The New Covenant: A Better Promise

Scripture: Deuteronomy 5:2, Exodus 34:28, Colossians 2:13-14
Date: 11/19/2005 
This sermon focuses on the biblical term "covenant". There are many covenants throughout Scriptures. The principal reason is that it is a peace treaty between ourselves and God when sin separated us. Is the new covenant different than the old covenant? Were the ten commandments nailed to the cross?
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

The sermon this morning is dealing with the subject of The New Covenant: A Better Promise. The whole plan of salvation hangs upon the truths of an agreement, a covenant that God has made by which we are saved. Maybe before I go very far I should explain, what is a covenant? Well a covenant is a pact, a treaty, an alliance, promise or binding agreement or contract between two parties of equal or unequal authority. It comes actually from an old French word conveniere. That's where you get the word to convene. It means to come together. A covenant is the coming together of two parties. It's very important to remember that. Convention comes from the same word, a bunch of people coming together. So it's related to the word convene. That's what a covenant is. A lot of covenants in the Bible. We're going to be studying, what principally is thought of as the new and the old covenant. Whenever you say New Testament, Old Testament. The word testament and covenant, same thing. So what I'm talking about when I say old covenant, people sometimes say, “Well that's the Old Testament.” And the new covenant is the New Testament, but here's a surprise. You first find the New Testament in the Old Testament. The new covenant is first mentioned in the old covenant. In other words, it's in the Old Testament where you first find it. But that's what the words mean and where they come from. It's an agreement of peace. There is a covenant that was made in the Bible, for instance, with Adam. A covenant with Noah. Matter of fact, the covenant with Noah was written in the sky. God made a covenant with Abraham. The covenant with Abraham was written in a flesh. God made a covenant with David, that he would have a royal bloodline. And so you'll see a broad spectrum of different kinds of agreements and promises and covenants in the Bible. But the principal reason for these covenants were, they were something like, it was a peace treaty between man and God that were alienated.

I was interested to learn that there is actually one continent in the world that is owned by all the nations of the world. Are you aware of that? Antarctica was involved in what they call the Antarctica Treaty. You know, especially after the Cold War, or I should say, after World War II, because of the Cold War at there was a lot of intensity about when the Soviets began to bases and stations in Antarctica. And of course, America took its use of the pie, and the Norwegians, and people from Chile, and different parts, Argentina. They all started to get a little foothold in Antarctica. Because here you've got this on to that is 1/10 the landmass of the world. Of course, the climate’s so harsh; nobody knows what to do with it. But they decided to make a treaty. And so they came up with the Antarctica Treaty. And basically it is an expression and agreement that Antarctica will not be owned by any one nation, but all the nations of the world will share it equally for the purpose of scientific investigation for the benefit Of all mankind. It's a treaty; it's a covenant of peace. And so far it's held. Now that was back in 1961. Before we better understand what the new covenant is, the better promises, you need to know something about what the old covenant is. Let me share with you a few verses that outline this. Deuteronomy 5:2. This is a very important study. You're going to be challenged. Understanding the study today is foundational for your understanding the relationship between law and grace. So this is a very important study. What is the old covenant? Deuteronomy 5:2, “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Now the word Horeb and Sinai, same name, same mountain. Sometimes Sacramento's called, River City, same thing, same place. The covenant made in Mount Horeb was Ten Commandments. And if you have doubt, Exodus 34:28. “So he was there,” Moses, “with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And He”, the Lord, “wrote on the tables of stone the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” So we don't have to wonder. And then you read in Deuteronomy 4:13, “So He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tables of stone.” Now, what is the covenant? The Ten Commandments. What did He write them on? Two tables of stone. And what did He want us to do about it? Perform it. Not just hearers of the word, but doers. Man has sinned, we've been separated from God, the penalty for sin is death. God has promised to forgive us, but He wants to not only forgive us, He wants to give us power to be doers of the word.

Now notice in Deuteronomy 4, before we leave that. It says, “He declared His covenant,” the Ten Commandments, “and He wrote them on two tables of stone,” “and,” “and,” one more time, “and,” that means in addition to the Ten Commandments, “the Lord commanded me at that time,” Moses, “to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land that you cross over and possess.” I'm going to give you another verse. II Kings 21:8, there are separate laws, and many times they've been commingled and it confuses people. “If only they are careful to do according to all that I've commanded them,” speaking of the moral law, “and according to all the Law of Moses my servant Moses commanded them.” So there were the commands of God written by the finger of God, spoken by the voice of God, and there with the laws and ceremonial laws written by Moses, written on paper. Do you see God making a distinction between the Ten Commandment law and the Law of Moses? That's very important to understand. And then of course, you know the story. Moses took the Ten Commandments and he brought them back down the mountain. He put the Ten Commandments in the ark. But where was the writing that he wrote placed? In a pocket on the outside. No understanding the distinction between these two covenants is important because; how many of you have heard folks say, “You don't need to worry about keeping those old Jewish ceremonial laws. The Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross.” Have you heard that before? And they often go to Colossians 2:13-14. Notice how Paul identifies that law, there in Colossians 2:14. The one that was nailed to the cross. “Blotting out,” notice very carefully, “the handwriting,” what kind of writing? Handwriting is written by a what? A finger or a hand? A hand that holds a pencil or something. “Of ordinances,” what was written on the paper? “Ordinances that was against us.” Don't miss the word against us. “That was contrary to us, and He took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” Can you nail stone very easily to anything? They have special guns when you're putting framing into a wall. And it's actually a 22 shell that drives a nail into concrete. Any of you ever seen or worked with those before? And they don't always go through. Well granite's even harder than concrete. And the Ten Commandments were probably written on something like that of a permanent nature. That was not nailed to the cross.

