What will this new year hold for you and me as individuals? What about our families? What about the local church with which we assemble and labor? What about our nation? What about the world?
In many aspects of life, each year can feel like “the same old, same old.” We are reminded of Ecclesiastes 1:9,10, where it is written, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said ‘See, this is new?’ It has already been in ancient times before us.” Yet, we also know that if the world stands throughout 2018, there will be some new things. There will be new songs, new discoveries, new inventions, new businesses, new heroes, new disappointments, and new scandals.
There are some things which we could label as “The Guarantees” for this new year. For instance, if the earth still has humans on it, there will be new:
Births – The population of the world stands at about 7.5 billion people today, with the most recent data available showing that new births worldwide are over 147 million per year.
Deaths – The same source, Population Reference Bureau [www.prb.org], indicates that there are over 57 million deaths per year, which averages out to about 109 deaths per minute. Birth and death are part of the cycle of life, and this year many of us will visit newborn babies in a hospital and attend someone’s funeral.
Weddings – Young and not-so-young people will exchange vows and commit themselves to one another as husband and wife. Marriage is honorable (Hebrews 13:4), and when the relationship is in harmony with God’s will, it is a good thing to find a spouse (Proverbs 18:22).
Divorces – For some couples, their joyous wedding day is a distant memory. Sadly, this year many will decide to “call it quits” and legally end their marriage. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and wants those whom He joins in marriage to stay united (Matthew 19:4-6).
Spiritual births – What a joy to observe or hear about people being born again through obedience to God’s truth! (1 Peter 1:22,23). It is always a wonderful thing when the family of God increases because He adds a saved person to it (Acts 2:47).
Spiritual deaths – The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and sin will continue to ruin a lot of lives. Some who in the past walked loyally with the Lord either will leave their first love (Revelation 2:4,5), become buddies with the world (James 4:4), or fall prey to false doctrine (2 Peter 2:1,2).
Rebellions and restorations – Some arrogantly will rebel against the Lord, His word, or the church leaders to whom He has delegated authority. God’s children rebelling against Him is nothing new, as they did so in Isaiah’s day, too (Isaiah 1:2). On the brighter side, some disciples of Jesus will come to themselves (Luke 15:17), repent of their unfaithfulness, and come back to the Shepherd of their souls (1 Peter 2:25). How great that will be!
What about on the Godhead’s side of things? There is no doubt that God’s nature will not change. His love, holiness, justice, and all of His other attributes will go unaltered (Malachi 3:6). That is reassuring! God’s number one desire for humanity will not change: He still wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Rest assured that His arrangement for saving lost people will not vary from the past. Forgiveness will be available only in the Christ (Ephesians 1:7), and such will be obtained only by submitting to the gospel (Acts 2:36-38). God’s expectation for His church will be the same. He still wants it to glorify Him (Ephesians 3:21), act in harmony with His authority (Colossians 3:17), and worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Some aspects of 2018 remain unknown, as we do not know how they will play out. As God’s servants, what will happen with our faith, love, and Bible knowledge? In these areas, will we increase, decrease, or stay on a plateau? Will we become more zealous in doing the Lord’s work, stay at about the same level of enthusiasm, or slack off? What will we do with the opportunities which will come our way to do good to others and teach the gospel? Such matters will be in our hands. A new year is here. Let us redeem the time.
— Roger D. Campbell