“The Covenant of Forgiveness”
Hello! Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. There are several different covenants God made with people which are recorded in the Bible. The majority of them are found in the Old Testament. God initiated each one and required the people to do certain things. Now, these covenants reminded the people of God's desire to have fellowship with them. Most demanded obedience while some required sacrifice. The sacrifices were made over and over again, if the covenant was to remain in effect. Well, after many years of doing that, God made a change. The sacrifices of the past were not replaced with ‘something’ better; rather, they were replaced with ‘someone’ who was far better, and that was Jesus. He offered His life as a one-time sacrifice. He died on a cross so people would no longer have to make their own sacrifices over and over again. Now that was good news for the people we read about in the New Testament, and it is good news for us today. God has made a covenant with us through His one and only Son. And as we enter into that covenant relationship, we experience many good things. There is a solution to our sin problem. We have direct access to God. It is secured with a promise of an eternal home in heaven. Today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will talk about some of these things, as we consider the covenant of forgiveness. For the next few minutes, the Scriptures will remind us of God's great love for us. We will recognize how Jesus paid the price for our sin, which we could never pay on our own. Yes, Jesus did something no other religious leader has done or will do in the future. I hope you will stay tuned to this station as we now open our Bibles and study together.
There are many passages of Scripture in the Old Testament, part of the Bible that are fulfilled in the New Testament, and 350 of them apply specifically to Jesus Christ. They mention His kingdom and His role as the Judge. There are prophecies about Jesus’ priesthood and sacrifice. They also foretell Jesus’ role as God's Son and this world’s Savior. Now, those prophecies were important. They prepared people for something new and for something far better. They anticipated the coming of a new mediator who would bring in a new covenant. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet, and rightly so. He cried over the sin and rebellion of God's people, he shed tears for those who had lost their lives at the hand of their enemies, and as he stood in the city of Jerusalem, he wept over it’s destruction as the Babylonians carried away the people into captivity. Well in Jeremiah's prophecy about the future, he looked to a time when this new covenant would replace the old one. He envisioned One who would offer a new and different way to have a relationship with God; and that new covenant would even replace the need for the Old Testament priests to stand at their altar and to receive the sacrifices which were being made by the people. Jeremiah received his prophecy from the Lord, and I want us to read part of it, which is found in Jeremiah chapter 31 beginning with verse 31. <“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time. I will put My Law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”> Four times in these verses we find the word ‘covenant’; there is a new covenant coming to replace the old one. We also find that these four verses are the longest part of the Old Testament that is recorded anywhere in the New Testament, and they are found in Hebrews chapter 8 and chapter 10. Yes, Jeremiah foresaw something new that was coming. The old covenant system, filled with the blood of sacrificial lambs, would never be able to measure up to the new covenant. The priests would not have to stand at their alters any longer and receive those sacrifices. No longer would there be a line of people with their lambs ready to make the sacrifice. No longer would be the shedding of that blood and all of the things associated with it. No, the new covenant would be different. Oh yes, it would involve a sacrifice, but only one sacrifice; and that would be the sacrifice of God's son, Jesus Christ. And that sacrifice would bring about a personal relationship with God. Jeremiah points out, it would be written on people's hearts. Those hearts of stone would be turned to hearts of flesh. And that was in contrast to the covenant that God made with Moses, when He gave to him the 10 Commandments. They were written on tablets of stone. And through this new covenant, everyone now would have the opportunity to know the Lord. Perhaps the best part of this covenant, according to Jeremiah, is that it would forgive people's sin. And that would not happen because the people would try harder or start making better sacrifices. It would not happen because people would become more humble or more repentant. It would, however, happen only because God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to make that sacrifice. We find these words in Colossians chapter 2, verses 13 and 14, which help us understand a little bit more about that transition from the old covenant to the new covenant. <When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having concealed the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us: He took it away, nailing it to the cross.> The ineffectiveness of the old Law or the old covenant was replaced when Jesus died upon the cross. He nailed it to the cross, is the image that we find there in verse 14. Now, even though the old Law, the Mosaic Law was good, the people could not keep all of its commands and regulations. It did not forgive their sin. It did not bring them closer to God. And some might even ask, “Well, what was the purpose of the old covenant or the old Law?” Well, as Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 3, it was to serve as a school teacher or as a tutor to lead one or to bring one to faith; and that was faith in Jesus Christ. Well, these people struggled with obedience to those commands; but now, under the new covenant, people could come into God's presence through God's son, Jesus Christ. I want us to go to the letter called Hebrews and look at a passage found in chapter 10 verses 11 and 12; and here, again, we will find a contrast between the old covenant and the new covenant of forgiveness. Let's notice verses 11 and 12. <Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. [and then notice 14] For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.> The priests of the old covenant system, day after day, stood at their alters. Their work was never done. There was always another sacrifice to be made. There were always prayers to be offered on behalf of the people. But in contrast to that, the work of the new High Priest, Jesus Christ, the new Mediator was finished. When He came, He offered Himself as the sacrifice. That was all that was needed! And when He completed that, He is now seated at the right hand of God; and, that is in contrast to the priests continuing to stand. As their work was never finished, Jesus is now seated. He is done. His work is complete. Oh, the same animal sacrifices made by those Old Testament priests could never remove one’s sin; and, that's why they had to be made over and over again on a daily and regular basis. The one sacrifice Jesus made, however, removed the curse of sin forever. It was nailed to the cross. And that sacrifice which Jesus made is still sufficient, even for us today; when we receive that sacrifice, as we noticed in verse 14, He makes us perfect and holy in the sight of our Holy God. Therefore, there is no longer any need for us to stand in a line and to make those daily or those weekly sacrifices to God, that remind us of our sin. All of that is finished. It is over with because of the one sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus did, everyone can now personally know God. Everyone can have access to God through the new mediator. Everyone can draw near to God's throne where we receive mercy and grace in times of need, Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 16. Throughout the Old Testament, God continually took care of and demonstrated His love for the people. He never gave up on them. He gave them every blessing and every advantage He possibly could. He blessed them in a variety of ways and He was, as Jeremiah wrote, a husband to them. There was a deep loving connection. At times, however, those people grew a little bit impatient. They thought they could do a little bit better for themselves; and so, they entered into alliances or agreements with the nations around them, and eventually began to worship those foreign gods. Well, after some punishment and rebuke by the prophets, and other things, the people decided they needed to go back to the Lord. And as they went back to God, He received them with His open arms. His love had never gone away. He gave them a second chance or a third chance, or as many chances as they needed, because God is a God of love and patience and He welcomed them back. Well, that very same love and patience is carried over with the arrival of Jesus Christ into this world. When Jesus came, the time for Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled. Oh, there are many places where we read about that fulfillment in the New Testament, but the one place that I really like is Romans chapter 5 and verse 8. The apostle Paul wrote these words: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What an amazing display of love! In the midst of our sin, in the midst of our rebellion toward God, God showed His love. He demonstrated that by sending His son, Jesus Christ, to come up with a solution to our sin problem. That reminds us of that great statement in John 3 and verse 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Yes, God sent Jesus to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. And like those people under the old Law, we can never make enough sacrifices to be right and pure and holy in God's sight. We cannot do enough good deeds to make up for the sin in our life. We can never earn a right standing before God with any amount of money or with any number of sacrifices. Yes, when it comes to removing the problem of sin in our life, we are helpless. We don't have a solution. We don't have a plan that could even come close to doing what God's plan has done for us. Well, the good news is God knew that. He saw us in the midst of our sin. He is aware of our shortcoming. In fact, our lives are laid open and bare before the One to whom we have to give an account, Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 13. So, because of that great love, God sent His Son to provide a solution. Well, that was the essence of the message the apostle Peter shared in Acts chapter 2. The occasion was the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem, probably in the year AD 29 perhaps AD 30, and thousands of people were on hand from at least 14 different countries. They had come to offer their thanksgiving and praise to God for the bountiful harvest they were receiving. It was called the Feast of Harvest. It also marked the 50 day anniversary of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Well as they were all assembled there in Jerusalem, Peter stood before them and he shared a message about Jesus. He told the people how Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, focusing primarily on the prophecy of Joel chapter 2. Now was the time for the door to be opened to people everywhere. Now was the time for salvation to come to everyone who called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter continued to talk about the fulfillment of those Old Testament passages, and then he went to the ministry of Jesus, with whom these people were most familiar. He told that Jesus came to minister and to bless other people. He came as God's representative in this world to heal those who were sick and to feed those who were hungry. And many people welcomed that; they enjoyed being miraculously fed or healed. And yet, they did not believe that Jesus was God's Son or God's representative. They thought He was an imposter, so they turned their back on His message and His ministry, even to the point they cried out for Jesus’ death. They persecuted Him, they abused Him and finally Pilot agreed to have Him crucified. Jesus died upon that cross. His body was then taken down and buried in a tomb, and three days later, God raised His Son from the dead. Well, as Peter closed the message, he shared these words with those people, in verse 36: “Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Well, no doubt that brought a great reaction from the people. They recognized, indeed, they were guilty of rejecting Jesus. Perhaps some of those very people there were the ones who cried out for His death. And so they asked, “Well, what shall we do? How do we respond? Where do we go from here?” And Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Well, according to the story, at least 3000 people did that, on that very day. They turned away from rejecting Jesus. They did not reject Him any longer, but instead were baptized into the name of Jesus. Their sin was forgiven and they received God's Holy Spirit. The people recognized that through Jesus’ death and burial and resurrection, they could be forgiven. Because He rose from the dead, He initiated a new covenant through which they could experience that forgiveness and that relationship with God; and yes, God's Son was the source of their eternal salvation. Peter would say, two chapters later, chapter 4 verse 12, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” The people recognized it then, and that is still true today. There is no need for anyone else to do anything else. There is no need for another sacrifice. There is no need for another covenant. Yes, Jesus’ sacrifice and covenant of forgiveness is sufficient for all time. And through Jesus, we have all that we need for our sin to be forgiven and for us to experience God's free gift of salvation. Oh, there are times in our life, perhaps, when we become very sick. We get some kind of disease and we don't know for sure if we are going to live or die. There are times when we don't feel well or our loved ones don't feel well, and during those times we want to take care of ourselves. We go to the wisest doctor. We seek out the very best medicine. We take every careful precaution we can not to be around those who we might infect, or who might infect us; and, no doubt, this world has gone through something like that just recently. It's tragic; but we're very concerned about our physical wellbeing. And yet, with that in mind, we need to ask a question concerning our spiritual wellbeing; and that is, can we afford to be any less careful about our eternal life? Oh, when it comes to the forgiveness of my sin and where I spend eternity, I do not want any uncertainties. I do not want there to be any kind of questions or doubts as to who Jesus is and what He has done for me. And that is the reason why I can not go to anyone else, because Jesus has the words of eternal life. My prayer for you today is that you will receive that covenant of forgiveness and experience God's salvation in your life today.
Several people have parked their cars here in this parking lot, and they're going inside the municipal building. And they're doing that for one primary reason; they need to stand before a judge. Something has happened in the past where they have broken a law of the land and now they have to give an account of what took place. A typical scene involves standing before a judge giving an account and then the judge pronouncing a guilty sentence and requiring a fine to be paid. And before the people leave, that crime, or that mistake, goes down as a misdemeanor on their record. Many years ago that was what was done spiritually. A priest stood at an altar and received the sacrifices of the people; but yet, it did not eliminate the sin, it was simply carried forward. And yet some 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ came as the great High Priest. He died upon the cross to take away our sin and the guilt of it; and, He made that sacrifice once and for all time, no need to make it anymore. And because of that sacrifice, our sin can be forgiven. We don't have to live with that guilt any more. And someday, we will stand before the Judge of this world, Jesus, Himself, and we will give an account of the life we have lived; and yet that sin will be no more, because we are a part of God's family. Through our faith and obedience in Jesus Christ, we know with full confidence our sin has been forgiven and there is no permanent mark on our record and we can now enjoy the beauties and the glories of heaven, for all eternity.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” I am truly thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf, and I am sure you are, too. Isn't it good to know He provides a way for our sin to be forgiven! This message, along with many others, is available to view or listen to again. Through our website you can download it in a variety of formats. It is free from any charge and there is no obligation attached to it. I hope you will take a few minutes to look at the lessons which are offered. One-minute messages and two-minute video clips are on the website as well. They offer practical insights into the Bible's message. Information about our ministry, some of our core beliefs and details about our efforts in India are also available. A free phone app, Facebook® and Roku® television are other ways to stay connected. Every week our goal is to share messages that will uplift, encourage and guide us in our walk with the Lord. I trust you have found that to be the case with today's broadcast. Thank you again for being our guest and I invite you to join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”