November 18, 2003 ©Homer Kizer
What Exactly Is the NEW COVENANT?
The writer of Hebrews says that Christ is the mediator of a new covenant--what is this covenant? What are its terms? A covenant usually sets forth in law the obligations of all covenanting parties. Is the new covenant this type of a contract? Or is it a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart?
The Apostle Paul uses a marriage contract as a metaphor for the law that formerly bound Gentile converts at Rome. Is the new covenant a law similar to Pax Romana, the law and peace of Rome? Is it a similar contract for the spiritual peace of disciples? Do you say, I do, when becoming a party to the new covenant? If you do, to what have you committed yourself?
The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant, one unlike the first, one that has the law of God written on hearts and minds; that causes all, great and small, to know the Lord; that includes forgiveness of sin. What is this law of God? Can we know for sure? And what does it mean to have the law of God inside a disciple? Does this mean that the law has been fulfilled? Or does this mean that disciples are obliged to read the fine print of a law written inside of them?
In every city, on the marquee of a particular building is some variation of the name, The New Covenant Church of God. Other churches named after their religious practices will also tell you that they are new covenant churches. Most have steeples; a few do not. Most have stained glass windows. Sunday school starts at 9:30; worship services begin at 11:00. People arrive in their best clothes. Some go out to eat afterwards, some go shopping. Most make the day special in some way. Most get together as a family. In beliefs, in practices, in traditions--all are similar enough that an outside observer would conclude, if they were sports teams, that they all use the same play book. And indeed, all use the same book: the Holy Bible. Is it not, then, reasonable to conclude that the foundational documents for the beliefs, practices, and traditions of these new covenant churches are located in the Bible, most of which pertains to the history, customs, and practices of the ancient nation of Israel?
Therein lies an enigma: if the Bible is mostly about the ancient nation of Israel, why doesn't Christianity use a different book? Islam, while also claiming Abram as their patriarch, uses another book. Stories are repeatable in other books. But early disciples preached the resurrection of Christ from the same book that Pharisees used to label Jesus a common criminal. Both claimed to better understand the book than did the other. Both claimed divine inspiration. Both prayed to the same God-- No! both didn't. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not the God of Jesus Christ, contrary to what has been taught for centuries by Sunday School teachers worldwide.
The Apostle John identifies Jesus as God the Logos, or simply put, the Word, who "was in the beginning with God [Theon]" (John 1:2), and who "became flesh and lived among [the disciples] (v. 14). This deity identified as the Word was God [Theos], but He "looked up to heaven and said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you'" (John 17:1), and "'I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world'" (v. 6), and "'Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them'" (vs. 25-26).
Physical Israel worshiped the Creator of the universe, but that Creator was the Word: "All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being" (John 1:3). And the juxtaposition of physical versus spiritual needs to be introduced. The one parallels the other: the writer of Hebrews says, "But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption" (9:11). The Bible tells one story that is of the creation; i.e., of matter, and of space-time. It also tells a parallel story about what is beyond the unfurled dimensions in which physicists postulate theories. This parallel story is beyond human ability to perceive either its occurrence, or its impact upon humanity without divine revelation. It can only be seen by its shadow, which is the story and history of physical Israel.
God the Logos, or the Word, or Theos , or YHWH, or Elohim [when used with singular pronouns or verbs], or I am--all the same deity--is the only God Abraham knew. He is also the God we know as the glorified man Christ Jesus. But we also know a second God, the God of YHWH, who is simply called the Father. And this distinction between Creators separates Judaism from Christianity, and one Christian sect from another as many sects try to hold on to portions of the old covenant--the physical creation was the work of Theos (John 1:3), while the spiritual creation is the work of Theon, both of whom were present when humanity was conceived (Gen 1:26), but not when Adam and Eve were actually made from the elements of the earth (v. 27). The first covenant (i.e., the Sinai covenant) was with physical Israel, and had a physical mediator, the man Moses, and had the Creator of the physical universe, YHWH, or Theos as God. The new covenant is with spiritual Israel, and has a spiritual mediator, the glorified Christ, and has the Creator of glorified beings, the Father, as God. What was physical has become spiritual. The physical covenant has been abolished (Eph 2:15); it doesn't exist anymore in any form. But the physical covenant, like the physical temple, was a type, or shadow of the spiritual covenant. Without the shadow, we cannot determine the reality, which exists outside of unfurled dimensions of space-time, that is, outside of what humanity can observe and measure. When the shadow is lost, we have neither the mirror in which we can see our spiritual selves, nor do we see the plan of God or where we are in that plan, nor are we able to read the terms of the contract by which we agreed to be judged. Some wouldbe scholars have celebrated the abolishment of the shadow by forgetting that this shadow is the only image we have of a reality that cannot otherwise be seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled, or measured. We have a written record of the relationship of the reality to its shadow, so that we don't mistake one for the other. But this shadow is our only gauge of what is true. Without this shadow, we would be groping in the dark for a reality that exists outside of our dimensions of space-time.
(When Jewish scholars translated the Holy Scriptures into Greek--the Septuagint--they did not know the Father, or that a spiritual creation was also occurring, so they did not use the case endings for YHWH with the precision that the Apostle John uses them; thus when Jesus cites the Septuagint, He has no need to correct case endings. The neuter case had been improperly assigned to YHWH by translators who never imagined the existence of the Father.)
Returning to the Gospel of John, the "God" who the Word was with in the beginning is God the Father. The name by which the Word identified this God is pater, changing the Greek characters into Roman characters. Literally, the name of the Word's God is Father, which is, indeed, a title or position as much as it is a name. But it is the name by which the Word made the Most High God's name known to His disciples--the resurrected Christ instructs Mary to tell His brothers, "'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'" (John 20:17); so, indeed, Jesus as the Word made flesh had a God that He called Father, and identified as His father, the name and title inseparably linked.
About the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among men, the Apostle John adds, "The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (1:17-18). What, exactly, does John mean when he writes that no one has ever seen God (i.e., God the Father)? Does he mean that no one has ever seen the face of God in His glory? Or God appearing as a man? Does he write figuratively? Or does he really mean that no human has ever, in any form, seen God? That seems to be his meaning if it has taken Christ to make the Father known.
Jacob wrestled all night and was told, "'[Y]ou have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed'" (Gen 32:28). "So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved'" (v. 30). Certainly Jacob saw his God, the God of Abraham.
