The New Creation
September 16th, 1984 @ 10:50 AM
THE NEW CREATION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-16-84 10:50 a.m.
And it is a joy for us to welcome the multitudes of you who share the hour with us on radio and on television. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message, as I said, entitled The New Creation.
Reading from the next to the last chapter in the Bible—Revelation 21, Revelation 21:
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, Behold, the dwelling place—the skēnē—of God is with men, and He will skenoō, 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 all passed away.
And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, look, I make all things new.
The New Creation; the Bible begins in Genesis 1:1 with what possibly are the greatest words to be found in human speech: “In the beginning God”; “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” And if God did it, God did it beautifully, perfectly, resplendently, marvelously, gloriously. Anything God would do like that would reflect His own omnipotence, glory, and grace.
In the beginning God created all of the universe, all of the atoms, all of the ions and electrons and protons and neutrons, all of the stars and the planets in their orbits. God created it all in the beginning. It had a beginning. Somewhere, everything we see had its initiation, and God did it. That means God did it perfectly, flawlessly, resplendently.
Then a great catastrophic tragedy overwhelmed God’s created universe. “And the earth became tohu wa bohu” [Genesis 1:2]. Tohu, without form, a great vast waste of darkness and sterility, and bohu, wa bohu, it became barren and sterile and fruitless. Isaiah says in chapter , verse : “God created not the world tohu” [Isaiah 45:18]—the exact word there. God created it not vain, and void, and empty, and sterile, and formless, and waste.
Something happened. We are told in Isaiah chapter 14 that Satan made this world a waste, a wilderness [Isaiah 14:16-17]. We know therefore that after God created this universe and all that is in it [Genesis 1:1], created it beautiful and perfectly; as Isaiah says, God created it to be inhabited [Isaiah 45:18]; then the great tragedy of Satan’s fall [Isaiah 14:12]. And wherever sin enters into human life or in God’s universe, it brings with it waste, and destruction, and sorrow, and darkness [Genesis 1:2]. And that’s what happened to the earth.
When Satan fell and sin entered God’s universe, the whole creation fell, all of it! Those burned-out stars and those darkened suns and this earth itself became formless and void [Genesis 1:1]—a waste of matter. It was then that God created, God re-created this earth. And He did it in six consecutive days, in twenty-four hour periods, the evening and the morning of the first day, and the evening and the morning of the second day. And God created this beautiful earth. He re-formed it. He refashioned it. He reshaped it. He re-created this fallen planet [Genesis 1:3-25]. Then the same and identical thing happened again.
As at the beginning, God’s beautiful creation was ruined by sin through Satan, so the second time God’s beautiful re-creation was destroyed by Satan through sin—the serpent, through our first parents [Genesis 3:1-6]. And the earth fell. And the ground was cursed [Genesis 3:17]. Whenever you see a man out in the field, plowing, tearing up the earth, those iron teeth of the harrows destroying the earth, that’s a part of the curse of God that came upon this fallen earth. The brier grows. The thorn grows. The thistle grows. The weeds grow [Genesis 3:18]. The earth is cursed. The whole planet fell in sin. And the story of its sorrow and pain and death is the story of mankind ever since. This earth is nothing other than a vast graveyard, a vast cemetery in which to place our fallen dead.
Now in the third chapter of the second letter of Simon Peter, we are told, as in other places, that God someday shall purge this earth and this universe of all of its sin and unrighteousness and darkness and death. It will be dissolved in a fervent heat. The elements shall return to their primordial form, and that whole creation of God shall be burned with fire [2 Peter 3:10, 12]. It shall be cleansed. It shall be purged. Everything that is wrong and everything that is transgressing and sinful shall be taken out of it. Then shall come to pass this ultimate and final revelation described for us in the twenty-first chapter [Revelation 21]. Out of this purged mass of God’s creative work, He will reshape, He will remake, He will re-create all of the heavens and this earth. There will be no destruction of what God has made. It is a renewal. It is a renaissance. It is a regeneration. It is a renewal. It is a re-creation [Revelation 21:1-5].
