The New Covenant
By Elder Tim Binion
A covenant is a contract between men or a contract between God and men. Diatheke is the rendering of the Hebrew word meaning a “covenant” or agreement (from a verb signifying “to cut or divide,” in reference to a sacrificial custom in connection with “covenant-making,” e.g., Gen 15:10, “divided” Jer 34:18-19). The root meaning is in contrast with the English word “covenant” (lit., “a coming together”), but both signified a mutual undertaking between two parties or more, each binding himself to fulfill obligations. The Covenant in question does not in itself contain the idea of joint obligation, it mostly signifies an obligation undertaken by a single person. For instance, in Gal 3:17 it is used as an alternative to a “promise” (Gal 3:16-18). God enjoined upon Abraham the rite of circumcision, but His promise to Abraham, here called a “covenant,” was not conditional upon the observance of circumcision, though a penalty was attached to its nonobservance.
The covenants typically were ratified by a sign. Various rites were used to show mutual agreement like joining hand, or the use of an oath, or by a heap of stones, or by a feast, or by a sacrifice, dividing the parts and both parties to the covenant walking between the parts of the sacrifice, but the most common above all others was the eating of salt.
The English word ‘Testament’ is taken from the titles prefixed to the Latin Versions but means Covenant. A Change in the Covenant is clearly expressed by calling it a ‘new,’ covenant (Heb 9:15), the ‘second’ covenant ( Heb 8:7), and a ‘better’ covenant (Heb 7:22 & Heb 9:16-17). However, only the nature of the covenant changed at the coming of the Lord and not the original promise. These differences are clearly given in Hebrews 8:1-10:18. First, the change would be where God’s laws would be written. He moved the laws of the covenant from external stones to internal souls. Under the Old Covenant the law was written by the finger of God on the table of stone when Moses was on Mt Sinai, but the New Covenant is different in that God’s people are regulated by the laws being inscribed upon their soul by an operation of the heart. God says when He writes them upon the heart, that He will forget their sins and their iniquities (v17). No one is forgiven till this is done. You are saved and forgiven when He writes His laws upon your heart.
The conditions changed under the New Covenant. The Old Covenant taught do and live thereby (Romans 10:5). However this Covenant of God’s moral laws and standards were beyond mans capacity to keep. No one was ever saved under the conditions given under the Old Covenant. Jesus was the only one who kept the first Covenant. All Old Testament believers were saved by trusting in this covenant keeper Jesus Christ. The second Covenant reverses the teaching from do and live to”live” (or be saved) and do thereby. The new Covenant was always COUCHED WITHIN THE OLD. The New Covenant was contained in the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant in the New Covenant is EXPLAINED. The New Covenant was in the Old covenant CONCEALED. The Old Covenant is in the New Covenant REVEALED. The New Covenant was in the Old Covenant FORESHADOWED. The Old Covenant is in the New Covenant FULL GROWN. When God’s laws are written in your heart keeping them flows naturally from the inner being.Major Misconceptions about the covenant arrangement prevent people from being saved.
The New Covenant is not the New Testament. It is not a book. It is written in the heart. The Old Covenant was a book. It was written on tables of stone. But the New Covenant is written or inscribed upon an individuals inner most being.
2CO 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
The New Covenant IS NOT A New way of salvation it has always been the only way of salvation. Those that teach the church began at Pentecost also teach the New Covenant as a “new” way of salvation. If no one was saved by the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is a newly introduced way of salvation, how did people get saved before Jesus? JESUS always has been and always will be the only way of salvation. The Old Covenant was a school master that led them to Christ and Christ is the end (goal) of the Law to everyone that believes. It magnified their inability and brought conviction of sin. They would then look to Christ by faith and have the laws written in their hearts. All Old Testament people were saved under the conditions of the New Covenant not yet given (Gal 3:16).
The principle different of the New Covenant is that “ALL” of God’s people have His laws written in their heart, thus redefining the Covenant. Before Christ came, God had a people, some had the law written in their heart, and some didn’t. However, they were all Israel, whether they had the law in their heart or not. Under the New Covenant, EVERYONE from the death of Jesus called God’s people or the children of God must have the law written in their heart (Read Hebrews 8:11 & Romans 9:24-25). They don’t have to say to their neighbor “Do you know the Lord” anymore because EVERYONE identified as the people of the God, know the Lord and whosoever believeth on Christ shall not be put to shame but called the children of the living God.
Many religious groups are still under a do and live Covenant relationship with God stumbling at the stumblingstone and are lost. They continue to do in order to live eternal. They Do faith, Do repentance, Do Baptism, Do good works, and Do the Lord’s supper trying to Do and live eternal. This is the Old Covenant system, that can not save, that never did save and never will save. The Bible says that if there was a law that could have been given for eternal life, then righteousness would have been by the law (Gal 3:21).
The Bible teaches that when God puts His laws in our hearts, after we have repented and put our faith in Him ( repentance and faith are act of the heart and not of the body) we are saved. We don’t have to do anything else to be saved. Yes, we do a lot of things after that we get saved but it’s because we are saved, and it comes natural to us. It flows from our heart where the change originated. God’s laws have been placed there. God’s love has been placed there and we WANT to please Him, and we WANTto work for Him. Not to be saved, but becausewe have been saved.