Moses was commanded by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exod 3:6) to go to Pharaoh--"'So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt'" (v. 10)--and Moses saw the backside of this God of Abraham: "And the Lord continued, 'See, there is a place by me where you shall stand…and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen'" (Exod 33:21-23).
Abraham had apparently seen his Lord enough times either in vision or in person--the text isn't specific--that when "[t]he Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day" (Gen 18:1), Abraham recognized the Lord, and "ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground" (v. 2), and said, "'My Lord'" (v.3). Abraham killed a calf, and served curds, milk, and the calf to his Lord. Sarah laughed when the promise of a son was mentioned, and the Lord--the tetragrammaton YHWH--asked, "'Why did Sarah laugh, and say, "Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?" Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you in due season, and Sarah shall have a son'" (vs. 13-14). There is no indication in Scripture that this visit of the Lord (i.e., YHWH) is a vision. Rather, the text seems very clear that Abraham washes the feet and feeds his God.
The Apostle John would have known that Abraham washed the feet of YHWH, that Moses saw the backside of YHWH, that Jacob saw Elohim face to face. So either John is mistaken, or God the Father [Theon] is a different entity than YHWH, or Elohim when accompanied by a singular verb or pronouns.
If not to God the Father, to whom did Jesus pray? Did He pray to Himself, a pointless exercise in futility?
Shortly before being taken into custody, Jesus, in prayer to the Father, said,
I ask not only on behalf of these [His Disciples], but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
If the Father and the Son are one, they are one with Jesus' Disciples and with everyone who has believed the word of those Disciples, thereby turning God into a species rather than a Trinity, a doctrine that wasn't held by the early church. First century Pharisees knew the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the supreme God, above which are no other gods, but they didn't know that a spiritual creation had begun. They couldn't even entertain the idea that their ancestors were living shadows of a supernatural reality yet to come. The Apostle John tells Christ's disciples that Jesus was that God, and was equal to the Father, who Jesus identifies as His God and our God. For Christians, God is the Father although the glorified Christ is equal to Father in every way, but equal as a firstborn Son is equal with His Father, who remains the ultimate authority.
The reality of Israel's journey from Egypt to the promised land is the shadow of a spiritual Israelite's journey from sin to salvation. This analogy needs to be understood before the new covenant can be understood. Likewise, the history of the nation of Israel dividing into the houses of Israel and Judah and going into captivity is the history of spiritual Israel dividing and going into spiritual captivity to the King of Babylon, Satan (Isa 14:4-23 -- all of the prophecy pertains to Satan who remains as the King of spiritual Babylon until he comes as the antitype antiChrist 1260 days before Christ's return as the all powerful Messiah). The watchmen who warn of impending national captivity for the modern descendants of the house of Israel do not understand that the physical creation is finished. Jesus finished it when He was born as a man and died at Calvary. The creation still ongoing is of spiritual Israel, which has already experienced spiritual captivity by Satan for the same type of sins as sent physical Israel into captivity. A spiritual Ezra has already left Babylon to rebuild the walls of spiritual Jerusalem. Where we are beyond that is difficult to ascertain, but at some point a spiritual Maccabean family will go to war with the demonic king of the North--and will win when Christ intervenes on a day of battle.
The Logos was born as a man, lived and died as a man, and has been glorified by the Father, which was returning Him to his former glory but now as the Father's Son and Messiah. The destiny of obedient humanity is to become one with Christ and the Father, just as Christ is one with the Father. Disciples are to become heirs of God, not servants as the angels are. And a person either believes the many passages about resurrected disciples being the legitimate children of God the Father, through adoption, with Christ as their firstborn elder brother, or the person rejects God, and Christ, who died as a man to bring to humanity knowledge of the Father, and to make possible a relationship with the Father which was denied to even Abraham because of sin. The Father will not abide any sin, regardless of how minor that sin seems to be to humanity.
All of this circles back around to whom did the Pharisees worship. If Judaism had been worshiping God the Father, then there would have been no need to make His name known to the world, or to Israel. The actual charge that caused Christ to be sentenced to death was His answer to the high priest Caiaphas' question: "'Are you, then, the Son of God?'" (Luke 22:70). Jesus said, "'You say that I am'" (same verse). In a word for word translation, the reason of the offense taken because of Jesus' answer is more understandable--You say [that] because I am. Jesus not only didn't deny that He was the Son of God, but He puns by identifying Himself as I AM, the name with which YHWH self-identifies Himself when Moses asked for His name. God the Logos tells Moses to tell the Israelites, "'"[YHWH], the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you": / This is my name forever, / and this is my title for all generations'" (Exod 3:15). So when Jesus said, because I am, He self-identifies Himself as YHWH. Therefore, Christians, by worshiping the Father, worship the Most High God, the deity that YHWH calls His God (John 20:17).
The above discussion lays the foundation for understanding the new covenant, and understanding why physical Israelites were (and remain) so hostile toward Christianity. The first commandment of the Decalogue was spoken by YHWH: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me" (Exod 20:2-3). It is important to note that YHWH tells these physical Israelites who have just been liberated from physical slavery that He is their God, and that they are to have no other gods before Him. He doesn't tell them that He is the Canaanites' God, or that He, Himself, has a God. The first commandment of the Decalogue specifically states that He, YHWH, is physical Israel's God, and that they are to have no other gods before Him.
Three days earlier, YHWH gave these same Israelites the terms of the covenant by which they would be a holy people. Those terms were simple: "'Thus you [Moses] shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites:…Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation'" (Exod 19:3-6). YHWH says nothing about sacrifices, or the regulations that we have come to generally accept as part of the law of Moses.
Moses summons the elders of the house of Jacob and of the assorted Israelites by circumcision, and he set before them YHWH's terms. "The people all answered as one: 'Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do'" (Exod 19:8). But they lied! They could not obey YHWH's voice and could not keep His covenant for even forty days--and they were fortunate they lived, such was the anger of YHWH: "The Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation'" (Exod 32:9-10).
As a defense attorney might, Moses pleads Israel's case, and closes by asking the Lord to remember the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because of Abraham's faith. Israel has proved faithless. Why probably cannot be fully ascertained. Perhaps because they had been a slave people. Perhaps because they couldn't imagine an invisible God. They could believe in what they could see, but they were unable to accept a spiritual God in a physical world. For them, gods had shape, form, substance. Gods weren't a speaking tetragrammaton, or named, I AM.
