It is really complex, but again, this just has to be distinguished from Israel’s New Covenant. That is a covenant made with them. God didn’t make a covenant with us. There are no terms. By faith we’re baptized into Christ. There’s no obligation on us. We’ve been crucified with Christ, and now it’s no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us. That’s a whole different thing. It’s a different spirituality too. So the New Covenant spirituality is “I will write my laws in your hearts and in your mind, and I will give you a new heart. I’ll put a heart of flesh in you, take away the heart of stone. I’ll put my Spirit in you. I’ll put a new spirit in you, and I’ll put my Spirit in you. And I will sprinkle you from all your idols, all of your backslidings and heal them. And I will cause you to walk in my ways so that you will keep my statutes and ordinances.” That is for the house of Israel as mortals to be a priesthood during the millennium so that they can stay in the land and enjoy their inheritance and fulfill their function to be a light to the gentiles.
And that’s what James was referring to in Acts 15 when he refers to the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16; Amos 9:11). The gentiles will finally come to Israel to learn the law because law will go out of Zion; instruction will go out of Zion. They will be the teachers. They will really walk in God’s ways as mortals because this New Covenant will enable them to.
The Everlasting Covenant, which makes Christ the shepherd of the sheep and makes us heirs, does have some verbiage related to it that seems to overlap with the New Covenant, but it’s slightly different. The blood of the everlasting covenant, for example is also the blood of the New Covenant. He said this is the blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant. That’s two covenants! There’s the New Covenant for the house of Israel, but there’s also the Everlasting Covenant that made Christ the shepherd of the sheep and to which he is the other party. That keeps it all for everybody. The New Covenant is based on the Everlasting Covenant because Christ kept the terms of the Everlasting Covenant. He was in a position to make a New Covenant with Israel and be the mediator, but His blood is the blood of both because it secures the forgiveness of sins. It secures their forgiveness of sins and our forgiveness as the body of Christ. He is the the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Everybody who believes gets their sins forgiven because of the Everlasting Covenant. But it’s also the blood that secures the forgiveness of sins for Israel, for national Israel so that God will not remember their sins anymore. This is speaking of a group of mortals that will enter the kingdom in the Day of the Lord.
When renewed Israel is brought into their land, when they’re reconciled to messiah, their sins are going to be forgiven, and that will have been sins really that are past tense because then he’s going to put the New Covenant in effect and wash them, cleanse them of their idols, heal them with their backslidings, put a new heart in them, a heart of flesh, put a new spirit in them, put his Spirit in them. And then he’s going to cause them to walk in his ways. That is not what we have, but we have the blood. So we do have that in common. The blood has secured the forgiveness of their sins and the forgiveness of ours. Those who are near and those who are far were all reconciled to God through the blood, and it is the blood of the Everlasting Covenant. It’s also the blood of the New Covenant. It’s the blood of the Everlasting Covenant because Christ is the other party in that covenant who fulfilled its terms when he gave his life. And that put him in a position to extend the New Covenant to Israel, which is not in effect yet. His blood forgives their sins too. So we have that in common. It’s the blood of the new and Everlasting Covenant. We are beneficiaries of the Everlasting Covenant as the church.
The New Testament Ministry
In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about how God has made us able ministers of the New Covenant, but actually it’s the same word as “testament”. Again, context governs what we’re talking about and since he’s talking about the church, and he’s talking its ministers, it’s really the New Testament. The Old Covenant has a kind of writing, where God says He will write His laws on their minds and hearts. The New Testament also has a kind of writing. However, it is a different kind of writing. The New Covenant says “I will write thy laws on their heart and on their mind so that they will walk in my ways”. They will keep it. It is God himself writing on them directly with no ministry in between, but we have a different setup. We have an inheritance that is being distributed and dispensed in God’s household by stewards, who are New Testament ministers (1 Cor 4:1). The New Testament ministry is more glorious than anything that went before, and it makes us epistles of Christ (2 Cor 3:3). He says you are “our epistles”. You are manifestly epistles of Christ written in “our hearts” and known of all men (2 Cor 3:2).
