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While JESUS was alive, He prayed to His Father: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. John 17:15 (KJV)
JESUS gave signs of what must happen before His Return: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:" Matt. 24:29 (KJV)
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." I Thess. 4:16-17 (KJV)
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed." I Corin. 15:52
The "Resurrection" has been erroneously labeled The "Rapture".
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10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
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Psa. 122:6 Pray shalom Jerusalem:3389/3384 (to flow as waters): prosper love. 7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. 8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.
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Link of article or video : http://www.awildernessvoice.com/NewCovenant.html
Much is being said about ‘spiritual’ and ‘carnal’ matters in regards to the Holy Bible and its interpretation and understanding. I feel it is of major importance that we ‘rightly divide the Word’ in accordance with this division of concepts. The Bible itself is divided into the Old and New Testaments, and within it we also have the Old and New Covenants, therefore there must be a difference between them that the Lord wants us to comprehend and incorporate into our understanding. I have researched this much, and have found many good studies and the one I am presenting here is the best I have found so far. In seeing the difference within this context, it enhances our conception of the whole plan of God, and equips us to further rightly divide the Word of His Truth.
To me there is a vast difference between the Truth and religion and sometimes our churches teach this religious aspect of the Truth and miss the mark just as the religious leaders in Christ’s time did. This study looks at our ministries today and gives insight in to how legalism is blinding many and actually keeping from seeing the true meaning of the Gospel, and spreading the Good News to others.
The authors of this study uses mainly the NKJV of the Bible…so because I prefer the KJV I am including the passages from there to expand on their very first quote from 1 Corinthians….just to give a fuller perspective to begin with:
“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
The New Covenant: A Spiritual Covenant
By Michael Clark and George Davis
The spiritual does not come first, but the physical and then the spiritual. (1 Corinthians 15:46 ISV)
It is in this context, "first . . . the natural . . . then the spiritual" that we now want to consider the New Covenant. The old covenant was a shadow of good things to come. Even the law possessed only a shadow. Where it had a physical tabernacle, priesthood, vestments and a special tribe of chosen people, the Spiritual Covenant has a tabernacle made by God of living stones (the ones called out of this world system unto Him), a priesthood made up of all who believe in Jesus, all those who have "put on Christ" and a people who walk in the faith of Abraham who are not Jews in the flesh, but in the Spirit.
The first covenant was a natural covenant with natural Israel and was designed to point the way to a better covenant. The New Covenant is the spiritual realization of all that the Old Covenant merely foreshadowed. It is a spiritual covenant with a spiritual Israel (See Romans 2:29). The Old Covenant was a natural covenant on tablets of stone that could be seen, touched or even broken. The New Covenant is written by the Spirit on hearts of flesh (See Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20).
In this New Covenant we have not come to the mountain that may be touched that looked as though it burned with fire and where the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words were so terrifying that even Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling." No. We "have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel" (see Hebrews 12:18-24 NKJV).
The old natural (earthly) covenant has been replaced by a new, spiritual (heavenly) covenant. We no longer congregate at the mount of trembling (an earthly geographical place), but in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (See John 4:21-24 and Ephesians 2:5-6). Our physical senses are of no use here, for we touch, taste, smell, hear and see those things that cannot be discerned by natural faculties. Faith looks at things that are not seen (See Hebrews 11:1). It is on this very ground that the battle for faith is waged. Only the victors have eyes to see beyond the natural to the spiritual. To them the heavenly Jerusalem is more real than the earthly Jerusalem that can be touched. To them the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven is more real than any local church and its congregants. To them Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant is more real than the most charismatic clergyman on earth.
Every man chooses his world. He will be more mindful of the natural world or the heavenly world. He will choose his reality and by what sensory faculties he will verify that reality. He will look with natural eyes on material things and demand empirical proof before he believes, or he will by faith look with spiritual eyes beyond this natural realm to that city whose builder and maker is God. A man with 20/20 spiritual sight described it this way: "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV). This again is the very ground the battle for faith is waged on. Will we focus on temporary or eternal things? The one that is more real (and more important) to us is the one that our focus is on. Faith is not proven or verified by empirical evidence. It is the substance of things not seen with natural sight.
"We habitually think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other. We do not deny the existence of the spiritual world but we doubt that it is real in the accepted meaning of the word. The world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime. It is clamorous, insistent and self-demonstrating. It does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five senses, demanding to be accepted as real and final. But sin has so clouded the lenses of our hearts that we cannot see that other reality, the City of God, shining around us. The world of sense triumphs. The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible; the temporal, of the eternal. That is the curse inherited by every member of Adam's tragic race." (A. W. Tozer - The Pursuit Of God)
When those eternal things that are seen by faith become more substantive and more real, than the earth under our feet, then we are walking by faith. This is how it should be. If this is true then much that we see around us, calling it "Christianity" is faithlessly dependent upon the deceitful sciences of the physical senses.
Religious man loves things that can be seen, touched, heard, smelled, and tasted. He loves smells, bells, candles and incense. He prefers the safety and the physical filling at a church pot-luck over that table of spiritual food that our Father has set for us in the presence of our enemies. Those who live in the good of the New Covenant do not congregate around those things that titillate their senses, but they seek a city that has eternal foundations. They look for those things that are not seen. They sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. They are unimpressed with the overtly pompous fashions, ceremonies and sacrifices of the old religious order for they have come to Him in whom there is no shadow or darkness, whose brilliance occludes all the luminescence of this world.
