jesus paid

PART 2. THE NEW COVENANT.

 PART 2: THE NEW COVENANT OF GRACE

INTRODUCTION

Our loving Abba Father has poured out his blessings and gifts to us through the grace of Jesus Christ. He has guaranteed his promises to us in the form of an agreement called the New Covenant which is sealed and signed in the blood of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. This agreement reinforces our qualification and adoption as God’s beloved children worthy in every way to represent  him and to act in his name. This part of the course explains how this agreement works and will instil even more confidence in you as to your right standing with God.

As stated previously, an important part of understanding the grace that is  ours through the living Word, Jesus Christ, is that we have a firm Biblical foundation on which this grace is established. This is so that the intimacy, hope and blessings that come with Jesus’ grace cannot be undermined. As you go through this study course we ask you to spend time looking up all the scripture references quoted in brackets and allow the Holy Spirit to establish the Word in your heart and mind.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

INDEX

LESSON 1:  GOD’S COVENANTS AND THE CROSS

1. GOD’S COVENANTS

1.1 WHAT ARE COVENANTS?

1.2 THE LAWS OF THE COVENANTS.

1.3 THE THREE MAIN COVENANTS PRIOR TO THE CROSS.

1.4 THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS FORESAW A NEW COVENANT

1.5  A BETTER COVENANT IN CHRIST

2.  THE NEW COVENANT STARTS AT THE CROSS

2.1  THE CROSS REVERBERATED ACROSS TIME AND SPACE

2.2  WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED

2.3  JESUS FOCUSED ON THE ATONING WORK OF THE CROSS

2.4  THE CROSS DEALT WITH SIN ONCE AND FOR ALL

2.5  THE CROSS CHANGED JESUS’ FOCUS FROM ISRAEL TO ALL MANKIND

2.6  GRACE IS NOW THE ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM OF GOD’S KINGDOM

2.7  THE CROSS CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD

2.8  THE CROSS CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

2.11  THE CROSS DISARMED SATAN

2.10 THE CROSS REVEALED THE FULL GOSPEL OF GRACE

2.9  THE CROSS RELEASED REVELATION

2.14  THE NEW COVENANT

2.13  THE OLD COVENANT

2.12  THE CROSS CHANGED THE COVENANT

LESSON 2:  THE NEW COVENANT

3.  MINISTERS OF A NEW COVENANT

3.1  MINISTERS OF TRUE SPIRITUAL LIFE

3.2  SCRIPTURES THROUGH THE EYES OF THE NEW COVENANT

3.3  MINISTERS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

3.4  IT IS GOD’S GOODNESS THAT LEADS TO REPENTANCE

3.5  WHAT ABOUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

3.6  THE NEW COVENANT IS NOT A MIXTURE OF LAW AND GRACE

3.7  OUR PUNISHMENT AND AFFLICTIONS ARE ON JESUS

I)  THE OLD COVENANT

II) THE NEW COVENANT

4.  COMMUNION IS A CELEBRATION OF THE NEW COVENANT

4.1  COMMUNION CELEBRATES GOOD NEWS

4.2  IT IS A CELEBRATION OF GRACE

4.4  NO ONE IS WORTHY, EXCEPT BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

4.5  WE CELEBRATE NEW COVENANT HOLINESS

4.3  IT IS A REMINDER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, NOT OF OUR SINS

4.6  NEW COVENANT HEALTH FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE

4.6.1 LAW-BASED COMMUNION BRINGS DEATH

4.6.2 WHY ARE SO MANY SICK?

4.7  THE NEW COVENANT OF LOVE

4.8  GROUP WORK

5. GROUP EXERCISE AND QUESTIONS.

 

PART 2. LESSON 1:  GOD’S COVENANTS AND THE CROSS

 1.  GOD’S COVENANTS

 1.1  WHAT ARE COVENANTS?

A covenant is a solemn, legally binding, relational agreement between two parties which is normally activated and sealed by the shedding of blood. A covenant has terms and conditions that have to be fulfilled by each party. (The closest example that we have in this modern era is the marriage covenant which has to be physically consummated for it to be binding – did you know that in days gone by they would check the marriage bed for the small stain of blood that came from the breaking of the virgin brides hymen, if blood was not found then the marriage was null and void.)

An understanding of covenants is crucial for us as, God has always related to mankind through covenants. There are a number of covenants found in the Scriptures and it is important that we understand what covenant applies to us, as believers, and what covenants are obsolete and no longer applicable. Also as with any agreement we need to know what the terms and conditions of that agreement are so that we can stick to them.

