Ministers of God’s New Covenant, Sufficient by Way of the Spirit

BLCF: Proverbs_9_10

‘Ministers of God’s New Covenant, Sufficient by Way of the Spirit’

© May 24, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 24, 2015

BLCF: fires_of_pentecost

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #639                                                      (The Holy Spirit Given – Acts 2); Prayer

Opening Hymn #204: “There’s a Quiet Understanding”; Choruses

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Today’s Scriptures:

Deuteronomy 4:32-40, 2 Corinthians 3:4-11, Acts 1:1-5, Acts 2:1-13

BLCF: Pentecost

Let us pray…

Today is Sunday May 24, 2015, which according to scholars of the Bible is Pentecost Sunday. So it is not difficult to understand that our lesson today at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is on the subject of Pentecost.

Let us begin by understanding what is meant by Pentecost. Let us begin by a definition via Wikibits:

Pentecost

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: PENTECOST_SHAVOT

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31.[1] For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.

In the Eastern church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty (50) days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated fifty days (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.[2] Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost

Perhaps a shorter definition would be, that for Christians, Pentecost is the day upon which the Lord Jesus sent to those believers in the Resurrected Christ the Holy Spirit. The arrival of the Spirit also is generally considered to be the moment that the Christian Church was born.

Before the advent of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, who: died on the cross for all the sins of humanity, was resurrected from the grave, and then ascended back into heaven, humanity had to rely solely upon God’s Laws which were given to Moses, along with His Covenant under those Laws, as we see in Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (ESV):

The Lord Alone Is God

BLCF: Obedience

32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. 36 Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them[a] and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, 39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”                                             

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 4:37 Hebrew his offspring after him

God sent His Son, Jesus to establish a New Covenant, not of Law, but of the Spirit, as we see in 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 (ESV):

BLCF: 10 Commandments

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

God’s Old Covenant included a judgement and death for sin or transgressions against any of God’s Commandments which were written laws that no one could hope to keep. If a person violated a law under the Old Covenant, they were expected to bring a sacrifice, usually a lamb or dove, to the Temple Priest. Every time a sin was committed, a sacrifice had to be made. If a person committed a sin and did not make to the temple to offer a sacrifice, say they died before getting to the temple, then they would be considered in violation of the Law which brings the judgment of death.

Then there is the possibility of violating a Commandment in a manner that seems unintentional. Breaking any of the ten without confession and sacrifice brings the same judgment of death.

The Tenth Commandment is: “Thou should not covet.”  Now take the case of parent who wants to provide the best for his or her children. We all want to provide for their needs. After all, children deserve the best that we as parents are able to provide. That is what I wanted for mine. But suppose my son or daughter wants something that is the latest, greatest and most popular item. After all, everybody, all of their friends and peers want it; desire it; covet it. So by purchasing such an item, are we not in danger of facilitating covetous behaviour? We may rationalize the “keeping up with the Jones” as not violating God’s Law, just as Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit because it was “appealing to the eye” and would “give God’s knowledge of good and evil”, which are aspects that they coveted.  Regardless of the rational, if we covet, we sin. And if we sin, under the law, we die. So it is under the Covenant of the Law.

Jesus came to establish a New Covenant, a Covenant of the Spirit, which is also a Covenant of Life. Christ was the last and final sacrifice. It is no longer necessary to bring sacrifices to the temple’s high priest. Through the Lord, we are forgiven of our transgressions, sanctified, under the new Covenant. After he ascended to Heaven, Jesus sent to all believers the Holy Spirit to bring understanding to our testimony of the Gospel to whomever we witness. It is not by our ability, but by the power of the Spirit that a non-believer becomes convicted in faith.

