Camp Dwight, in beautiful Oregon, was everything our family had hoped it would be. Who can help but give it high marks for the many willing hands and hearts that labored to make it a success? And what of the ministry of the Word by four earnest men, and the ministry of truth woven into joyful song, and the ministry of loving fellowship that could be felt throughout the camp, and the ministry of well prepared and unselfishly served food to keep our energy up. If a poll were taken, I think most, if not all, of the approx. 300 present, would say, "yes, it was good to have been there."
THE NEW COVENANT
A small, unplanned meeting evolved Sunday afternoon after I had asked a brother in Christ if he and I could sit down and talk a while.. We had not ventured very far into our conversation when, one by one, several of you fellows came by and stayed to listen. Since we were discussing nothing of a personal nature, (as you rightfully discerned) I’m glad you felt free to join us, first for whatever input you might have, second, because the topic under discussion was "The New Covenant," one of the most important and far reaching subjects in the Bible, a doctrine with a forward look and closely related to Israel’s Passover supper as well as the promised and prophesied future kingdom of God on earth.
Before you men began coming up, our brother had introduced 2 Cor. 3:6 to support the idea that the church was under the N.C. (will abbreviate henceforth to save time) In this verse, Paul wrote, "Who also hath made US able ministers of the New Testament (covenant)…" At first glance it would seem that the church is indeed operating under the N.C. - as most seminaries, Bible colleges, preachers and Sunday school teachers affirm.
Over the years I have given this verse a measure of thought but never got down to the business of finding out exactly who Paul is talking about in 2 Cor. 3:6? Who does the "Us" refer to? You may have asked that question a few times yourself.
One day, praying to find the answer, I dropped back to 2 Cor. 1:1 and began reading aloud. Because of its repetitive use of the words WE and US, in vss. 5, 6 and 8, I read them like this: "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in US [Paul and Timothy, see 1:1]…whether WE [Paul and Timothy] be afflicted, it is for YOUR [the Corinthian saints] consolation and salvation… "For WE [Paul and Timothy] would not, brethren, have YOU [Corinthian saints] ignorant of OUR [Paul and Timothy] trouble which came to US [Paul and Timothy] in Asia, that WE were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that WE [Paul and Timothy] despaired even of life." The seven uses of the word "US" in verses 4, 5, 8 and 10 clearly refer to Paul and Timothy.
Though unconventional in approach, to speed up the process of clarifying the issue, I returned to 1:1 and highlighted all pronouns that clearly refer to Paul, Timothy and the saints in Corinth, in the first four chapters, up to 4:12. We’re talking about God’s use of these pronouns: "I, us, our, we, ourselves, me, my, you, your & ye."
Having done this, the fog lifted. There was no mistaking it: 2 Cor. 3:6 was speaking of Paul and Timothy, (and possibly Sylvanus – see 1:19) not the saints at large. These brethren ministered not only the gospel of personal salvation but the N.C. that is yet to come, a covenant that exemplifies the "ministration of the Spirit" What Israel failed to see, because of the blindness of her heart, is that the Mosaic covenant, to which they were wedded, ministered death, not life. "Nevertheless, when it (the heart of that nation) shall turn to the Lord, the veil (of blindness) shall be taken away." (vs. 16)
IN BRIEF, 2 Corinthians, chapter three, teaches that "the ministration of the Spirit…(and) the ministration of righteousness" liberates the soul (vs. 17) in order that the individual may be an epistle of Christ "read and known of all men," (vs. 3:2) so that he, or she, may be conformed more and more to the image and glory of the Lord Himself. (vs. 18)
As an aside: at the last Passover that Christ ate with His disciples, He said, "…this cup is the new testament (covenant) in my blood which is shed for you." (Lu.22:20). When Israel’s Messiah had spoken these words, the cup and the N.C. were inseparably joined, adding a new dimension and meaning to an old supper.
In effect the Lord Jesus was saying to his eleven disciples: Put aside the blood on Egypt’s doorposts; that blood was but a shadow of a better sacrifice. As your paschal lamb, (1 Cor. 5:7); my blood will provide the way for the redemption and forgiveness of sins, as symbolized by this wine. (Col. 1:14; Eph. 1:7)
TEXT OF THE NEW COVENANT
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer. 31:33-34)
"AFTER THOSE DAYS…" Jer. 31:33
It’s my conviction, brethren, that these three words hold the key to understanding the time frame for the fulfillment of this N.C. prophecy. Please take time to carefully check out and consider Jeremiah 31:1-18 with vss 23-34. The import of these passages cannot be over emphasized. Like adjusting the telescope to the eye, they bring the N.C. into proper focus.
EVENTS THAT WILL PRECEDE OR ACCOMPANY THE NEW COVENANT AGE
Before the N.C. can be activated, there will be a WORLD-WIDE RE-GATHERING of believing, chastened Jews to Jerusalem. Jer. 31:8-10 tells us that God "…will bring them [Israel] from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great com-pany shall return thither …He that scattered Israel will gather him and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock." (Jer. 31:8-10)
When the N.C. is activated, Israel "…SHALL NOT SORROW ANY MORE AT ALL. Therefore shall they come and sing in the height of Zion and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden: and they shall not sorrow any more at all." (Jer. 31:12). How Israel must ache for that day!
