Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The New Covenant P1 (05-25-21)
We are starting a bible study series on A Closer Look at the New Covenant. Have all of our sins been truly forgiven by God? Can we truly know God personally? To answer these questions, this powerful study explores a subject that encompasses every aspect of the Christian life: the New Covenant. An understanding of this vital subject will bring clarity to your knowledge of the Bible and confidence, assurance and freedom to your Christian life. In this series you will discover:
- Why the New Covenant is far superior to the Old Covenant
- Jesus meant it when He said “It is Finished”
- Your eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus
- How to experience the fullness of God’s grace
To get an understanding of the New Covenant, turn to the book of Hebrews and study along, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you. Be aware of the fact that much of what is taught in Christendom is in conflict with biblical truth. So it is imperative you rely on the Holy Spirit, if you are born again, who is alive living in you, to reveal truth to you as you study God’s word. Do not rely on denominational persuasions of men.
As you study Hebrews 9, you will read about a will, a covenant, and a testament. You will read a contrast between the Old Covenant, a covenant of law, with the New Covenant, a covenant of grace. You will read about the shortcoming of men under an Old Covenant so that a New Covenant had to replace the old one. You will read about the blood of bulls and goats to cover sin, called atonement, and the once and for all sacrifice, of Jesus shed blood, that requires no repetition, called propitiation. You will come to understand the significance of Jesus’ death on a cross, along with His burial and resurrection.
As you ponder over the person of Jesus, thinking of our calendar being divided between B.C. and A.D., people often think of the birth of Christ and maybe something about the death of Christ on a cross. But the dividing line of human history from God’s perspective is the Old Testament system, before the cross, and the New Testament system, after the cross. The birth of Christ would not be the centerpoint of history, but the death of Christ. From man’s perspective, it seems that the birth of Christ has so much emphasis, but the cross has so much greater significance. This will become more clear as you understand the concept of a will.
You will understand the concept of a will, as in a physical will when a loved one dies. The same thing is true with the will of God, in ushering in a covenant, whether an Old Covenant or a New Covenant. In either case, the covenant does not go into effect until there is a death. Under the Old Covenant, the shed blood of a bull and a goat as required, which could never take away sin, because it was not a perfect sacrifice. If it was, man would no longer be guilty for sin. His conscience would be cleansed once and for all. Under the New Covenant, Jesus’ shed blood, and the proof of His death by His burial, initiated that New Covenant we are to live under today.
It is important to note that, according to Hebrews, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. Yet people today think they need to keep short accounts with God, often from a misinterpretation of 1 John 1:9. If that was so, then why in 1 Corinthians, does Paul say that there is now no more counting of sins, yet people are so focused on counting or confessing sins. We read in scripture that God remembers our sins no more and there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus also said that He is not going to appear a second time to bear sin but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. Why? It has already been done. In the gospel of John is recorded Jesus saying, “It is finished”, meaning “Paid in full.” What was paid in full? Sin, which is what caused our death. Jesus became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
So ponder over these scriptures and test and see if what people have said concerning 1 John 1:9 is not interpreted correctly in light of all the other scriptures we read about concerning the New Covenant. Is it really true what people say about spiritual breathing, exhaling to confess your sins to God, and inhaling to appropriate the Holy Spirit so as to keep in fellowship with God, or as they say, to keep short accounts with God? Is that not about what you are doing? But what God has done through Jesus Christ, through His death, burial and resurrection, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15, is all about what God has already done for us. Is not the gospel message about what God has done, and not about what we have done? What have you understood about the gospel that saves you, that allows you to come into the presence of the living God?
Think about these things. Are we to boast in what we do under a New Covenant of grace? Who was 1 John written to? What was their faulty reasoning that had to be corrected? How did the apostle John correct them? If you knew Greek, or could find a concordance, what is the correct rendering of the “if” usage in 1 John 1:9? What verb tense should really be used in many English translations of the bible? How would you translate 1 John 1:9 so God’s intended meaning is more clearly understood?
I have stated so many times that it has almost become mundane, but if I only had one question before I went home to be with the Lord this would be the message. I believe it is the most untaught lesson that there is in scripture. It is the most misunderstood and yet, in my opinion, it is the most dynamic and the most important message for us to get a hold of. When we do not understand that we have been freed from one covenant, the covenant of the law, and have been now the recipient of a covenant of grace, that there are two ways in which we live, the old way and the new way, and we have a choice. Some people try to comingle those two. It cannot be done. You have to die to one in order to come alive to the other.
