Are You Living in the New Covenant?
No, this is not a trick question, but an honest appeal to self-examination. You see, many people who claim to be Christians do not know the difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant.
Let us do a quick overview of what constituted the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant centered around the tablets of stone given to Moses on mount Sinai, better known as the Ten Commandments. It further consisted of all the dietary and ceremonial laws as well as a corpus of civil laws. To sum up the Old covenant in one word would be Law. It had its own priesthood –the Levitical Priesthood. It had it own sacrifice –the blood of bulls and goats as well as other animals. It had its own place of worship- First, the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and later, the Temple in Jerusalem. It had its own interpreters and enforcers of its laws- the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the Sadducees in Jesus’ day. All of this was to fall upon the Hand of God’s judgment in the period between 64 to 70 AD. After many years of persecuting the Lord’s people, it would meet its final destruction when the Roman Army invaded Jerusalem, and the Temple was destroyed in fire, burning up the records of the priesthood.
Now to the New Covenant spoken of by the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us in the 8th chapter and the 13th verse these words: “In that He saith, (in Jeremiah passage) a new covenant, He maketh the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth (decayeth and waxeth are reflective of the present state of the Old Covenant when Hebrews was written. It was passing away but had not yet passed away) old is ready to vanish away (ready or prepared to vanish away but had not yet done so. This is all important because the New Covenant would not come into full bloom until all the Law, every jot and tittle of it had been fulfilled, and all of the prophecies of the Old Covenant had found their fulfilment in that first century generation.
For this time, 64 to70 A.D., both would exist side by side. However, the book of Galatians tells us that would not be a peaceful co-existence, for those of the Old Covenant would persecute those of the New Covenant during this period of time and would kill many of them resulting in their martyrdom. This persecution of the first century believers was the reason given by our Lord for the judgment that befell Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It was the vindication of the death of these first century martyrs that unleashed the four horse riders of Revelation and caused the seals to be broken on the scroll of judgment, which caused the sounding of the trumpets summoning the agents of destruction, and pouring forth the bowls of wrath and vengeance of our Lord upon the generation that He termed a generation of vipers. He also said that their father was the Devil, all of which makes up the majority of the book of Revelation.
The most definitive passage that we can find for the New Covenant people of God is 1 Peter 2: 5-10. This passage begins with what constitutes the house of God. You will recall that the Old Covenant had its Tabernacle in the Wilderness and its Temple in Jerusalem, but in the New Covenant according to 1 Peter 2, the fellowship of the believers else where were denominated as the election of grace of those who have been born again, anew and from above, and have been baptized into the one body of Christ comprising Jew and Gentile, bond and free, rich and poor, male and female, all One Body of which Christ is the Head. They also are a holy priesthood under their Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ replacing the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood, sometimes referred to as the Aaronic priesthood. They do not offer up the blood of bulls and goats and other animals as in the Old Covenant, but offer up spiritual sacrifices, which we are told, are acceptable unto God when they are offered through mediatorship of Jesus Christ. In other words, when they make an offering they do so pleading the blood of their Lord in His finished work on the cross. This is what the scriptures means when it says that our Lord “ever liveth to make intercession” for His people. Jesus Christ, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world for his elect people, is the only sacrifice that is acceptable (efficacious) to the Father.
In the next few verses of this chapter we are told that Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of this new House of God, and that those who do not regard Him as such are appointed to stumble over this stone and be disobedient to the word of salvation which was being preached as being in Jesus Christ alone.
In contrast to those disobedient Christ haters, those who comprise the New Covenant community of believers are a chosen generation. Certainly, it should bring to mind the words of our Lord when He called the first century opponents of His claim to be the long awaited Messiah, a generation of vipers (snakes), who were of their father the devil. In contrast to that generation, the elect people of God make up a chosen generation. They truly are those who have been elected to salvation by the Father, redeemed or atoned for by the Son, and are the objects of the Holy Spirits regenerating power.
However that is not all the New Covenant community is, they also comprise a royal priesthood. This is a kingly priesthood not just a priesthood, but a priesthood of which only those who are in Christ can experience as He who is their Head is both Priest and King. In fact, the book of Revelation says that He is King of kings and Lord of lords and those who are in Him reign and rule also. This term royal priesthood brings into focus that those who are His expect to rule over and triumph over their enemies. This was especially important in the first century as the kingdom had not yet come in such a way that all of their enemies had been defeated and destroyed. They were still to be martyred and praying Thy kingdom come until it did demonstrably in the year of 70 A.D.
The New Covenant community is a holy nation and a peculiar people, who are denominated as such because they have no existence earthly or heavenly outside of their union with Christ. They have been designated a holy nation and peculiar people for the purpose of showing forth praises of Him, who it is said, Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. The effectual call of those Who the Father chose to salvation before time, and the Son died for, are called by the inward working of the Holy Spirit to give them a repentant heart and faith to believe on the finished work of Christ. Therefore when they hear the call of the Spirit, they come out of the darkness of death in Adam to the marvelous light of resurrection life in Christ.
