The New Testament
THE HAND, BY THE HEART
Imagine finding an official letter in your mailbox, with the return
address from a legal firm. At first it’s scary. But since it’s marked
urgent, you open it immediately at the curb. Soon your fear turns to joy
because it turns out you’re not being sued, but rather, you’re being
informed that you’ve been left a huge sum of money, properties and a
host of other considerations by a relative who recently passed away that
you didn’t even know. Fear turns to gratefulness and wonder. A sense of
unworthiness begins to rise. Soon you are telling others about what
you’ve received because the joy is hard to contain. All you need to do
is appear at the legal firm, and sign for your inheritance.
This analogy captures something, though not all, of the New Testament or
Covenant. We do not know this rich relative of ours, God, but He knows
us, and has provided for us riches beyond belief. This last will and
testament of Jesus Christ is an activated inheritance given by God to
all who simply accept it. Jesus Christ provided this inheritance through
his death on the cross. Now He is risen from the dead, and He is making
sure His wishes are carried out!
His inheritance has two parts. What we are saved from, and what we are
saved to. We are saved from Divine justice because of our sins. They are
washed away in the blood of Jesus. We are saved to an abundant life of
fellowship with the Lord, where He continues to forgive our sins
everyday, and lead us into a life of adventure, learning, growing,
changing, and sharing the joy that we find as each part of our
God pictured the Law through Moses in the Old Testament, as one where He
took Israel “by the hand”. God led Israel from the outside, by signs and
wonders, by His commandments, and decrees, by His prophets, priests and
teachers demanding that they “know the Lord”. He knew that their nature
was fallen, and that their many fallen needs and desires would
constantly pull against His hand, until they would break away into other
directions. Thankfully God doesn’t give up on us, because He loves us
beyond our dreams, and so wants us to walk in that inheritance.
The New Testament provides something much more than the demands to obey
in the Old Testament. It provides a changed heart that wants God and
cries out Abba, daddy! Instead of being dragged by the hand where we
loathe to go we can be led by our changed desires, and the leading of
the Holy Spirit who lives inside. Because God has provided His Spirit to
indwell us, we can begin to know Him very intimately. Of course, this is
a process, relationships take time, but each new revelation of the one
we love is a delight to discover.
If we were an old Hotel in need of renovation, when Christ enters our
life, it’s as if He came into our main lobby. After a glorious
transformation, the public is in awe of the changes. But those closer to
us know that there are many rooms and hallways in our lives, filled with
all of the hurts, sins and ruins that still need the transformation of
God. (2 Cor. 3:18) This process goes as fast or slow as we can bear. God
will never give up on causing us to “will and work” His good pleasure.
(Phil 2:13) Also, we’re not the only ones getting an inheritance, He
gets one as well. It’s us! We are His reward. And He’s watching over us
as an anxious lover waiting to get married.
Yes, in the New Testament it’s all an inside job, and as we stick with
it, the joy is certain to manifest. When it does, we cannot help but
tell others about the inheritance we are receiving.
“Behold, days are coming,"
declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made
with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out
of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a
husband to them," declares the LORD.
"But this is the covenant which I will
make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I
will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I
will be their God, and they shall be My people.
"They will not teach again, each man
his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they
will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,"
declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I
will remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
But now He has obtained a
more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a
better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. (Heb. 8:6)
“Therefore I also, after I
heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my
prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may
give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what
is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His
inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His
power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty
power” (Ephesians 1:15-19)