Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Sharing the Gospel as Ministers of the Lord’s New Covenant’
© April 6, 2014 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #624
(The Great Commission – Matthew 26, Luke 24, Acts 1, Mark 16); Prayer
Opening Hymn #37: Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Choruses
Scripture Verses: Psalm 105:1-27, Jeremiah 31:31-34, 2 Corinthians 3
Let us pray…
Last Sunday, we discussed in order to receive the Lord’s salvation, glorification and the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ; we must obediently turn from a life of being a “slave of sin” to that of being a “slaves of righteousness.”
Salvation through Christ comes by was of a change in attitude both towards God and others. That attitude reveals our love, obedience and commitment to the Gospel of Christ, which leads first righteousness, then to sanctification and ultimately to eternal life as the Lord had promised in His “New Covenant.”
And so let us review what is meant by the term “covenant”? And so we turn to our Wiki bits for definition, Covenant from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Covenant (religion), a formal alliance or agreement made by God with a religious community or with humanity in general
We find a general summary of the significant God’s Covenants in Psalm 105, where the Psalmist exhorts us to witness and tell every one of His “Wonderful Works”:
Psalm 105:1-27 (ESV) Tell of All His Wonderful Works
English Standard Version (ESV)
Tell of All His Wonderful Works
105 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”
12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”
16 When he summoned a famine on the land
and broke all supply[a] of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord tested him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free;
21 he made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to bind[b] his princes at his pleasure
and to teach his elders wisdom.
23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
24 And the Lord made his people very fruitful
and made them stronger than their foes.
25 He turned their hearts to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.
26 He sent Moses, his servant,
and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them
and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they did not rebel[c] against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood
and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
and fiery lightning bolts through their land.
33 He struck down their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
young locusts without number,
35 which devoured all the vegetation in their land
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the firstfruits of all their strength.
37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.
43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord!
God had made a Covenant with Abraham, which He renewed with the prophets through to Moses.
Then we see that God reveals a New Covenant, as described in the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 31, is no longer teaching the laws from one generation, to the next, which fails if the teaching is made by those of little faith or who corrupt God’s Word for personal gain or edification:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV) The New Covenant
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Last week, we discussed how God sought to preserve the good of humanity, along with the animals of the earth, by means of an ark constructed by Noah. This ark provided a means for God’s good creation to avoid flood which destroyed the remainder of a sinful humanity. And we talked about how God sought to be close to His chosen people, by having Moses construct an ark to hold and preserve both God’s Holy Spirit as well as the tablets upon which God wrote His Laws.
Unfortunately, sin prevented most of humanity, save for a select righteous few, from drawing near or knowing God. For sin prevented most people from gazing upon the face of Moses, let alone drawing near to Ark of God’s Covenant. And how well can anyone expect to teach others about God’s Glory, as they were instructed in Psalm 105, if sin prevented them from drawing close to and understanding Him? Not very well indeed!
But, as was prophesised in Jeremiah 31, God promised humanity a New Covenant and a way, whereby all will be able to know Him by His plan of reconciliation and sanctification. This New Covenant was fulfilled by Jesus, as described by the Apostle Paul in chapter 3 of his second epistle to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 3 (ESV) Ministers of the New Covenant
3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our[a] hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.[b]
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 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.
7 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, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 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.
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one[c] turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[e] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 3:2 Some manuscripts your b. 2 Corinthians 3:3 Greek fleshly hearts c. 2 Corinthians 3:16 Greek he d. 2 Corinthians 3:17 Or this Lord e. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflecting the glory of the Lord
But God’s plan was to remove humanity’s judgment and separation from God that was caused by sin and to provide a way of reconciliation with God, through His Son, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to atone for humanity’s sins, serving as a final sacrifice, by his death on the cross. This New Covenant, is completed, when by faith in Christ, we accept his sacrifice, confess our sins, and chose to follow the righteous path by turning away from our sinful life.
In return, the Lord promised forgiveness, sanctification, the promise of the resurrection and eternal life and His presence in the form of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we as believers may understand God and be transformed and empowered, through the Spirit to witnesses and minister to others the Gospel of Jesus, which we obliged to do under Christ’s “Great Commission.” It is our responsibility to share the Gospel of Christ unto the ends of the earth, until the day that the whole world has heard the salvation message, through Jesus. And until that time, we must keep our part of the New Covenant until the day we take that final sleep until the day the Lord returns. I would like to quote the poet Robert Frost who authored, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a poet expression which illustrates how we, even in the winter years of life, must continue upholding our covenants or promises before we take that final sleep at life’s end:
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory
We now have an opportunity to demonstrate, by way of Communion, our obligation under the New Covenant to remember the sacrifice made by Jesus’ who provided us with forgiveness, sanctification, reconciliation and justification from the judgment for sin.
Communion: Matthew 26:26-29 (ESV) Institution of the Lord’s Supper
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Benediction (Revelation 22:20-21): He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen