Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P18 (03-17-21)
As was prophesied through the prophet Jeremiah, and explained more thoroughly in the book of Hebrews, we live today under a new covenant. Jeremiah and Jesus both lived under an old covenant. While Jesus was on this earth, He lived under an old covenant while speaking about a new covenant to come. He initiated a new covenant, or new will, after His death on a cross. Just as we have a will today that only goes into effect after the person living dies, so too with this new covenant Jesus spoke about, that also the writer of Hebrews explains.
The old covenant was one of law, like a tutor to those under the law until Christ should come to fulfill the law. No man could fulfill all the just requirements of the law. This law required perfection and if anyone failed at just one point, he was guilty of breaking all of it. The reason for that is because anything that does not come from faith is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Even the inward thoughts and attitudes of man are sin, such as lust and hatred, which are equivalent to adultery and murder, in the eyes of God.
No man could ever fulfill the law, obeying it perfectly, except Jesus, who is God in the flesh. God is Spirit, God is love, and love is the fulfillment of the law, for love does its neighbor no wrong. So Jesus fulfilled the law, not by obeying rules, but by acting in love, in who He is by nature.
The law was never designed to make anyone righteous. There is no more power in the law to make one righteous than a mirror you hold to your face. The law can only show you that you are a sinner, where you have sinned, just like a mirror can only show you where the dirt is but cannot remove the dirt from your face. Indeed the purpose of the law was so that you could recognize your utter sinfulness and seek a Savior in Jesus Christ.
So for man to have any righteousness at all, he has to have someone else’s, for he has none of his own. And the only man who ever had, and has, any righteousness of his own is Christ Jesus. Indeed, that is why Jesus came, to put life, His righteousness, His very Spirit back into you. Adam once had the Spirit breathed in him at creation and that Spirit has to be put in you, but unlike Adam, will now never leave you due to sin, once you are born again and made into a new creation. So man must be recreated, or born again. Born again, not physically, but spiritually, whereby God places the Spirit of Jesus back into man forever.
This work to restore mankind back to true humanity was all accomplished by Jesus Christ, who took away the cause of our death, which was sin, so that if man should sin again, he would not die again. In other words, an eternal being who is also man must die in our place to eternally take away the sins of the entire world. That is what Jesus did in order to prepare mankind for what He really wants to give man, new life, not just any life, but eternal life, His life.
For man to live, he must have life placed back into him. This can only come by man’s choice to accept the eternal life by Jesus Christ through His resurrection. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then we are still dead in our sins, without hope and without God, eternally separated from Him because of being dead to sin. But since Jesus was raised from the dead, and lives forever, He offers to all mankind the same life that raised Him from the dead. So for a man to be born again, he must accept this eternal life, the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. So come to Christ for life, to live forever with God, and be born again today.
All of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles all point to this event in history, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus, testifying of what Jesus came to do for mankind to be restored to true humanity. That is the centerpoint of human history from God’s perspective. It is a book of divine origin. People spoke the message of Christ Jesus as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This is the only book you will ever read to get to know the author, the divine author, who is Jesus Christ our Lord.
It also tells you a little something about the writer of Hebrews. He was not one of the original apostles because it was confirmed to someone who was taught that by the apostles, the ones who heard him. Many times, you will get people who say that Hebrews was written by Peter or one of the apostles. I think that statement alleviates that. It also alleviates the fact this book was written by the apostle Paul. Paul said he did not get the message from the other apostles but by direct revelation from God.
12 For my message comes from no less a person than Jesus Christ himself, who told me what to say. No one else has taught me.
And the writer of Hebrews said he received what they received, and of course the Spirit of God is behind all of that, but from those who heard him, and I would assume that would be from the original apostles. I do not believe that the apostle Paul was necessarily the writer of Hebrews. In the final analysis, I do not care who wrote it because the Holy Spirit is the originator. The book of Hebrews, no one has to doubt who has spent time reading it and having lives affected by it, would have no problem seeing that it is the word of God.
He was saying to us, do not escape, do not ignore this salvation that has been announced to us. When it was announced and in the early new testament times, when that message was announced, God testified to itself the validity by signs, wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to His will. Not something you went out and sought to get, but according to His will.
