Grace under the Old Covenant but no peace
The people of Israel, under the old covenant, knew that the Existing One, God’s presence, was with them. We are told that they were promised that God’s grace was with them. They were given visible signs, which we are not under the new covenant.
This is not our subject here but as a quick reminder, one of the visible reminders of the Existing One’s presence was they could see the cloud that followed them, and the daily manna that fed them. These and many other visible signs produced hope, and assurance of God’s presence.
For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. (Ex 33:16).
Now, assurance springs from hope. Under the New Covenant, we who have put our trust (faith) in the name of Jesus as Saviour are encouraged to have faith, hope and love. They are given to us on receiving Jesus as our saviour. To develop these three we are told to desire the Word of God, just as a baby desires milk.
As we read the Gospels, for example, we begin to engage with the Word and in this we are engaging with the Holy Spirit who dwells in our mind and was also, along with faith and love was a gift given to us at our new birth. As we read we are captured by what Jesus’ words and the situation in which it was said, to whom it was said and how does this apply to me and my situation and so on.
Having initially at a moment in time we entrusted Jesus with our life we now change gears and put our daily trust in Jesus. We read daily and we begin to engage Jesus in our daily life. We start to pray about our particular situation, and begin to trust what Jesus taught. This is living as a believer. We are asked not to just read and believe, but to work the sayings of Jesus into the very fabric of one’s life and to do what he teaches us to do.
Faith and Works
You see that faith works with actions. Look at Abraham and Sarah as an example. Their faith was perfected by what they did. They were told to leave their country, relatives and walk to the land they would be shown. And they obeyed. They put into action what they heard to do.
As you can see by this anyone who believes is also justified by her or his works and not simply by their faith alone.
Having assurance of faith does not exclude doubt. We can see the doubt of the Israelites when we read the Old Covenant. The people of Israel, Abraham, and others, doubted. God understands our doubt. To doubt is to be human. Jesus doubted God. When on the cross we too can understand Jesus’ cry when he said to God ‘why have you forsaken me’.
No decision is made without doubt. Everything we believe, we believe can be, and will be, tested. This is life. As believers we will always be encountering experiences in life where our faith, or shall we say, trust in God’s Word, is put to the test.
Our continued growth, our assurance in the Word of God will and must involve this testing to be verified. That is become our living experience. It is inevitable. Without this we are full of knowledge and the scripture teaches knowledge alone makes us proud, and most likely will lead to arguments.
Learning and doing leads to maturity. Adulthood means that we have to make decisions, some big and some not so big. This then is not blind faith. Blind faith is what we might tag as ‘fundamentalism’. Fundamentalism is a form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.
This means having a basic belief system that does not allow for any doubt. It is a way of believing what one believes overall but does not allow the believer to refer to the actual content of what one believes. It means it is never tested, but rather it has been ticked, packaged and named. In the package there are the tenets, the main principles of the particular religion, its philosophical stance and its political persuasions. Its underlying message is, do not unwrap the parcel and put the belief system to the test. Its not a matter of whether its teachings actually work in the daily reality of ones living.
We could say marriage is something like this. The couple starts off with the givens: we love one another, (that is interpreted by everyone differently). There are no guarantees. There is nothing that the couple are vowing to, or putting their signature to, that has yet been tested. Neither knows whether the other party involved will perform to the basic tenets in a traditional ceremony, say, of love honour and obey or whatever it is they say to one another, yet they vow that they will and no matter how casual they want it to sound in words they sign binding legal documents together that are about money.
Now, the first covenant or agreement God made with the people through Moses was subject to change. For example, the Jews confronted Jesus about divorce and tried to trick him up. He answered by saying Moses made certain allowances about divorce because of the hardness of mends hearts toward their wives. Further, they added to the laws. When they accused the Jesus about his followers picking grain on the sabbath he stood up against their hypocrisy. Where is the justice and righteousness in God in that ruling? David knew, he was hungry one day and ate the showbread – that only the priest was allowed to eat. Was it ethical? Yes, of course. We are to judge righteous judgment.
