Tag Archives: forgiveness

The New Covenant

 Hebrews 8:10-13

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

If the Hebrew people were not riled up about what Paul was saying before this, they certainly would be now.  “What does he mean, the first covenant is old and decayed?  We have had this covenant with God, all of these covenants, forever.  Covenants never die, they never get old.  How can he make such a statement?” It would be almost like someone coming and saying to Americans that our old constitution is decayed and needs replaced by a new one.  We have to remember that the law and the covenants formed the Jewish governmental laws as well not just their religious laws.  Paul was, in effect, saying their government needed to change because a new covenant had replaced the old.

But wait!  The Jewish people knew this would come when Messiah came.  It was a prophecy from Jeremiah.  In fact, Paul quotes directly from Jeremiah 31:33-34.  He doesn’t just pull these words out of thin air.  These words of Jeremiah were known by Hebrew children and adults as a promise that the Messiah, the coming King, would bring to pass.  When Paul wrote these words, all would know what he was saying and implying by them.  He was not making up these words to try and prove hiss point!  He was proving his point by words already written over 600 years earlier.  He had to really have their attention now!

Let’s take a look at what this new covenant consisted of.  First, the law would be written on their hearts and placed in their minds.  The law at this time was only written on scrolls to be read only in the synagogue. The people did not have copies of the law like we have their bibles.  They had to rely on going to the synagogue to hear the word of the Lord.  As children, they learned certain portions of scripture, but there was no way to memorize all the words of the Lord in the Torah the history books, the Psalms, proverbs and the prophets.  One thing they were well trained on were verses that pointed to the coming Messiah.  Most had heard them over and over again.  hey yearned for Messiah to come, thinking he would free them from Roman captivity.  Psalm 22, Isaiah 6, 9, 53 and 61 were all familiar to them as well as many others.

The second part of this prophecy says that every man, woman and child will help each other to understand the word of God.  We will teach our neighbors, and our brothers to know the Lord.  How do we do this?  Some might say it is through the words we speak, and that would be part of it.  But much more important is the life that we live in front of other people.  I used top have a Pastor who always said “What you do speaks so loudly that what you say I cannot hear.”  If your witness does not line up with the gospel, we can use all the words we want and we will not reach a soul.  In fact, we will most likely turn people away from God if our works do not show that Christ rules in our life.  You and I will teach our brothers and our neighbors to know the Lord by our actions in everyday life.  This is the most powerful witness we have.

Third, He will be merciful to the unrighteous.  He will remember our sins no more.  Hallelujah!  What a wonderful promise this is.  The nation of Israel always thought the Messiah would be a leader in battle, like Joshua and David were.  They thought of Him as a deliverer of their flesh, not necessarily of their souls.  Little did they understand the magnitude of this part of the prophecy.  They thought this was their God, and that He would be Messiah to the nation of Israel.  But He came as Messiah to all the nations of the earth, every tribe and every tongue.  All the unrighteous would be shown His mercy, the mercy that was shown on the cross. All their sins would be forgotten and remembered no more.  Paul was extending this prophecy past the nation of Israel to all the unrighteous.  All those teachings of Jesus to love our enemies, do good to those who despitefully use us, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek would now come to back to their memory.  God is a God to all the nations, not just to Israel.

This is the new covenant.  Not just a covenant to Israel, but to every man, woman and child on this earth.  To all races and creeds now and forever more.  The Messiah was brining the fulfillment of this prophecy, and every other prophecy, to everyone throughout time.  Paul was making the case for this in His letter to the Hebrews by showing them that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  In these days, only a priest could remit sins, and that only through the sacrificial system.

There was no other way for the people to be cleansed from their sins to stand before a holy God.  This all changed when Jesus came.  The prophecy came true, and Messiah had come for all mankind.

