Sunday, October 7, 2007

The New Covenant

Sermon Notes from Pastor David on Hebrews 8:6-13

The no fault divorce originated in the USSR. Communism had sought to break the back of the authority of the church. It has since crept into the US by way of California.
God hates divorce. But he divorced Israel due to her marital unfaithfulness. She broke God's law and effectively removed herself from the covenant and the husbandry of God.

"....for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore." Jeremiah 3:8

The Mosaic or old covenant consisted of the moral law (10 commandments), civil law and the ceremonial law. It was a shadow of the redemption which would find it's ultimate fulfillment in the new covenant which has better promises. The old covenant pointed to the coming of Christ. The old covenant did not have the power to regenerate. The law has power to reveal a heart of stone, but does not have the power to change a heart of stone into a heart of flesh capable of loving God.

I. People: Nothing More
The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were tempted to go back to the old covenant. But their problem was the old covenant had now become obsolete. The old covenant found it's fulfillment in the coming of Christ. As 21st Cent. Christians we may not face the temptation of going back to the Jewish ceremonial law. It has never been something that was part of our culture, however we are tempted to go back to the things that order our lives other than Christ. We are tempted to place things like money, health, reputation, etc., as priorities rather than delighting in Christ and his finished work of redemption, (the new covenant). We cannot make it apart from the strength of the Holy Spirit. Our flesh is weak. We would desert Christ in a heartbeat just like the Old Testament Israelites if it were not for God's grace. I am thankful the new covenant is not conditional upon man's performance. All of the "good" in me has been tapped and I have been found wanting. We CANNOT save ourselves. If it could, the old covenant would have shown it. Rather where the old covenant does succeed is it shows we cannot save ourselves.

II. God: Nothing Less
Only God can change a heart. Only He can make a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Regeneration must be entirely monergistic in order for grace to be grace. It is nothing less than all grace. Here is how the Bible describes it:

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord:I will put my laws into their minds,and write them on their hearts,and I will be their God,and they shall be my people." Hebrews 8:10

This is regeneration. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that a man must be born again. The wind blows where it will and you cannot control it. It's the same with the Spirit. Salvation belongs to the Lord. It is nothing less than the work of God's spirit that performs this operation. The new covenant is not just promises, it is a bold statement and God himself will see that those promises are fulfilled. It will happen.

The new covenant is nothing less than being drawn into a living and active relationship with the Trinity. The new covenant was not God's plan B. From eternity past the Father purposed to redeem a people to praise him. Jesus died to accomplish this. The great exchange takes place through the effective application of the Holy Spirit. Jesus takes (took) our sin upon himself and in turn we receive his righteousness. The transaction takes place because we are united to him by faith.

III. Grace: Nothing But
We might be tempted to resist the idea of all these things happening by grace alone. But this is entirely what the new covenant is about: Jesus doing for us what we could not do ourselves. Our works, not done by faith and for the glory of Christ are worthless. The old covenant proved this. If it were possible to be saved by works then at least a few would have been able to do it.

The new covenant fulfills what was only hinted at in the old covenant. If we can use the example of the old covenant as the moon and the new covenant as the sun, we may see the moon, high in the sky fade into the blinding light of the rising sun. Why? Because the sun is superior. It is the source whereas the moon is but a reflection of the real thing.

The new covenant gives us confidence in the grace of God whereby we can say, "I am forgiven, therefore I can forgive." This impacts all of life. It impacts the relationships we have with spouses, children, friends and even enemies. It frees us to love and extend grace ourselves.


Zach said...

Excellent! Great Sermon! Sola Gracia!

The Ninth Circuit Court on the west coast is the most liberal in the nation. These are the guys that upheld taking "under God" out of the Pledge. No doubt they played a part in "no-fault" divorce. The USSR is their blueprint.

Dan B. said...

Well done and better than I could have said!