I equate that sometimes with marriage. Until a person dies to singleness, they will never come alive to marriage. They will be married but to be alive to it, no way. So what do you have? You have a miserable existence. Many people alive today are sitting around in misery and saying this is as good as it gets because of not understanding what we will be teaching.
I pray you will listen to what Jesus said. If you have ears, listen. Ask the Spirit of God, who lives in you, to reveal the meaning of these words to you because if the Spirit of God does not do that, you are not going to know the meaning. You are going to know what it says, but not what it means, unless the Spirit of God reveals it to you.
Now, all of us have been subject to a lot of teaching. We have been taught forgiveness, reconciliation, sanctification, righteousness, justification, identity in Christ, life, and all these subjects, and these New Testament words make up the very essence of the Gospel. For most people, however, these are just nebulous doctrines dangling out in space somewhere, as if they don’t belong or connect to each other.
The fact of the matter is it is not are you forgiven or not, but are you in the New Covenant or not. If you are in the New Covenant, you are a forgiven person. That is a new identity altogether. God took all of these things and put them in this new bag. They are all in there together. If you are in that bag, you are a forgiven person. It is not whether you are reconciled or not. It is the case of whether you are in the New Covenant or the Old Covenant. If you are in the New Covenant, you are a reconciled person.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them.
That means you are a forgiven, reconciled person. It is all a part of this new identity. This New Covenant gives you a new identity. You are a new creature in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Why are you a new creation? Because the old has passed and the new has come. What does that mean? I am no longer under the Old Covenant but under the New Covenant. It is a brand new way of living, as a brand new creature, as a person that has been a recipient of everything that God did and nothing that we have done.
Historically, some groups have been so focused on these “individual doctrines” that great division has resulted. New denominations and sects have been formed based on a single doctrine. In the process, the true meaning of the doctrine has been totally obscured. As a result, the average Christian knows something about each piece of the puzzle that makes up the Gospel message, but is unsure and confused about how they fit together or even if they do fit together.
God has given us a framework that holds the various elements of the Gospel in place: this framework is called the New Covenant. It encompasses everything that Christ has accomplished for us through His death, burial and resurrection. That is why it is of utmost importance for every believer to understand the New Covenant. With a proper understanding of the New Covenant, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
In order to fully understand this covenant, let’s begin at the place where it began – at the cross. It is interesting that these people that deny the existence of Jesus, and other types of things, sometimes fail to realize that with what they do, that even our calendars are around Jesus Christ. You have B.C., before Christ, and A.D., annum domini, the year of our Lord. That is the way our calendars have divided history.
But as far as God is concerned, He did not divide history from the birth of Christ. He divided history at the cross. So, in essence, this B.C. should be before the cross and A.D., an Italian word meaning “after D’ cross”. So you have before the cross and after the cross. That is how God has divided human history. We look at the birth of Christ in that regard, but that is just not the way it is from God’s standpoint. It is the world’s standpoint but not God’s standpoint.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
To all who are listening, most of you have a will. If you do not, the government has one for you. So, in essence, you have a will. A will is not something new. They have existed even back in biblical times. You have a will. You have a covenant. You have a testament. You have an old will. You have a new will. You have an old covenant. You have a new covenant. You have an old testament and we have a new testament.
In order for this new testament, or this new covenant or this new will, just like in your particular life, for it to go into effect you have to die. I have a will that has spelled out what will be left, if there is anything, to my children, to the ministry and to whoever else we have designated for those funds to go to. But they will not go into effect one day early. It is at my death that they will go into effect. That is the same thing with a will here.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death. That is why in Corinthians, we read that the gospel is about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You normally would not have to mention burial. But burial is necessary to prove the death of the one who died. A will never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
Now we understand a little about a will.
18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
What is he talking about here? He is talking about the forfeiture of life. Life is in the blood and the shedding of blood is the forfeiture of life. Under the first covenant, it was not put into effect apart from a sacrifice, the shedding of blood and a forfeiture of a life.
19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant
This is the life that ushers in this covenant.
which God has commanded you to keep.”[Exodus 24:8]
In the old covenant, that commandment was put into effect, and we were in the equation. Here is the law, folks. You keep it. We are in the equation, in the old covenant.
21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies.
So ponder over the fact that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Yet people today will say, “Oh Lord, please forgive me.” The Lord will say, “Where is your sacrifice?” Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. If there is no further forgiveness to be executed by God, then Jesus would have to die again. It is just like in the old testament, where sacrifices had to be made over and over again. Why? We never stopped sinning.
