The New Covenant

Terry Virgo: “Many many people in churches have not had a revelation of [the new covenant] to their hearts... Many have a mixture of Old covenant and New Covenant” (9-1:00,3:07)

I want to do three things in this presentation

  1. Describe what a covenant is
  2. Talk about the Old Covenant
  3. Explain the New Covenant

1. What is a covenant?

  • a relationship (usually friendship or family), not a legal contract.
    • today we have legal contracts, enforced by putting our signature on the bottom (e.g. story of DirectBuy)
    • the only things in our society which are like covenants are marriages and adoptions
    • even they are not quite the same as a covenant
  • Abram & the smoking torch Follow along in Genesis 15
    • Before we read this passage, it might seem strange to you, but this was the common way of doing things when you made a covenant.
    • [enact role-play by cutting up transparencies]
    • Pictures of animals used in the Genesis 15 covenant
    • Note that this was a special covenant with Moses, not what we call the Old Covenant or the New Covenant
    • read passage
    • why does only God go between the pieces (not dependent on Abraham)
  • so this is what a covenant is:
    • very serious affair: life and death
    • not just a legal agreement, but brings two people into a relationship

2 The Old Covenant

  • God made a covenant with the whole nation of Israel in Old Testament times
  • He gave them a lot of laws and commandments
    • If they kept them, then he would give them
      • financial blessing
      • health and long life
      • lots of children
    • If then broke them then
      • He would punish them
      • He would take away all the good things
      • Ultimately the nation would be destroyed
  • It was all based on their performance
  • It was mostly external
    • (this is an oversimplification because mixed in with these laws were promises of a new covenant)
  • What does it mean to be living under the Old Covenant?
    • They related to God as an authority figure
      • who would judge them if they failed
      • The Jews would never call God “Abba” (daddy)
    • Blessings and cursings: Deut 27, 28, 29, 30 (e.g. 28:1-2 & 28:15)
    • in fact, it was impossible for them to completely keep all the laws
    • God was actually very patient with them
    • but in the end the whole nation rebelled against God and all the curses came upon them

3 The New Covenant

A. God’s law written on our hearts

  • In Galatians Paul tells us that no matter how many laws you make, it can’t change the heart.
    • Just imagine that the government passed a law that everyone must love each other—no more hate!
  • But the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives: [Gal 5:22-23]
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
  • However, it is not just that we have a new heart, the old one has been removed
    • we have had a heart-transplant—we don’t have to carry on with our old lifestyle
      • [role-play]
    • we are free to serve Christ
    • Recently I saw a trapped butterfly, under a piece of glass on our deck.
      • If you throw a caterpillar up in the air and say “fly! fly!”, it won’t work
      • but a butterfly naturally flies (unless it is trapped, and there are things that can ensnare us but that is another subject)
  • relationship to the law
    • Moses brought the 10 commandments
    • Some teach that Jesus just gave us some more commands to add on to Moses, but that is a total misunderstanding
    • The replacement for the law is not a new law, but a person, Jesus himself!!!!
    • He says “follow me”, do what I do, think how I think, love others like I love others
    • Goes far beyond a written list of rules
    • Can we do it ?
      • Not in our own strength, but Jesus is actually living in us through the Spirit.
      • We are united with him
      • he has defeated the power of sin and he is living within us
    • e.g. girl who was recently saved. Her family started hostile, but stopped being antagonistic within days when they saw her change of life, and eventually were saved.
      • It wasn’t that she now had more laws to obey!!

B. We will belong to him and he will belong to us

  • The essence of the New Covenant:
    • brought into God’s family
    • we were enemies, in rebellion. Now we are brought into his family
    • He is “ours”, in a sense he belongs to us as a possession, and we belong to him
    • This is like love language, isn’t it:
      • “I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s mine” [SongSol 6:3]
    • secure!!!
  • Three pictures or aspects of this relationship in the New Testament:
    1. Servants (Paul calls himself a “bondslave of Jesus Christ”)
    2. Children / Father (Adopted as “sons”)
      • Jesus taught us to call the father “Abba”
      • The Spirit puts that cry into us [Rom 8:1]
    3. Bride / Bridegroom
    • A marriage is probably the closest thing we have today to a covenant (we don’t usually do the parts with the blood)
      • Our wedding rings are the seals (get Anne to hold her hand up)
      • What do they symbolize (all that is mine is yours)
      • What is the seal of the New Covenant? (The Spirit e.g. Eph. 4:30)
        • That is why it is so important that we experience being filled in a tangible way
  • How do we live?
    • lovers outperform servants

C. We can all hear God for ourselves and don’t need to be totally dependent on “priests”

  • God still gives teachers to his people, but they are to be listened to with discernment
  • Since we have the Spirit, we can discern truth from error
  • The Bible is our primary authority, but we can all read it for ourselves!
  • In O.T. times if someone wanted to know God’s will, they had to go to a prophet,
    • but in the New Covenant, Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice”

D. Our sins are all forgiven

  • In the Old Covenant you could never be sure that you had kept even the most basic laws
  • You could spend your life worried and anxious about whether God would accept you.
  • But many Christians today live lives full of
    • condemnation
    • guilt
    • anxiety over their failings
    • feelings of being inadequate and failing God all the time
    • A sense that God is angry with them and is judging them
  • The covenant God made with Abraham was a picture of the New Covenant in that it was unconditional
    • A free gift
    • We don’t have to do anything to earn it -> It was received by faith
  • But God says: “I will forgive their wickedness, and their sins I will remember no more.”
    • Don’t you get it? God is not counting your sins!!!!
    • If you mess up today, he will have chosen to forget it tomorrow!
      • (That doesn’t mean their are not consequences—if you get drunk and crash your car, you may find the police remember it.)
      • (Also, God is committed to helping us get out of sinful lifestyle, but he will not ultimately count it against us)
      • Once I was taking a course and just about to go into the exam when I added up my marks and realized I had already passed!
        • What a relief! I didn’t even need to take the exam!
        • You can imagine how it took the pressure off!
        • We have already passed—Jesus has earned us a 100% grade
    • Terry Virgo was preaching this once and a man at the back of the church interrupted him and shouted out:
    • “That is the most scandalous thing I have ever heard!”
    • “Then you very nearly understand it, Sir”
    • People are offended by this teaching (and were when the Apostle Paul taught it), saying it will lead us into more sin...
      • If it were not for the new heart and the relationship then it would!
      • But the New Covenant is a package
        • If someone does use it as an excuse for sinning freely, then they probably don’t actually have the new heart
  • Summary: if you are a member of the New Covenant:
    1. You have a new heart, that like a butterfly wants to soar
    2. You are God’s beloved and he is your beloved. You are secure in the relationship
    3. You relate to God directly, not through priests
    4. You are totally forgiven and God is never judging you or condemning you
  • We need to respond to this message!
    • Maybe you are feeling condemned and a failure and want to enter into these truths more.
      • “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” [Rom 8:1]

Updated 2009-10-12 (build:16) by Andrew Fountain