The New Creation


The New Creation

September 16th, 1984 @ 8:15 AM

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. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 21:1-5

9-16-84     8:15 a.m.


And God bless no less the great throngs of you who share this hour with us on radio.  This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The New Creation.

Now for our 2 Corinthians 13:5 commitment.  Would all of our visitors stand first?  If you are not a member of the First Baptist Church here, would you stand with us?  All of our visitors, everywhere, would you stand?  And God bless you.  Now with you, we are all going deeply to bow our heads, and I read out of 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

And our Lord, this is our covenant, looking inside of our deepest souls: we have come to listen to the Word of God, what the Lord hath to say, and we shall be here in prayerful presence through that appeal, that invitation for these that are lost to accept Jesus as Savior, and these who seek a church home to find with us in the family of God a place to walk with Thee.  So be with us now as we expound the Scriptures, in Thy holy name, amen.  Thank you, dear visitor, and again, a thousand times welcome.

The title of the sermon, The New Creation; in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation, chapter 21, next to the last chapter of the Bible:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:  for the old first heaven and the old 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, Look, look, behold, the dwelling place 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; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for these old former first things are passed away.

He that sat upon the throne said, Look, behold, I make all things new.

[Revelation 21:1-5]

This is almost, I can say, a vain attempt to pass before our eyes those incomparable, indescribable, marvelously beautiful things God hath prepared for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].  It’s our eternal and everlasting destination; it’s our beautiful and final home.

First, the new creation, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth” [Revelation 21:1].  These are the creations of God: the first one, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1].  If He did it, it was perfect.  It is unthinkable, unreasonable to suppose that what God did was imperfect.  If God did it—and the Book says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Revelation 21:1], if God did it, it was perfect.  It was beautiful, it was sublime.  Then something startling and tragic and catastrophic happened, “And the earth was,” there are many Hebrew scholars who would translate that became, “And the earth became tohu wabohu.” Tohu wabohu, it became a formless waste, a vast accumulation of God’s created matter, covered in darkness and water, “without form, and void” [Genesis 1:2].  In Isaiah 45:18, Isaiah expressly says that, “God did not create the world tohu,” the same word used here.  “And the earth became tohu wabohu,” formless and waste and void [Genesis 1:2].  In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, that same prophecy, he says that Satan made the earth a wilderness [Isaiah 14:16-17].  What happened was, between the first and the second verses of Genesis 1 [Genesis 1:1-2] is the fall of Satan [Isaiah 14:12-15].  And when sin entered God’s beautiful and perfect creation, it became waste, and void, and empty, and dark, a vast concourse of useless waste and matter [Genesis 1:2].

Then the Scriptures say that God recreated this waste and this void.  His Spirit moved upon the face of the deep, and in six days God re-created His fallen universe [Genesis 1:2-25].  The same thing happened again as in the first creation.  Sin entered, Satan fell [Genesis 3:13-15], and the whole creation was destroyed, it became waste and chaotic, the whole creation of God—the planets, and the stars, and the earth—all of it [Job 25:5].  The same thing happened again.  When God recreated the universe that He had made, it fell because of sin [Genesis 3:1-6], and the Scripture says the earth was cursed [Genesis 3:17].

The earth is cursed.  If you’ve ever seen farmers plow, they harrow the very ground itself with those iron teeth.  And the brier and the thistle and the weed grow up from this beautiful earth that God created [Genesis 3:18].  Then the Scriptures say, in the third chapter of 2 Peter, the Scriptures say that this earth shall once more be purged by fire; that the very elements shall melt with fervent heat, and God will destroy out of this earth all that hurt, and that offend, and that disobey His will and Word [2 Peter 3:10-12].

There is to be a vast purging of the entire universe, all of it, from its farthest extremities to where you and I live and walk and work [2 Peter 3:10].  Then after the purging of the earth by fire [2 Peter 3:10], in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation, God re-creates, and for the final and last time, God re-creates His beautiful world.  “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the old former first heaven and the old former first earth were passed away” [Revelation 21:1].