Under the old covenant, this covenant he commanded us to keep, we could not keep it. But God brought in a system of being able to get forgiveness in the midst of our failures. That was for our benefit, to be able to clear the conscience of man’s failure before God. But the issue is, “Here is a covenant I am commanding you to keep.” You are in the equation, but if you don’t there is a means for you to obtain forgiveness. But you are still in the equation.
I am saying that because in the new covenant we are not in the equation. There is the difference between the two. It is all God and none of us in the new covenant, but not in the old.
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
If there was any further forgiveness to be executed on our behalf by God, what would Jesus have to do according to the scripture that says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness? What would Jesus have to do? When he returns, what do we read in the scripture?
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
So why is He not coming to bear sins? A lot of people have certainly sinned since He died on a cross. There has been over 2000 years of continual sinning. So why is He not coming to bear sins? He has already done it. He did it once, He did it for all, and He cried out from the cross, “It is finished”, meaning “Paid in full.”
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The book of Hebrews is a book of faith. It is there to show us the importance of walking by faith.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
People today, thinking that they are just so pleasing to God, that they can hardly stand themselves. “I have all my sins forgiven.” “I have cleansed myself.” “I have confessed my sin.” “I have got myself forgiven.” By saying such things, you are still in the old covenant. You are still in the equation. But you are not any longer in the equation. There is no more shedding of blood. There is no more forgiveness to be executed on behalf of God. It has been done. It has been done by Jesus one time on the cross, who cried out “Paid in full.”
You go over to Israel today, and you go into a store and you buy something. You pay for it. They stamp it with a stamp “Tetelestai”, meaning “Paid in full.” When you are walking out the door, they do not say you owe something because it is paid in full. Do we understand that in Christianity? No. You have the Catholics still going to a priest to get forgiveness. You have the evangelical saying you can go to God directly. But, in essence, God is in heaven saying, “What do you idiots think I did at the cross? I took away the sins of the entire world from the eyes of God once and for all. There is no more shedding of blood.” There is no more shedding of blood.
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Christ was sacrificed one time, not two times, but once. To do what? To take away sin. That is the difference between atonement and what Jessu did. The shedding of blood and the forfeiture of the life of an animal was called atonement. It covered sin until the next sacrifice was made. Jesus came to do something far greater than atone for sin. As a matter of fact, atonement is not used in the new covenant. He did not come to atone for sin.
People today get mad at me when I say that. Do not get mad at me. Get mad at Jesus. He is the one who said He did something greater than the blood of a bull and a goat. Why are you putting the blood of Jesus Christ on the same par as a bull and a goat?
4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Was it possible for the blood of bulls and goats to cover sin? Absolutely. They covered it until the next time. So Jesus was sacrificed once for the sins of many people. And He will appear a second time, not to bear sin. Why not? He has already done it. But He is going to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Since forgiveness requires the shedding of blood, and Jesus shed His blood one time at the cross, what is the only conclusion you can draw from the forgiveness God has provided you as a child of God, if you are going to walk by faith? I do not understand how people have gone so far from the truth and the joy of this event that Christ did when He went to a cross to become sin for us. People are still, what the bible says to die to, are staying alive to. What the bible says to stay alive to, we have died to.
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
Again, if we are going to walk by faith. You do not have to walk by faith, but if you are going to be pleasing to God, you will have to walk by faith. You are not going to walk by faith in what you are doing. You are going to walk by faith in what He has already accomplished.
But if you are under the Old Covenant, there is a commandment, “You keep it”, and you say you are keeping it, then you can brag on that. “I kept this command but I did not keep the other nine.” But under the New Covenant there are no bragging rights. None at all. He kept us out of the equation. God looked down on man. We tried the law. Men asked for the law. But they could not live up to it. They tried judges. They could not live up to it. They tried everything under the sun. So God says, “I will give it to you. You can give that a whack.” And we failed every single time.
What is the Old Testament? It is the history of man’s failure and the mercy of God’s love. That is what it is. It is a picture of man’s failure. What do you have in there? You have David, a man after God’ own heart. He committed adultery. He killed His adulterous wife’s husband, Uriah the Hittite. Moses was a murderer. He killed the Egyptian. You have all kinds of failures. Rahab the prostitute, how did she get in that lineup of faith? They believed God. They walked by faith in what God had accomplished.
