Thursday, June 28, 2012

How New Is It?

Something I keep coming back to, and for good reason, is the newness of the New Covenant and how continually amazed I am that it gets such little attention in the church.

They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain." But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:5-13)

Didja catch that? The part about it being new?

How new is it? Completely new. It is "not like the Old", not at all. Not a little different. No a slight variation. Not a different spin. NEW. Any doctrine, practice or theology in the church that doesn't keep that truth in sight, and indeed in the forefront, is going to be inherently flawed.

God's covenant with Adam and His covenant with Abraham are fulfilled in the New Covenant in Christ. His covenant with Noah is still in effect but that is a covenant more with Himself that we are witnesses to. His covenant with Moses is the Old Covenant spoken of that has become obsolete and has passed away. There is one covenant between God and His people, Jew and Gentile alike, and that is the New Covenant in Christ. Under that covenant He forgives our sins and we become His people.

So what does that mean for us as recipients and beneficiaries of the New Covenant when we read the Old Testament? It means that we absolutely must read the Old Testament in light of the New. When we fail to distinguish between the two, we end up replacing the realities of the New Covenant with the shadows of the Old. When someone starts defending a man-made tradition by appealing first to the Old Covenant, you should be hearing alarm bells going off. When people use Old Covenant reasoning to form practices in the New Covenant community of faith, you need to call them out on it.

That is not to suggest that the Old Testament which contains the record of the Old Covenant is irrelevant. It reveals to us both the sinful nature of man and the holiness of God. It shows who we are and how utterly unable and unwilling we are to please God. It demonstrates that the God of justice and wrath and holiness is also a God who loves and provides and forgives. It shows us that God makes promises and always, always, always keeps them. It is a glorious and critical record of God's dealing with His people. It just needs to be read through the lens of New Covenant.

A New Covenant people cannot and should not try to live under the obsolete Old Covenant.


Aussie John said...


When I hear the preaching of most churches today, I often find myself wondering whether these preachers have personally experienced the grace of God in Christ, who literally IS the New Covenant Person.

Even worse, in their institutional ignorance, they perpetute a lie which binds the people to whom they preach in Old Covenant strictures which were nailed to the cross with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Arthur Sido said...


Being bound is a good way of putting it. So much of what is taught and practiced in the church serves to enslave people rather than liberating them.