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The Old and the New



Did you ever wonder why the Bible has an Old Testament and a New Testament? The word "testament" is defined as "a tangible proof." A deed is the testament of ownership of a property. Or in the case of a will, "testament" means "an act by which a person determines the disposition of his or her property after death."


Biblically, the word "testament" is synonymous with "covenant." That's the reference for the Old and New Testaments. The two major divisions of the Bible refer to the two major covenants God made with His people.


God is a Covenant-making God. He made covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by the waters of a flood.


He made Covenant with Abraham that He would raise up a nation through him and Sarah, even though they were old and childless, and that through this people, He would reveal Himself to the world.


He made Covenant with Israel through Moses that He would be their God if they would obey His Law. This was the great Covenant of the Law which made Israel who they were - the chosen people of Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).


He made Covenant with King David that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever.


And God made Covenant with any who choose to trust and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, that sin would be forgiven, new life would be granted, and eternal life would be guaranteed by Jesus' death and resurrection. This is the great Covenant of Grace which makes Christians who we are - the sons and daughters of God by faith in His Son.


The Old Covenant is a covenant of obedience to God's commandments. The New Covenant is a covenant of faith in God's Son. In the Old Covenant, we are called to be righteous by keeping the Law. In the New Covenant we are called to receive righteousness by trusting the sacrifice made for us by Jesus.


Since nobody's perfect ("All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23), nobody can perfectly keep the Law. The Old Covenant does not make a way for us to earn our redemption from sin and death because we cannot keep it. The Old Covenant points us to our need for the New Covenant. It points us to our need for a Redeemer. It points us to Christ and His grace.


Hebrews 8:8-12 quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, declaring that God plans to make a New Covenant with His people. Hebrews 8:10 is the core of it: "This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people." And then in Hebrews 8:12, it says, "By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear."


So the New Covenant completes and replaces the Old Covenant. We do not achieve righteousness by keeping religious laws. We trust the Son of God, receive His Holy Spirit, and live in righteousness by faith.


Jesus' righteousness fulfills the Law through the power of love and sacrifice. Jesus fulfills the requirements of the Law and takes the punishment we deserve by His death on the cross. Jesus gives us the power of His Spirit to actually keep the requirements of the Law by living lives of holy love. The Law of God is written on our hearts by the Spirit of His Son.


Jesus, alive in our hearts, works His transformation in us over the course of our lives, making us more and more like Himself. We both receive righteousness by faith and become righteous by faith. The New both supersedes and fulfills the Old. Everything points to Jesus, God's Son. In Him, we are sanctified (made holy) in love. In Him, we have forgiveness and eternal life. In Him, we love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.


Jesus shows us that the way to keep the Law is to love. Love does not take God's name in vain. Love does not worship other gods. Love does not steal or murder or commit adultery. Love does not covet. Love does not injure or harm. When we love with God's holy love, we keep the spirit of the Law, as well as the Law itself. With all due respect to the Mandalorian, this is the way!


I will spend the rest of my life gratefully living to honor the God who sent His Son to die in my place and who took up residence in my heart when I put my faith in Jesus Christ. By faith in Jesus, I am adopted as a son of God. He cherishes me, in spite of my frailties and failures. And I love Him, who first loved me. Thanks be to God!

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