By Tim Vink
Christmas is full of new things. Every gift I’ve seen unwrapped from under a Christmas tree for decades is a new thing. Retailers love it, and for shipping companies this is the busiest season of the year.
The apostle Paul opens his letter to the church in Rome talking about the greatest gift of all time, God’s gospel. God is the greatest giver ever, and when God wanted to communicate this love, he wrapped up the gospel in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Six hinges of history in God’s gospel are the pivot points for all people in all places and at all times: the birth and life of Jesus, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit through Jesus at Pentecost, and Christ’s second coming. Paul, who was an expert on the Old Testament, knew of the more than 300 prophecies fulfilled in real time by Jesus spanning these six essentials of the gospel.
So what is the stunningly new thing in this gift of God wrapped up in the person of Jesus? He “was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead” (v. 4). Jesus did not just come back to ordinary life, amazing as resurrection was for him and others whom he raised. Instead, he is the first human resurrected to eternal living, the first of a new kind of existence sure to come for all who believe now, the evidence of the new heavens and new earth to come when he returns. This is new creation evidence before our very eyes.
Jesus is seen and touched in his resurrected status for 40 days on earth, by as many as 500 people at a time, says 1 Corinthians 15. Just 15 minutes of eyewitness testimony from each one who interacted with Jesus during those days would have a courtroom filled for five days and nights, nonstop.
The new thing God is doing at this pivotal point in history is tying the “already” (Jesus’ resurrection) to the “not yet” (new heavens and earth when the kingdom of God is fully realized). The resurrection of Jesus already demonstrates that the kingdom of God is at hand—how much more so will the complete change to the whole of heaven and earth demonstrate the explosion of power released in Jesus’ resurrection. This new creation will require the greatest power known to this universe so far, even greater than the first creation itself. Keep unwrapping that gift—forever!
Prayer: Mighty God of creation and re-creation, we see your awesome power displayed from the beginning of the story, through the middle, and all the way to end. Thank you for the great gift of gospel in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and return of King Jesus!
Tim Vink works with church planters and parent churches across the RCA as senior Church Multiplication catalyst. The 2016 Advent devotions were written by RCA church planters and parent churches.