One of the things that has changed under the new covenant is no more animal blood, no more sacrifice for sin. God does not change. But where there is a better ruling to put in its place, where the law is weak, change it. We do that today. Jesus would say, “you have head it said”… but I say unto you…. The law can be changed. The problem was (and is the same today) – however much they put their trust in the system it was fundamentally flawed. The flaw in this instance, the blood of animals could not remove guilt. They therefore, believed, and it was credited to them, but, until a better law came, they suffered under the Old Covenant – from the guilt of their past misdemeanours.
The same questioning can arise for us under the new covenant. We also seek assurance of God’s grace. How has the blood of Jesus, (rather than animal blood), changed everything so dramatically that we can now live with such assurance? We are promised if we believe in the power of the blood of Jesus to take away all sin we will be credited righteous – just as if we’ve never sinned – and will therefore not feel the debilitating guilt of past sin? However we must turn away from the deception, the lying, the robbery of the past. You who robbed, rob no more. To the woman or man – the adulterer, “where are your accusers? Neither do I accuse you – go and sin no more”.
The reason no guilt lingers under the new agreement is this. Think for a moment about a friend you have wronged. They have stopped speaking to you. You want the relationship to continue. But you do not have the assurance that they are big enough to let you into their life again. You hang back. You do not chance it.
What if they feel the same way as you do? You could start up a conversation, but you are not game enough to risk the rejection. For the friendship to be restored someone is going to have to take the risk of rejection. Someone is going to have to be big enough to stoop down and stretch out their hand. Even if you do take the risk and they ignore you, do you only give them one chance? Or are you big enough to keep trying? This takes a big person not to give up. That is God. While we were sinners Christ died for us. That is us. We continually reject God’s attempts to make friends.
For by grace are we saved through faith. It is the gift of God
Grace means in the Greek concept, ‘unmerited favour’: that is, we did nothing to deserve it. In the Hebrew sense it means, ‘to be brought into a ‘protected place’. We had a need: sin cuts us off from God. We do not deserve it. We could not provide it for ourselves. It means mercy, clemency, pardon. It is all of God’s generosity.
Jesus is the door way to God’s grace.
Open the door and invite Jesus in. Live in daily sharing and intimacy with Jesus. Share you daily living with Jesus’ involved in it with you.
A gracious person is a big person. Their grace is expansive enough to humble themselves to stoop down and reach out to us. When we continually wrong someone in word or in deed, and they do not give up on us, we grow comfortable in our friendship with them. However, sometimes we can get slack and take advantage of their graciousness. If we do it often enough to them, they will weary of us. We know they are only human.
But God never gives up. And our friend no matter how patient and gracious they are, did not go the extra mile and give their life up for us. And even if someone died for us, we would be glad for their love but feel guilty that we caused their death. We could never feel good about it or change to such a degree that we felt like we deserved it.
The difference being, no guilt hanging around in our minds, affecting our peace, questioning God’s love for us. The constant questioning, whether God’s grace is big enough to forgive me. How can I be sure God has forgiven me? Has God forgiven me?
Walking by faith, and not by sight.
We also seek the same assurance. This is the same assurance we look for today in our walk of faith. The Gospel assures us God is with us. It required of Israel to believe. It requires us to believe.
When we exercise grace, overlook what someone has done to us and stoop down to be gracious to them, to forgive them, not hold them to account, we experience something of what God experiences. We are created in the image of God. Jesus came as the template of what it is to be human and what it is to be God. We are to imitate Jesus. Jesus was the first born of many. The teachings in the Letters of the New Covenant are teaching us how to imitate the first born of this new creation. We were predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Sons that he would be the first born amongst many (Rom 8: 29).
Grace was with God’s people in the wilderness.
And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (Ex 33:17).
