When God instituted the Ten Commandments, He wrote them on tablets of stone. Now, in the New Covenant, with our new life in Christ, He writes it in living letters on a living heart that He gives to us.
The Old put the Law on tablets of stone. The New Covenant inscribes it on the human heart. Hello and welcome again to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I'm Bill Wright. Today, as Don continues faithfully teaching God's people God's Word, he'll begin a two-part look at the New Covenant Jesus came to earth to establish and how His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary did away with the need for animal sacrifices for the remission of sins once and for all. Well, Don, when Jesus came to earth, He brought what you might call a total upgrade to the Old Testament requirements between God and man, didn't He? Well, Bill, the beauty of it is that He didn't simply upgrade a pre-existing covenant. He instituted a New Covenant, as He said to His disciples at the Last Supper when He said, This cup is the new covenant of My blood. And what does that mean for us today? What are the glories of the New Covenant compared to the Old?
Well, let me just say a few things that are not exhaustive of the topic. My Christian friend, understand this. Gone are the days of a human priest and an animal sacrifice to approach God. Now we have Jesus Christ and His once for all sacrifice as the means to approach God. Friend, what the Old Testament had in shadows, we now have in the light in the Lord Jesus Christ. The blood of animals, the bulls and goats could never take away sins. It took human bloodshed, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. In Christ, in this New Covenant, we have that shed blood, poured out once for all on the hill of Calvary, and everyone who puts their faith in Christ comes under the benefit of its healing stream. I hope that's true of you, my friend. Stay with us as we study God's Word today on The Truth Pulpit.
Thanks, Don. And friends, if you're ready, let's get started with Part 1 of today's message titled, The New and Better Covenant, here on The Truth Pulpit. Communion is something to be entered into soberly and joyfully and after some measure of self-examination and reflection with an appreciation for the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not something to be done in a hurried way, in a flippant way, in a casual way. Scripture says that if we take communion in an unworthy manner, we drink judgment to ourselves, that those with sin in their lives should not be taking communion, and that those of us who are believers and that we love the Lord Jesus Christ, that we would do this earnestly and sincerely as a measure of appropriate response to the majesty of the sacrifice that He made on our behalf, of which we have just been singing. And so I want to say in advance that if you're here today and you're not a Christian, that communion is not for you. This is a sharing in the body of Christ to take the elements as to, is to publicly witness to the fact that you have personally turned from sin, that you've personally put all of your faith in Christ alone for your salvation, that you belong to Him and not to this world. And so it's very important for non-Christians to simply let the elements pass.
It's also important for those who profess to know Christ but are walking in sin and pursuing a hard-hearted path of rebellion and resistance to correction and things like that. It's very important for you to pass the elements as well, because we should not and we cannot, morally speaking, we cannot be clinching to sin in one hand and reaching for the elements as they're passed with the other hand. We must reach for the elements with both hands, having forsaken sin to the best that we know how, to the best of our ability, confessing our sins, and brothers and sisters in Christ forsaking our sins as we reach for these elements. And if you're in a position of life, you know that you're in sin, you know that you're clinging to things that are displeasing to God, you know that your relationships are displeasing to God because of the nature and the way that you conduct yourself in them.
You need to let the elements pass. It would be better for you not to put the elements in your mouth than to bring judgment upon yourself by doing so, and to do that and to let them pass without any regard to what people around you think. Let it be a time of conviction to you that you have to let the elements pass because of the path that you've chosen in your life, and let this all be that which would provoke you and prompt you to an earnest, heartfelt repentance with tears before God later today as the conviction of the Holy Spirit falls upon you.
It's that serious. Communion brings our whole life into the spotlight before God and calls us to contemplate it all in light of the Lord Jesus Christ. Normally I say those things when the elements are being passed, but today I just wanted to say it up front, and maybe that's a little bit better way to go, to make it so that it's not such a rushed process in your mind, and to realize the earnest nature of the Lord's table. What I want to do today is I just want to build on some things we said a couple of weeks ago from the book of Jeremiah, and remembering that this is more a meditation than a normal kind of message. If you would turn back to Jeremiah, I want to remind you of a critical text for all of Scripture really, certainly for that book and certainly for us. Jeremiah chapter 31.
Jeremiah prophesied of the rich realities that we now experience today some 2500 years later. And in Jeremiah chapter 31 verse 31, God promised something new to a sinful nation. In Jeremiah, the mouthpiece for God said this in verse 31 of chapter 31, Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord. I will put my law within them, and on their heart I will write it, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will not teach again each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. What a blessed, blessed promise this new covenant is that the Lord speaks about here in Jeremiah chapter 31. It speaks of the theological reality of regeneration, God giving his people a new heart to serve him with desire and with love and a spirit of obedience rather than external compliance with other matters. And it speaks of the reality of justification. There at the end of verse 34, God forgives our iniquity and their sin.