Now let me prove that to you. If you look in Deuteronomy, I'm sorry, look first of all at II Chronicles 33,

And here He says, “And they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law, and” there's that and again, Ten Commandment law, “and the statutes and the ordinances written by the hand of Moses.”

Now, didn't we just read about Colossians? What was nailed to the law? The ordinances that were hand writing. Here it says the ordinances were written by the hand of Moses. So what was nailed to the cross? Ten Commandments? Or the ordinances written by the hand of Moses? Go to Deuteronomy 31:26. Here's the next reference I want you to consider. It says, “that was against us.” You notice it says against us. Ten Commandments are against us? Are they against us? No, but there were ceremonial laws. “Take this book,” and this is Deuteronomy 31:26. “Take this book of the law,” speaking of the ceremonial laws, “book, and put it in the side of the ark.” Where were the Ten Commandments? In the ark itself. “Take this in the side of the ark of the covenant,” where's the covenant? The book is not the covenant. It's in the side of the Ark of the Covenant. “Of the Lord your God, that it might be there for a witness against you. So, I don’t know how you could be any more clear that in Colossians 2:14 when Paul talks about, “the handwriting, ordinances, against us, nailed.” Well, the handwriting, it’s telling us that was written by the hand of Moses. That it might be a witness against you right there. The Law of Moses is that. The ceremonial laws that were on the book, not the stone. You nail the paper to the cross. You do not nail the Ten Commandments. And it was written by the hand of Moses. Do you see the distinction between the Ten Commandments? Were the Ten Commandments nailed to the cross? No. That's absurd. What does that mean? People who say it's nailed to the cross? It would mean that the death of Christ. You notice what did happen when Jesus died? The veil in the temple was torn. Now instead of the physical priesthood, with an exclusive cast, it is a spiritual priesthood that you're all participants of. Instead of it being a temple that was one location, now church is the temple of God. You are the temple of God. Your body is the temple. The dwelling place is not a building, it's you. It's His people. And so, that's what happened. But does it mean now we don't obey God? No, that is absurd. But how many of you have heard Christians taught that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross?

Without wanting to be unkind or offensive, I've just got to tell you in no uncertain terms, that is what you would call a doctrine of devils. The Bible is very clear. You've got the book of the law. I think I've got a picture of it here. You’ve got the ark, the Ten Commandments in the ark. Then you've got the book of the law. It was placed, written by the hand of Moses as a witness against them, shadows and types placed in a pocket, outside of the ark. So the first covenant or the old covenant that we’re speaking of here is the Ten Commandment law. Now God said there was something wrong that needed changing. And people are thinking, “Well that's because the Ten Commandments were bad, and nobody could keep them and so God needed to get rid of them. And He came up with a new covenant. The old covenant was the Ten Commandments. The new covenant’s just love.” Didn't Jesus say, “A new commandment I give you”? And what did Jesus say after He said, “A new commandment I give you”? He quotes the old commandment. He says, “A new commandment I give you,” and then He quotes Deuteronomy. “Thou shalt love the Lord,” Deuteronomy 6:4, “Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, strength.” And then He says, “You should look your neighbor as yourself.” That's Leviticus 19:18. New? He goes all the way back to Moses. Why did Jesus call that a new commandment? It's very simple. Sometimes a person might say, “I've got a new concept for you.” It doesn't mean that it's new. It means for them to understand it is new. He was telling the religious leaders, “Here's a new concept.” Instead of all the rites and ceremonies, love God and love your neighbor. That is what the Ten Commandments were all about. Because of course the first four Commandments deal with love for God. The last six commandments deal with love for your fellow man. But that's not implying that once you love God and you love your fellow man you don't need the Ten Commandments anymore. How can a person say, “I love God,” and worship gods, foreign gods or worship idols? How can a person say, “I love my fellow man, but I do worry about the Ten Commandments anymore so I murder them.” You're not; you don't really love them. So the foundation for the Ten Commandments is love, but that is still part of both the old and the new covenant.