When the N.C. is activated, NO CHILD [of Israel] WILL DIE DUE TO THE WICKEDNESS OF HIS FATHER. "In those days they shall say no more, the fathers have eaten a sour grape [sinned against the Lord] and the children’s teeth are set on edge [the children bearing the consequences of their fathers’ evil deeds] But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape [willfully sins against the Lord] his teeth shall be set on edge." [He alone will suffer the consequences of his evil deeds -
Jer. 31:29-30]. (How different from today’s world with husbands copping out of their marital responsibilities due to immorality, drugs, alcohol, immaturity, selfishness, emotional instability, etc., ad nauseam).
When the N.C. is activated, the land of Canaan will be filled with SHEPHERDS AND FARMERS: "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast [abundance of children and animals]…and they shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat [bread in the field] and wine [thousands of vineyards] and for oil. [acres upon acres of olive trees]…." (Jer. 31:12, 17). This passage apparently represents Israel’s unfailing food supply throughout the millennium.
When the N.C. is activated, EVANGELISM, AS WE KNOW IT TODAY, WILL HAVE CEASED. In the coming kingdom, men "shall teach NO MORE every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of them." (Jer. 31:34) OR, AS ISA. 11:9 PUTS IT: "THE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD, AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA."
Therefore, when the N.C is activated, no inhabitant of Jerusalem, or the world, will need a formal introduction to the Great King, Christ Jesus, who will, "with a rod of iron," reign over the kings and kingdoms of this world. (Rev. 12:5; 19:1).
TO WHOM HAS THE NEW COVENANT BEEN GIVEN?
God’s answer is specific. It leaves no room for speculation or conjecture. Here it is, Hebrews 8:8, "…For finding fault with them, [Israel] He saith, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND THE HOUSE OF JUDAH" – i.e. 12-TRIBE ISRAEL.
NOW CONSIDER HEBREWS 8:7:
"For if that FIRST [Mosaic] Covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the SECOND." In other words, Israel cannot be given the new, or 2,nd covenant (when Christ returns) without her having had a first one., which she did! Likewise, the body of Christ cannot have the new or SECOND covenant without having had the first or old covenant, WHICH IT HAS NEVER HAD! I urge you to ponder this verse, brethren.
Is it not significant that the apostle Paul said absolutely nothing in his 13 epistles about the church inheriting the N.C. by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ? Nor did he impart such information in the book of Hebrews, which he apparently wrote. Neither will you find it in any of the seven epistles written by James, Peter, John or Jude. Brethren, the absence of this revelation throughout the Bible’s 21epistles should speak volumes to us.
FOLLOWING ARE SPECIFIC BLESSINGS ISRAEL WILL RECEIVE
UNDER THE NEW COVENANT
1. God’s law will be written in their hearts and minds.
2. Israel will be God’s people.
3. And He will be their God.
4. Israel’s unrighteousness, sins and transgressions will no more be remembered, ever again. (Heb. 10:16-17).
5. God will impart to national Israel His Holy Spirit. (Ezek. 36:22-27)
A common argument used to support the idea that the church today is God’s N.C. people goes something like this: Because we Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, because we have the law (the will of God) written in our hearts and minds, because we’ve had our sins forgiven through the cleansing blood of Christ, and because we’re His people and He’s our God, therefore, they reason, we’re under God’s N.C. program.
The reality is that these blessings of the N.C., to be given to Israel when Christ establishes his earthly kingdom, have been the common property of all believers since Adam and Eve. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and without the four other blessings found in the N.C., how could they have lived spiritually fruitful, victorious, overcoming lives? Christ told Nicodemus, "except a man," (that would be any man) be born again…born of the Spirit…he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3-6). For example, consider the lives of a few of God’s giants of the faith as they pass in review:
MIGHTILY USED OF GOD
There was Abel, God’s first prophet; Abraham, father of the faithful; Noah, God’s ark builder; Moses leading Israel out of Egypt; Joshua leading her out of the desert; Rahab confessing her faith in Israel’s God; Joseph, amply rewarded for his faithfulness; Elijah challenging 450 prophets of Baal; David going out to meet Goliath; and Daniel being delivered out of the mouth of lions. Can you imagine these heroes of the faith, and legions more like them, living such lives of holiness, purity and trust as to make us envious, yet not having the Holy Spirit to work out in them the fruit of the Spirit, and to give them a meek and quiet spirit in the face of overwhelming odds? No, I can’t imagine it either. The truth is, they were born of God and enjoyed all the benefits of the N.C., yet they were not under it, as most of you know.
REASONS FAMOUS MEN GIVE FOR SAYING THAT
WE ARE UNDER THE NEW COVENANT TODAY!
Scofield, in his Bible notes, commenting on Heb. 8:8-13, wrote: "THE NEW COVENANT RESTS UPON THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST AND [therefore] SECURES THE ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS, UNDER THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT, TO ALL WHO BELIEVE." (GAL. 3:13-29) These words ring with logic and conviction, but, where does the Bible teach it? Will appreciate an honest answer to this question from anyone.
