Tag Archives: New Covenant

The new covenant signs

Last time I wrote about the seriousness and the importance of covenant . . . Covenant is the same word as Testament in the original biblical (Greek) language. So New Testament means New Covenant. God expects us to live in the new covenant. Not the old. The old no longer pertains. If we fail to obey the implications are very dire. But if we respond, then untold, unimaginable  blessings and benefits accrue and the Kingdom of God will be experienced.

This morning the Holy Spirit directed me to the words of the Hebrew prophet Joel which are repeated by the apostle Peter to the multitudes in Jerusalem . . . .

“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below .

. . .  And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Look at this. Read it. Hear it. Let go to your guts, your will. These are the signs of the new covenant.

What are we waiting for? Why do we settle for anything less? Why bother with religion?

Why  do we go on living under a man-evolved system when the Lord of glory has given us the new to live by, brought about at titanic cost by sending His Son in the form of sinful humanity and giving Himself to be a sacrifice for us?

“This is the new covenant in my blood!”

We must be united to him, one with him, in this new covenant in his blood. Jesus is everything.

We must be freed from the dominance of an old system, old wineskins. Immersed in the new.

Come on! Leave the old system which is no longer effective for God’s people.

More next post. Soon. (God willing).

More on the De Facto Question

In the previous post (was short—not the whole counsel of God) several people responded by email as well as here on the blog. How differently sincere and godly respondents can look at a post!

Some were very positive. Some did not actually read the article carefully. Some read with the aim to dismiss what is written or to critique and they miss what is actually being said. Others were disappointed that no conclusion was clear— whether “it” is right or wrong. Bless ‘em all!

We like to have difficult questions settled cleanly and simply. Then we can be quick to judge people and make decisions affecting people’s lives, tell others how to behave. But we end up excluding some behaviours and winking at others. Instead of showing patience and compassion, we exclude people.

We were addressing the situation of an already established, committed and caring ‘marriage’, one that has been recognised by the state and in law for many decades and by perhaps 75% of Australian society.

Should we not follow Jesus in the way he acted? He did nothing except what the Father told him. So must we cultivate that in our own lives rather than live just by precepts, dogma. It is important that we begin to move in the Holy Spirit in how we respond to people.  This will become critical in this culture of increasing ‘new morality’, political correctness and intolerant, mischievous opposition to anything Christian in politics, society and media.

There are some things that we can be clear about and these were pointed out in my post, things we hold true as Jesus did. I suppose I could have added how fornicators will come under the judgment of God. But that’s not the sort of issue that was being addressed.  Certainly young people need to be warned that cohabitation is not the answer to their search for true oneness, wholeness or identity.

There is a need to be holy, to please the Lord. But how is that achieved? It is the gift of God, lest any of us should boast. Grace. A free gift, the Holy Spirit. Not law. That needs another short post or two, perhaps twenty!

Holiness will not be achieved by observance of Law, any set of laws. Not by the rules and norms of average, lifeless, pew-bound Christianity, nor by rules we make up to protect our group, large or small or to give some false security or human authority. Imposition, judgmentalism and dogmatism.

For those of us who have escaped from the box (buildings, priestcraft, professional staff, staged-managed meetings, finances, etc) we are thrown back on the Holy Spirit to lead us and show us how to love, to embrace the newbees and to bring prophetic understanding and the Father’s mind, His ways.

In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4), He graciously exposed her history of 5 husbands and the current live-in guy. Yes, in that society there was a difference between marriage and cohabitation, which based on the evidence available, actually had very little in common with the scenario we were addressing.

Jesus did not behave as the scribes and Pharisees—and many fundamentalist or ‘bible-believing’ leaders—would do with condemnation and judgment. That word of knowledge from God brought her salvation, an unexpected extended stay for Jesus and co in Sycar and amazing blessing. Jesus is the standard.