The people of Israel had faith. Hebrews chapter 11 is a testimony of the faith that the people had in the sacrifices. They believed in the shedding of blood for the taking away of sin.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Under the old covenant, even before the laws of sacrifice were given to Moses, an example of tested faith is found in Sarah. Sarah’ s faith was tested as Abraham’s was. Abraham was righteous in that he ‘believed God’. Sarah also. She teaches us ‘hearing by faith’. Sarah was in her tent. The tent might signify God’s grace. Old and beyond her child-bearing years, she had given up hope of ever having a child. When what we believed for is late, and after long years of believing, it does not show up, we grow sick at heart. We become dis-appointed. Remember Peter. After the Lords death he went fishing.
We do not know what Sarah was doing in her tent, but we do know, even after all those years of longing for a child, her ear was still open to hear from God. Sarah hoped against all hope (due to hers and particularly Abraham’s age also, as he was older than she, that she would see the fulfilment of the promise of a child. In other words, she had run out of time and that assurance that it could bring, but still hoped.
Hope is the anchor of our souls. Do not give up what you are hoping for. Our assurance is based on our trusting what Jesus has promised will be done. From her experience Sarah had learned her lessons. She had proved God’s grace. She had experienced the One True God’s faithfulness. So, her trust in the goodness of God was not extinguished. Sarah heard the words of the messenger. She heard these words, ‘she shall have a child’. Sarah believed! and the trusted, she exercised her faith, she believed.
Both Abraham and Sarah had faith. They left one city and a sure dwelling place with the promise of another city, this one designed and built by God. By faith, they dwelt in the promised land as strangers in a foreign country. They lived in tents, as did the other Matriarchs and Patriarchs. Rebekah also in the same faith, left behind the same things. Leah and Rachel also. They with Isaac and Jacob their husbands, were heirs with Sarah and Abraham of the same promise of that city.
By faith Sarah, even though she was barren and beyond the proper age, was enabled to conceive a child, because she considered The Faithful One faithful who had promised her a child. Sarah through her own faith received strength for her conception and her child was born because she judged God faithful who had promied. (Heb 11: 4-11).
The believer steps into Sarah’s tent. Inside Sarah’s tent is God’s Grace and Peace. Peace is Grace’s travelling companion. They go hand in hand. You have one, you have the other. Goodness and Mercy are also the believer’s travelling companions.
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied (1 Pet 1:2b).
Sarah had to forgive Abraham some things. Abraham had to forgive Sarah some things. That’s life. Un-forgiveness is walking in darkness. Were stuck in it. Un-forgiveness and holding grudges, like revenge, has no fellowship with light. Grace and Peace dwell in the light. There is no darkness in Jesus. Jesus is in the light of honesty and truth, love, and forgiveness.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7).
Assurance grows stronger for the believer the more they understand what the shed blood of Jesus has carried out on their behalf. Know what the spilled blood has accomplished, has carried out on our behalf and confess it. The Believer’s confession of Jesus’ triumph on behalf of the church overcomes the works of darkness.
They overcome him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony [about what the blood has accomplished] and they loved not their lives unto death. (Rev 12:1).
Jesus laid down His life for His bride. The bride is His Church. The husband Jesus reveals in the marriage union He came to fulfil is this: He gave up his life for His bride. He shed his blood.
We are member of the body of Jesus. He is our source (head). We as one body are joined together and joined with our head. We are the Church. The church is the flock and Jesus is the shepherd of the flock. Jesus purchased us as a shepherd does a flock of sheep. The price he paid was not money he paid for us in blood in that he died.
The flock or the Church ‘which He hath purchased with His own Blood (Acts 20:28).
Confess what the blood of Jesus has accomplished on my behalf.
I am accepted in Him. I am welcome in the family of God. God the Creator, God the Holy Spirit, God the Anointed One. I am accepted in the Beloved. Jesus is the beloved of God. I am accepted by God in Jesus.
The blood of Jesus makes me pure to come before God. (Rom 5:9) .
I have been bought with a price: His blood. I had the price of death on my head because the wages of sin is death and I had sinned. Jesus Christ bought me with sinless blood. Christ paid the price: death. His sinless shed blood is pure. It purifies me. I stand before God without any condemnation.
