Sunday, November 22, 2015

Law, Grace and Covenants.

I know I've said it before but... it never ceases to amaze me how reading from one book of the Bible can tie into a study from a different book - but it happens over and over. You see it is all tied together! From beginning (all the books of the Old Testament) to end (all the books of New Testament), there is a story to unfold, a plan revealed. The Old Testament is foundational to the New Testament and the New Testament fulfills the Old. Each book within them a part of the whole. Together there is completeness.
Which brings to mind another thought: this is a good reason to keep reading! If something doesn't quite come together for you as you are reading a particular book or account don't stop there. Keep going, and see if you don't find more info that helps to bring the picture into clearer focus. And sometimes it does help to read a  paraphrase or a different translation. My main reading is usually from the New King James - it is comfortable to me since I grew up as a Christian reading the King  James - but now I also read from the NIV, the New Living Translation or the paraphrase, The Message.
 So, before getting into my next notes on Hebrews I wanted to share a new finding from my reading this week (day 20) of the Overview of the Bible reading schedule from church. It took me to Romans chapter 8 where one verse jumped out as a great summary of what the writer of Hebrews is discussing in the next chapters - 8 & 9.

The initial verse that stuck out was:

Romans 8:2: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." NKJV

2 laws here, or as often referred to by God - 2 Covenants. 
(Covenant: serious agreement, law, a promise)
This verse in Romans brings out the correlation of the Old Covenant - the law of sin & death (Old Testament) with the new Covenant - the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (New Testament)

With that intro let's get to my notes for chapters 8 & 9 to check out whether or not that verse is actually a good summary - packed into just 22 words!

 First, referring back to chapter 1 of Hebrews we read:

"And now in these final days He (God) has spoken to us through His Son (Jesus). God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, ..." 
            The Son receives the inheritance. We understand that. But it is not just Jesus who receives. Looking at another verse- (the best commentary on the Word of God, is God's Word! compare Scripture with Scripture.)
Romans 8:15 says:
"...but, you received the Spirit of Adoption, by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'! 
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children, and if children, also heirs - heirs of God and coheirs with Christ."

See that? Those who put their faith in Jesus become children of God and as such coheirs with Christ. The promise is there - and supported throughout the Bible -  of an eternal inheritance to those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. This inheritance is spoken of  in Hebrews 9:11-15 in correlation with 2 covenants of God. 

            11. So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come...12. With His own blood - not the blood of goats and calves - He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. 13. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences  from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15. That is why He is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant."

Do you see there are 2 covenants spoken of here as well as the eternal inheritance to be received?

We understand that an inheritance is not received unless there is a death, blood is shed, that is the way of it. The death of the testator (the one leaving the inheritance) precedes the receiving of the testament (the actual inheritance).
2 covenants distinguished: an old one under the system of multiple priests with sacrifices of animals to be repeated continually; a new one with ONE perfect, eternal priest and a perfect sacrifice offered once for all eternity.

The First Covenant of the Old Testament  - The law. With the transgression of the law resulting in severed relationship and loss of righteousness. (Remember the garden?) And it is by way of the law that we recognize He is righteous, we are not. (Galatians 3:21-24)
This 1st Covenant provided temporary cleansing via temporary human priests who were all sinners themselves and would all die. As has been pointed out in previous posts it was a shadow of the 2nd Covenant to come.

The Second Covenant of the New Testament - Grace thru faith. Forgiveness. Righteousness - obtained as a free gift to restore a severed relationship. It is by way of the cross, Christ's death, that we may obtain Christ's righteousness and become children of God through faith in Christ.
 Again Scripture with Scripture:
 "He made the One (Jesus) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 
II Corinthians 5:21

            "For you are all sons of God through faith 
in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26

This 2nd Covenant provides 'sonship' as a Child of God to all who are in Christ allowing them to receive the promised inheritance of forgiveness, (the permanent, eternal cleansing of sin) providing righteousness as Christ is righteous  via the sinless, eternal High Priest who overcame death to offer life to all who will believe. That High Priest being Jesus Christ, God's Son.

We know without a doubt that all men are appointed to die. What we do not want to believe is that at death there comes a judgment.

Judgment based upon man's response to His creator God and God's Son Jesus.

Jesus Christ was offered ONCE to bear the sins of man that whoever will believe in Him will receive salvation from sins - that is - judgment upon sin is eradicated. Done away with. Paid for by another. Forgotten by God. Justice is served through His sacrifice.

A few verses to consider:

vs. 25 "And He did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth...26. But now, once for all time, He has remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice."

John the Baptist tells us in John 3:36:
"And anyone who believes in God's Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn't obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God's judgment."

In John 5:24 Jesus confirms this truth Himself: "I tell you the truth those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it is here now, when the dead will hear my voice - the voice of the Son of God and those who listen will live."

Paul, a follower of Christ whom God used to write much of the New Testament tells us: "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." Romans 8:1

The law gave us awareness of sin and our lack of righteousness which separated us from God our creator. Jesus' death on the cross opened the way for us to receive HIS righteousness as a gift allowing relationship to be restored.

The Second Covenant; The NEW Covenant is the promise that ANYONE who calls on the name of Jesus Christ will be saved - from the judgment upon sin.

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life 
through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

He, Jesus, is THE WAY to God the Father, the creator.

What do you say? Is this verse an accurate summary?
Romans 8:2: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has made me free from the law of sin and death."

And vs 3 goes on to explain:

"The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit."

Wow, the message of Hebrews in a nutshell. As I read it anyway. 
Until next time I pray you rest in God's grace and peace to sustain you one day at a time.

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