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Christ's Covenant

The story is told in Matthew 19:16-22 about a certain man that came to Jesus with a very important question. "Good Master," he asked, "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" The story reveals that this man had been taught the requirements of God in his home. From a youth he had been following the


of God. Yet, within his heart, there was a desire to do more.

Then Jesus answered him and said, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." There are many people who feel that we ought not talk about the commandments. They feel that this is merely some legal form, impossible to keep, and only intended for the Jewish people of the Old Testament. Some feel that the people of the Old Testament were to be saved by keeping the commandments or by works; and those of the New Testament, since the death of Christ, are kept by the grace of God. Many people see no relationship between God's


and God's grace.

The truth of the matter, however, is simply that we cannot get away from either God's law or God's grace. In Titus 2:11 we read that the grace of God has appeared unto all men. If we are to be saved in the kingdom of heaven, we must have a proper relationship of God's law and His grace in our lives.

There are those who feel that when Jesus came to this earth He made certain changes in His law and in the requirements of men to be saved. In Matthew 5:17-18 we read Jesus' own words concerning His law. Listen: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Jesus said very clearly that He came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.

Exactly what did Jesus mean when He said He had come to fulfill the law? Did He imply that by His coming, He would put an end to it? Now I am so glad, friend, that it is not left up to me or to anyone to interpret what Jesus said or meant. The Bible clearly and unmistakably interprets what Jesus said. The Bible clearly and unmistakably interprets what Jesus meant. In Romans 13:10 we read that love is the fulfilling of the law.

When Jesus came into the world to bear His message to men, He found a nation of people who professed to keep the law. Like the man in our opening story, they had professed to keep the law from their youth up. But in an attempt to keep God's Ten Commandments, they had lost sight of the true spirit. They had become very narrow and legalistic. They interpreted the words of the law in its very narrowest sense.

The sixth commandment says, "Thou shall not kill." The people of Jesus' day felt that so long as they did not actually kill a man, they had kept this commandment fully. But Jesus had come to fulfill the commandment; He had come to reveal the keeping of the commandments. Thus Jesus said, "I say unto you that if a man hates his brother, he is a murderer."

The people of Jesus' day were bigoted and selfish. They carried hatred of other peoples and thought nothing of it. But now, the Author of Love was in their midst, and in His life, the commandments were to be made principles of love to guide the entire life of man in love to God and love to his fellow men.

On one occasion, a lawyer came to Jesus and asked Him which was the greatest commandment in the law of God. Jesus answered Him by saying that all ten were the greatest; not one was more important, not one less important. Jesus pointed out to this lawyer that the commandments were based on love. The first four speak in respect to our love to our God, and the last six deal with our love to our fellow men. Read this conversation between Christ and the lawyer in Matthew 22:35-40.

Isaiah, who is often called the gospel prophet of the Old Testament, wrote that when Jesus would come, He would magnify the law of God and make it honorable. Read Isaiah 42:21. Christ's entire life was a magnification of the principles of God. Thus the life of Christ was the fulfillment of God's will in man.

If I were to take a magnifying glass and look at a beautiful flower, that would not change the flower in the least. It would reveal, however, more of the detail and that, friend, is exactly what Jesus accomplished in His life here on earth. He came to reveal the details of God's law. Man had thought of God's law in terms of its apparent meaning only. Jesus filled it with meaning, with detail, with purpose, with the love of God.

But there are some who feel the Bible teaches that when Christ died, He abolished the law of God. I should like to call your attention to the two texts, often quoted, which cause some to feel that the death of Christ brought an end to the commandments of God.

The first text is found in Ephesians 2:15 and the other in Colossians 2:14-17. The first one says that when Christ died, He abolished the commandment contained in ordinances. The second text says that Christ nailed the handwriting of ordinances to His cross, blotting them out and taking them out of the way. Let us examine these texts carefully and find out exactly what Christ abolished and blotted out when He died.

The Bible speaks clearly about two covenants. Paul, writing in Hebrews 8:7-8, says that the first one was filled with certain faults. Therefore, God must make a new


with His people. What was wrong with the first one? What is the new one and when did it begin?

You may recall that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the Lord God made for them coats of skin to clothe them. See Genesis 3:21. Thus, the Lord took the life of some animal, perhaps a lamb, and out of it made a robe, a clothing for Adam and Eve. Why did God do this? Not alone to clothe them, but because sin had come into the human race, and the wages of sin is death. Adam and Eve must now see the results, experience the wages of sin. The Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission or forgiveness from sin.

Thus it was that in the Garden of Eden the Lord inaugurated the first blood sacrifice as a covering for the sins of Adam and Eve. Thus began a long line of blood sacrifices. God had made a covenant, as it were, with man. Even though man had sinned, he could, by the bringing of some blood offering, make atonement for his sins. And the covenant God had made promised that if man would bring the blood offering, God would keep His part of that covenant by forgiving man from his sin. This was known as the old covenant.