1.2  THE LAWS OF THE COVENANTS

Romans 8:2-4 :  “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law [of Moses] was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

God interacts differently with people depending on the covenant. Therefore it is important that we distinguish between the different covenants. God’s response to people is based on the covenant and law system which they have been placed under or choose to live under. The above Scripture is very definitive in this regard and clarifies the three main law systems found in the Scriptures.

1) The Law of sin and death that came through Adam: You sin, you die.

2) The Law of performance that came through Moses: Do good get good, do bad get bad.

3) The Law of the Spirit of Life that came through Jesus: He died, therefore you are in grace and blessed by the Holy Spirit.

1.3  THE THREE MAIN COVENANTS PRIOR TO THE CROSS

i) The Covenant of sin and death.  Agreed with Adam and his offspring (Genesis 3:15-21) and alluded to in Rom.8:1.

ii) The Covenant of faith and righteousness. Agreed  with Abraham and his offspring through Isaac (Genesis 12:2-3 & 18:18) and ultimately through Jesus.

iii) The Mosaic Covenant, also known as The Law. Agreed with Israel through Moses.  (Deuteronomy 29:1, Exodus 24:4-8, 34:27).

The significance of each of these covenants will be revealed during the course, so we will not go into detail at this stage. There were also a number of sub-covenants such as with Noah (Genesis 8:20-22, 9:12) and David (2 Chronicles 21:7). These are also important but space prevents them being dealt with in detail.

1.4  THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS FORESAW A NEW COVENANT

Jeremiah 31:31:  “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the people 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 they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘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.” 

These passages from Jeremiah prophesied the coming of a New Covenant.  Similar promises about a new and better covenant that was going to come one day soon were made in Ezek11:19 & 36:26 and elsewhere. Hebrews 8:7-13 & 10:16 declares that Jesus is the fulfilment of the promises of a new and better covenant.

Why was a new covenant so needed? Because of the hard and onerous terms and conditions of the Mosaic Law Covenant (Ezekiel 20:25), given on mount Sinai, Israel constantly failed to meet the terms of this covenant and came under the wrath and curse of the Law. This was the terms of this covenant; if you fail to obey you will be cursed. The prophets of Israel foresaw the coming of the a new and better covenant that would be fulfilled by God’s Messiah and Saviour, Jesus,  who would save God’s people from the curse of the Old Covenant. The Messiah would set Israel free from and captivity of the Law. The good news is that we are blessed to live under this new and better covenant and that the Old Covenant of the Mosaic Law does not apply to us who are in Christ.

 1.5  A BETTER COVENANT IN CHRIST

Hebrews 7:22-25: “Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the Covenant of the Law (Matthew 5:17) and of God’s covenant with David.  Jesus was able to become the originator and mediator of the new and better covenant that the Prophets had prophesied. He would be the fulfilment of all the terms and conditions of the New Covenant of Grace through His punishment, death, burial, resurrection and glorification. This New Covenant is now the dominant and overriding covenant of all preceding covenants for those who would agree to it by dying to self and becoming one with Christ (Galatians 2:20). This is the covenant that has released God’s grace and blessings to all who would believe and become children of God (John 1:12-17). This is the covenant that we will now look at in more detail.

2.  THE NEW COVENANT STARTS AT THE CROSS

 2.1  THE CROSS REVERBERATED ACROSS TIME AND SPACE     

Revelation 13:8, “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”.   

Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son”.

The prophet Zechariah foresaw the coming of the Holy Spirit and grace and how this was linked to the crucifixion of the firstborn Son, Jesus Christ.  The book of Revelation prophetically declares the eternal, timeless significance of the death of the Lamb of God on the cross. The cross is beyond doubt the most significant world changing event in history. There is nothing more significant either in the spiritual or physical realm than the cross. It is the most profound, earth- shattering event that reverberated both into the both past and future. The cross of Christ is the core and the under laying foundation of our Christian faith and belief system. All Scripture, both before and after the cross, points to the cross and its affects. Without the cross, Jesus would be no more significant than any other religious teacher or guru. It is the cross defines Christ and Christianity. It is the great divide of history.

2.2  WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED

1 Corinthians 1:23, “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”

We do not just preach Jesus Christ, even Islam does that. Even Israel was prepared to accept Christ as the Prophet, a Rabbi and even a Messiah King. No! We preach Christ Crucified. This is the uniqueness of Christianity. We preach Christ – His life, death, resurrection, ascension and glorification at the right hand of God. The Cross was and still is, a huge stumbling block to many, as it is offensive to all those who are religious, self-righteous and feed on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

2.3  JESUS FOCUSED ON THE ATONING WORK OF THE CROSS

Matthew 16:21-23,  “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Some of Jesus’ closest disciples failed to see the significance of the cross. Jesus’ whole earthly life had one ultimate purpose, the cross, and He would allow no one to distract Him from fulfilling this calling. Jesus knew the cross would change everything as the cross would deal with the divide between man and God. Peter acting in the flesh, opposed Jesus going to the cross, Jesus called him “Satan!” Peter got angry at Jesus’ arrest and tried to resist with the sword – Jesus again rebuked him.  Eventually Peter was so upset with the prospect of the cross that he ended up denying Jesus. Jesus’ atoning work on the cross was the start of the New Covenant and is the foundation of the New Covenant of the grace of Jesus Christ. From this incident we see through Peter that man’s fleshly nature and natural intellect cannot understand the cross and will always oppose the cross (1 Corinthians 2:14). The cross and its power ultimately has to be a spiritual revelation within the hearts of man, as to the natural man, it is just foolishness.