2Co 3:2-3 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: (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.
It’s really interesting because in the New Testament ministry, the writing is not only on you to make you an epistle of Christ, it’s also written in the minister. There are two copies written in our hearts! “You are epistles of Christ written in our hearts”. The ministry is the New Testament ministry of the spirit, which gives life. This ministry is produced by a kind of spiritual living that is different than anything ever seen prior to the resurrection of Christ. It is a living of identification with Him in His death and resurrection. 2 Corinthians tells us what produces this ministry. The apostle said he was delivered over to death (2 Cor 1:9; 2 Cor 4:11) for Jesus sake. He was brought through all these different situations of affliction where he despaired of life, in order that he would have to trust in the resurrection of Christ, who would manifest himself as life in him and raise him up and renew him. This renewing would come as a kind of comfort in his afflictions, but these afflictions and comforts were not for his sake, but for the sake of the church to whom he ministered because he said we then comfort others with the comfort with which we’ve been comforted by God (2 Cor 1:4; Col 1:24).
It’s the God of mercy bringing the apostles through sufferings to bring them to an end to themselves and consume the outer man and renew the inner man by resurrection so that when they speak Christ they are speaking from the comfort they have received in their affliction. They’ve received and partaken of comfort that now becomes available to us in their stewardship. As as they describe it, it’s actually written into us in power! So, that is a writing, true, but it’s not the same as “I will write my laws in their minds and in their hearts”. This is something much deeper. This is we are making you an epistle of Christ, which means an expression of Christ.
The way God uses us as his instrument is to bring us through things that wear out our natural man. We have a treasure in an earthen vessel, which is Christ himself (2 Cor 4:7). And the earthen vessel is the problem sometimes that keeps the treasure from shining, so God brings us through situations where the earthen vessel is worn down. And we even sometimes despair, but there’s a purpose in this. This is how the New Testament ministry is constituted because as “death works in us, life works in you (2 Cor 4:12)”. We are always being delivered over to death for Jesus’s sake so the life of Jesus may be manifested in us (2 Cor 4:10). We are carrying about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus so the life of Jesus may be manifested in us, and so death works in us but life works in you. Paul says, “when we minister to you, it comes out of this experience and as a result the comfort that’s wrought in us is wrought in you as well, and you become our epistle, an epistle of Christ known and read of all men but also on our hearts through this stewardship”.
This is the New Testament Ministry, the Stewardship. It’s really deep, and you have to get into 2 Corinthians to understand it. I will do a study of 2 Corinthians when I get out of John. Most people are not familiar with this stuff you know. This is the meat of the word. This is what Paul describes as his spirituality and his ministry in 2 Corinthians that is so far higher than anything we can understand almost. The reason the apostles suffered so much was to get the life “flowing”. And he talked about how his outer man is being consumed but his inner man is being renewed (2 Cor 4:16), and how there is an eternal weight of glory being wrought in us while we look not to the things which are seen, but to the things that are unseen (2 Cor 4:17).
This renewal produces a weight of glory, which is Christ himself wrought into our soul so that he actually imprints himself onto us, and it’s a kind of writing! I could go on and on and on about this writing, the way God shines on us. Remember in Hebrews 1:1 when we were studying that Christ is called the exact representation of his person and the express image of the radiance of his glory, and the word there for “radiance of his glory”, sometimes it’s translated “impress of his substance” because the Greek word is Karachtar which means “engraving tool”. The way God speaks in his son in us is to actually impress him upon us so that something of Christ is imparted just like you would impress a seal. The engraving tool is the tool that a king would use to stamp his image and press it onto a letter. And then he would put it on hot wax and that seal, which was made by the tool, would mark the letter with his signature and would give the seal an image that marked it as his own.
“You are epistles of Christ, written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God”. And this epistle is written on the heart of the minister as well as the one receiving the ministry. This writing is a kind of sealing which involves Christ, who’s the impress of his substance, the “kharaktar” the engraving tool sealing us with His spirit and impressing Himself into us as a kind of writing, which is a weight of glory! He deposits something of Himself into us, and this is called gaining Christ (Phil 3:8).