The writer of Hebrews says that the fault of the Sinai covenant wasn't with the covenant, but with the house of Jacob and with the associated Israelites (Heb 8:8). When certain elders of Israel came to consult with YHWH, He tells the prophet Ezekiel, "'And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am [YHWH] your God. But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; not one of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt'" (20:7-8). Again, God the Logos identifies Himself as YHWH, the God of the Israelites that left Egypt--and He says that Israel never put away their idols, nor did they put Him first. Despite the miracles, they literally rejected Him as their God. They could not believe in what they couldn't see. They couldn't enter the promised land because of their unbelief (Heb 3:19), which becomes disobedience (Heb 4:6) when, the day after they believed the report of the ten spies and refused to go forward, they tried to take the promised land after being told to head into the wilderness. They lacked faith in the Lord, which became unbelief, which became disobedience.
Israel had been made a holy nation because of Abraham's faith. That faith, however, had substance. YHWH appeared to Isaac and said, "'I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my [ordinances], my commandments, my statutes, and my laws'" (Gen 26:4-5). The Apostle Paul tells us that the offspring through which all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing is Christ (Gal 3:16). So the same deity who promised the blessing became the blessing by being born as the man Jesus Christ.
Abraham's faith caused him to obey the Lord's voice, and to keep His ordinances, commandments, statutes, and laws. The blessing comes because of Abraham's faith; it also comes because of Abraham's obedience. Faith produces obedience through the intermediate step of belief. The Israelites that left Egypt lacked faith in a God they couldn't see. As a result, they didn't believe YHWH. And because they didn't believe Him, they disobeyed Him. The covenant they made with YHWH was figuratively and literally broken when Moses cast down the two tablets of stone on which were written the law of God. Those two tablets had been cut from stone by YHWH, as well as written on by His finger.
Physical works were now added to the law of God: "[YHWH] said to Moses, 'Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke'" (Exod 34:1). Initially, YHWH had asked of Israel only that the nation obey His voice and keep His covenant--two things, both of which are contained in Exodus chapters 20-23. Under this Sinai agreement, obeying YHWH's voice was literally keeping the Ten Commandments, which is directly analogous to receiving the Holy Spirit [Pneuma], both given on Pentecost. The covenant Israel was to keep is found in Exodus 20:22 through 23:19. This covenant and obeying YHWH's voice are summarized in the question and statement: "So now, O Israel, what does [YHWH] your God require of you? Only to fear [YHWH] your God, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve [YHWH] your God with all your heart and with all your [mind -- naphesh], and to keep the commandments of [YHWH] your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own wellbeing" (Deu 10:12-13). The "today" in the cited passage is forty years later, and the audience is the children of the Israelites that left Egypt.
Again, in the cited passage from Deuteronomy, we see that God the Logos, or YHWH (same deity), is the God of these physical Israelites. His voice and His covenant were surprisingly simple. Keeping them was to love Him with their hearts and minds. But even these children of the slaves who left Egypt were rebellious. To Ezekiel, YHWH says,
I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not follow the statutes of your parents, nor observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I [YHWH] am your God; follow my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances, and hallow my sabbaths that they may be a sign between me and you, so that you may know that I [YHWH] am your god. But the children rebelled against me; they did not follow my statutes, and were not careful to observe my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live; they profane my sabbaths. (Ezk 20:18-21)
God the Logos knew what the solution to the fault of the Sinai covenant was, knew that the Israelites must internalize His commandments and decrees before they could walk in His ways--and He offered Israel the solution. His law was outside of Israel. It was an alien thing, a foreign concept, something to fear, to shun, to mechanic on. The solution was to write His law on the hearts and minds of these children of a slave people, was to spiritually circumcise their hearts and minds, was to offer them His Holy Pneuma or Breath. This is an alien concept within Christianity, but the analogy of YHWH speaking the commandments of God on Pentecost and the Holy Pneuma being given and appearing as tongues of fire on Pentecost would have the writing of the laws of God on hearts and minds (i.e., the circumcision of hearts and minds) being the spiritual application of hearing the physically spoken commandments of God. Thus, when circumcision of hearts and minds is offered to physical Israel in the Moab covenant, what YHWH actually offers is His Spirit or Breath, by which Israel could have, by faith, believed YHWH unto obedience by observing His commandments and decrees (Deu 30:10). Israel was without excuse. And this should resolve the question of whether King David had God's Spirit with him, or in him. By faith, it was available to him under the terms of the second, or Moab covenant (v. 6).
Just before the children of the Israelites that left Egypt were to enter the promised land, God the Logos makes a second covenant with them: "These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb" (Deu 29:1). These physical Israelites aren't asked if they wanted to be party to this covenant, which was made with them just as if they were eight day old Israelite sons.
The above is almost true, but not quite. The key provision of the second covenant mediated by Moses is: "Moreover, [YHWH] your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love [YHWH] your God with all your heart and with all your [mind -- naphesh], in order that you may live" (Deu 30:6). YHWH, by covenant, will put His law inside of these physical Israelites so that they can love Him, and obey His words, which would be receiving the Holy Spirit/Pneuma, not something Christianity has previously taught although the evidence has always been before us in King David's prayers. By covenant, YHWH would do this for these children of slaves when they "return to [YHWH] your God, and [they] and [their] children obey him"
(v. 2) with all their hearts and with all their minds. So the terms of this Moab covenant did give these Israelite children an out if they didn't want circumcised hearts and minds, didn't want the Holy Spirit. All they had to do was never to return to YHWH, which most of them never did. The condition for receiving the Holy Spirit was faith, was voluntarily submitting to what the Apostle Paul called the law of faith. When this is understood, then the new covenant can be understood.
Projecting forward, the circumcision of the heart and mind of the new covenant are directly analogous to the birth and circumcision of an eight day old Israelite son, who has no choice about whether he will be circumcised. Spiritual Israelites, unlike the children of physical Israelites, have no choice about whether they will accept the circumcision of this spiritual second covenant. Their only out is whether they will be baptized, required of them before they become part of spiritual Israel--all of physical Israel were baptized when they left slavery by them passing through the Red Sea (1 Corth 10:1-2). When a drawn spiritual Israelite leaves spiritual slavery, this person receives a circumcised heart and mind, but has only journeyed to the spiritual promised land as far as the Red Sea until baptized. If this drawn spiritual Israelite isn't baptized, the person will again be taken captive by Satan, the spiritual type of Pharaoh.