Now maybe I'm jumping ahead of myself here. What is the new covenant? And then we’ll make a comparison between the two and why one is called better. Well during our scripture reading, we actually first read the new covenant in Jeremiah 31. Turn with me, Jeremiah 31. Let's look at that again. “Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Wait a second. I thought the new covenant was made with the Gentiles. Is that what it says? That's interesting. I'll get there in a minute, too. “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” When they went to Mt. Sinai and got the Ten Commandments. First, before the Lord gave them the written copy there was a verbal agreement. You know, I've been involved in a number of contracts. When we do evangelism we often sign a contract for the building where we're going to meet. And before you go to the trouble of writing up a contract, you first get it verbally. Otherwise, you keep writing things and changing them. And so we got a verbal agreement of what the terms would be. We said, “That sound good to you?” “Sounds good to me.” We'll write it down, sign it, make two copies. One for you, one for me. Contract. First God spoke His law to the people from the mountain. Remember? Moses wasn't even up there when He first spoke it. He was there with the people. And they trembled and said, “You talk to us. Don't let God talk to us anymore.” And after He spoke the covenant, they agreed to keep it. Then he went and got the written copy of the covenant, the agreement. And that's how a contract works. He said, “That's not the covenant. That's not like the one that I made when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” “My covenant, which they broke.” What was wrong with the old covenant? They broke it. “Though I was a husband to them,” in other words, “I was not unfaithful to them, but they were unfaithful to me. They broke their promise.” “Says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I'll make, says the Lord of Israel, after those days. I'll put my law in their minds, and write them in their hearts. It will be in their understanding and in their affection. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother saying, know the Lord, for they'll all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.”

Now has that happened yet? Let me ask you, are we living now during the time of the old or the new covenant? Talk to me. New covenant. Does every man know the Lord naturally now? Or do we still need to be taught? What am I doing here, right? What are you doing here? But is the day the fulfillment of the new covenant will be the new earth. The final fulfillment of the new covenant is the new earth. “When they all know me from the least to the greatest of them, for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin. I will remember no more.” Now, if you want to know when the new covenant was instituted, Matthew 26:28. There's no guessing here. Jesus, before He died went through a series of very important pivotal events. The Last Supper was not just the Passover meal. He was actually transitioning from the old to the new covenant. That's why He said, verse 28, when He give them the grape juice, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sin.” And instead of giving them a lamb He gave them bread and He said, “This is my body.” He established a new covenant with them in His blood. Now what did it mean that they would accept this new covenant, and they ate bread and they drank grape juice? During the old covenant, when they were saved from Egypt they had a Passover lamb and the blood of a lamb. And they ate the lamb and they applied the blood. Now for the new covenant, Jesus said, “I am the lamb. You must eat my flesh and drink my blood or you have no life.” In other words, Christ had to be in them. The new covenant is not external. It’s internal. The kingdom of heaven is in you, Christ in you. And He was trying to help them realize that.

Now, the new covenant is a new law, right? Does it say anywhere, “I’ll give them a new covenant, and I'm making a new law”? What is different about the new covenant? A lot of things, but it's not the law. Romans 7:12, it's the same law. “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good.” Why would you get rid of something that is holy, just, and good? Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Has anyone ever been able to find any flaw with the Ten Commandments? How can you find a flaw with the writing of God? God is perfect. “Every good and perfect gift comes from God.” When He speaks it with His voice and writes it with His finger it's flawless. There's no fault with that. Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: we establish the law.” It is the same law. The new covenant is not a different law. It is the same law written in a different place. And how many of you have heard people say before, “The old covenant was salvation by works. The new covenant is salvation by grace.” Have you heard that? Ignorance, pardon me. But that's ignorance. Who, name one person who is saved by works. Did God save people in the Old Testament times by works and now they're saved by grace? Nobody's saved by works. “The just shall live by faith.” That's Old Testament. “Abraham believed God and God counted it unto him as righteousness.” That's Old Testament. And so, everybody was saved by faith. The old covenant was salvation by faith because even in Old Testament times they all sinned. So God’s saying, “I'm going to make a covenant with you that you might be saved.” They were going to be saved based on forgiveness and faith. The terms of the covenant are the same. God wants us to be saved from sin. What is sin? Breaking God's law. God is not changing the covenant by saying, “I'm throwing out the law.” Some say, “Well, you know, we believe in grace now. And when you believe in grace there is no more law. Grace obliterates the law.” Is that what the purpose of grace is? Does the grace of God dissolve the law? It dissolves the penalty of the law, but the law of God does not change. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” It's the law that helps us know we need grace.

The purpose of grace is not to do away with the law. Another very common misconception. These things we’re talking about right now in the covenant, you'd be surprised. I would venture to say, the majority of people who take the name of Christ either go to one extreme or another, misunderstanding what the old and new covenant is. And they don't understand the basics of salvation. So it's the same law. Ten Commandments, written on a different place. Which is the next point. It's now a better or superior surface that the law is written on. Notice, Jeremiah 31:33, “This is the covenant I will make. I put my law,” my different law, my new law, the altered law? Does He make anything in the new covenant statement to suggest that it's different law? He just states it as a matter of fact. “It's not the covenant that I made back then, but it's the new covenant. And I'm going to take my law and put it now in a new place, a new surface it's written on. “In their hearts.” Again, II Corinthians 3:3, Clearly,” Paul says, “you are an epistle of Christ minister to by us, written not with ink, but by the spirit of the living God; not on tablets of stone,” here's the new covenant, “it's not on tablets of stone, but of flesh, that is of the heart.” What is written? Same thing is written, but now it's written on the heart. And God gives us the power because it's in the heart to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Isaiah 49:16. You know, one reason it's written on the heart, “See, I have inscribed you upon the palms of my hands.” When we see Christ's love for us because of the cross. Psalm 22:16, “They pierced my hands and my feet.” It's written on a superior surface. The penalty for sin, because of it being in Christ's hands, the law is written in our hearts.