When Paul talks about how he is pursuing Christ to Gain Him, and has counted everything as dung that he might gain Christ, it literally is a weight of glory of Christ being wrought into his being through the New Testament ministry. This makes us heirs of glory (Rom 8:17). What do we inherit? Ultimately, we inherit glory. What is glory? It is the weight of God himself in Christ wrought into us so that we will eventually shine with him. And this weight is distributed through a ministry called the New Testament ministry, which is a stewardship that dispenses Christ as revelation by using vessels who are stewards in God’s household to dispense the riches of Christ himself. These stewards are brought through various situations to consume the outer man so that their inner man is brought out in their ministry. And there’s a weight of glory being transferred as we behold Christ.
So this is another distinction between the Testament and the Covenant. The New Covenant is God himself writing his laws in their heart and keeping them in his ways, not through a ministry but directly. However, in the household of God, the church, there’s a stewardship with stewards, and the stewards are the ministers of the New Testament who have been entrusted with the inheritance, which is the glory. As they dispense life as they dispense their ministry to nourish the saints, they’re actually distributing the inheritance that’s already been secured by the testator who is also the mediator of the inheritance. He has appointed these stewards these gifted ones. He gave gifts to the body for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry(Eph 4:11-12).
There’s only one ministry. What is this ministry? It is the New Testament Ministry. It is the distribution of the inheritance under the New Testament. And what is this inheritance? It’s Christ himself as glory, wrought into every believer making His home in their hearts, coming to dwell in them In a way that actually works himself into us. In the next age in resurrection, we’re going to shine with however much Christ we’ve gained in this age. On the one hand that’s determined by His grace; on the other hand that’s determined by our pursuit as we pursue Him to know Him and gain Him. There is no knowing him apart from the New Testament ministry. So the ministry of the apostles is absolutely critical. There is no gaining Christ or knowing Christ apart from the stewards who dispensed him, and that is what we call the New Testament. That’s Paul, Peter, and John primarily. All we’re doing is handling the riches they’ve passed down to us, and then God in a similar fashion brings us through things so that he can comfort us, bring our attention to these riches.
The riches and comforts become ours and then as we speak them to one another, and people really lay hold of what they have in Christ, something of glory is wrought into them if it’s a genuine New Testament ministry. And that is a kind of writing that produces epistles of Christ that will shine with Him forever. It’s a different kind of writing than the writing of the New Covenant, which is God writing. This ministry is through stewards. Christ is the only mediator between God and man. On the one hand we don’t need anyone. We have an anointing. We have a personal regeneration, but the way we gain Christ is to pursue his word. And his word is the New Testament ministry, which is made known through the apostles.
We wouldn’t know who Christ is apart from his witnesses. You can’t have Christ apart from the word of the apostles. You wouldn’t know who he is. The gospels were written by the apostles. The epistles were written by the apostles. What are the epistles? The epistles are the description of the inheritance that he secured for us in glory. And people don’t go in the epistles. They go to Psalms and James and Proverbs and some gospel. No wonder they’re ignorant of how the Christian life is supposed to work because the description of our new life and resurrection as an inheritance is in the epistles! Our inheritance is not described until after the testator dies, until the one who made the will dies. Then you talk about the inheritance. So it makes sense that in the Gospels you see his incarnation, his human living, his death and his resurrection. And then in the epistles now you’re talking about what is the inheritance that He has secured in resurrection, and that is for the church. The epistles are for the church, not for Israel no matter what some people say.