In his book, "A Companion to the New Scofield Reference Bible,"(’72) E. Schuyler English writes: "THE NEW COVENANT IS MADE WITH ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST, WHETHER JEW OR GENTILES." Where did this come from? Certainly not from Scripture. Additionally, Schuyler acknowledges "the valuable assistance" of seven exceptionally able theologians: Culbertson, Feinberg, Gaebelein, Mason, MacRae, Wilbur Smith, and Walvoord." But where would they find Biblical support for Schuyler’s conclusion?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of evangelical ministers agree with Scofield and these other men of the cloth. Someone may say, "But, brother Bob, look at their degrees. Who are you to be taking issue with men of such intellectual standing? Dare you say that you’re right and all these great men of God are wrong?" Friend, let’s keep it simple: God is right and anyone who doesn’t agree with Him is wrong. Our job is to make sure we’re on the Lord’s side of any doctrine. To find the Lord’s side, one needs to "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matt. 5:6); search the Scriptures, as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11), learn to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), and be submissive and obedient to the things which God has taught you. (John 6:45)
Admittedly, though having earned a university degree, I have received no theological training, nor have I attended any seminary or Bible college. How- ever, I do have the Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) that constrains me to "prove all things; [to] hold fast that which is good," (1 Thess. 5:21) [and] to check up on everyone, regardless of their station in life, to see if the things I hear and read, as they relate to the Word of God, are true or not - whether from scholar or commoner.
SCOFIELD’S LOGIC PROVES TOO MUCH!
"THE NEW COVENANT RESTS UPON THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST AND [because of this it] SECURES THE ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS, UNDER THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT, TO ALL WHO BELIEVE." GAL. 3:13-29. C. I. Scofield, D.D.
Stop and think about this for a moment, my Christian brother. Would not this same logic put the church under the Palestinian Covenant, for it too rests on the sacrifice of Christ? The Palestinian Covenant guarantees a world-wide re-gathering of Israel to her land, physical prosperity, and national con- version. (See Deut. 30:1-10) Surely no thoughtful Christian would conclude that the body of Christ is heir to the land of Canaan (as is Israel) and will one day be re-gathered there.
The same may be said of the Davidic Covenant, which guarantees to Israel "the perpetuity of the Davidic family and its earthly blessings." What careful
student of the Bible would regard the Davidic Covenant as part of God’s pro- gram today?
"THE RICHES OF THE GENTILES"Now let’s look at what we have in Christ as compared with the five blessings of the N.C. (Please fasten your seat belt)
We are "complete in Him," (Col. 2:10); Christ is made unto us "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption," (1 Cor. 1:30); we are "new creatures in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17); "…in [Him] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col. 2:3); we have the capacity to be "filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:19); our life has been "hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3); and we have the promise: "My God shall supply all your needs." (Phil. 4:19).
Furthermore, we who know Christ in the forgiveness of sins, are a people who have been "seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," (Eph.2:6); we have been "accepted in the beloved," (Eph. 1:6); "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ," (Eph. 1:3). We possess a life that is "hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), with the Lord Jesus living out His life in us (Phil. 2:13 Gal. 2:20); "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." (Rom. 8:37).
And, finally, with the promised Rapture, one unexpected day, the church triumphant will be caught up "to meet the Lord in the air;" then will the saints "go marching in!" (1Thess. 4:13-18). What could the N.C. possibly give us that we don’t already have - AND SO MUCH, MUCH MORE?
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT!
Believers in "all families of the earth" are saved like, and blessed with, faithful Abraham. (See Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:6-8). Abraham, is called "the father of us all," (Rom. 4:16). As heirs of the Abrahamic covenant, plus possessing all the riches and treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ, (Col. 2:3), why would we need or want another covenant?
WHAT MAKES THE STUDY OF THE NEW COVENANTIt is the almost universal practice of Christendom’s near-rabid observance of a now defunct Jewish ritual called "the Lord’s supper" that adds gravity to this subject. (If anyone thinks the phrase, "near-rabid" is too strong, try taking the supper away from its more than one billion congregants of Catholics and Protestants)
SO IMPORTANT TO US?
As already pointed out, when Christ told His disciples, "This cup is the new testament (covenant) in my blood…" He joined the cup and covenant into one, indivisible unit. If the N.C. is not for today, neither is the Lord’s supper. They cannot be divorced. Only the one who has a right to the N.C. has a right to the Passover - which is what was being observed in 1 Cor. 11 – and by Jews only. Obedient Gentiles were not involved. Carefully read Acts 21:18-24; 21:25!!!
Afterthought brief: The N.C. is all about Israel’s future, not about God’s present program for the church today.
Even now that covenant is still future, being held in abeyance until Christ returns to establish His reign on earth.
LIKE YOU DO WHEN YOU SHOP, TAKE TIME TO COMPARE
Jeremiah 31:1-34 with 2 Cor. 5:6; Phil. 3:3; Gal. 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:16-17; Col. 3:1-3. These verses were addressed to Christians of this present age. But see also John 4:24; 6:63).
Thanks for your kind attention, brethren.
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