The New Covenant from God was of Salvation and Life, by faith in Jesus Christ, Acts 1:1-5 (ESV):

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: JESUS IN THE UPPER ROOM_

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”                                                                                      

Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating b. Acts 1:5 Or in

The description of the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the believers in Christ is found in Acts 2:1-13 (ESV):

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: pentecost1

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”               

 Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

It is not surprising that some of those non-believers who observed the behavior of the disciples’ of Christ, who through the Great Commission had become Apostles or Messengers of Jesus, misunderstood what they observed when the Spirit arrived. For the spectators were wise in the world, not the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 (ESV):

Wisdom from the Spirit

BLCF: Ephesians-1-17

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.[a]

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.                                             

 Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 2:13 Or interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language, or comparing spiritual things with spiritual

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: Pentecost_header

Grace and Assurance through the Testimony of the Blood, Water and the Holy Spirit

BLCF: dove-holy-spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Grace and Assurance through the Testimony of the Blood, Water and the

Holy Spirit’

© March 16 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin March 16, 2014

BLCF: dove-olive

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616

(Christian Baptism – Matthew 2 and 28, Acts2, Romans 6); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #200:The Church’s One Foundation; Choruses                                                                                                                                   

Scripture Verses: Leviticus 12:6-8; Luke 2:21-24 and John 2:13-20 

Leviticus 12:6-8 (ESV) Purification After Childbirth

BLCF: offerings

“And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,[a] one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”                                                                                                                       

   Footnotes: a. Leviticus 12:8 Septuagint two young pigeons

Luke 2:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: Presentation of the Child Jesus

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

 

 

John 2:13-20 (ESV) Jesus Cleanses the Temple

BLCF: jesus-scourages-money-changers

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,[a] and will you raise it up in three days?”                                                             

  Footnotes: a. John 2:20 Or This temple was built forty-six years ago

BLCF: Christ Spirit

 

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson, we will examine the significance of the dove in the scriptures. Initially, the Old Testament describes the dove being used as an object of sacrifice, both to atone for sin and to honour God. We also have the account of Noah sending a dove, to determine whether it was safe to leave the ark, after the Great Flood.

In the New Testament, we have a dove indicating the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.  And we have the Spirit, together with water and blood, acting to form a “Trinity of God’s Assurance” given in reward for our faith.

Let us begin by looking at first two Scripture verses found in today’s bulletin, Leviticus 12:6-8 and Luke 2:21-24.

In the Leviticus 12, we read a portion of the law that God gave to Moses instructing that after a prescribed period following childbirth, a woman was to bring an offering of animals, usually a lamb and dove, to the priest. The priest would sacrifice the lamb, as an offering to God, and the dove as an offering for sin. Remember, all men and women inherited sin as part of their birthright from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

If the woman was unable to afford a lamb, then she would give a second dove for the burnt offering.

This brings us to today’s second Scripture, from Luke 2, gives an account of how Joseph and Mary went to the temple to bring offerings to be sacrificed in accordance to the Mosaic Laws. We note that Mary and Joseph had very modest means, as they did not offer a lamb for the burnt offering, but a second dove, instead.

Our third Scripture, from John 2:13-20, describes how Jesus chased the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem. These events occurred after the wedding in Cana, where the Lord performed his first miracle of turning water into wine.

So why was the dove selected as an animal for sacrifice? Let us look at our Wikibits for some reasons why the dove was selected:              

                                    

Wikibits on Doves:

BLCF: flying_dove

Doves mate for life, are incredibly loyal to each other and work together to build their nest and raise their young. Because they tend to nest in areas that humans can watch, people picked up quickly on the idea that doves were dedicated, honorable and peaceful. While hawks and other birds of prey would violently attack their neighbors, the dove was a bird of peace, eating seeds, easily trained to eat out of the hand or to become domesticated. Beginning with the Egyptians, the dove was as symbol of quiet innocence. The Chinese felt the dove was a symbol of peace and long life. To early Greeks and Romans, doves represented love and devotion, and care for a family. The dove was the sacred animal of Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love and friendship. The dove also symbolized the peaceful soul for many cultures.

Peace symbol

BLCF: dove olive branch

Doves, usually meaning domesticated Rock Pigeons, are a traditional Christian symbol of love and peace, see Peace dove and is of white colour.

 

 

Noah’s Ark

BLCF: Genesis-Chapter-8-A-Dove-Is-Sent-Forth-from-the-Ark

According to the biblical story (Genesis 8:11), a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying an olive leaf in its beak, telling Noah that, somewhere, there was land. Christians used Noah’s dove as a peace symbol.

The Holy Spirit

BLCF: holy_spirit_clip_art

In Christian Iconography, a dove also symbolizes the Holy Spirit, in reference to Matthew 3:16 and Luke 3:22 where the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove at the Baptism of Jesus. The early Christians in Rome incorporated into their funerary art the image of a dove carrying an olive branch, often accompanied by the word “Peace”. It seems that they derived this image from the simile in the Gospels, combining it with the symbol of the olive branch, which had been used to represent peace by the Greeks and Romans. The dove and olive branch also appeared in Christian images of Noah’s ark. The fourth century Vulgate translated the Hebrew alay zayit (leaf of olive) in Genesis 8:11 as ramum olivae (branch of olive). By the fifth century, Augustine of Hippo wrote in On Christian Doctrine that, “perpetual peace is indicated by the olive branch (oleae ramusculo) which the dove brought with it when it returned to the ark.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doves_as_symbols

Following the crucifixion of Jesus, it became unnecessary to sacrifice the dove or any other animal, as we see in Hebrews 10:8-25:

Hebrews 10:8-25 (ESV)

blcf: Jesus_lamb

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.       

               

The Full Assurance of Faith

BLCF: Dove

19 Therefore, brothers,[b] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Footnotes: a. Hebrews 10:12 Greek this one b. Hebrews 10:19 Or brothers and sisters

As I mentioned earlier, the Old Testament describes the dove being used by Noah to see whether the waters of the Great Flood had subsided in Genesis 8:6-12:

Genesis 8:6-12 (ESV) The Flood Subsides

BLCF: dove_ark_olive_branch

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.                                                              .   

We see that the dove brought an indication by way of a leaf from an olive tree, that God’s judgment for sin was completed and when the dove did not return, that it was safe to leave the ark.

God had performed a reset of life in the world, retuning all except the living creatures and people in the ark back to the third day of Creation, just after He had parted the waters from the land and before He made the plants and animals.

We find that it was until after the second of two trips, did the dove return with any indication of life, the olive leaf. The dove must have hovered over the waters in the first trip finding them lifeless as the Spirit had in Genesis 1:1-2:     

Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV) The Creation of the World

BLCF: Genesis1_2

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.    

The use of the dove, to describe characteristics of the Holy Spirit is more overt in the account of Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan, in Luke 3:21-22:

Luke 3:21-22 (ESV)

BLCF: CHRIST_SPIRIT

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;[a] with you I am well pleased.”[b]                                                   

  Footnotes: a. Luke 3:22 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved b. Luke 3:22 Some manuscripts beloved Son; today I have begotten you                                                                                                     .              

Our next verse, taken from 1 John 5:1-8, describes how like Jesus, and because of Jesus, we can by faith in Christ overcome the world. That is to say through Jesus, we overcome sin and its judgment:                           

1 John 5:1-8 (ESV) Overcoming the World

BLCF: 3 testaments

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?                                                                                 .                     

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

blcf: baptism blood

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

3witnesses_blood_water_Holy_Spirit

 

  This “Trinity of Faith” consisting of the testimony of water, blood and the Spirit, regarding the sacrifice that Jesus made to pay the price for everyone’s sins. We know that Jesus shed his blood as the final sacrifice to atone for our sins. But what is meant by the water? Being born of the water is to be born of the Spirit, as the Lord explained to Nicodemus in John 3:3-5:            

John 3:3-5 (ESV)

BLCF: JESUS_NICODEMUS

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.                                                    

   Footnotes: a. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7

You may recall that the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, after he was baptised in the water of the River Jordan. And Jesus surrendered the same Spirit when he died on the cross, where he shed his blood on our behalf.

Unless you believe that Jesus shed his blood to wash away the judgment for our sins and confess your sins, then being baptised in the water is meaningless and affords no assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. You must believe that you have been baptised by the blood of Jesus, for water baptism to mean anything to us or to God!

And though Jesus was resurrected from death by the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to receive God’s Holy Spirit, unless we were first cleansed by the blood of Christ. Remember Christ had to ascend to be with his Father in heaven in order to send us the comforter of God’s Holy Spirit, which occurred at the Day of Pentecost. This is what gives us the assurance and our faith!

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #581: There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: HOLY_TRINITY