Saturday, January 02, 2010

The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?

From the publisher of The Good News magazine.


"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds" (Hebrews 10:16, New Revised Standard Version).

Does the New Covenant negate God's law and do away with any need to obey the Ten Commandments and other laws of God?

The belief that it does has long been a popular teaching in traditional Christianity. We'll thoroughly examine this question in this booklet.

Even more important, we'll address the real purpose of God's biblical covenants—more than one—and their vital role in the Creator's overall plan for mankind. It's highly important that we understand their true meaning.

How many people even know that the structure of the Bible is organized around a series of divine covenants—what we might call contracts or agreements—that reveal and describe the relationship God would like to have with every human being?

These covenants reveal God's promises. They also define the conditions that every person must meet to receive the blessings of those promises. God's covenants are the foundation of His divine plan to properly shape the way all people should think and behave.

God has a specific goal in mind. The final result of His plan is a divine family of sons and daughters who have developed the same righteous character that was evident in Jesus Christ when He was with mankind as a human being.

That character can be created only through an interactive process that takes place between each individual and God. It is a very personal process.

Why freedom of choice?

To make it possible for us to build that divine, holy and righteous character, God gives us freedom of choice. By giving us the liberty to make choices, He allows us to learn by our own experiences that we, with our limited abilities, cannot foresee all of the hurtful consequences that wrong choices produce. Only by relying on God's guidance will we learn how to avoid making bad choices.

Making wrong choices began with our very first human parents, Adam and Eve. They had to choose between two critical options.

They could allow God to fully guide their thinking and their way of life, or they could experiment and try to discern the best way to live by their own experiences.

They chose to learn by personal experience instead of fully putting their trust in God's instruction, guidance and help. All of mankind has followed that same path, reaping the same sad results.

God's covenants reveal His plan to reverse that dangerous pattern of harmful choices. In these covenants, He promises His divine help and blessing to those who turn to Him with their whole heart for the guidance and help they need.

Some of the blessings He gives for accepting His guidance and help are spiritual, offering us eternal benefits. Others are physical, designed to bless us in this temporary, physical life.

Why was the promise of a new heart so necessary?

God's latest and most important covenant revealed in the Bible is centered on His promise—His unwavering commitment—to create a new heart in those who unconditionally turn to Him for help.

Why is divine intervention essential in receiving that change of heart? It's really very simple. We were created incomplete!

God indeed made human beings with an amazing ability to think creatively—with an intellectual capability that far exceeds the creativity of any other physical creature. The unique talent He has given to us to design and produce what we imagine is patterned after His own astounding creative capacity (Genesis 1:27).

But there remains a missing dimension in our thinking, a dimension that needs to be added so we can properly control our thoughts and the actions they produce. The Bible reveals that God is committed to creating in us that additional ability.

He promises to give us the knowledge, understanding and the power to rightly manage how we think, feel and behave—if we choose, willingly and sincerely, to give Him our full cooperation. We desperately need that added ability! The sad record of human history shows that we cannot consistently make right choices or maintain right attitudes without God's divine help.

Instead, each of us naturally weaves his own web of thoughts and patterns of behavior into a conflicting mixture of good and evil. Not everything we think and do is wrong. But neither is it always right. Like Adam and Eve, we reap the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

Whether our life will be only physical and temporary or will last forever depends on whether we allow our Creator to actively change our hearts and minds.

As He told the people of ancient Israel: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice" (Deuteronomy 30:19-20, emphasis added throughout).

From the beginning God has wanted all human beings to walk the path that leads to eternal life. Yet only one person has ever heeded His voice completely and walked that path perfectly—Jesus Christ!

All the rest of us have fallen short (Romans 3:23).

At His crucifixion, Jesus, through His death, implemented the New Covenant. This is why, on the evening before He was crucified, Jesus "took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is [figuratively speaking] the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you'" (Luke 22 :20).

In that new covenant God gathers together all of the carefully planned details of His plan of salvation. To benefit from that wonderful plan, it is essential that we correctly understand the meaning and purpose of the New Covenant that Christ implemented. Far too many people still misapply or distort what the Bible actually says about that New Covenant. Let's now unravel those distortions.

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