"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Old Agreement with God Will Mess With Your Head (and Your Church), not to Mention the Lost

Every Bible you own is divided into two sections. The first part is called the Old Testament and the second is the New Testament. Most people never pause to consider the definition of "Testament." It simply means agreement. When you prepare for death, you complete a "Last Will and Testament" which is an agreement between you and the state for the disposition of your assets.

A synonym for the word "testament" is "covenant." Again, the word covenant is an archaic word we don't use much anymore. When you fill out paperwork for buying a new home you may come across a neighborhood "covenant," which is basically an agreement between you and your future neighbors that nobody in the neighborhood will build, remodel or do anything else in a manner inconsistent with the neighborhood agreement (covenant).

So you could easily say that the Bible contains two "agreements" between God and man - the Old Agreement (Covenant) and the New Agreement (Covenant), These two Covenants are totally different agreements, and if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your life is ruled by the New Agreement, not the Old Agreement.

A big problem in many churches, however, is the manner in which the Bible is interpreted when it comes to the "rule of life" for followers of Jesus Christ. For example, the interpretative lens with which many read the Bible is the Old Covenant.  However, the proper lens through which to read the entire Scriptures is through the New Agreement lens. This New Agreement, inaugurated by the Person and work of Jesus Christ, is vitally important to understand because Jesus "fulfilled" the Old Agreement and then abolished it. Jesus caused the Old Agreement to totally disappear (see Hebrews 8:13). Religious people who emphasize the Old Agreement find themselves in bondage because they've missed the beauty of Christ. They have been  both "hardened" and "blinded" by a veil that clouds any clear thinking about Jesus:.
But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (II Corinthians 3:14-17)
Those three verses from II Corinthians should explain to you why anybody can talk about "God" and their various agreements (religion) with Him and the world leaves them alone, but the moment someone starts speaking of Jesus Christ all hell breaks loose. The demons of hell leave alone blinded and hardened people - as well as the "blind who are leading the blind." But when Jesus Christ is exalted and honored, all hell breaks loose "lest the veil be taken away" and sinners come to rest in the New Agreement between God and man.

Three Major Differences Between the Agreements

Though I could point out dozens of differences between the two Agreements, I would like to encourage you through three major differences, and then challenge you to make sure you recognize you are part of the New Agreement between God and man and not the Old Agreement.

(1). The Old Agreement is filled with conditional promises based on personal obedience; the New Agreement is filled with unconditional promises based on Christ's obedience and our faith in Him.

When Israel heard Moses read the laws of the Old Agreement they shouted "All this we will do" (Exodus 19:8). However, the narrative of the Old Testament Scriptures is filled with Israel's rebellion to their agreement with God. As a result, their quid pro quo Old Agreement ("If you will," God says, "then I will...") with God, brought all kinds of punishment from God. However, in the New Agreement, Jesus Christ's perfect righteousness in fulfilling the Law obtained all the blessings of God that the Old Agreement Law promised - and Israel failed to obtain by their obedience. Therefore, in the New Agreement, you are blessed by God because of your faith in Christ - for this reason it's called "the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26) - and "all the promises of God are "Yes" (a resounding "Yes") in Christ" (II Corinthians 1:20).

Many Charismatics base their "prosperity gospel" teaching on Old Agreement Scriptures. They say that "if you tithe" or "if you give your seed" then you obligate God to "bless you" for your obedience. Not true. In the New Agreement, God promises to meet your every need according to His riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19).  God will not meet your need because your obedience measures up. God makes this promise of "every need" being met a "resounding yes" because of your faith in the Person of His Son. If you are a member of church that emphasis all the conditional promises of the Old Agreement, you will constantly be harangued to measure up. If you are a member of a gospel church, you will be constantly encouraged to grow in grace and your knowledge of the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ.

(2). The Old Agreement is filled with hundreds of laws that touched every facet of life in the nation of Israel; the New Agreement contains one Royal Law that touches every facet of life for the New Agreement believer.

