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An Examination of the New Covenant

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
August 15, 2022 2:00 am

An Examination of the New Covenant

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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I find it surprising, if not shocking, that Jesus deemed it necessary to tell his church to remember him.

Don't forget me! But isn't that what the Lord's table is? It's an ordinance given by Christ whereby we would not forget him, we would remember him. Tonight we want to consider the New Covenant. You probably picked that up as I read from Hebrews chapter 8. A covenant. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. So the writer of Hebrews is going to expound the New Covenant and contrast it with the Old Covenant. We don't sing just to give you an opportunity to stand and exercise your vocal cords.

We do that very intentionally, very deliberately. And I'm continually amazed at the hymns that are chosen and how fitting they are for the text of Scripture that is being preached from. We sang, not all the blood of beasts, not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain could give the guilty conscience peace or wash away the stain. That's the Old Covenant. When we think of, your Bible may say testament, covenant, depending on the translation that you're considering. But a testament or a covenant is from a Greek word which has as its basic meaning the idea of our present day will. And a will does not take effect until the one who made it dies.

And until that time, its benefits and promises are only promises and they are necessarily future. And again, the New Covenant, like a will, requires the death of the one who made it for its provisions to be enacted. And in Hebrews chapter 9 and verse 16, we read this, For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Now let me give that to you in the English Standard Version.

For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore, not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. So you understand what we're considering. And when you think about the mention of the New Covenant, two of the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah in chapter 31 verses 31 through 34, speaks of the promise of a new covenant. Ezekiel chapter 36 does the same in similar language.

And then we come to the book of Hebrews that we're considering tonight and we see the benefit and the blessings that have come through the New Covenant. But, as I've already said, it required the death of Jesus Christ to make that covenant effective. And no doubt, that's what Jesus meant when he said this at the Passover with his disciples. It says in Mark chapter 14, just listen to these words, And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, Take, this is my body. Then he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.

Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. So on that fateful night, Jesus knew that the cross was before him. He was voluntarily going to give his life on the cross, and in so doing, enact the benefits of the new covenant. So tonight, we want to consider four aspects of the new covenant. Number one, this is taken from Hebrews chapter 8, the necessity of the new covenant, the mediator of the new covenant, the recipients of the new covenant, and the better promises of the new covenant. The necessity of the new covenant.

Notice with me the language there in verse 7. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Now what is said there in verse 7 implies that there was something wrong with the covenant itself. For if that first covenant had been faultless, and the writer seems to be suggesting that there was some fault with the first covenant, but then he clarifies himself in the next verse, verse 8, because finding fault with them. There was no fault with the covenant.

The fault lies with the recipients of the covenant. And we need to just be reminded of what Paul had to say about the law. He said in Romans chapter 7 and verse 12, wherefore the law, it is holy and the commandment holy and just and good. He says in 1 Timothy chapter 1 and verse 8, for we know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully.

And there are other places we could turn, but for the sake of time we won't do that. But what's important at this point is we're considering the necessity of the new covenant is to recognize that the old covenant was not bad. God did not make the new because the old was bad, but because the old was imperfect and temporary. The Mosaic covenant or the old covenant was a God-given, God-ordained covenant that served its purpose for the time that it was meant to be in effect.

It was never meant to be permanent. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 1 tells us for the law having a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things can never with the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year make those who approach perfect. So the old covenant was a shadow of good things to come.

It was pointing forward to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ and the new covenant that he would usher in with his death. So again, the new covenant is better. It's better simply because the old was incomplete. The old was good, the new is better. And if you're familiar with the book of Hebrews, you know that that's a good way to make your way through the book, keying on that word better.

Thirteen times the writer uses that word. Jesus is better. He's better than the Mosaic covenant. He's better than the angels. He's better than Melchizedek.

He's better, he's better, he's better. And it's a good way to make your way through the book of Hebrews. So again, as we're looking at verses seven and eight and we're considering the necessity of the new covenant, the old covenant was conditioned. It was conditional and it was dependent upon the people's faithfulness to meet the conditions of the covenant. Let me share a couple of verses that draw that out. Jeremiah chapter seven and verse twenty three.

Jeremiah writes, But this thing Yahweh commanded, saying, Obey my voice and I will be your God and you shall be my people and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you that it may be well with you. So the old covenant was conditioned on the people's faithfulness. But again, Hebrews chapter eight and verse eight, finding fault with them.