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Saved to the Uttermost

Hebrews 7:25-28 

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Here is the heart of the matter.  Saved to the uttermost.  Hat saying fascinates me, so I looked up various translations, and it makes this even more amazing.  Other translations say “save completely”, “forever save”, “once and forever save”, “give life for eternity”, “save to the very end”.  Do you get the picture here.  When Jesus saves us, there I no further need to be saved any more.  He priests in Jesus’ day, and in Paul’s day, needed to make intercession for the people daily.  Every day blood had to be shed to forgive the nation, and the people, forgiveness for their sins, according to the law. In fact, they had to give a sacrifice for their own sins before they could make offerings for the people.  His was a cycle that would go on eternally.  And, if not for Jesus, it would be the only way that even we, the Gentiles, could find any type of forgiveness of sin before God.

But Jesus came.  Jesus lived a sinless, holy life.  He lived to show the love of the Father, in fact top show us the Father Himself, in the signs, wonders and teachings that He brought to this earth.  During His time on earth, He was harmless, He never hurt anyone. He never took up a sword or a spear, but instead relied on the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  He was holy, never sinning while on this earth, and without the seed of sin in His body.  The seed that had been [passed on since the time of Adam.  Because He was not the child of Joseph, bit the child of the Holy Spirit, who came on Mary to bear a Son to a virgin, as spoken of by the prophets.  He had no tins within Him at birth, and He had no sin within Him when He hung on the cross.  He was holy throughout His life.  Undefiled by sin, or by this world, he walked in purity of thought and mind every day.  His separated Him from sinners, because He had no sin.  He was perfect.

His made Him, Jesus Christ, able to offer Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins once and forever.  A perfect lamb, without blemish, was the accepted offering for sin.  It could not have scar, or broken bone, or cleft hoof.  Nothing out of place, nothing of sickness or decay.  A perfect lamb was the only acceptable offering.  We recall the words of John the Baptists, who prophetically spoke “Behold the Lamb of God, who take away the sin of the world.”  Sin, singular, not sins, plural.  All sin was taken by Him.  Sin, all our sin, was wiped clean that day.  All our sin, past, present and future was redeemed by His sacrifice. Here was now not any need for a sacrifice for sin, because the ultimate sacrifice had been made, and it would last forever.

Why?  Because Jesus was not ordained by man.  He was not imperfect when he was called to be the high priest for our sins.  He was perfect at His calling, perfect all the way through His life, and perfect at His death.  His body was marred, scarred, tortured, beaten and bruised, but He committed no sin.  He sins of the world were upon Him, but He had no personal sin of His own.  He was the perfect High Priest of the most-high God.  And He would be set apart, consecrated for ever in the heavens, taking His seat on the right hand of God.

What a Savior we have in Jesus.  What a friend to the lost.  What a miracle it is that God would have such grace on a sinner like me, who could never have found his way to an every-loving God if not for the precious gift of His Son, His only Son.  It is beyond my comprehension that God would do such a thing, but He did.  He sent His only Son, to be a sacrifice for my sin, that I would be with Him forever.  Now I can walk on this earth knowing I am forgiven by God, and knowing that he will help me everyday to walk in His ways, above the ways of the world.  What a treasure!  What a gift!  He forgave me!

His makes me ask myself the question – “So who am I to not forgive others?”  Who am I to stand in judgment of others because of their sin?  Jesus died for all.  For the least a s well as the greatest.  He forgave all, even if all have not accepted that forgiveness.  What gives me any right at all to not forgive?  If I have no right to forgive, I also have no right to condemn or criticize.  Did Jesus criticize me?  No, He saved me.  He forgave me.  Did Jesus come to condemn me?  No, He came to save me (John 3:17).  We are to follow His example. We are here to lead others to the cross that He was led to.  Are purpose is to bring others to the same saving grace He brought us to.  We can’t do that by judging, or condemning, or by not forgiving someone else.  Did you deserve His forgiveness?  I know I did not.  Do your friends, and your enemies deserve His forgiveness?  No, they do not.  But He died and gave the ultimate sacrifice for them as much as He did for you.  So, if Christ can forgive them, why can’t you? He has saved us to the uttermost.  Let us take this eternal salvation to all of those we meet.  On the street, in the grocery store, in our workplace, and anywhere we come in contact with others.  Let us sow this seed of grace wherever we can, and let the world know that their sins have been forgiven.  This is the calling of every believer, especially me!