I like what Matthew Henry says here, the commentator, Bible commentator. “He once wrote His law to them,” old covenant. “Now He writes His law in them. He gives them hearts to love them, a conscience to recognize them. He will give them courage to profess them and power to put them into practice. The whole habit and frame of their souls will be a table in a transcript of the law of God.” This is the foundation of the covenant. It is something that is written on the heart in heaven. All of those in heaven are there because of the principles of the covenant being on their hearts. Nobody in heaven is going to be staring at the law and gritting their teeth in saying, “Oh, I wish I could obey. I wish I could obey.” They're going to obey naturally. How did angels obey God before the fall? Before sin? Were angels staring at the law and wringing their hands and saying, “Oh if only I could obey”? Matter of fact, it came as a surprise to the angels that God had a law because it was in their hearts. I mean, what would you think if someone knocked on your door, some government official, and they said, “We're here. We're putting up posters in the neighborhood. There's a new law, and it says that you're not supposed to burn your children with acid.” How many of you would be surprised? Do many of you go around through the day thinking, “Oh, I'd sure like to pour battery acid on them, but it's probably against the law”? That's a horrific thought. In your hearts, you'd naturally want to keep that, right? And so that's how it was for the angels. They thought, “Well, we love God, and we love our fellow creatures.” The very fact that it was written down was because of sin. Sin is what brought around the need for the law to be written down. But when it's in the heart again in heaven, it's the natural out flowing. We’ll want to do what pleases God. A superior surface. Something else I want you to notice. The law is not written to a different people. It's the same people.

Please don't forget this. This is a very important point. Who does He make the new covenant with? Matter of fact, turn with me to the New Testament. The new covenant is found in the old and the New Testament. Hebrews 8. In Hebrews 8, you can also find the new covenant there. Verse eight, “Because, finding fault with them, He said, Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Now, how many of you here, I don't mind if you show your hands, how many of you here are literally citizens of Israel or your DNA is from the tribe of Judah? How many? I am. I'm not a citizen of Israel, but I'm from Judah. Couple? Guess the rest of you may as well leave. You can't be saved under the new covenant. Because who does He make it with? No hope for you. This is God's form of racism. Right? Or wrong? He makes the new covenant very clearly with the house of Judah, with the people of Israel.

So what gives you the right to think that you can cash in on that? Because you become Israelites and people from Judah. You become spiritual Jews, don't you? A few scriptures on this. It's made with the same people. It's a different, you become different citizens. Romans 9:6, “They are not Israel, who are of Israel.” Did you catch that? Paul says, “They are not all Israel who are of Israel.” Those who might be citizens of Israel are not the real Israelites, necessarily. Not all of them. Galatians 3:7, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” And of course, the Israelites are sons of Abraham. Only those who are of faith. Again, Galatians 3:29, “If you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed.” If you have accepted and embraced Christ as your Savior, you then are grafted into the stock of Israel, as Paul says, you become spiritual Jews. That's how you can accept the new covenant. But be very careful. If any of you are anti-Semitic you're in trouble because you become a Jew. Talk about a conflicted contradiction. What a paradox. An anti-Semitic Christian. That is really strange. For someone to be an anti-Semitic Christian. How can you be anti-Semitic and your book is Jewish? Your manual is a Jewish book written principally by Jews, and you must be a spiritual Jew. It’s sort of like, you know, hating your own body because you become part of the body of Israel. It's not that Jews stopped being Jews. But you become a spiritual Jew when you become a Christian. You don't look convinced. Ephesians 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel.” In Christ, through the Gospel, you were Gentiles. Everyone who didn't just raise their hand a minute ago. You become spiritual Jews, and you're able to partake of all the promises, not just in the New Testament, but all the promises to Abraham in the Old Testament, you become participants in. One more, Ephesians 2:12, “That at the time you were without Christ, being aliens,” you were Gentiles. You could not participate in the covenant. “Aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants.” This is very clear. “Of promise.” The only covenant that saves us we were strangers to because, not me, but you, because you didn't have Jewish heritage. You were not Israelites is what Paul is saying here. “Having no hope, without God in the world: but now,” that was the state of affairs, “but now in Christ Jesus you who once were a far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You become members of the same people. You are adopted into the family as surely as Ruth was, and Rahab was, and Tamar was. I’m naming mothers who were all Gentiles that became ancestors of Christ.

