What’s the New Covenant?

The New Covenant – Fullness in Christ.

Even a casual read of the Bible reveals several covenants. Many books have been written about them. One covenant, the New Covenant, stands as the answer to everything that is wrong, God’s final Word on making all things right. The glory of being in Christ Jesus is revealed in this covenant, which binds Christ and His church together, providing redemption and eternal salvation for sinners. The sign of the New Covenant is circumcision not made with human hands followed by water baptism (Colossians 2:11-12). The Lord’s Supper is another sign within this covenant, reminding us of its Author and His return (1 Corinthians 11:25). One dear brother I count as a friend helps us see this:

Baptism serves as an outward sign of the inward grace of regeneration and union with Christ. It is less than meaningless if there is no inward grace to reflect. Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). What Jesus is saying is that this cup of wine represents the new covenant he is going to ratify by shedding his blood. This cup becomes the sign of that covenant.  Every time we take communion we should rejoice that we are heirs of the new and better covenant that was ratified by his blood. (Randy Seiver)

In Hebrews 7-9 the New Covenant described, contrasted with the Old Covenant, so we can see it more accurately. Chapter 9:1 even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.What follows is a description of the tabernacle of the Hebrew religion, featuring lampstands, a table and bread, the Most Holy Place with the ark of the Mosaic covenant containing the tablets of testimony, the golden vial of manna, and Aaron’s staff. Levitical priests ever making sacrifices that would cover sin for a time but never able to take away sin. All of these forms of worship are summed up in verse 9 as symbolic for that age and “imposed until the time of reformation” (verse 10). There will be no re-institution of those types and symbols as the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was sufficient, satisfying God the Father and finishing the redemptive work announced in Genesis 3:15, bringing that reformation.

when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation [speaking here of His body of flesh]he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-12 & 15)

Listen to this sermon here

Discontentment

Striving Against The Lord

Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Previously, we had spoken on contentment and how important it is in our lives but now it’s time to share about discontentment and the adverse affect it has on us.

When we are discontented with what is happening in our lives we tell the Lord that He has no right to govern our lives. We show forth an attitude like we know more than God does. When our children complain because they don’t get what they want we keep back special things from them until they are willing to have an attitude of gratefulness towards us. It’s not that we don’t want to give it to them but we can’t afford to give it to them when they gripe about what they feel they are entitled to instead of being thankful for what they have. A child always indulged is an ungrateful child.

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The same can be said of us. If we are always indulged in what we feel is right then we will show forth an attitude of discontentment. When that happens, the Lord may say to us, “That’s fine so now I will give you all you demand since My wise bestowments aren’t good enough for you.” He then may step back and we could fall into a time of living on the back of the desert until we are ready to humble ourselves before the Lord. It’s important for us to realize that He places each thing in our lives for a very good reason, some of which we may never know about.

I’m always interested in the book by John Bunyan called Pilgrim’s Progress. When our boys were little, my husband would read it to them periodically with his myriad of voices. At one section of the story, Christian was at the house of the interpreter. There were two children sitting and waiting. One was very impatient and the other sat quietly. The one who was impatient received gifts and mocked the child who waited patiently.

The interpretation went something like this, “The child who was impatient refused to wait and received his gifts first and so mocked the child who waited patiently. The child waiting patiently would receive his gifts but they would be, by far, the better gifts. He who goes first soon uses up his gifts and must give way to he who goes last. The last would then be first and none takes his place because he is the last.”

In Philippians 1:28-29 we are reminded that we will be persecuted for doing right and in John 16:1-3, the person who kills us will feel like he’s doing a great service to God for so doing. This is our lot in life and persecution may not be that bad now but it could very well grow worse. Let us check our spirit daily and if we find ourselves growing discontented with our lot in life let us seek forgiveness and adjust our attitude to a grateful one. May our lives show the Lord that we are content under His wise bestowments.

