THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT JESUS CHRIST

It is only through an understanding of the good news message about Jesus Christ and the  salvation that comes through him that one can begin to realize the great love and concern that the Father and his Son have for humanity.

In his lengthy greeting to the elect at Rome, Paul specifically states that he is in the service of Jesus Christ and God the Father for the express purpose of proclaiming the Father's good news concerning his Son and the meaning of his being made flesh.

Romans 1:1-3, 8-9; 15-16 Paraphrased

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the good news message of God the Father. That he promised, by his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, that was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (vs.1-3). See also 1.Thes.3:1-2.

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the good news of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (vs.8-9).

"I am also ready to preach the good news to you that are at Rome. For I am not ashamed of the good news of Christ: for it is the power of God the Father to give salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (vs.15-16). See also 1.Cor.9:18; 2.Cor.9:13; 10:14; Phil.1:27.

An extremely important point to note in verses 15 and 16 is that it is through Christ's successful performance of his mission contained in the good news message that the Father now has the power (i.e., the means) through which he can save those who truly believe what they are told about Christ.

Christ the Crucified

The apostle Paul summarizes the good news about the meaning of Jesus Christ's life and death in relation to salvation to the elect of God at Corinth:

"The Jews demand miraculous signs, and the Greeks look to wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified; a stumblingblock to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles; But to those whom the Father has called to salvation, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power and wisdom of the Father" (1.Cor.1:22-24 NIV).

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquent or superior wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you, except Jesus and him crucified. . ." (1.Cor.2:1-2 NIV).

Why did Paul make the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the central theme of his ministry? Why did he feel that the crucifixion of Jesus outweighed all of the other things that could be said about the gospel message concerning Christ?

Paul knew that to understand the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus is to understand the plan for the salvation of humanity, because it is through understanding the events and prophecies surrounding the sacrificial death of Jesus that one can truly understand the Father's grace and mercy toward humanity, the way by which we may have our sins forgiven, the way to make peace with the Father, and the way to obtain eternal life.

WHO WAS JESUS?

Today there is almost a total misconception about Jesus Christ, who he was, what he is now, why he came, what he taught, and what he accomplished. History clearly shows that Jesus was not a myth or a legend, he did exist. He was a real human being who preached and taught God's word with great power and zeal; however, very few truly know the truth about this man.

The God Who Became Man

John 1:1-5;10-14 KJV

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God" (vs.1-2).

John said that in the beginning there was a God-being he described as the Word, and this God-being was with another being that was also a God.

"All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not"  (vs.3-5).    

"He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not" (vs.10-11). See also Heb.1:1-2.

There can be no doubt that the God that  John spoke of as being the Word was the God who created all things. And there can be no doubt, if one diligently searches the scriptures, that this same God was the Creator God who became Jesus Christ:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (vs.12-14).

The immortal God, the Creator of all things,  possessed the highest form of existence (life that springs forth from itself, never dying or decaying) emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become a mortal man who was subject to death. Then, he gave his life as a ransom and sacrifice for all people. Jesus knew that he had come into this world for the express purpose of dying for the sins of humanity. He also knew that if he failed in his mission, humanity would be without hope of eternal life. See Jn.12:27; 18:37 and our study paper about the identity of God.

The death of God (the Son) was such a profound and awesome event that almost a third of the four gospels are devoted to this one subject. The apostle John alone uses almost half of his entire gospel narrative to explain the details surrounding the meaning of the Passover and the sacrifice of God.

The God Who Died

"But now in these days he [God the Father] has spoken to us through his Son [Jesus Christ] to whom he has given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God's Son shines out with God's glory, and all that God's Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven" (Heb.1:2-3 LBP).

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb.2:9 KJV). See Lk.24:1-7; Acts 2:24-32; 3:15,26; Rom.6:8-10; Phil.2:6-8; 1.Pet.3:18; Rev.2:8; 1:4;17-18.

The Creator God who made all that exists voluntarily gave up his immortality to come to earth in human form, live a sinless life as an example for us to follow, and sacrifice his life in an agonizing death as payment for the sins of all humanity. He did this so that each of us could be saved from eternal death, which we earned as a result of our violation of his Father's perfect law. See 1.Cor.6:20; 7:23; Ezk.18:4,20; Rom.6:23.  