The blood of Jesus paid the price.?? (Eph 1:7. 1 Peter 1:19, Col 1:14, Rev 5:9)
I am made near to God by the Blood. I do not have to be afraid, to pray, to make my requests known to God. The blood of Jesus has made peace with God.
The blood of Jesus has brought me close to God.
Therefore I have peace. The blood of Jesus has made peace with God on my behalf (Col 1:20).
Therefore, I believe and declare, I am not guilty. I am not in debt. I am in credit in heaven’s bank.
The Blood of Christ cleanses our conscience from guilt. The blood of Jesus has taken away all guilt.
The blood of Jesus has supplied me a way to come to God and pray (Heb 10:19)
I can freely enter the Holiest of Holies. God dwells in holiness. I am a sinner. Jesus blood cleanses me from all sin. I am free from sin’s power. I am close to God’s heart.
The Blood of Jesus has cleansed and separated me, making me special to God.
Sanctify the people with his own Blood. ??
The blood of Jesus has washed away all my sin (1 Jn 1:7). The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (Rev 1:5).
The blood of Jesus is in heaven crying out my name. It cries out mercy. It is alive. It has a voice. It has a value. It speaks on my behalf. (1 Jn 5:6-8)
Therefore, I can pray without feelings of guilt. The blood of Jesus has completed the work on my behalf. God is pleased with it and with me. Nothing can separate me from God’s love. God chooses to forget my sins.
Whom God has set forth to be our Appeasement, Propitiation, Mercy seat, through Faith in His Blood.
But I must not take this for granted. I will be eternally grateful for what the death of Jesus on the cross accomplished that day.
Without the shedding of Blood there is no remission of sin. (Heb 9:2).
The Old Testament people were not ignorant of what was coming in way of provision. They knew the sacrifice would come by way of the Messiah. They understood they were in the waiting room of God’s mercy and grace. Moses was given the pattern of things to come. They built the tabernacle, the mercy seat, everything provided in the tent. Everything told the story of Messiah, and the redemption to come. These were all a shadow of things to come. The Gospel brings to light the shadow of the reality.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come (Heb 10:1).
The Apostle Paul received the revelation of what they all meant. So did the writer of the Book of Hebrews.
All those who lived under the old covenant, died, not having experienced the divine ability of the blood of Jesus Christ, with its power to wash away sin with its deadly influence of guilt. However, they died in faith, not having received the promises (Heb 11:39-40).
They believed in the sacrifices and walked in all the ordinances of God but still they suffered condemnation. Therefore, they could not experience the same peace with God as we do. This peace with God is through the blood of Christ. Knowledge of the love of God, brings peace.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 13-14)
The Israelites understood there was remission of sin in the shedding of blood. They had to exercise their faith and believe, just as we do. However, our faith is in the shed blood of Christ. The Gospel speaks of better things. We now have the peace that comes from faith in Jesus’ blood to wash away sin and faith in its ability (power ‘exousia’) to deliver us from sin’s deadly influence.
This peace was missing from the experience of those under the sacrificial laws of the Old covenant of blood. Now we have a New Covenant (Testament) in His blood. Jesus’ blood speaks of ‘better things’ than the blood of animals could testify to.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:14).
The difference being, Christ’s blood, being sinless, has the ability to deliver us from a guilty conscience, because it daily reminds us that we have someone backing us: Jesus Christ, the righteous.
All those who placed their confidence in the blood of sacrifices under the old covenant declared by this they were looking for the coming one, the Messiah. Before His coming, and not having experienced the blood of Jesus Christ and its power to wash away sin and its deadly influence of guilt, they all died. The wonder is, they all died in faith.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33).
Seek the Righteousness of Jesus: it is acquired through faith. Righteousness is our breastplate. It is the Believer’s protection, the covering from the fiery darts of the accusations that will come against us.
We cannot let down our guard. It is not that you or I are innocent. It is not that we have been good. We are not sinless. But we have an answer to any accusations that come against us. We suffer these accusations in our mind. We can feel depressed because of our failings. Our shortcomings are ever before us. We fail ourselves. We fail others. We are not perfect.