How different is the life under Grace in the New Covenant from that life under Old Covenant lived under the Law engraved in stone: a system of must do’s and have to’s. Under grace we are given the power to obey and follow Christ wherever He may lead us. Paul said he counted everything in his life as loss compared to his gain in Christ. All of the writers of the New Covenant community of the first century knew the same experience and echo the same things in their writings. They knew and understood that their calling was a holy calling which was lived out with much affliction and suffering each day, but they also knew, as the people of the New Covenant have always known, that the Grace which they have to meet anything this world may dish out makes them more than conquerors even in death.
Verse 10 of I Peter sums up this definition of the New Covenant community of elect believers. They once were just individual people living their lives the best they could by themselves, but are now the people of God. They belong to God and are molded into one body reflecting the glory of their Head the Lord Jesus Christ. They are the objects of the mercy of God which we are told in Lamentations 3 is new every morning. I, for one, need that mercy to live each day. I hope you do, too. This concludes our look into these few verses in 1 Peter that tell us so much about the New Covenant community of elect believers.
We will be looking at other scriptures that will give us further insight into the New Covenant in the future, the Lord willing.
WHY AS A 21st CENTURY CHILD OF GOD,
I AM THANKFUL I LIVE UNDER OR IN THE NEW COVENANT
Most of you might be puzzled by this title because you have never paid much attention to whether you live under the old covenant or the new covenant, and some of you may think that there really is no difference, or at least, not much difference between the two Covenants. I have to say you are very wrong thinking that there is no difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, for one is death and is dead, and the other is life everlasting.
The Old Covenant consisted in a Temple located in Jerusalem. Animal sacrifice was made continuously in that temple, and there was a separate priesthood consisting of the tribe of Levi. Furthermore, there was one day a year for the atonement to be offered in the Holy of Holies by the high priest of that year. As stated above, every day of the year sacrifices of prescribed animals was made in the holy place by the priests. If you did not have an animal to sacrifice according to the stipulations of the law, you could purchase one in the outer court or portico of the temple. However, your sins were never completely forgiven and forgotten, but were only covered over until the next time you transgressed the law and then you had to bring a new sacrifice to the priest to cover that particular sin. The watch words or key significant words of the old covenant are law, obedience, death and judgment. Under the old covenant the external flesh of the worshipper was ministered to by restrictions and prohibitions. The Scribes and Pharisees spent their time writing interpretations of laws that governed the worshipper that lived under that covenant. It was all to collect money and enslave the adherent of that system. Now do we have any volunteers who want to go back and live under that covenant. I would think not, but alas, there are those who say the law of the Old Covenant is the believers rule for living the Christian life. Let me just say they are wrong. However, there are some who would not say that but still adopt the usage of numerous statements of the New Testament Covenant writers in the same way. They also are wrong. The Old Covenant is about obeying in our flesh the written commands that are given to believers. By the way, and I am afraid this is a little known fact also, the Old Covenant ended in the first century when all of its external elements were destroyed in the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem by the invading Roman armies as prophesied in the book of Daniel and other Old Covenant prophets. We will now turn our attention to the first century to take up our discussion of the New Covenant.
Our Lord Jesus said in Luke 22:20, as He instituted what we now know as the Lord’s Supper that the New Covenant is in His blood that which was shed for His people. The New Covenant is an everlasting covenant. The New Covenant is without law obedience since it is in the shed blood of our Lord which was shed only one time to finish the sin problem in His people.
Let’s take a quick look at Daniel 9: 24. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
Also, Paul said in Romans 8: 3 – 4, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
These passages tell us that the Old Covenant economy of Temple, priesthood of a special order, and animal sacrifice was all ended by the Person and the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son . The writer of Hebrews in chapter 8:13 said,
“In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” The old was ready to vanish away and would in the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem, the capitol city of the Old Covenant.
In our time it has already passed away, and we are living under the New Covenant made in the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We live in that blessed covenant where the law is not an external written set of rules in any form but is written internally in every child of God and administered by the blessed everlasting presence of the blessed Holy Spirit in every one of His children. We, who are the children of God in the 21st century live under grace and not the law or any mixture of the law and grace. We no longer require a priest or any other man to gain access to the throne of the Father, for Christ Jesus in His death on Calvary’s tree has broken down the middle wall of separation and opened the way into the Holy of Holies by way of His shed blood. We are now a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people who were once not a people but now are one in the body of Christ where, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female for ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 3:28). In the New Covenant and in the life of the child of God, there is no external or internal law against him whatsoever. We live and breathe the refreshing and renewing atmosphere of unconditional grace and everlasting mercy.