Who Will Ascend? …A Message for the New Year

 

Perhaps one of the greatest promises that believers in Christ can hold onto is the fact that God promises to make all things new.  In the end of time as we know it, God, in His infinitely providential love, will create a new heaven and a new earth.  In Revelation 21:1, John described this process: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also there was no more sea.”  Revelation 21:4-5a goes on to declare, “‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’  Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”

He makes all things new.  Wow.  This is an amazing promise from the Lord of Hosts.

The popular Scripture passage of 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  While this is indeed a wonderful Scripture passage, it seems to contradict the above passage in Revelation.  Revelation seems to indicate that all things have yet to become new; however, 2 Corinthians indicates that all things have already become new.  Which is true?  The answer is both!

The passage in 2 Corinthians describes the beginning of our new reality in Christ.  The passage in Revelation describes the completion of that new reality.  Yet, we are not there yet.  Since Christ died and rose again, the people of God have been living in the tension between a waning old reality and an ever-waxing new reality.  Pastor Lonnie Parton of Victory Fellowship Church said it this way: “Your old reality has an expiration date; your new reality has a gestational period.”  We live in the time when the expiration date has not yet come, but the gestational period has already begun.

Some term this concept of tension as the idea of God’s Kingdom being here now but not yet.  It’s a dichotomy that is difficult for us to wrap our minds around.  Living in this in-between time can be a very trying process.  We find ourselves so desperately longing to be with the Lord at one moment, but in the next moment, we find ourselves holding onto our old ways of sin.  Perhaps this is what Paul described when he said, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Rom. 7:19).  Undoubtedly, we all can identify with Paul’s words when thinking about our own lifestyles and actions.

We all, like Paul, have a tendency to live in our old realities of sin and the flesh, rather than living in the new reality to which God has called us.  Yet, living in the tension between the old reality and the new reality does not have to be daunting for us.  Rather, we can see this time in which we live as an opportunity to rise above the tension and become increasingly aware of the presence of God with us everywhere we go.

A good summary of this idea can be found in the lyrics of the song “Holy Spirit” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt: “Let us become more aware of Your presence.  Let us experience the glory of Your goodness.”  The more we become aware of God’s presence with us, the more we will begin to experience that glory of His goodness.  The more we become consciously aware of His manifest presence in our lives, the more we will begin to live in the realm of our new reality—the Kingdom of God that is here right now!

So, the next time you find yourself living in the old reality, ask God to reveal more of His presence to you.  Ask Him to fill you with His presence and to make you aware of His nearness.  A sure way to get out of the old and into the new is to take the focus off of ourselves and this world and onto the reality of God’s Presence in our midst. 

He is Immanuel, God with us.  We say it all the time, but do we believe it?  His presence is more powerful than we could imagine.  If only we would ascend above the old realities of our lives and begin to passionately pursue that new reality that He has placed before us.  May our hearts ever continue to cry out, “Lord, let me experience more and more of Your presence in my life.”  May we never forget that He is the God who makes all things new.

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