I see that in the words that are used. There are two words for new; neos; neos is new as regards to time. A youth is neos, neos. There’s another word, kainos. And kainos is new in kind, new in quality, new in excellence. And that is the word used here [Revelation 21:1-2]. Let me give an example of that word kainos. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the apostle Paul writes: “If any man be in Christ, he is a kainos creation. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things become kainos, new” [2 Corinthians 5:17]. That doesn’t mean a man is annihilated when he becomes a Christian. That means he’s regenerated, he’s renewed, he’s remade, he’s born again [John 3:3, 7; 2 Corinthians 5:17]. He’s somebody new—the old man passed away.
Now that is the word, kainos, a new heaven, a remade heaven, a rejuvenated heaven, a regenerated heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21:1]. The old heaven above us and the earth beneath us, all of it, is remade and renewed. It is not extinct. It is not destroyed and then God creates it again. There is no evidence ever that anything God ever created ever ceases to exist. There’s no atom that God ever promulgated that shall ever be destroyed. It never enters into extinction. It is forever. There is no tendency on the part of things to be annihilated, any more than there is a tendency of nothing to create something. What God has created is forever.
For example, when God creates a child, He creates that soul and spirit in that child forever. Ecclesiastes 12:7 it says that when we die this body returns to the earth as it was. Not extinct. “The body returns to the ground as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it.”
Nothing ever becomes extinct. Nothing ever is annihilated. It is rejuvenated. It is remade. It is regenerated in the power of God. There is a word in the New Testament that describes that: palingenesia. The English language has taken the word and literally spelled it in the English, palingenesis, palingenesis. Palingenesis is an English word that means renewal, born-again, recreated. Palingenesia is the re-creation of God.
The [nineteenth] chapter of the Book of Matthew quotes our Lord as saying there is a time coming when God will palingenesia, there will be a new creation of the whole world, a regeneration [Matthew 19:28]. Paul uses that word in Titus 3:5 when he says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy” hath He has remade us and renewed in us the Holy Spirit [Titus 3:5], in a palingenesia, in a new regeneration.
That is what God is going to do to this fallen world. These stars are going to be beautiful again as they were in their primordial, pristine form. And this earth will be Edenic again. The whole universe will be re-created: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for this old first heaven and this old first earth were, parerchomai, passed away” [Revelation 21:1]. Now parerchomai, para means “alongside, parallel,” para, parallel. Erchomai means “to come and go.” Now we’ll use that word with regard to a man who goes through a door: parerchomai, he comes from this place to that place, from this condition to that condition. Or a ship, parerchomai, will go through the sea from this condition to that condition, from this place to that place. That’s the word used here. The heaven and the earth passed away; parerchomai, it changes condition [Revelation 21:1]. It was this way, now it’s this way. It was here and now it’s there. It’s going to be a beautiful example of the creative power of God when He re-creates the heaven and the earth—a new heaven, a new earth, and one primordially pristine in beauty and glory and power.
Now he says another thing: “And I John saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” [Revelation 21:2]. The New Jerusalem: that will be our capital city. That will be our address in glory. And it will be the center of God’s created new heaven and new earth; this glorious New Jerusalem. That is our central location. That’s our central address. But the whole universe will be ours to administer [Revelation 3:21]. There are millions and millions and billions and billions of God’s redeemed family, and we are going to inherit and inhabit the whole creation of God.
In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, the Lord said to this faithful servant: “You will be ruler over five cities” [Luke 19:18-19]. And to this faithful servant, “You be ruler over ten cities” [Luke 19:16-17]. There is administration in the kingdom of God. There always has been. In the Old Testament, in the Mosaic legislation, it was organized, all of it! In the New Testament, in the church, it is organized. These twelve apostles are ordained, and there are pastors, and there are teachers, and there are elders, and there are deacons. God administers His kingdom. That’s going to be the way it is in glory. There’s going to be vast administration, planets and cities and teeming work for God.
Let me tell you, there’s not anything more ridiculous than the caricature of what we’re going to do when we enter into God’s ultimate kingdom. Such as, these cartoonists will draw a picture of a man who has died, and he sits on a cloud strumming a harp with a halo over, and some kind of funny-looking wings on him. That’s crazy! That’s ridiculous! There is nothing in the Bible that even portends or approaches any suggestion like that.