The geographical distance from the mouth of the Nile to Jerusalem becomes the spiritual distance from living in sin to receiving eternal life. Under the new covenant, a person is to come out of sin. The person doesn't have to fight his or her way out. The person has only to walk out when told to go. Christ as the mediator of the new covenant leads the person out of sin just as Moses led physical Israel out of Egypt. And as YHWH decimated Egypt so that Pharaoh was willing to release the nation, so too does the Father force Satan to expel a disciple He has drawn from the world--and until the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Father and of His Messiah (Rev 11:15), no person can come to Christ unless drawn by the Father (John 6:44, 65). But with the Red Sea analogous to baptism, a drawn disciple must be baptized. To linger too long on the south shoreline will cause a drawn disciple to lose faith as the disciple sees Satan and sin bearing down on the disciple, bent upon returning the disciple to spiritual slavery. When this spiritually circumcised disciple reaches his or her figurative Red Sea, the person must be baptized to safely become part of spiritual Israel. To linger long in Egyptian sunshine as a drawn and circumcised disciple will allow Satan as a type of Pharaoh to return the person to slavery. Escape, now, becomes more difficult. Escape remains possible, and the person remains spiritually circumcised, which compels the person to try to escape. But it is would have been easier to walk across the Red Sea than to have had to swim years or decades later.
The first covenant God the Logos makes with the nation of Israel is at Sinai, or Horeb [same place]. He spoke His commandments, and gave Israel a covenant--two things. He gave Israel a choice of whether to accept before revealing the terms or uttering His words. The nation accepted, and because the nation did, it became a priestly kingdom and a holy people. The covenant was national; its promises and terms were physical; and it was not a law of works. But if there were ever a covenanting party that ignored the terms of the agreement the party signed, it was the nation of Israel. It's doubtful that any other breach of contract as great has ever occurred. The prophet Hosea was told to marry a prostitute. She was as faithless in her marriage vows as the nation of Israel was in hers. Nevertheless, seven centuries pass before YHWH finally divorces both the house of Israel and the house of Judah by sending them into national captivity. For seventy years, no Israelite occupied Jerusalem.
Did Elohim know ahead of time that physical Israel would prove as faithless as it did, or as seems to be the case with the gold calf that sort of cast itself--Aaron's excuse--was YHWH genuinely surprised? The question is legitimate, for two creations begin in Genesis 1:26. The physical must, necessarily, precede the spiritual. Beginning in Genesis 1:27, the physical Adam was made, with a spiritual Adam to come. The last thing to be created physically would be the embryonic spiritual Adam, who was the man Jesus Christ. With Christ's death at Calvary, the physical creation was absolutely finished, and the spiritual creation could begin, with the resurrected and glorified Christ to be the firstborn Son of God, and the firstborn of many heirs, each to be adopted by the Father. The new covenant is made with spiritual Israel just as the original Sinai covenant was made with physical Israel. The parallel is exact, even to the spoken commandments of YHWH, received on Pentecost, being the physical equivalent of receiving the Holy Spirit/Pneuma.
Spiritual Israel, collectively, proved as faithless as physical Israel. Just as YHWH sent Israel into national captivity, finally sending even the remnant people He had left at Jerusalem to Babylon where a few faithful (to Him) Israelites remained, the Father sent spiritual Israel into captivity by spiritual Babylon. A few faithful spiritual Israelites continued to worship Him from inside of spiritual Babylon, but the majority of even spiritual Israel serves the spiritual king of Babylon, who is Satan.
The parallel between physical Israel and spiritual Israel is uncanny in its exactness. Just as Ezra and Nehemiah left Babylon with a remnant of Israel to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, so too did a few reformers leave spiritual Babylon to rebuild the walls of spiritual Jerusalem (not New Jerusalem). I say this because this is now understandable, as are the prophecies of Daniel, thereby placing humanity in the time of the end. It appears we are in spiritual time where Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem, with the time of the end beginning with rebuilding the walls of spiritual Jerusalem, and with quite a bit more to happen before humanity enters the Tribulation.
A covenant is like a marriage contract (Rom 7:2-3). God the Logos corrected the fault of the Sinai covenant by making a second covenant with Israel. He didn't ask their permission before making this second covenant with them. He made it, and then said that all they had to do to qualify to receive its terms was to obey Him with their hearts and minds. But Israel was having none of that covenant. With very few exceptions, physical Israel refused to accept the needed correction to the Sinai covenant. As a result, the prophet Jeremiah prophesies: "The days are surely coming, says the Lord [YHWH], when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt -- a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord" (31:31-32).
Again, what happened when the house of Jacob left Egypt? Miracles were performed. Jacob left with a high hand; the Israelites looted the Egyptians as they recovered years of back wages. Then God the Logos gave them a choice about accepting the deal He offered. He gave them His words (i.e., the Ten Commandments) and a covenant, which, if kept, would have made them an example nation to the world. He gave them a choice about becoming a nation of priests, a holy nation. And they said, Yes, we will marry you, YHWH. But they proved even more faithless than Gomer, Hosea's wife. Their husband's name became too sacred to even pronounce--and to this day, cannot be accurately pronounced. But the pronunciation of their husband's name doesn't matter: He divorced them, then came as the man Christ Jesus, and died at Calvary, forever ending the covenant made at Sinai, by which these Israelites became a holy people, separated by the circumcision of foreskins from the rest of the world (Eph 2:15).
The Sinai covenant ended. It doesn't exist at all. Its promises of national prosperity and captivity ended. They don't exist. They have been abolished--and what is so hard to understand about the Sinai covenant being abolished? Why do the watchmen threaten the modern descendants of the house of Israel with YHWH-caused national captivity? Or why do the televangelists retrieve, as if they were old beaver-chewed sticks, its promises of physical prosperity? Both the Church of God watchmen and the televangelist carnival barkers fail to grasp the significance of the new covenant. They are the Apostle Peter's ignorant and unstable readers and teachers. And if it weren't for the damage they do to newly drawn disciples, they wouldn't be worthy of the time necessary to command them to repent and believe God, Father and Son.
The resurrected Jesus has a God (John 20:17), whom He revealed to His Disciples, and whom they have revealed to succeeding generations of disciples. And He has a new name: "[H]e has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself" (Rev 19:12)--this name is in addition to the name on His robe and on His thigh (v. 16). For someone to insist that the Father only be addressed by the tetragrammaton YHWH is insulting to both the Father and to Christ, who has a name that He hasn't chosen to reveal. If Peter's ignorant twister of scripture doesn't trap him or herself in the error of lawlessness which most of the televangelists preach, or in the error of the watchmen which most of the Church of God ministers teach, then Satan has the Sacred Names scam working. If Satan needs a fourth scam, he will come up with one--he probably already has, and I just haven't heard of it. He will trap every single disciple who twists scripture. What the ultimate fate is of those disciples is up to Christ, who is their judge. The fate of the disciples who walk away from the camp of spiritual Israel is the lake of fire. But these ignorant readers are Wrong Way Corigans: they are still on the field, and still in the game, but they are scoring points for the wrong side.