Don’t you love how Paul talks about prophecy in action: if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;  the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Corinthians 14)

We must expect such take place in our midst as we mix with unbelievers or ungifted ones. May that be our desire and experience as we deal with the many difficult situations which will arise and grow more frequent in coming days. The Holy Spirit is able to expose people’s hearts when they try to justify their actions, as they will. We all tend to.

We are promised magnanimous gifts and graces. Why are we not experiencing them? Why present to people worldly principles, white-washed with a veneer of religiosity? Let us move in the blessings of the new covenant in grace and glory and not with some mental checklist of dos and donts.

After decades of marriage, I believe it’s best for couples to express before witnesses a covenant relationship and be recognised by wider society even though I would struggle to produce texts to clearly support that.

Jesus is everything. Listen to God speak! He is there and He is not silent

A New Covenant—Neglected

Appallingly, today, we see a denial of much of the glorious features of the New Covenant—New Testament life. Instead of God’s laws poured by the Holy Spirit into their minds and written on their hearts, many are content to get their spiritual input not from the Lord Himself, but from middlemen with agendas—spiritual directors, priests, pastors. Instead of being the people of God, many see their identity as Baptist or Catholic or Evangelical and so on. The two-tier (clergy-laity) mentality persists.

Does not the Living God find fault with us in our unbiblical practices of assembly and hierarchy which we continue to hang onto?

Instead of all God’s people being in unbroken fellowship with the living God—knowing Him in their personal experience—they are dependent on professional Christians as mediators. The whole concept given to us by S. Paul—that of the one body with many active functioning members, each with gifts of the Holy Spirit—is ignored, seen as irrelevant or even mysteriously withdrawn. Millions even attend rituals in which it is believed Jesus is re-sacrificed again and again by a priest, clearly at great odds with the message of the New Testament—this sacrifice was made once for all and all time and is unrepeatable.

The key to much understanding of the New Covenant is that we are each born into a Body—the Body of Christ. Individualism is contrary to the New Covenant and to our organic, community life in the Body of Christ. We are many members and one body. God makes covenant with a people, not with individuals, but with the body of Christ, in Jesus.

When the Lord talks about a new agreement (covenant), he means that the first one is out of date. And anything that is old and useless will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)

All kinds of spirituality that are inadequate or out of date have now been made obsolete by God’s flawless design; and what is obsolete and outdated soon disappears. And now what is not planted by the Father will be rooted up (Matthew 15:13). What is built, even if on a good foundation, if not with God’s specified materials, will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

This New Covenant is made with Christ and we get under the New Covenant by being hid in Christ together. So it can never be broken! You cannot break it—it was not made with you!

So what are you going to do about this?

You have the wonderful power of choice. To change your mind and heart and actions.

Must we keep disobeying the Lord who gave Himself for us?

A New Covenant—Ignored?

God’s first agreement (covenant) with His people, Israel, was defective, wrote the author of the New Testament book The Letter to the Hebrews (8:7-8) so a better was needed. This author shows how much more serious is our attitude and response to the New Covenant (how shall we escape if we ignore its implications, Hebrews 2:1-4).

The new must not be ignored. God’s design practices for corporate worship revealed in the New Covenant/New Testament must be followed. We must not lose His words or replace them by worldly or pagan ideas and practices like clergy—laity, pastor—people.

In this better covenant Jesus is not prevented by death and we are ALL called into the experience of the Lord Jesus in the power of his endless, indestructible life in which he works in us who draw near. He promises to energise within us, in our own life, breathing his life in us, so that it becomes our new nature to love him, delight to do his will—his own life in us.

Have believers gone backwards since Judaism with corporate matters?  In many ways our practices in churches as Christ’s people today are often more bound and institutional and domineering to that of many devout Jews in Jesus’ own day. Jews did not have a pastor or priest ruling over them. Nor did they meet in ‘house-of-the-Lord’ type buildings. Nor was the sharing of the word of God jealously guarded by one (or two) leaders.  The synagogue was a place of discussion and sharing of scriptures by the several.  Common meals were frequently shared together. Plus each synagogue was independently managed. They did not have to toe the line of any outside superintendent, C.E.O., denomination, statement of faith, or any head office!

