My how we have strayed from the New Covenant!
I’ve watched very closely and it seems to me that every moment, of every day provides some new method, some new covenant, some new inside edge on what to believe or how to belong. It seems to me that everyone has the inside edge on everything but Christ and Him Crucified. They will tell you that there is always more to it than just a simple walk of faith and resting in the promised seal of His Spirit for everyday living. It reminds me that anything that adds performance or work to the intended rest we are to walk in under the New Covenant, eventually dries up and dies!
Big Word "Ecclesiology" Explained!
It is the study of the Christian Church and the origins of Christianity however, sometimes it stops short in relationship to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of ecclesiology, the doctrines of the Church and how it operates in the lives of God’s people when it is a response to the work that He is doing in us and not just another millstone around the necks of His children. In Fact, a good understanding of ecclesiology is like saying sic’em to a dog when it comes to fulfilling our part in the body of Christ. We have been given scriptural mandates as a body of believers to be a place of comfort and compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), a place where encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11) helps God’s people grow in knowledge and faith (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31), all for the glory of God.
As an individual member of the Body of Christ, He gives us all responsibilities within the local body.
Side note, but an Important one!
If God has moved on you to sign contracts, be committed to other covenants, and you belong to something you deeply care about then put this article down now. It is not intended to draw lines in the sand, or to cause division in the Body of Christ. I am a firm believer that He who began a work in each of us is faithful to complete it and that it may look differently for you than it does for me. I don't know how He is doing it but He promises to bring us all into the Unity of the Faith. Suffice it to say however, God has laid it on my heart to share the Good News that Christ made things very simple for one and all. Some in the Body of Christ tend to make it more difficult than it needs to be. They do it by burying the purposes of the church and responsibilities of its members beneath rules that have nothing to do with the church’s mission. It is then implied that there are other covenants and agreements to be made with men or the local church.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
1 John 4:1.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
The problem with man's covenants is that they are often unbiblical, unneeded, do not bring unity, and alienate others.
The Old Testament is full of covenants God made with his people: Edenic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic. If those aren’t familiar to you, don’t worry. The point is that God makes covenants – a type of binding promise – with his people. Today we live under the new and lasting covenant Jesus established. It had been promised in prophecy centuries before.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-32.)
Under this New Covenant, God enables you to know him intimately.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34.)
This is the promise Jesus brought to reality through his death and resurrection. I imagine his friends couldn’t help but recognize Jeremiah’s prophecy when, the night before his death, Jesus said to them at the Passover dinner:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:20.)
This is the covenant God has with his people.
You are part of the body of Christ organically, that is, the Body of Christ is a single organism. Here are a few ways the Bible describes Christ’s body:
Every single one of those ways of looking at our place in the body of Christ – the church – is dependent on our relationship with Jesus, not with one another. And it is because of our relationship with Jesus that we are in relationship with one another. Your relationship with Jesus is under the new covenant that Jesus described to his disciples. It is the new relationship God promised he would create with his people. And this new covenant with God is the only one that counts.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25.)
God’s covenant with you leads to fellowship with others who are also in covenant with him. These are the relationships firmly supported by the Bible. And it’s all based on God’s covenant with you, not some extra-biblical covenant with other Christians, Clubs, Denominations, etc. After all, God’s the one who keeps covenants and promises perfectly, so let’s leave the covenanting up to him.
1 As a prisoner in the Lord, then, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 and with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 Now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Why is this so important to our understanding!
I run into a lot of folks who are constantly being taught to strive for more. These folks are bound up like a hound Dog trying to pass a peach pit! To me, this is like trying to catch a bus you’ve already caught! It is especially important for those of us who have been freed from religiosity to understand because we have leaned on dispensationalism and old covenants in the past. They became a hindrance to our understanding of the complete work of the New Covenant that Christ established because they are always packed with the emphasis on personal performance. I don’t know about you but the enemy tries to distract me enough from the perfect rest that comes in the finished work of the cross as it is. So, let’s take a fresh look at where we are at in this dispensation, right now as we are walking with and in Him.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10.) I like to phrase it this way:
I may never be the cool, mega-church pastor and I may never be used in the ways I was before, but make no mistake about it. I am on the inside of the only body that really matters, and it has room enough for all. I have no need of any other covenants because for those who have failed, those who live in fear, those who have been labeled, those who have been wounded, those who are weary and weak, flawed, scared, given up, shipwrecked, in prison, bitten by the enemy, and even the religious. Ours is the New Covenant and our position and authority is in Him.
Opps! I forgot to sign a contract with the one who justifies the ungodly! Am I really Righteous?
In Romans. Paul is shows the difference between being made right with God by works, as opposed to by faith. If we could be justified before God by works, Paul wrote in the previous verses, then God would owe us righteousness.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
It would be like our paycheck for services rendered: a transaction with the God of heaven. Paul has already demonstrated in Romans, however, that nobody can accomplish this work. Instead, we all sin and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).
So now Paul points to the opposite of earning something by work: receiving it as a gift. The difference comes in not laboring with a mind to "earn" or purchase that benefit. The one who receives a gift, as a gift, does not try to earn it. What would be the point? Instead, this person simply believes in the God who justifies the ungodly. His simple belief on the name of Jesus is what causes him to be declared righteous by God. There are no contractual agreements to be signed with the New Covenant, No defaults, tickets, citations, reprimands, condemnation, and no separation from the love of God for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Law was fulfilled once and for all by Christ. Paul gives a new descriptor to God: "the one who justifies the ungodly." This is the entire point of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God does not wait for us to become godly, or righteous on our own apart from Him, before welcoming us into His family. Because of our faith in righteous Jesus, God justifies us in spite of our sinfulness. There is no greater gift than this.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
Paul's point to his opponents, the Jewish religious leaders, is that this is from the teachings of Scripture itself and not something he has invented so, look to the only Covenant that matters and enjoy the New Covenant for this Dispensation!