2.4  THE CROSS DEALT WITH SIN ONCE AND FOR ALL

Colossians 2:13, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins”.

Before the cross there was no permanent atonement for sins. The Law of Moses was in force and bought death and a curse on all (this is expanded upon in part 3). No one was righteous in God’s eyes, no one could be saved. At the cross the power and dominion of sin was destroyed once and for all – for all those who would be saved. The cross opened the flood gate of God’s unearned and undeserved grace (John 1:17), the forgiveness of sins. The cross destroyed the power of sin and provided a way for man’s “Adamic sin nature” to be put to death on the cross with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Now for those in Christ, all sin – past, present, future – is atoned for  (more on the issue of sin in part 4). This is the cornerstone of the New Covenant and grace.

2.5  THE CROSS CHANGED JESUS’ FOCUS FROM ISRAEL TO ALL MANKIND

Matthew 15:22, “A Canaanite (Gentile) woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

Although Jesus is and always will be the Saviour of all mankind, Jesus’ earthly ministry was firstly and primarily to Israel (Matthew 15:24) and its leaders – those under the Old Covenant Law of Moses. Most of Jesus’ teaching at this time was directed at Israel’s teachers, the Pharisees, who had wrongly interpreted the Law, did not understand the spirit of the Law and misapplied the Law. They had wrongly assumed that righteousness and salvation could be obtained by works (Romans 9:30-10:4). Jesus taught against their hypocrisy and their self righteousness. To those who chose law Jesus preached law, to those “sinners” who were broken and contrite Jesus showed grace and forgiveness. During this time Jesus alluded to the fact that He was going to bring salvation also to the Gentiles (John 10:16) but His ministry to the Gentiles only really came into effect after the cross, primarily through the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:15).

2.6  GRACE IS NOW THE ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM OF GOD’S KINGDOM

Through the cross, the Law was fulfilled and done away with for believers (Romans 6:14). The reign and rule of Christ and His kingdom is now bought into affect by the Spirit through the system of grace – not religious rules, regulations and laws. The preaching of the kingdom now goes hand in hand with the preaching of the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24) – his unearned, undeserved, forgiveness, blessing, favour and empowering.

2.7  THE CROSS CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD

Colossians 1:20  “Through Jesus He reconciled to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Under the Old Covenant we were slaves to sin and alienated from God. But now God is no longer angry with us or out to punish us for our sins. We are now at peace with God (Colossians 1:20). In the New Covenant, God no longer relates to us based on our performance or sin. In fact He remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 10:17). God now sees us as part of Jesus. We are the Body of Christ.  We are no longer God’s slaves or servants but beloved sons in Christ (Romans 8:15) and God now relates to us as a loving and kind Father (more on our new relationship with God in part 6).

2.8  THE CROSS CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 16:7  “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor [The Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you”.

Prior to the cross, under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit came upon certain godly people at certain times for a certain purpose. But His presence was not permanent. The Spirit was understood as the power of God that came and went as and when God determined. Due to man’s un-atoned sin, the Holy Spirit could not live within people but only “come upon” them in a temporary way. After the cross, under the New Covenant, the sin condition of man was dealt with and the Holy Spirit came through Jesus Christ to abide in His Body the church;  all those who believed and are regenerated. The Holy Spirit is now a permanent seal and guarantee within all those who are saved. The Holy Spirit is now understood to be the third person of the Trinity and not just a force or power. The power of the Holy Spirit is now released within and through believers for the ministry and work of God. It is life in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) that fulfils the purposes of the New Covenant. Under the New Covenant it is ultimately the Holy Spirit that teaches us and leads us into the truth (Jn.14:26) about Jesus, his grace and his kingdom. The Holy Spirit now writes God’s laws and decrees on our hearts and minds. Born again believers are guided from within and no longer by others imposing laws and rules on them.

2.9  THE CROSS RELEASED REVELATION

John 12:16  “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.” 

