Friday, October 2, 2009

The New Covenant part 2

How does God vindicate His holiness in the New Covenant?

First, notice in the following passage in Ezekiel 36 how many times the words "I will" are used concerning God doing the work in this new covenant.

Ezekiel 36:24-30
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. [1] 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.

Now, there is no question what the "WILL" of God is here in this passage. There is no question as to what the will of God is in this covenant. It cannot just simply be an "offer" or a motion to do do something good for someone. This "I Will" is a serious rescue mission by the power of the Almighty God to vindicate His holiness and redeem a people for Himself. These "I will's" are not poetic and wishful thinking on God's part: because when it comes to His will scripture teaches that it will always be accomplished. Some examples:

Genesis 3:15 - "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[1] and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Genesis 8:21 - “I will never again curse[1] the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

Genesis 17:21 - "But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

Proverbs 21:1 - "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will."

Romans 9:19 - "You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”"

Daniel 4:35 - all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

Last Verses - a very big key in this topic.

Isaiah 46:10 - "declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ "

Ephesians 1:11 - "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,"

In summary - God's will is never disrupted, thwarted, frustrated or defeated. Bottom line- God's will always comes to pass! His counsel always stands!! His will is never disturbed by man's free will, natural disasters, chaotic uncontrollable circumstances, or anything. This is a hard concept to grasp for many because it brings up the question "Well, did God kow ALL these things on the earth would come to pass...or more specifically, Did He ordain these things? Why?" This would take another post to answer these questions, but the focus that our attention must be set upon is resting in His Sovereignty. God is not a monster, not a magician with puppets on strings, and He is not a controlling dictator. He is Holy, Just, Righteous and Good...a God who has mercy upon thousands (Ex 34:7), a God who laid His life down for many (Mark 10:45), a God who will not let the guilty go unpunished and our focus should not be on how to orchestrate or figure out the "counsel of His will", but how to accomplish and prove what is His perfect and acceptable will(Rom 12:2).

Furthermore, since Scripture teaches that His will always comes to pass and nothing can stay His hand, if we apply this truth to Ezekiel 36, then it is clear that God will actually accomplish this great work of the new covenant. He will do the things He has set forth in this passage
- take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries
- sprinkle clean water and will cleanse His people
- give a new heart and a new spirit
- remove the heart of stone and will put in a heart of flesh
- "put My Spirit within you" - the effects of that will "cause you to walk in my statutes"
- be your God
- deliver you from uncleanness
- make the grain and the fruit of the land abundant

Have these things been accomplished? Are they currently in progress? In the end, do we see that this new covenant is fulfilled, or is God just waiting for people to choose Him while He watches patiently like a fisherman waiting to see if the fish will bite?
Lets go through these promises of God in Ezekiel 36 and see when and how they come to pass.

"I will take you from the nations and gather you from the countries..."This promise is in reference to God's gathering the Israelites from the countries where He scattered them because of their disobedience (Ezek 36:18-19 ; 5:10). God scattered His people because they were rebellious, but this in turn eventually led to more rebellion as the scattered Israelites stumbled upon idols and false worship of other nations. Therefore God chose out of the counsel of His own will to vindicate His holiness and glorify His name by gathering His remnant out of the scattered nations and He would bring them into their own land. (Ezek 37:21-23; 36:24) This gathering of God's people in the new covenant can also be looked at as a type and shadow in that God would gather His scattered children (John 11:51-52), the heirs of salvation, from all over the world and bring them into one flock with One Shepherd (John 10:16). This great prophecy of the new covenant is being fulfilled as we speak, but the full manifestation of it will be known when His flock, His gathhered ones stand before Him on that great day that the book of Revelation speaks of and cry out "“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9-10)

"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. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. "

Key words: Water & Spirit - where are these seen again? "Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:5-6)

Mr. John Darby

"It is principally to this passage (although not exclusively) that the Lord Jesus alludes in John 3, telling Nicodemus that He had spoken of earthly things, and that, as a master of Israel, he ought to have understood that this renewing of heart was necessary to the blessing of Israel in the earth. The truth of this, with regard to a Jew, ought not to surprise him, since it was a work of sovereignty in whomsoever should be born of God"

