THE NEW COVENANT

By Ryan Lawson

We will be discussing the New Covenant that we have in Jesus Christ and the all-important part that this revelation plays in our lives. As we have stated many times before, we believe that there is coming an awesome reformation to the way we view and participate in, church life and ministry. This reformation will bring us back to our biblical roots of supernatural living and functioning in the power of God on a daily basis.

A Progressive Revelation of God
Before we can talk knowledgeably about the New Covenant, we must understand the purpose that God has had for mankind since the beginning of creation. We can see that through time as recorded in the Bible, there are several different dispensations or revelations of God unto mankind. For the purposes of this discussion, we will restrict our study to three areas.

1. The Patriarchal Dispensation
In the Patriarchal Dispensation, God seems to have been approaching man from this standpoint: as if man were far removed from God, and as if God were endeavoring to reveal Himself to man. Abraham perhaps furnishes the best example in the word, and to him God appeared twice, twenty years apart. There was a lapse of twenty years, in which Abraham heard nothing from God. Then God spoke to him again. Now, that is the best revelation from God to man that is given us in the Patriarchal Dispensation and it seems as if the position was, God revealing Himself to man.

2. The Mosaic Dispensation
The Mosaic Dispensation was different. It was a fuller revelation. It did not destroy any of the revelation of God that the Patriarchs had known. God was present with the Jewish people in the Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire, and the Shekinah over the Mercy Seat, an ever-present God. When the temple was built, the Lord abode in the Holy of Holies. In it, there was no artificial light. The Holy place was lit by candles, but in the Holy Place, there was neither window no door, nor artificial light of any kind. The Presence of God illuminated the Holy of Holies, the continuous Presence of God with man.

3. The Christian Dispensation
Patriarchal revelation was "God to Man" and the Mosaic revelation was, "God with man," but the Christian revelation was greater than all. Jesus said in His own words, "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:17) And the revelation of God to the Christian is, "Christ within you by the Holy Ghost," not "to" man or "with" man, but "in" man; man becoming the embodiment of God.

We are the house of God!
The New Covenant is all about God preparing a house for Himself to live in. His home in the Old Covenant was a structure fabricated with stones, animal skins, wood and gold. The building that He has now constructed is a temple made within our hearts. (I Peter 2:4,5 - I Corinthians 3:18 - I Corinthians 6:19)

We are filled with the Spirit of God for a purpose.
The purpose of God from the beginning was that God could have fellowship with man and so that man could be like God on the earth. God's command to Adam was, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:28,29) That command is still active today. The Bible says that, "The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man." (Psalm 115:16) Our ultimate purpose as Christians is to be like God on the earth. We are called to exercise dominion over the earth and subdue it for God.

Knowing Our Purpose
Knowing our purpose will govern the way that we live our life. It's been said that, "A person who aims at nothing hits the mark every time." It's true. There's a very important principle in scripture, "We will become what we behold." (II Corinthians 3:17,18) Both personally and corporately, we have become what we have beheld. We have beheld a gospel that is really no Gospel at all. In the early church, preaching the Gospel provoked a reaction! Today, no one is listening. We have false ideas about God, the Gospel and ourselves that have resulted in a departure from the power and glory that the early church walked in.

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power…" II Tim. 3:1-5

*** It is important to note that there are places in the earth where the church is walking in the power and glory that it is called to. There are Christians on the earth that raise the dead, heal the sick and are winning many people to the Lord. We want to join the ranks of this great army of God and get in the fight! ***

Fallacies Concerning the New Covenant
Many of the popular foundational teachings and doctrines that Christians have been taught are based more in human experience than the truth of scripture. The common belief of most Christians concerning the Gospel or New Covenant is this, "Forgiveness when I sin and heaven when I die." While both of those statements are true, they fall short of the high calling that God has called us to. Paul said, "…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13,14) We will examine several of these teachings as they relate to the New Covenant. The first of these deals with salvation and being born again. "When I am born again, I am given a clean slate, or fresh start." Sounds right doesn't it? However, this statement is not Biblical. This statement implies that when you are born again, God simply cleans you off, says, "That a' boy!" and releases you to live the life that you could not live before you met Him. This says that you are given a fresh start, another chance. This is the way that many Christians are living. We could not please God and live the life that He required before we got saved, but somehow, we think that with forgiveness and a fresh start, we can live the life that pleases God.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3) The Bible uses words like new birth, being born again and a new creation. When you are born again, you are not simply a forgiven you! You are literally a new creation! The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (II Corinthians 5:17) This is more than just semantics; it's a way of life! There is a radical difference between being given another chance at life and being crucified, buried and resurrected into a new life where Jesus is at the controls. This is why in the early church, the first thing that they did with the new believers was to baptize them. This signified a death of our old nature and a resurrection into the life of Christ. (Romans 6:4-10 – Colossians 2:11,12 – Galatians 2:20) This fallacy deals with our new birth, the beginning of our relationship with God. The next fallacy deals with our view of ourselves. "My heart is deceitfully wicked." "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