Also, the reason for gifts and miracles and wonders and signs were to verify the word of God. Every miracle you ever saw Jesus do was certainly not done for Jesus’ benefit nor was it done for God’s benefit. It was done for man’s benefit, who in our stupidity, who are so slow to believe, that we sometimes need a sign or wonder in order to verify the truth of the word of God.
But I also want to caution you and bring you to remembrance that that mentality was challenged and chastised by Jesus Himself.
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Jesus essentially said, “If you want a sign, I will give you a sign.”
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
So he was talking about a sign. “You want a sign? Take a look at my resurrection.” If the resurrection of Christ Jesus today and the truth of that is not enough of a sign as to who He is, God, and the validity of what He has said through His word, I believe what Jesus is saying to him is, “What other kind of sign are you going to need?” Why would you believe, as an example, that straightening out somebody’s leg is a greater sign than being raised from the dead? Speaking a language you have never learned than being raised from the dead? Folks, I tell you anyone can mimic any one of those other deals. A good magician can pull that off. But I defy you to raise yourself from the dead. I would think you would find that very difficult to do!
When God is talking about signs and wonders, those things in the early days were done in order to verify the message of Christ Jesus. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He had just announced, “I am the resurrection and the life. I am the true resurrection. What you saw physically happened to Lazarus is a picture of what I, Jesus, will do spiritually to each and every one of you.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
After He fed the five thousand (John 6), the next day He announced “I am the bread of life”. He said, “You are looking for bread? You just got fed. But I am the true bread of life, not physical food, but spiritual food.” When they followed him over to Capernaum, after having been fed, He said this to them.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
The reason you came over here is because you saw me feed people over there. You are not following me for the true bread of life, which is spiritual birth, but for physical bread, which you can go back to your bakery and bake on your own.
So the Lord not only gave us signs and wonders but also cautioned us to not have our faith in signs and wonders. Our faith is not in signs, wonders, miracles and gifts. Our faith is in Christ Jesus. Those things were only given to testify of the truth of Christ Jesus and His word.
Why was the gift of speaking in a language that they had not learned? Why was that accompanied in the early days of Christendom? Because the message was being proclaimed by mere men, apostles, men like you and me, that had been named by Christ to proclaim a message. They were not God. They were not any more spiritual than you or me today. They had to be born again just like you and me. But they had walked with the Lord and He had revealed to them and brought back to their memory everything He had told them. He had commissioned them with a message.
Here is a mere man bringing a message to another mere man. The other mere man said I did not see Jesus or walk with Him so how am I going to know this message they are speaking is true? An uneducated fisherman in Galilee was speaking in a language, fluently speaking the mystery of the grace of God to them in a language they had never learned. I think that would have a tendency to get your attention. Seeing someone babbling in some language they had never heard before would be a sign to no one. The sign was that an uneducated fisherman was speaking not only in my language he had never learned but speaking in someone else’s language they had never learned. That is a miracle, a sign that only God can bring about. That, quite frankly, was what tongues was. That is what Paul said, “Tongues is a sign to the unbelieving Jew.” What was it a sign of? That what those people were speaking about Jesus was absolutely true.
We are talking about salvation presented to the second generation of Christians. God testified to this message by signs and wonders and miracles and gifts of the Spirit that were distributed according to His will and obviously at such a time He wanted them to occur. God has the ability to give a gift to anyone that He chooses to and exercise that at any time that He wants to. That is part of God being God. Now, He did that in order to solidify and to verify that the message that Christ has given us is what is going to change our lives, that that message is true.
You can have a sign and you have it and when it is gone it is gone. You can see a wonderful miracle but after it is done it is gone. You can see a wonder of wonders and after it is gone it is gone. When you live as long as I have, anything you saw five years ago you forget what it was anyways. So it is gone. You can have a gift that comes and goes. But all of those things testify of those things that cannot come and go, the one who is and was and always will be, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the reason for those things, to verify the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and verify truth that what these men are speaking and writing are absolutely from God Himself.
Even from a casual examination of the bible, a person will find it is divided into two sections called the Old Testament and the New Testament. That can be called an old will and a new will. You and I, if we have a will today, and I hope that we certainly do. If you do not have a will the government has one for you. But we go and make a will, but that will not go into effect until the one who made it dies. When it does go into effect, it is what spells out the inheritance of the heirs. Once that death occurs, you can accept or reject your inheritance but you cannot change it.
