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What is the New Covenant? — Part 1

The revelation concerning the new covenant, or the new testament, is one of the greatest truths presented to us in the Scriptures. Sadly, very few believers have been adequately enlightened concerning this truth. As a result, many are not enjoying the marvelous spiritual blessings and benefits that are ours in the new covenant.

In order to begin to grasp the meaning and significance of the new covenant, we need to know the difference between a promise, an oath, a covenant, and a testament. A promise is an ordinary word by God in which He tells us that He will do a certain thing. That promise is strengthened by an oath in which God Himself swears by His immutable Godhead that what He has promised will be fulfilled. Once a promise has been strengthened by an oath, it can become a covenant. A covenant is somewhat like a contract in which two parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. A testament is a much stronger form of a covenant. A testament means that the person who has entered into a covenant has died, and the death of that person now makes that covenant a testament. As a result, the parties involved no longer need to do something in order to fulfill the requirements. Rather, the beneficiaries of the testament need to realize that everything has been done for them. All the items in the covenant have become bequests in the testament, or will, and these bequests are for them, the recipients.

Our Lord Jesus, through the shedding of His redemptive blood on the cross, has enacted a new covenant (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). This new covenant in actuality is a testament. The whole New Testament is such a covenant, such a testament, containing countless items concerning the person and work of Christ that are available to the believers in Christ for their continual experience and enjoyment. This may be comparable to a person being designated an heir in someone’s will and testament. Once that person has died, the will, the testament, is enacted, and now the heir simply receives the relevant bequests.

Our eyes need to be opened to see that in Christ, God has made a new covenant, which is a testament enacted in the blood of Jesus (Heb. 9:15-23). According to the terms of this covenant, this testament, God in His righteousness wants to give us in Christ countless bequests. He simply wants us in faith to open our being and to see and receive all that God in Christ has for us as bequests in the testament.

The Lord Jesus, the very One who enacted the new testament in His blood, is now interceding on our behalf, praying that we would be enlightened to realize what is in this covenant. He is also executing, enforcing, carrying out, applying all the bequests of this new testament (Heb. 9:15). He has enacted the new testament, and now He is executing the new testament, praying for us that we will see it, believe it, receive it, experience it, and enjoy it for the carrying out of God’s New Testament economy. May our eyes be opened to see this marvelous revelation and may our faith be strengthened to enter into it and to experience it.

For further reading on this subject, please see Life-study of Hebrews, messages 36 and 41 and the footnotes for the above referenced verses in the New Testament Recovery Version, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 19, November 1999

What is the New Covenant? — Part 2

We have seen that the new covenant enacted in the blood of the Lord Jesus is actually now a testament and a will, containing numerous bequests for our experience and enjoyment of Christ that we may carry out God’s New Testament economy. We need to go on to see the contents of this new covenant, this new testament.

The first item of the contents of the new testament, and perhaps the most important, is the imparting of God’s laws into the inward parts of our being. Hebrews 8:10, quoting Jeremiah 31, tells us that God will put His laws into us and write them upon us. These laws are not a series of commandments for us to keep. On the contrary, these laws are various aspects of what the Bible calls the law of life, the automatic and spontaneous function of the divine life imparted to our spirit through regeneration (Rom. 8:2). In His covenant, His testament, God has bequeathed to us the law of life, the function of the divine life. As this unique law spreads throughout our inner being, it becomes many laws. The particular goal of the function of this law, which becomes many laws, is that we are conformed to the image of the firstborn Son of God (Rom. 8:29).

The second item of the contents of the new covenant is that we have God as our God, and we become God’s people (Heb. 8:10). This is not merely to believe in God and belong to God in an objective way. Rather, this is to have God imparted into us, to live in us, and be expressed through us. In this way God becomes our God, the God we enjoy, experience, and live. Also, we become God’s people, not simply in the sense of belonging to Him through redemption, but also in the sense of having God constituted into us to become His corporate expression.

Third, through the divine life and through the law of the divine life, we have the capacity to know God inwardly and subjectively (Heb. 8:11). This is why the Scripture says that we will not need someone to teach us outwardly, and neither will we teach others outwardly to know the Lord. Rather, the Bible says, “All will know me from the little one to the great one among them.” In this context, to know the Lord is not to know Him in an objective, theological way; it is to know Him inwardly, personally, experientially, and intimately.

The fourth item is a marvelous bequest concerning the forgiveness of sins (Heb. 8:12). We might be inclined to list this item as the first. God, however, caring primarily for His economy and secondarily for our fallen condition, placed this item last. But it is most precious. God has bequeathed to us in His covenant a deep assurance concerning the forgiveness of sins. God says that our sins and iniquities He will by no means remember any more. What a marvelous forgiveness this is! This is a divine forgiveness with a divine forgetfulness. God forgives us to the extent that our history of sins is obliterated, and God has no remembrance of them. We are thoroughly and absolutely forgiven.

Since this is our situation, we should enjoy the spreading of the law of life within us. We should enjoy God and become His people. And we should enjoy the inward capacity in the divine life to know Him personally and experientially. These are the contents of the new covenant and they are great indeed. These contents are worthy of our praise and of our opening to the Lord that we may thoroughly experience them for God’s economy.

For further reading on this subject, please see Life-study of Hebrews, messages 63-69; Life-study of Jeremiah, messages 25-26; and The New Covenant, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 20, December 1999

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