More sights of water & spirit - (I am not being a sacramentalist in this next passage, I am simply looking at the symbolism of being baptized with water and being baptized with the Spirit)

Acts 1:5 " for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Without God cleansing you, and without God putting in you a new spirit, you CANNOT see the kingdom of heaven. This isnt a suggestion to get sprinkled and get a new spirit like one suggests getting a new car from a dealership because his old one is dead. This is a requirement that is beyond any man's control....God's "I will" is doing the cleansing and putting in and He begins the work and finishes it.(Phil 1:6) This work of God is not only done by Him effectually for His people, but the command to repent, seek a new heart, a new spirit and a new mind is given to ALL men because all men have transgressed. (Ezek 18:31-32) Repentance is commanded of all men whether God acts in saving them or not. Repentance is necessary because all men have sinned against a totally Honorable and Worthy and Most High Sovereign.This is the only Way that any one will live - if they are converted and turn! All men are required to repent because all men have transgressed and the only remedy to cure a dead heart and spirit is to have a living one.

Being "born again" - regenerated, is necessary to enter the kingdom of God. This sprinkling of water and putting in of a new spirit is God's work and the way that it happens is like the wind, Jesus says in John 3:8 . It happens when He wills to all those whom He wills it to happen. (John 1:13) God, a Spirit, births spirit - a baby doesent "birth" itself...meaning that it doesent choose when it is conceived, or born. Neither can a man choose or will himself to be saved - it is a work of God. (Romans 9:16) John 3:20-21 says "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” The only way any sinner can or does do what is right is because God is working within him to do what is right.

To many, this understanding of salvation is hard to grasp, simply because it can bring up the question "How do I know I am even saved if its God who has to do the saving?" Scripture tells us that no man can will himself to be saved or even "do something" to be saved- but scripture also tells us that men are commanded to cry out to God, call on the name of the Lord, and to repent and believe the gospel, seeing that they are sinful in the eyes of God and that they are in need of a Savior. This is the test of assurance - have you repented, and keep repenting, do you believe on the Lord Jesus and are you still believing and cleaving to Him more than on the day you were saved? Will you submit to His Lordship? Does your heart cry out "yes"? If this is som then Romans 8:16 tells you that the Holy Spirit of God (His Spirit that he puts within you(Eze 36:27)) will bear witness with your spirit (your regenerated, God-sensitive, quickened) that you are a child of God. The result of this realization of sin and loathing iniquity is also a part of the new covenant when the Lord says in Eze 36:31 ,"Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations".

Because all mean are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, and the heart of a sinful man is deceitfully wicked, it is only necessary to have a new a new heart and a new spirit to be born again. (John 3:5-7; Eph 2:1; Jer 17:9-10)This is the process of regeneration, by which the Holy Spirit of God moves upon the heart of a sinner and quickens his spirit and creates within him a new heart so that he might see his sinfulness before a holy God, and that he might believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. (Titus 3:5)Regeneration is all by the grace of God and it transforms a man from being a sinful, helpless, enemy of God into being a God-loving, sin-hating, spiritually alive person in Jesus Christ. This process of regeneration happens like the wind(John 3:8) - the Spirit might move as a mighty wind current, drawing 3000 to Christ at once as in Acts 2:41, or the Spirit might blow upon the heart of one as a light wind rustles the smallest of leaves on a tree. ex. Lydia in Acts 16:14. The point is that the Spirit moves Sovereignly and freely and graciously, showing mercy upon whomsoever He wills, and will never cast out whoever will come(John 5:21; 6:37) and regenerating the heart of man so that He might be drawn to Christ and have life eternal. I will focus more upon the other promises of God in the New Covenant in the next post....

Remeber that in these promises of the new covenant , the Lord does these things because He is Gracious and Merciful, a God who loves inspite of who we are and He is passionate about His glory, and passionate to display His Holiness....may you meditate upon these things and be humbled by His grace....

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