There are some in the “Christian” world that make some rather subtle and slightly misleading arguments to persuade people that the Apostle Paul did away with the Ten Commandments. Although some of the things that the Apostle Paul wrote are hard to understand it should be clear that the Apostle Paul, of course, did no such thing.
What about the Ten Commandments? I read that on Internet yesterday, preparing for this split sermon. What about the Ten Commandments? That particular question was included as the headline for a study presented by another church, not by us, on the subject of the particular chapter that I'd like to spend some time on with you this morning.
There are those who tell you that the Ten Commandments are not included as part of the New Covenant, and they're not central for New Covenant Christians. In fact, I receive a magazine every now and then, all kinds of things find their way into my mailbox, a magazine edited by former members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and they cite this particular chapter as well by way of their supposed "proof" that the Apostle Paul, in one of his writings, did away with the Ten Commandments. Now, I realize when we think about that, we think, "How could that possibly be? That's absurd! That doesn't make any sense that the Apostle Paul had licensed adultery and killing and all of those things." Nevertheless, they have some rather subtle and slightly misleading arguments to persuade people that in one of his writings in particular, according to them, the Apostle Paul did away with the Ten Commandments.
Well, by the time we get through with this sermon, I hope it should be clear that the Apostle Paul, of course, did no such thing, although some of the things that the Apostle Paul wrote are hard to understand, as Peter told us in II Peter 3:16 — maybe we should go there. I've got a lot of scripture here in the split sermon, so I'll have to watch the time. In II Peter 3:16 — there are things in some of the writings of the Apostle Paul that people put a spin on. We've spent a little bit of time at ABC already in my classes, I don't teach the Epistles of Paul, but in my classes we're looking at some of the ideas that are out there in the world of theology, and sometimes you've got to track them pretty closely otherwise people will lead you off in the wrong direction.
II Peter 3:16 Peter is speaking about Paul; we'll interrupt the context here:
II Peter 3:16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand ...in the writings of the Apostle Paul... which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul must have been an amazing individual. He was highly educated; he wrote in ways that some of the other biblical writers don't write. We'll get to some of that.
What did Paul think of the Ten Commandments? Turn over with me to I Corinthians 7:19. Some of you are probably ahead of me. You know what he wrote here, a rather important verse.
I Corinthians 7:19 This is just one verse in the correspondence to the Corinthian church, which I'd like to spend some time in this morning.
I Corinthians 7:19 Let's remember, Paul is here writing to a church that is predominantly non-Jewish. This is a predominantly Gentile church. Apparently in Corinth there was a Jewish minority in the city, and a relatively small group of Jewish members within the church, but most of them were, in fact, not Jewish, of the Greco-Roman world
I Corinthians 7:19 Look what he writes to them here, trying to bond the two groups within the church together.
I Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing ...Paul writes... physical circumcision is no big deal...and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Now those words "is what matters" are in italics, they're inserted by the editors, but they really do belong when you look at the way that sentence is structured. Paul is saying, "Circumcision is not a big deal; uncircumcision is not a big deal, but there is something that is a big deal, and that something that is a big deal is keeping the commandments of God."
In Romans:13:8-10 Paul again quotes the Ten Commandments, the so-called anti-gnomian Paul quotes the Ten Commandments as being authoritative in the church and for new covenant Christians.
Romans:13:8-10 ...Paul writes... Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
He's not just talking about warm, fuzzy emotions; he's talking about something that has structure to it, something that directs us in how to conduct our lives.
Verse 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Verse 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Sometimes the Apostle Paul wrote in a manner to Christians, in which he addressed them as people who should understand. Sometimes his writings say, "Listen, you're supposed to understand this; you're Christians. Do I have to spell out every detail for you?" Like had to be spelled out for the people of ancient Israel who didn't have the spirit of God. It's much like if you're talking to somebody who is a novice at car maintenance, you have to tell them, "You have to change the oil; you've got to rotate the tires; you've got to take care of changing the air filter; change your transmission fluid." I don't know what all else has to be done for a car. Somebody that you know, that knows well how cars function, you may simply say to them, "Look after your car." And you know what it means. So in Paul, we have some of these summation statements.