People have taken faith to mean that is what you feel proud over when you have done something. Faith in the bible, true biblical, New Covenant faith, is “Thank you, Jesus, that you did it all in spite of me not because of me.” That is again faith and sustaining faith. There is not anything that can sustain me when my faith is, “Look at how good I did. Look how diligent I was to keep my sins confessed.”
I went through that as a brand new Christian, to be diligent to keep my sins confessed. I was taught that by the group that led me to Christ. In some aspects of that, I am very grateful to them. I am not being critical of that, but their teaching was that you had to keep short accounts with God. Their teaching was that every time you sinned, it was like a piece of tinsel was going across the tracks of your train and short-circuiting all the electricity in Los Angeles county, and you short-circuited God. And you had to get that thing removed. The way you got it removed was 1 John 1:9.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
So, according to false teaching by misinterpretation, you can cleanse yourself and get yourself forgiven and then appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit. They called it spiritual breathing, exhaling to mean confessing your sins, and inhaling, for appropriating the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Now you are walking in the newness of life. All of that is tied into what I was doing. Every single bit of it. It never entered my mind what God had done, but only what I was doing. If you were to say, “How were you doing, Bob?” I would say, “Let’s see. Did I do this? Did I do that?” People today are still doing that.
I started out with spiritual breathing, then spiritual panting and then hyperventilating. I had to come to realize that something was wrong. There is something wrong here with the interpretation of this passage of scripture. It is there. It is the only passage of its kind in the New Testament. In the New Covenant, nothing else is there. When I say New Covenant, that is from the day of Christ’s death forward.
So there is something wrong here. I had to deal with that wrong because it was not working in my life. I had to come to the point of saying, “I am depending on my memory. What if I forgot one?” I was told, “Well, grace handles that one.” That is nonsense. I had to deal with that issue because of the overwhelming evidence of the scripture that “It is finished.”
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them.
It is over. Then why am I not walking, thanking Him for what He had accomplished instead of trying to get into the equation? I was in the equation, just like in the Old Covenant. That went on until I came to the conclusion that this is just not going to work. The deal I was under is this. It is there, that passage, but what does it mean? We know what it says. Everybody can quote it. But what does it mean? I am not saying that you need to understand Greek or go to people who know Greek, but with a passage like this, and when every other passage does not bear that interpretation at all, so I went to a leading Greek professor in Dallas Theology Seminary in Dallas, TX. I also went to other Greek professors, such as the Visual Bible Institute and other professors of Greek. Ultimately, a professor was taught in a seminary in Greece. I saw the professor sitting there who did not need to learn Greek. He did not have to go to seminary to learn Greek. He was born with it. He said, “Your interpretation is not right.” I said, “It is your bible, in your language. Go ahead and dissect it for me.” He looked and he looked and he looked. He finally said to me, “Why have we not been teaching this?” I said, “Tradition. That is much a tradition as any tradition churches are engaged in. It is much of a tradition of keeping short accounts with God instead of thanking Him for the fact we are under a New Covenant and it is over and it is finished.”
I had to deal with that. That certainly helped having the interpretation. So let me give you that interpretation. You have an “if”. In the Greek language, you have different kinds of “if̶q;s. Satan said, “if you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”. That is not an “if” meaning “if you are”, as “I do not know if you are or not”. It means “inasmuch as#8221;, or “in the light of the fact”, turn these stones to bread. Then there is a conditional “if“, meaning “I do not know whether you are or not”. In this instance this is an “if” with a question mark.
1 John was written to correct Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a doctrine of antiChrist, first of all teaching Jesus did not come in the flesh, and secondly, that we do not have a sin nature. That is called antiChrist teaching. To correct that. If we confess, saying “I do not know if you people will ever come to your senses or not. In fact, I almost doubt that is going to occur. But if you do come to the point of agreeing with God concerning your sins, He is faithful and just, not to forgive, for that is a terrible translation, but to have forgiven you of your sins and to have cleansed you of all unrighteousness.”
We just have to interpret it as what it is in an aorist tense. Aorist tense is a past act done with eternal consequence. We know when the cross occurred and we know when this was written, some 60 years later. We know when it occurred. There is not a doubt when it occurred. It occurred 60 years ago at the time it was written. There is no other way to interpret that. The literal interpretation of that passage could be rendered this way.
“I do not know if you guys will ever come to your senses or not.”
I would say that to people today, “I do not know.”
“but in the event you do, today, tomorrow or whenever it might be, He is faithful and just to have forgiven you of your sins and to have cleansed you from all unrighteousness.”