The Pilgrim’s Journey

The Pilgrim’s Journey  9781601783875

A review by Stuart Brogden

I first heard of Jeremy Walker a few years ago when I happened upon a most wonderful book he co-authored with Rob Ventura – A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ. That book confirmed in my desire to serve the Lord’s people as a pastor and also put the fear of that responsibility in me. This new book by Walker, Passing Through, is subtitled Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness and has vignettes from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress throughout as our author makes compelling case that our Creator sees us as aliens, sojourners – pilgrims. I confess reading this book convicted me on several points and I think any honest Christian will be able to admit the same as we all tend to seek comfort in this world, though it is not our home, living in practical forgetfulness of where our citizenship lies.

This book is divided into 12 chapters, each of which provides Scriptural Framework and Specific Counsels for the topic. I grew a little weary of this format by the end of the book, but thank the Lord for it – it is a wonderful exposition of many truths and useful counsel and encouragements we each have need of. He starts off (page 1) asking “Who are you? What are you?” and tells us on the next page that we “need, therefore, to consider our identity and our activity in the light of Scripture.” If you are in a solid church, you will be reminded of the dangers of worldliness. But if your church is shallow, it may look more like the world than one of God’s outposts in this hostile arena. He concludes chapter 2 –Strangers and Pilgrims, with this: “We like to speak of death as “going home,” and so it is to every child of God, but why do we then live as if we are already home? Such confusion betrays us.” (page 36)

I will highlight chapter 7 – Respect the Authorities, as I see all too often Christians demanding the church do “this” or other Christians do “that” in response to cultural or political events. Also, the proper respect for authorities – each in its own arena of influence – is something we all need to understand better. “The church, by divine design, is a spiritual force, a gospel organism. Her involvement in and impact upon the world socially, politically, and economically may not be insignificant, but it will be substantially incidental. The church does not exist to have a political life or role.” (page 125) The scriptural framework consists of understanding proper subjection to governing authorities (citing Romans 13:1-7), parental authority (Exodus 20:12) as earthly authorities that He established and which answer to Him – not us or the church. And while Walker agrees that role of governments is to do good as God’s ministers, he admits that they often don’t; and their failure to be good does not give us excuse to rebel. When we must disobey earthly authorities (when they command us to sin or forbid from obeying our God), we must be respectful as were Daniel and his colleagues and the disciples written about in Acts 5 were. “There language is polite and eminently respectful. Their recognition of the king’s authority is sincere and humble. Their refusal to obey is absolute. Their faithfulness to God is complete.” (page 131)

 

We are commanded to pray for our government (1 Tim 2) – who among us lives in such a hateful environment for Christians as did Paul when he penned God’s instructions on this topic? We are to live in such a way so that evil men would see the way we live, rather than speak evil of us they would glorify God (1 Pet 2). We will find ourselves disinterested and unable to have this focus if we don’t have our identity and activity lined up with Scripture. As to the proper focus of the church in the face of God-hating government, Walker brings us to Acts 4:24-31. The Jewish leaders are organized and determined to put an end to this Way that has popped up and is turning the world upside down. Peter and John were commanded to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus; But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They were respectful but uncompromising. What happened next is instructive and directly on topic with this chapter.

Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Notice this: they did not plot a protest or overthrow of the corrupt government of Israel. They praised God, thanked Him for being faithful, recognized He had appointed the evil men to rule over them, and prayed for the name of Jesus to be glorified through the service He had called them to. This is the proper posture for the church in the midst of political turmoil and persecution. “The church’s response to the assaults made on her is not a rallying cry to civic resistance or even civic engagement, but to get on their knees before the living Lord and to seek His face, crying for heavenly power to declare divine truth faithfully and fruitfully even in the face of opposition and persecution.” (page 136)

“The governing power of the saints is a heavenly one. The church takes her identity, her sense of privilege and priority, her direction for behavior, and her enduring hope from her heavenly King and the realities of citizenship in His kingdom. This conditions all our relationships with the authorities here. The men of the world set their minds on earthly things, but the citizens of Zion set their minds on heavenly things.” (page 137) Yet the saints say, Amen!

“Here is the key point: though the citizens of the two kingdoms necessarily mingle as they make their way through this world, God’s people cannot be finally identified with any nation, party, society, or institution in the earth. … It is only when the Christian understands himself to be unequivocally and distinctly a citizen of heaven that he knows how to relate to the kingdoms of the world.” (page 141)

If we want to live in accordance with God’s plan, we must have our identity and activity aligned with His Word. We must ever be growing in grace and knowledge, seeking to be renewed in our minds as we cooperate with His Spirit’s work to sanctify us and conform us to Christ. We must be heavenly minded if we are to be of any earthly good. We must embrace our identity as a pilgrim of God, an alien on planet earth. This is wonderful book to help us figure that out and live accordingly.

Is Forgiveness Optional?

I have several friends right now who are going through difficult times with people they once had close fellowship with. When a friend or relative turns on you and begins to slander you or in other ways make your life miserable, it is easy to become bitter and to even grow to hate that person. These feelings are not unique to our day.

In Psalm 41:9, David says: “Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Then again, in Psalm 51:12-14: “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company.”

Seaset

Sea Sunset

It is never easy to know that someone hates you or is trying to turn people against you but it is even harder when it comes from someone you loved. Jesus Himself experienced this when one of his disciples, who had walked with him for years, turned him over to the Romans to be crucified. As bad as the physical pain was, it must have been magnified by the emotional pain of knowing the perpetrator was one who had been in his inner circle of friends.

When you are being mistreated, the Golden Rule still applies. You must strive to treat that person how you desire to be treated. This does not mean that you pretend there isn’t a problem and open your heart and home to them but it does mean that you refrain from name calling, wishing them evil, slandering them in return, etc. You do not have to let your good be evil spoken of (Romans 14:16), but you must pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14) and ask God to help you to love them in spite of what they do to you (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).

Believe me I know how difficult this can be. I am only sharing what the Word of God tells us in regard to these things. If it were easy to be a Christian, everyone would be one. But, to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). If you are truly saved, you have been forgiven much, and along with that forgiveness comes the command to forgive others (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).

It can be very hard to control the feelings of bitterness that arise but it will be at least a little easier if you commit that person to prayer. Ask God to save them or to convict their heart. Ask Him to give you a genuine burden for that person. Do not allow that bitterness to fester until it controls you. When that happens, you are no better than they are. Life is short, and you cannot afford to allow your time to be wasted through fretting about what is being said or done to you, and definitely not through retaliation. Draw near to God and continue to follow Him with your whole heart. If you seek Him and His righteousness, He will handle everything else for you. Your enemy may never come around but you will have peace in knowing that he or she can only speak lies about you because you have walked uprightly.

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In closing, I would add that, if you have hurt someone, causing them to become bitter, you must humble yourself and ask their forgiveness. They may or may not forgive you but you must repent specifically for wrongdoing on your part. Sometimes persecution comes through no fault of yours. I understand that. But before you can pray about the speck in your Brother’s eye, you must make sure there is not a plank in yours. You may even need to explain the situation to a close friend or family member and get their perspective as to whether you are even partly to blame. Only do this if you honestly want to know since you may not like the answer. As painful as this may be, I am convinced that, if you obey God’s Word in these matters, you will find that peace that passes understanding and will develop a closer walk with God than you ever thought possible.

Wrong Motives Produce No Lasting Joy

Recently, I have been reading through the wonderful allegory by John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress. We were also blessed to obtain an audio dramatization from Master Books that we would highly recommend to anybody who loves this story.

One scenario stands out in my mind and I have been pondering for some time now. The characters involved in the scene are Christian and Pliable, both of whom come from the City of Destruction. The first carries a weight of sin upon his back and is plodding on the way to the Celestial City as quickly as he is able, while the latter has nothing that seems to be holding him back.

Pliable is a clear reflection of the defining of his name. Pliable means easily influenced or easily bent. From the beginning, we know that he is a follower and not a leader. He follows Obstinate in trying to get Christian back to the City of Destruction, but quickly changes his mind when he hears of the wonders of what is in store for those who reach to the Celestial City.

sloughofdespond

As I considered Pliable, I thought of Christian’s early attempts at seeking to be an evangelist and how similar it is to much of what we find in evangelical circles today. Christian’s methods of reaching the unconverted changes later in the story, but to begin with, they are far from appropriate and certainly not Biblical. Let’s us think about some of the problems with Christian’s approach to reaching Pliable.