Anyway, of course, he cites here one, two, three, four, five of the Ten Commandments with a summation statement. Did Paul believe in the Ten Commandments? Obviously he did. Did he believe that the Ten Commandments are part of the Christian way of life? Clearly, from these scriptures, he did believe that. And yet, there are people who would like to convince you and me that, well, in some strange, twisted kind of a way, the Ten Commandments are not part of the New Covenant way of life.
So let's take a look at II Corinthians 3, which is the chapter I'd like to take a look at today, and go all the way through the chapter, and ask ourselves, "What is he really saying in this chapter?" I think it's good that we look at these chapters and come to understand not just what's not being said, but also, what is being said. This is an important chapter, and Paul's point is an important one.
II Corinthians 3 — the second of the epistles to the Corinthians recorded in the Bible. There's apparently at least one other that is not recorded for us, or very likely there was. But this is an epistle written to a church that was troubled, a church in which the people were...they regarded themselves as very sophisticated; they were very critical of Paul, and he had to defend himself.
And in II Corinthians 3, he begins to point to the evidence that authenticated his ministry, and the ministry of the other apostles who had served these people.
II Corinthians 3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? ... "I thought you knew us, I thought you knew that we were your servants. Do we have to start a relationship all over again?"... Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?
"Have I got to bring you an introductory letter after X number of years? Do we have to get acquainted all over again?"
I'm going to point to something the Apostle Paul says that will authenticate what God has done through me, or more accurately, through us, because he includes the others who were his coworkers.
Verse 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
I remember as I was going over this, something struck me. I can remember the gentlemen who used to be in charge of the kitchen at Ambassador College in Pasadena, and at that time the food was very, very good, and I think I recall commenting to him at one point that I gained a little weight, and he looked at me and he said "You are my epistle!" Because the food was so good, I think that makes the point rather plain.
Paul is saying, "The fact that you're in the church is the authentication of the work that has been done here. You are our epistle."
Now, one of the reasons that people have difficulty with this chapter, and with some of the other writings of the Apostle Paul, is because he's using a metaphor. That should be obvious, shouldn't it? He's using a metaphor here. He's not saying that the people in the church in Corinth were literally an epistle, literally a writing on a scroll or something — it's a metaphor.
Now, what's he saying? He's saying, through means of that metaphor, "The fact that you're in the Church is the authentication of the work that God has done through us. You're known and read by all men. It's obvious, because you've come into the Church. You're under the Christian, or New Covenant, and this makes it clear, or so it should."
Verse 3 Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
Now, before we get into the remainder of this chapter, where I'd like to spend a little time, let's stop and think about Verse 3, and Verse 2, that we just read. You're our epistle. You are, clearly, you are an epistle of Christ. Written not with ink. If this chapter does away with the Ten Commandments, then within this chapter, Paul does away with his own epistles.
Think about it for a second. They're written not with ink. He wrote letters to them. He's saying, "Look, your presence in the Church here is bigger than letters. Your presence in the Church is bigger than something engraved on stone. It's bigger than something written up on pieces of stone." He goes back to the way things were in the Old Testament.
Let's keep our place here, and let's go over quickly to I Corinthians 14:37. I've got a lot of scripture here, and I'll try not to overload everybody with scripture.
I Corinthians 14:37 There's an interesting little detail that you can read over when studying the writings of the Apostle Paul. It's interesting — did Paul know as he was writing, that his writings were inspired of God? The answer is maybe, but the indication is that on some occasions, at least, he did. He had some inkling that God was, in fact, inspiring the writing.
I Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual...Paul writes...let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
Pretty strong statement. I don't think you can make a statement like that without having, at least, a pretty clear idea that as you're actually sitting down and writing, God is inspiring the writing. This seems to be the case in I Corinthians 14.