The Messenger Of The Covenant

Included among the many things that Jesus came to accomplish was the initiation of events that would lead to the final fulfillment of the promises and covenants that he had made as the Creator God:

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:  and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant [agreement], whom you delight in" (Mal.3:1 Para.). See also Mk.1:2.

Through the prophet Malachi, the Creator God foretold that he would send a messenger before his arrival on earth and that he himself would come as the messenger of the covenant (agreement). The phrase 'messenger of the covenant' means nothing unless one first has an understanding of the covenants that God made with Adam and Eve, the Patriarchs, and ancient Israel; therefore, it is important to make a short review of these covenants.

The First Covenant

After God had questioned Adam and  Eve concerning why they had hidden themselves from him and what they had done wrong, God said to the serpent:

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it [literally, 'he' the woman's seed]  shall bruise [crush] your head, and you [the serpent] shall bruise his [Christ's] heel" (Gen.3:15 Para.).

The  Hebrew word for seed is 'zera' and is a collective noun that can be taken either in the singular or the plural form. Understanding the context in which the word 'seed' is used is the only way one can know if it is singular or plural. In Genesis 3:15, the word is to be taken as both singular and masculine, because it's modifying pronouns are he and his.

Here, we see that the first recorded covenant that the Creator God made with humanity contained a promise to destroy the serpent who had deceived them and a promise of salvation through the  birth, life, and death of  Christ—the woman's seed.

After God promised that he would send a savior who would become the supreme sacrifice in order to forgive and remove the sins of Adam and Eve and those of their descendants, he covered them with the skin of a sacrificial animal—symbolically covering their sin as well as literally covering their naked bodies. This act shows that God had instituted a sacrificial system whereby people could have their sins atoned for in order for them to  maintain a good relationship with him. See our study paper concerning Genesis chapter 3.

The promises made to Adam and Eve concerning the crushing of the serpent and the death of the woman's seed (Christ) are at the foundation of all of the agreements that God made with the Patriarchs, national Israel, the elect of God, and the rest of humanity for the  forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal death.

The Promise to Abraham

"And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you  have obeyed my voice" (Gen.22:18 Para.).

As we will see this promise is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ who is  the God of peace and the Son of the God of peace. How can God have a son? Jesus was not fathered by a descendant of Adam; he  was born through the impregnation of a virgin by the spirit power of God the Father who is also a God of peace (See Heb.13:20-21).

"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. . . (Rom.16:20 KJV).

Paul reveals to us that the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ—the God of Peace. It is Jesus Christ who crushes the head of the serpent and fulfills the promises given to Adam and Eve.

The Agreement With National Israel

After being freed from the bondage and slavery of Egypt, the Israelites camped at the foot of Mount Sinai where they made an agreement with God to do whatever he told them. In return for this obedience, God promised to give them tremendous physical and spiritual blessings that included eternal salvation.

Moses wrote this agreement in a book, read the agreement to the people, and the people again agreed to do whatever God required of them. Then, Moses sprinkled the book and the people with the blood of an animal that was sacrificed for the specific  purpose of ratifying and sealing the agreement.

The blood that was sprinkled upon the people and the agreement were symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ that would forgive their sins, and ratify and seal the new agreement between God the Father, national Israel, and the rest of humanity. See Acts 20:28; Eph.1:5-7; Col.1:12-14, 20; Heb.10:19-22.

"O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keeps covenants, and shows mercy to your servants, that walk before you with all their hearts" (2.Chron.6:14 Para.).  

He [God] will ever be mindful of his covenant (Psa.111:5).  

Although national Israel broke their agreement with God, he had no intention of forgetting his unconditional promises to the  Patriarchs and their descendants, among whom the Israelites are only one nation. Because of these prior commitments to the Patriarchs, especially the Patriarch Abraham, God will continue to work with the nation of Israel until his purpose for humanity is accomplished.