Now let’s look at what God actually says there: “a new heaven and a new earth.” Does that mean that all that God did is destroyed, extinct, annihilated, and He starts all over again?  Not at all.  New: there is a word for “new,” neos.  That means “new in time.”  There is a word for “new,” kainos, which means “new in quality, new in excellence” [Revelation 21:1].  And that’s the word here.  He used that word in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a kainos creation, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  When a man becomes a Christian, he’s not annihilated; he doesn’t become extinct and then God builds him up again.  New, kainos, “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation” [2 Corinthians 5:17].  God makes the old man a new and wonderful man.  That’s the exact word: “I saw a kainos, “a new” heaven, and a kainos, “a new earth” [Revelation 21:1].  God remakes it.

There is no such thing as a tendency on the part of things to be extinct, to be annihilated.  There is no evidence that any atom God ever originally created ever is annihilated, never.  There is no more tendency of a thing created to be annihilated than there is that a thing not created has a tendency to create itself.  God made all that you see in matter in the beginning.  It is never added to; it is never taken away from.  If God ever creates a thing, it extends itself forever.  For example, your soul:  when a soul is created, Ecclesiastes chapter 12:7 says the body returns to the dirt, just as it was; it doesn’t cease to be.  It still is, though in another form, “and the spirit returns unto God who gave it” [Ecclesiastes 12:7].  No thing God ever made is ever destroyed.

So the new heaven and the new earth are renovated, they are remade.  And the same thing is found in the word parerchomai: first heaven and the first earth “passed away,” passed away [Revelation 21:1], passed away, parerchomai.  Actually, para, you have parallel, para is “alongside,” and erchomai is “to go” or “to come.”  Parerchomai is “to go alongside”; parerchomai, “passed away,” in the sense that a man would pass through a door, in the sense that a ship would pass through the sea.  It doesn’t cease to exist, it just goes from this condition to that condition.  That’s the word that is used here:  “passed away”; just changed in its condition, “A new heaven and a new earth: for the old heaven and the old earth were passed away” [Revelation 21:1].  That is, it comes into a new and wonderful condition.

There is a Greek word that you’ll find in the New Testament, palingenesia.  They took that word and spelled it exactly into English:  palingenesia; that means “a regeneration.”  In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the Lord says that there is coming a time when there will be a palingenesia, a recreation of the world [Matthew 19:28].  You have that word in Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He hath saved us, by the washing of palingenesia, of the regeneration, of re-creation.”  The first time the Lord came into this world, He came for palingenesia of our spirits, to save our souls [Hebrews 10:39]; and the second time He is coming into the world, He is coming to palingenesia the whole creation of God [Romans 8:21].  In the beginning God created [Genesis 1:1]; and now in the end He beautifully and wonderfully re-creates [Revelation 21:1].

Then it says, “I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” [Revelation 21:2].  Not only a new heaven and a new earth, but a new capital city called the New Jerusalem.  That’s going to be our address in glory.  That’ll be the center of our universe, the New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:1-2], the new city described here in the Bible [Revelation 21:9-27], as you could take time to read it, glorious beyond any way to compare it.  The New Jerusalem; that’s where we’ll live [John 14:1-3; Revelation2 1:1-3], but we shall administer the whole vast creation of God [Revelation 5:10].

I sometimes think, in the infinitude of God’s universe, how is it that we’ll be in all of our various administrations?  For in the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the Lord says we’ll be administrators—some of us over five cities, some of us over two cities [Luke 19:17-19].  All kinds of work; God organized His work in the Old Testament, in the Old Covenant, in the Mosaic legislation.  God organized His church: He called out His twelve apostles [Matthew 10:1-4]; and in the New Testament we have pastors and elders and deacons, organized administrators.  God does His work like that [Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 3:22].  And that’s going to be the way it is in the great universe that is to come, this new place that God is investing our lives [2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:6].

In the garden of Eden we had assignments: the first parents were to dress it and to keep it [Genesis 2:15].  And the idea that we’re going to sit on a cloud thumping a harp and doing nothing is a caricature!  There’ll be great assignments for God’s people in all this universe, and we will pass—and I started to say a while ago, I think it’ll be like this: light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles a second.  I think we’re going to be able to move from one part of God’s universe as I can move in my mind.  Now I’m in Hong Kong.  Now I’m in London, England.  Now I’m in Rio de Janeiro.  I can go from one place to another, like that, in my mind.  In that beautiful and marvelous world into which we’re to be introduced, we’ll move from one vast section of God’s universe in the same speed that I can close my eyes and move from Hong Kong to London.