They congregate in that city where the Lamb is their Light, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. They do not gather in earthly temples for in their kingdom John reported, "And I saw no temple in it: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (Revelation 21:22 KJ2000). In fact almost everything that calls itself "church" today is an affront to them and the unseen kingdom they are part of.
The centerpiece of the Old Covenant was of the letter (the Law). The New Covenant is in the Spirit and life in Christ is its center. It began in the Spirit and is spiritually realized. The first fruit of the Spirit, poured out on the Feast of First Fruits, is a guarantee of the redemption to come (See Romans 8:23). The Spirit is the New Covenant seal and earnest, "who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1:22 NKJV). A seal was used to prevent premature opening and tampering of a letter and guaranteed safe transference from one place to another. A man's seal (an imprint made by his signet ring in the hot wax on a document) was considered a signature. The seal guaranteed the document was genuine. We are sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit. This seal and guarantee is given "that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14 NKJV).
The Spirit has been given to us as the earnest of our inheritance, a pledge of full payment. For those who have received the earnest of the Spirit it might seem impossible to believe that it is just a down payment and that there is much more to come. Many in the church have made being "filled with the Spirit" and the accompanying gifts the total of their focus and faith. Worse yet, others believe this to be something that died away with the last of the apostles.
God's covenant with Abraham given to us is based on this particular promise and guarantee. The Spirit was the promise and the Spirit is the guarantee. Jesus spoke of this to His disciples. "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:10-13 NKJV). Everything that the heavenly Father desires to give to His Children comes in the form of one gift-the good gift-the Holy Spirit. We say this most reverently. The Holy Spirit is the Bread, Fish and Egg--the full meal deal. He is the Seal and Guarantee and the One who delivers us to the desired destination.
The Holy Spirit is the gift of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father. Just before Jesus was carried up into heaven, He said to His disciples, "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49 NKJV). In his second treaties, the Book of Acts, Luke recounts, "And, [Jesus] being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me... you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now"(Acts 1:4-5 KJ2000).
After the event Peter went on to speak of this promise. "Therefore [Jesus] being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:33 NKJV, emphasis added). We will consider this event in more detail in a moment. But for now the point we want to make is this, the New Covenant is based on promise, and the Father's promise and seal upon those who believe is the Spirit.
With the Spirit come Life, Light and Righteousness. The kingdom of God comes in each life when the Father's gift is received by faith in His Son. They who do not have the Spirit of God are none of His (See Romans 8:9). For His kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). There is no kingdom, no righteousness, no peace and no joy without the Holy Spirit. This is what makes the New Covenant so different. In the Old Covenant man worked for righteousness. In the New Covenant, righteousness is in the Holy Spirit. In the Old Covenant men tried with all their might to be righteous by obeying the letter of the law and failed. In the Old Covenant, peace with God was dependent upon perfect compliance to the law, but in the New Covenant our peace is found as we abide in the Holy Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
There is no law against such things" (Galatians 5:22-23 ISV). All of these things are the fruit of the Spirit and are present in a Spirit filled life. We do not need love or patience or any of the other gifts as if they were commodities in and of themselves. We need the Good Gift. We don't need joy, we need the Gift. We don't need peace; we need the Gift of the Father. For peace is a byproduct of a life in which the Spirit reigns. We can't be faithful without the Gift that was promised to the descendants of faithful Abraham. God IS love. When we are filled with the fullness of God, we are filled with His love, because we have been recreated in His likeness. This is the kingdom that is in the Holy Spirit.
Of the New Covenant minister and ministry Paul wrote, "who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory" (2 Corinthians 3:6-9 NKJV).
A brief comparison may help us see the contrast here.
Old Covenant vs New Covenant
Of the letter vs Of the Spirit
The letter kills vs The Spirit gives life
The ministry of death vs The ministry of the Spirit
The ministry of condemnation vs The ministry of righteousness
The Old and New Covenants are as different as death and life. Satan's plan is not all that complicated. He entices us to leave the ground of God's glory and provision. He entices us to neglect the ministry of the Spirit and return to the ministry of death. The flesh of man excels and dominates in this realm under his command. Herein is the foolishness of legalism. Why would a sane person choose death over life? Yet, those who have been bewitched by him do just that (See Galatians 3:1-3).
The Foolishness of Legalism
Paul prophesied that the church would fall away from the Spirit-dependent state (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and that it would manifest in "a form of godliness" without power (2 Timothy 3:5). Some believe the gospel of John, written toward the end of the first century, to have been written in response to this apostasy. The freedom of Christ was slowly being eroded away in the early church. Men were adding laws of their own to the law of love written upon the hearts of the saints. They were slowly being dragged back into bondage by the caprice and the cunning of men (See Ephesians 4:14 Darby). Soon things were not as God meant them to be. The heavenly order was forsaken and the heavenly nature was forfeited as men set out to perfect in the flesh what Christ started in the Spirit. It soon became a systematized deception, filled with man-made sacraments, boundaries, structures and rules. True life in the Spirit was slowly lost and the glory departed. As men rose up, the Spirit's leadership and presence was quenched.
The greatest danger to the Christian faith is not hedonism but religion. The foolishness of legalism is far and away the greatest insult to grace. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3 NKJV). The Galatian believers were drifting away from the ministry of life and turning back to the ministry of death. They were returning to the works of the law and, as a result, being cut off from the supply of the Spirit.