The implementation of the new covenant is different from the Sinai covenant: choice has all but been eliminated for a season. Jeremiah continues: "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 within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; and I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more" (31:33-34). These three things are directly analogous to baptizing in the name of the Father--know the Lord--and in the name of the Son--forgiveness of sin--and in the name of the Holy Pneuma--writing the law of God on hearts and minds, just as the commandments were spoke from atop Sinai.
An eight day old physical Israelite male had no say about whether he would be circumcised. His father had him circumcised. I had no choice about being circumcised; I came home from the hospital circumcised. Likewise, under the new covenant, drawn disciples have no choice about being spiritually circumcised. Their hearts and minds have the law of God written on them, regardless of whether they want it there, that law coming with a puff of the Holy Pneuma. And because of having circumcised hearts and minds, spiritual Israelites know the Father, Christ Jesus' Lord and God and our Lord and God (John 20:17). And spiritual Israelites have their sins forgiven by Christ's shed blood when He completed the physical creation. The only choice afforded to disciples is whether they will cross the Red Sea, and whether they will stay in the covenant relationship in which they have now been placed as they mature spiritually from their infancy. The analogy has disciples, when drawn, being spiritually equivalent to a physically born infant; they will remain an infant of less than eight days of age until they are baptized. A physically circumcised Israelite male could, at any time, have walked away from the camp before Israel reached the promised land. Of course, the person would need to blend in with the indigenous population. Spiritually, that is possible, since circumcision of the heart and mind doesn't show like a clipped foreskin does.
Physical Israel had to remain in the Sinai covenant relationship to reach the promised land. Likewise, a drawn disciple as a spiritual Israelite must remain in the new covenant relationship with God the Father and His Messiah, Christ Jesus, to receive eternal life (i.e., glorification). A person must endure to the end, or the person's end to be saved (Matt 24:13), a passage taken out of context but appropriate since the forgiveness of sin comes, once judgment is upon the drawn disciple, with remaining in the new covenant relationship. Judgment comes with baptism. Only by covenant are sins forgiven for maturing Christians.
Just as a week old infant isn't held accountable for his or her actions even though the infant is alive, a born from above disciple isn't held accountable for his or her spiritual actions prior to baptism; no judgment is upon the person. This shadow of physical Israel's journey from Egypt to the promised land is the primary means by which we understand a spiritual Israelite's journey from sin to salvation. Being drawn from the world corresponds to leaving Egypt. Everyone who left Egypt could have arrived in the promised land if all would have believed YHWH, but the nation lacked the faith necessary to believe. When circumcision of hearts and minds was offered to their children, their children lacked the faith to accept the Holy Breath/Pneuma of God. As a result, although these children were allowed to enter Canaan, they didn't obey YHWH, didn't stay in a covenant relationship with Him, and they had to experience national captivity. Today, spiritual Israelites received circumcised hearts and minds when they are drawn from the world, but they must make that journey to Jerusalem to receive eternal life--and they must arrive at spiritual Jerusalem. It isn't enough to merely start the journey. A spiritual Israelite, leaving sin, leaves fully equipped to arrive in the Holy of holies, as an ark of the new covenant, awaiting his or her change under the Mercy Seat, that is grace. Just as YHWH made Himself known to first the mediator of the first covenant, then to all of Israel, who was supposed to make Him known to all the world, God the Father [Theon] made Himself known to the Son of Man, then to spiritual Israel, the firstfruits, who were supposed to make Him known to all the world (1Peter 2:9). But physical Israel profaned YHWH's sabbaths, and never kept His law, and never quit their idolatrous worship of foreign gods (Ezek chpt 20). Spiritual Israel abandoned the Father, and rejected their circumcision, which is having the Holy Spirit within drawn disciples, a strong statement supported, though, by understanding what the Holy Spirit/Pneuma is, and what it produces in a person. Jesus compared the Holy Spirit/Pneuma to wind (John 3:8), an apt description for breath, in this case the Breath of God. This Breath of the Father is the reality of the shadow, which were the words spoken by YHWH from atop Mount Sinai. Breath is required to speak. Sound is modulation of an air stream, or of breath. Thus, the writing of the law of God on hearts and minds is the same sort of modulation of the Holy Breath that YHWH's words were of physical air molecules when the commandments of God were spoken from atop Sinai. The person who practices lawlessness, which is sin (1 John 3:4), and who prays to the Holy Spirit doesn't, by the person's own admission, have the Holy Breath of God within the person. If this person had, at one time, a circumcised heart, the person has rejected that circumcision, and has rejected the person's entrance into the spiritual Holy of holies. The person has returned to Egypt. Usually, this person also encourages others to return with him or her, as in the shadow of the remnant left in sacked Jerusalem wanting to go to Egypt.
When quoting Jeremiah, the writer of Hebrews changes Jeremiah's single "law of God" into the plural "laws of God" (Heb 8:10 & 10:16); so it behooves a drawn disciple to find out exactly what has been written on his or her heart and mind. And make no mistake, under the new covenant, only disciples drawn from the world can come to Christ (John 6:44, 65) until the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High God and His Messiah (Rev 11:15). At that time, halfway through seven years of Tribulation, all of humanity is liberated from spiritual slavery, just as Israel was liberated from Egyptian slavery. From that point on, those humans who desire to remain as Satan's slaves must have his slave mark, which is the mark of the beast (i.e., Chi xi stigma, or the tattoo of Xx, or the tattoo of the Cross of Calvary, the means by which Satan had Christ killed). The calling of then liberated humanity has already been extended: Come out of her [Babylon], My people (Rev 18:4).
The Apostle Paul writes, concerning the means of salvation,
"But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe" (Rom 3:21-22). So there is no misunderstanding, the Holy Scriptures as received by Paul were comprised of the law and the prophets and the writings. Paul's use of "the law and the prophets" refers to the writings of Moses and of the prophets to Israel that warned the nation to repent--and is the customary expression for all of the Scriptures. Thus, rearranging Paul's sentence without altering the meaning, the righteousness of God through faith in Christ is attested to by the writings of Moses and the prophets, and is available to all who believe. And again we see faith in close association with belief. Righteousness, then, comes through belief in Christ. That being the case, "Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith" (v. 27).
