>New Covenant

>The following is another posting from the past (moore4christ blog) that I am transferring over to this blog. If you have not read this before, I hope this is edifying. If you have already read this, I will be writing new posts in the coming days. This blog post was another response to a collaboration question in Old Testament II. Thank you! jtm

Perhaps the finest expression of Jeremiah’s prophetic preaching is found in 31:31-40. Jeremiah describes the new covenant as “permanent” (see especially 31:35-40). If this new covenant is “permanent,” what is its relationship to the covenant made at Sinai? Does the new covenant supplant the covenant at Sinai? Can this new covenant be broken as was the one at Sinai? Can Jeremiah’s new covenant be equated with the covenant established by Christ’s blood? Why, or why not?

Clearly, the context of Jeremiah 31:31-40 illustrates and describes a permanent, new covenant between God and His people.First I want to quickly answer these questions and then make some observational points in more detail.

What is the relationship to the covenant here described and the covenant made at Mount Sinai? I would say that new covenant does not SUPPLANT the Mosaic Covenant, but it fulfills the covenant. In other words, the covenant made at Sinai is fulfilled ultimately in this new covenant.
Can this new covenant be broken as was the one at Sinai? No, not in an ultimate sense.
Can Jeremiah’s new covenant be equated with the covenant established by Christ’s blood? Yes, I have always equated the two in my interpretation of Jeremiah 31:31-40. I see the covenant provided by the atonement of Christ for our sins and the justification that is found in grace and through faith and repentance to be equal with the new covenant described in Jeremiah 31.
With these brief responses, I would like to make the following points of observation:
Jesus definitely represents and enacts a new covenant, one that is synonymous with the covenant described in our focal discussion. The writer of the book of Hebrews makes this plain in Hebrews Chapter 8. Starting in verse 6, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” (Hebrews 8:6-7). The writer then quotes verbatim Jeremiah 31:31-34 in Hebrews 8:8-12. Thus, it is obvious that the writer of Hebrews through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit equates the Then the writer wraps up the discussion of the covenant by saying in verse 13 of Chapter 8, ‘In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” This verse raises the earlier questions in the issue – is the Sinai Covenant now abolished or overthrown and to be forgotten?Since Jesus inaugurates this new covenant in his life and ministry, which is fulfilled ultimately in his death, burial, and resurrection, we need to see what Jesus said about the old covenant. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said in Matthew 5:17-20: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heave and earth pass away, not an iota, or a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus in this passage clearly is connecting his ministry with the old covenant in that he will be the fulfillment of that covenant. Reading the old covenant (the Law and the Prophets) is not abolished, it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.But what about Hebrews 8:13? The ESV translation says that the old covenant is obsolete. This at first glance seems to be synonymous with “abolished”. But I believe that this is not what the writer of Hebrews is saying. The writer is not saying that the old covenant is abolished, but that many aspects of the old covenant, heavily dependent on the sacrificial system, is now obsolete given the complete and victorious work of Christ on the cross.Can this new covenant be broken like the old one could? The language of the new covenant in Jeremiah is totally opposite the language of the Sinaitic covenant. This new covenant illustrates a loving God actually doing the action of creating the new covenant “within” the believer. No longer is the covenant externally focused on the obedience of a nation or chosen race. This covenant is forged within the individual believer. We must be careful however to make the distinction that the Old Testament believers were not saved because of their works or in obeying the Law to the letter. Legalism has never saved. Paul in Romans 4 makes clear that even before the Law was instituted on Mt. Sinai, the righteous were saved through faith. Justification has always been through faith alone by grace alone. The difference in the Sinaitic Covenant (the best I can see it right now), is that it encompassed both the remnant of Israel (those who truly believed) and also “nation” of Israel, even including those who were unregenerate. In the new covenant, there is no distinction. In the universal church, there is no such thing as a visible church and invisible church. Yes, there are some denominations that want to place this moniker on the church, but the new covenant will NOT be broken. Once you are regenerate, once you are justified, and as you are sanctified, you will persevere to the end. Yes we are subject to sin, but we will not break the covenant.

