I invite you to explore with me the question, “What’s New?”

As we search the Scriptures in regard to that question, we’ll find a twofold answer; we’ll find that in one sense, nothing is new, whereas in another sense, there are definitely some things that are new. First, let’s look at the fact that...

I. In one sense, NOTHING IS NEW

In Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 Solomon said: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us.”

At one time Solomon was, according to the Bible, the wisest of all men. Sadly, in his later years he became backslidden and profligate, but he was still an extremely knowledgeable individual, and he surely realized that there would be new developments and new discoveries in the future. So, what did he mean when he said, “there is no new thing under the sun”? Apparently he meant that even though there would of course be new ways of doing things and new devices in years to come, the basics of man’s existence in this world had always been the same and would always remain so.

Sending men into outer space, landing them on the moon, and maintaining space stations hundreds of miles above the earth is certainly a new phenomenon, and was undreamed of in Solomon’s day; but basically all of that amounts to exploring the created universe, with a view toward harnessing its powers and finding ways to benefit mankind--which is essentially what man has been doing from the beginning of history, even though prior to this modern era his excursions and discoveries were obviously more limited--but the basic activity of exploring the world around us is not new.

Today there are more sophisticated ways to break God’s laws than there were in Solomon’s time--but basically nothing has really changed. Soon after the first man and woman were created, sin entered the world, and ever since then there has been stealing, adultery, perversion, and killing. Resentment, hatred, and murder began in the dawning of human history when Cain slew his brother Abel, as recorded in Genesis 4. The pathetic, God dishonoring spectacle of so-called same-sex marriage may be new in one sense, but basically it isn’t; we read about sexual perversion in Genesis 19, in the account of the men of Sodom lusting after the men--actually, angels in the form of men--who were Lot’s overnight guests. Stealing people’s I.D.s by computer hackers is new in its particulars, of course--but basically what they’re doing is as old as the hills, in that throughout history criminal minds have been finding ways to rob others. One ancient example of lying and cheating is seen in the record of Jacob stealing the birthright of his brother Esau and then deceiving his nearly blind father, Isaac.

All sorts of new weaponry have been developed by modern man for waging war--we have fighter planes that fly at unheard of speeds, we have drones, and rockets, and nuclear weapons--and even though all of that advanced technology was unthought of in Solomon’s day, nations have been at war with one another since the earliest times, and furthermore our Lord, when he was here among us in the flesh, told us that such would continue until his return. In Matthew 24 Jesus told his disciples that leading up to his second coming there would be religious frauds claiming to be Christ, there would wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, natural disasters, the persecution of believers, false prophets, betrayals, the abounding of iniquity, and the love of many waxing cold.

So, really, when you get right down to “where the rubber hits the pavement,” down to the very basics, in one very real sense, “there is,” as Solomon said, “no new thing under the sun.”

However, on the other hand, the Bible teaches that...

II. In another sense, NEW THINGS ABOUND

As we focus now on what the Bible says about those new things, I pray that every one of us will be open and receptive to whatever the Holy Spirit says to us individually, and I pray that we will respond accordingly--to God’s glory, and to our good.


To begin with, for all who have never experienced it, there is NEW LIFE available in Christ.

1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

That doesn’t mean that the person “in Christ” will be perfect--of course not; the only perfect, flawless individual who ever walked this earth was Jesus--but here’s what it does mean: the Bible teaches that when a person is truly in Christ, his life will be radically changed, positively and noticeably, in all areas.

He will have a new destiny, heaven, instead of his old destiny, which was hell. He will have a new primary devotion--to Jesus Christ, in the place of his old primary devotion, whatever it might have been. He will have a new sense of direction--in other words, a new set of “want to’s,” in the place of his old “want to’s,” whatever they were. He will also have within his life a new dynamic to motive and energize him as he seeks to move in those new directions, namely the indwelling Holy Spirit, in the place of whatever his driving force might have been previously.

Once a person is “in Christ” and experiences this newness in all these ways, and in all areas of his life, he will then have available God’s mighty resources to help him grow spiritually. As he avails himself day by day of these resources--prayer, Bible study, worship, service, and witnessing--he will gain an ever-increasing degree of victory over the temptations that assail him; he will become a more mature, consistent Christian.

2. But it all begins with becoming “in Christ”--and that brings us to the crucial question: how does a person come to be “in Christ”? Being “in Christ” is the same thing as being saved, converted, redeemed, justified, born again--all of those Biblical terms describe the same experience. So, how does a person come to that experience? The devil has deceived a lot of folks at that point--yet the Biblical answer is as clear as A, B, C.

a. First, ADMIT that you are a sinner, lost, and in need of a Savior. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We sin by wrong attitudes, wrong words, wrong actions, and by omitting things we should have done. Anything that is contrary to God’s standards set forth in the Scriptures is sin.

Furthermore, Romans 6:23 declares, “For the wages of sin is death....” The primary reference in that verse is to spiritual death, which means separation from God; and the Bible teaches that if a person continues in that separated condition, he will spend eternity in that inexpressibly sad place of separation called hell.