For the Apostle Paul, there seems to be a real law of faith, as there is a law of works. After the gold calf sort of cast itself--again, that is what Aaron told Moses--instead of immediately wiping out Israel, YHWH, their God, marched them around a mountain until all of those who left Egypt, but for Joshua and Caleb, died. Plus, He added a bunch of busy work for them to do, enough hopefully to keep their minds on Him and off Egyptian idols. So the Sinai covenant becomes a covenant (or law) of works. The law of God remained outside these Israelites as a yoke they had to wear, and they rebelled against this yoke even though they couldn't escape wearing it. Eventually, they padded the yoke with enough traditions that they no longer felt its hold on them. Instead, their traditions became a bag that crushed the people, imprisoning them. And it is this understanding of the Sinai covenant that Paul expresses when he writes, "Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed" (Gal 3:23). For Paul, Christianity represents the ultimate jail break.
Because of their traditions, the descendants of the slaves that left Egypt never obeyed YHWH for long enough to receive the circumcised hearts and minds offered by the second, or Moab covenant. They had been offered the means of correcting the problem of the law of God being outside of them, but if a wife were to forget how to pronounce her husband's name, as happened with Israel and the tetragrammaton YHWH, the couple doesn't have much of a marriage. Not much communication is occurring--physical Israel wasn't much of a wife for God the Logos. Thus, it's not surprising that when YHWH was born as the man Jesus that He had very harsh words for the religious establishment of Judea.
A new covenant was required, a covenant (or law) of faith. In this covenant, three linguistic absolutes occur: (1) the laws of God are written on hearts and minds (disciples would, without consultation, receive the Holy Spirit); (2) disciples know the Lord, that is God the Father [Theon]; and (3) sins are forgiven even prior to baptism (they are forgiven because of Christ's sacrifice); thus, all of humanity can be reconciled to the Father whenever He chooses to draw the person, whether prior to the person's death, or after. Judgment occurs after death, whether actual death or symbolic death in a baptismal grave. And someone is sure to ask about how a person can receive the Holy Spirit prior to the laying on of hands. If the Holy Spirit is properly understood to be God's Breath, then when God the Father tells Christ that He has drawn "that" person from the world, a little of His breath is directed towards "that" person, enough that this person can repent and can come to Christ. Without receiving a small portion of the Holy Spirit, a person remains hostile to the laws of God. Besides, how could physical Israelites know the laws of God prior to when they were spoken from atop Sinai? They knew about the Sabbath from their gathering of manna, the fall of which begins north of the Red Sea but before they arrive at Sinai, the reason they are told to remember the Sabbath--and the weekly Sabbath remains the most difficult commandment of God to grasp prior to baptism. But it is the commandment by which Israelites, physical and spiritual, acknowledge to the world that they know God, and are known by God.…Now, which of the other commandments didn't Israelites know, whether from a natural law reciting in them, or from the miracles performed getting them to the Red Sea?
But it remains here, with a little of the Holy Spirit being received prior to baptism and the laying on of hands, analogous to receiving the law on Pentecost, that trouble enters paradise: Christianity wants a newly drawn and called disciple to do a small amount of work before his or her sins are forgiven. But as linguistic absolutes, the three things (circumcised hearts and minds, knowing the Lord, and forgiveness of sin) can accept no modifiers--sins aren't almost forgiven, any more than a woman is almost pregnant. A drawn disciple has no more say about whether his or her heart and mind have been circumcised than an eight day old Hebrew infant has about whether he will be circumcised. Did Cornelius receive the Holy Spirit before or after baptism? Why would this example be given, if not to help understand the process of conversion? Why didn't Gentiles have to be physically circumcised? A person doesn't' become a physical Israelite prior to conversion as a spiritual Israelite. The drawn disciple is made a spiritual Israelite before coming under judgment, but salvation isn't given until after judgment, which, again, doesn't begin until resurrected from death. The analogy of physical versus spiritual is close, but not perfect, the point Paul unsuccessfully tried to explain. As in the actual leaving Egypt for the promised land, a disciple leaves sin the instant the person walks away from the Nile. The person is of the house of Jacob, or is an Israelite with the house of Jacob (Exod 19:3); the person has been spiritually circumcised (i.e., the person has received the Holy Spirit just as Cornelius did). But the person must still be baptized.
I don't believe the Church of God has ever well understood Peter's vision, and the ramifications of Cornelius' conversion. The model the Church of God has used for baptism is that of John the Baptist's, which was for the repentance from sin. Under the new covenant, baptism is into Christ's death; it is symbolic death and resurrection in the White Throne Judgment. As such, baptism under the new covenant is unto judgment, not for the remission of sin, the two concepts closely allied but not identical as John's baptism is the shadow of Christ's. The model that needs to be used is that of physical circumcision, with baptism into Christ's death being the reality of waiting until the eighth day before circumcising an infant. Only in this analogy can the process of being spiritually drawn and modified be reconciled with the traditional understanding of conversion--and this analogy isn't easily understood, and should never be used to support worshipping God on the 8th-day (such worship would be analogous to worshiping a phallic symbol, such as a church steeple). But just as a short distance must be traveled between the Nile and the Red Sea, a short amount of spiritual life is lived prior to the eighth day and physical circumcision.
For a human infant, life began nine months and eight days before circumcision. For nine months, the child lived in the womb of the mother just as humans live in the world, and spiritual disciples live in sin. The womb is a form of a prison, necessary for the development of the child. This is how Paul uses the example of physical Israel living under the external law of God. But at a particular time-- different spiritually for every person--the infant is born, in that he or she emerges from the womb and begins breathing on his or her own. But this infant remains completely dependent on his or her mother, or upon a surrogate mother. This infant lives. It is no longer unviable tissue mass, a repugnant expression that legally allows abortions. It is a child, an heir to his or her Father when the child reaches his or her majority.
Likewise, when God the Father draws a disciple from the world, the disciple has been born from above. The disciple isn't yet baptized and thereby made a legal part of Israel, now spiritual Israel. But the child is an Israelite--the disciple is alive spiritually, in that the laws of God are written on his or her heart and mind. If this disciple isn't nourished by the Church, this disciple will perish just as a human infant will if abandoned by his or her mother. This child doesn't need any additional circumcision. He or she doesn't need to become a physical Israelite. But the form of legality to which even Moses had to submit (Exod 4:24-26) requires that a spiritual Israelite must now be baptized at the same point in the spiritual Israelite's life that a physical Israelite was circumcised.