And so, going back to II Corinthians 3:3, did Paul annul, abrogate, abolish, do away with his own writings at the beginning of this chapter? Obviously not. He's making a point, and the point is metaphorical. The point is — there's something bigger going on here than just a written document. There something bigger going on here than words written on stone. What is going on here?
This chapter talks a lot about the Covenants, and I think every time that we read about this subject, it is important that we go back to the very first time in the Bible that a New Covenant is mentioned. I wonder whether you know where it is. I asked when we did a seminar in Chicago, I think it was, and Mr. Franks and I were there, and I asked the question, "How many times is the term — 'New Covenant' used in the Old Testament?' I won't ask for a show of hands; it may be on the pop quiz for ABC students later on. But, the answer to the question is actually, just once. In Jeremiah 31, it's the only time that the term "New Covenant" is used throughout the entirety of the Old Testament. There are elusions to the New Covenant elsewhere, but that particular phrase is used only once in Jeremiah 31.
So let's stick a finger, once again - keep lots of spare fingers here, because we're going to flip back and forth a little bit here, but stick a finger once again in II Corinthians 3, because we're going to come back shortly, and let's look at Jeremiah:31:33.
Jeremiah:31:33 What is the essence of the New Covenant, the one under which you and I live?
Jeremiah:31:33 Jeremiah describes it...But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jeremiah, inspired of God, tells us that when people come under the New Covenant, the law is not written on stone — well, it may still be on stone — but the significant thing is that it gets written on the inner parts of human beings. It gets internalized. And that's the same point that Paul is making in II Corinthians 3 - go back to Verse 3, and notice the same wording there.
Not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. The internalizing of a desire to serve God. The internalizing of obedience to God. The internalizing of God's character is a greater miracle, and leads to something greater than the writing of laws on stones. That's what Paul is about to say.
All right, II Corinthians 3:4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God.
Verse 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.
God made all this possible. God made possible the Church today. Every one of us is in the Church because God called us. God made it possible for us to be set on the road to eternal life. God made possible our justification, our being cleaned up, our being bathed in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Verse 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
What does he mean by this? Again, he's alluding in several places in this chapter to the way, in which ancient Israel, under the Old Covenant, was commanded to obey God. Laws were given to them in the letter, but they lacked the spirit, and they lacked the heart to fulfill those laws. Now what happens when you're told to do something on pain of death, and you fall short? You fall short and, of course, you end up dying.
Now let's keep a finger once again in II Corinthians 3, and go to Romans 7: 9-10. This point is made several times in the writings of the Apostle Paul. He talks about it in his own history, of course Paul was of the nation of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, the Hebrew of the Hebrews.
Romans:7:9 He describes his own experience as initially leading to death... I was alive once without the law ...Paul says, "Before I understood the requirements of the law, I was alive. I didn't understand that I was a sinner" is the point that he is making... but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
You see, there are two sides to the law and its function. Number one, it defines sin. It tells people how to live. It tells us what's right and wrong. But on the other side, the law of and by itself doesn't save us out of our sins. No matter how obedient we are, we need someone — we need a Savior to do that.
Verse 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
Verse 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
Apart from Jesus Christ, even if you've got the law, you're not going places. So let's go back, once again, to II Corinthians 3:6 where it talks about the letter.
II Corinthians 3:6...not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
There's a different arrangement in New Covenant times. The spirit is available, and it places within us the inherent desire for obedience to God inside of us.
Verse 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away.
Read it carefully. Read it carefully. What was passing away? The glory was passing away. What is he talking about? Well, we won't take the time to go back there, but if you want to write this in your notes — I think you're familiar with the events — in Exodus:34:30, 32 where Moses brought the Ten Commandments, and he presented them to the children of Israel, and his face was glowing. He was radiant, and Paul uses this glory, coming from the face of Moses, as a metaphor to say, "That glory is passing away." What passed away? It wasn't the law. It wasn't what was written on the tablets of stone. It wasn't the Ten Commandments that passed away.
