Sunday, September 20, 2015
Why the New Covenant is relevant to what it means to be a Christian
Hebrews 9:15 "For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."
1 Peter 3:8-9 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic,brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving ablessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
As you read Ezekiel 36-37, you are getting into the section of Ezekiel where the focus is becoming more and more on what God is going to do for His people - the nation of Israel. God is speaking forth what the Bible calls "The New Covenant". Whenever God enters into agreement with His people, we call that God making Covenant with them. Covenants involve parties, exchanging of words and vows and the all important part of who will fulfill what obligation sin the covenant. Whenever you see God using the statement "I will", that means the covenant's blessings and fulfillment will be completely His doing. Bible teachers call such a covenant an "unconditional covenant", meaning that there are no strings attached and that God is making a covenant with His people not for their sake, but for His own sake. Whenever God made similar covenants with Abraham and David, the promises and fulfillment depended not on them, but God. Roughly 35 times do we find God saying "I will" in Ezekiel 36-37. God's promise to Israel to restore and save her did not depend on her performance. If anything, she was unwilling and had done nothing to deserve such grace from God. God did it for His own namesake. God chose Israel (Ezekiel 36:21) and promises to call her out from among the nations (36:24), bring about her conversion whereby she will believe on the Messiah and be saved (Ezekiel 37:11-14) and cleanse or sanctify her (37:28). God will do all these things for Israel at His second coming when He initiates His 1,000 year reign or what is also called "the millennium." Does all this activity from God mean Israel can act anyway she wants in the future. No. Because God's "I will" leads to "you will". God's willingness to select, save, and sanctify sinners includes the purpose for them becoming willing participants in His Covenant. Their participation depends upon God making the first move.
1 Peter 3 echoes these New Covenant promises which we as Christians in this present age are getting a spiritual foretaste of the New Covenant. Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, paid for such promises with His blood. In 1 Peter 3:8 we are told to be kindhearted toward one another, being that Christians are those people who are called by God to Himself to inherit a blessing. God's will contains our will. He accomplishes the work of our salvation from beginning to end, with the understanding that our level of enjoyment of His Relationship with us hinges on our faithfulness and obedience. The lengths to which God went through in securing the believer's redemption ought to be the grounds for motivation to obedience in the Christian walk. We are saved by grace through faith alone, with the saved life proceeding onward in faith that is never alone.