A New Agreement Promised

"Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new agreement with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the agreement that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt; and that agreement they broke, although I was as a husband to them, says the Lord  (Jer.31:31-32 Para.).

"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]: For this is my covenant to them [Israel], when I shall take away their sins" (Rom.11:26-27 KJV). See Jn.4:42; 1.Tim.4:10; 1.Jn.4:14.

It is clear from the writings of the prophets and the things recorded in the New Testament that the first agreement with national Israel has been canceled. It is also clear that a new agreement with national Israel was initiated by Jesus Christ and will be formalized with them after his return to establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth. See Ezk.20:38; 34:12-13.

Jesus  Established the New Agreement

In chapter 10 of Hebrews, we see the two primary reasons for the coming of the Messiah: The bringing of a perfect sacrifice and the establishment of a new and better agreement.

Hebrews 10:5-10 Paraphrased

"Wherefore, when he comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you do not want, but a body have you prepared for me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure" (vs.5-6).

God the Father is not interested in the killing of animals just for the sake of killing. He nor Jesus Christ gain pleasure from the death of sacrificial animals. They would not have required them to be sacrificed if they  were not necessary for the atonement of  people's  sins and to teach the lesson that the penalty for the violation of the law of God is death (Rom.6:23):

"Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offerings for sin you do not want, neither had pleasure in them; which are offered by the law" (vs.7-8).

The problem with all humans is that by ourselves we do not have the ability to continually live in obedience to God's basic laws of behavior. Therefore, the sacrificial system was necessary in order to put people back into right-standing with God so that people could have a harmonious relationship with him.

"Then he said, Lo, I come to do your will, O God.  He takes away the first, that he may establish the second.  By who's will [i.e., the Father's will] we are set apart and made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time" (vs.9-10 quoted from Psalm 40:6-8).

Verse 9 refers to the agreement that the Creator God had first made with the Patriarchs and  national Israel concerning how to atone for the violation of God's law. The Creator God came in the person of Jesus Christ to remove the first agreement and establish another that had far better terms and conditions along with a far better method for the atonement of sin.

THE BLOOD OF CHRIST AND THE NEW AGREEMENT

During the Passover ceremony and just prior to his crucifixion, Jesus made some very profound statements concerning his impending death and the blood that would drain from his body. These statements were made in relation to his new testament, the remission of sins, and the new agreement with national Israel, the elect of the Father, and the rest of humanity:

"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt.26:27-28 KJV). See also Eph.1:7.

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me" (1.Cor.11:25 KJV).

"This cup is the new covenant  [agreement] in my blood, that is being poured out for you" (Lk.22:20 Para.).

At this point, there are a number of very important things that should be understood concerning the three scriptures above in order to help in understanding the five major points of the new agreement that Jesus established at his death:

1. The New Testament

"For this is my blood of the new testament" (Matt.26:28 Para.).

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood. . ." (1.Cor.11:25 KJV).

Within the new agreement with national Israel is the new testament that contains the various benefits for those who have lived or will live during the different ages of salvation.

In order to bring the new agreement containing his new testament into force, Jesus had to fulfill the prophetic symbols concerning the Passover and the prophecies concerning the Messiah. He did this through his righteous life and his sacrificial death:

"In the case of a will, it is  necessary  to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living" (Heb.9:16-17 KJV).

2. The Remission of Sins

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt.26:28 Para.).

The scriptures say that all have sinned and are under a death sentence waiting to be executed (Ezk.18:4,20; Rom.6:23). In order to escape execution, a person must have their sins forgiven and be justified (made innocent) before God the Father. Prior to the new agreement, the Creator God allowed the life of an animal to be substituted for the life of the violator in order to cover the violator's sins and temporarily hide them from his sight.

In order to form a new and better covenant (Heb.8:1-10), the Creator God became the man Jesus Christ and sacrificed his own life as a substitute for the life of sinners (Isa.43:11; 45:21).

It is through the  sacrificial  blood  of Jesus Christ and his intercessory authority with the Father that we can have our sins forgiven and forgotten (See Psa.103:8-13; Isa.1:18-19 and refer to our study papers concerning salvation and atonement for sin for a detailed explanation of  why the sacrifice of Christ was necessary):

"And almost all things are cleansed by blood according to the law; and apart from shedding of blood no remission occurs" (Heb.9:21-22 KJV).