So we’ve got the blood of the Everlasting Covenant and the blood of the New Covenant, and both secure forgiveness of sins but shouldn’t be confused. It’s still the same blood, but the covenant should not be confused. The New Covenant should not be confused with the Everlasting Covenant. Then there is another overlap, which is the writing. God writes his laws in their hearts and minds in the New Covenant, but for us he writes Christ himself into us as a weight of glory through a New Testament ministry, which distributes glory, which is Christ himself as an inheritance to the heirs of the Everlasting Covenant. Totally better, it’s not worthy to be compared with anything earthly you know. It is an eternal weight of glory being brought into us, and it’ll shine. We’ll see when we get to the next age, and we are in resurrection, we’re going to see the brightness of the shining of the New Testament ministry finally revealed because the treasure in the vessel is going to transform the vessel so that the vessel shines with the glory within.
Mortal Israelites who will have extended life under the New Covenant will not shine the way we shine. That is something for resurrection, and there are different kinds of glory and resurrection. But the glory we have as the bride of Christ and as the brothers who are conformed to the image of Christ is the highest glory. It’s the glory of Christ himself, and that is why Christ is in us. And he’s the hope of glory (Col 1:26-27). That’s the mystery of Christ.
The Spirituality of the New Testament vs the Old Covenant
So the New Testament spirituality is speaking of “gaining Christ”. If you think you’re under the New Covenant, you’re going to expect a spirituality that is not what we have, and it’s going to put you on the one hand on a road to legalism, but on the other hand it’s going to make you naïve. And you’re going to be surprised when you see Christians sin. You’re not going to believe that Christians can lie and betray each other and commit adultery and do sins and still be saved or genuinely be saved. Why? Because you’re under the impression that they have a new heart and God’s writing is laws in their heart and causing them to walk in his ways. No, that is for the New Covenant. That is for Israel to keep their priesthood. We have something different. We have the possibility of being carnal. They won’t have that possibility. There will not be the possibility of failure and backslidings and lies and betrayals. His people will be holy. He will cleanse them of all their idols. He will cleanse them of all their sins and put his spirit in them and cause them to walk in his way so that they will not depart from his ways. That is the New Covenant, and it’s much more “robotic” than what we have.
We have freedom in Christ, and we shouldn’t use our freedom for a cloak from the flesh, but we could, and it affects our condition but not our position. It does not affect our position in Christ because what we have as a position is an inheritance that is for all of us, whether we’re good or bad. It’s entirely of grace. Some people don’t like that, but it’s true. When God writes himself into us, it is a matter of freely drinking and gaining Christ, however much you want in a way. It is not necessarily “I’m causing you to walk in my way so that you’re not capable of doing otherwise”. You see there won’t be the need of instructions for Israel the way there are for us. They won’t need teaching and letters saying “you need to put to death your members; you need to put the evil away from you; you need to put away the leaven; you need to keep the feast of the unleavened bread; you need to keep Christ himself; don’t go down to the temple prostitute you know; don’t defraud your brother; don’t slander each other; don’t lie to each other; God’s teaching you to love”. All those instructions are for us because we are not under the New Covenant, and our behavior can still go pretty wild. “Don’t walk like the gentiles in the futility of their mind having their understanding darkened and being alienated from the life of God and being beyond feeling going after lasciviousness with greed. You haven’t learned Christ that way. Don’t be like that”. We see those kinds of teachings in the epistles for the Church.
There will not be teachers for Israel to teach them how to walk in God’s ways, how to walk in the spirit, all that stuff. Why? Because they’ll have the New Covenant. God himself will cause them to walk in His ways. They will know God. They won’t tell each other to “know God”. You know he says in the New Covenant, they will not tell each man know God for they will all know me from the least to the greatest. They’re not going to need another minister to describe anything if they’re under the New Covenant. God himself directly is going to cause them to walk in his ways, and that’s another reason people who think we’re under the New Covenant are confused. They say, “Oh we don’t need teachers. We know God directly”. Why? Because they think we’re under the New Covenant! It’s really interesting all the different implications for thinking you’re under the New Covenant. It sets up false expectations of what the Christian life should look like, and believe me I know.