But no one need go to hell, for Romans 6:23 goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Bible explains how God came down to this earth in the form of a little baby, grew to perfect manhood, died on a cruel cross to take the punishment for our sins, and then rose from the dead and ever lives to save all who come unto God by him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

But in order to receive that forgiveness, that salvation, that newness of life that Jesus died to make available, one must not only admit that he is a sinner...

b. he must also BELIEVE. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

But many well-intentioned people have a woefully mistaken concept of what it means to believe. Saving faith is always accompanied by repentance. Repentance and Biblical faith are inseparable, like two sides of a coin. In Luke 13:3 Jesus said, “...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Also, believing in the Biblical sense is much more than merely accepting intellectually a set of facts about Jesus. Biblical faith begins with accepting those facts, but it doesn’t stop there. Believing to the point of being saved, becoming “in Christ,” involves a total surrender of one’s life to Jesus as Lord and Master. That’s what Paul meant when he said, in 2 Timothy 1:12, “...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

So, even though a person might be a church member, might have been baptized, and be looked upon as a Christian, if he has not turned his entire life over to Jesus, he is not “in Christ”--he is not saved--he is not going to heaven when he dies.

But if a person has believed in the Biblical sense and thus is truly “in Christ,” it will be obvious. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:20, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

So, as we think about how a person comes to be “in Christ,” the A, B, C, of it, we’ve noted that first of all, A--he must admit that he is a sinner, lost, and in need of a Savior; B--he must believe in the Biblical sense; and that brings us to the third letter:

c. He must CONFESS that he has made that commitment to Jesus. Someone says, “Now wait a minute, preacher; you just said that believing brings a person to the point of being “in Christ”--are you now adding something else? No, indeed; faith and faith alone is the way to be saved--but the Bible makes it crystal clear that true saving faith is not only always accompanied by repentance, it will also be evidenced by confession. That’s what Paul was telling us in Romans 10:9-11:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

Here’s how Jesus himself expressed it in Matthew 10:32-33: “But whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Real Christianity is personal--but it is never private; according to the Bible, a person who is truly born again will, without exception, confess Jesus before men.

So, there it is: If you’re lost, defeated, and bound for eternal hell, you don’t have to stay that way; commit your life to the crucified, risen, living, coming again Son of God, and he will give you NEW LIFE!


But there is also something else which is NEW--and this is great news for those who are heartbroken, who are struggling with temptations or with burdens of any kind. There is available to you NEW STRENGTH. One of the grandest promises in all the Bible is found in Lamentations 3:21-24:

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning....”

Sometimes when we’re going through a dark valley we may feel that we just don’t have the strength to face another day; but in this verse the inspired writer assures us that come tomorrow, God will be standing by with a fresh, new supply of spiritual strength and stamina that is ours for the asking--assuming that we are “in Christ,” of course.

Notice, then, the remainder of that great passage: “...great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”

So, whatever burdens are weighing on you, and however bleak the future may seem, don’t give in to despair; don’t throw in the towel; don’t withdraw from life; don’t lose hope; hang in there, because God will see you through if you’ll call on him each day for that new supply of spiritual strength.

It may be that, although you’ve been born again, you’ve gotten off the track of God’s will and have allowed the devil temporarily to overwhelm you, so that you’ve fallen back into some of your old sinful habits. Don’t give up on yourself--and don’t go to the other extreme of excusing your sins, or trying to “pass the buck,” or by trying to minimize your failure. Come before God not as an alien but as an erring child to a loving Father, and claim Jeremiah 3:22: “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” In other words, if you’ll come clean with God, repent of your disobedience, and reaffirm your allegiance to his Lordship, God will get you back on your feet and help you to make a new start--and he will pour new strength into your life day by day as you call on him.


And then, for the believer, for the person who is truly “in Christ,” something else is new: he has God’s promise of a NEW HOME--a new eternal residence when this earthly sojourn is ended. We read about it, for example, in 1 Peter 1:3-8:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

In Revelation 21:1-5 we read these words regarding our heavenly home:

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new....”

So, “what’s new?” NEW LIFE in Christ is available to anyone and everyone who will claim it by faith. Then, there is available to him, as a believer, NEW STRENGTH every day for whatever trials and tribulations he has to face; and when it’s all over down here, he will have a NEW eternal HOME in heaven, where there’s no sorrow, no pain, and no disappointment! As a dear friend of mine used to say, “What a deal!”

Bruce Larson, in his book, Believe and Belong, tells of the years he spent in New York City as a counselor. He said that often when some heartbroken, distraught person would come to him, he would have that person walk with him down to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. In the entrance of that building there is a gigantic bronze statue of the mythological Greek divinity, Atlas. That entire apparatus, the statue plus all of its accompaniments, is 45 feet tall and weighs seven tons. With his muscles bulging, and his head bowed from the stress, and looking as if he might collapse at any moment, Atlas is holding the world on his shoulders. His face and posture make it clear that he is struggling and barely standing up under the strain. Larson would point to that statue and say to his client, “Now that’s one way to live: trying to carry the world on your shoulders. But now come across the street with me.”

Then he would take that person to the other side of Fifth Avenue to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and they would go inside. They would walk up to the front, and there behind the high altar is a statue of Jesus as a little boy, effortlessly holding the world in the palm of his hand.

Referring to those two statues, Larson says, “We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, ‘I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my world, the whole world.”

You and I have that same choice. What will yours be?