A New and Better Covenant #1137

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—” (Hebrews 8:7–8, NKJV)

We are not under the Old Testament law today. The first covenant (the Sinai covenant God commanded Israel) “made nothing perfect” (Heb. 7:19). That is, the law given through Moses, with all its animal sacrifices and offerings, could not “take away sins” (Heb. 10:1-4). In this sense, it was weak and unprofitable (Heb. 7:18). This was not the law’s fault, for it was not designed to be the sinner’s mean of justification and redemption. If it were, then Jesus died in vain (Gal. 2:21). The law (first covenant) was a “tutor” to bring sinners to Christ, to be “justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). It was added to the Abrahamic promise “because of transgressions” (Gal. 3:17-19). The first covenant exposed the sinfulness of sin, and by doing so, turned men to God for divine mercy (Rom. 3:20; 7:13; 11:30-31). Now, Christ has mediated a “better covenant,” established on “better promises” (Heb. 8:6). The new covenant (the New Testament) dispenses merciful forgiveness and an eternal inheritance (Heb. 8:12). Here is a fundamental reason why we are not under the Old Testament law. It was a shadow of what has now been accomplished in Jesus Christ. It has passed away (Heb. 10:1; 8:13).

Seasons of Refreshing #1136

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” (Ephesians 1:3–5, NKJV)

Notice in this wonderful passage the unsearchable riches granted Christians. God has “blessed us” (v. 3), He “chose us” (v. 4), and He “predestined us” (v. 5). All of these spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” None of these spiritual benefits are possessed without Christ, and unless one is “in” Christ. Every blessing is spiritual, existing in the “heavenly places” in Christ. Christians are not promised “health and wealth” in this material realm; our treasures are found in the “heavenly places.” Because He laid the foundation of the world, God chose those in Christ as His own heritage. He thus purposed that Christians be holy and blameless in His sight. Before creation, He determined that those in Christ would be adopted into His family. The children of God are not so due to flesh, but faith (Rom. 2:28-29). All flesh shall see the salvation of God (Lk. 3:6; Isa. 52:10). Believe and obey the gospel of Jesus, and all these rich blessings of forgiveness will be yours. Ah, “seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19; 2:38)!

God Is Not Like Human Beings #1135

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19, NKJV)

It is a recurring failure of human beings to think of God in human terms. By doing so, many have concluded that God is capricious and arbitrary; He is not. Many think God is OK with their sin; He is not (Jas. 1:13). Many apparently think God lies to us in His word (since they choose to ignore it and disobey it); He does not. God’s word does not exist so that we can manipulate it to say whatever we please. It exists to establish our faith, and to assure us that God always keeps His word. Today’s passage confidently affirms that when God speaks, what He says is true. When God speaks, He will do what He says; God does not lie (Heb. 6:18). When God speaks, His integrity is on the line, and He will always make good on what He says. Therefore, you need to learn what God’s word says. It has the power to bless you with salvation, and it has the power of condemnation. It is the standard of truth that will judged us all on the last day (Rev. 20:11-15).

Unity in the Body of Christ #1134

4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4–5, NKJV)

The church is depicted as a body – its members having different functions, but all aimed toward the singular, united purpose of serving the will of its head, who is Christ. This picture of the church as a body draws our attention to the unity to which we are called as Christians. Division is roundly condemned in the Scriptures as a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). Christians are united in our faith, in our common salvation, and in our mutual care for one another. To the extent that Christians refuse to consider ourselves “members of one another,” they contribute to discord in the body of Christ. The church suffers when fellow Christians will not work and worship together in mutual faith, mutual love and mutual reverence for the Lord. Each Christian has an important place in the body of Christ, which includes “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Each member of the body of Christ is more effective and faithful as we all remember we are “individually members of one another.”

God’s Law is Good #1133

8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8–11, NKJV)

Why is there such resistance to law? The apostle drives to the heart of the matter: People’s sin is exposed by law. Law unmasks our sin. That is its job. The law (command) of God is “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12). God’s law is not at fault when we sin against it. We will never be saved by law-keeping, because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). This is why we are not justified by works (of law). We are justified “freely by His grace through the redemption that we have in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Do not make the mistake of thinking this nullifies being under law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Law does its work by shining a light on sin. Sinners are called by the gospel to come to Christ to be saved. If you do not like God’s law, is may be that you prefer sin. We urge you to repent of such thinking and living, for it leads to eternal death. The “sound doctrine” of the “glorious gospel” of Christ will save you (Acts 2:37-41).

Truth is truth, with or without human endorsement #1132

“for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:28, NKJV)

If you intend to live by God’s truth, how do you measure what is truth? Whether a declarative statement, a direct commandment, or an unavoidable inference of a divine mandate and moral principle, is something “truth” because you or others have testified that it is the truth of God? Or, is a teaching and practice truth because it is found in the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? It is commonly said, and often practiced, that truth is “in the eye of the beholder.” In other words, many believe truth is relative; ever-changing and opinion-driven. But, Jesus said God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). The fact that Aratus, the Cilician poet (whom Paul quoted) had said 300 years earlier that “ever and in all ways we all enjoy Jupiter, for we are also his offspring,” did not authenticate Paul’s teaching to be true. It illustrated that even idolaters acknowledged the truth he spoke about our Creator and His nature (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). We do not assure our confidence of truth because an idolater said something that harmonizes with it. Neither did Paul. Nor are we assured of truth because a secularist or religionist happens to agree with what the Bible says on some point. Truth is what the Scriptures say. That we what we will speak and preach (1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:1-2). We must reply on the word of God, not on the word of men.

All Spiritual Blessings #1131

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV)

Several important truths are found in today’s text, and they cause us to pause and praise God for His wisdom, love and mercy toward us in Christ. (1) The source of our blessings is God the Father. The One who blesses us with every spiritual blessing is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Man does not bless himself with eternal blessings. The blessings we have in Christ are not given through the Roman Papacy, or a Watchtower Society, or a so-called Latter-day prophet. God the Father is to be praised as the Giver of all our blessings in Christ. (2) Jesus is the Lord and Christ, by whom our redemption is obtained (Eph. 1:7). God has gathered together everything that pertains to our redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). (3) The nature of our blessings are spiritual, not of this world. Prosperity theology (the “health and wealth gospel”) perverts the nature of the blessings obtained in Christ. (4) Our fellowship with Christ is “in the heavenly places.” The worldly-minded person does not perceive these great spiritual blessings; they elude his closed heart (1 Cor. 2:14). But, our redemption is very real, reaching into eternity. (5) All spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” Spiritual blessings will never be found in Buddha, Mohammed, human philosophy or reason, or any other source (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus; He will save you.