I was under the ministry of Watchmen Nee and Andrew Murray and others who taught that we were under the New Covenant. And I know for a fact that it produces the idea that a Christian can’t sin because he’s under the New Covenant. He’s got a new heart. So then when you find sin in your members, you’re like “what is this. I thought I was saved”. It backloads works. And Watchman Nee produced confusion because he could teach clearly on Romans 7 and this law of sin in our members, but at the same time put us under the New Covenant. I mean it was just a confusing situation. 99 percent of Christians believe this. If you say “no we’re not under the New Covenant”; they’re like “yes we are, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
This is an important distinction if you’re going walk in Christ. What we have is an inheritance, and Christ is our inheritance. And it is glory to be wrought into us, and we are to gain Christ okay. And yes as we walk according to the spirit, the death of Christ subdues our flesh. And the way we walk according to the spirit is to have our mind renewed, and our conscience perfected, and our soul is brought into the presence of God. We are tripartite, and we have a spirit, a soul, and a body. Before we were saved that whole thing was called the old man, the old creation. When we got saved, God didn’t make a covenant with us; he regenerated our spirit making it life (Rom 8:10). We were dead in our trespasses and sins, alienated from him in our minds through wicked works, and children of wrath by nature (Eph 2:1-2) but then he made us in his mercy alive together with Christ and seated with him in the heavenlies. That’s our spirit, and Romans 8 says if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.
The other distinction between the New Covenant and the New Testament is the Spirit.. There’s the blood. There’s the writing. And then there’s the Spirit. The Spirit for the New Covenant is more like how God used to come on old testament prophets, and they would prophesy like Saul (1 Sam 10). It says that the spirit came upon him. He became “another man”, and he prophesied among the prophets. So people even today say “is Saul among the prophets?” which is like an oxymoron because the guy’s so evil.
When the Spirit came upon the old testament saints, He didn’t stay upon them. And so that wasn’t their salvation. He equipped them to function in a different way. They were very different. When the anointing came on Samson suddenly he was a mighty man and could pull down buildings. It’s a supernatural thing. But in the New Covenant, he’s going to be doing that with them making them into a different person, but staying with them and not departing from them and giving them a new heart, which we really haven’t seen yet. They will be holy as described in the Sermon on the Mount, which is really the spirituality of the New Covenant. They won’t lust in their heart. They won’t covet. They won’t do these sins because He’s really going to change their nature. We have not seen that yet. What we have is our spirit is regenerated and made alive with his life with Christ himself. “If Christ is in you though the body is dead because of sin the spirit is life because of righteousness”. We also have our soul, which is our mind, will, and emotions, our heart plus our conscience, and that gets really complicated. I can’t deal with that right here, but our mind can be the “mind of the flesh or the mind of the spirit” (Rom 8:6). Israelites under the New Covenant will not have that. We have the ability to set our mind on the spirit. What does that mean? It means that we are acknowledging the facts that are revealed through the New Testament ministry concerning our inheritance. And as we do the Spirit in our spirit agrees, bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God and heirs together with Christ (Rom 8:14-16). So while we set our mind on the spirit, the spirit bearing witness that we are heirs. And setting your mind on the things of the spirit has everything to do with that inheritance; what is it that Christ has secured for us in his death and resurrection, which is called the gospel, the riches of Christ for the gentiles as an inheritance.
As our mind comes into contact with this the spirit bears witness with it and impresses something of Christ in our mind so that our mind becomes “life and peace”. So our spirit is life because of righteousness, and our mind is life. The mind set on the spirit is life and peace. This is different than I just write my laws on their inward parts, and they just do what I make them do. No, this is us setting our mind on the things of the spirit. This involves our participation, and it involves the New Testament ministry, which describes the inheritance. It’s as we set our mind to agree with the New Testament ministry, which describes the inheritance that the spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God. Our mind becomes life and peace. Now the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace. As Christian mortals we can have either. We can either have our mind set entirely on ourselves and our misconceptions and our own performance and our sin, or we can begin to set our mind on the things of the spirit, this inheritance that’s been secured for us, the New Testament ministry, which reveals it to us.