Did you catch that? They all became citizens of Israel through marriage. You become legitimate citizens through marriage. Once you're an American citizen, can you be a halfway citizen? If you become a citizen all the rights of any citizen are yours. And that's especially true in America, even more than some countries, where there still is a little bit of national racism. For lack of a better word. And some countries, when you immigrate, and you become a citizen of that country you may stand out because, you know, they've been there for thousands of years. But in America, because we're a melting pot of the whole world, none of us really feel like we've got a right to say we’re exclusive. I know some of us might say, “Well, I was born here in California. I was born in America, and you emigrated.” But you know, if ever there's a place where that doesn't go very far, it's America. Because all of us at one time were immigrants. Isn't that right? But we then are able to cash into all of the rights of being citizens. Once we go through the ceremony, you're in. You're not partially in. Unless you're the governor of California, and you want to run for president. There are some restrictions you want to be president. You know, they're trying to change that law. If you want to run for governor, you can be an immigrant. But if you want to run for president they said you'd better be born here. I think they made that law, because they're afraid someone might, you know, immigrate and get nationalized within a few years and then want to run the country. Could be a plot. So to play it safe. Same people. So what's different?

If you've got the same law and the same people in the new covenant, what's different? Well, the Bible tells us in Hebrews, a lot of differences. Better priests. There were priests in the old covenant. We've got a better priest now. Hebrews 8:6, “But now He,” where before it was the sons of Aaron, now it's Christ. “But now He is a mediator of a more excellent ministry, in as much as He is a mediator of a better covenant.” It's not the blood of goats and sheep and bulls and pigeons. It's the blood of Christ. And we have a high priest. Where is He now? Hebrews 8:1, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying.” I like the emphasis Paul puts here. “We have such a high priest, who is seated on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty of heavens.” Our high priest is not standing by an altar on earth. Where is our high priest? It's a better priesthood because He’s in the presence of God. It's a superior priesthood. And He's ministering in a superior sanctuary. Isn't this what the Bible says? Hebrews 8:2, let's look at how much better the new covenant is. “Christ is a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, that the Lord erected, and not man.” It's not a man-made edifice.

You know, I understand that Matchbox; any of you ever play with Matchbox cars when you were a kid? Hot Wheels, I think they do the same thing. It could all these different car models. You know how they make these little cars that used to fit in a matchbox? They actually used to take a full-scale model, and they had this very complicated equipment that would go over the surface of this full-scale model. And as they rolled this equipment over the surface, it was cutting in clay something that was approximately 100th the size. And so they would get a Corvette, and they would go over this Corvette and the equipment was actually cutting a miniature model of the Corvette. Now they do it with computers, but it's still an exact scale model. So some of these Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels cars that were rare collector editions, are extremely valuable. But the temple on earth, while it was a model of the one in heaven, think about the difference between real Corvette and a Matchbox car. A Matchbox car, you've got to push it along with your finger or fire it with a rubber band. It had no engine in it. In the same way, the earthly sanctuary was just a miniature model to give us a concept of the very real sanctuary where God actually lives. Even Solomon, when he built the earthly temple, best temple ever built on earth, Solomon said, “We know you're not living here. What temple on earth could house you? The earth is your footstool.” They knew it was just a model of the real dwelling place of God in heaven. So Christ now is ministering in a superior sanctuary. Now in Bible times, if you wanted forgiveness you had to go to the temple.

Can we go to the temple anymore? Yes. By faith Paul tells us in Hebrews, we can come boldly before the throne of grace. When you enter into your prayers, and you see the Lord, by faith you are conveyed, you are transported to heaven. You are able to come; you don't have to go through a priest. Christ is your priest. I mean, you don't have to go through any earthly priest. You now, the better covenant, the new covenant is, you go directly to God through Christ in heaven. You can still go to the temple. Now while it is true, even on earth the common people could not go into the Holy Place, could they? But they could go to the temple. You can still go to the temple, through faith. Matter of fact, the new earth, when we're living under the new covenant there's no need for a physical temple because the temple is where God is and He will be in our midst. Superior sanctuary. Hebrews 9:11, “But Christ came as a high priest of good things to come, with greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands.” It's better. “Not of this creation.” Hebrews 9:24, “For Christ is not entered into the holy place made with hands,” with man's hands, “which are copies,” Matchbox, miniature, “of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear,” this is really good. Listen. This is good. Don't miss this. “Christ is entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God.” Why? “For us.” You have an advocate with the Father. You know people in high places.