Hold Your Confidence Steadfast

Hebrews 3:14-19

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

There is a growing surge of those who think that once they kneel at an altar, confess their sins, and recognize Jesus as Lord, they cannot lose their salvation.  Once-save, always-saved is the usual way we say that.  They believe whatever they do after that moment at the altar does not matter.  Grace will cover any sin.  All I have to do is ask forgiveness again.  Jesus will forgive us over and over.  After all, He told the disciples they must forgive unendingly if someone sins against them!  Would not God do the same for us?  Of course, He would.

The passage here indicates the opposite though.  This passage tells us that if we do not believe, if we do not hold onto the confidence we have in Christ, we will not enter into His rest.  He will not taste the fruit of the promised land.  How many did that entail?  If we look at the sheer numbers, we find that the population of Israel was fairly constant in the wilderness.  There were only 1,820 less men of war who entered Canaan then who left Egypt.  That is astounding after a 40-year period.  But we also know that, because of unbelief, all the men of 20 years old and upward when they left Egypt, died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb (Moses died just before crossing Jordan). Why did they die?  Because of unbelief.  They had murmured against God enough.  Several times they wanted to return to Egypt because of the hardship of the desert.  Several times Moses interceded for the people and Gd spared them.  But when the spies came back from the promised land and brough a bad report, that was the last straw for God.  He had told them they would enter the land, and that the land was theirs.  Joshua and Caleb said they could take the land.  But the other ten put fear in their hearts, and they did not believe the two, or God.  This unbelief caused God to say all those 20 years old and upward would die in the wilderness.  This was right at the beginning of those 40 years.  If they had only listened to God they would have avoided those 40 years in the wilderness and the promise would be theirs.  How sad!

Today we loom back and see what happened to these Israelites, and we forget the lesson that is there.  Many go about ignoring God’s commands and living life the way they want to live it.  They don’t listen to the words of the preacher, but harden their hearts (see yesterdays lesson) and go about doing their own thing.  I would venture to say the most rampant sin in the church is unforgiveness.  Did not Jesus say that if we do not forgive our fellow man, God will not forgive us?  How often do I ignore that, holding grudges and saying awful things about those who wrong us? Then there are the words of Paul that we should not grumble or complain.  I hear these two things constantly from other Christians.  Paul tells us we should not allow corrupt communication proceed from our mouth, but our words should always minister grace to the person we are talking to.  How often do my words hurt others, even if spoken only to my wife?

We are all in the process of working out our salvation, and we should do so with fear and trembling.  Heaven is not a given, it is a gift.  A gift of God’s grace that we should not take lightly.  We are serving a holy God, and he asks us to be Holy like Him.  We deem that impossible, so we figure some sin won’t hurt us.  I know I do.  Maybe you do not.  I am far from perfect, and I do things that I should not do.  Paul even had that problem.  At one point he said he does the things he should not do, and does not do the things he should.  I can sure identify with that!  But he follows it up with thanks to Jesus for the gift He has given us in salvation.  Paul’s heart was always in the right place and he walked a walk similar to David’s, a walk of repentance.  He made sure he was always right with God by asking forgiveness every time he took a wrong turn. I need to stop taking God’s grace for granted.  We all must.  Our missions is to show others the light of Christ.  When I sin, my light dims a little and my witness is affected.  When I walk in integrity, I also walk with a confidence like I first had when I got saved.  This is the confidence God wants us to have.  The Ephesian church was scolded because the left their first love, the love of God.  We put aside God’s love when we take Him for granted.   We think He owes us forgiveness.  He does not owe us anything.  He already gave His all when he gave His son.  Now it is up to me to walk out the grace and mercy He has placed inside of me when I asked Him to be my Savior and Lord.  I must treat others the way He treats me.  That is what we do when we truly believe!  That is how we enter his rest.