The laws of the Old Agreement were designed to point Israel to the One who was to come. Israel celebrated - by Law - the festivals; all of which were designed to point to Jesus the Christ of God, the inaugurator of a New Agreement between God and man.  Israel worshipped God - by Law - with various sacrifices and Sabbaths; all of which were designed to point to Jesus the Christ of God and the inaugurator of a New Agreement between God and man. Even the prophets who lived during the Old Agreement kept looking forward to the coming of the New Agreement (see Jeremiah 31) for ancient Israel knew that the Law only condemned and it would be the Messiah who would save.

When Jesus came and inaugurated the New Agreement with His blood (i.e. His death, burial and resurrection), He became the New Lawgiver and gave us just one commandment - a new commandment - which is to encompass every aspect of our life.
"A new commandment give I to you, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). 
Just as the nation of Israel could be distinguished as "God's chosen people" through their obedience to the laws of the Old Agreement (eg. circumcision, Sabbath rest, the laws of the feasts and festivals, etc...), so too in the New Agreement those who are adopted by God into His family are known by their obedience to this Royal Law:
"By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another" (John 13:35).
Instead of a husband looking to a list for how to be a husband, if a husband would simply love his wife as Christ as loved him - unconditionally, sacrificially, selflessly (without expectation of reciprocation) - husbands would be amazed at the transformation in their marriages. A new agreement believer is full of grace and love because he's come to understand the grace and love of God in Christ.

(3). The Old Agreement causes me to look to look to a list of laws in order to measure up to God's expectations for me; the New Agreement causes me to look to the Christ and marvel at the infinite grace and love of God for me.

I love reading the Old Testament. In fact, my favorite studies of all time are expositional verse-by-verse studies of Old Testament books like Exodus, Leviticus, Daniel, Jeremiah, Esther, etc... However, I love those Old Agreement books because I read them through the filter of Jesus Christ and the New Agreement He inaugurated between God and me.

Truth be known, I never see bad things that happen to me as punishment from God - ever. Rather, in the New Agreement, when I enter into the storm, I always see Christ holding out His hand and inviting me to go with Him through the storm because "something remarkably good is on the other side" (Romans 8:28).

The Bible is not a child's book. It is extremely profound. Christianity is not serendipitous, puerile, or childish. I am a Christian because I understand the goodness and riches of God in Christ in the New Agreement, foreshadowed in the Old Agreement.  I want to continue to be captivated by the love and grace of God in Christ. Christ is the only One that brings me true life, liberty and happiness.

I want to rest in Him.

I can when I see my "rule of life" is the New Agreement inaugurated by Jesus Christ.

16 comments:

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Thanks again for an excellent word, especially for those who are still trying to struggle through the quagmire of Old Covenant living whilst claiming to be a New Covenant creature.

I am so sorry to see many I know still trying to live the hybridized Old/New life which they have been led to believe is the lot of those who are in Christ.

Curious Thinker said...

Well said. Having read a book by Pastor Joseph Prince and watching his programs on TV, I've realy become to understand the difference between being under the law and being under grace. Thanks again. God Bless.

Michael said...

You get it Wade...you REALLY get it. So proud to know you and so inspired as I "hear" your maturity through your writings. Thank you...

Christiane said...

I think it must have at the very moment of the Incarnation that God Himself began to tenderly embrace all broken things and gathered them to Himself for healing. We also need to embrace the broken world around us with love, including our own weakness of being, in His Name, not as a path to 'our' salvation, but out of a grateful spirit of everlasting thanksgiving.

'All is grace.'

Unknown said...

I disagree totally, the Messiah IS that "Every" Word that proceeds out of the mouth of HaShem! He is the manifestation of the Torah, and even to assume that one word of the Eternal God could pass away is to assume that God words are like mans, and are thus common! No Way! After Moses destroyed the 1st set of tablets of the law, did he not ascend the mountain again to receive a second, and did not our Father write the EXACT words of the second set as he did on the first? So, if you think the Master ascended to our Father to write any other words on our heart as was not given at Sinai and in the months following, that "Every Word" quoted from the Torah by the Messiah is the way we are to live, he said it..Man (Jew & Gentile) shall not live on bread alone, but by "EVERY WORD" that comes forth from the mouth of HaShem! The cross did not change this, the cross provided us forgiveness when we have trespassed against the Torah. Don't you understand, salvation is not in the "person", it's in the "Substance of that Person", the Word of God.

