“Old things pass away!”

“‭Therefore if any man ‭be in Christ‭, ‭he is a new creature‭: old things are passed away‭‭; behold‭‭, all things are become‭ new‭,‭”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ 2 Corinthians 5:17.

I was reminded of my age and the sombre truth that “‭we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again,”‬ 2 Samuel 14:14, by this picture which appeared in the ‘Belfast Newsletter’ on Thursday morning past.

It shows the demolition of what was known as Havelock House, situated on the lower Ormeau Road. It was the old headquarters of Ulster Television. I entered that building as an employee, just short of my sixteenth birthday, the youngest member of staff at that time, on the 21st September 1959, some five weeks before Ulster Television began broadcasting.

Demolition of Havelock House, on the lower Ormeau Road, the old headquarters of Ulster Television

About eighteen months later, I began to work in the ‘Film Department’, where feature films were prepared for transmission and where advertising commercials were assembled on large reels for transmission each day.

I can recall working at a bench and looking out of the window, top left in this picture, as I helped assemble the 35 mm commercial adverts and various feature films that were broadcast. I also learned about feature film editing for sometimes the broadcasting schedule required a feature film to be shortened by a few minutes. I also was involved in editing news film reports for local news broadcasts, a knowledge which stood me in good stead in later years, when editing audio files for radio broadcasts was required..

Everything changed for me on 5th April 1964, for the Lord in mercy awakened me to my lost condition, granted me faith and repentance and I trusted Christ as my Saviour in obedience to the gospel. At the end of November of that year, just seven months later, I left Ulster Television and at the beginning of January 1965, I began as a student for the gospel ministry in the Free Presbyterian Church Theological Hall.

The above picture brought this all before me in a moment!

The old hymn sums it all up!

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

As I have already stated, there came a change into my life when I was just a few months past my twentieth birthday. I was saved by the grace of God. What a change that brings!

“‭Therefore if any man ‭be in Christ‭, ‭he is a new creature‭: old things are passed away‭‭; behold‭‭, all things are become‭ new‭,‭”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ 2 Corinthians 5:17.

I would like to consider just what these words teach us.


“If any man be in Christ . . .” By that the Bible means, ‘become united to Him by faith’. The Lord Jesus likens this ‘union’ to that of the branch and the vine. “‭I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing,”‬ John 15:5. As with every tree and shrub, the branch draws its nourishment, its life from the sap flowing up the main trunk to which it is united. So it is with the Christian. They are wonderfully ‘united’ to Christ and draw life from Him. His life flows into our souls, which were once dead in trespasses and sin, and we are made to live in His likeness.

Consider these words of Paul which set forth this truth.

“‭This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,”‬ Ephesians 4:17-24.

This is the wonderful blessing that comes to all who, by faith, enter Christ!


‭“He is a new creature‬.”

This change will be seen in ALL who are saved. Note the words, ‘If any man’. It is not a case of some Christians enjoying this change while others do not. Rather, if anyone is truly in Christ, then this change will follow in their life and it will give evidence of their union with Christ.

A symbolic picture of this change is seen in the experience of the woman who had the “issue of blood . . . ‭and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.”‬ She heard reports of the Saviour’s miracles and believed that “‭If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” She acted in faith and “straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. ‬The Saviour responded to her act of faith. “‭And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”‬ Mark 5:26, 28-30.

The word ‘virtue’ is elsewhere translated as a ‘power’ ‘strength’ ‘might’. At the conclusion of this wonderful narrative the Saviour said: “‭Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.‬”

It was Her faith in Christ which moved her to reach out and touch His garment and resulting from that, new life flowed from Him into her sick and dying body and she was made ‘whole’ of her plague.

That is a wonderful picture of what happens to the soul that reaches out in faith to Christ and clings to Him.


“Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

There is a passing away, or dying, for that is the ‘euphemism’ we so often use of someone dying. Yes, there is a dying to the old ways of sin we followed. “‭How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”‬ Romans 6:2. “‭Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls,”‬ 1 Peter 2:24-25.

I love the wonderful definition of this change given to us in the Shorter Catechism. “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace1, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” (Answer 35).

Our ‘old nature’, with its propensity for sin, receives a death blow. Its power is taken away and it ceases to have the dominating influence over the believer that once it had.

All things

Furthermore, because the Christian has become a ‘new creature’ or ‘creation’, ‘all things are become new”! This is a wonderful change.

This change is manifested amongst those whose conversion is recorded in the Bible.

I think first of the thief on the cross.

He and his companion in crime had voiced their derision of Christ by joining with those who jeered at and mocked the Saviour from around the cross. “‭The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth,”‬ Matthew 27:44.

But things changed for one of them. The evidence of the change came from the lips that a little before had been mocking the Saviour. “‭And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,”‬ Luke 23:39-43.

That man died in agony on the cross but with assurance that he was going to heaven!

I will give another example. It is that of the brutal jailer in Philippi.

He had very obviously relished carrying out his instruction regarding the two prisoners, Paul and Silas, committed to his charge. “‭And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks,”‬ Acts 16:22-24. The word ’thrust’ is explained as meaning, “to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls.’ That to me shows him as one delighting in hurting the men of God.

But the Lord changed that by divinely intervening by the means of an earthquake. It certainly shook up the jailer as well as his prison.

“‭And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house,”‬ Acts 16:26-34.

Certain words indicate the change that God wrought in this man. “‭He called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‬ . . . . And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

What a change, and that wrought in moments, had taken place in this man and his household!

This is what the gospel ALONE can do!

Havelock House was first opened in 1871 as a linen factory. During World War 2, it became a billet for soldiers. Then, some fourteen years later, it was purchased and renovated and became Ulster television’s studios.

Who knows what will rise from its ruin? Something new no doubt!

For me, the news of the demolishing of the old structure serves to bring home afresh that which happened just short of 60 years ago in my life and which brought in a ’new’ period which will last eternally!

I trust that you too, reader, have memories of just such a change wrought in you through the power of Christ.

Sincerely in Christ’s name,

Ivan Foster
19th January, 2024