Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The New Covenant

I suppose the New Covenant has been my thrill and passion for a good few years now. It was salvation expressed in terms of the New Covenant which caused my own personal seismic shift back in the early 1970s. The source was the teaching of G W North, a man who inspired strong reactions for and against. Initially my reactions were very favourable. He had been invited as the speaker for the Devotional Day at the Birmingham Bible Institute where I and my wife were students. I don't think I really picked up the distinctives at that point but was greatly challenged by his preaching and presence. I then became a pastor in an independent full gospel church.

My next contact was with some young adherents who were holding house meetings in another part of the city where I was pastoring. They gave me some reel to reel tape recording and I was horrified! He seemed to be blurring all the edges between regeneration, baptism in Spirit and Second Blessing Holiness teaching. I took my stand on a fairly traditional three stage Pentecostal theology.

Then I reread one of his earlier books; The Generation of Jesus Christ and the scales began to fall from my eyes. But it was as I listened to the gospel expounded in the terms of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 that the seismic shift took place. Rather than dividing it all into stages these two great prophets of the New Covenant expressed God's intention in a holistic pattern. It was all or nothing. The New Covenant is not available on the instalment plan although our experience of these things is often fragmented itself.

Suppose the Old, Sinai, Covenant were presented to Israel in a staged version... exit from Satan's power/exodus part one, some years later a meeting with God and a covenant, some years later entrance into a promised land... Ah, you say, but the promised land was many years later... Indeed it was but not by God's intention. This is our dilemma, almost inevitably we expound the gospel in terms of our own experience of the gospel. We become witnesses not to Christ but to our experience of Christ. The only cure for this inevitable degradation of the original message is to return to its first recording, not in the experiences of men but in the revelation of scripture.

Having taken that step it all fits together beautifully. If my experience does not match it I must seek God for a change in my experience and not use my experience to degrade the source revelation.

Why all this now? I have been engaged in a triple series of Introducing the New Covenant studies at three separate churches. I am sure I have benefited more than any of the listeners. I love this truth, and Charles Wesley once wrote...tis worth living for this. The consistency of God's plan, his execution of that plan through history and in its fulfilment in Christ has me on tip-toe again. What a blessing it is to live in such an era when the fulness of times has come and the gospel of abundant grace is available to all who will ask.

Please excuse my ramblings, I am just maxing out on the New Covenant and its wonderful Author.

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