As we set our mind on the things of the spirit, and the Spirit bears witness with our spirit concerning our inheritance, we begin to rejoice. It produces rejoicing; it produces a thankful heart. It renews our mind. Our soul is washed. And Peter says that you haven’t seen him, you believe and love Him and rejoice with “joy unspeakable and full of glory and receive the end of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8). See we need our souls to be saved, and that happens as Christ is wrought into us as a weight of glory. And that glory is experienced in us as a rejoicing over our inheritance as we acknowledge the New Testament ministry, all the things that God has said that he has secured for us in the death of Christ, which he has revealed through the apostles.
So on the one hand it’s their ministry that reveals it, on the other hand it’s the spirit that bears witness to it. And as it does Christ is written into our hearts as a weight of glory, and something of our soul is saved. Our mind, which is the leading part of our soul, becomes life and peace. That’s how we walk in the spirit. Then as our mind is life and peace, we are walking by the spirit. And if you walk by the spirit, you’ll not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16). If you walk by the spirit, you put to death the deeds of your body (Rom 8:13).”If by the spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” If you walk according to flesh, you must die, but if you by the spirit put to death the deeds of your body, you will live. How? It’s the spirit of life that comes and renews my mind, and I agree with it. And the spirit’s bearing witness, and I’m rejoicing. What’s that? I’m walking in the spirit. I’m walking as the son of God. I’m walking in my liberty. I’m being set free by the law of the spirit of life, from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2).
This is what Romans 8 is about. It liberates me from the power of sin, the dominion of sin, and the dominion of the law while I’m walking in the spirit. But I can drift back. That’s why I need to be renewed every day (Eph 4:23; Col 3:10). That’s why we have to put on Christ every day. That’s why we have to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. That’s why we have to preach the gospel to ourselves and come to the hearing of faith so that we don’t go back to the old. See we’re not under the New Covenant where He just makes us walk in His way and there’s no way for us to go back to the old. No, every day we need to enter rest. Every day we need to come forward. Every day we need to acknowledge our inheritance, and rejoice in it, and stir ourselves up, and drink of the living water, and have Christ wrought into us because we’re either going to walk according to the flesh today or according to the spirit, but if we’re walking according to the spirit, our soul is being saved!
Something of Christ is being imprinted into our soul. And whatever amount of Christ we gain that’s called gaining Christ in this age will be revealed in the next age as glory. So there will be different weights of glory and resurrection based on this, and that’s according to God’s creation. You know in 1 Corinthians 15 there are different types of resurrection, some glory like the moon, some like the sun. There will be different degrees of shining, but no I don’t think there will be different degrees of joy. It’ll just be what you express based on what you’ve gained. And this is only for the New Testament believers. This is our inheritance, and you can have as much or as little as your inheritance as you want. It’s not a punishment to have less, but it’s happier to have more.
Now because we still have the flesh, because we can still be defiled, because we can still walk in the flesh, we also need to be disciplined. The Jews under the New Covenant won’t need to be disciplined. It’s for sons you know. They will walk in his ways. We are disciplined to partake of his holiness, and that means we’re brought through various situations to consume our outer man, and get our attention off ourselves, and make us desperate, and bring us to Christ. We suffer. We will reign with him and be expressed with him in glory because we suffer with him. You know that’s what it says in Romans 8 is look you will be glorified with him if indeed you suffer with him (Rom 8:17) And that suffering is not like “oh I need to suffer for Christ”. No, it’s the suffering of the fact that we’re in this vessel, and we’re groaning to put on our new habitation from God. And we’re groaning for this manifestation of the sons of God because we have the first fruits of the spirit, and it produces a sense of futility (Rom 8:17-23). So we just can’t be satisfied here.
- Chapter 1 Important Distinctions Between the New Testament and the New Covenant
- Chapter 2 New Testament Spirituality
- Chapter 3 – More Distinctions: New Testament Inheritance Versus New Covenant
- Appendix1: A study regarding New Covenant’s distinct connection with Israel.
- Basic differences between The Church (New Testament Heirs) and Future Israel (New Covenant Parties)