The New Covenant

One of New Covenant Fellowship's unique features: a commitment to living out New Testament life, both on an individual level and together as a church family. Here’s a short excerpt from the first lesson in our membership study series:

Eerie stillness, the staccato punctuation of heart-twisting wails, Place of a Skull. The day had broken bright: sunrays washing over a desolate landscape, fingers of warmth massaging its inhabitants. But for three agonizing hours now darkness has shrouded both observers and observed, enveloping them tomb-like in grief and gloom. And then, without warning, a voice shatters the quiet--thunderous, commanding: It is finished!

Our Savior dies on His cross.

Suddenly the very ground is ripped--shaken, splintering into shards of rock and earth. In the distance inhabitants scramble for safety as the walls of their city shudder. And inside the Temple that is inside those walls, a peculiar and astounding sight. The giant curtain setting apart that Temple’s “Most Holy Place”--entered only once a year by the priest highest in the whole Nation --a curtain thick and luxurious and climbing sixty feet in the air, begins to split from the top down, torn in half by a pair of Unseen Hands.  The Bible tells us that this tearing started “at that moment”, at the very instant, that Jesus Christ died. It was finished.

What exactly was finished when Jesus breathed His last? What died along with Him that darkened day? God’s Word offers us a number of answers. The vice grip of sin, for instance, and the devil’s reign--crushed in Christ’s crucifixion. Our animosity toward God--spiked to His cross. But one of the most remarkable executions carried out that day was the killing of the Old Testament structure, of the Law that brought sin and death, a hostility against the Almighty. Terminated. Assassinated. Eradicated in God’s New Plan, God’s New Testament. It is that New Testament that is the basis for everything Christians are and can be in Jesus’ blood. And yet many contemporary Christians live as if the curtain is still hanging.

Christians who are “Protestants” occasionally claim that Catholics emphasize too heavily Christ-on-the-cross (in crucifixes, works of art, and so on). We understand their concern; without a doubt, our Lord Jesus Christ did not stay dead: He rose on the third day in the power of the Spirit, ascended in bodily form into heaven, and lives today in infinite glory and authority. Halleluia! But it might also be true that Protestants don’t concentrate enough on the crucifixion. No, we aren’t implying that Protestants don’t believe Jesus Christ died on the cross; no genuine Christian would deny that fundamental fact. What we mean is that hundreds of thousands of Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, conduct spiritual lives empty of the reality that the Old Testament structure is finished, that it was killed on Jesus’ cross, and that God is now energizing a brand New Testament. This membership series is an application of that New Testament.

Problem is, much of the impact of that New Testament has been blunted by the human “systems” Christians have invented. Instead of being liberated by the cross, they insulate themselves against it--choosing to be comfortable rather than confronted, transfixed rather than transformed. That may describe you.

Does it? Have you been liberated by the cross of Jesus Christ? Or are you still living as if the Temple curtain was never torn in two?

Think about it on a personal level. The Old Covenant required regular confession of sin, with the implicit fear that the confessor might someday be cut off from God: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” (HEBREWS 10:1-2, NIV) The New Covenant, on the other hand, includes full and final forgiveness, so that Christians can live in the confident assurance of their relationship with God: “First he [Jesus] said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’ (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first [that is, the Old Covenant] to establish the second [that is, the New Covenant]. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (HEBREWS 10:8-10, NIV) Did you hear that? Once for all. Full and final. So which covenant describes you--Old or New?

Now think about it on a church level. The Old Covenant required meetings to be very formal and ceremonial, performed by special priests on behalf of those who gathered together. “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties…” (HEBREWS 10:11, NIV) The New Covenant, on the other hand, declares that every Christian is a priest, and that the gathering of Christians should be open to the participation of every member. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God … What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (1 PETER 2:9 and 1 CORINTHIANS 14:26, NIV) Did you hear that? A royal priesthood. All of these must be done. That’s what the meeting should look like today. So which covenant describes your church experience--Old or New?

New Covenant Fellowship is committed to helping people live out the New Covenant, both on a personal level and on the church level. In that way, individuals can grow in Jesus--and as a result, the church also grows. That’s the goal and emphasis of our life together at NLC, because it’s exactly what the Bible describes: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (EPHESIANS 4:14-16, NASB) The question is, does it describe you? Is that what you’re looking for in your personal life and in your church life? If it is, feel free to contact us anytime for more information. New Covenant life is available for you.

 

 

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