We have work to do, forever! Even in the garden of Eden, our first parents were placed there to till and to dress the garden [Genesis 2:15]. Work is what God intends for us to do. The Lord works. We work, and we are going to work. The only thing about the new kind of work is it will be without weariness, and it will be without tiredness, and it will be without the perspiration of the brow. It will be a joyful work. We will love doing God’s assignment in this new heaven, in this new world, and in this New Jerusalem.
Now I have another thing that I think is true. How are we going to get from one side of God’s infinite universe to the other side? There are billions and billions of light years in God’s created universe. Now light travels at 186,000 miles a second, and it would take us billions and billions of years in our administration in this new creation of God. Well, my brother, that’s going to be slow, incomparably slow, 186,000 miles a second.
We are going to go from one of our great planets and administrative duties to the outer fringe of the universe just like that. It’s going to be like this: as I think in my mind, I’m in Hong Kong now. Then I think in my mind, I’m in London now. I think in my mind, I’m in Rio now. I think in my mind, I’m in Bangkok now. No, I’m in Tokyo. I’m up there in Seoul, Korea. That’s how fast I can go. Just like that. That’s the way we’re going to be in this palingenesia. When we come into our inheritance in this new created world, we’re going to go from place to place in our administrative duties just like that, as I can go from Hong Kong to London in my mind just like that.
And it’s going to be a glorious, glorious city, our capital city, a New Jerusalem. The first time we meet that Jerusalem is in the Tel El Amarna tablets. Tel El Amarna—El Amarna was the capital, the ancient capital, of Egypt. And they discovered there three hundred and eighty cuneiform tablets. And after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone they were able to decipher those cuneiform tablets. And they were letters from Palestine. And it mentions Jerusalem, the “city of peace.”
Jerusalem, the “city of peace”; it has been anything but that! There is no spot, there’s no place in this earth that has been crimsoned with the blood of hatred and war as Jerusalem has. The city has been destroyed more than thirty times. It was conquered by the Jebusites four hundred years before Rome was founded. In about 1000 BC it was conquered by David, and he made it his capital [2 Samuel 5:6-13]. It has been conquered and destroyed again and again and again, by the Assyrians, by the Persians, by the Babylonians, by the Greeks, by the Romans. In 70 AD, Rome destroyed the whole city. In 132, they sowed it down with salt, forbidding any Jew ever to enter it. It has been the prize of the Saracens, of the Arabs, of the Turks, of the Crusaders, of the British.
I went to visit Jerusalem about thirty-four years ago, and all through the night, I heard the crack of the rifles. When you’d look out in the window, there would be that awful barbed wire and those dragon’s teeth in order to prohibit and inhibit the march and the assault of tanks. And on that side would be soldiers, standing on this side—soldiers facing each other. It has been a war land, a war city, ever since it has been founded, and is to this day. The tension there is indescribable and continuing.
But all of that will be passed away. This is going to be the city of peace. Its name means “city of peace.” Shalom—Jeru–shalom, City of Peace. And that is where we’re going to have our central headquarters. Our address will be on some golden boulevard across from some marvelous square. That’s going to be our capital city—a new heaven and a new earth and a New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:1-2]. A new city!
And we’re going to have a new and blessed life. It is described here in a marvelous way. We’re going to live in that city and in that re-created universe [Revelation 21:3]. We are going to. We are going to—we, not something else, not some other, you will be you and I shall be I—and we are going to live there.
The great distinctive doctrine of the Christian faith is you: the resurrection from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:21-23]. My brother, every kind of religion, pagan idolatrous, any kind, every religion had its doctrine of immortality. Greek mythology is that almost altogether. On the other side of the River Styx there were all of those shadowy figures, living in immortality.
The distinctive doctrine of the Christian faith is the resurrection of the dead; that you are going to live again. You’re going to be raised from the dust of the ground and the heart of the earth. You are. You are! That’s why in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Acts, when Paul stood before the Areopagus, the supreme court of the Athenians, and when he began to preach the resurrection of the dead [Acts 17:31-32], the Epicureans laughed out loud, “Ha-ha-ha-ha; listen to that screwball, that nut. He’s preaching the resurrection from the dead.” And the Stoic philosophers were more gentle and more kindly. They just bowed and said, “We will hear you again about this inane, impossible, ridiculous doctrine.” And they left [Acts 17:32]. All of the pagan world believed in immortality, but resurrection was unthinkable to them!
