New Year’s Sermon

Time has forgotten quaint Roland Hill, but in eighteenth-century England he was dearly loved. He founded and built London’s famous Surrey Chapel with his own inheritance, and there he preached to immense audiences from 1773 until his death fifty years later. When he grew so old his voice barely carried across the pews, his people said, “But it does us good if we can only see him!”

On his last New Year’s Day, Roland Hill chose Exodus 12:2 as the text for his sermon. He was 89 years old and would be dead by mid-April. But his sermon was clear and deep and powerful. Its point was simple: Just as the slaying of the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12 served as the beginning of the Hebrew calendar, so our experience with the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, begins a new life for each of us. Here are a few sentences from his message on the first Sunday of 1833:

Brethren, time passes very quickly. We are now beginning a new year – which of us will be alive when the year is concluded? The days of my pilgrimage must be nearly ended. . . . But my dear brethren, we never begin to live till we live to God. I remember once seeing an old man, I suppose he must have been 70 or 80 years of age; and I asked him how old he was. He looked at me for a time, and faltered in his voice, the tears trickling down his cheeks; says he, “I am two years old.” “Two years old?” “Ah, sir,” says he, “till a little time ago I lived the life of a dead man; and I never knew what life was till I met with the life which is ‘hid with Christ in God.'”

This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. ~ Exodus 12:2

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17