To help them see their error, Paul asked them the following question. "Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:5 NKJV). In this verse we see both the new covenant Minister and ministry. Jesus is the one who supplies. He works. Jesus is the New Covenant Minister. He supplies the Spirit and He works miracles among us as our High Priest, the One Mediator between God and man. We simply believe and trust Him who supplies and works. When we return to the law (the works of the flesh) we come back under the curse and the supply of the Spirit is cut off and the miracles cease. When we stop trusting Him who supplies the Spirit and works miracles (the Minister) and return to the old way (doing it ourselves), we fall from grace and come back under a curse (See Galatians 3:10-13) and true ministry ceases.
What does it mean for Christ to be the Minister? How is this realized in His body? Does it involve the showmanship we see on elevated platforms and pulpits today? Jesus doesn't want "faith-healers," He wants people He can minister to the sick through. Jesus doesn't need "preachers," He wants men and women who speak and act in such a way that even their lives are a testimony of Him. Peter wrote, "As every man has received a gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministers, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11 KJV).
After the lame beggar was healed by the gate of the temple Peter said, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" (See Acts 3:12-16). On the next day as Peter stood before the rulers, elders, and scribes they demanded, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole." (Acts 4:5-10 NKJV)
How much of what calls itself ministry today is actually Christ ministering? How much of what calls itself ministry today is done by Him who supplies the Spirit and works miracles? Or is it, as we so often see, men so lacking in humility that they would dare to call themselves "faith healers" and posture as if to imply that healing comes by virtue of their own power or godliness? Christ will not compete with such pomposity.
Where is the humility that recognizes that the Minister is Christ and insists that only He receives the glory? Where is this humility among those who claim to be ministers? How often do such men correct those who would elevate them to such a status? Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes, exposing their flesh, and ran in among the idolatrous crowd in Lystra and said to them, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God." Elevating men is the useless thing in reference here. It is idolatry in the rudimentary sense. And what was going on among the pagans that day in Lystra, isn't really any different than much that goes on in Christianity today, calling itself ministry and faithful support of that ministry.
In this part of the study it deals with not returning to old ways when the new way has been established. This was a problem even for the early church. The book of Hebrews is all about this problem and a reminder to the believers then and to the believers now to not go back to religious ways when we have the Truth in Christ. Shortly after this book was written all the earthly vestiges of the religious practices of the Jews was destroyed, this is very telling as the Lord shows them that His Kingdom is not of this world.
What is most interesting in this part is how the great Falling Away is related not to apostasy but to the return to religious practices and the need to have physical rituals and keep the traditions of man. I have never looked at it like this before and it rings so true to my heart…so many in these modern times are turning back to religion and legalism and missing the heavenly boat! This is important and we need to grasp this and make sure we are not grounding our faith in earthly things, when the spiritual Kingdom is where we are to dwell.
Don't Turn Back
The recipients of the letter of Hebrews were facing a very serious spiritual crisis. In Chapter 2 we read this warning, "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1 ESV). This is the theme of the book. Our Hebrew brothers and sisters were in danger of drifting away or falling away from the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, and all that He is. The test before them was whether or not they were going to go on into the full possession of all that Christ had given them or turn back to the old religious order.
This letter was written around 60AD. By 70AD Israel and Jerusalem were completely sacked and the people were either killed, scattered or had been taken as slaves by the Romans. Their temple and synagogues were completely shattered. All the external trappings of their religion they depended on were no more. This letter was clearly written to prepare them for this coming disaster. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the author wrote, "In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and grows old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13 KJV) He repeatedly exhorted them in this letter to go on, leaving behind the shadows of the old religious order, fully tasting the heavenly gift and sharing in the Holy Spirit (see 6:1).
They had answered the heavenly call and started upon the heavenly way but now they were tempted to turn back to the old Jewish temple system. The call "Let us go to Him outside the camp" and "We have an altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle" is clearly one that bids them to leave that old order. They had started to return to the camp of the old religious order and God slammed the door!
To a people who had found their live national identity and security in their religion all their lives, this heavenly way that dispensed with all the outward and sensual religious trappings was proving hard and costly. The call, "let us go on" was a call to gather in the heavenly tabernacle "made without hands." It was a call to turn from the earthly sacrifice and priesthood of the old order and gather in the heavenly realm where, Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant ever lives to make intercession for us.
T. Austin Sparks aptly described this crisis in his message, "Let Us Go On."
"That, I think mainly, if not entirely, is a matter of contrasts. Contrasts... a new era had come in. A new economy or order had been introduced with Christ and now, the changeover was the change, the tremendous change, from the earthly to the heavenly. With the Son of God from heaven, there had come in the heavenly order and from that time onward, the old earthly order of the things of God, as we have in the old economy of the Old Testament, ceased.
Everything now is heavenly; it's passed from earth. But what a testing position is a heavenly position! It's a crisis! It creates a crisis, it's the very essence of a crisis: "Pull that down to earth, have something here, something on this earth, have something here, abandon that heavenly position, (that heavenliness by which those who so speak, mean that which is so abstract and unreal), let's get down to earth, to reality!" That was the nature of this crisis: the contrast between the heavenly and the earthly, and they were at the point of leaving the heavenly for the earthly. Great warnings are connected with that and all the exhortations, "let us go on, let us go on". The contrast between the tangible and the spiritual; the soul wants something that it can take hold of, can manipulate, can grasp! That is the soul, to have something tangible... and all this talk about the spiritual and spirituality, how "unreal" it is... That's the crisis, isn't it?