This passage has been used more than any other to bludgeon the saints into believing that they are inherently evil. No wonder so many Christians suffer with depression! True, there was a time in our lives when we desired to do evil. There was a time when we were enemies of God and could not be trusted. However, that time is not now. In the Old Covenant, God showed many of the prophets what this new covenant would look like. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36:26,27) The Bible says that when we are born again, we have been given a new heart. The Bible says that we will be filled with God's Spirit and that we will be moved to follow His decrees. Many of us interpret the cravings of our flesh to indicate the attitude or condition of our heart. You are not evil! The Bible says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (II 4 Corinthians 5:21) Your heart is not wicked! God dwells in your heart! (Ephesians 3:17) How can the temple of God be wicked? The fact is, it can't. That's the Good News! Jesus came and made us a temple that God lives in by faith. By His Blood and by His sacrifice, we are transformed from a sinner that was an enemy of God to a vessel that God Himself resides in! Now that we have a proper perspective of ourselves, let us look at a fallacy that speaks of the process of sanctification, or becoming like Jesus.

"As I grow closer to the Lord, I will become increasingly conscious of my sin."
This is commonly taught in conjunction with Holiness. Once again, this seems right. We have been taught that as we grow closer to the Lord, our conscience gets more and more sensitive to sin. We are told that even the slightest trespass against the Lord will be recognized instantly and should be dealt with immediately.. The Bible says, "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:20) Sin is trespass. To be sin conscious is to be occupied with the flesh or works of the flesh. We think that if we are more conscious of sin, we are less likely to commit that sin. This makes sense to our worldly system. In our western mindset, it's simple; you see a problem, focus on the problem and get rid of it.

That may be American, but it's not Kingdom.
God's way is simple. "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Galatians 5:16) And again, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:5) The fact of the matter is that if you are growing closer to the Lord, you will become increasingly conscious of Him! The only way that we become holy is to focus on the Lord. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (II Corinthians 3:18) If you are growing increasingly conscious of sin, you are simply becoming more moral. Big deal. God never called us to morality, but holiness. Holiness is being set apart. If you are holy, you are occupied with Jesus, His Beauty and His Glory. You have no time to think about sin. To do so would be to take your eyes off of Him!

Now, we will deal with one of the most damaging fallacies of them all. This fallacy deals with our relationship with God.
"When I sin, I am separated from God." "God is a holy God and cannot look upon sin." "When you sin, you are separated from God's presence until you come to God and ask forgiveness from your sin." "God turns His back on you and is waiting for you to come back to Him." We feel like this is true. When we sin, we feel separate from God. We feel distance and believe that God is displeased with us. We feel the pleasure of God when we do spiritual things like read our Bible, pray and witness. But when we sin and get angry or when we lust, we feel as if the Holy one of heaven is angry. Once again, this sounds Biblical, but it's not. The truth is, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38,39) Nothing means nothing. Sin does separate us from God. But our sin has been dealt with by the Sacrifice of Jesus. Past, Present and Future; once and for all! (Hebrews 9:11,12) The Bible clearly tells us that sin has been done away with. "But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:26-28) Once again, the statement that sin separates is true; that is, before we received Jesus as our Savior. For a believer, there is no enmity between God and His kids. There is only peace. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1,2)

Faith or Fact
As we hold the testimony of the Word of God to the testimony of our lives, we must remember that as Christians, we are called to a walk of faith. The great healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth used to say, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." That's great, but the truth is, "God said it and that settles it, whether you believe it or not." God has revealed much through His Word about Himself, ourselves, the Church, etc. The only way that we can walk in what God has said in His word is to believe. Jesus said, "Only Believe…" (Mark 5:36) Believing in what God said does not mean that our circumstances or experience will agree with what God has said. The question to ask yourself is this, "Who wins in my life?" Is it your experience or is it the unchanging Word of God? Faith is the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) One of the strongholds over the American church is unbelief. We simply will not take God at His word when our experience does not agree with it. However, this will be undone by a radical group of Believers that actually believe God and His word and walk in what He has said about them!