It was that arrangement that God had set up with the children of Israel through Moses. Paul is telling the people in the church, "This is not your arrangement. You're living under something that is much more glorious." Let's keep reading.
Verse 8 . . .how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? The Spirit wasn't given generally in Old Testament times. Once the Spirit of God is given, of course, we become obedient to God. We can keep His laws. We're transformed from the inside out. Something is more glorious. So what we're being told here is, first of all, the Old Covenant was glorious, but secondly, the New Covenant is more glorious.
We had this week as we heard in the announcements, a very sad announcement, one of our very beloved church pastors, someone whom we knew. I saw Mr. Winner at the Louisville family weekend in December, just last month, and it was good to see him. I got to chat with him very briefly, but you know, Mr. Winner died under the New Covenant, and we know as a result of that that because God gave him His Spirit, and he was a servant of God, that he's headed to life. There will be glory for him in the future. "The ministry of the Spirit is much more glorious," Paul says.
Verse 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory! I want to read this from the New Revised Standard Version; I brought it with me. Some of the wording in the NRSV is a little clearer.
In the NRSV it says: For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory. Notice, it's talking about ministry. It's talking about administrations; it's talking about arrangements; it's not talking about legal content here, is it? The Old Covenant was glorious, but it led to condemnation. Why? Because if you lived under that covenant, there was no promise of eternal life. Sure, there's going to be a resurrection of everyone eventually, but there was no promise of that. People went to their grave.
If you live under the New Covenant, and you live up to the terms of the New Covenant, there's justification through Christ, then when you go to your grave, you know that there's a promise of eternal life in the future.
Now I was looking around on the internet, and I want to tell you what I found in reading about this subject in someone else's publication, I won't say whose, but this is very commonly believed in the world of Protestantism. Let me read a little bit to you from this quote that I found on this verse and the following verse:
"The Ten Commandments were a ministry that condemned people." Well, I didn't read an explicit reference to the Ten Commandments here. They've been illusioned, but it seems to talk about Moses and glory. "The Ten Commandments were a ministry that condemned people. They had some glory, but not nearly as much as the New Covenant. The Ten Commandments cannot bring righteousness, but the New Covenant does." And then it goes on to quote verse 10.
Verse 10 "For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory." Continue with the quote: "'The Ten Commandments have no glory now,' Paul is saying, 'in comparison with the New Covenant which brings life and righteousness. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts.'"
"What was fading away? Moses' face was fading. But Paul is not talking about Moses' face anymore. He's talking about the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone. That is what came with glory; that is what was fading away. The Ten Commandments, Paul is saying, came with glory, but they're fading away just as surely as the glory of Moses' face also faded. The New Covenant not only has much greater glory, but it also lasts. The Ten Commandments, Paul implies, do not last forever. They were designed as a temporary ministry of condemnation, designed to lead people to Christ."
And then it says, "Notice the contrast Paul has made. " And it continues with two columns. The column on the left, the Ten Commandments; the column on the right, the New Covenant. Is that really what we're reading about? And if so, why did Paul quote the Ten Commandments with authority elsewhere?
In actual fact, if we go back and look more closely at this chapter, we'll see that quotes like that put a little bit of a subtle spin on what's going on here. Paul is not talking about legal content. Had he been talking about legal content, he would have cited specific laws. He talks about the radiance of Moses' face, and Moses stood in the middle of the Old Covenant. He was the mediator.
Who stands in the middle of our covenant? Jesus Christ. So Paul is not contrasting Ten Commandments and New Covenant. He contrasts here, Old Covenant and New covenant, and that's the point of what he's telling the people throughout this chapter.