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.
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.
The same thing is true. We have an old will and testament. Today we have a new will and testament. So many times it is assumed that when we look at B.C, before Christ, and A.D., in the year of our Lord, that is referring many times to the birth of Christ. But I have always said that refers to the cross of Christ, B.C. being before the cross and A.D. being after “D” cross. I jokingly said that is an Italian term for after “D” cross. In any case, it is B.C. and A.D. I always say before the cross and after the cross because it is there that Christ divided all of human history from His standpoint in regard to how He was dealing with man. Before the cross He is dealing with mankind under an old covenant. After the cross, He is dealing with mankind under a new covenant.
1 Corinthians 11:25
25 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.”
After the crucifixion, Jesus lifted up that cup, saying this is a new covenant in my blood. A thrill of wonder and excitement should have come over the disciples, if they were able to grasp what the Lord was saying. For many hundreds of years, God has said through the prophets of Israel that some day He would make a brand new covenant with His people. Through the prophet Jeremiah, He said it would not be like the covenant He made with their forefathers.
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. 32 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. 33 “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.
Part of the old covenant law was to keep it. But they could not keep it. This new covenant would have had wonderful provisions, such as pouring out God’s Holy Spirit and final forgiveness of sins. Now Jesus is announcing its arrival. Anyone who was aware of Old Testament writings knew there was a new covenant coming. Now, He is saying, “Hey, it is about to get here.” The very next day He fulfilled that old covenant. Not only that, He actually did a new one when He inaugurated a new covenant with His death on a cross. He fulfilled the old covenant through His life. In other words, Christ walked on this earth totally sinless, walked in perfect love, love being the fulfillment of the law, and fulfilled the law in its entirety through His life. When God gives something to man, until it is fulfilled, how could He give something new to us? But we could not fulfill it so He came and did. So it is through His physical life that He fulfilled the law.
Becoming a man, being the representative, therefore, of all mankind, that was in Christ, different than being in Adam. Adam represented the human race. Today, Jesus, the last Adam, represents an entire new human race, those who have been restored to true humanity. His life fulfilled the law, and through His death, He paid the price for those of us who could not fulfill the law, and in so doing, enabling Him now to usher in a new covenant that was inaugurated at the cross, whereby He said their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. So, today, we are living under a new covenant. With that new covenant is where Paul is able to pick up what was the repercussion of that. Well, we are heirs of Christ Jesus. He spells that out in Galatians 4:1-7.
1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Redemption is not a popular term today as it was twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, everybody knew what a redemption store was. (For those not familiar, check out the Redemption Center.) That is where you got your green stamps for buying gasoline and groceries, and there were also gold stamps, and stamps of all kinds. Stamps all over the place. Then you would go into what was called a redemption center. What would you do? You would turn in these worthless stamps and get a toaster. You turn in one thing that has no value. You could not use those stamps to mail a letter with or even wallpaper your wall unless you want an ugly room. The only thing those stamps were for was to put them into a book and turn them into the redemption center. They had no value outside the redemption center. Inside the redemption center, they had value to them. Turn them in to get a toaster. But outside the redemption center, they had no value to them. You could not go into a Walmart store and say “Hey, I would like to buy this toaster. Here is a book full of green stamps.” They would have booted you out of there. You could not buy anything outside the redemption center with stamps. But it had value in the redemption center.
As the redemption center, being that of Christ Jesus, what we turned into Him, us, had value to Him. It did not have much value to anyone else, but to Him, precious in His sight. Quite frankly, that is what salvation is. I exchanged my life for His. I turned into Him as the heavenly redemption center all that I am, nothing. He gave me all that He is, everything. He gave me something of great value, a toaster, in return for me giving Him something of no value, green stamps. That is how we were redeemed. That is how our life was exchanged. I turned in my life and I got His. When I did that He made me a child of the living God. As that, being redeemed, exchanged, we receive full rights now as sons, no longer slaves, but as sons.
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
That is being born again, indwelt now by the Spirit of God living in you. That Spirit of God living in you, calls out “Abba, Father”, or “Daddy, Father”. We have been made children of God, my friends.
You read in the scriptures in John 15, where Jesus identifies Himself as the vine and you and I as the branch. He uses the word “abide” and that word sounds like such a spiritual word tossed around.
John 15:4-5 (KJV)
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Abiding in Jesus. What people think that means is “I am so obedient in Him”. That is not what that word means at all. The word, as used back then, would mean to make yourself at home. It is another verbiage of saying, “Come over to my house and make yourself at home. Abide in Me. Make yourself at home there. That is what that verbiage means. That is what abiding means. Recall what Paul wrote to the Ephesians.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
He is talking about that Christ may be at home in your hearts through faith. Do you realize, folks, that Christ is at home in your hearts. He has made Himself at home, living in you. That is tough to do, to make yourself at home, living in something like this. But God chose Himself at home in your heart, and therefore, says, “make yourself at home in Me”. It is to be comfortable with each other. Kick off your shoes and enjoy one another’s company. That is the relationship between a vine and a branch. A branch is so attached to the vine that you really cannot exchange one for the other. You cannot say the branch is a vine and the vine is a branch. They are not. But they are so attached, in union with one another, that they are literally in function one and the same. I will never be God. I am not God. He, quite frankly, was not totally man. He found Himself in appearance as a man but was God in an earth suit. But in our union together, we can be at home with one another. That is a miracle of miracles.
As a child of God, now, who has been born again of the Spirit of God. If God is our Father, it says that because He is at home in us, and, therefore, for us to be at home in Him, we realize there is a new relationship that has taken place. Therefore, we can call Him, “Abba, Father” or “Daddy, Father”. It says you are no longer a slave but a son. Since you are a son, God also made you an heir.
As an heir, it just merely means that all that belongs to Christ belongs to you and me. Again, that is incomprehensible to us as humans to realize why God, first of all, would even want to do what He did. I do not have a clue outside of an unconditional love that has been given to us, why He would want to come and indwell in us. Yet, He chose to do so. “Incidentally, make yourself at home with Me, too.” All I can do with that is to rejoice in it.
Prior to that, according to the old covenant, it was like a servant appointed as a guardian over a small child. The servant was responsible, therefore, for the discipline, education of the child through his years of immaturity, preparing him for that day he would inherit the wealth that was coming to him. In the same way, in Galatians 3:24-25, we read this.
24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
Seeing, obviously, our failure to be justified by obedience to the law, a new means of justification came on the scene, and that was by faith in the one who did fulfill the law through His life, and paid the price for those of us who couldn’t.
25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Why? The law did its work. It accomplished what it came to do. It showed us we were perfectly sinful so we would turn to Him as the one who paid the price for our sinfulness, and who came to justify the wicked. Not to reward the righteous. There are none. But to justify the wicked, which is all of us.
Since Christ’s death and resurrection, all believers have lived under this new age of grace, under the new covenant. It is essential then that we understand that the basis for the authority the apostles claim in their writing and this unique provision of this relationship, which is the inheritance of every child of God, and the essential theme of the new testament. What is the theme of the New Testament we hold in our hands today?
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them [men on the road to Emmaus] hat was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
The whole scripture, the whole new covenant we live in is about this Jesus who lives in you today. He gave His life for you, so raised from the dead He could give His life to you, so living in you He can live His life through you.
1 John 5:11-13
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
What kind of life? Eternal life. Whose life is that? Christ’s. Christ alone is eternal. So His life, when given to you, gives you what He is, eternal life. Why did John write that?
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
What was God’s intention for man? To restore us to life. Why did we need restoration to life? Because we are dead. We are talking about spiritual life here. We are talking about a man who had fallen in the image of Adam, dead spiritually, alive physically. Because Adam now represents a physical life, not indwelt by spiritual life. So what was God’s intention? To restore man to normalcy as far as God was concerned, what God looks at as normal in regard to the creation of man, a man alive bodily, soulishly and spiritually. So until man became alive spiritually and God is Spirit and you must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Until we became alive spiritually, we were dead spiritually, dead to God, and therefore no longer in His image, built in the image of Adam, dead spiritually. Now restored to true humanity, whereby I am alive spiritually and soulishly and bodily.
But these bodies of ours are headed toward the grave. They have not been redeemed. They will be redeemed at a time in the future. Right now, they are still indwelt by the sin that killed man.