They in the old dispensation had it all visibly, they had an earthly tabernacle and priesthood and all that belonged to them, but now, the reality is in heaven, it's not seen! That was but a shadow, the reality is unseen, but it's far more real! But it's unseen, and that's the test of the soul. I'm sure you'll know the meaning of this."
The Hebrew believers longed for the earthly, touchable expression of religion. The crisis point lies between the temporal and the eternal-the earthly and the heavenly. It is in this context that we understand chapter six of Hebrews. "Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt" (Hebrews 6:1-6 ESV).
We must come to understand apostasy (falling away) in these terms. The book of Hebrews was not written to hedonists or people sliding back into the overt sins of the world, but to an extremely religious people. When it speaks of turning back it is not warning against returning to smoking, chewing and going with girls who do. It is not a warning against chasing women or using drugs. It is a warning against returning to the old law-based religious order!
To go back to the old sacrifices, the old priesthood and the old temple system is to crucify Christ afresh and put Him to an open shame. To do this is to disgrace the once-for-all sacrifice and to count the blood of Christ a profane thing. To taste the heavenly gift and know the power of the age to come and turn back to the weak and beggarly elements of the old religious order is a far worse sin than adultery. The adulterer, after all, is not trying to substitute lesser sacrifices for the once-for-all sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God. The adulterer is not thumbing his nose at the blood of Christ by substituting the works and sacrifices of the law for righteousness.
We crucify Christ afresh when we stop trusting in His finished work and the efficacious power of His blood and turn back to the works and merit-based righteousness of the old religious order. There is no more sacrifice for sins other than the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. It is human nature to want to pay sin's debt by extraordinary obedience, or to apologize to God for bad behavior by offering up to Him a greater measure of good deeds-two pounds of good for a pound of sin. This is why the temptation to return to law-keeping is so strong. The flesh yearns to dominate, to justify itself and boasts in doing so. The desire to return to law-keeping for righteousness is a denial of the righteousness of God in Christ.
Paul longed to "be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. . ." (Philippians 3:9 NKJV). Paul was referring to Israel, who preferred their own righteousness to the righteousness of God, when he wrote, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:3-4 NKJV). The "do this and live" righteousness of the law, which Paul called "their own righteousness," has been abolished in Christ. Those who return to a law-based righteousness prefer their own righteousness to the righteousness of God in Christ, and as a result, have fallen from grace. "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4 NKJV).
More than this, anyone who tries to keep the law has not just fallen from grace but has come back under the curse. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'" (Galatians 3:10 NKJV). And so to come back under the law is to reject Christ's grace and redemption completely. It is saying, in affect, "I would rather do it myself, thank you."
Paul's word's to Peter, "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor," show us the danger of returning to the law for righteousness. It is not a simple or harmless mistake. It is a grievous transgression. Paul explained further. "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Jesus filled-up the requirements and need for the law and He no longer is subject to the law and neither are we who are in Christ.
Alive to the Law or Alive to Christ
In Christ we died to the law. We cannot be alive to the law and at the same time be alive to Christ. Or as Paul put it, we can not be married to both husbands. We will be dead to one or the other. To attempt to do so is spiritual adultery. We know this may sound weird but please hear us out!
Occasionally we have overheard conversations between believers in which the term "spiritual adultery" was used. We have heard the term applied to a wide assortment of activities. What is holy to one is spiritual adultery to another. If the term has any legitimate usage it is in connection with those who have been freed from the law, espoused to Christ, and have returned to the bondage of the law again.
First let's examine the definition of the word adultery-- "voluntary sexual relations between a married person and somebody other than his or her spouse" (The Encarta Dictionary). The same definition applies to spiritual adultery. How is legalism adultery? If polygamy were legal there would be no such thing as adultery. It is spiritual adultery when those who are married to Christ attempt to be romantically engaged with another man-the old husband (the law). There is only one way to have a proper relationship with Christ and that is through dying to the old husband (the law). When you are dead to something you no longer have any relationship with it. You are dead to it and it is dead to you.
This divine propriety is clearly set forth in Romans chapter seven.
Or do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. (Romans 7:1-6 ESV)
If you are a Christian, you have died to the old husband and are married to Another. You have died to the law through the body of Christ and His death and you have resurrected in Him and are His. Only by this is it possible for you to enter intimacy with Christ and bring forth His offspring. We have died to that old demanding husband that held us captive! We are not under the old written code but in a new relationship with a new Husband who brings forth life in the Spirit.
What should we call it when we who have died to the old husband and have been betrothed to Christ, sneak around and engage again in intercourse with the old husband? This is the textbook, dictionary definition of adultery. Or as Paul put it, "she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive." Our relationship to the old husband was all about our works and our righteousness (how well we measured up to his demands). Our relationship to our new husband, Christ, is all about bringing forth His fruit (birthed, nurtured and brought forth by Him) and His righteousness (the fruit of His Spirit within us). We can only have one husband. Which will it be?
To return to the old husband is to set grace aside and crucify Christ afresh. And so Paul concludes, "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2:21 NKJV). May this help us get a true sense of the level of transgression that is reached when we turn back from the heavenly way to the old religious order.
The New Covenant and the Body of Christ
On that day of Pentecost two thousand years ago, a humble band of disciples gathered in an upper room, obediently waiting for the promise of the Father. Suddenly, a sound like a mighty windstorm came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Tongues like flames of fire rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Devout men from every nation were there in Jerusalem that day. They had come to observe the old covenant Feast of Pentecost, but what they saw and heard went beyond their expectations. Men who had followed Jesus were speaking and each of them could hear them in their own native tongue. "We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." They were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" Desperate for a logical answer, some of them even mocked saying, "They are filled with new wine." They had no idea how accurate their words were.