And it is called the New Jerusalem.  The first time that appears in human literature is in the Tel el Amarna tablets.  That used to be the capital of ancient Egypt.  And there it is referred to as Yerushalayim, “city of peace.”  It has been nothing but that.  Jerusalem, it is typical of this whole lost world: there is no place in this earth where so much blood has been shed as at Jerusalem.  It has been destroyed something like thirty times.  It was conquered by the Jebusites four hundred years before Rome was founded.  It was conquered by David when he made it his capital [1 Chronicles 11:4-5].  It was taken by the Assyrians, by the Babylonians, by the Persians, by the Greeks, by the Romans in 70 AD.  The Romans destroyed it.  In 132 [AD] they sowed it down with salt, forbidding any Jew ever to be there.  The story since has been one of bloodshed on the part of the Saracens and the Arabs and the Turks and finally, the British.  The first time I went to Jerusalem, many years ago, all through the night I could hear the crack of rifle fire.  When I could look out the window, there was that awful barbed wire and dragon’s teeth.  And all through the day and all the time I was there the soldiers were looking at each other over no man’s land.  They’ve been fighting over it ever since.  No place in this world ever has been typical of the bloodshed of war and hatred as Jerusalem.  Yet this is to be the city of peace.  What a change!  What an unbelievable difference God is going to make in this world when the bloody capital of the creation becomes the beautiful, holy city of God.

Do you remember that song?

Last night I lay a-sleeping,

I saw a dream so fair;

I stood in old Jerusalem,

Beside the temple there.

I heard the children singing,

And ever as they sang,

Me thought the voice of angels

In heaven in answer rang,

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!

Lift up your voice and sing.

Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna! to your King.

[“The Holy City,” Frederick Weatherly, 1892]

That is the work of God: the New Jerusalem, the capital of the world, when God brings peace to humanity [Revelation 21:2].

Not only a new creation, and not only a New Jerusalem, a new capital city, but there will be a new and blessed life.  We shall have a new body [1 Corinthians 15:1-58].  The heart of the Christian faith is the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:1-58].  That’s the difference between the gospel message of Christ and all the other religions of the world, and particularly and especially the Greco-Roman religion, where the gospel was first preached by the apostles.  All of the pagans believed in immortality.  So much of their literature concerns the life beyond the River Styx; but to believe that the Lord God would raise a dead body to life again was unthinkable to them.  For example, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Acts, when Paul on Mars’ Hill preached the resurrection of the dead [Acts 17:31-32], the Stoics laughed at him out loud, and the Epicureans mocked at him and ridiculed, “Ha, ha, ha, ha!  Listen to this idiot!  He sees the resurrection of the body.”  It was unthinkable to the Greek mind, unthinkable to the Greek philosopher.  But that is the heart of the Christian faith.

When people tell you, as they assume, that the catacombs in Rome were built so that the Christians could hide themselves, nothing approached such a thing as that. The catacombs were built in order that the Christians could lay aside their beloved dead; for to the pagan, the body was nothing, and they burned it, they cremated it.  But to the Christian, the body was sacred, and they buried it.  And because it was against the law, they built those catacombs underneath the city, and laid their beloved dead aside.  The heart of the Christian faith is the resurrection of the dead, this body [1 Corinthians 15:1-58].  And as the Lord said in John 14, “The body must have a topos, a place” [John 14:2-3], and the place is this new creation and the New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:1-3].  And he says, “God will wipe away our tears, and there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, for these things are all gone away” [Revelation 21:4].

There are no churches and cemeteries in glory.  There are no graves on the hillsides of heaven.  There are no funeral processions down those golden streets [Revelation 21:21].  They hang no wreaths on the doors of those mansions God is preparing for us in the sky [John 14:2-3].  These things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4].

