By William R. Newell
Part Two: New Creation
Three great passages, Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:10-13 and the present Revelation passage, deal with this stupendous subject, the new creation. The definite and repeated statements that the old earth and heaven “flee away,” “pass away with a great noise,” and are “burned up”; together with the statement that “there was found no place for them,” compel the conclusion that those who argue that these words indicate only a “cleansing by fire” and not actual eternal dissolution and disappearance, shrink from the searching realities of this subject. The word “create” is a solemn word to modify or trifle with! We know that create in Genesis 1:1 cannot mean anything but the calling into existence of that which did not before have being (Hebrews 11:3). And certainly Revelation 21:1 is just as new a beginning!120
The words, “Behold, I make all things new” must be taken literally. It is not that things are “changed” or “purified.” The very laws of material being must be included in the new creation. Our Lord entered and stood in the midst, “the doors being shut,” and said, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having.” And our bodies are to be like unto His. In Isaiah 65:17 God says, “I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” In the more than one hundred and twenty Bible occurrences of the word “create” or its cognates, I can find no hint of any meaning except origination of things. There is no thought of a former creation, changed or cleansed.
Furthermore, this Revelation 21:1 plainly discriminates the two creations, in that one must pass away before the other appears.
The matter thus lay also in the mind of our blessed Lord who said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” To one of the simplicity of a child, all these Scriptures convey nothing else than the complete disappearance of a former creation and the appearing by the Word of God of a material creation absolutely new. Even the resurrection of the body does not prove the eternal existence of matter already created. We read, “That which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: and … thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain … but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him.” The former grain was gone and dead. The germ of life (a profound and undying mystery!) sprang up.
It is certain that the redeemed will retain and possess forever the memory of that former sinful state in the first Adam out of which God in grace redeemed them; but that is no argument for the perpetuation of the old Adam—rather the opposite!
For this is the great mystery of the cross: that there God secured the transference righteously of His saints from that Adam in which they were born into the Last Adam and the new creation. Their guilt was put away, and they being identified with Christ, died with Him and thus were brought to an end as to their history in Adam the first.
Then God, having raised up Christ as the “first born from the dead,” “made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him.”
Now before this history, we are called “separate from Christ, having no hope,” etc. But God now says concerning us we are “God’s workmanship, CREATED in Christ Jesus”!
That which is now true of us as spirits (for that which is born of the Spirit is spirit) will, when Christ comes, become true of us as to our bodies.
The fact that our Lord passed through doors, though in a body of “flesh and bones,” reveals that He was in that realm where all things are new, even the laws of existence and substance, as well as of action.
We dwell on these things because this hanging on to the old creation, admitting only that it is to be “cleansed by fire”; this claiming that “pass away” does not mean disappear, but merely be “changed,” and that God’s statement that the “earth and the works that are therein” will be burned up does not carry its simple and full meaning, but means only the clearing off the earth of its present order, the marks of sin, etc.,—all this we cannot but associate with the desperate effort of the legalists to hold on to Moses. They will, for instance, acknowledge justification by faith; but they must have the law as the “rule of life.” In other words, they will not consent to Calvary’s being the end of their history; with only Christ to stand in and to glory in forever. Like Agag, they come whining, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”
But we cannot but feel the power of the words, “I create new heavens and a new earth”!
Creation unto new creation becomes thus the phrase that spans the Bible.
The first creation was the sphere and scene of what God calls “the first things.” Sin, beginning in heaven and with the highest of the creatures, challenging the will of the Creator as the creature’s highest good, came in to mar, ruin, and wreck the first creation. Now comes at last, based upon Christ and His work, a wholly new creation which will never pass away, and in which the apostle Peter announces that “righteousness will be at home” (2 Peter 3:13, Greek). Even the temptation to evil will be eternally absent, for every opportunity of rebellion against the rule of the Most High will have been thwarted, every such rebellion having been proved by experiment disastrous to the creature, as well as dishonoring to the Creator.
The Two Final Classes
While those who chose darkness and evil deeds are indeed seen in this final state, it is as eternally separated from holy beings, and under divine indignation (Revelation 21:8). There is no longer any danger of invasion, either from former evil, or from temptation or trial in any sense whatever to God’s holy ones. Not only is evil no longer triumphant, as at present, and in the days of Antichrist, and even, though checked, during the thousand years’ reign; but there is complete, deep, final rest from it! And will not that be a glad day!
And, be it noted, the only two classes seen in this final eternal order are those who overcome, and those cast into the lake of fire. The “overcomers,” thus, are shown to be all God’s true children. For all had the divine gift of faith, all were begotten of God. So we read in 1 John 5:4: “Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.”
120 The searching words of Govett need to be weighed here:
“Many will not accept the Scripture doctrine of utter destruction of the old globe. What the reason is, is perhaps hard to say, but most will with earnestness contend that the fire will only purge the world, not destroy it. Perhaps this is owing to the felt connection between the entire destruction of man’s abode and the eternal suffering of the wicked. With some it arises from fancied scientific reasons: ‘matter cannot be annihilated.’ True, man cannot annihilate it, but cannot God? Did He not bring it into existence out of nothing? Can He not hurl it again into nothingness? This answer often brings out into view the fact that many do not believe in creation; they believe that God did not make all things out of nought. He only ‘framed them out of pre-existent matter.’ Such are indeed consistent: but they are opposed to the glory of God and to the testimony of His Word. Moreover, the apostle argues that the prophecy in Haggai foretells the final shaking of heaven and earth preparatory to their entire removal; in order that the new creation may supersede them (Hebrews 12:26-28).
“If any further proof were needed, the words of the passage in Revelation 20:11 are evidently designed to furnish it. The result of the passing away of the heaven and earth is that, ‘there was found no place for them.’ How this can consist with their atoms being remolded and constituting the place in which the redeemer shall live, would puzzle the acutest to discover.”
121 There have been many interesting, though not always profitable, investigations and surmises concerning these precious stones. Perhaps the most instructive remark I have found is made by J. N. Darby (Synopsis, in loc): “The precious stones, or varied display of God’s nature, who is light, in connection with the creature (seen in creation, Ezekiel 28; m grace in the high priest’s breastplate) now shone in permanent glory, and adorned the foundations of the city.”