The spiritual Israelite is an heir of God the Father just as a child is an heir. Therefore, the child has the same right of ownership to eternal life and to the Breath of God as has the Father and the Son. The child will receive both at his or her majority. So the Holy Spirit, technically, belongs to the child as it does to the Father. It isn't "Theirs" [God the Father's and Christ Jesus'] only, but it belongs to each heir when the heir reaches his or her majority. It is available now to each heir to use, as faith allows the heir to exercise what is his or her Father's-- a son or daughter can drive the family car when the parents believe their heir is responsible enough to be trusted with an automobile. Likewise, an heir can use the Holy Spirit as the Father and Christ Jesus determine that the heir has the maturity to use it responsibly.
While spiritually analogous to a week or less infant, these newly born from above disciples know God and have their sins forgiven. They don't know a whole lot, and they need to be baptized, which, again, in this analogy is equivalent to physical circumcision, the action that makes a physical infant a legal part of the nation of Israel. These disciples need to make their legal standing certain in spiritual Israel even though they have been born spiritually; they need baptized. They cannot care for themselves. They need fed, burped, held, their diapers changed--they are extremely dependent upon their mothers; hence, Jesus' warning about offending little ones.
When a spiritual Israelite's mother is a spiritual harlot, the son will grow and mature, but into a thief or a bandit intent upon making merchandise of Christ's sheep. These bastards will know that they have been begotten of God, but they won't understand the responsibilities that come with eternal life. Jesus said, "'Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his [the Son of Man's] voice and will come out-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation'" (John 5:28-29). These spiritual bastards will have booked themselves into the lake of fire.
The analogy can be extended, but my purpose for using it is to address how someone can have his or her sins forgiven prior to baptism--or even prior to professing Christ with the person's mouth. Do infants die in their first week of life? You bet. Many more in earlier generations than today. So, do spiritually modified disciples die spiritually prior to baptism? Certainly. What will be their fate? Judgment begins at baptism; so when they died spiritually, they hadn't yet come under judgment. That will now occur in the great White Throne Judgment. But for the person who has come under judgment and who walks away from the covenant relationship by which his or her sins have been forgiven, this person has already booked reservations in the lake of fire. Being a drawn disciple is serious business. And once a person commits to this course, there is no turning back. The person's only out is in that person's spiritual first week of life. Therefore, a genuine disciple upon whom judgment has come has no excuse of any kind for not believing God unto obedience. And it is here where additional problems are introduced: most of the world recognizes the need for having sins forgiven although the world cannot agree about what sin is. But unless drawn and spiritually modified by God the Father, a person will not believe God, will not obey God, and will not--and indeed, cannot--submit to Paul's law of faith.
With this as additional background, let's look at Paul's law of faith: Paul writes, "What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works" (Rom 9:30-32). Where do we find works, or a law of works? In the Sinai covenant, right? Where is the correction made to the fault of the Sinai covenant? In the Moab covenant, right?
"For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God's righteousness" (Rom 10:3). God's righteousness is through faith. A person doesn't need to strive for it, because this righteousness will be given to the disciple. But a person does have to submit to this righteousness that comes from having faith in Jesus Christ--and we can know to what a drawn disciple has to submit because this righteousness is attested to in the law and the prophets (i.e., Holy Scripture). So in the law and the prophets, this righteousness is described.
The Apostle Paul now arrives at where he has been rhetorically going: "But the righteousness that comes from faith says, 'Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven"'" (Rom 10:6), and Paul cites enough of the second covenant mediated by Moses that there can be no doubt this covenant is his law of faith.
The second covenant mediated by Moses says,
Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your [mind], in order that you may live.…Then you shall again obey the Lord, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today… For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you…when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your [mind]. (Deu 30:6-10) See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days…(vs. 15-16 & 19-20)
The new covenant is this second covenant with a change of mediators and better promises--the physical application of this second covenant changes to spiritual with the change of mediators from Moses to the again glorified Christ.
Let's back up and take another run at this: under the Moab covenant, YHWH sets before physical Israel physical life or physical death, and commands Israel to choose life. Under the new covenant, the "gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus" (Rom 6:23). Physical Israelites who have had their hearts and minds circumcised still do not have eternal life, or their sins forgiven. They need to add to their circumcised hearts confessing with their lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in their hearts that God raised him from the dead (Rom 10:9). Under the Sinai covenant, Israel never truly believed that YHWH was their Lord, but under the new covenant, that knowledge was put inside them when the Father spiritually modified them. They don't need to be convinced of that fact; they only need to confess what has already been put within them. Likewise, their sins have been forgiven; so they only need to believe in their hearts that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Required for that belief is knowledge of the Father, and from that belief comes knowledge that the glorified Christ bears their sins today. Dead saviors might be able to pay the penalty for a person's sins up to the point of when the person accepts the savior's sacrifice, but the person will sin today, or tomorrow. If the person's savior and sin offering doesn't live, then these new sins leave the person in the same predicament the person was in before. Nothing has been gained, unless the person was fortunate enough to die immediately after accepting the dead savior's sacrifice.
Too often these passages in Paul's epistle to the Gentile converts at Rome are cited out of context to show that all a person has to do to accept Christ is confess with his or her mouth and believe with his or her heart--these passages only pertain to the person who already has a circumcised heart and mind, which means that the laws of God have been written on the person's heart and mind, which means that the person has the Holy Spirit. Those plural laws are the summary commandments of loving God with all one's heart and might, and loving one's neighbor as oneself. They summarize everything that is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, the book a witness against a lawless disciple (Deu 31:26).
When a lawyer tested Jesus by asking what he must do to inherit eternal life--neither he nor Jesus believed that he had eternal life-- Jesus asked him, "'What is written in the law? What do you read there?'" (Luke 10:25). The implication of Jesus' questions is that how to inherit eternal life is contained in the law. Jesus' questions, then, support Paul's statement that the righteousness of Christ is attested to in the law and the prophets; the righteousness that comes from faith is the single commandment Moses references in the second covenant (Deu 30:11), and Jeremiah's single law of God (31:33).
The lawyer answers Jesus:
"'You shall love the Lord [Kurion] your God [Theon] will all your heart, and all your [life or breath of life -- pneuma], and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:27). Jesus said to the lawyer, "'You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live'" (v. 28).