2 Corinthians 3:14  “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.”

Before the cross there were certain aspects of God’s kingdom and Jesus’ teachings which could not be fully understood (Luke 9:44-45). Firstly because those under the Law of Moses were spiritually blind and had a spiritual veil over them which stopped them from understanding God’s grace and God’s true purposes. Secondly, because it is only the witnessing of the cross; Jesus, death, resurrection and ascension that clarifies and fulfils the Scriptures. Jesus warned his disciples that prior to the cross and the infilling of the Holy Spirit there were certain things that they simply could never understand (Matthew 15:16, 16:11) and other things that were still to be revealed, such as God’s grace and gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) which could not come through ministry of the earthly Jesus but only through the ministry of the heavenly Jesus, our great Heavenly High Priest.

2.10 THE CROSS REVEALED THE FULL GOSPEL OF GRACE

Galatians 1:12, “I did not receive the gospel (of grace) from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

During His earthly ministry Jesus never fully revealed salvation by grace, he simply alluded to it and displayed it in practice (John 8:1-11 and Luke 15).  After the cross, the glorified Jesus (John 12:16) revealed even more aspects of the kingdom and grace to the Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:12). In a sense, this was the final revelation and clarification of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. All other Scriptures need to be interpreted in the context of Jesus’ final revelations and scriptural teachings given to the Apostle Paul who was caught up into heaven and taught by the glorified Christ (2 Corinthians 12:2).

2.11  THE CROSS DISARMED SATAN

Colossians 2:15, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

Under the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1) which was later reinforced by the Mosaic Law, God allowed Satan to accuse and afflict those who sinned. This satanic power of condemnation and affliction has been removed through the cross. Satan no longer has any legal rights to attack or afflict those who are in Christ. In Christ and through the cross, we now have victory over the enemy and we have a great High Priest and mediator in heaven, Jesus Christ, who intercedes for us and defends us.

2.12  THE CROSS CHANGED THE COVENANT

Hebrews 9:15, For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.   

Colossians 2:14, Having cancelled the written code (the Law), with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

New Testament believers now fall under the New Covenant alone, not a mixture of the old and new. Believers now reading scriptures from the time of Mount Sinai onwards need to understand that any conditions are not applicable to them as believers as they are fulfilled in Christ. The blessings apply but the curses and punishments do not as they were taken by Jesus.

2.13  THE OLD COVENANT

Prior to the cross the Law of Moses was the only covenant effectively in force through which people could relate to God. Gentiles who wanted to know God had to convert to Judaism and come under the Law of Moses.  The terms of this covenant are harsh and deadly as it was based on an unattainable holiness and righteousness that no man could fulfil. There were blessing and curses (Deuteronomy 28) based on ones behaviour. However no one could be justified (just as if they never sinned) and saved through keeping the Law of Moses (Galatians 2:16) as they always failed. The sole purpose of the Law is to lead people to Jesus, God’s Saviour (Galatians 3:24) and remind Israel of the Abrahamic foundation that righteousness and justification  is actually by faith alone (Galatians 3:8).

2.14  THE NEW COVENANT

Hebrews 8:6-13  The ministry Jesus has received is as superior to the ministry of the Jewish High Priests as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the New Covenant is established on better promises.  For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant [of the Law], no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their  God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

The Old Covenant is about us  and our performance “you must, if you, if you …”, thus doomed to fail (Read Deut 28). In contrast the New Covenant is focussed on God’s grace and his performance and therefore guaranteed to succeed.  In the above scripture God says “I will” six times. The shedding of the blood of Jesus as atonement for sin heralded in this New Covenant of grace in which sins are forgiven and forgotten. This New Covenant was no longer just for Israel but opened the door for all the Gentiles to be saved as well. The New Covenant fulfilled and replaced the Old Covenant for all those who believe in Christ. The good news is that the blood of Jesus, instead of our own blood, is the blood seal for the New Covenant. The terms and conditions of the covenant are fully and eternally fulfilled by Jesus and not by us. The New Covenant is unique in a sense that it is intrinsically between two persons who are one; God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We as believers, have access into this covenant not as ourselves but only as part of the Body of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) which we are included into when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. One of the easiest ways to understand the New Covenant is that it was prepared by the loving Father for His Son. It is a relational, marriage agreement between His Son, Jesus, the bridegroom and the His Bride, the church (John 3:29, Revelation 19:7). The good news of this covenant is that there are blessings upon blessing (John 1:16-17) and abundant overflowing grace.

In light of the above teaching spend some time reflecting on the finished work of the cross and write down what it means for you personally and what significance you believe it has today:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

List any other Scriptures that link in with this theme of the finished work of the cross:

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PART 2. LESSON 2:  THE NEW COVENANT

3.  MINISTERS OF A NEW COVENANT

2 Corinthians 3:3-9.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone [The Ten Commandments] but on tablets of human hearts.   Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter [The Law of Moses] kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone [The Ten Commandments were written on tablets of stone], came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was,  will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?   If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!

3.1  MINISTERS OF TRUE SPIRITUAL LIFE

The New Testament is strong on the fact that we are ministers of the New Covenant of the grace of Jesus Christ and not of the Old Covenant of the Law. We are called to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, the cross, forgiveness for sins, blessings and His grace. This is what brings about true spiritual life (zoe) that changes people and the world around us. When preaching in synagogues, Paul taught from the Law and the Prophets to reveal Jesus. However we have no record of him ever preaching the Law and the Ten Commandments to convict sinners or Gentile unbelievers. Paul teaches (Romans 2:15) that it is the conscience of Gentile sinners that has already convicted them of sin – not the Ten Commandments. The above Scriptures clearly state that the Ten Commandments are a ministry of death and condemnation and the opposite of the New Covenant Ministry of the Spirit which reveals our Righteousness in Christ.  This life and the terms of the New Covenant are unique to Christianity and they are the good news that we proclaim.

3.2  SCRIPTURES THROUGH THE EYES OF THE NEW COVENANT

John 5:38-39  Nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.

The Scriptures take on a completely different meaning for those reading them under the Old Covenant of the Law and those reading them under the New Covenant of grace. It goes without saying that the way you read a contract or agreement depends on what party you are to that contract or agreement. The Law was made between Israel and God. When you place yourself under the Law, your purpose in reading Scripture will then become to understand the  laws, principle, statutes, rules and regulation that you need to fulfil to uphold your side of the agreement. The Bible then becomes a rule book. On the other hand, the New Covenant of grace was made between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. For those who have been included in Christ by grace through faith, all the requirements of the New Covenant were fulfilled on the cross (Galatians 2:20). Our purpose in reading the Bible then becomes to see Jesus, His New Covenant and the good news of His grace. It is no longer a book of rules but instead a love story about relationship between God, His Son, His beloved children in Christ and the kingdom he has prepared for them. As New Covenant believers, when we read the Old Testament we must now read it on the basis that all the conditions have been fulfilled by Christ. Where people were punished for sin, we now see that punishment on Jesus, where people were cursed for disobedience, we now see the curse on Jesus, where people got sick because of sin, we see health through Jesus’ stripes, and where people were disqualified because of sin we see Jesus as our qualification. This is the good news of God’s grace – but, be warned it is offensive to those who want to do it by themselves. We now read the Old Testament with a new mindset, always pointing to Jesus as our fulfilment of the Old Testaments and its conditions. It is no longer about “We must”, but now it is about “Jesus has.”

3.3  MINISTERS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The relationship or place of the New Covenant in regard to the kingdom is as follows:  Jesus is the King who reigns and rules. Born Again believers are the citizens and ambassadors of the kingdom. The constitution of the kingdom is the New Covenant. The system of governance is God’s grace. The Administrator of the Kingdom is the Holy Spirit. The Law is love. The manifesto of the kingdom is glory to God and salvation for mankind.

3.4  IT IS GOD’S GOODNESS THAT LEADS TO REPENTANCE

Romans 2:4  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Under the New Covenant it is the goodness and love of God that leads to true repentance and changed lives, not the Law. The key issue is that we are now ministers of life that comes through preaching Jesus and His grace, not ministers of the Law that brings death and condemnation.

Can you find any incidents in the New Testament that would bear this out? List as many as you can find:

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3.5  WHAT ABOUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

Paul is clear that the Law is dead to New Covenant believers and ministers (Ephesians 2:15) and the Ten Commandments are not part of our ministry. He states that a ministry that preaches the Ten Commandments brings death and condemnation, not life. Maybe this is why so many of us are sick and so many are dying? Admittedly, a ministry preaching Law and grace may have some glory, just like Moses had some glory – but it was fading. I have always been puzzled as to why over the years we have seen revivals, healings, anointing, moves of the Spirit and salvations just fading away after a while (2 Corinthians 3:11). This is because we mix Law and grace and where there is Law, the glory fades because it is based on our performance and self-effort which we just cannot keep up. Law gives glory to man, grace gives glory to God (more on the Law in part 3).

3.6  THE NEW COVENANT IS NOT A MIXTURE OF LAW AND GRACE

Most of us have grown up hearing a gospel that is a mixed message of Law and grace. Basically, we are saved by grace but have to live by Law, rules, regulations and methods instead of in grace, by the Spirit and the Word. Because of this mixed gospel many believers are experiencing the fruit of the Law , which is condemnation, death, spiritual dryness, a lack of joy, a sense of never being worthy, guilt, fear, ill health, very few miracles, minor signs, and little wonder, no passion (2 Corinthians 3:7). Mixing grace and Law is robbing the church of her true inheritance. Law-based Christianity is killing churches and believers all over the world and also driving people away from God – they can never make the grade, they always fall short, they burn out trying to do enough.

