A New Beginning

No regrets in life? I know I cannot say that. My life has more pock marks than the craters on the moon. If I live my life over, I would avoid the incidental mistakes that carry disproportionate consequences. I would not spend energy on things that failed. I just have to admit it. I am not as holy as our Father wants me to be. I am not as effective a person as I want to be. I am not as loving as I ought to be. There is even a time when I did not want to serve as a pastor, and spent years in academic pursuits, but God closed my doors.

I have many regrets in life. But there is one important decision I made which I never regretted. The day I became a follower of Jesus. From that day on, I get new beginnings.

A new name

Some Christians in the early church were struggling with persecution from the authorities. But they were not a blameless church. They were suffering from libertine members in their midst. Some hold on to the teachings of the Nicolaitans who condoned participation in idol feasts and sexual immorality. To this group of struggling believers, the Holy Spirit gave this promise, “To the one who is victorious, I will give … that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17) That new name is a new beginning.

Our Father in heaven is not a keeper of wrongs. Jesus comes with his reward. One of the rewards for the Christians who had to bear the shame of the past mistakes and the smearing of our Adversary, is a new name that Jesus gives, a new free from any association with wrong doing. Our new name will be written on a white stone. That speaks of forgiveness, blamelessness, and purity.

Like them, my sins will be forgiven. It will not be a name that is smeared with accusations from the evil one. And if you have experienced the pain of a name that is justly or unjustly besmeared, you will know the value of the new name written on a white stone. What a wonderful promise that God sees me as fully redeemable regardless of my past!

The only person who knows this name that God gives is the person himself. It is a secret name. This gives us the picture of a name hidden from Satan, a name he cannot pollute because it is hidden from him. It is a secret name between me and God. This name cannot be sullied because no one else knows it. It is how God looks at me when I belong to him.

Our world can be a harsh place. The good we do is rarely recognized, if ever. The wrong we do is amplified. But when we belong to Jesus, he will tell our life story differently. We will each have a new name written on a white stone. Our life story will be about our forgiveness, our sanctity. Satan is the accuser who prosecutes us before God’s justice. But the Holy Spirit of God is our Advocate who tells our life story differently. He will give us a new name. All the wrongs associated with the old name will no longer touch us. Instead, our life will be a name on a white stone.

The name will be hidden, known only to each of us, and between God and you or me. Therein we will enjoy the comfort of our adoption into the family of our heavenly Father. It will be protected from accusations. I have a new life in him. And of course, that is not mine alone. “To the one who is victorious …” The promise is for all of us. To the one who repents of his sin; to the one who is victorious through persecution from the world; to the one who overcomes the spirit of the age of moral failure, we will receive a new name on a white stone, a secret name.

Arise to new life

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As much as Jesus rose from the dead, so also, all who belong to Jesus will rise to newness of life. Our new life begins when we confess Jesus in prayer and affirm it publicly in baptism. This new life will see its fullness when we are raised from the dead, just as Christ was raised from the dead.

Today, we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death could not hold him in the grave because he knew no sin. As the grave had to give Christ up when we belong to him, the grave will also have to give us up.

“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

Do you have a new name? Hope of a new beginning?

Pastor Peter Eng

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