It is an amazing thought to see that God in the opening chapters of scripture would make man and woman after his own image. It is even more amazing that after God made man, He would commune with and walk alongside him. It is unfathomable to think that God would come down in the flesh, carry the weight of our sins, then shake hands with us, entering us into a covenant that is everlasting. That is the mystery of the gospel; that Christ died for us while we were still in our sins (Romans 5:8). Some of you may be wondering what covenant has Christ made with us or you may be thinking am I part of that covenant? Let us take a brief look at Jeremiah to see a tiny glimpse of the covenant promise God has made to those whom He has chosen.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
I’m sure some of you have read this verse many times and have even memorized it, but have you meditated on the beauty and security found in these words of God? I would like to point out a couple of things before we get to the meaning of what God is trying to tell us here. First I want you to notice that the person taking action in this section is God himself. There is nothing required of those to whom the promises have been made. The second thing I want to point out is that once God has made a promise, He cannot go back on his promise and break his own word. Titus 1:2 tells us that God had promised this eternal life before the ages began and He cannot lie. So just in this little section of scripture we see God telling those who are his elect, that He will give them new hearts, He will write his law on their hearts, and perhaps the best climax of his promise, is that he will remember their sins no more. If that isn’t the best news you have received then I’m not sure you are letting the weight of those words sink in.
Through the pages of the Old Testament we hear of covenants being made all the time, and we also see the punishment given when those covenants have been broken. One thing we do not see, however, is God breaking any of his promises. He has fulfilled all of his promises or will fulfill them at the second coming of Christ. God promises to us through this scripture that we will belong with him and that we will know him. He is saying they shall know me as their Father, they shall know Christ their savior, and they shall know the Holy Spirit as their comforter. What a privilege this is for us.
The last section in this promise is perhaps the most revealing of God’s love towards us. He will forgive our iniquity and remember it no more. That means that God’s grace has paid the bill for us. God’s grace in Christ has brought us a righteousness that we have not worked for, a right standing with God that we could not earn on our own. There was no law that could provide what Christ has, there is no earthly tabernacle where God could dwell, there was no sacrifice that could place us into the holiness that has now been provided us through the promises that God has kept for us. That’s the good news stored up for us in the pages of scripture. From the very beginning the shadows of this promise have always pointed to their fulfillment in the once-for-all sacrifice Christ provided for us on the cross. That’s why Paul tells us over and over again in the New Testament that the most important thing is Christ and the cross.
So maybe that one little section of scripture has not yet led you to a full understanding of the covenant God has made with his people, but I hope it has begun to stir in you something of the great and irrevocable promises of God. If we turn over to the prophet Ezekiel we will see more promises that God has spoken to us. Once again notice that God is taking the action to offer us something that we have not earned or worked for, but take these promises to heart. They are from the mouth of God who, as we have seen, cannot lie.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:25-28)
The promise, “I will be your God” always comes at the close of these two passages. In this way God demands nothing on our parts, asks no price, and exacts no payment. But with those that God enters into covenant with, He makes promise after promise; all free, all unconditional, all made according to his kindness and sovereign will. This is true grace, that God takes those who are full of sin and remembers it no more, that God takes those who had stony hearts and gives them a heart that is flesh, that God takes those who have not walked in his ways and teaches them to obey them. These people whom God chooses to covenant with are sinful, wicked, degenerate people, yet God in his grace chooses to save anyways.
In the next two sections we will ask the question, “How can I know if I’m in covenant with God?” Among that question we will explore more of the grace of God and other topics such as; the imputation of righteousness, election, and God’s sovereignty. We will also discover more of what God promises to those who belong to him and what he promises to those who do not. Stay tuned to TheRebuilding Blog.