It was then that Peter lifted up his voice and explained what this extraordinary event was all about.
You men of Judea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord comes: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:14-21 KJV)
Jesus spoke to His disciples in parables regarding the absolute newness of the New Covenant, as it relates to both the essence and appearance of it. The old had to be discarded for the New to take effect (see Hebrews 8:13). He also addressed the repercussions and dangers of attempting to carry the old covenant over into the new one. We must come to understand that the New Covenant is not a revamping or refurbishing of the old but is completely new and unlike the old in every way. Jesus warned His disciples, and all who will listen of the futility and danger of attempting to patch up the old by forcing the new to fit on and into the old.
"No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'" (Luke 5:36-39 ESV)
The great spiritual battle that Paul and others fought in the early days of the church was fought to present and preserve an unmixed, pure and undiluted gospel. Not only does religious man prefer the old wineskin of the former covenant by bringing its laws into the new, but he really prefers the old wine altogether. They try to put the new wine into that old used up wineskin! Let us keep Jesus' warning in mind as we consider the utter newness of the New Covenant.
The differentiation between the Old and the New Covenants centers upon this very issue of the vessel and the wine. God doesn't dump new wine on the ground, but prepares a container or vessel for it. This is what Jesus' earthly ministry was about. The author of the book of Hebrews records Him saying to the Father, "a body you have prepared for me." This was a prophetic statement pertaining both to his natural body and his spiritual body.
Just as the Father had prepared a natural body for Him, He was preparing a body for Jesus to manifest Himself through here on earth after His death, "the body of Christ," a body made of living members with His Spirit as its life giving force. This is the essence of that body. It is a container for Him-the fullness of him who fills all things. Just as the man Jesus was a vessel of the divine, so the body of Christ is a vessel of Christ. Individually and collectively, we are His body, the dwelling place of Him who is the New Wine. As this New Wineskin, we are destined to hold what the universe itself cannot contain, "all the fullness of God."
God's promise to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh is really about the New Wine and the New Wineskin. Joel foresaw this and foretold the first fruits of it (Pentecost) in the following terms. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit" (Joel 2:28-29 ESV). Note the all-inclusiveness of Joel's prophesy.
The Spirit that was put upon prophets, kings, and judges, empowering them to do the work of God, is now poured out upon all the members of the body of Christ. Even the young, sons and daughters, can be attuned to God's heart and share His burden prophetically. The anointing that was exclusively given to a specific priest cast has come to rest upon the whole priesthood of believers. "You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5 KJV). Yes, His glory is being poured out on all flesh.
The fulfillment of Joel's prophesy consists of more than the Spirit resting upon all flesh. It speaks directly of God's desire to fill all things. Jesus spoke of this to His disciples, ". . . You know him (the Spirit of truth), for he dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16-17). Again we see the vessel and the Wine. No longer is the Spirit poured out on men like the oil that was poured out on Aaron, but now it is placed within those who believe. In this Covenant we are His golden lamps that contain His oil of the Spirit and are perpetually refilled by His golden pipes that bring our oil down from the throne of God (See Zechariah 4:1-6).
Continued…..2 more parts to come…..
Christ is our Teacher
Jesus said, "But you be not called Rabbi: for one is your Teacher, even Christ; and all you are brothers" (Matthew 23:8 KJV). Isaiah explained this New Covenant in terms of the direct access and tutelage of God. "All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children" (Isaiah 54:13 ESV).
Anything that does not include all or ascribes greater access to some than to others is a clear contradiction of the New Covenant. Joel and Isaiah weren't the only prophets to see this. Jeremiah prophesied:
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV)
This passage from Jeremiah has its fulfillment in Christ. It concerns the New Covenant that the Lord said would be nothing like the covenant that He made with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. They broke the Old Covenant and made it of no effect by their unfaithfulness to the Father Who longed for them to be His bride. The Old Covenant was dependent on their obedience and their works. The requirements of this covenant were written on tablets of stone, for their stony hearts, and was totally dependent on them-- "Thou shalt..." and "Thou shalt not." It was an external strait-jacket of legalism that did not keep them obedient to the Father, but filled them with either guilt or self-righteousness.
The New Covenant which God was to initiate was different. It was to be something within them, taught to them by Him and written in their hearts by God Himself, fulfilled by His great grace given unto them. The old commandments were written on stone. The new law is written on new hearts of flesh, enabling us to love one another with the love of God. This inward writing of God's Spirit in the hearts of His people is the new order of things. This New Covenant would be different in that it would require a radical inner working of God's Spirit! His New Covenant also has new commandments.
This New Covenant is totally God dependent. There is no room for the pride of man here. He promises, "I will make. . .I will put. . . I write it. . . I will forgive... I will not remember..." Notice that this covenant is totally up to God and His righteousness operating in us. When it comes to righteousness, man fallen man is a total failure. Men cannot even teach righteousness without Him. No longer will each one teach his neighbor saying "Know the Lord," for God is their Teacher by His Spirit within their hearts. This is exactly what John described in his first epistle. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. . . the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him" (1 John 2: 20, 27 NKJV).