These churchy practices plainly ignore the New Covenant.

How far we have drifted from the apostles’ teaching and practice! They were liberated from the practices of Judaism, yes, of religion and the Holy Spirit was living in each one! Yet today Christendom is weak, divided up into competing denominations, living “in the flesh” and generally not experiencing the New Covenant. It seems we have a similar situation today to that which our Hebrews author was addressing  (Heb 8:7-8) . . . .

 If the first covenant with God had been all right, there would not have been any need for another one. But the Lord found fault with them and said . . . . . .  (quoting Jer 31:31-34)

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

Can we just go on and on ignoring the New Covenant made at the most tremendous cost to the Father by Jesus?

“If you love me you will keep my commands”  John 14:15

To be continued

A SOUND AND FULL GOSPEL

Sound doctrine must be encouraged right from the start for the newly baptised. That means the teaching of Jesus and the apostles recorded for us in the New Testament documents. An intensive approach is necessary until a foundation and unity in Christ is experienced to bring maturity and stops the person being tossed around by every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:1-16 says it all.

The Gospel is enough if it is the full message and based on sound apostolic teaching.

Paul’s letters are packed with warnings to people about losing what has been given at the start. It’s a constant theme. also Peter’s and James and John. The lot.

Sound doctrine in Jesus must replace everything else. Must replace all the additions and sacred cows that have gathered momentum and weight and accumulation by teachers in Christendom and away from the simplicity of Jesus and life, oneness and love centred only in him.

But what tends to happen amounts to adding to what people have already learned.

No. We must start from scratch—from Jesus only. That’s what the first disciples had to do. That’s what we must teach— the New Covenant and what that means, and stress its importance—the simple teaching of who we are in Christ—new men and women—who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Cant serve two masters.

You cannot live the New Covenant life in Jesus’ blood while remaining in some other covenant, like a covenant of Churchianity or of a man-made organisation, or of a denomination—or one of your own choice.

The whole understanding of doctrine in current historic Churchianity is sick, stuck in a kind of poor renovation of Old Covenant shadows, yet fraught with splits, competitiveness, unbelief, envy, lust for power, desire to make a name for ourselves  . . . . . .

For example, what did Jesus teach about “the church”? Nothing. Just 2 passages in Mathew alone which today do not have the meaning anywhere near what he meant.

Instead Christendom is all about this imported c….. word.

Most people have no idea what the original Greek word (ekklesia) means because its translation to c….. in all English bibles is religious, Romish, worldly, even pagan.  Jesus gave NO command about forming churches. Instead he told us to love one another and sure, that means togetherness, yes. It means caring, service, sacrifice for others, being servants and above all, loving one another. Gathering like they did originally.

He told us to make disciples, heal the sick, set the oppressed free, love one another, lead a holy life, receive the Holy Spirit, walk in the Spirit . . . . . . . . . .

Christendom and its micro offshoots continue to do what he did not command and ignore what He DID command.

Christendom is in most places, a mere shadow of the Old Covenant—and without even the wonderful glory of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is a shadow of the New Covenant. But we have made the Old Covenant look by comparison far more glorious than what we see today—at least it had a supernatural glory.

The apostles declared that the glory of the New Covenant makes the old look a mere shadow. New Covenant life makes the old seem to have no glory at all says Paul (see 2 Corinthians 3).

You and I must start obeying the sound doctrine of the new covenant! Today.

No time to lose.

ON KEEPING THE SABBATH

There are some believers, and these are not just Seventh Day Adventists, laying on others an obligation to keep a Saturday Sabbath.

