Today we are continuing to study the Blood Covenant, the secret to understanding the Bible. God revealed covenants to man, because it was through Covenant that He would save man and unite us to Himself forever in love.
If we are to have a covenant with God who can represent God to man? Well only God can do that. And who can represent man to God? Who can be worthy enough to represent man to God? It really takes a perfect Man. Without a covenant with God we are lost. So God came up with the most amazing solution in the new covenant, the God-man Jesus. He represents God to man because He is God, but He also represents man to God because He is also perfect Man. So Jesus is the mediator between man and God. He can bring together God and man in Himself, through a perfect Covenant. We have seen that blood must be shed by the representative, or else there must be a substitute animal that is slain and the blood of the animal is shed instead of the representative. But the representatives were also cut in their hands or arms. They would shed some blood, but obviously normally, you can’t really kill off the representative, so animal blood would be shed instead. And this blood was the guarantee of the covenant, and the value of the blood measured the strength of that covenant. By shedding blood they were saying: ‘we are committed to each other now even unto death.’
In the new covenant the perfect valuable blood of Jesus is shed on behalf of all mankind, and it is accepted by God as of sufficient value, for it is infinitely valuable to purchase our forgiveness, eternal life and every spiritual blessing that you can think of for all eternity, and all that was secured in the blood of Jesus.
Not only was it the blood of a man representing man to God, but the blood of Jesus is also the blood of God for He is God in human flesh, the God-man. When Jesus shed His blood, God was shedding His blood, and He was making an oath in the blood of Jesus declaring His total commitment to eternally fulfil all the promises of the New Testament. Praise God, we’re in
a covenant backed by the blood of God,
in which God has sworn to keep every promise.
The new covenant was made between God
and man, in the God man Jesus Christ, and
it’s perfect. It’s unbreakable. It’s everlasting.
It’s a perfect covenant - not made by fallible men between two perfect people, God the Father and God the Son, the God-man Jesus Christ who made covenant on our behalf as our representative in His own Blood.
It is not made in animal blood, for these were just shadows, pictures of THE COVENANT that would be made in the perfect blood of Jesus. Therefore we have a perfect covenant with God, cut in the body of Jesus as He hung on the Cross for us, established in His precious blood.
The blood of Jesus once and for all
has covered and removed your sins far from you
and guaranteed every blessing forever.
We have seen that the basis of a covenant is
the blood and the strength of the covenant
is measured by the value of that Blood.
In the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus, we’ve got it good. Hallelujah!
All we have to do is accept this covenant made on our behalf. We have to accept the offer that God presents to us to come into this covenant with Him through the blood of Jesus and enjoy forgiveness and eternal life.
Today we are going to look at what is the life, heart or essence of the covenant. The word that describes the essence of the covenant that we have with God, the governing principle or commandment that governs the operation of this covenant is LOVE. In Hebrew this is the word CHESED. This is the heart of covenant life. Covenant binds the two parties into a state of committed love and faithfulness to each other.
There is a big difference between a contract and a covenant. In voth an exchange is made. In a contract there is an exchange of goods and services for money. ‘I promise to put in 40 hours work a week and you give me £300.’
We are doing that all the time with our money. We are exchanging money for goods and there might be a contract involved.
But what is different with a covenant? With a covenant is that you are not just giving things. In a covenant you giveyourself to the other person. That is self-giving is what we mean by love.
The self-giving of one’s whole person
that is what covenant is all about.
Now God is love. God exists eternally in a state of love. John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When it says the Word (Jesus, the Son of God) ‘was WITH God’, that actually means‘face to face’ with God. Here is a picture of the Father and the eternally begotten Son of the Father. (The Son didn’t come into being one day, but is eternally begotten of the Father). The Father and the Son are face to face in perfect love and the thing about love is love gives, doesn’t it? Love is always giving, that is the definition of love. So the Father is giving to the Son and the Son is giving to the Father.
What are they giving? They are giving of themselves, their whole being. We could put it like this: the Father gives to the Son His Spirit, the Spirit of the Father, and the Son gives
back to the Father everything that is in the Son,
His Spirit, the Spirit of the Son.
