This week I’ve been having a running conversation/fellowship with my brothers and sisters concerning the New Covenant promised us by Jesus Christ. Again there has been a heavy emphasis placed on the role of suffering on the part of believers and its role in bringing light into a dark world. The two things are so linked and intertwined that I can just sit here in amazement at the pictures that God has given us in the Bible. All the promises to the Church are tied up in that New Covenant and that is a covenant of self-denial empowered by the Holy Spirit and an operational and ongoing faith in Him.
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament* in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
(1Co 11:24-26) (*also translated as covenant)
This week I have been shown how this critical sacrament is under attack on at least two fronts, both within “Christendom”. The first is the growing notion of believers that they can strip the message of suffering from the Church based on the argument that suffering was essentially for Jesus Christ and not for us, thereby ejecting the very essence and principles of martyrdom that the Church has proven for nearly 2000 years. The second notion results in the same end, that His blood and His body provided on the Cross aren’t for the Church at all. That we are not partakers of the New Covenant in an way! It’s as if Satan in failing to rob us of the Cross by tempting Jesus into not going to it would now rob us of it by having us not run the race. The megaphone in our ears is saying this: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SUFFER!
Really? The question I ask at this is “But do I GET to suffer?
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I think that the Church in the West too often forgets this conditional statement:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
We too often want to tell people that if they come to Jesus that all of their troubles will go away like God is some kind of anesthesiologist in the sky.
Back to the attack on the teaching of the New Covenant in the Church.
In the first case, there is a growing cry being raised up by mega-church and emergent Church leaders for a kinder, gentler Gospel. I believe they are following the tried and true mega-church building message of Jesus Christ: that is give all of the benefits of Godliness but eject the self-denial. They won’t preach like Jesus:
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Jesus went from a throng, thousands, to 11 + the one who betrayed Him.
Any time I see a “pastor” with more sheep than Jesus Christ I wonder how effective he/she is at accurately delivering the message of the Cross. I wonder if they have a removed suffering from their Gospel. As we saw in 1Cor 11:24-26 f they have taken away the blood and the body they have also taken away the covenant in which reside all of the promises of Jesus Christ.
If that is the case they have taken away the power of the Gospel:
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
If you have thousands of people following you, can you ask yourself why?
Moving on to the second case, dispensationalism would do the same thing. Instead of removing the suffering from the Gospel they instead go straight at the promise of the Gospel. To them God’s people will always be identified by the flesh, who their fathers where. Some even go so far as to say that the sacrament of Communion isn’t even for the Church (Consistent Dispensationalists). They ignore or twist passages such as these:
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
The dispensationalist in essence says that those who believe are not God’s Covenant people and the promises to God’s people are still reserved to those who are determined according to the flesh. I suggest a thorough reading of Galatians 4, but here is an excerpt, in which Paul is writing to GENTILES:
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
So what are we to do? We need to partake of Jesus Christ. We absolutely need the Holy Spirit operating in us so that we can partake. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot please God, we are still subject to the law of sin and death. NOW we can be pleasing to God, NOW we can fulfill the law of righteousness (Rom 8:4) as the Holy Spirit indwells us, today is the day of salvation! Because:
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
We can walk in victory, RIGHT NOW.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Do you believe it? Have you received the Holy Spirit and do you understand that He wants to write the New Covenant on your heart? Will you run the race with Him? Jesus said:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Will you do it today?