The New Covenant is inward, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." This is the strength and superiority of the New Covenant. The author of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah's prophesy to show the inherent weaknesses of the Old Covenant (See Hebrews 8:8-11). The chief difference between old and new is that the new is a reality that abides within, and no longer requires a special priest cast to enforce it and make it work, "they (men) shall teach no more." Man is not the teacher in this new dispensation, but His abiding anointing is. Man is a container or he is nothing at all. It is the Spirit within him that leads into all truth. God puts and writes His passion upon the hearts of yielded vessels.
Note that the promise in Jeremiah is given, "from the least to the greatest..." The least of His disciples get it first. Jesus said, "You must be as a child to enter the kingdom of heaven…What you have done to the least of these, my brethren, you have done unto me." Andrew Murray wrote,
"Individual personal fellowship with God, for the feeblest and the least, is to be the wonderful privilege of every member of the New Covenant people. Each one will know the Lord. That does not mean the knowledge of the mind, -- that is not the equal privilege of all, and that in itself may hinder the fellowship more than help it, -- but with that knowledge which means appropriation and assimilation, and which is eternal life. As the Son knew the Father because He was one with Him and dwelt in Him, the child of God will receive by the Holy Spirit that spiritual illumination which will make God to him the One he knows best, because he loves Him most and lives in Him. The promise, "They shall be all taught of God," will be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit's teaching. (The Two Covenants)
To this point, we see the newness of the New Covenant described in the following terms "I will pour out My spirit on ALL flesh". . . "All shall know me. . . "All your children shall be taught by the LORD."
Ezekiel also prophesied of this New Covenant.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20 KJV) (See also Ezekiel 36:26-27)
The first sixteen words of this prophesy are critical, "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them." The one heart and the new spirit are inseparable. One heart speaks of unity. One spirit speaks of the ground of that unity-the unity of the Spirit. The one heart that unites the New Covenant community is the one Spirit. We are given one heart, not many. Here there is no talk of "My ministry..." or "My vision..." or "My church..." or "My Pastor..." by the individual members of His Body. We are all empowered by His love to serve (the true meaning of the word translated as "minister"). Our vision is His vision and we all dwell in His assembly, assembled into His body (the true meaning of the word translated "church"). We know Him as our Shepherd (Even David knew that - see Psalm 23).
We have one mind, not many. Paul wrote, "We [plura] have the [singular] mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). Any attempt to be unified on any other ground is inherently divisive. Paul exhorts us to keep (not to gain or manufacture but to keep) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The unity of the Spirit is already here in the mind of Christ and is as complete as God is. No adjustment is needed by us. We are simply exhorted to guard it-to make sure that we do nothing to disturb that unity. Jesus was about to release the Spirit by His death on the cross and He prayed, "That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21 KJV). Do you want to see the world evangelized? The power to convince them that Jesus is the Christ will be found when we are one in Christ as He is in the Father.
Church history bears out conclusively that the primary cause of division is doctrine. Doctrine was never meant to be our foundation for unity. The promise is that if we keep the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), we will in time gain the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13). The one heart and new Spirit are given by God to produce one thing; a perfect collective man standing in "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
As Jeremiah and Ezekiel were prophesying about this New Covenant, the Father says over and over, "I will..." There is no more dependence on our flesh to do His will. He will do it in us! It is the God of peace himself who sanctifies us completely . . . spirit and soul and body . . . He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 - emphasis added).
If we are to be adequate servants of the New Covenant we must be servants of the Spirit, not the letter, for we are containers, not orators. We bring more than the perfect Platonic three-point sermon. Our uninspired words are death-producing. We bring His wine to the feast. As at Cana, the last wine He provides is the best wine. So many are trying to restore what the early church had, but the glory of the latter house will be greater than that of the former. God is continuing to make all things new and there is no place in His kingdom for us to be sitting on our laurels. "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18 KJV).
We hold the fullness of Him or we have nothing to offer. God must put a new Spirit within us Who delivers us from the body of this death.
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? (2 Corinthians 3:5-8 NASB)
The New Covenant does indeed center on the issue of adequacy. We are not adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves. Our adequacy is from God. He is adequate and only as we abide in Him are we adequate. He will surely do it. As servants of a New Covenant, we are not servants of the letter but of the Spirit. Why? The New Covenant is a covenant of life and it is the Spirit, not the letter, which gives life. It doesn't consist of letters engraved on stones. The ministry of the Spirit is much more glorious than this. For what is divinely written upon our new hearts surpasses the glory that was merely seen on the face of Moses. The ministry of the Spirit is far more glorious than the ministry of the letter (or death).
The former covenant is over. Israel broke that covenant by their idolatry and sin. Of them it is written,
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt: open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would have none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! (Psalms 81:10-13 KJV)
The covenant of the letter is over! The ministration of death is over. It was only a shadow of the one to come (see Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5 & 10:1). God gave Israel laws to follow and in their hearts of stone, they could not do it. The law became death to them and left them in sin (see Acts 15:7-10 and Romans 5:20-21). From the depth of this bereavement Paul cried, "Wretched man that I am!" and asked, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Thank God, Paul found the answer. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 7:24, 8:1-4 ESV). It is all about the new wine. Father initiated a New Covenant for us where life prevails, delivers and elevates us above the body of this death.
We are given flexible hearts of flesh to replace our stony hearts of unbelief. In this new covenant everything is inwardly motivated that the outward manifestation might be true. True worship of God is done in Spirit and in truth. God gave us His Spirit to abide in (not upon) those who believe in Christ.
In this completely new covenant, the Spirit is the source of all knowledge and ministry.