The Father is giving to the Son and the Son is giving back to the Father. What they are giving is rather WHO are they giving? It is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the love-gift.
The Father gives the Spirit to the Son,
and the Son gives the Spirit to the Father.
But the Spirit Himself is a Person; He’s a giving gift. They give themselves to each other through the Holy Spirit. This constant giving of love one to the other in the Holy Spirit is the fellowship life, the eternal life that is in God. That is called the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the dynamic of fellowship in the life of God. The Triune God, the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist together in a state of perfect love. The Spirit flows from the Father to the Son and the Son also gives the Spirit back to the Father in their love. The Spirit is the eternal love gift of the Father and Son. That is the eternal life of God.
Now the amazing thing is that in the new covenant God is bringing us into this eternal life. The Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son to us, so that the very same love that is between the Father and the Son is now between us and God, and between one another. That is why Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17: “let them know that they are in Us as I am in You and You are in Me, so they are one in Us and with each other.” He is saying God is gathering us up in the new covenant into the same love relationship with God that is already there between the Father and the Son.
This is an amazing thing! In John 17:3
Jesus says: “Now this is eternal life, that they would know God” - that they would fully participate in the fellowship of the Trinity.
The Persons of the Godhead know each other perfectly, because the Son gives everything
He has to the Father, and the Father gives everything He has to the Son in the Holy Spirit, and thereby they know one another perfectly.
Now God says we can now know God in the same way. How? Because in the new covenant God’s gift of love to us is the very same Holy Spirit, and He tells us we now can come into the fellowship of the Trinity.
This is something that angels only dare wonder about! They experience the glory of God, but they are not part of the intimate family fellowship of the Trinity. Now we are being brought into that through the blood covenant of Jesus, through and in Christ we now stand in the same position before the Father as Christ Himself, the recipients of the eternal life of God, knowing God directly.
In Christ we are in the same position as Jesus. God gives us the Holy Spirit as His love gift to us and we are to love Him back, and as we love Him back we give the Holy Spirit back to Him, and thus we enjoy eternal fellowship life with God through the Spirit.
Even in this life we have eternal life, because we have that relationship with God, when we receive Christ. When we receive Christ, we receive His love through the Spirit. The Spirit comes into our hearts and pours out the love of God aaccording to Romans 5:5: “God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy-Spirit who is given to us.” So now with the help of the Spirit, by this love of God in our hearts, we can now love God and others and the ring of fellowship is completed. We are experiencing the life of God.
The fruit of the Spirit is love. How many fruits of the Spirit are there? In Galatians 5:22,23 there is one. There is a list of 9 names: Love, joy, peace, goodness etc, but it says: “the fruit of the Spirit IS love.” All of these are different colours or flavours of love. How can you experience joy? Well when you get in the Spirit of love, you will begin to experience joy, peace and the rest of it. Love is the essence of the eternal life of God that is ours through the Spirit. That is what we are called to in the new covenant. We receive the Holy Spirit as His gift of love. And love begins controlling our lives, and the more we let the love of God flow in our lives, the more we start experiencing the eternal life of God.
John chapters 13 to 17 contains the teaching of Jesus at the Last Supper. The other Gospels describe how Jesus and His disciples had the Last Supper together, how they broke bread and drank the wine.
When a covenant had been made the two parties would sit down and have a meal together (the covenant meal) to celebrate the covenant. Well Jesus did things slightly differently on the night before He was crucified, before His blood was shed, He actually had His covenant meal with His disciples, because as far as He was concerned it was already done. He had made the decision to go to the Cross and so He had a covenant meal with His disciples, and He broke the bread
and He said: “this is My body broken for you” and over the cup of wine He said: “this is My blood shed for you, this is the new covenant in My blood - drink from it all of you.”
Every time we have Communion, we’re having the covenant meal, whereby we remember the covenant. And it is in that covenant context Jesus gives one of His most important teachings. John 13-17 gives the foundational teaching for the new covenant, because it was all said at the covenant meal. So it is good that in my Bible it is all written in red, because all this teaching is written in the blood of Jesus. It’s covenant talk. It is describing how the new covenant will be. Jesus often said: “in that day”, referring to the day when the new covenant comes into force, saying that in that day of the new covenant this is what life will be like, these will be your rights, privileges, provisions and commands.
It starts in John 13 with the famous foot-washing which is a an acted illustration showing the big picture of God’s love for us in making covenant.
John 13:1: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
I want you to notice His love is being emphasied.
v2,3 “Supper being ended... Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.”
Notice Jesus knew He had come from God and was going to God. He is now going to act out what He has been doing, what His big mission has been coming from God and going to God. Love had come to establish this New Covenant.
He is demonstrating His love, the love of God that caused Him to make this covenant with us, the love that is the essence of the covenant. (That’s what covenant is about, like with a marriage, it is motived by love, in order to seal the 2 parties into a permanent, unbreakable relationship and fellowship of love. God loved us from eternity, and this love caused Him to give His Son for us, so that forever He could pour His love upon us and receive our love back. So love is the covenant motivation and fulfilment).
1. Jesus left the head of His table. He rose from supper. This is a picture of Him as God at the right-hand of God, the Son of God, leaving His position of equality with God and humbling Himself (He did not grasp at His equality with God) and stepping down to became a servant. He took off His kingly robes and put on a towel, the clothing of a servant, even a slave.
Likewise Jesus stepped down from the throne
of God and clothed Himself as a servant.
2. Having put on His servant robes: “He poured water into a basin, into an earthen vessel.” Water is a picture of life. He poured His life into an earthen vessel. The next thing the Son of God did was to leave Heaven and become a man. The Son of God poured His life into a human body. He did this for a reason.
3. He began to wash the disciples feet. Jesus now took the water now that was in an earthen vessel, and poured it out to clean the dirty feet of His disciples. Likwise having poured out His life into a human body He then poured that life out to wash us from our sins, from our dirt. On the Cross His life was poured out, He shed His blood and in so doing He was washing us from our sins.
4. Then: “He took His garments again
and sat down at the head of the table.”
After Jesus poured out His life to wash us with His blood, He was raised from the dead. He put on His kingly garments again, and ascended far above all principalities and powers and sat down at the right-hand of God.
Jesus is saying through this illustration that this is how much I love you. I am doing all of this to cleanse you from your sins. This is the love that God demonstrated in setting up the Covenant and if He showed us this love in setting up the covenant, this is the love that He will continually love us with in the Covenant. The Bible says: ‘If God did not withhold His only Son from us, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.’ God’s love is not just in the Cross, but that’s a demonstration of His love that He continually loves us with. So God is continually pouring out His love to you in the Holy Spirit and God wants to give you as much of the Holy Spirit that you can receive. Hallelujah! In fact the more love you send back to God in your love and obedience to God the more of the Holy Spirit you can receive from Him.
Jesus then said (v15): “I’ve given you an example in this, that you should do as I have done to you.” The kind of love that our covenant is all about is shown in Him humbling Himself to serve us. He says we now must do the same. In this covenant we are to follow His example. Not necessarily that we should go around washing each other’s feet, (although some churches have foot washing services) but more importantly it is that we should love one another as Jesus has loved us. That is what He is saying. Now you are in the new covenant this is the life of the new covenant. It’s love, sacrificial love. It’s giving love.
After doing this He took the bread and wine and again He was acting out His love: that love for us would cause His body to be broken and His blood shed for us to bring about this new covenant.
Then He went on in His teaching to describe the life that is in the New Covenant. So the essence of covenant life is first that God loves us.
And now we are in that covenant, we are in that same dynamic. What is our part to play now? God has done it all for us, but now we have a part to play. We have a response to make.
What is that? In the light of all His love for us it is now for us to love Him. It’s us to enter into that Spirit of the Covenant and to love Him
When we love Him we are releasing our spirit back to Him. That is what fellowship with God is all about: receiving His love and giving it back to Him in praise, worship and obedience (doing what He tells us to do). Jesus said: “if you love Me, you will obey My commandments.”
