The New Covenant of Grace (Part 1)

Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34

"The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel ..."
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

This passage is quoted in the New Testament by the author of the letter to the Hebrews, [1] who continues to say that the old covenant (the ten commandments) has therefore become "obsolete." Why? Because no one could keep the first covenant and therefore continual sacrifices had to be made to cover the sins of the people. [2]  Jesus set this aside when He came to sacrifice Himself once and for all to establish the second covenant. [3]  The blood of bulls and goats  could not "clear the conscience of the worshipper," [4] but the blood of Jesus Christ has "cleansed our consciences" [5] and made us perfect forever. [6]

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Law versus grace

So what was the purpose of the law given by Moses?
God's plan had always been that "the righteous will live by faith." [7] Thus when Abraham believed God "it was credited to him as righteousness." [8] But "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," [9] so the law "was added because of transgression...". [10]  "Through the law comes the knowledge of sin" [11] but "no one is justified before God by the law". [12] Instead "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." [13]

The old covenant of the law was conditional: observance of the law led to blessings and non-observance to curses. [14] In addition, the guilty would be punished to the third and fourth generation. [15] In contrast, the covenant of grace promises that "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."  All our sins were judged and condemned in the body of Jesus on the cross. We were cleansed by His blood, so that His righteousness is now imputed to us. This is why Paul could declare that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." [16] We receive "the right to become children of God." [17] We start a father-son relationship with Him [18] so that we may draw near "in full assurance of faith." [19]

The Old Covenant of the law consists of "Thou shalt not ..."  repeatedly and the emphasis is thus on man. [20] The New Covenant of grace consists of "I will ..." repeated three times, spelling out what God will do for us. So what is required of us? We must believe that God has forgiven our wickedness and remembers our sins no more. Then He will put His law in our hearts and minds; He will be our God and we will all know Him.

 

The exchange at the cross

God ordained and predicted that an exchange will take place at the cross. This exchange is that all the evil justly due to us because of our iniquity, came on Jesus. Therefore all the good due to Jesus because of His sinless obedience, is made available to us. Or, more briefly, Jesus suffered on the cross all the evil due to us so that all the good due to Him might be made available to us.

We can say that God ordained it, because the Lamb  "was chosen before the creation of the world," [21] and "was slain from the creation of the world" [22]

Isaiah 53:4-6 predicted the Gospel message of the cross of Christ. Let us first look at verse 6:  "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

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We have turned to our own way which is not God's way. God calls this "iniquity," which is 'rebellion' in modern language. Thus the root problem of humanity is rebellion against God. The Hebrew word for rebellion is avon  [23] which includes the rebellion itself, the evil consequences of the rebellion and the punishment of it. But the good news of the Gospel is that all of our rebellion was laid on Jesus as He hung on the cross, and this included the punishment and evil consequences of our rebellion. The result is that God is righteous in declaring us to be righteous, and we do not have to endure the punishment or the evil consequences of our rebellion.

Through the cross of Jesus God provided us with salvation. The Greek word for 'salvation' is sozo, [24] meaning not only the forgiveness of sin, but also healing, wholeness, deliverance, protection; in fact, the total provision of God for us. We can distinguish between 9 aspects of the exchange that took place at the cross [25] to provide us with total salvation:

1. Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.

2. Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.

3. Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.

4. Jesus died our death that we might share His life.

5. Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.

6. Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance.

7. Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory.

8. Jesus endured our rejection that we might enjoy His acceptance.

9. Our old man died in Jesus that the new man might live in us.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Nee, W. The Better Covenant, New York, U.S.A.: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc., 1982.

2. Prince, D. Bought with Blood, New Zealand: Derek Prince Ministries - Asia, Pacific, 2000, 2007.

3. Prince, J. Destined to reign, Rep. of Singapore: Joseph Prince Teaching Resources, 2007

4. Richards, L.O. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Michigan, U.S.A.: Regency Reference Library, 1985.

 

References:

1.  Hebrews 8:8, 10-12
2.  Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:10; Hebrews 10:1-4
3.  Hebrews 10:9
4.  Hebrews 9:9
5.  9:14
6.  10:14
7.  Habakkuk 2:4
8.  Galatians 3:6
9.  Romans 3:23
10. Galatians 3:19
11. Romans 3:20
12. Galatians 3:11
13. Galatians 3:24
14. Deuteronomy 28
15. Exodus 34:7
16. Romans 8:1
17. John 1:12
18. Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:6
19. Hebrews 10:22
20. Exodus 20
21. 1 Peter 1:18-20
22. Revelation 13:8
23. D. Prince, p.35
24. Richards, p.540
25. D. Prince, p.37

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Posted in: Bible by on January 5, 2013 @ 9:07 am

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