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:4-12 NKJV - emphasis added)
The true measurement of maturity in the ekklesia of God is the measure in which we abide in the Spirit of God. Paul referred to this when He wrote, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons [mature sons] of God" (Romans 8:14 NKJV). He understood that the only way to truly be free from the Law is to be led of the Spirit.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18 NKJV)
Paul presented the following proposition to believers everywhere: "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25 NKJV). If we live by means of the Spirit, we should walk, being empowered and led by that same Spirit.
God is preparing again a new wineskin for His new wine. He is raising up a body with new appreciation and of the New Covenant in Christ. "For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3 ESV). Ecclesiasticism has destroyed the living church, but Jesus will once again say unto the Father, "A body you have prepared for me." Here we see that the call of the New Covenant is a call to be clay vessel for His Spirit, not vassals in authoritarian churches. We are to live victorious, not as vicars, and to collectively contain the glory of the Father so He can bring life to the world through us.
Norman Grubb tells the following story of his early endeavors to bring the gospel to Africa. We have excerpted a rather large quotation so that you might see something of the scope of what God taught Norman in the field.
The inadequacy I felt in myself first of all was the need of love. I deeply felt, when I got among them, that I just didn't have that love which bridges the gap. With that went the need of faith - and with that the need of power. All of these were linked together.
Response to the Christian message in Central Africa, like the United States, appears to be quite large. But I soon found there was much more profession than possession. I began saying to myself, Are we bringing the Africans anything really worthwhile? Are we just bringing a code of ethics? Or a liturgy, or historic faith? Have we got something genuinely transforming to transmit to others?
Then I made the question personal, "Have I?"
. . .To begin with, my attitude was that God should improve me.
Well, I'm a servant of Jesus Christ, I thought. I've been redeemed by His grace, I belong to Him. I must ask God to make me a better servant of Jesus Christ. I thought He should channel in some love into my heart, some faith, some power, some holiness - and improve me.
I had to learn sharply that self-improvement is both a sin and an impossibility. It came as a considerable shock.
But though my idea of how God should answer my problem was completely wrong, my sense of inadequacy was good. It sent me to the Bible. And my first discovery came as I read one famous verse in the first letter of John: "God is love." Suddenly the is stuck out. What dawned on me went something like this: It doesn't say God has love, but God is love. If somebody has a thing, it isn't he himself. It's something just attached to him, as if you've got a coat on or something in your pocket. You just have it, and you can share it. But the Bible doesn't say God has love, but God is love.
God IS love!! Amen to that!
Continued to one last part…..
(Norman Grubb’s story continues…..great story!)
I Could Never Love!
Love, therefore, must not be a thing I can have. Love is exclusively a Person. God is love. Therefore, there is no other pure, self-giving love in the universe beyond Him Himself. Love is exclusively a characteristic of one Person only - and that's not Norman Grubb.
That was a deflation for me. I had thought I could have love imparted to me, channeled into me, and I'd be more loving. But I suddenly found God saying, "You'll never have one iota of love. I am love, and that's the end of it." Love is a Person; one Person only loving - and that's not I, and that's not you. God is love and, therefore, love is God loving.
That set a new trend of thought going. I began to relate this to my other need of power. And I suddenly found a verse in the first chapter of I Corinthians where it says that Christ is the power of God. Not Christ has the power, but He is the power.
Once again, I had thought power was something which was given to me, and I'd be a powerful servant of Jesus Christ. I suddenly found that power, also, is a Person. And that person is not I but is exclusively Christ. . .
Then I came to the one thing every Christian claims to have. Every believing Christian accepts the fact that he has eternal life. He takes it that he has a life which will go on forever in Heaven. ("The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.")
But I suddenly found that eternal life is not something I can ever have - for Jesus did not say, "I have the life to give you" - but, "I am the life." Once again I had found that something I had thought I had - eternal life - is one person only, and that's not I. Jesus Christ is that "eternal life."
But where did I fit into all this?
Finally I came to a statement which gathered all together and finished off my investigations by its absoluteness. The verse was Colossians 3:11, where it says of believers in Christ that "Christ is all and in all."
Christ is all, not Christ has all.
And if Christ is all, what's left for me? Not much by my mathematics! I had thought I was somebody, and something or could get something. I found God had taken the lot. Christ is all.
Then I got the link. Christ is all and in all.
Then I saw for the first time that the only reason for the existence of the entire creation is to contain the Creator! Not to be something, but to contain Someone.
So there dawned a very important truth. We humans naturally regard the human self as important. But we've got the wrong ideas of the reason of the existence of the self.
An immense distortion has come into the very warp and woof of humanity. It's the distortion of the ego - of the self. Though we feel self to be important, all of this showed me that self is extremely unimportant.
There is only one Self in the universe who is really important. I would almost say there is only one Self.
Why? Because there's only one Person in the universe who ever said, "I Am." God said that was His name thousands of years ago when Moses asked what he should say when people would ask, "What is the name of your God?" (Exodus 3:13, 14). We are told that at the end of the history of the universe it is God Who will be all in all. God all in all! Then what's left? It's terrific.
There is only one Person, and the human creation is brought into a living relationship with this One, so that He can manifest Himself in His perfection of life and love through us.
The whole creation exists because Spirit must have a body in which to manifest Himself. As the Scriptures say, "The whole earth is full of His glory." They say that Christ ascended "that He might fill all things."
If He fills all things, all things are containers of Him. Here is both the height and the dangerous depth in humanity.