The good news is that we are righteous in Christ and blessed by Jesus’ grace (John 1:16-17), as grace is the way to overcome all the sin we see around us (Titus 2:11-12). We live in an amazing time when the Holy Spirit is bringing us into a full understanding of the power of the cross and that Jesus is our all in all. Not only are we saved by grace, but as God’s beloved children, we live in grace.

We are not ashamed of this gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel that has power (Romans 1:16) to revitalize the church, change people and change the world.

3.7  OUR PUNISHMENT AND AFFLICTIONS ARE ON JESUS

Isaiah 30:20  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. (this is from the Old Covenant),

Because of the cross, what was true under the Old Covenant of the Law is no longer true for those under the New Covenant of grace, especially with regard to God afflicting us and punishing us.

              a.  THE OLD COVENANT

Under this old agreement no one was born again, no one was called a child of God, no one was filled with the Spirit (the Spirit of God only came upon certain people at certain times). Prophets had to hear God for the people, priests had to present prayers on the people’s behalf. Righteousness was based on good works and perfect Law keeping. Under the Covenant of the Law God’s judgment and wrath against sin and self righteousness resulted in death, sickness, affliction by evil spirits, punishment and curses (Deuteronomy 28) coming upon those who sinned, backslid, rebelled and disobeyed until such time as they repented and to God. Adversity, affliction, sickness and hardship was used to train God’s people (Isaiah 30:20). It wasn’t good news, as Israel’s history proved, they never made the grade and suffered greatly for it (Romans 9:30-10:4).

              b. THE NEW COVENANT

Under this new agreement, believers are born again and are a new creation, we are children of God, the Holy Spirit permanently lives in us, we have a personal relationship with God, we hear Him and He hears us when we pray. Our righteousness is Jesus and is imputed to us by faith. our sins are forgiven and forgotten and we now have the power to say no to sin. We are not under the Law. We do good works because we are under grace and not to get right with God. Our punishment for sin and curses were taken by Jesus on the cross. God trains and teaches us through the Holy Spirit and by the Scriptures not through adversity, affliction and sickness.

So what is the bread of adversity and the water of affliction in a New Covenant sense? Simple, we point to Jesus. His body suffered adversity and affliction for our sake and it becomes for us the bread of adversity and affliction, and thus the bread of Life as it reminds us of His suffering and death for us so that we could have His life now – that is why we regularly celebrate communion. When Jesus was afflicted on the cross by the spear in His side water flowed out along with the blood, this becomes for us the water of affliction. To walk in victory it is critical for us to be clear which covenant we are under, otherwise we will wrongly believe that God is cursing us, God is making us sick or God is giving us poverty so as to teach us and train us. We then justify our afflictions by Scriptures taken from the Old Testament and a covenant that we are not under, instead of looking to Christ and the cross. We then call Satan’s works, God’s work and wrongly suffer instead of standing firm in Christ against Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). If you believe you are being afflicted, are sick, are poor and are depressed because your loving Heavenly Father is punishing you or training you, ask the Holy Spirit to show you if this is really true. Receive freedom and blessings in Christ by the grace of God (Romans 1:16).

4.  COMMUNION IS A CELEBRATION OF THE NEW COVENANT

Luke 22:17-20  After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

We are called to celebrate the New Covenant that came through the shedding of the blood of Jesus and the punishment of his body. Jesus said we should remember his death and celebrate his death. Why? Because he died in our place, so it’s good news for us, it’s something to celebrate and be thankful for.

4.1  COMMUNION CELEBRATES GOOD NEWS

Under grace, the Lord’s Table (communion) becomes central to Christian life, as it is a focus on the finished and all sufficient work of the cross and Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2.2). The Lord’s Table is a celebration of the good news of the New Covenant. It is a spiritual party and feast! It is a remembrance of the grace that came through the cross. It is a remembrance of Jesus’ death that has made us righteous, i.e. right standing and relationship to God. It is not a remembrance of the Old Covenant and Law. It is not a remembrance of our sins, it is not a remembrance of our unworthiness.

 4.2  IT IS A CELEBRATION OF GRACE

Communion is a physical sign of God’s gift of grace given through the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus. Having complete freedom to break bread and drink the cup of salvation together should be a central part of our fellowship. It is a celebration and reminder of the price Jesus paid to set us free from the Law and our slavery to sin. Communion is a wonderful reminder that God himself suffered and died for us (1 Corinthians 11:26) so we may have a full abundant, grace-filled, life. It is a reminder that we are to trust only in grace for our righteousness and not ourselves. The cross of Christ is the only thing that qualifies us in God’s eyes and that is good news, as it takes the pressure of performance off us, as grace is free and without condition to all who would believe.