This is to forget or ignore the apostle Paul, who was firm about any kind of regression into Moses or any enslaving religion: “. . . But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elemental powers? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again?  You are observing days, months, seasons, and years. I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have laboured for you in vain.” (Galatians 4, NASB). No. God loves us and saves us from enslaving religion.

And in Colossians 2: “Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or Sabbath.  These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ.” (NASB)

The Letter to the Hebrews—written to believers who were formerly locked up in Judaism—shows how all has changed in the New Covenant and that the ordinances we read about in the Old Covenant were shadows of what was to come. Truly Jesus’ sacrifice for us and his resurrection has changed everything. The love of God for us all is now wonderfully portrayed!

Jesus took the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross affirms Paul (Colossians 2:14).  God’s amazing grace and love again!

The Sabbath was an ordinance given to the people of God in the Old Covenant under Moses. Exodus 31:12—18 shows us that the Sabbath was given as a gift to the people of Israel. It was a special sign of God’s covenant between Himself and Israel—there was a special relationship between national Israel and Sabbath keeping, as Exodus 31 shows (31:12—18), especially vss 16-17. The emphasis was on the whole nation keeping the seventh day holy, rather than merely a day of rest.

This issue was the major stumbling block for leaders of natural Israel because of the huge emphasis on Sabbath observance in their scriptures—an emphasis which is so noticeably absent from the New Testament. In the New Covenant we must follow Jesus and not Moses: “this is my beloved son—Listen to him” said the Father on the mountain.

By contrast, Abraham received no such special sign in the covenant which God made with him and which preceded the Law by 430 years! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew of no Sabbath. Now Paul insists the covenant blessing of Abraham extends to Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we can receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Having begun in the Spirit do we finish in the flesh? No way. (Galatians 3)

The Sabbath ordinance like all the others, was nailed to the cross. Jesus has become our Sabbath, and in Him alone we rest in everything. We have been transported into the kingdom of Christ, the New Covenant made between Jesus and the Father, a covenant that can never be broken by us because we cannot break a covenant we did not make. Oh such love!

Jesus gave many commands to his disciples but not once did he mention the Sabbath to them. When he said “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” and “the the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” you will find the context was that of religious churchy leaders accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath. They were out to get him even though he was doing the very works of the Father—working on the Sabbath! Loving everyone. He did not rest on the Sabbath but he certainly kept it holy.

In Acts 15, the apostolic leaders in Jerusalem appealed to Gentile believers merely to “avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals and blood.” Nothing else—nothing there about keeping the Sabbath. Now for Jews to say that could only come from the Holy Spirit!

There is nothing in Paul’s writings to support Sabbath-keeping, nor in any of the other apostolic writings. Examine Paul’s last letters, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy and you find several lists of sins predicted ‘in the last days’ and there’s nothing about expectation of the sin of neglect of the Sabbath! Neither is there any hint of Sabbath-neglect among the lists of faults of people contemporaneous with Paul’s letters. None.

The bottom line is the New Covenant we have in Jesus—our lives are hidden in Christ with God. All has changed in the New Covenant. We are not Israel after the flesh, but we are the Israel after the Spirit. We come to Jesus weary, heavy laden for his rest to our souls and to learn from him (Matthew 11:28-29). Oh, what love!

Of course there is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that we should not meet on Saturdays! Or any other day of the week. Or how often, for that matter. There is such freedom for the people of God.

It does say that our being together should be frequent. We see this in Acts 2:46  . . .  “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.    . . . . . . And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

And Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to constantly encourage one another daily while it is still “today,” so that none grow hardened by the deceit of sin.

Every day is the Lord’s Day in the New Covenant, “now is the accepted time—this is the day of salvation”. That’s because Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath—we follow him and not Moses who promised the coming of “that prophet” who turns out to be our Lord Jesus. So unexpected!

This is just another issue that we should not need to tackle–we who are partakers of the divine nature and upon whom the end of the ages–the new covenant in Jesus–has come! The devil loves to sideline the people of God into these sorts of things while people are dying around us and we trifle with doctrines which have long been rendered obselete. Let’s get on with making Jesus known, making disciples, healing the sick, proclaiming the nearness of the Kingdom of God.

