Tag Archives: salvation

New Covenant, a.k.a. The Way

pexels-photo-1578750John 14:3-7, 9 [NIV] “3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” … 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me [. . .] Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

The Way, the Truth, or the Life?

I have heard the verse “I am the way and the truth and the life…” many times in my life, and I often feel the context and application is lost. Usually, it shows up in some discussion on the nature of truth. “Jesus is ‘The Truth'” the retort usually says. This is correct, but this is not what this passage is about.

Early followers of Jesus were called the followers of “The Way.” This is apparent as early as the Acts of the Apostles. In John’s gospel above, we see why. Disciples are, by definition, followers, and disciples of Jesus are followers of The Way Himself.

The grammatical structure of this series “the way the truth and the life” is sometimes called “adjectival.” In other words, Jesus is primarily stating that he is “The Way,” then He goes on to describe what sort of “way” He is. He is the way that is true and alive! In other words, His path is the one based in truth that leads to true and everlasting life.

See the context: He is telling the disciples of their eventual reunion (and the implication is certainly marital) in His Father’s house. However, most brides know where their future father-in-law lives. In this case, the disciples haven’t the first clue. Jesus comforts them, “Don’t worry! I will show you the way there, and it is the way of truth that I have already been laying out.”

Later in the same conversation, Jesus says:

John 14:16-18 [NIV] “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

He is leaving, coming back, and showing the way, but that’s not all. He’s giving us the guide to walk with us along the way. The (Holy) Spirit, who comes from this same truth, guides along the way to the Father’s house.

What does this Way look like?

The answer is the clear theme of Paul’s letters, but it is oddly easy to miss. The answer to this question is the main difference between Old Testament and New Testament–what moves us from one covenant to the next. It is Spirit versus Flesh, Grace versus Law, Holy of Holies versus outer courts kind of stuff.

The old covenant was driven by Law. Do this, don’t do that, and you will be blessed. Break these laws and you will be cut off. What is the new covenant? We are told what it will be during the old covenant.

Jeremiah 31:33 [NIV] ” ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘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.’ “

Paul reminds us (in Romans 2) that this opens up the covenant to Gentiles who have this law written on their hearts rather than on pages.

The old covenant was a set of rules designed to keep us in line. The new covenant is emphatically not a new set of rules. It is Spirit, Life, and Truth.

You ask for a rule; you are given the Holy Spirit. You ask for guidance, you are given conscience. You ask for a babysitter, and you are given a Father!

This is all over the place in the New Testament, but one of my favorite places to watch this happen is in Galatians 5. How can you tell you are living by the Spirit? There will be fruit:

vv. 22-23 [NIV] “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control…”

How do you know you are living by flesh, violating the Law because you are acting under your own authority? There will be fruit:

vv. 13, 19-21 [NIV] 13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. … 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What does your life look like? Are you on The Way? You can’t get there by yourself, because Jesus himself is the way, and it is by Jesus that we are given the Spirit to guide us in The Way.

2 Corinthians 5:17 [NIV] “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

How do you know that your actions are right?

Galatians 5:14 [NIV] “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “

When’s the wedding?

So, Jesus is The Way, and we must have Him to be on the right “Way.” This is why moral principles themselves do not save and that no amount of self-imposed righteousness can get us to the Father’s house.

Think of it this way, there are plenty of well behaved people in the world that I did not chose to marry. The one that I brought into my home is the one who wanted me, who would love me, and whom I could love for eternity. She is the one I have a covenant with, and it is not based on her good behavior, though there are some general expectations. She is mine because she will have me and I will have her.

You are Christ’s because He will have you and you will have Him. He is to be in your heart as you are to be in His. He has met the requirements of the law and it is now our job to trust him. To say, “nothing more, nothing less,” sounds off here, because trusting him is not a mere mental assent. It involves everything we have. My love for my wife is not an occasional thing, it must be all-defining. It must be moreso for our Saviour.

He is the Way to Life, after all!


The Joy of Christ’s Advent

Capture

Here are my notes from an Advent message on Joy/Shepherd Sunday.


Intro: The Advent season is a time to remember when Jesus came to earth. It is also a season to celebrate the future coming of Jesus. When God became a man in Jesus, there was great joy in the hearts of all who knew him. The greatest joy always comes after a time of great sadness and expectation. Man’s experience waiting for a savior is one of great sadness. Yet his experience when the savior comes is one of great joy.

Reading:

Today we will be lighting the third candle. This candle is different because of its color. Long ago, and in some parts of the world today, the season of advent was a time of fasting and confession of sin. This was based on the idea of preparing ourselves for the return of Christ by eliminating sin from our lives. On the third week, to remember with joy the fact that Christmas (and Christ!) is almost here, they used a lighter candle. This was to be a more joyful week, because the time of fasting was almost over. This week we remember the joy of Jesus’ coming. We also wait with expectation for the joy we will experience when Jesus returns for his church.

