In this post, we will explore the New Covenant that God made with humanity at the moment Christ died on the cross. The English word “covenant” comes from the Latin phrase “con venire”, which is also the root of the word “convention”. “Con venire” was the translation into Latin of the Hebrew word “berith”, and the Greek word “diatheke” from the Old and New Testaments, respectively. “Berith”, “diatheke”, as well as “con venire” refer to alliances, treaties, meeting of the minds, and other similar concepts.
God has made covenants with people throughout the ages. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others, have been participants in God’s covenants. In general, God’s covenants involve rewards. Faith is required by God in order to access the promised reward; faith that He will keep His part of the covenant, which is the reward. When God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, Abraham believed God, even though he and his wife were childless, and very advanced in age. God’s promise seemed impossible, yet Abraham had faith that everything is possible with God, that God would provide descendants. Abraham’s faith was the acknowledgment that God’s promise will be fulfilled.
Here’s the tricky part, Abraham did not actually possess faith. Faith was a gift from God, that Abraham should believe God. It’s a circular argument, and one I’ve struggled to understand for some time. God requires faith, yet God also gifts faith. God does everything.
This brings us to the point of this discussion. The New Covenant is different from the Old Covenant in that it is a better covenant. The Old Covenant was simply a shadow of things to come, a type. In the Old Covenant, people used the blood of animals as a symbol for the sacrifice that is required to justify sin. Yet, it wasn’t the blood itself that was the justification of the sinner, but the faith that God would cover the sins through the symbol of the blood. When God told the Israelites to look upon the brass snake, it wasn’t the snake which healed them, but the faith that God would keep His promise to heal them when they look at the snake.
We no longer have to spill the blood of animals as a symbol of sacrifice. We have been given the embodiment of the symbol of blood, the precious blood of God. God’s promise is that we are now righteous and may live in heaven eternally. A dear friend wrote this to me recently: “You are justified, which means that you are declared to be just (righteous), by the Almighty God of the Universe. Your sins are imputed to Jesus on the cross, and His righteousness is imputed to you. You are seen by God to be perfect like Jesus. You are seen to be in Christ.”
God’s justifying righteousness by the blood of Jesus is the New Covenant. This is a gift from God to us. As with any gift, it is free. The only cost incurred is to the one providing the gift, in this case God. God has paid with His life that we may have eternal life. The sin that stopped us from entering into heaven has been blotted out of existence by the blood of Christ.
We will talk about sanctification in the next post. Until then, may God be with you.