As we do that, we are in the dynamic of fellowship, of enjoying eternal life with God. When we talk about Christians out of fellowship it means that they have stopped giving their love back to God and everything starts drying up, because fellowship is a dynamic circle of love and you’ve got to keep loving God.
He loves you first. We have to love Him.
Jesus now shows us how to do this in John 13:34 He is telling us about the new covenant.
He says: “A new commandment I give …”
- the new commandment for the new covenant is the essence, the driving force, the life of this new covenant. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.”
We think: “Oh God, I can love You. But really, loving him, loving her, do I really have to?
Lord I can love You, for You’re perfect.
You have done everything for me.
I’m happy to love You. I’m happy to praise You, but do I really have to love them.
Oh, they give me such a hard time sometimes. They don’t deserve it. You deserve my love Lord, but they don’t deserve it.”
But how can we practically love the Lord?
How can we fulfil the covenant?
Jesus says: “I give you this commandment.
If you are loyal to Me then you will follow My commandment.” He says: “I want to show you how you can show your love for me this is
how to do it. Love one another.”
When we are in covenant with God, we are identified with Him and when somebody attacks us, God takes it personally, because if I am one with God in the covenant, then the person who attacks me is attacking God. The person who speaks against me is speaking against God, and God is my covenant partner and we say Amen to that, but it also true about your brothers and sisters. Do you realise that?
One of the most interesting things is when Saul was persecuting the Christians Jesus intercepts him on the road to Damascus and says to him “Saul, Saul why do you persecute Me.”
He didn’t say why are you persecuting My Christians? He said you’re persecuting Me. When you whip that one in Christ you are whipping Me.
Why? Because all of you who are in Christ,
you are one with Jesus, and if I speak evil of you, I am speaking evil of Him.
If I hate you, I am hating Him.
But if I love you I am loving Him.
Why? Because you are one with Him in the new covenant. What you do to your brethren Jesus takes personally.
So, He says if you love Me you will obey
My commandment to: “Love one another.”
He didn’t say I’ll give you a new option or a new suggestion, NO - a new commandment.
‘You want to love Me?
This is how you do it. You love one another.’
Let me finish His sentence: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The life of the covenant is love. Praise God for His love for us, but we have got to love God now in order to enjoy that eternal life of self-giving and we do it primarily by loving our brothers and our sisters in Christ. In a covenant it’s not just the representative but everyone in Him who is in the same covenant. So in our covenant it is not just about loving Jesus, but everyone in Jesus, for we are one. So when we love our brother and sister we are loving Jesus. Jesus said:
“What you do unto the least of these my brethren, you do unto Me.”
The way you relate to your brother and sister in Christ is how you are relating to Jesus. Just see the face of Jesus on them, because actually Jesus takes it personally, whether you love them or hate them you are doing it to Jesus, because they are in Christ.
Now we should love the world as well, don’t get me wrong, but there is something stronger going on if they are in Christ which we need to realise.
This is the commandment, the essence of the covenant and if you don’t walk in love you are out of fellowship with God. The Spirit is given to you, but if you are not obeying, if you are not releasing the Spirit back to God in your love to God, then the life of the covenant cannot flow.
You might say well it’s a sacrifice to love that person. It doesn’t come easy. But that is the nature of love. It was a sacrifice for Jesus to love us. Were we all pretty and loveable?
No, we’re all selfish and undeserving.
But He sacrificed. He gave His love for us.
And He tells us to love one another as He has loved us, loving them with His love. He says:
‘if you want to love Me back, love Me back the same way by loving those who are unworthy, who are being selfish. But love them with the love that I have given you.’ That’s the essence of life in the new covenant. Hallelujah.
John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” We might think that is hard but He says (v16.17): “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that will abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him or knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” This is the gift of love from God to us
in the new covenant - the Holy Spirit.
We might think; how can I live the Christian life? How can I possibly love like Jesus?
How can I do that? Have I really got to get my will-power together, so I will love Him.