Luke 2:8-12 says, And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Text:

[Luk 2:4-7 ESV] 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place [room] for them in the inn [room]. . . .

Title:    Joy of Christ’s Advent

Thesis: Advent reminds us of the backwards-forwards way we live our lives. We remember that our salvation has some, and our salvation will come. You have been saved. You are being saved. You will be saved.

Trans:  What in your life is a foregone conclusion? Death and taxes? What can you count on with certainty? We have faith in many things that have been reliable for us so far, even if they fail us. Your car? Your job? We know what faith is because we misplace it all the time! The faithfulness of Christ surpasses these all.

Joy reflects on the salvation Christ brought to us

[Luk 2:13-20 ESV] 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  1. Jesus is our ultimate rescuer
    1. In the announcement by the angels, Jesus is called 4 things:
      1. Savior – rescuer, deliverer
      2. Messiah – anointed one, king
      3. Lord – master, even YHVH
      4. Baby – you need a definition?
    2. “The life of Christ is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered the world through a door marked No Entrance. And He left through a door marked No Exit. And because Jesus exited that empty tomb, the Bible says one day those of us who are related to Him by faith are going to exit going to exit the tomb as well—because Jesus is our rescuer from death.” – Dr Robert Jeffress
  2. Jesus came to do for Israel, and the Gentiles, what they could not do for themselves.
    1. When Israel could not follow the law, God came as the righteous Israelite to fulfill their end of the covenant.
    2. God would not leave his people stranded, nor will he leave you.
    3. [Gal 1:3b-4 ESV] 3 the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
  3. We’re reminded of what Simeon said of him:
    1. [Luk 2:26, 28-32 ESV] 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. … 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
    2. Jesus in Hebrew is Yehoshuʿa – The salvation of YHVH or YHVH is salvation
      1. Matthew reminds us of this meaning. It was given by Gabriel to declare Jesus’ mission, “he will save his people from their sins.”

Trans:  Just as Advent points us backwards to Christs’ first coming, it points us forward to his second. Consider the anticipation with which Israel awaited its messiah. The King from the line of David would once again deliver them from their enemies and sit on his eternal throne. They misunderstood…

Joy looks forward to Christ’s future coming

[Luk 14:16-18,22-24 ESV] 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. … 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”

  1. There is a banquet prepared for us. You are invited! As with the weddings of Israel, there is no knowing the day nor the hour that the invitation will be enacted. When the feast is ready, the groom is ready, and the time is just right, he will come.
  2. At Jesus’ first coming, many were not ready and made excuses. There will not be such an opportunity the second time around.
    1. [Luk 18:8b ESV] 8 … when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
  3. Do we likewise make excuses away from holiness in preparation for his second coming?
    1. He has taken this long…
    2. [2Pe 3:4-7, 10 ESV] 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. … 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
    3. [Joe 2:13 ESV] 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Trans:  We’ve taken this same principle to apply to our children at this time of year. Santa Claus is coming to town after all. In case he’s not as omniscient as our Lord, maybe the Elf on the Shelf will advise him of our behavior. Do we forget that our omnipresent omniscient Lord sees every day and act?

Joy comes from repentance and preparation for his coming

[Col 3:4-11 ESV] 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

  1. You will appear with Christ in his coming!
  2. God knows no distinction among his people. There are those whom he will save and those who will “save” themselves. There is no other distinction
  3. How now shall we live? If eternity is legitimately at hand, what effect will it have on our lives?
    1. [2Pe 3:11-12, 14-15 ESV] 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! … 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
  4. Before we become overly-anxious remember:
    1. Those who fear the Lord have nothing to fear. It is those that do not fear Him that have every reason to be afraid.
    2. [Psa 40:12 ESV] 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.
    3. [Mat 10:30 ESV] 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
    4. Jesus’ knowledge of the hairs on our head is not mere trivia
      1. [Psa 40:13 ESV] 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
      2. [Mat 10:31 ESV] 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Trans:  Fear not. The angels say to the shepherds…

  • [Luk 2:10 ESV] 10 “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
  • [Luk 12:32 ESV] 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • [Rev 1:17 ESV] 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,

Conclusion:   Advent means arrival. Your salvation has arrived. Your salvation is arriving. Your salvation will arrive.

  • Have you accepted the salvation he already offers?
  • Are you living by faith in the grace that his salvation now brings?
  • Are you preparing your heart and life to participate in the salvation of his future coming?

Our Father, may we trust the salvation that you bring us, acknowledging the death that we have walked into. May we thank you for the salvation we now live. May we repent and prepare for the salvation that is to come. May we not fear. May we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

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