One of the best decisions you’ll make daily as a follower of Jesus is to live by the New Covenant, always thinking of its truths as you walk with God.
“The New Covenant?” you ask, “What’s that?”
Changing the word “Covenant” to “Agreement” might help it make sense for you.
For example, you and your neighbors may agree that all fences must be made of wood and be a certain height. That formal agreement is called a “Neighborhood Covenant.”
The night before Jesus died, He said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
Something significant happened when Jesus died. God entered into a “New Agreement” with many for the forgiveness of their sins.
What does this New Agreement mean?
You can’t understand God’s New Covenant until you appreciate God’s Old Covenant with the nations expressed in the Old Testament.
GOD OF ALL THE NATIONS
The word testament is a synonym for the words covenant and agreement.
A Last Will and Testament is a document that expresses your decision (will) on the disposal of your assets and an agreement (testament) with the Executor of your estate on fulfilling your wishes.
God has a Will and Agreement expressed to the world’s nations in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). It goes like this:
“If you will obey me . . . then I will bless you. If you disobey me, then I will curse you.”
The LORD makes clear the “blessings” and the “curse” for nations in Deuteronomy 11:
“See, I am placing before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the YHWH your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the YHWH your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today,” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
Some may object and say, “But the agreement God made was with only the nation of Israel!”
My response would be, “No! YHWH is the Creator God of all nations.”
The Creator is interested in all nations obeying Him and the Laws of Nature (summarized in the 10 Commandments).
Listen to what the LORD SAYS to national Israel about His relationship with other nations:
“Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? (Amos 9:7)
I know the history of the Ethiopians, the Philistines (the sea people, called “Shepherds” by the Egyptians), the Syrians (Arameans in the Bible), and of course, the Hebrews. The LORD says He had as much involvement in their national history and placement among the nations as the LORD did the Hebrews.
There’s only one Creator, and His set of Laws called the Laws of Nature, are to govern the world.
God brings down all “tall trees” (proud nations and empires) that rebel against Him.
However, the Creator promises blessings to those nations that protect human life, champion the individual’s liberty (don’t take another’s property, reputation, or possessions except in punishment for crimes against man), and practice the principles of honesty and hard work to build private ownership of property, while being voluntarily generous to those in need.
These Natural Rights based on Natural Law were called “life, liberty, and happiness” by our Founding Fathers.
God chose the nation of Israel among all the nations to model how self-government in dependence on YHWH is to work!
Trust in Nature’s God and obedience to the Laws of Nature have not ended for the nations.
However, God has a New Agreement for individuals who trust Him.
THE NEW COVENANT
The New Covenant has “better” promises.
The New Agreement promises of God are unconditional, claimed by your faith in Jesus as the Messiah, not by any personal obedience to God’s commands.
“No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him, the “Amen” is spoken by us by God.” (II Corinthians 1:20)
II Corinthians 1:20 is my favorite verse in the New Testament. God’s promises of BLESSINGS to me are “YES!” and “AMEN!” in Jesus.
I no longer worry whether or not I am in “full obedience” to God. I no longer wonder whether my “right actions” are sufficient for God’s blessings! Sure, the OLD COVENANT was conditional upon obedience, but in this NEW AGREEMENT, all the promises of God’s blessings are MINE through trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
We help others when they hear us teach, and they see us live, resting in God’s solemn promise of faithful goodness toward us through Jesus Christ.
Sadly, most evangelical preachers are ‘stuck’ in the Old Covenant. They have no clue about freedom in the New.
POLITICS AND THE OLD AGREEMENT
I have been a teacher of the New Agreement between God and man my entire life.
A year ago, I entered national politics.
For the first time, my friends began to see that I believe God’s OLD AGREEMENT with all the nations is still in effect.
Nations who obey God and His Laws of Nature are blessed. Nations that disobey God and His Laws of Nature are cursed (e.g., “they die”).
If you trace the history of nations and empires, any country that turns from God and starts condoning and promoting actions contrary to the Laws of Nature dies.
God always brings rebellious, proud nations to an end.
But a believer in Jesus Christ is the recipient of promises from God based on the performance of Jesus Christ and the mere grace of trusting Him, and these divine blessings in the New Covenant have nothing to do with the performance or commitment of the participants.
Look to Christ and Live
Unfortunately, many pastors harm their congregations by not understanding the differences between the two covenants.
A New Covenant preacher will tell God’s people what God has done for us through His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
New Covenant messages and ministries will not be on “if you will . . . then God will . . . ” but rather, “look what God has promised for those who trust Him.”
It is to this ministry, with this message, that Jesus called all ministers of the Good News.
On the other hand, nations and politicians who forsake God’s agreement among the nations (a conditional agreement), turning their nations and people away from God – often using “tolerance” as a weapon of forced submission to disobey God – will find that God will bring their nations and empires to a sudden end.
Politicans who who confuse governments for the church, and preachers who see churches as civil governments, confuse the TWO AGREEMENTS.
Our High Priest [Jesus Christ] has given preachers of the Good News a ministry far superior to politicians and kings.
The latter covenant is better because it is based on better promises.
If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant.
God himself said: “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah…” (Heb. 8:6-8 NLT)
I was once asked why our church did not have an active “Promise Keepers” movement within it, and I responded that when the emphasis is on “The Promise Keeper,” meaning God, we would get involved.
I have found that when ministries are built on man’s promises, they always fail in the end.
The purpose of this post is to show that under the New Covenant, a particular characteristic defines God’s people.
We are not defined by our “obedience to any law” such as the law of Sabbath, the law of sacrifice, the law of Temple worship, the law of abstinence, or any other Old Covenant law, church law, or governmental law.
Instead, we are defined as God’s people by our desire to solely and entirely fulfill one law – the law from Jesus Christ Himself called “the royal law of love.”
Jesus calls this His “new commandment” (John 13:34-35) of loving people as He has loved us.
It is “new” in that it is a “new” commandment for the “new” man whose been given a “new” name and sings a “new” song as he lives a “new” life where all things are “new” (Rev. 21:5). It is this radical commandment to love one another – to boldly, liberally and continually love people – that is THE IDENTIFYING MARK of God’s people.
This does not mean that a New Covenant believer cannot be a person of strong convictions who recognizes that nations are still under the Old Agreement for good government.
New Covenant living for God’s people means our love for others permeates all we do in government and politics.
One of the best ways to measure whether or not we are living the Christian life to its fullest is to measure whether our hearts are truly filled with love for people – people who disagree with us, people who are different than us, people who are naturally always a delight to us.
My motto in life is: “Sometimes offends, never offended.”
I continue to push the Laws of Nature for the nations. Yet I live in the freedom and beauty of the New Covenant for individuals who trust God. The LORD forms these believers into a NEW NATION, an eternal tribe of people who live forever because they trust YHWH.