Verse 10 Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; The Ten Commandments lost their glory? I read back in the Old Testament that the law of the Lord isperfect, reviving the soul. David wrote that in Psalm:19:7. The Ten Commandments were perfect. It wasn't the law or the commandments that lost their glory. It was the covenant, because it was never the same level of glory in the Old Covenant that you and I have and those who've died under that covenant through two thousand years have had through the New Covenant. There's a greater level of glory, and you see, brethren, that Paul is not talking about the legal content here at all. When you look at all the covenants in the Bible, and you line up Noah, Abraham, Old Covenant, New Covenant, and all the way through, there are so many scriptures that talk about the connectivity between them, and the legal heart of every one of the covenants was essentially the same. God made known the essence of His law to Abraham, and to Noah, and to Israel, through the Old Covenant, and to us through the New Covenant. This is not talking of legal content. This is talking about the glory of the covenant. Why? Because when you died as a citizen of ancient Israel, that was it. You went to your grave. There was no promise of glory after you'd gone to your grave. There was no promise of eternal life.
Verse 11 for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory! Paul is talking about something that is temporary, something that is permanent, something that is abiding, something that reaches into eternity. He's not talking about the Ten Commandments. We get right to the end of the Bible, and there are references to the Ten Commandments. They're still in place; they're still at the heart of the New Covenant.
We're supposed to read them and draw out of them greater implications, but, no. He's talking here about the Old Covenant that was temporary, and it was going to be done away. And those who came into the church, if they came from Judaism, they transitioned from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. And Paul is telling them, "Look, under this New Covenant, you've got access to something much, much greater.
Verse 12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. . . bold, as ministers of the New Covenant. Things are not veiled anymore.
Verse 13 . . .not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. What did the veil symbolize? Paul is still speaking in symbolic language. Moses came down from the mountain, and he was glowing, and they couldn't look on him. He was too radiant. There was some kind of shining there, and it sort of overwhelmed them. Again, let's stick a finger in II Corinthians 3 and go to Romans:11:25.
Romans:11:25 And again, I'm reading from the New Revised Standard Version. Actually, I should read this from the New King James Version because it has the wording that I want, slightly different wording. You're probably already there. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Most of Israel back then in Paul's time was unable to see it. Well, maybe they went to the temple; maybe they heard it read; they heard some of the prophecies. They knew that some of it apparently pointed forward to somebody, but they were blind. They weren't able to see it.
And so the veil over Moses' face back there in II Corinthians 3 was a symbol of the fact that most of those people who originally had the Old Testament Scriptures couldn't see it. Now if you go back to the Old Testament, it is simply replete with references to Jesus Christ. They heard those things preached, but they didn't quite catch it. They didn't understand the glory that is through Christ.
II Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Take a look sometime, if you ever get a chance, take a look in our library and take a look at some of the prophecies of Jesus Christ, the Messianic prophecies in the book of Isaiah and elsewhere, and look at some of the Jewish commentary, and the way they interpret some of these prophecies. It's very interesting. They've got some of those things referring to King David and King Hezekiah and referring to the nation as a whole, and the ones that you and I understand, we look at them, and we say, "It's got to be Christ. It's quoted all over the New Testament." And indeed, we understand it correctly, but that veil is still there, and in many cases, they don't understand some of these Messianic passages that point very clearly to Christ.
Verse 16 . . .when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Why? Because you can see Christ in the law? You can see the harmony, and then ultimately, you can see the path to salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Verse 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Again, Paul uses a metaphor. Christ is not literally the Spirit. The Spirit and Jesus Christ are very closely associated because God poured out the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ, the Head of the church. . . .and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. There is liberty, liberty to commit adultery, liberty to lie, liberty to steal, liberty to break the Sabbath. Again, I'll quote to you from what I found on the internet, and I hope you can see how subtly misleading some of these things can be. The same internet site.
"There is some basic continuity between the Old Covenant and the New." Notice that — some. "Most of the Ten Commandments are quoted with approval in the New Testament. These commands reflect aspects of God's law that were in effect long before Sinai, from the beginning. One is not — the Sabbath command. It was a ceremonial law instituted for a temporary time period." And the writer of that fails the reflection paper because we've covered that at ABC within the last couple of weeks and pointed out to the students, and we went over this about how the Sabbath is mentioned very early in the story way back in the book of Genesis where God, Himself, Sabbathed way before there was any church or any nation of Israel, Adventists, or the church of God, or anyone for that matter, and yet I hope you can see from that quote that what happens in practice when people interpret this chapter this way, they do away with the ten, and resurrect the nine.
If Paul is trying to do away with one commandment, there would have been much greater economy in his words if he found some other way to do it. That is not the subject of this chapter. Paul is talking of the potential of the New Covenant.
Freedom — not freedom to break the Sabbath, not freedom to commit adultery, not freedom to lie, not freedom to steal. What kind of freedom do we get then under the New Covenant? This is freedom from the law of sin and death. As New Testament Christians, when we sin, we go back to God, and we confess our sins to Him, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us. Pick ourselves up; we start all over again.
Romans:8:1 Again Paul writes: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. . .
Verse 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has (made) set (me) you from the law of sin and death. Christ is the One who gives us the way out of that, not while we're living in our sins, while we're coming out of our sins. But nevertheless, Christ is the One who saves us from the law of sin and death.
II Corinthians 3:18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. There's glory under the New Covenant. There's a glorious destiny of the children of God. This is something much greater than being born as a citizen of ancient Israel under the Old Covenant. And isn't it a wonderful thing, as Mr. Meeker was saying in the Bible study that we've been called to that. We've been called not according to race, not according to nationality, but we've been called as part of the New Covenant church of God.
A few implications, I'd like to wrap this up — three points that I'd like for us to think about as we go through the next few weeks and months, getting toward the spring, practical points from what we've just read. It may seem very theological.
Number One: The people of God authenticate our work. I thought Mr. Meeker's point was very well stated that we're all involved in a work, and those wonderful pictures, and that wonderful video of our brethren in Africa — isn't it wonderful to realize that God has placed us together in the same bond of the Spirit with people who look different from us and have a different culture and different languages, even some of the African languages. The people of God authenticate our work. This is something big. This is God's epistle, in one sense.
This past year, 2007, the United Church of God baptized at least 293 people. That's 293 people given the Spirit of God and placed on the road to eternal life in God's kingdom.
Point Number Two: We are the New Covenant people of God. Brethren, we always have been. This has never been an Old Covenant church. This is the New Covenant people of God. We're not called according to nationality or by race. It goes deeper. It goes into the spirit, not just into the letter. Our Mediator is Christ, not Moses. That doesn't mean we throw aside everything that God inspired through Moses. That's not the point, but our Mediator is Christ. And Christ is the One who stands between us and the Father.
And point Number Three: Finally, to wrap it up, Point Number Three, the New Covenant is vastly superior to the Old Covenant. The New Covenant leads to life. The Old Covenant leads to death.
We're about three months away from the Passover, and the winter will be over shortly. We look forward to that, come down to April, right around three months from now we get to the Passover, and when we keep the Passover, we're not going to have a literal Passover lamb. We're not going to go to Jerusalem. We're not going to have a Levitical priesthood doing its thing, offering animals, carrying out different forms of cleansing, and so on. No. We are New Covenant Christians, and the New Covenant leads to life, whereas the Old Covenant leads to death. We're called to a greater covenant. One last scripture to wrap this up here, and let's go to John 6.
John:6:53 This is in the context of the Passover. So Jesus said to them, "Very truly . . ." I'm reading the NRSV still. "I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Who's He talking to? Jews, who thought they already had life. And Jesus said, "No. You have no life without Jesus Christ, the Founder of the New Covenant."
Verses 54 "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;
Verse 55 "for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.
Verse 56 "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
Verse 57 "Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.
Verse 58 "This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." Jesus Christ confirms the fact that He has called us to something much greater. That you and I, as members of the New Covenant church of God, the New Covenant people of God, have access to life. We have access to justification. We have access to eternity. It's part of what we've just read about, the ministry of the Spirit.