4.3  IT IS A REMINDER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, NOT OF OUR SINS

1 Corinthians 1:30  Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Communion is a reminder of our righteousness in Christ and not of our past sinful condition or our present failings. When we come to the Lord’s communion table we have to examine and judge ourselves to ensure that we are in belief – belief as to the finished work of the cross. We are to be focussed on Christ’s righteousness imputed to us by faith, and not on our sins. God declares that He has already forgiven us and remembers our sins no more, we must not make Him out to be a liar by denying this by being sin conscious all the time (more on the forgiveness of all sin in part 4). We have to judge ourselves as to if we believe that His body broken and blood shed on the cross was sufficient, that he has purified us from all sin and made us righteous, once and for all time. Or perhaps we erroneously believe that the work of the cross has to be added to? We do this by thinking on or accounting as credit before God, our good works, confession of sins, devotion time, prayers, and Bible reading time, etc. (these are good but not when offered to God as credit). If we come to communion with this mindset of adding to the work of the cross we make a mockery of the sufficiency and finished work of Christ’s suffering and death. The sin of unbelief in the finished work of the cross is the sin we need to deal with when we are in grace – moral sin is the fruit of unbelief and the Law. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of this unbelief, we don’t have to do it (John 16:9).

4.4  NO ONE IS WORTHY, EXCEPT BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

Isaiah 64:6, (KJV) But we are all as the unclean thing, and all our (self) righteousness’s are as a menstruation cloth.  

Only the righteousness and holiness that Christ gives us is good enough for God. Even as believers, any righteousness or holiness that we bring based on our good or bad actions is still like used menstrual cloth to God, Yuck! We can only take communion in a worthy way by relying on the imputed holiness of Jesus given to us by grace (more about righteousness in part 5).

4.5  WE CELEBRATE NEW COVENANT HOLINESS

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.”

Many feel they cannot partake of the Lord’s Table because they are not “holy” or worthy enough. What a lie and a deception! The simple truth is that no one is worthy to take communion if their focus is on their actions and sins instead of on Christ’s righteousness freely given and received by faith (1 Corinthians 1:30). Sadly many believers judge their holiness by comparing themselves with others. If we think we are holy because of the way we live and think, and the brother next to us is not because he has been sinning, then we have become self-righteous and are in danger of becoming Pharisees. If we judge ourselves by our actions and thoughts instead of who we are in Christ then we are still lost in sin. However if we rightly judge ourselves as righteous and holy in Christ we can approach God’s throne boldly, as for us it has become the throne of grace  and no longer the throne of judgement (Hebrews 4:16). We all know that as believers our daily actions may still fall short of God’s holiness – we all continue to miss the mark to some degree. But this is no longer the issue with our Abba Father. He no longer relate to us according to our sin or sinlessness, but purely through Christ. God sees all believers as righteous in Christ. The fruit of knowing Jesus is (His) holiness – however if we think we are better than others then we deceive ourselves. We cannot come to the Lord’s table with a superior attitude but only with humbleness, knowing that only grace is sufficient.

It’s exactly in this situation that the good and proper purpose of the Law comes into effect as the Law always show us we fall short and cannot rely on our holiness based on our actions but only true holiness given to us (imputed) by Jesus. Anyone coming to the Lord’s Table claiming to be holy on a comparison or works basis is coming in an unworthy that dishonours the work Jesus did on the cross and the Paul warns us that this is dangerous.

4.6  NEW COVENANT HEALTH FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE

1 Corinthians 11:25-27  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.  But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Interestingly, this is the only place in New Testament where it explains one of the reasons why Christians are sick and dying. This is a teaching on health and sickness that revolves that around The Lord’s Table. It is critical that we consider this carefully and have a clear understanding of what it is saying, as this is one of the keys to health. Firstly, to state the obvious:  our Abba Father does not want to harm us because we have acted irreverently or in a wrong way during communion. The wine and bread do not become poison because we mistakenly partake in a wrong way. To imply either of the above is tantamount to blasphemy against the cross, the New Covenant and God’s grace. Sadly many have been taught exactly this. False teachers imply that very thing that represents and brings life actually brings sickness – that is ridiculous! We believers are children of a good and loving Heavenly Father who cares for us and calls us His beloved children. God never ever inflicts sickness on His beloved children.

