I have been working under the assumption that we are on the same page when it comes to salvation, but because of my sermon last week, it is probably best if I explain myself. I was born and raised in the Christian Church and have been trained by Christian Church ministers, so I know what is defended in our tradition. We believe that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ and that the proper response is the Biblical response- believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and persevere to the end. I am in agreement with this and I believe that the Scripture teaches this response. Many times we become very rigid in our explanation of the Gospel. The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. God has become flesh and blood and died a sinless man to pay for the sins of the world. We have all fallen short of the glory of God and thus mankind needed a restoration of the relationship that was originally intended. Christ has reconciled us by His blood on that cross.
TURN to Ephesians 2:4-10. Salvation comes by faith in what Christ has done. It is only by Christ's merits that we stand "without blemish." Believing is non-meritorious.
I suppose that it must be explicitly said that salvation is yours and you will never perish if you do not abandon the faith. One can forfeit salvation if they deny what they have tasted and seen. Therefore it is not that once you are saved you are always saved. It is once you believe you must continue in that lest you extinguish your faith and forfeit salvation. I will give you two texts to demonstrate this point.
TURN to 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 “if’
TURN to Colossians 1:19-23 “if’
Salvation is only by faith in the works of Christ. You can not earn salvation! Once you receive this salvation from the wrath that is to come, then you must continue in it. Good works become a vital role in ones faith. Good works can develop and nurture your faith. So we should no longer stay in sin, because we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. If we continue to sin, it will destroy our faith and may lead us to the point of forfeiting the salvation that is so freely given to us.
With all of this said it leads me to today’s text. For the next three sermons, including today’s talk, we will focus on the excellency of Christ. I will set out to show you that Christ is the one that has brought us all of the great promises and it is because of Him that we may LIVE. If you are on the border line thinking “I am not sure if I believe all this Christian business” then these sermons are for you. If you have believed then I pray that these sermons will strengthen your faith. Christ is more excellent than all.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 1: A More Excellent Ministry
The Scripture teaches us that the new covenant is a better covenant than the first. Since the new covenant is a better covenant, Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry, with Him being the Mediator of this new covenant. Mediator meaning that Christ has become the means of the new covenant. It is in fact solidified by His blood. The work of Christ is much more valuable than the work of the Levitical priesthood, as noble as their work may have been. Christ can atone for sins with His own blood. As a result of the work of Christ, our Mediator, the new covenant offer better promises. Salvation, eternal life, indwelling of the Holy Spirit- these are all better promises.
Point 2: Fault with the Old Covenant
One thing should be clear- the Old Covenant is not at fault. Fault is always known to be from the weakness of the flesh (our weaknesses). Verse 8 says, “Finding fault with them.” The LORD’s rejection of the Old Covenant is always explained in terms of the lack of faithfulness by the recipients of the covenant. We could never internalize the Law and follow it the way God directed. We are weak and sinful. We know the rebellion and failure of Israel.
Point 3: Jeremiah Passage
It is the LORD that initiates the covenants including the New Covenant and no person ever has stipulations for God’s covenants. God lays down the terms and we simply listen and agree or disagree if one would so choose! House of Israel/House of Judah: Had been separated, but God willed for them to be united. Though the one had become two, God promised unity and it would be God Himself who would see that this would come to pass. It was a promise from God. Verses 10-11 offer the promises that we have to look forward to: When the next age comes (new heaven), God will write His laws on our hearts and minds. When the Kingdom comes fruition, all of those citizens will know the LORD. And verse 12 is the qualifier. It is because of forgiveness that these things will be. We must work from verse 12 back to verses 10 and 11.
Point 4: New Covenant Superiority V. 13
True forgiveness was never accomplished under the Old Covenant. True forgiveness could only come by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:4 compares the blood of bulls and goats to the blood of Christ. The blood of bulls and goats could never atone for sin, but the blood of the sinless God-man is a different story. What does vanishing away mean? It was not long after this that the Temple was destroyed and old covenant practices were done away with. Temple worship and offerings have not been done since 70 A.D. It is becoming a thing of ancient history (vanishing).
It must be said that the old covenant spoken of here is not the Old Testament. The covenant is specifically the rituals, food regulations, offering, and sacrifices. These are not binding on us today because of the new covenant. Yes the moral implications that are taught under the new covenant teach us how to function under God’s direction, but that is drastically different from the covenant rituals. What is New exactly? It is the relationship that we may have with God. The old covenant could never establish the relationship with God that we have now through Christ Jesus. This relationship is established on the fact that forgiveness of sin is attained. READ 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Scripture teaches us how to function under the new covenant. We are not bound to the ritual of the old. The Old Testament is the Word of God and is highly valuable, for there is no understanding of the New Testament without the Old. So in summary- the Old Testament is the Word of God and lasts forever, but the Old Covenant is the specific rituals (i.e. food regulations, offerings, sacrifices, traditions) and is vanishing away.
What can be said of these things? Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry than the
ministers of the old covenant.
Christ has brought true forgiveness of sins by His blood on the cross.
Christ offers a true relationship with God by that atonement.
Christ offers better promises.
A New and more Excellent Covenant is established in Christ.