Without the dynamic of the Holy Spirit it’s impossible. If we are not in the Spirit, then it is all about will-power, making vows, trying harder, doing whatever to try and do it, but that is missing the point, because it doesn’t start with us it starts with God. He gives us the Holy Spirit and it’s by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to love. The Holy Spirit puts God’s love in our hearts and we love with that love.
We simply give what He has already given us. You cannot live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s just a lot of will-power otherwise. No, lean back and receive the Holy Spirit and lean on His power.
He’s the Helper. He’ll help you love.
He’ll help you live that life.
You can’t do it without Him.
He’s the essence and life of the new covenant.
He is given to you and if you can live in the powe of the Spirit you will find yourself loving unlovable people, because of the Holy Spirit, not because you are such a nice guy. The Holy Spirit will give you the power to do that.
John 14:21 says: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, is he who loves Me.” What’s His commandment? To love one another, “and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”Do you want the Lord to manifest Himself to you? Do you want His glory in your life? What He is saying is you have received His love, so now as you give the love back to Him, as you do His commandments, as you love one another, you will then be able to receive more love and manifestation from God because it’s a fellowship of love. You give,
He gives more and He manifests more and more of His glory in your life as you walk in love.
v23: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” Strong stuff, but I want you to see this teaching of Jesus is the new covenant teaching. He is telling us how the new covenant operates and it operates in the love of God through the power of Spirit .and that is what His talk is all about here.
John 15 is all part of the same talk of Jesus, v9: “As the Father loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”Keep that love active in you. v10: “If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” v11: “These things I have spoken to you,
that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
v12: “This is My commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.” How do you get the joy of God working in your life? It’s if you walk in love, then joy will start flowing along with that. Jesus is saying the life of the new covenant is walking in love.
v13: “Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends (his partners in the covenant ).” (v14-16 -
We are His friends if we walk in fellowship-obedience and
will receive the benefits: revelation, manifestation, fruit).
v17: “These things I command you, that you love one another.” When you love your brother or your sister you are loving Jesus and the flow of love continues, and more of God’s love and glory can flow into your life. If you stop the love flowing from you, you will stop the love flowing to you, because it’s a cycle of fellowship.
You have to keep that fellowship active.
Finally, John 17:20 says:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they may be all one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory that You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
Can you see He is saying that we are entering into the fellowship life of the Trinity? The Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father. He’s saying I want them to enjoy the life, the dynamic power of the Trinity. Through the new covenant we enter into the eternal life of God. We receive His gift of the Spirit and we give back love to Him and we enjoy the fellowship of the Trinity. Eternal life starts now not when you die. It’s that life with God.
That is the essence of the new covenant.
*Challenge to believers out of fellowship, in strife and unforgiveness, its time to repent and walk in love.
Salvation Appeal: Perhaps you have never entered into the NC in Jesus’ blood. You have not heard this before.
It has not really dawned on you that God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross and shed His blood so that your sins might be forgiven, that you might enter into eternal life with God.
And all you have to do is say: ‘Yes, Jesus’, Lord I believe. I receive your love. I want to have eternal life. I want to be forgiven. I want to have that life of God in me. All we have to do is receive Jesus as our Saviour and our Lord. To say:
“Lord I bow my knee to you. I receive you.”
*I pray if there is anyone who has not entered
into the new covenant in Jesus, you will today.
*I want us to pray a prayer and to say: ‘Yes, Lord I believe in Jesus and Jesus I receive Your gift of forgiveness and eternal life.’
*I invite you to say this prayer to God together with me:
Sinner’s Prayer: Dear God, I thank you for sending Jesus. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. He died for my sins. He rose from the dead and Jesus I ask You now to forgive all my sins. I’m sorry for my sin, I turn my back on that and I turn to you Lord. Please come into my heart and give me the Holy Spirit that I might have this life in me. I thank you Lord that You said in your Word that all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Right now I call on Your name, Jesus save me. Thank you Lord for doing that.
*Well if you have just prayed that prayer for the first time, You have received the new covenant and you have been put into Christ and now in Christ forgiveness and eternal life is yours. You are a child of God, a new creation.
*Do write and tell us, and we will send you some materials to help you grow in your Christian life.