Down through the ages of the Old Testament, we find how the faithful men brought their offerings of blood before God. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, each in turn built altars and on them sacrificed the lives of innocent animals as a fulfillment of the provisions of the old covenant.

Eventually God organized the children of Israel into a nation. Their express purpose and mission was to reveal the full message of God to the world. God placed them at the crossroads of the world in the land of Caanan where the travelers of the nations would have to cross through their land with their commerce. Thus through Israel was to come the knowledge of the Messiah.

God not only gave Israel the responsibility of teaching that the Messiah was to come, but the living and the teaching of His

ten commandments

was charged to them. In the very intricate system of worship which He outlined for them, they were constantly to be aware of the love of the Messiah.

You may recall that the system of worship consisted of the offering of animals on the altar, the sprinkling of the blood in the tabernacle, and the observance of seven special feast days throughout the year. On these special days, special meats were eaten, special food was consumed, and special offerings were made. On all other days of the year, daily services and daily sacrifices were observed in and about the tabernacle. This, too, was all a part of the old covenant.

In Hebrews 8:7 Paul says that this system observed so fully in the Old Testament had faults. The question comes then naturally: Why should God give a system of worship and services to the Jewish people if He knew it was not without fault? Then when we read in Hebrews 10:4 that the blood of the animals did not take away any sin, we continue to question. But, friend, the answer is simple. Every service performed, every animal sacrificed, every drop of blood sprinkled in the tabernacle, every special meat or drink offering taken was a means of pointing out the true Messiah to come. These things were all but shadows of the cross; all pointing the way to Christ.

That is what Paul meant when he wrote Hebrews 8:7, 8 and said that if the first or old covenant had been perfect, there would have been no need of the second or new covenant. If man could have his sins forgiven fully and completely by bringing an animal or observing some feast day, there would be no need whatsoever of Christ ever coming and dying. His death would be in vain and utterly useless if the death of some animal or the observance of some special day would do just as well. But do you see, the animal and the special feast days were mere shadows of the true Messiah, mere figures of the true Saviour, the only Saviour.

Jesus' death on the cross then became a fulfillment of every animal slain from Eden to the cross. Through the days of Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the children of Israel, doubtless millions of animals had been sacrificed. Now, on Calvary, Jesus became the one true Lamb that was the fulfillment of all. If we could have had every animal ever slain in faith in one place and at one time to somehow be able to sacrifice them all, they would not have taken one sin away. But Jesus, by His death, in one great act of love atoned for every sin ever confessed to Him.

That is why Paul says Christ nailed something to the cross and abolished something in His flesh when He died. Please turn to Colossians 2:14-17 again. Paul says that Christ having defeated Satan, and thus spoiling principalities openly, made a show of Satan before men and the universe, then blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. Please read verses 16 and 17 very carefully for they tell us exactly what Christ blotted out. They say that He blotted out all of the shadows of things to come. The ordinances that had to do with the blood offerings, the meat and drink offerings, the seven special feast days, the entire old covenant system were all blotted out the moment Jesus died.

With the death of Christ, the old covenant came to an end. A new covenant must now be given to men. No longer were men to bring an animal or blood sacrifice or observe the special feasts of the old covenant. To do so would be a denial of Christ.

We read of this new covenant with men in Hebrews 10:16-17. Please turn and read these verses carefully. The new covenant is not some new law nor even a change in the law of God, but it is the law of God written in the heart and in the mind.

You see, friend, here is the wonderful truth of the covenant which Christ makes only with Christians. Christ died to pay the penalty of sin. He lived to provide the power over sin in the life. When we come to Him and accept of His life and death in our behalf, He forgives us our past sins. But He does not stop there. He replaces our old life with His new life. He does not merely take the past and then leave us a spiritual vacuum. In the place of the life of sin, He writes His laws, His character into our minds and into our hearts. By His law we are directed in our love to our God and to our fellow man. The law of God becomes our standard of living. It is more than creed or form. It is the direction of the life.

Friend, this is Christ's covenant with Christians. It is made only with those whose sins are confessed and thus forgiven. The old life is buried with the Saviour who died and was buried to purchase our redemption. The

new life

is motivated by His indwelling power, directed by His commandments.

Jesus said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." We then keep His commandments not to be saved but as an evidence that all are saved through the

blood of Christ

and that He has given us a new life and a new heart.

The Psalmist said in Psalms 51:10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. . . ."

Have you made your covenant with Christ? Is His law in your heart now? "Blessed are they that do His commandments that they may have right to . . . enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.

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