He says, I will remember no more. In the new covenant we have the promise of new life from God for his people, and we have the promise of the forgiveness of sin. Everything that Israel experienced and that brought their judgment upon them was because these two realities were not their national experience when Jeremiah was prophesying. They were hard-hearted, rebellious, cold people toward God, and their sins were not forgiven, and that's why judgment came upon them. And you and I here in the New Testament era in our days before Christ, that's exactly what you and I were like. Cold, hard-hearted people resisting the Word of God, resisting the Spirit of God, and yet God in mercy sovereignly, powerfully brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to us. And through that gospel he brought new life to us.
He worked faith in us. The Spirit of God caused you to be born again, the apostle Peter says in his letter. He caused us to be born again that we might enter into these wonderful realities of which Scripture speaks. New life in Christ, alive to God, made alive though we were once dead in our transgressions. Our multiplied, infinite sins against him forgiven, never to be brought up against us in the courts of God again. Instead of being brought up in the courts of God against us, they were brought up and Christ bore them on our behalf at the cross.
The cross was the courtroom, so to speak, where our sins were judged for those of us that are in Christ. And the new covenant speaks of all of these realities. The new covenant points to them. And Jeremiah speaks about the reality of that old covenant, the covenant that God gave them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt in verse 32 there. And all of the access that God gave to Israel was premised on human priests and animal sacrifices that had to be done over and over again. Now understand that even that old covenant was a gracious initiative from God.
It provided access to him for a sinful people. But as we're going to see, as we're going to review, that that old covenant, the glory of it is lost in the wonder of the new covenant that we enjoy and upon which we approach God here today. And so we're going to explain in this meditation before we take communion, we're just going to look at five ways that the new covenant excels the old covenant. Now we throw around that word covenant sometimes, and let me just give you a definition, kind of a non-technical definition, we'll save the technical things for future times, but the covenant refers to the divinely established basis that God has provided which enables man to relate to him and by which God blesses him. God established an agreement, you might say, the basis upon which men would approach him. And it is only through Christ, and it's only on that basis, that new covenant basis, that God relates to man.
There's no other way to approach a holy God. Israel in the days before Christ functioned under that old covenant with a tabernacle and then a temple and just multiplied animal sacrifices. Think about it this way, the sacrifice that was offered in those days was in one sense it wasn't a living sacrifice because it wasn't a human sacrifice. Those animals had no love for the one who was offering the sacrifice.
It was just a dumb animal being offered there. And what we have in Christ instead as we think about Christ and his sacrifice, the one who came for us loved us and gave himself up for us. And that kind of gives us a window into some of the things that we want to see today. Christ came and the communion table remembers how he inaugurated the new covenant on our behalf. God used both of those covenants to give sinful men access to him. But these five contrasts will show us how much better the new covenant is compared to that old covenant that Israel was confined to before the coming of Christ. We're going to look at some things from the book of Hebrews now. I'd invite you to turn there, Hebrews chapter 7. Hebrews chapter 7. And you'll find as we go through these passages that the writer of Hebrews is referring to this passage from Jeremiah and is basing his argument on the things that Jeremiah said. And so it makes a good connection for us here today.
And we're going to just go through these things so briefly. First of all, the first contrast that I want you to see to appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ, to appreciate the salvation that you have in him today as we approach the communion table is this. Number one, the new covenant has a better mediator.
It has a better mediator. See under the old covenant, the old covenant utilized human priests who made the animal sacrifices, who pronounced blessing on the worshiper. These human priests were sinful themselves. They were mortal men themselves. They were subject to death. They themselves needed a sacrifice for their own sin.
And they were passing men who lived for a short time and then they were gone and they did not continue in their office. Look at Hebrews chapter 7 verse 23. Speaking of the priests under the old covenant, the writer of Hebrews says this, the former priests on the one hand existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing.
They were subject to death. They were temporary priests, in other words, and replaced by the next generation of priests and on down the line it went. Beloved, do you realize by contrast what we have in our Lord Jesus Christ?
What has been provided to us under the new covenant? We have a perfect priest who lives forever. We have a perfect priest who lives forever. And not only is he immortal contrasted with the mortality of those former priests, they were sinful and he is sinless.