That’s why underneath the city of Rome you have the catacombs. The pagan world burned the body. But the Christian, because of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead—our Lord was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], we are going to be raised from the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17]—they lovingly and tenderly laid their dead away. And that’s why the catacombs. By law, you were to burn your dead. But those first Roman Christians buried them against the resurrection day of the Lord [1 Corinthians 15:22-23]. And they built, they dug, those catacombs underneath the city of Rome where they buried their beloved dead.
The heart of the Christian faith is the resurrection from the dead. That’s Easter. That’s every Lord’s Day. That’s the hope of the Christian in Christ. We shall live again, and we shall be ourselves. In the first advent, our Lord came to resurrect our spirits, to regenerate our spirits [1 Corinthians 15:45]. In the second advent, the Lord comes again to resurrect our bodies, to regenerate our bodies [1 Corinthians 15:51-52]. And the whole purchased possession is precious in the sight of God, our spirits and our bodies [1 Thessalonians 5:23]. That is the Christian faith. And if a man preaches the Christian doctrine, that’s what he preaches: that Jesus came in the world to die for our sins [Hebrews 10:5-18; 1 Timothy 1:15; Luke 19:10], that we might be reborn in our souls [John 3:3-7]. And He is coming again the second time to remake and to resurrect and regenerate our fallen bodies [1 Thessalonians 14-17]. It’s a great faith. It’s a great doctrine!
And the Lord says here in that beautiful life that we shall live, He says there’ll be no more sorrow. He is going to wipe away all of our tears. Sorrow dogs our steps like our shadows follow us. There will be no more sorrow, and there will be no more death [Revelation 21:4]. Can you think of that? There will be no churches located in a cemetery. There will be no graves on the hillsides of glory. There will be no funeral processions through those golden streets.
Eleven-thirty in the morning, over there in Embree Hall, we have a funeral service. And after the funeral service, through the city of Dallas you’ll find us winding through this labyrinth in a funeral procession. You’ll never see that in the New Jerusalem. There will be no funeral processions down those golden streets. And there will be no wreaths hung on the doors of our mansions in glory. And there will be no stonecutters cutting, incising epithets on some marble monument. There’ll be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall be any more pain: for these things have all ceased to be [Revelation 21:4]. Ah, what God hath reserved for those who love Him! [1 Corinthians 2:9]
And one other thing: we shall have a new and a blessed and an enduring fellowship. “And I John saw the holy city . . . And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying: Look, look, idou, behold, behold, the skēnē, the dwelling place, the house where God lives, is with men, and God shall skenoō, He will dwell,” such as you live where you live, “God will dwell with men. And God will be their God and we shall be His people” [Revelation 21:2-3].
Can you think of that? Can you think of that? Can you think of living in a beautiful, golden city with God? Well, what kind of God? The Bible is very plain in that, and you listen to me” there is more unmitigated inanity over this than any one thing that I know of in doctrinal history. You listen to me: our minds can only know in reason and in truth one God. One God! There is one God. Just one! [Isaiah 46:9; 1 Timothy 2:5] And we’ll know only one God. That the mind would entertain two Gods, three Gods, multiplicity of Gods is unthinkable to an enlightened mind. Your mind knows one God. Just one! The only God you’ll ever know is God.
Second avowal: The only God you’ll ever see is Jesus Christ, the Lord Jehovah God. In John 1:1, it begins: “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 beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” “And the Word became flesh” [John 1:1, 14].
“The Word was God,” and God was the Word, and the Word was God. “And the Word became flesh” [John 1:1, 14].
In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Lord says: “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9]. He and the Father are one [John 10:30], He says. When I see Jesus, I see the only true God that there is. There’s no God but one [1 Corinthians 8:4]. I’ll never see but the Lord Jesus Jehovah God. That’s the only God I’ll ever see.
And the only God I’ll ever feel is the Holy Spirit. “I will send Him that He may abide with you for ever” [John 14:16]. Called the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Encourager [John 16:7]. The only God I’ll ever know is God [Isaiah 46:9, 1 Timothy 2:1]. . The only God I’ll ever see is Jesus God [John 1:1, 14]. And the only God I’ll ever feel is the Holy Spirit in my heart [John 14:6]. And in that beautiful city of Jerusalem, we shall live with God. We shall live with the Lord Jesus [Revelation 21:2-3]. Think of it. Think of it! No wonder Paul exclaimed: “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, neither hath entered in the heart of a man, what God hath prepared for those who love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9].