              4.6.1 LAW-BASED COMMUNION BRINGS DEATH

The Old Covenant of the Law brought sickness if one did not perform (Deuteronomy 28) – it is bad news. Coming to the Lord’s Table with a law and works mindset and belief system is spiritually dangerous. Law and grace cannot be mixed. Grace plus law equals law and law produces death! The Scripture 2 Corinthians 3:6-17 is clear that the Law cause death and we all know that death normally comes through sickness. The context of 2 Corinthians, including the teachings on the Lord’s Table, is that law based Christianity denies the work of the cross, brings death, ill health and condemnation and we need to free ourselves from the law and the dead works it requires and trust only in grace! (more on the Law in part 3).

              4.6.2 WHY ARE SO MANY SICK?

There is huge controversy over the issue of sickness among believers and it is not the purpose of this course to address this issue in detail. However, the reality is that many believers are weak and sick and grace is the solution to this. As we look briefly at the relationship between health and grace we need to clarify that people are not sick because they have not confessed their sins or not dealt with some relational issue and thus been afflicted by God.  There are many causes of sickness, the main one being the fallen creation we live in and the over busyness and stresses of modern life. However the scriptures indicated that one of the possible reasons that some  believers are not gaining victory in their health is because they cannot accept the full sufficiency of the cross for them personally and are unable to enter into the rest of grace. Many take communion in an unworthy manner because they think Jesus’ bloody body, crushed, broken and spat upon was not enough for their full salvation, sanctification, justification, healing and righteousness. Sometimes we do not live in health because we find it hard to believe that Jesus did enough to earn it for us on the cross. Deep down we are in the “unbelief” as to our worthiness and this manifests in ill health. When we live under condemnation we sub consciously believe we deserve to be punished for our sins or lack of performance for God. Sickness can be a fruit of this wrong belief. Sadly my experience as a pastor has shown that many sick people often feel they need to do something to earn their healing and they desperately try to make bargains with God instead of simply resting in his love and grace.

Believers who come to the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner means simply that they have not rested from their own dead works (Hebrews 4:9),  law keeping and sin and condemnation consciousness. Often guilt, stress, busyness , anger and negativity overwhelms their lives and depression and sickness is the fruit. Every loving father wants to see his children well and healthy,  how much more so with Abba! Trusting him, and abiding and resting  in grace and the finished work of the cross leads to good mental and physical health.

4.7  THE NEW COVENANT OF LOVE

Jesus, the exact image and representation of God, always healed and never ever wished sickness on anyone. No earthly father would do such terrible unloving thing to his children, how much less so would the God, who bore our sin and diseases in His own body on the cross. So let us treat any teaching or belief that God afflicts and disciplines us through sickness with the contempt it deserves understanding that it is not valid for those under the New Covenant. Regularly celebrating at the Lord’s Table will in fact bring us increased health as it will remind us of what was won for us on the cross and by the stripes of Jesus!

4.8  GROUP WORK

During the group time, discuss the following statement and Scriptures in light of the teachings of covenant and how we can apply them both in our own lives and when proclaiming the good news to the lost. Discuss any other pertinent points that these teachings have highlighted.

“The New Covenant is reconciliation between man and God and the time of grace.”

Colossians 1:20, “Through Jesus, God has reconciled to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

Ephesians 1:7, “In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

5. GROUP EXERCISE  QUESTIONS:

5.1 What is a covenant and how is it ratified?

5.2 What covenant are Christians under?

5.3 Describe the basic terms of this covenant.

5.4 What covenant was Abraham under?

5.5 When did the covenant of the Law start?

5.6 What covenant was Israel under prior to the Law?

5.7 When did the New Covenant start?

5.8 who or what is the principle focus of the New Covenant?

5.9 What was God’s response to sin under the Old Covenant of the Law?

5.10 What is his response under the new covenant? Can you think of a scripture to back up your answer?

5.11 How does one enter into the New Covenant?

5.12 Are we all ministers, if so what do we minister?

5.13 What leads people to true repentance. Can you quote a scripture. How do you feel about this?

5.14 What are other names for “The Lord’s Table”?

5.15 Write a paragraph on what “The Lord’s Table” is about.

5.16 Write a paragraph on grace and the New Covenant and share it in your group.

Now that we have laid the foundation of the New Covenant, established that we are only under the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, which is grace,  and explained the difference between the Old and New Covenants, next we will look at the Law of the Old Covenant  and explain its purpose and application.

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6. ON LINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDBACK

This course can be done electronically. It should ideally be done in a networked group setting, with a minimum of five people so that an active discussion can take place and different viewpoints explored.  Those doing the course at a distance by Face Book or Email should answer these questions and discuss them in their  study group either on line or at a group meeting. Queries can then be emailed to us at study@gracelovetruth.com and we will endeavour to answer any questions that are unresolved by the end of the course.

This course if free but we do ask that you  send us the names and emails of all participants so we can get their feedback and input and keep in contact with further course updates. Email information will be kept private and confidential.

 

 

 

 

 

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