G.Murray said...

Wade,
A timely and necessary reminder of walking ,living and being in the New Covenant.

Thank you

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

One grip I have is the background color of your post. WHY color when white behind black letters is better to see? Also since I print most of your post it’s harder to read and takes MUCH more ink!

I like what you said, “…I read them through the FILTER of Jesus Christ…”

A sermon that has stuck with me is “Every person has a different FILTER.” The same words may be heard but their meaning may be different depending upon their background.

Preaching hell is hot may make people around the equator fear while Eskimos smile.

With that said, I’ll join Kris Carmichael a little bit in his thinking. Jesus did not abolish the Old Law, but fulfilled the Old Law. In some ways he made it ‘stronger’ such as committing adultery by only ‘thinking’.

God’s IF and THEN still apply such as “Honor your father and mother, that you may have a long, good life…”

Can a husband love his wife and abandon his wedding vows?

Victorious said...

Jesus did not abolish the Old Law, but fulfilled the Old Law. In some ways he made it ‘stronger’ such as committing adultery by only ‘thinking’.

Hi Rex,

I don't think it was Jesus' intent to make the law stronger or harder. I think He was bringing an awareness of the origin of sin...the heart. ".."For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. Not a worry if one's heart is right.

In other words, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Mary Ann

Rex Ray said...

Hi yourself, Mary Ann,

Thanks for the reply.

“When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13 NLT)

When a bar of gold is made into a wedding ring, has the gold disappeared or has it been made better? That’s the way I see the “new” covenant.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

"When a bar of gold is made into a wedding ring, has the gold disappeared or has it been made better?"

"By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear." (Hebrews 8:13).

Victorious said...

The New Covenant is better and the Old obsolete/outdated because we don't need 600+ laws restricting and defining our behavior. The two greatest commandments ensure appropriate behavior because:

"On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." Matt 22:40

and

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Rom 13:10

The New Covenant is also better because we have a great High Priest who offered the perfect sacrifice on time as opposed to the Old system of sacrifice year after year.

Victorious said...

I meant:

The New Covenant is also better because we have a great High Priest who offered the perfect sacrifice ONE time as opposed to the Old system of sacrifice year after year

:)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Thanks…I think?

If you copy-paste my comment and moved the Scripture from the start to the end, does that mean you agree?

Would you agree a gold wedding ring is more valuable and a symbol of love etc. far more than the same amount of gold?

Mary Ann,

You’re correct in what you wrote about the New Covenant being better. In fulfilling the Old Covenant, Christ took the gold of a necklace and made it into a wedding ring.

A necklace is like a chain around our necks trying to keep the law; whereas the ring makes us children of God and fit for heaven.

Gordon said...

Wade,
The Mosaic covenant was not a bar of gold but an iron chain of bondage, given to remind us of our guilt and condemnation. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law....so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit ( Galatians 3: 10-14). The Law served its relatively brief purpose but reached its sell-by date some two thousand years ago.....it should no longer be on the table !

Gordon

Christiane said...

in my Church we believe this:

"The New Law is called:
a LAW OF LOVE because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear;

a LAW OF GRACE, because it confers the strength of grace to act

a LAW OF FREEDOM, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who "does not know what his master is doing" to that of a friend of Christ - "For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" - or even to the status of son and heir."

We also know that those laws God has written on the hearts of men are enduring and because we are gifted by God with reason and with a conscience, we can 'listen' to our hearts and know the difference between 'right' and 'wrong' enough to aid us to choose the 'right' . . . God is the Author of what is written on our hearts


Gordon said...

Christiane,

I am thinking your last paragraph might be called " a LAW OF WISDOM" that comes from above.

And add to that " a LAW OF SUBMISSION TO GOD", and we will have a good guide to the areas within which the Gospel of the New Covenant operates in our lives.

Thanks for your contribution to this essential understanding of the nature of the Gospel.

Gordon