1) Pliable is not in dire straits as is Christian. As mentioned previously, Christian has become aware of the burden of sin, but Pliable has not. No person has ever come to Christ who has not been first brought to the awareness of the danger he or she is in. If they do not believe they are fleeing from the wrath of God, then there is no true conviction.

2) Pliable is easily swayed first from Obstinate’s viewpoint and then to Christian’s, and it is not long before he returns to the City of Destruction because he does not like what he finds on the path to the Celestial City. A person who is convinced to follow another, other than Christ, will not follow for long until another comes along with a more persuasive argument. We will be like King Agrippa who told Paul, “Almost you persuade me to be a Christian.”

3) Pliable then listens to the wonders of what heaven will be like and becomes enraptured with all the glories that will soon be his. It is in this way that Christian makes a mistake. He seeks to share with Pliable that which is designed to gain the attention of a worldly person, but he forgets some of the most important factors of evangelism. He fails to address that Pliable is not aware of his sin, he is not aware that his city will soon be destroyed, and he is not aware that trials and tribulations are the lot of all who live godly in Christ Jesus.

4) Pliable soon learns the reality of the Christian life and he is not impressed. In seeking to follow the way of Christ, he, like millions today, thought that this would be his best life now. He thought that there were no troubles to assail him and that life would become easy. He sought to come to faith for the wrong reasons, namely, because of what he thought he could get, and not because of what had already been accomplished through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

5) Pliable falls into the Slough of Despond which Bunyan describes like this:

This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.

This became too much for Pliable for he cannot stand to be mired in such filth. Instead of fleeing to the cross as Christian does, Pliable immediately climbs back out of the Slough and makes a beeline for the City of Destruction. Christian learns that for all to be well with his soul, he must flee from his sin. It is only when our sins are nailed to the tree that we can know the joy of forgiveness and no further condemnation.

Pliable is like many today who think that they can come to Christ with their own good works or apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. For those who know Christ, we must seek to share the truth of the Scriptures that no man comes to Christ who does not realize the depths of his sin and the matchless wonder of the Savior. Truly, Pliable’s wrong motives for wanting to be a follower of the Way produced no lasting joy. Fellow believers, if we use wrong motives to seek to entice people to follow Christ, we cannot be surprised when we find that we have only made false converts.

Thanksgiving Perspectives

This Thanksgiving Day, we are providing a post written by the Pilgrim from Thanksgiving 2009. So much has happened and changed in the world in the last 4 years, but there are also many things that have not. This is a reminder we should have in front of us every year.

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As we in America celebrate Thanksgiving, and all the great freedoms, advancements, and benefits that the exporting of Christianity to this land brought with it, let us not forget about those millions of other people who are trapped in the bondage of their nations who are held captive to false religions and the human wreckage that those false religions bring.

Becoming Last had a post containing some pictures which reminded me exactly how thankful we should be, and exactly how starkly different the continent of North America may have turned out had the light of Christianity not pierced the darkness that covered this land.

The pictures in the post came from a piece in the Sacramento Bee. I’ve included some of these sobering but needful reminders below.


Let us not go to our graves having done nothing to see the advancement of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world, where the worship of idols and demons keeps millions, if not billions, of souls in bondage.

DefCon Writer is on YouTube

20130702-073500.jpgIn addition to blogging and co-hosting a radio program, I also maintain a YouTube account. I have recently begun posting new video blogs there that I wish to share with our readers. In the past, my video efforts were more in the area of highlighting the need for biblical evangelism so as to encourage other brethren to preach the gospel to the lost. However, more recently I have felt burdened to produce videos that encourage and edify the body of Christ to be serious about our faith. It is my conviction that we as Christians need to delve deeper into the Word of God because it is the only source of truth, the only thing that can truly answer the problems we face today. To that end, I have posted two videos (which are linked below) that I hope and pray glorify God and equip the brethren. It is my intent to produce similar videos in the weeks to come. I ask you to consider watching and sharing these videos with other Christians. I also welcome questions and suggestions for future videos. If you have any thoughts on what else you would like to see covered, please email me at defendingcontending@gmail.com.