THE NEW CREATION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11: 26
4-10-88 7:30 p.m.
When we observe the memorial of the atoning death of our Lord, I have not opportunity to deliver an extended message; but I cannot find it in my heart that we assemble in this sanctuary for the observance of this holy memorial and there not be some word from the pastor regarding its far-reaching and significant meaning. So tonight, in God’s goodness and grace, I am going to speak of the ultimate purpose of the Lord in the death of His Son Christ Jesus. The Lord’s Supper looks back, and it looks forward; and the message that I have prepared so briefly, the message is the forwardness of the purpose of the death of Christ.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, starting at verse 23:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show, you dramatize, you present the Lord’s death till He come, till He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
Looking back, this is the crucifixion, the death of our Savior [Matthew 27:32-50], looking forward to the day when He comes [Titus 2:13; Revelation 19:11-16].
I could entitle this brief message the palingenesia, the palingenesis; that is, the re-creation, the regeneration, the rebirth of the cosmos above us, the whole universe around us. That word is used by our Savior in Matthew 19:28: “Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That you who have followed Me, in the palingenesia, in the palingenesis, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The word palin is the simple Greek word for “again.” And genesis is the simple Greek word for “birth.” So when the word is put together palingenesia, palingenesis, it means the rebirth, and refers to the regeneration of the whole universe.
All of us are inextricably identified with this world in which we live. Nor can we extricate ourselves from it. We are a corporal unity with it: you and the world in which you live; the world above you, and the world around you, and the world beneath you. On it you live and walk and work. Out of its heart you eat. Its breath is the air around you. When you die, you are buried in it. We are a vital, inextricable, identifiable part of this universe in which we live. When we fell [Genesis 3:1-6], it fell. The ground was cursed for our sakes [Genesis 3:17]. The whole animal kingdom became vicious and full of enmity because of us. They also face death. The whole universe fell with us. When we fell, it fell. Those stars that are sterile, burned out suns; this earth cursed; the whole creation of God was bound up with us, and we are bound up with it. And when we fell [Genesis 3:1-6], God’s whole creation fell, all of it [Genesis 3:17, Romans 8:22].
But it is the purpose of God palingenesis, it is the purpose of God to redeem and to re-create the whole cosmos, all of it. He avows that in no uncertain terms. I read in Romans 8:21-23, “Because the creation,” the whole cosmos, the whole firmament, “because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now”—burned out stars, blasted deserts, and death universal—“and not only they, this cosmos, this created world, but ourselves also, we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” [Romans 8:21-23], when Jesus raises us from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]. All of us, all of us are going to see a new creation, a new palingenesis, a redemption of the whole universe [Romans 8:21-23].
The apostle John said in Revelation 21:5, “God says, Behold I make all things new…And I beheld a new heaven and a new earth” [Revelation 21:1]. All of it will be re-created. Even the animal kingdom will be re-created. Not only the stars that are blasted and burnt and ruined, and not only the earth that is cursed, but even the animal kingdom will be re-created. As Isaiah prophesied in the eleventh chapter, beginning at verse 6: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the carnivorous, ravenous lion will eat straw like an ox . . . They will not hurt nor destroy in all God’s kingdom” [Isaiah 11:6-7, 9]. The whole cosmos, the whole universe, the whole earth, and all that’s in it will be re-created, the palingenesis [Romans 8:21-23].
How does God do that? How does He propose to do it? He does it through the atoning death and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [Matthew 27:32-50; Romans 5:11]. That’s why in the center of the church the Lord placed a recurring ordinance that we might bring to mind and remember the far-reaching purpose of God in the death of Christ [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. He is victorious over the Grave. He is victorious over the curse [Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13]. He is victorious over Death [1 Corinthians 15:55]. And death has no power over Him. He conquered death. He is free. And in His love and grace and purpose, He brings victory to all of God’s creation—including us [1 Corinthians 15:54-57].
He came into the world for that purpose: to die, to pay the atoning price for the judgment upon our sins and our lost world [Luke 19:10; Hebrews 10:5-14]. He began His ministry with that announcement. In the temple He said, “You destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” [John 2:19]. And He spake of the temple of His body [John 2:21]. He began His ministry with the announcement of His atoning death. At the climax of His glorious and incomparable work, He spoke of His decease, which should be accomplished at Jerusalem. On the Mount of Transfiguration there appeared to Him Elijah and Moses, speaking to Him about what? About His exodus, the Greek is, about His decease, about His death, about the victory He was bringing to the whole world in Jerusalem [Luke 9:28-31]. And at the end of His ministry in the days of His flesh, when they came to arrest Him, Simon Peter drew out his sword to resist, and the Lord said, “Put up your sword. If I would, I could call for twelve legions of angels” [Matthew 26:52-53]. That’s seventy-two thousand angels! In the Book of Isaiah, out of which we just read, in the days of Sennacherib, one angel, just one, one angel passing over the army of Sennacherib slew one hundred eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers, one angel [Isaiah 37:36]. And our Lord said, “If I would, I could call for seventy-two thousand angels. But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled and the purpose of God achieved that thus it must be?” [Matthew 26:54]. And He voluntarily, having come into the world for the purpose of dying [Hebrews 10:5-14], He went to the cross and conquered death, and the grave, and sin, and the fallingness, and the curse of this universe; and we are a part of that redemption [1 Corinthians 15:54-57].
Who are these in that new and glorious world to come? “Who are these arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And the angel answered, These are they . . . who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night” [Revelation 7:13-15], in a palingenesis, in a new creation, in the atoning grace and death of our Lord [2 Corinthians 5:17].
And that’s why in the heart of our church God placed this sacred memorial, that we might remember Him [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. Oh, what a promise, what a vista, what a future waits for those who love, trust in, give their lives to our wonderful Lord Jesus! [Romans 10:9-10].
I’m going to pray now, and while I pray, the orchestra will find their way, and remember to come back to observe this beautiful ordinance with us. And after I pray and the orchestra leaves, we’re going to sing us a song of appeal, “There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood.” And a family, a couple, or just one somebody you, coming to the Lord and to us tonight, it’s a beautiful time, and welcome. Now may we pray?
Our Savior, what an incomparable promise we have in Thy grace and goodness! [Ephesians 2:8]. Lord, that You would come into this world, suffer and die for us [Hebrews 10:5-14]. O God in heaven how we praise the name of Jesus, washing our sins away [Revelation 1:5], promising life eternal [John 10:27-28], and giving to us a kingdom that shall never perish, a new heaven and a new earth [1 John 1:7; Revelation 21:1-5], a palingenesis, a recreation; beginning in our souls and extending to the outer edges of creation, and lasting forever and ever [Luke 1:33]. O Lord, how we praise Thee for Thy wonderful grace that has reached down even to us! [Ephesians 2:8]. In Thy precious name, amen.
I’ll be standing right here. And in the balcony, there’s time and to spare. In the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, you come and give me your hand. “Pastor, I’ve given my heart to the Lord” [Romans 10:9-10], or, “I’m coming to be with you and the family of God.” As the Spirit shall make appeal, answer with your life; while we stand and while we sing.