ABOUT PERSONAL PROPHECY

Joel’s amazing prophecy in the Old Testament (Joel 2:28) was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and prophetic words became the experience of the many in the New Covenant, not just the special few as in the Old. The apostle Paul urged all in the Corinthian assembly to eagerly desire to prophesy (1 Cor 14:1—5). There’s no scriptural reason to believe prophecy has ceased and will continue when there is no longer any need for prophecy, that is, when the perfect comes, as Paul wrote . . .

“. . . . . we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. . . . . . . At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. 1 Cor 13:9—12 (NASB)

Because we see indistinctly, our prophesies need to be judged against God’s Word (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:29; 1 John 4:1). Always ask : is what is being said consistent with the scriptures? The Holy Spirit, who inspired the scriptures, will never say anything in contradiction to them. The apostle Paul wrote, Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully. (1 Thes 5:20-22, NASB). And his words in 1 Cor 14:30-32 (NASB) are both encouraging and cautionary . . .

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted . . .

Most instances of prophecy in the New Testament are found in the context of the assembly of Jesus’ people. Prophecy is distinctly different in the New Covenant compared to the Old. A prophecy just from one to another can be a great encouragement to a person. But there must be checks and balances. There are many voices in Christendom which are not holy. We are commanded to test the spirits.

It’s fine to desire giving a prophetic word or to receive one, but it is not healthy to chase after personal prophecy. That’s because the scriptures are our main guidance. We have great understanding and revelation by simply reading the scriptures with eager minds to know God’s will, the mind of Christ. Already we have inexhaustible riches given us in our new birth, God lavishing upon us his wisdom in abundance. Just read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians! Hey, mostly we don’t know what we already have in God’s promises. We must be passionate about renewing our minds and becoming conformed to Christ.

Knowing the scriptures, committing passages to memory, the words spoken by Jesus and the apostles, will protect us against deception and manipulation. When someone offers to give you ‘personal’ prophecy, take care. How can this be tested when this is offered as a service in the public arena? And care must be taken that it does not look like a Christian version of New Age guidance, even if offered by genuine believers. New Age practitioners regularly offer this and theirs are counterfeits of the true manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Not only that, but we are a New Covenant people! Just read again what the apostle John wrote, warning against deception . . .

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.  I write you these things about those who would deceive you.  As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him. 1 John 2:24—27.

Genuine prophecy arises as the Holy Spirit ‘distributes . . . . according to his will’ (1 Cor 12:11). It is empowered by the Holy Spirit, no less. To declare a revelation from God is a serious and a fearful thing. Many people have been hurt by attempts to give private personal prophecy, so caution is needed.

Giving a prophecy carries with it enormous responsibility from us all—speaker, listeners and recipient— to be confident that the words are from God and not the speaker’s own ideas or doctrinal biases. On the other hand, people can be wonderfully encouraged by a brother or sister whether by an inspired word of encouragement from the scriptures or through the spiritual gifts of prophecy, a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge (see 1 Cor 12:8–10).

The apostle Peter warned that that no prophecy of Scripture is of one’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). If we are solemnly warned not to interpret scripture privately, then it follows we must avoid any opportunity for private prophecy which escapes the scrutiny of others in the Body of Christ. At the very least, the recipient should be advised by the one communicating to seek confirmation of what was said with other mature believers.

Remember, if the Holy Spirit is the author, he will always point us to Jesus (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13—15) . . . For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:10, NASB).

Finally, we must love one another as Jesus loves us. That means in our prophesying and in all services to others we pursue love, we make love our aim and not to please ourselves. It’s not about you or me. . . .

Pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, above all that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to human beings but to God, for no one listens; he utters mysteries in spirit. On the other hand, one who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace. 1 Cor 14:1—3, NASB.