You ever wish you could have an audience with the mayor or the governor or the president? Better than that, through Christ as your high priest, you have an audience with God. When you pray in His name you get His attention. I think you've heard me share the story before of when people would come to visit Lincoln. A lot of times they couldn't get in to see Lincoln because he was so busy. But sometimes Tad Lincoln, the president's son, would be out in the waiting room. And one time, a soldier got to visiting with him. And the young man was intrigued with his stories of the war. He said, “Why are you here?” And the soldier told Lincoln's son, he said, “I’m here to see the president.” and right about then the secretary came out and said, “The president's done visiting today. He's got some other appointments.” And she started sending him away. And the secretary was sending the soldier away. And by this time Tad had gone in to see his father. And she said, “You'll have to go.” And he said, “Well, I'm going to try and see the president.” She said, “No, he can't see anymore.” “But his son said I could.” She said, “Oh, Tad told you you could see? Well, if Tad's gone to his father you'll probably get in.” And so, in the same way, if Lincoln’s son could get an audience the president, how much more can Jesus get us an audience with the father? So here, He's going into the real temple for us. Better promises. Now this is where it really starts to make sense. The new covenant is better, not because it's a different law, not because it's really a different people, but better promises. Notice Hebrews 8:9, making a new covenant. “Not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them out by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” When they came out of Egypt they went to Mt. Sinai, made that covenant with Him. “They did not continue in my covenant.” What was the problem with that covenant? They didn't continue. They broke it. He says, “For this is the covenant that I will make.” You see, with the old covenant God spoke His law and what did the people do? In the presence of all the people Moses made the law and the people said, “All the Lord has said we will do and be obedient.” That's Exodus 24:7. The old covenant was based on the promise of the people. Nowhere do you see in the old covenant that they are asking God for any assistance to do His will. Do you notice that? They came up with the terms. “We'll do it.” And did they do it? Not long after Moses first; they got the written transcript they said, “We will do it. We’ve got an agreement here.” He went up to get it codified. Before he even came down what was happening? They were breaking the Ten Commandments. That's what it says in Hebrews 8:8, “Finding fault with them.” Was it with the law? Or was it with the people?

The problem with the old covenant was their promises failed. God said, “Here's my will. The Ten Commandments is the perfect will of God. It doesn't change. Nothing wrong with it. The law of the Lord is perfect. That is not a part of the covenant that's negotiable. Sin is the transgression of the law. We must be saved from our sins, the penalty and the power of sin. The old covenant, bad promise. “All the Lord has said we will do.” New covenant, better promise. Notice with the better promise is. “For this is the covenant I will make.” Who will? God says, “I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord. I will put my laws in their mind, and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. None of them will teach his neighbor. None of them his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they'll all know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now I know it may seem like I over accentuated that, but that is really the issue. Your will or God's will. The old covenant, you can will your way to salvation. You can't. Peter said, “Though all men forsake thee, I won't.” Jesus said, “Oh yeah?” And the people at the foot of the mountain said, “Lord, we like your law. Pretty scary with the smoke and the fire and the thunder. All you say, we will do.” And the Lord said, “Oh yeah?” Before Moses even got down the mountain they were breaking them. Why? Romans 8:7, Paul said, “because the carnal mind, the unconverted mind, is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” As long as we are carnally minded you can’t keep the law of God. So is the problem, change the law or change the mind? You got it? That's so important. What's the problem? Change the law, or change our hearts? So the new covenant deals with the problem, not changing the law. It's a change of heart. All of us are saved under the condition of the new covenant. Better promises. Hebrews 8:6, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, buy as much as He,” Jesus, “is a mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” Better, better, better, or as I used to say, more gooder. That's the difference between the new and the old covenant. It is infinitely better. Better promises. Old covenant focused attention on the weakness of man.

The new covenant focuses the attention on the promises and the power of God. It's written in the heart. I remember reading in history, some of you have been to Pennsylvania, and you know that one of the founders of Pennsylvania there was William Penn. He was a Quaker. William Penn in Pennsylvania made a treaty with the Indians. And all of them gathered together and they made a treaty that lasted 70 years without exception. Here was what the nature of the treaty was. And all they can do is go by the recollections of the people who were there because they never wrote it down. But those who heard it say this is what was exchanged. Penn spoke to the Indians. The council and the chief and all the Indians gathered with the council from the settlers there in Pennsylvania. He said, “My friends,” you know, the Quakers always called everyone “friend.” Matter of fact, the other name for their denomination was The Friends. Any of you remember that? “My friends, we have met on the broad path. We have good faith. We are all one flesh and one blood.” For the Indians to hear the Europeans saying that was shocking. Because most Europeans felt superior. “Being brethren,” because we’re brethren, “no advantage shall be taken on either side. When disputes arise we will settle them in counsel.” Not with war. “Because there is nothing between us, but openness and love.” The Chief replied, the chiefs, “while the rivers run and the sun shines, we will live in peace with the children of William Penn.” And the interesting thing is that as long as the Quakers were in charge, for 70 years in Pennsylvania, there was not a single violent conflict with any of the Native Americans there. They had made a covenant based on better promises. It was not on threats or territory, but on love and mutual understanding. That was the only covenant that worked. I know, the more laws that a people have, the more lawless they are. The more lawless a people become, the more laws they need to control their lawless behavior. When our country was first founded there was a lot less lawbreaking and there was a lot less law.