Not only that, but we shall have a new and a blessed fellowship.  We shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the saints of God in the kingdom of our Lord.  It says here:

And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the skēnē—

translated here “the tabernacle”—

the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will skenoō,

He will tabernacle with them

[Revelation 21:3]

Skēnē, skēnē:  skēnē is “a dwelling place, a dwelling place.”  And God’s dwelling place is with men.  And God will skenoō, God will dwell with them [Revelation 21:3].  We will be visibly seen, and we shall visibly see the Lord God Himself [Revelation 22:3-5].

The only God we shall ever know in truth is God.  There’s no such thing as a multiplicity of Gods.  There is one God [Ephesians 4:6]; and the only God that our reasoning mind could ever accept in truth is God.  The only God we shall ever see is the Lord Jesus Christ.  John 1:1; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and we looked upon Him, and we beheld Him, full of grace and truth.”  Jesus is God.  And the only God we’ll ever see is Jesus our Lord [John 1:18].  And the only God we’ll ever feel is the Holy Spirit in our souls, in our hearts [John 14:16].  There is one God; and that one God is Jehovah Jesus [Deuteronomy 6:4].  And the one God that we shall see and dwell with and worship in heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ [Revelation 5:6-14]  And He says, “They will come from the east and the west” [Matthew 8:11].  “We have sheep,” He says, “that are not of this fold; them also I must bring” [John 10:16].  Of all those multitudes that sing the song of glory in heaven, they come from every tribe, and tongue, and language, and nation under the world, in the earth [Revelation 5:9].  And we are together with Him, our Savior.

And John emphasizes that:  he says, “And there was no more sea.  And there was no more sea” [Revelation 21:1].  The sea to the ancient was a fearful and terrible thing.  They had no compasses.  And when the storms blotted out the stars, they had no idea where they were, or direction in which they were being blown.  It was a cruel monster to the ancient mariner.  And with John, it was the sea that separated him from his beloved church, and his beloved friends, and the saints of God on the other side, beyond Patmos [Revelation 1:9].  And what he means by that, “and there is no more sea,” there’s no more separation, never, ever [Revelation 21:1].  Right now the cold dark waters roll between us and heaven, roll between us and eternity, roll between us and our Savior; but in that day, all of those waters are taken away, and we are with our Lord and one another forever and ever [John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17].  There is no more separation.

I knelt by the side of an old man, a saint of God.  And as I knelt by his side, I prayed that he might be well, and that God might raise him up, and that God would give him strength and length of days.  I was praying that.  And he reached forth his hand, and put it on my shoulder, and stopped me.  The only time in my life I’ve ever been stopped in a prayer.  He put his hand on my shoulder, and stopped me, and said to me, “Pastor, don’t pray that.  Don’t pray that.”  He said, “Pastor, all of my family, my father and mother and brothers and sisters, all of them are on the other side, all of them.”  And he says, “All of my own family, my wife and my children, all of them are on the other side.”  And he said, “Pastor, every friend that I have known in the long pilgrimage of my life, all of my friends are on the other side.”  And he said, “Pastor, I am so alone.  I’m so alone.  Like a stranger and a pilgrim in the earth, I am so alone.”  He says, “Now, pastor, I want you to pray again.  And this time, pastor, I want you to pray, ‘Lord, open the door for me.  Release me, that I can go to be with these.’”  So I started again, “Lord, this saint of God, who’s so alone in the earth, left behind, every family member, every friend he ever knew on the other side, open the door, Lord, and let him be with Thee and with God’s people and those whom he’s loved and lost for a while.”  And God answered the prayer:  in just a while, he closed his eyes and went to be with Jesus.

It is better over there than it is here [Philippians 1:23].  Our inheritance is not here, it is there [1 Peter 1:4].  Our home is not here, it is there [Philippians 3:20].  Our reward is not here, it is there [Revelation 22:12].  And our beautiful city and our eternal address are not here, they are there [John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:1-3].  That is the Christian hope and the Christian faith.

We’re going to sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, to give your heart to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], to put your life with us in the circle and circumference of this wonderful church, to give your life in a new and a deeper way to the blessed Savior, come; and a thousand times welcome, as you come.  While we stand and while we sing.