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>Matthew 11:28

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The scripture memory verse this week is Matthew 11:28, but I would like to quote the entire passage in this blog to give context (Matthew 11:25-30)
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [ESV]
What an amazing passage! The first section of this discourse is astonishing. Jesus glorifies the Father in His will that the Lord has hidden the kingdom of heaven from the wise and understanding and has revealed them to little children. In other words, Jesus is declaring that those who are wise in the world’s eyes but are unrepentant and stubbornly refuse to accept the gospel. The little children however receive the gospel openly in simple faith and humility. Thus, we must emulate the little children in our faith, not the skeptic. We live in a society that exalts doubt and skepticism. But this “un-trusting” attitude towards God and his revelation, the Holy Bible, has caused more harm to the gospel than anything else today. We see denomination after denomination finding its effectiveness eroded by their rejection or manipulation of the gospel of Christ. Paul the apostle mentioned this tendency in Galatians 1:7-9 –> “not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have saide before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Strong words. God has shut out and hidden the truth from those who are wise and understanding according to the world’s calculations. Jesus calls this hiding of truth from the wise and understanding God’s GRACIOUS will. Jesus glorifies God in doing this. But those who humble themselves in confession before God and trust their lives to Him, they shall be saved! Salvation is found in humility and in faith, not in pride and in worldly wisdom.
The second section of this passage is equally astounding. My ESV study bible notes say this: “The first part of verse 27 reveals the profound divine self-consciousness of Jesus, as well as the supreme authority of the Father within the Trinity, by which he has delegated authority over “all things” to the Son. ‘All things’ probably refers to everything needed with respect to the carrying out of Christ’s ministry of redemption, including the revelation of salvation to those whom he chooses to reveal the Father.” Christ while incarnate had full authority on who he was going to reveal the Father to. He is perfect in his wisdom and authority! Jesus, both in his incarnate state and eternal state, shares an exclusive relationship with the Father, including a “direct and immediate knowledge of each other”. Thus, this is the glorious truth of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are separate in personhood, yet united and one in substance – co-equal and co-eternal. God the Son and God the Father are separate in personhood, yet are always united in a direct and immediate knowledge of each other and in communication and relationship.

The final section is so reassuring! This divine triune God, who created the world and by him all things are held together, move, and have their being (including us), is a God of peace and love for those who come to Him. Christ Jesus calls for all who have a downtrodden spirit, a frustrated life, dreams that have been crushed, souls who feel that they have no purpose, those who have tried everything in life and still are unsatisfied with life, those who have looked to material things for sustenance and found them wanting, those who are worried about tomorrow, those who are completely and utterly overwhelmed by anxiety, to simply come and fall down at the cross and cast our burdens upon him and he will give us rest! As I write this, I feel my own burdens lifting – what a glorious knowledge, that I can find true rest and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Christ then invites us to take his YOKE! This is in itself a burdensome object. The yoke was a wooden frame joining two oxen for pulling heavy loads, and is a metaphor for one person’s subjection to another, and a common metaphor in Judaism for the law [ESV study notes]. The law under the Pharisees’ influence had become a crushing burden, but the Pharisees truly believed that this burden of the law originated with God. However, Christ OBLITERATES this view!!!! Christ’s burden / yoke of discipleship brings REST through simple commitment to Christ. We no longer have to focus on minute details of the law and try to figure out how to keep an unkeepable legalism. We only have to yield to Christ Jesus. Our salvation is now focused on ONE person, not HUNDREDS of rules. Remember what Bro. Don mentioned in his sermon Sunday, grace is a FREE GIFT OF GOD (Romans 3:24), made possible by the sacrificial atonement of Christ for sin. However, this Grace, although it is free, is NOT CHEAP. This grace COSTS MUCH – it cost the life of the SON OF GOD! And thus, in order to have this grace you must yield all of yourself to the LORDSHIP of Christ – “to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow HIM. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Christ and his words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” [Luke 9:23-26 ESV].
Oh the glorious grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the divine, amazing love that is found in our Triune God!

>Sunday at the SBC Pastor’s Conference

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The Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference is now underway! Starting this late afternoon at the Kentucky Expo Center by the Louisville Airport, Louisville Six Flags, and Churchill Downs. Bonnie and I arrived in time for the pre-conference concert. Brother Marshall should be excited to know that the soloist, Starla Harbin, started out the conference singing “Days of Elijah” and during the evening’s worship, we sang, “When I think about the Lord”. Bonnie and I felt like we were right at home.

This year’s conference president is Ed Litton, Pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile, Alabama. The worship team also is from the North Mobile church and they did a fantastic job.

The speakers this evening were J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in Durham, NC, Mac Brunson, Pastor of First Baptist Church Jacksonville, FL, and Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and prolific Christian author. All three of the speakers did an excellent job and I would like to outline their speeches.

Ed Litton started off the speaking with a “theme interpretation” on the motto for the Pastors’ Conference, “What if”. Dr. Litton gave the congregated messengers various convicting questions based around the motto. The questions that caught my attentions were:

What if we adjusted our thinking and sought out God for a greater vision?

What if we truly cast ourselves upon the Lord and not on the numbers?

What if we “opened up the silos” and quit storing up for ourselves and gave freely the gospel of Christ Jesus to those around us?

What if we gave up the stubborn problems that have plagued us.

The theme for this year’s conference is Philippians 2:2 – “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” [ESV]

J.D. Greear preached from Matthew 23, where Jesus gave the seven woes to the Pharisees. Dr. Greear focused on the difference between religiosity and true gospel ministry. This cut me to the quick! He introduced the sermon by outlining the three tendencies of religiosity:

1. Religion tends to displace the gospel from God’s people.

2. We tend to see the conflict in others in the past but we do not see that in ourselves in the present.

-the Pharisees loved missions.

-the Pharisees loved scripture

-the Pharisees loved doctrine

-the Pharisees loved disciplined obedience

-the Pharisees thought these proved that they were the people of God.

3. Religion makes us horribly ineffective at evangelism.

-the Pharisees were not effective on people who were not like them. But Jesus did. When Jesus called Peter to cast the net on the other side of the boat and Peter and the disciples-to-be were unable to bring in all the fish that they had caught, Jesus said, “from now on you will be catching men’ (Luke 5:10). Jesus was saying, like you have caught the fish, so shall you catch men. Jesus drew people unto him.

The main outline of the sermon detailed six characteristics / ways that we are religious and how that displaces the gospel:

1. Religious people are obsessed with Recognition – they love honorary titles and really love the praise of people.

2. Religious people substitute religious rituals for a love for God. We can make a big deal of a set of conforming behaviors. We many times focus on what we do instead of knowing God. We must encounter God. We must have a white hot passion for God’s glory – a thirst to know more of him.

3. Religious centered Christians elevate secondary traditions above the love of God. We can so easily place more emphasis on tradition than calling sinners to repentance.

4. Religious centered Christians elevate secondary traditions above love for others.

5. Pharisees are more aware of the sins of others than in their own life.

6. Pharisees always think that preachers and teachers are talking about someone else when talking about sin and short coming.

His concluding thoughts were to not use God for another agenda in our lives. Based on a less then gospel-centered ministry in many churches throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, many people get converted to the SBC and not to Christ. We must repent of our religion and our self-righteousness, and thinking that we are better than everyone else. One of the best lines of the conclusion was that Southern Baptists must not trade the deadness of liberalism for the deadness of traditionalism.

Mac Brunson came shortly thereafter to bring a message from I Peter 3:8-9. His sermon was not as clearly delineated as Greear’s so my outline is not a clear. Brunson focused in his remarks on the responsibility of ministers and pastors to encourage and edify one another.

In his first point, Brunson outlined the five characteristics of how ministers and Christians should be in the Southern Baptist Convention. First, we are to be harmonious or same minded. God is not calling us to be clones, but are there are cardinal truths that we should all agree on and be like-minded. We ought to all agree on the Great Commission (this is a reference to the controversy over the document entitled, “The Great Commission Resurgence”. Second, we are to be sympathetic, truly and honestly identifying with the felt hurts and needs of fellow ministers and Christians. Thirdly, we are to have a brotherly intention. Fourthly, we are to have a brotherly submissiveness and be humble in spirit. And finally, we are to have a tender heart. In this section of the message, Brunson highlighted a couple of illustrations. The first illustration was that of the satellite buffalo. Apparently, in nature there is always one buffalo in a wild herd that will always stay on the fringes of the herd, and not interact with the other buffalo. For the whole of its days, it will always be removed from the other buffalos and they always die a premature death due to the neglect of interaction with other bison. Brunson made the point that we are not to allow the pastors of our convention feel like the satellite buffalo. Secondly, Brunson mentioned a book that two very successful female ad execs wrote once they had built a company from the ground up. The title of the book was what these two women believed was the key to their whole success. The book was called, The Power of Nice.

In his second point, the exact wording of which I did not get, he focused on verse 8 of I Peter 3. He discussed a minister not returning evil for evil or insult for insult. We all have this emotional itch called the flesh and it always tempts us with the conviction that we always have to defend ourselves and our honor and return insult for insult. This is a natural reaction . But the Bible tells us that we don’t have to. The best thing that Satan can do is to knock us off our game – off our rhythm.

One final illustration was that Dr. Brunson showed pictures of a church in Germany in which its foundations had wasted away until one day the entire church (save the front facade) collapsed. Instead of building back the church, the town decided to just repair the facade and not to build the actual church back up. Now, all that remains is a beautiful facade without any church attached. Brunson encouraged pastors to rest or take pride in a precious and beautiful facade of a church if the foundation is crumbling. We must have a firm foundation.

Chuck Colson came to speak at the end of the evening and his focus was on leadership. Just a copule of quick highlights:

-Pastors have the eternal destiny of souls in their hands. We must not take this responsibility lightly.

– [quoting Spurgeon] “we must tremble lest we misspeak the word of God”

-being a pastor is an awesome charge and we must approach the ministry with great humility

-not only are you called to preach, but you have been called to lead as a pastor.

-we are not to pander the people and tell them all that they want to hear, but we must preach the word of God and lead the people toward His glory.

Well, this was the conference for Sunday evening. Bonnie and I are looking forward to tomorrow. Bonnie will be attending the Pastor’s Wives Institute during the morning, while I will remain with the other ministers for the continuance of the Pastors’ Conference. The speakers slated for tomorrow include Mike Landry, Ed Stetzer, Francis Chan, and Tom Eliff in the morning. During the afternoon, Michael Catt, Fred Luter, Jr., and Mike Huckabee will speak. Finally, to conclude the conference that evening, Alvin Reid, David Platt, and Johnny Hunt (Hunt is the current and most likely to be re-elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention). Bonnie and I are looking forward to it! God bless…