Two concepts are at work in the lawyer's answer. First, Jesus says the lawyer has answered correctly. The lawyer needs to do nothing else but to put into practice the knowledge he has. Doing, though, requires works. He doesn't need to change the name he used for God; he doesn't need to insert the unpronounced, and unpronounceable tetragrammaton YHWH into his religious practices. All he has to do is love God, and love his neighbor. But he questions who his neighbor is. He doesn't have questions about who God is (when he cites Deuteronomy 6:5, he changes the tetragrammaton YHWH to Kurion), nor does he believe he doesn't have to love his neighbor. His question concerns circumcision, as evidenced by Jesus' telling the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus finished by asking which of the three travelers was the victim's neighbor. The lawyer says, '"The one who showed him mercy'" (v. 37), and "Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise'" (same verse).
The second concept involves what is encompassed by each of the two summary commandments: the story of the good Samaritan is of a situation outside the scope of the codified law. Loving God would cause a person to believe God unto obedience by observing all of his commandments, decrees and laws. Every application of the law is covered in the summary commandment to love God with all one's existence. So loving your neighbor as yourself becomes the application of mercy to the laws, commandments and decrees of God. The lawyer twice correctly answered Jesus' questions; however, the lawyer didn't want to do what he knew was right. As far as can be discerned from the antidote, the lawyer lacked the faith to actually apply what he knew. His knowledge of the law was excellent. He suffered, though, a serious lack of love.
In the other occasion that Luke records where Jesus was asked about eternal life, which was never offered by either covenant Moses mediated (YHWH couldn't give eternal life, which comes only as a gift of the Father), Jesus says to the rich young ruler, "'You know the commandments'" (Luke 18:20), and He cites enough of the commandments to establish that He means the Decalogue. The ruler assures Jesus that he has kept them from his youth, whereas he was guilty of breaking the first. But Jesus doesn't challenge the ruler's answer. Instead He tells the ruler to sell all be has, an act of faith in God now providing for him, then to give the money away to the poor, an act of love. But the ruler is unable to add faith and love to the commandments, which by themselves did not fully express the will of God.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, and taking counsel together, one of them then asked Jesus, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord [Kurion] your God [Theon] with all your heart and with all your [life, or breath of life -- pneuma], and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all of the law and the prophets." (Matt 22:36-40)
So, according to Jesus, all of Holy Scripture prior to the writing of the New Testament hang on those two commandments. Those are the summary commandments that reveal the will and words of God. They become the plural laws of God that the writer of Hebrews says are written on the hearts and minds of drawn disciples by the new covenant; they are having the Breath of God inside oneself. That writing isn't limited to individual commandments, but the summary commandments that reference the entirety of the Book of Deuteronomy, which begins with the story of Israel's unbelief and disobedience--their faithlessness.
The new covenant is Paul's law of faith; it is the physical second, or Moab covenant made spiritual. Its terms require drawn disciples to believe God by obeying Him, doing everything that is written in the Book of Deuteronomy. This is possible because disciples have had the laws of God written on their hearts and minds; they have the Holy Spirit. They are no longer under the law, but under grace, which, as a gift of God, remains outside them. They have internalized the laws of God; they have the Holy Spirit within them. They have literally become arks of the covenant resting under the Mercy Seat when they endure to their ends. Just as Aaron's staff and the jar of manna were placed inside the physical ark, disciples have a resurrection and eternal life within them, also placed there by the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.
The mediator of the new covenant is Christ Jesus, whose new name only He knows. Forgiveness of sins comes only from Christ bearing those sins for drawn disciples. Formerly known as I AM, and the unpronounceable tetragrammaton YHWH, the Creator of the heavens and earth is the Most High God's Messiah--He came as the man Jesus, revealed His God and our God, the Father [Theon], to His disciples, and He died so that disciples can have an out-of-season relationship with the Most High. Again, His death completed the physical creation; His life as the man Jesus and death created the embryonic form by which spiritual heirs of the Most High would be born.
Judaism rejects God the Father as its sovereign. As such, it rejects salvation at this time. Likewise, all who maintain that the Sinai covenant is the controlling legal document for their worship practices error grievously. These ignorant readers (the Apostle Peter's term for them) include those who either find a lawless gospel in Paul's epistles, and the watchmen who believe God will again punish the endtime descendants of the house of Israel according to the terms of the Sinai covenant, or the sincerely deceived disciples who worship YHWH (i.e., God the Logos, commonly identified as Christ Jesus) as the Most High God instead of the Father. To pray to the Holy Spirit is to pray to the Breath of God that should be inside the person; to pray to the Holy Spirit is directly analogous to praying to the Decalogue.
Again, the new covenant is the Moab covenant made spiritual. Prosperity is now spiritual, and is treasure stored in heaven; prosperity is not more gold or houses. Death is now the lake of fire, or the second death. Adversity is now the sending of delusions upon those who are perishing that won't allow those under the delusion to repent. Love and mercy towards one's neighbor is required. Disciples have been made into a holy nation, a royal priesthood, for the purpose of proclaiming the mighty deeds of Christ to the world (1 Peter 2:9). Circumcision remains a sign of separation, but that circumcision is now of the heart and mind, so disciples appear like most everyone else. They shouldn't, though, act like everyone else. When they look into the mirror that is the perfect law of God, they should see Christ looking back at them. If they see themselves, they probably haven't been drawn.
The new covenant is a real law, a real covenant, with real terms, real obligations for both parties. It isn't some warm, fuzzy feeling of love in a person's heart. It is doing all of the commandments, laws and decrees written in the Book of Deuteronomy. It is legalism bound in love and mercy. And it is neither far from you, nor too hard to do.
May the lawless begin keeping the laws of God. May the watchmen warn the world to come out of Babylon when all of humanity is finally spiritually liberated. May the Sacred Name disciples realize that YHWH was the God of physical Israel, not spiritual Israel. God the Father is the God of spiritual Israel, and He needs no help from us in teaching drawn disciples to know the Lord. It is His responsibility to teach disciples how to pronounce linguistic icons. Our responsibility is to tutor disciples who have already been drawn, and have already had the laws of God written on their hearts and minds. If we offend these disciples because of our stupidity, we better hope someone else returns them to the fold. Or we better pray that millstones are made of pumice.
We are put into the new covenant. Whether we stay in this covenant relationship determines whether we will receive eternal life, which, like grace, remains outside of us as a gift of God. Amen.
* * * * *
"The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved."