A Bible Devotion

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

When Did The New Covenant Start?

HEBREWS 8:13 NKJ 13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The part of the Bible we call the Old Testament is not exactly the same as the Old Covenant, nor is the part of the Bible we call the New Testament exactly the same as the New Covenant.

The Old Covenant was an agreement between God and the children of Israel. We have the record of it in the Old Testament.

The New Covenant is an agreement between God and Jesus Christ. (Therefore it includes all who are united with Jesus Christ, or as the Bible says, all those who are "in Christ.")

The New Testament is the name we give to the 27 books of the Bible from Matthew through Revelation. The New Testament book is not the New Covenant, but reveals it and explains it.

The New Covenant did not start until after the death of Jesus Christ. For it was sealed by the precious blood of Jesus paying the price for the complete remission of sins for all who believe in Him.

Jesus himself plainly said the New Covenant involved His blood being shed.

MATTHEW 26:28 NKJ 28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

The following passage in Hebrews also makes clear that the New Covenant could not begin until after the death of Jesus Christ.

HEBREWS 9:14-17 NASB 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

Why does it matter when the New Covenant started?

Because it is the key to rightly dividing the Word of God, which 2 Timothy 2:15 reveals is necessary.

Without a clear understanding of when the New Covenant starts, and what the New Covenant is, we will be confused. (Not understanding this clearly is why so many teach different things about what is required to be in good standing with God.)

The entire earthly ministry of Jesus happened under the Old Covenant and was directed only to Israel (Matthew 15:24, Romans 15:8). When Jesus first sent out His disciples He told them to only go to the people of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6). But after His resurrection they were sent into all the world to tell the Good News to everyone (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).

So every word spoken by Jesus before His resurrection was spoken before the New Covenant existed.

Does this mean we should ignore what Jesus said before His resurrection, or that what He said was not true? Certainly not! Jesus is Truth! It just means we have to remember He was talking to people under the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant.

For example, in Matthew 19:16 the rich young ruler asked Jesus what to do so he could have eternal life. Jesus' answer in Matthew 19:17 to "keep the commandments" is much different than the answer in Acts 16:31 which says simply to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved," or 1 John 5:13 which says those who believe in the Son of God may know they have eternal life.

Under the Old Covenant, keeping the commandments was required as the way to have good standing with God. Under the New Covenant, good standing with God is a gift which comes with believing on Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17-18, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

1 JOHN 5:11 NKJ 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

Eternal life is not gained under the New Covenant by "keeping commandments" but as a gift. This is why Jesus came, to bring in a New Covenant established on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

ROMANS 6:23 NKJ 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans tells us that "eternal life" is a gift. If we have to earn it in any way, or pay any amount for it, then it cannot be a gift.

We must realize things changed dramatically because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without that realization, we can err greatly in understanding the message of Jesus.

2 CORINTHIANS 5:19 NKJ 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

All the New Testament is Jesus' message to us. But the things He said to His body, the church, after He redeemed us with His blood, take precedence over the words He spoke under His Old Covenant ministry on earth, because they recognize the reality of the New Covenant.

Jesus told His disciples (right before His death) that He had much more to reveal to them.

JOHN 16:12-13a NKJ 12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;

So don't be confused and think what Jesus said during His earthly ministry was His last word. If Jesus had already given them complete truth, there would be no need of the Holy Spirit to come and guide them into all truth.

So Jesus continued speaking through His apostles after His ascension to Heaven. This is what we have recorded as the letters to the church (Romans through Revelation) in the New Testament.

Through these letters, Jesus by the Holy Spirit, has revealed that the New Covenant includes right standing with God as a free gift through our union with Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!

HEBREWS 10:16-17 NKJ 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," 17 then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

SAY THIS: Lord, thank You for the New Covenant! Please help me understand it clearly.


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