Their intentions were good, but they failed to live up to the conditions of the covenant. Listen to Exodus chapter twenty four in verse seven. And he took the book of the covenant and read in the audience of the people. And they said, all that the Lord hath said we will do and be obedient. Verse eight, And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you, according to all these words. That's Exodus chapter twenty four.

You don't have to turn too many pages in your Bible until you read of that sad account of the golden calf. So their intentions were good, but they failed to obey the conditions of the covenant. So as we're thinking through the contrast here between the new covenant and the old, I think it's important to see that six times in verses eight through twelve, we see the statement of intent on the part of God. The new covenant is different than the old in that God says, I will.

Six times he mentions his intent. And one thing we can be absolutely certain about is when we encounter the divine I wills in the scriptures, they communicate perfection, no hint of failure. God is committing himself to the conditions of the covenant. So this new covenant, as opposed to the old covenant, is we're thinking about the necessity of the new covenant. The new covenant does not depend on man's faithfulness to God, but on God's faithfulness to men. That's absolutely critical that we understand that.

That is the most significant difference. John Bunyan had a way of capturing the weakness and the deficiency of the old covenant and shining light on the gospel of grace and the blessings of the new covenant. He said, quote, to run and work the law commands, but gives me neither feet or hands. But better news the gospel brings.

It bids me fly and gives me wings. Wonderful truth. Thus, the necessity of the new covenant. Think with me about the mediator of the new covenant.

Notice, let's go back one verse in chapter eight, verse six. But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry in as much as he, that is Jesus Christ, is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. Now there are three times in just a few chapters here where Christ is designated the mediator of the new covenant.

I showed it to you there in chapter eight and verse six. We see it in chapter nine in verse 15 that says, and for this reason, he is the mediator of the new covenant by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. And then chapter 12 in verse 24 says something similar to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant and the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. So Christ is the mediator of the new covenant and mediator means the go-between, the arbitrator who stands between two people to effect a reconciliation.

And this writer of Hebrews will say in another place in this letter that there is one mediator between God and man, the man, Christ Jesus. Jesus stands in an exclusive position to serve and function as the mediator of this new covenant. Now he is the mediator of a better covenant according to chapter seven and verse 22. He has become the guarantee of a better covenant, the new American standard states. Now, as we think about this emphasis on mediator, I think it's helpful that we understand that he does more than mediate the covenant. He also guarantees the covenant. All of God's promises in the new covenant are guaranteed to us by Jesus himself. He guarantees to pay all the debt that our sins have incurred or ever will incur. Thank the Lord for that.

F.F. Bruce says, as the Son of God, he confirms God's eternal covenant with his people. As his people's representative, he satisfies its terms with perfect acceptance in God's sight.

We sing songs that speak of this. Before the throne, my surety stands. Before the throne, my surety stands. My name is written on his hands.

What's that mean, surety? He's the guarantee. He's the guarantee that secures our right relationship with God.

He satisfies the demands of the covenant. You remember Paul was writing there in Philemon, and he writes of Onesimus. Paul was willing to be the surety for the runaway slave Onesimus by addressing his owner, Philemon. Paul says, I will be the guarantee. I will, if he's wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.

I will repay it. Philemon chapter, well, Philemon verse 18 and 19. So we've seen the necessity of the new covenant, the mediator of the new covenant. Let's think for a moment about the recipients, the recipients of the new covenant.

Let's look there in verse eight. Because finding fault with them, he says, Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand of the land of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Verse 11 is absolutely critical that you understand what's being communicated here. None of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me from the least of them to the greatest of them. There is no such person who has not come under the blessings of the new covenant who's considered a new covenant citizen. Unlike the old covenant, there was a mixed multitude. Not everybody who came under the old covenant was genuine, was a believer.

But the new covenant is completely, entirely different. Everybody in the new covenant knows the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. None of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me from the least of them to the greatest of them.

Isn't it amazing? If God in his grace has saved you and made you a recipient of the new covenant blessings, regardless of how long you've walked with the Lord, your position is no greater than the person who has been saved the least amount of time. Now we grow in our understanding of the blessings and our position and our relationship with the Lord. But in terms of what God has done for us, that's why it says, from the least of them to the greatest of them, the recipients of the new covenant. And that's a direct quote. The writer of Hebrews is quoting Jeremiah 31, verse 31 through 34.

When I say a direct quote, there's a few variations, but for the most part, it's almost verbatim. The house of Israel and the house of Judah. And we need to think, are we compelled to restrict our interpretation and understanding to national, ethnic Israel and Judah? Well, we are, unless Scripture gives us warrant to do otherwise. And Scripture does give us warrant to do otherwise.

Listen to, say, well, how does that new covenant affect us if it's like the old and it was for Israel and Judah? Listen to what Paul says in Galatians chapter three. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek.

There is neither slave nor free. There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. So we can say in truth, Father Abraham, right? Father Abraham.

Amazing. Back to Hebrews chapter eight. We've considered the necessity of the new covenant, the mediator of the new covenant. We've considered the recipients of the new covenant. Let's think for a few moments about the better promises of the new covenant. The better promises of the new covenant.

Better and new are two words that invite comparison. And the contrast is between the Mosaic covenant or here called that first covenant. And again, 13 times the writer of Hebrews will use that word better, new as opposed and in contrast to old. And under discussion here is the new covenant, which, according to the writer of Hebrews, is a better covenant established on better promises. So what is said about that first covenant? For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, there was fault.

That first covenant was not without fault. That's important to see. So now what are the promises?

They're pretty easy to pick out. The first is a new heart, a new heart. For this is the new covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.

I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts. I think you can see immediately that there's something drastically different between this new covenant and the old. It's something that God does internally. It's an internal transformation.

It's not external conformity to laws and rituals, but it's something that God does. He gives a man a new heart. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. A stony heart, a heart that's resistant to God, a heart that is dead. God says, I will take that away and I will give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you.

I will cause you to walk in my statutes and you shall keep my judgments and do them. Internal heart transformation. That's the first promise, a new heart. Number two, what's implied here is a new power, a new power. With the gift of regeneration comes the enabling presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

To do what? To overcome man's natural inability and his impotency to obey God by supplying grace and power. We sang this evening that wonderful hymn, Rock of Ages, and there's a stanza there that says this.

Rock of ages cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee. Let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed be of sin the double cure. Be of sin the double cure.

What is being referred to there? Well, listen to the remainder of the stanza. Be of sin the double cure. Cleanse me from its guilt and power. The double cure is before the law of God we stand no longer guilty. Christ has satisfied the demands of the law in our place. God no longer holds us guilty, so we've been cleansed from guilt. But he goes on to say, cleanse me from its guilt and power.

The double cure is the blessing of the Spirit of God that enables us to resist temptation, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ that we might not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, to fight the good fight of faith. It's the blessing of the new covenant is not only a new heart, but it is a new power, a new power. A third promise. We're thinking of the better promises of the new covenant.

And the third is a new relationship. A new relationship, verse 10. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.

I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. A relationship. A relationship of communion and of fellowship and of intimacy. That's the promise.

God says, I will be their God and they will be my people. Open and free access into God's presence and personal intimacy with God. A fourth promise. A new provision. A new provision.

What is that? Verse 12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their lawless deeds.

I will remember no more. What is this promise? It is a new provision. It is complete and final forgiveness of our sins. And that's why we can come to the table of the Lord and participate without bringing damnation on ourself because we have come under the provisions of the new covenant. We have been forgiven of all of our sins, past, present and future. Now some people get confused when they hear that and they say, well then, what's this business of confessing my sins?

If my sins have all been forgiven, my past sins, my present sins and even my future sins, why should I ask for forgiveness? Well there's a difference between relationship and communion. The fact that our sins have been removed from us as far as east is from the west has enabled us to have relationship with God.

You can have relationship with somebody and be estranged from them and not have intimacy with them because of a rupture in that relationship. So the forgiveness part, daily forgiveness, the scriptures are so rich. As a pastor, the more I read and the more I study, the more depth I see. First John 1-9 is a simple verse.

We get our minds around that to some degree but there's such depth there. If I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So what's this business of being just? If God did not forgive you when you came to Him and asked forgiveness, He would be unjust.

Well why would He be unjust? Because Jesus paid your sin debt in full. You see, if God held your sins against you, the sins that you've committed that Jesus paid for, He would be unjust.

So if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You see, under the old covenant, the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement brought not final forgiveness but an annual reminder of sins. But through the once for all, never to be repeated, voluntary blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself, He has secured a full, complete and final forgiveness so that it can be said that God will not remember our sins anymore.

I don't know how that strikes you, but that strikes me as over the top. That God will not remember my sins anymore. It is the capstone of the new covenant. You see, under the old, sins could never really be forgotten because they were never really forgiven. They were only covered, foreshadowing and anticipating the true forgiveness that's found in Jesus Christ. There's so much to this new covenant. We're just scratching the surface. I could have brought four or five books that deal solely with the new covenant.

So there's so much here. But as we're preparing our hearts and considering our time around the Lord's table, could I ask you in all sincerity tonight, has God given you a new heart? Has He given you a new heart? Has God made you a recipient of the new covenant?

Do you have the confidence? Do you have the assurance that your sin debt has been canceled? Or are you living your life like an old covenant believer? Or are you living your life as a new covenant saint?

There's all the difference in the world. The old covenant was due in order to be blessed. You failed to do. The cursing has come upon you. The new covenant, God assumes all the responsibility. He writes His law upon our hearts and on our minds. He makes us His children. And there's a huge difference between living like an old covenant believer or a new covenant saint. Again, that old covenant system, the emphasis was on external conformity to rituals, to rules, to regulations. But oh, how the new covenant ushers us into a dynamic living relationship with the God of heaven and how we have access into His presence continually. But this is a special access, the Lord's table.

And again, I'm struck with what I began with, that Jesus deemed it necessary to tell His church, remember me, don't forget me. You say, how is that even possible? Well, look around us. Look around us. Look at what goes on in a lot of churches. You say, well, I don't know. This is the only church I attend. That's a blessing, I promise you. But if you're on vacation and you're looking for a place to worship, if you can find a place that is satisfactory, that's true to the word of God, that's not a given.

You might have to drive a lot of ways in order to find that. So we want to remember the Lord. We want to remember Him the way He told us to remember Him. Remember His shed blood and what His shedding His blood and giving His life has secured for us. And remember His body. We're told there in Hebrews, God prepared a body for Jesus in order that He would come to this earth, live out a life of perfect obedience to earn righteousness.

You say, now, wait a minute. He didn't need to earn righteousness. He was righteous.

Exactly. He earned righteousness so that it could be imputed to us. And I love the examples in the scriptures where the sinlessness of Christ is affirmed over and over again by His enemies. Pilate looked to find fault with Jesus and he comes out and says, I find no fault with Him. Why?

Because there was no fault with Him. Blessed Savior, we have and to think that He desires our fellowship, our communion. This is a communion table, a time to commune with the Lord in a special way.

It's special in that we're doing it corporately. It's special in that it is one of the two ordinances our Lord gave for His church. And I don't want to get into the mystical aspect, but there's been an awful lot of controversy in terms of, is there a special presence of Christ at the table?

A lot of ink been spilled over that question. This isn't just some ritual that we're doing. There's a special presence of Christ at the table. You say, well, give me a chapter and verse. And again, there's a stack of books like that that speak to that issue.

And men from the Reformation have differed widely on that issue. How do we see it? We see this table as symbolic.

These are the symbols that remind us of Christ and His atoning death and His sacrificial giving of Himself for His people. So as we gather around the table tonight, let's rejoice in our privileges as New Covenant believers. It's good to think, what would it have been like to be under the old covenant? You did not have access to God.

You're dependent on a priest to go before you and go in for you. But there was a veil that separated you from God. Well, the veil has been removed.

It's been torn from the top to the bottom. And we have access into the very throne room of God, secured by Jesus for us. So let's rejoice in that privilege.

Let's revel in our privilege. Let's draw near to Him. Let's so value our communion and our fellowship with Him that it will be the greatest deterrent for sinning.

Do you understand what I'm saying? When we sin, when we willfully sin, we grieve the Spirit of God. It brings a hindrance. It brings distance and our communion with the Lord. And as New Covenant believers, we should so value our communion and our fellowship that it is the greatest deterrent. Oh Lord, I would not sin. I would not yield. I so value my communion and fellowship with You.

That's a healthy posture to assume. So let's foster that. Let's rejoice in that. Let's, if God brings something to our minds this evening, let's be quick to repent of it. Let go of it. Why would you hold on to it?

That's a good question. Why would you hold on to some sin that keeps you from communion and fellowship with the Lord? We should say, Lord, take it from me. And the New Covenant promise is power.

Not only a new position, but new power. Power to say no to sin and to say yes to Christ. Let's pray. Father, thank You for the blessings of the New Covenant. Thank You for Jesus Christ and His giving of His life to secure these blessings for us. As we gather around the table tonight, deepen our appreciation for what we have in our blessed Lord. Spirit of God, deal with us where we are. Deal with us in the relationship of indwelling sin. Help us to be aided by the Spirit of God, to see ourselves as we're truly seen. Forgiven, cleansed, accepted among the beloved. Help us, Father, to commune in a worthy manner this evening, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 12:56:02 / 2023-03-09 13:08:18 / 12

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