And we watch our Lord God where we live with Him. We watch Him walk out and speak and bless. And we can touch Him and speak to Him. And oh dear, the things I want to ask Him! There will be emancipation; we’re free. There will be revelation; we’ll understand. And there will be inspiration; we shall see Jesus. We shall see His face [Revelation 22:4], the Scripture says here, and live.
“And, and, and there was no more sea” [Revelation 21:1]. Now why does God, in the new creation, speak of that? “And there is no more sea” [Revelation 21:1]. There are two reasons for that. Number one: the sea to an ancient was a fearful and awesome monster. They had no compasses. And when the storm came, it blotted out the stars, and the mariners had no idea where they were or where they were being blown. The sea was a fearful creation in the eyes and in the days of these ancient people.
And the sea separated between John and his beloved church over there beyond Patmos. He was on an island in exile, he says in the first chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 1:9]. And the people that he loved, and his church, and all those dear to his heart were on the other side of that sea. And John says, up there in this glorious new city that is our home, there will be no more separation. We’ll not be apart. We’ll be with our Lord and together forever and ever and ever [1 Thessalonians 4:17].
So it’s like this. One day, I knelt down by the bedside of an old sainted man of God, and I prayed, as I just somehow naturally do. I try to bring strength and comfort to these whom I see who are not well. And I knelt down by his bed, and I prayed for the old saint. And I prayed that God would lay healing hands upon him, and that God would raise him up, and that God would give him length of days. That’s the only time in my life I was ever stopped while I prayed.
The old man put his hand on my shoulder and spoke saying, “Pastor, don’t pray that. Don’t pray like that. Don’t ask God to give me length of days and to raise me up.” He said, “Pastor, my family is all gone. My mother and father and all of my brothers and sisters, they’re all gone. They’re on the other side. My own family is all gone. My wife and my children, all of them are gone. Every friend that I’ve known through the years, they’ve all gone. They’re on the other side. And I’m alone. I’m alone. I am alone. Pastor, pray that God will release me and will open the doors of glory and I can be with Him and with these I’ve loved and lost for these years.”
So I started again, “Lord God, look down upon this pilgrim, Your child of faith and love and grace, who’s alone in the earth. He’s a stranger in the land. Now Lord, open the doors of glory and release him that he may enter in.” And in just a little while, he closed his eyes and God welcomed him in glory.
That’s what that means. “There was no more sea” [Revelation 21:1]. No more separation. There are cold dark waters that roll between us and our Lord; cold, dark waters that roll between us and eternity; cold, dark waters that roll between us and the heaven. But in glory, there is no more sea; no more the waters, dark and forbidding, roll between us and our Lord and these whom we’ve loved and lost for a while. That is the Christian faith. God says our inheritance is not here, it’s there [1 Peter 1:3-4]; our rewards are not here, they’re there [Luke 6:23]; our home is not here, it’s there [John 14:2-3]; our abiding place, our skēnē, our dwelling, is not here, it’s there [Revelation 21:2-3]. We’re strangers and pilgrims in the earth with our faces lifted up towards God’s Promised Land [Hebrews 11:13, 10].
We are going to stand in a moment and sing our hymn of appeal, and a somebody you, to give your heart to the blessed Jesus [Romans 10:8-13], come and welcome. God opens the door for the least, humblest one among us that knocks, entering in. You are welcomed into the kingdom. You are welcomed into the church. A family you to put your life with us in this dear, praying, worshipping congregation [Hebrews 10:24-28], come. Your wife, your children, “Pastor, all of us are coming today.” Welcome. A couple you; a man and his wife; a groom and his bride; a friend whom you love, come. Or to give your life in a new way to the Lord, “Pastor, I renew, and re-avow, and recommit my soul, and love, and gratitude to God, and I am coming.” As the Spirit of the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. No one of us leaving, not now; we are praying. We are waiting. We are believing God will give us a sweet harvest. Then after the invitation, you are free to leave. But now, let’s wait before God and look to God for a harvest; a gift from heaven, and that is you. Come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.