2) The Grace Covenant
A) What is the Grace Covenant?
As explained in part 3, the new covenant was replaced since the old one was obsolete and was broken by the Israelites. So in the verse below, God explains to us the new covenant that will be replacing the old or mosaic covenant. God says:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESVST)
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.”
As indicated previously, the old or mosaic covenant was a covenant only between the Israelites and God. Now, according to the scripture above, the new covenant as well, will be made with Israel. The difference here is the following, in the new covenant:
1. God will put the his laws within them
2. God will write the laws on their hearts
3. God will be their God and they will be his people
4. All will know God
5. God will forgive their sins and will remember them no more.
This is the new covenant. A huge difference from the old covenant which required the Israelites to obey before they could benefit or be saved. The old covenant involved the Israelites to obey the laws of God to be saved or to benefit or to be God’s own possession. This time, with the new covenant, it is completely different. As you can see from the list I placed above, from 1-5, it is only God that does all the work. The Israelites are not required to do anything to be God’s people. There are no conditions attached to be God’s people unlike the old covenant were they had to obey the law.
In the new covenant, God does all the work. He puts his laws in their hears and he writes them on their hearts and then they become his people. Israelites do nothing. God says in this new covenant, everyone will know him, from the least to the greatest.
Most importantly, God says, he will forgive all their sins and will remember them no more. In the old covenant, no forgiving of sins came unless sacrifices were made. Even this sacrifices were really not good enough to take away the very sins and make those who do the sacrifices perfect. Look at this verse:
Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESVST)
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
These sacrifices were more like an annual reminder that they were sinners and needed to repent but, no amount of sacrifices could take away their sins. Therefore they remained sinners all the time under the old covenant, no matter what they did. However, in the new covenant, God says that he will forgive them of their sins and not only that, he will remember their sins no more.
So, unlike the old covenant were Israelites were required to do something, required to obey to be saved or to be God’s own possession, in the new covenant, nothing is required of them. They don’t do anything and what they get is even better than what they got in the old covenant. They don’t do anything in the new covenant and not only do they get to be God’s own people like in the old covenant but above that, their sins are forgiven and remembered no more. So, this is definitely a better covenant.
The important thing to note with the new Grace covenant is that God, out of his own will and mercy, and without the Israelites doing anything to deserve it, by his own grace, God decided to put the laws in their hearts, write them on their hearts, make them his own people, forgive their sins and remember their sins no more.
Now that we understand what the new covenant is all about, the questions is how does it work then. How has God achieved all this. Look at the verse below:
Hebrews 10:8-15 (ESVST)
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), 9 then he added, “ Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.
In this verse, the writer of Hebrews is quoting Jesus. The writer says that Jesus said that God desired neither sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings, the writer says that, then Jesus added that he has come to do God’s will. The writer says when he said all this, he was doing away with the first (meaning the old covenant) in order to establish the second (meaning the new covenant). So Jesus is the one that is going to cause the old covenant to be replaced by the new covenant. But how is Jesus going to do that?
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 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,
The death of Jesus on the cross was a once off and final sacrifice with which all things were made perfect. Jesus’s death on the cross was a final sacrifice for all our sins and we were all sanctified though his death. Jesus’s death did what the old covenant sacrifices could never have done. With one sacrifice all were made holy and without sin. Through Jesus’s death, all sins were forgiven just like God said he will do. God said that in the new covenant, all their sins will be forgiven and I will remember their sins no more and through the death of Jesus on the cross, God was able to achieve exactly that.
John 3:16-18 (ESVST)
16 “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Verse 17 above indicates very clearly that God did not send his son Jesus into the world to condemn the world but in order that all might be saved through him. Jesus’ death was a final sacrifice that made all things perfect and made all holy. So through him all were saved.
The important thing to note with the new Grace covenant is that God, out of his own will and mercy, and without the Israelites doing anything to deserve it, by his own grace, God decided to put the laws in their hearts, write them on their hearts, make them his own people, forgive their sins and remember their sins no more. God did this by sending his own son to die on the cross as a final sacrifice for sins.
Although everything up to and including the sending of Jesus to come and die for us was God’s own sole decision, for us to benefit from this graceful act, we have to believe in Jesus. Unlike what the Israelites did in the old covenant, which is obey, this time the Israelites only had to believe. To believe what? Believe in Jesus Christ.
Remember that the punishment for breaking the old covenant was and still is death for the Israelites but, instead of death, God had mercy on them and by his grace, decided to implement the new covenant where this time, they no longer had to to do anything but believe. The Israelites did nothing to deserve this kind of grace. The Israelites were already pretty much dead because of sin and God, while they were still sinners, he send His Son to die for them.
Romans 5:8 (ESVST)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is why Paul says in Ephesians that all were saved by grace through faith and not by works.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESVST)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
All you have to do to access this grace is to believe in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:5-11 (ESVST)
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘ Who will ascend into heaven? ’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “ or ‘ Who will descend into the abyss? ’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “ Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
As you can see above, in the old covenant, righteousness was based on the law but with the new covenant, righteousness is based on faith.
But Jesus did not only die, he also rose from the death and through his resurrection, hope was given to all.
1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESVST)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God ‘s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
This hope is the hope of an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfolding and kept in heaven for all. This inheritance is guarded by God’s power through faith.
The important thing to note with the new Grace covenant is that God, out of his own will and mercy, and without the Israelites doing anything to deserve it, by his own grace, God decided to put the laws in their hearts, write them on their hearts, make them his own people, forgive their sins and remember their sins no more. God did this by sending his own son to die on the cross as a final sacrifice for sins. Not only did his son die but, God raised him from the dead as well. This was done so that those that believe in Jesus, should not perish but have an everlasting life in heaven.
Romans 10:9 (ESVST)
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
When Nicodemus when to see Jesus at night, Jesus told him that:
John 3:5 (ESVST)
Jesus answered, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
While most people misunderstand this to mean baptism of water (see my post on baptism), this does not actually mean that. What Jesus was referring to, was to this verse:
Ezekiel 36:24-27 (ESVST)
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
As you can see, it is God that washes you, it is God that gives you a new heart, it is God that pours the Holy Spirit within you and it is God that cause you to walk in his statues and obey his rules.
John 3:3 (ESVST)
Jesus answered him, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
1 Peter 1:3 (ESVST)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
These verses above confirms exactly what I am saying. Jesus said to enter heaven, you must be born again and Peter says that God is the one that causes us to be born again. This is confirmed by Jesus as well
John 6:44 (ESVST)
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
So in the new covenant, God does everything and all that the Israelites must do, is to believe or have faith in Jesus.
This is the Grace covenant.