Throw off the cloak of self-righteousness. As if there is something, we can do to make us right. Or make others measure up to our line of perfection we have drawn. None of us measures up.
Our answer to any accusations, from our own mind that arise or from others, is the power of the blood of Jesus and what it has accomplished. Confess it. Believe it. The blood of Jesus is a power, a force, as is a breastplate of those champions who go to do battle against their enemy. Its called the Breastplate of Righteousness. We are in credit. We have believed like faithful Abraham and Sarah. This was accomplished through the shed blood of Jesus. Right standing with God is lived out in our confession and our actions. Righteousness produces good fruit and a crown.
Mature believers understand the works of righteousness. If you are still feeding on the ‘milk of the Word’ however sincere, you are unskilful in the ‘works of righteousness’, still on mother’s milk, still a baby (Heb 5:13).
It is time to mature, to be weaned off milk and eat solid food. It is time to stand, walk, live, and do. Accept you are righteous and live it out through your confession, your speech and your daily actions. To do this: ‘Love your neighbour’, is righteous living. Serve one another is righteous living. In so doing we are fulfilling the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. You will find what it means to live in the flesh and how to put to death this way of living and instead live by the Spirit and sow new seeds for a new harvest in Romans 8: 9-11.
‘Everyone who sows righteousness is born of God (1 Jn 2:29). Whosoever does righteousness is righteous (1 Jn 3:7).
We are to declare His righteousness, so that He can justify us. Jesus is the High Priest of our confession of what the blood has accomplished on our behalf. Confess the blood, and your profession (living) will change (Rom 3:26).
The believer is ‘in’ Christ
We are not called to live in our mind. Faith is a work. Believers are likened to trees of righteousness. We are rooted and grounded in love. We are built up ‘in’ Him; established in ‘the faith’; abounding therein with thanksgiving! (Col 2:9).
For in Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, bodily. If you have seen Jesus, you have seen God. You are in Jesus; you are complete in Him. Jesus is made unto us, wisdom. To live in Jesus, to trust in Him, will mean productive living. A life lived in God’s boundless grace means having all sufficiency in all things, able to be abundantly providing and doing every good work. This equates to no lack.
Grace goes with the Gospel message The Gospel is the message of God’s Grace.
God’s grace is the power of God. It is available to everyone who believes the Gospel message. The Gospel is God’s ability. God’s grace and ability go with our witnessing to the power of God’s saving grace and to the power of the resurrection. Let the good news loose and see it go to work. God’s grace is abounding towards us.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work (2 Cor 9:8).
God’s grace is the power of God.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all (Acts 4:33).
Signs and wonders go with God’s grace when people have the full assurance of it. The preaching of grace saves people. The preaching of the law brings condemnation. No one can be saved because they feel condemned. Wrapping people over the knuckles will not bring the peace of God to the hearer. I have heard street preachers condemning people for their sins. Go home! Leave them alone. They are better to hear nothing than to hear a message of condemnation. Testify of God’s Grace.
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3).
We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:11).
The Word of God’s grace builds us up
Our inheritance rests upon our believing in God’s grace and mercy as revealed through the shed blood of Christ. When we believe in Jesus’ blood the power of Christ’s grace rests upon us.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor 12:9).
These things are needful for us to live and be happy: God’s grace, God’s love. These come through the empathy of the Holy Spirit.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen (2 Cor 13:14).
The outcome of your faith in God’s grace will be peace.
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 1:3).
Believers are called to live in the grace of God. The grace of God is the mercy of God. This is the Gospel. If you lack peace in your life, it is that you have not understood or heard the Gospel of God’s grace. If you preach condemnation you are wrong. You do not know the Gospel.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel (Gal 1:6).
Study what has been shared with you here. Teach this Good News to others. Invite them to believe, to ‘come and dine’. On behalf of yourself and others, believe and receive God’s grace.
Next we shall learn about The Gospel is God’s ability