He is perfect. And the writer of Hebrews draws out this contrast for us in verse 24 when he says, but Jesus on the other hand, see the contrast, because he continues forever, holds his priesthood permanently. Therefore he is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them. We have an immortal priest always able to save those who come to him. Always living to make intercession for us. A priest whose ministry never will cease.
A priest whose intercession never will stop. And you see the contrast between the sinful human priests of the old covenant and the great holiness of our mediator, our priest. Verse 26, it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens, who does not need daily like those high priests to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this he did once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, the new covenant, in other words, which came after the law, appoints a son made perfect forever. You and I, our priest is Christ.
Magnificent, holy, innocent, undefiled, God in human flesh, Christ. Whereas under the old covenant, they approached through a sinful priest, mortal like they were. You see, under the new covenant, we have a better mediator.
We have Christ as a prose to those Old Testament priests. And so the new covenant is better in that way. Now secondly, the new covenant, as we've alluded to already, the new covenant changes the heart.
It changes the heart of the sinner. When you come to the sacrifice of Christ, when Christ makes you new under this new covenant, you are changed. You are made a new creature. You are born again.
Oh, sure, you still exist in the same human body that you had beforehand, but everything is new inside. And that's what the new covenant provides that the old covenant did not. The new covenant changes the heart. You see, when God instituted the old covenant, you know what he did with the 10 commandments, right? He wrote them on tablets of stone, cold, hard stone. Now in the new covenant with our new life in Christ, he writes it in living letters on a living heart that he gives to us that is warm and vibrant and is responsive to the word of God.
The old put the law on tablets of stone. The new covenant inscribes it on the human heart and changes desires. Hebrews chapter 8 verse 7, we see this. The writer of Hebrews says, for if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
For finding fault with them, he says, behold. And now we see the quote from Jeremiah 31 again. Behold days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant and I did not care for 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 into their minds and I will write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen and everyone his brother saying, know the Lord, for all will know me from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more. Verse 13, when he said a new covenant, he has made the first obsolete.
But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. See, the new covenant replaces the old covenant as the means by which we approach God. And it is better. It is better because it changes men and women.
It makes us someone new inside. Whereas before, as Scripture repeatedly says, the mind of the old man, the mind in Adam is hostile to God. It cannot submit itself to God because it is so hostile to him. And so to simply lay law on people and say this is how you are to live misses the fundamental point that man needs to be born again. The old covenant did not provide for that. What the new covenant does is it deals with that heart problem. In place of an external ritual, this new covenant brings internal renewal. It renews the will. It changes it so that it is able to respond to God in a way that the old man never could.
And not only responding in obedience, but to believe and to understand. Those of you that came to Christ just a little bit later in life, maybe in your late teen years or some point in your adulthood, isn't it true? If you're truly in Christ, you know something earnest about what I'm about to say. That when you truly came to Christ, when God truly saved you, is a better way to put it, that your mind, it changed. The way that you thought changed. Your ability to understand the Word of God suddenly flamed with light.
You were able to read the Word and it was living and you loved it and you wanted to obey it. There was an aspect of it that was just so vibrant to you that you had never known before. That's the new heart.
That's the new heart manifesting itself. And at the start, I've talked in ministry with people like this, you don't even fully understand what happened. You know, I was, you know, in the words of Amazing Grace, I once was lost, but now, but now I'm found. I was blind, but now I see. I remember speaking to a young man one time and he's saying, what's happened to me? Why do I understand the Word of God now? And I never did.
I said, my friend, it's not that difficult. You've been born again. The new covenant had brought new life to him. And that's one of the wonders of the new covenant.
It changes the heart. It's better than the old covenant that way by contrast. Well thirdly, the new covenant provides better access to God.
It provides better access to God. Under the old covenant, the high priest could only enter the holy of holies once a year. And in chapter nine of Hebrews, verse six, you see this discussed.
There was a time limitation and there was a person limitation. It was limited to the high priest. Hebrews chapter nine, verse six. Now when these things have been so prepared, speaking about under the Old Testament dispensation, now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship. But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing. Now stop there for a moment and think about that through New Testament eyes. Think about how sad that is for one who longs for the presence of God. And to realize that the inner sanctum, the place where God manifested his presence was off limits.
There was access, yes there was access, but it was once a year through the high priest bringing the blood of an animal. That's Don Green bringing today's lesson to a close. Be sure to join us next time for the balance of this powerful teaching. Meanwhile if you'd like to learn more about this ministry or you'd like to hear this message again, just visit thetruthpulpit.com. That's thetruthpulpit.com. Well that's all the time we have for today. I'm Bill Wright inviting you back next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit.
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