The height is simply this: the rest of creation can contain manifestations of God; we can contain God as a Person. A person cannot manifest himself as a person through anything else than a person. You can't fellowship with a dog or a stone. You can enjoy the marvels of the atom or of a precious stone, but you can't fellowship with it. But I can fellowship with you because we are of the same makeup.
God can manifest His marvels and His beauty through the flowers and trees. We can view them through the microscope and telescope, and marvel-but we do not say, "That's God."
The greatest marvel, the greatest height of personality, is when we can look at a human being and say, "God is there."
Oh that the world could look at our lives and honestly say "God is there! There is a vessel of the divine" And that Father's children would finally comprehend that the purpose of the New Covenant outpouring is not to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, have a great ministry and be someone great apart from our fellow saints, but to make us humble containers of Him who fills all things! Dare we say it or even think it? We contain the Answer to all the world's problems. And that answer is Christ in you the hope of glory. There is a vast difference between the Old Covenant and the New and that difference is the very Son of God abiding in our hearts.
Old Covenant vs New Covenant
Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 28:1-3) Priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9 KJ2000)
Temple made by men of stone (1 Kings 6:7) One made of living stones by God (1 Peter 2:5)
Special linen priestly garments (Exodus 28:3-8) Believers put on Christ (Romans 13:14)
Priests offer sacrifices for the people (Leviticus 9:7) Christ offered one sacrifice for all(Hebrews 7:22-28)
Spirit rested upon a few anointed ones (Numbers 11:29) All believers are His anointed; Spirit abides in (1 John 2:27-28, John 14:16-17)
Hearts of stone (Ezekiel 11:19) New hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Dead letters written in stone (Exodus 24:12) Living letters written upon the heart (2 Corinthians 3:3)
A covenant for Israel only (Exodus 19:5-6) A covenant for all who believe (Matthew 26:28; John 3:16)
An external law to be obeyed (Leviticus 26:3-6) A new commandment fulfilled by love (John 13:34)
Under the law of death (Romans 7:5) Led of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2)
Tabernacle of Herod;A den of thieves (Mark 11:17) A heavenly tabernacle - with Christ our High Priest (Hebrews 9:22-24)
A veil of separation between God and man (Leviticus 16) A torn veil and access to God for all (Ephesians 2:13-18; 2 Corinthians 3:14)
Jew and Gentile separation (Genesis 17:7-8) One new man in Christ (Romans 10:12-13)
Of the first Adam, a living soul (Genesis 2:7) The Last Adam a life giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Human teachers of the Law and prophets (1 Kings 8:36) Spirit is our teacher (Luke 12:12; John 14:26)
A covenant that was done away with (2 Corinthians 3:9-11) An eternal covenant (1 Peter 5:10)
High priests who died (Hebrews 7:23-24) A Melchizedek priesthood forever (Hebrews 6:20)
Of the flesh and bondage (Galatians 4:24-25) Of the Spirit and freedom (Galatians 4:26-31)
"Thou shalt and thou shalt not" (Exodus 20:1-17) "I will..., I will..., I will..." (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Old wineskins with old wine New wineskins with new wine
Circumcision of the flesh (Genesis 17:11) Circumcision of the heart(Romans 2:28-29)
Works of the law (Joshua 1:8) Faith in Christ's finish work (Ephesians 2:5-10)
A mere shadow of things to come (Hebrews 10:1) "But the body is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17)
Many shepherds (Ezekiel 34) One Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23, Psalm 23:1; John 10:16)
Many fathers (Malachi 4:6) One Father (Matthew 23:9)
Knowing one another after the flesh (John 8:15) Knowing one another after the Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:16)
I found this to be such a great study and was truly blessed by it. It wonderfully puts forth what the Lord has been putting on my heart to convey. With that in mind, I would like to summarize by listing some of the most important and enlightening points from these last two parts of this study. Points to keep in mind and heart as we each look at our own relationship with the Lord, and what part we are playing in recognizing the beauty and power of the New Covenant. Let us not turn back to the old letter of the law that only proved us guilty and no one could keep, and leads to death; but move on in Love and Grace and Power that we become when we are in Christ and He is in we!!
The following are what I find to be the most important points related in this study, quotes from the authors and Norman Grubb with a few comments from me.
The Lord God states:
“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt”
This is a New Covenant NOT like the Old!
The Old Covenant was dependent on their obedience and their works. This New Covenant is totally God dependent.
He promises, "I will make. . .I will put. . . I write it. . . I will forgive... I will not remember..." Notice that this covenant is totally up to God and His righteousness operating in us.
The New Covenant is inward, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." This is the strength and superiority of the New Covenant.
His New Covenant also has new commandments.
Doctrine was never meant to be our foundation for unity.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.
Here we see that the call of the New Covenant is a call to be clay vessel for His Spirit, not vassals in authoritarian churches. We are to live victorious, not as vicars, and to collectively contain the glory of the Father so He can bring life to the world through us.
God is Love
Christ is the power of God.
Jesus Christ is "eternal life."
Then I saw for the first time that the only reason for the existence of the entire creation is to contain the Creator! Not to be something, but to contain Someone.
There is a vast difference between the Old Covenant and the New and that difference is the very Son of God abiding in our hearts.
We are to rest in His Love and let Him work through us, there is nothing we can do…no special day to worship, no turning back to the Old when the New is the Way the Truth and the Life.
Truly, Truly, this shows us that…
JESUS IS ALL AND EVERYTHING!!
May the Lord Bless you all with His Love!