Why? Because people were instilled with a better sense of principles of loving God and loving your neighbor. And that really became a guideline for everything else. And the more people drift away from those two great principles of the Ten Commandments, to love God and love your neighbor, the more you need governmental control on every little nuance. And you have to have somebody putting up posters say, “Please don't kill your children.” Because they don't have the natural law of love. The new covenant was made on better promises. All covenants are ratified by a sacrifice. You remember when Noah came out of the ark and God made the covenant with Noah and the rainbow? Did Noah offer a sacrifice? The covenant of circumcision that God made with Abraham. He offered sacrifice there. The covenant of David that he made there on Mount Mariah offered sacrifice. Offered a sacrifice on the thrashing floor of Onan. The covenant of Abraham with Isaac. Isaac wasn't offered, but they went and got a ram. Sacrifice was offered. Covenants are sealed with the shedding of blood. Talking about these Old Testament, even New Testament covenants. Psalm 50:5, “Gather my saints together to me.” Who is the Lord going to gather to Him when He comes? “Those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

Now, not only has God made a covenant with you by sacrifice, you must make a covenant with Him by sacrifice. Part of the new covenant is not just God making a sacrifice. If you are really partaking of that covenant you must make a sacrifice. Now you're thinking, “Pastor Doug is this another offering appeal?” Well that's the very basics. Your offerings, that would certainly be part of it, but what does it say in Romans 12? “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your self a living sacrifice.” See, Jesus took up the cross and He made a sacrifice. He said, “Now, if you want to ratify the covenant, if you accept the terms of the covenant, you take up a cross and you make a sacrifice. He sacrificed himself, you sacrifice your self. That would certainly include your wallet. The most important thing is the sacrifice of your heart. That's who makes the covenant with the Lord. The sacrifice of the new covenant is better than the old. Everything is better. Hebrews 8:3, “For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: therefore it is necessary that this one also have something to offer.” There needed to be something to offer. The Bible says Christ is the mediator, Romans 8:6, “he is also a mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” And of course He was a better sacrifice. Romans 8:2, “he who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.” If God is willing to offer His son, he'll give us everything else that pertains to eternal life. Is that right? Let me give you another illustration. I think I've got time to share this with you. Why would you want to keep the old ceremonial law when now you have the reality? People want to know what to do.

No doubt you've run into Christians before, and I don't question their sincerity, but they are pushing the ceremonial laws, they are pushing the feasts. Have you run into this before? Why would you worry about that when you have the reality now? Suppose that there has been a dinner and there's a special banquet and you've got a guest of honor. And he has agreed, the place is reserved; they've got an agreement, got a contract with this place. He's agreed to be there at a certain time. You reserve his place. And I've actually seen this done before, where people, not only do they have nametags at the table. I went to a dinner one time where they actually got pictures of the people that were at their seats. Little pictures. Any of you ever seen them do that before? So everyone's at the table of honor, and you've got the main guest of honor isn’t there yet. Sometimes the president can't get there when the party starts. He comes later. You know, when the president has his inauguration he sometimes makes four or five parties in one night. And so here you've got the picture of where the president’s going to sit. Finally when he gets there, and they seat him, does everybody stare at the picture or the president? Do you need the shadow, the illusion, the image anymore that helps you know who's got that seat, what his place is going to be? No, you get rid of the picture. He might sign it and hand it off. But the or attention is no longer on the picture. All the ceremonial laws, circumcision, the sacrificing of a lamb, the ceremonial feast days, they were all there to help us realize Christ, the reality of the sacrifice. And so it's almost antiquated.

If a parent is waiting for their son to come home from the war, and they've got their picture on the shelf, and every now and then they pick up the picture, and they hug the picture and they stroke the picture and they gaze at the picture. And then the doorbell rings when they're finally discharged and the son is at the door. They fling the door open, they run to the mantle, and they pick up the picture. And stare at it and say, “I'm so glad you're home.” Would that make sense? That's why Paul talks about how strange it is for us to want to give the worship to the shadow of somebody. I mean, if I'm walking down the road on a sunny day and you haven't seen me in a while, do you walk over to my shadow, lay down and hug my shadow? Wouldn't that be strange? And yet there are people that are giving all the attention to the shadow. I don't want to be unkind, but it is not biblical. Now, instead of a Passover lamb. Why would you that when you've got Christ? He is the Lamb of God. See what I'm saying? It seems so backwards to me. Not only is there a better sacrifice, bitter spirit. II Corinthians 3:6, “Who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not the letter, but the spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” If it's just a law on the outside, but it's not an attitude on the inside. It's not just the actions; it's the attitude now. Christ came not to do away with the law, but to make it bigger, to magnify it. He said, “It's not only don't commit adultery, but don't have the attitude in your heart. Not just don't murder, but don't be angry. Not only don't lie, but don't say yea, yea or nay, nay. It's an attitude of honesty. He rather said, “Don't be swearing, but let it be yea, yea or nay, nay.” See, what Jesus did with the law was not just the letter, but it's the spirit of the law.

Now obviously, if you're keeping the spirit of the law you'll keep the letter. But it's much better than the letter. That rhymes, doesn't it? Everything in this covenant is better. Ezekiel 36, and this is another place, you really find the new covenant in the Old Testament. The prophet Ezekiel. “I'll give you a new heart, and I'll put a new spirit within you.” The new covenant has a better spirit. New heart, new spirit. “I'll take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I'll put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you'll keep my judgments and do them. Then you will dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you will be people and I will be your God.” This is the new covenant. He says, “I will cause you to walk in my statutes and keep my judgments.” Without the spirit of God and the love of God in our hearts, it says, “The love of God constrains us.” It's through the power of love that we become new creatures. And you know, it's through better blood; sacrifice went with the old covenant, sacrifice with the new, better blood. No, it isn't grape juice. Grape juice is a symbol of the better blood. The better blood is the blood of Christ. Hebrews 9:12, and this will be our last point we're going to consider. “Not with the blood of goats,” for 4000 years that's what they did. They sacrificed sheep and goats and doves and oxen. “Not with the blood of these animals, but with His own blood He entered the most holy place.” It's not pleading [?] the blood of goats, but His own blood. “Once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies the purifying of the flesh.” They had a ceremony in the Old Testament where you to be purified and sanctified by these animals that were sacrificed. If they did that then back in the old covenant, how much more. He’s saying, “See how much better it is that the blood of Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from the dead works to serve the living God?” Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Better blood, the blood of Christ. And if He says, “My blood can cover your sin and empower you.” Is there power in the blood? “My blood can empower you to live a new life.” Do you believe that?

What makes, now we've talked a lot about the new covenant. How many of you think you understand the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant? Do you understand that? Knowing the difference won't save you. You must make a covenant with the Lord. You must make, you must accept the terms of the agreement. Sign on the bottom line, so to speak. Are you willing to say, “Lord.”? Don't say what Peter said. [?] “Oh that all men should do it.” Not like Israel. Don't say what Israel said. “All that the Lord has said we will do.” But if you were to say, “Lord, I believe that you are able to give me and new heart and a new spirit. And I accept the power and the blood of Jesus. I want to cash in on the new covenant. I believe your promises.” Do you accept the new covenant? It’s by faith. How good can it be? It's almost too good to be true. But it is. By faith, He says, “Then I,” When you see how much He loved you. By faith He puts a new heart, a new spirit within you that changes your behavior. When we were in Texas, people would come up. “Hi. Where are you from? Fort Worth?” They'd say, “No, I drove in from Kansas. And I just wanted to tell you; we've been watching the programs. We've accepted the Lord and I used to have this kind of life.” And then they’d tell me about this amazing, prodigal, wild life. Some of them have been in prison. And we heard some amazing stories. And they said, “The power of the Gospel changed my heart.” Marriages were saved, relationships were restored. Just amazing transitions. This is the new covenant. It's written in the heart and the things they once loved they now hate. Why? Because they've got a new heart. They're different. But you must come and accept Christ just the way you are. Some people have been in church for years. And believe it or not, they're still trying to live under the terms of the old covenant. “I can do it. I can do it.” It's not until you realize you can't do it, you can do it. Once you realize how helpless you are. When Peter says, “Lord, I can walk on water.” When he tried, and he took his eyes off Christ he sank. And then he said, “Lord, save me.” Then he could do it, right? When he reached up for Jesus then he could do it. This is new covenant, reaching out and taking hold of God's promises. And that's probably a good place to tell you about the closing hymn. 518, Standing on the Promises. It's an agreement; it's a covenant that the Lord is making with you and me. And if you'd like to accept that, why don't you stand. Can't sing Standing on the Promises sitting down, can you? Let's stand and sing that.


There may be some of you who never really understood the new covenant. As I said, most people in the world who take the name of Christ are part of fellowships that really don’t understand the good news of the new covenant. I'd like to give you an opportunity right now. You may have even been raised in a church, this church, and said, “I know until today, I never really understood how good the good news is. How much better it is. And I want to take hold of that promise.” If you want to make that decision by coming forward today, we'll have special prayer for you. Do that now as we sing verse three.


The good news of the Gospel, the covenant, the new covenant is good, good, very good. It is better, better, more better. Isn't it? Better priest, better blood, better promises, better sanctuary, better substance. Everything is better. And that's good news we’re sharing and believing. Amen?

Loving Lord, we are so thankful for how good the good news really is. And first before we can tell the world about the good news, we need to make a covenant with you by sacrifice. And that means giving ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ. And then, we thank you for the promise that we can live a new life. Through the power of the blood of Christ, you promise to be in us and give us new hearts and new minds. Lord, we pray that you will make that a reality. Change us; create within us new hearts, oh Lord. I pray that we cannot only talk out the new covenant, but we can experience it. Be with each person who is hearing the sound of this message. And I would ask that they would have new vitality in their lives. Bless this church and each member. Thank you for the promises you've made. And it's in those promises, we will trust and stand. In Christ's name we pray, amen.

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