Jesus Christ, the Creator God and Son of God the Father, holds the key to our salvation because he is our Savior (Isa.43:11; 45:21). It is of great importance for anyone who is seeking salvation to understand and believe who Jesus Christ was and is, and that he gave his sinless life to pay the penalty for the sins of humanity.  It is only through his sacrifice and his intercessory authority with the Father that we can have our sins forgiven:

"John to the seven churches in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from the One who is, and who was, and who is coming; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne; Even from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us, and frees us from our sins by his blood" (Rev.1:4-5 Para.). See also Eph.1:7; 1.Pet.1:18-19; Rev.7:13-14.

3. The New Agreement

"This cup is the new covenant  [agreement] in my blood, that is being poured out for you" (Lk.22:20 Para.).

The events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were the literal fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the cancellation of the first agreement with national Israel and the  ratification of a new agreement with Israel and the rest of humanity.

"By calling this covenant  "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear" (Heb.8:13 NIV).

Ratified and Sealed With Blood

"The first agreement was not dedicated without blood. Moses spoke every command to all the people according to the law, and according to the law he took the blood of the calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and he sprinkled both the scroll, and the people, Saying, This is the blood of the covenant that God has given to you as a charge" (Heb.9:18-20 KJV).

"To the general assembly the church of the first-born which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel" (Heb.12:23-24 KJV). See also Isa.52:15.

The sacrificial blood of dedication under the first agreement with ancient Israel was symbolic of the purifying nature of the blood of Jesus Christ. Because the holy spirit resides within the children of God, the purifying blood of Christ's sacrifice is applied to them before they becoming  holy  people dedicated to God's service.

A NEW AND BETTER AGREEMENT

While speaking of God's first agreement with national Israel, the writer to the Hebrews says that the ministry of Christ is more excellent than that of the priesthood who offered sacrifices  that were only examples and shadows of what was to come from heaven. He says that Christ (the Creator God) has instituted a much better agreement than the first agreement (Heb.8:5):

"But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by  how much also he is the mediator of a better agreement, which was established upon better promises" (Heb.8:6 KJV).

Here, we are told that the new agreement is better than the old one, because it is based upon better promises (i.e., better terms, conditions, and benefits).  As we will see, these promises are indeed far better than those in the first agreement with national Israel.

FIVE MAJOR CHANGES

There are many differences between the first and second agreements with national Israel; however, there are five major changes that make this agreement better than the first:

1. A Perfect Sacrifice

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Heb.10:1-4 KJV).  

Here, we read that the sacrifices had to be given year after year, yet they could never save the people from their sins. Why? Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. The reason for this is that an inferior animal cannot pay the penalty for a superior being's violation of the law, and a human life is superior to that of an animal. Humans were created  inferior to the angels, but with the potential to become a superior being. Neither angels nor animals have the potential to become literal sons of God the Father.

The inadequacy of the sacrifices is another reason for the first agreement being inferior to the new one. Animal sacrifice could only provide a temporary stay of execution for the violator of God's law. Under the sacrificial system before the advent of Messiah, the penalty for a violation of the law could only be temporarily set aside by the blood of a sacrificial animal. Therefore, there was a need for a perfect sacrifice and a new agreement.

Notice what the writer to the Hebrews says about the sacrificial blood of Christ being the ultimate and final sacrifice for the purging of  physical and spiritual defilement (i.e., sin):

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb.9:14-15 KJV).

"Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin"  (Heb.10:18 KJV).

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb.10:12 KJV).

Because of Christ's righteous and sinless life, he could not be put to death for his own sin; therefore, he was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of others. And because he was the Creator of all things, his life was worth far more than anything he had created. Moreover, his blood, which contained his life could be substituted for the life of a sinner.

The blood of Christ is not only the blood that atones for and  purges the sins of a repentant sinner but also the blood by which a new agreement is ratified and sealed with the nation of Israel and the rest of humanity.

2. A Perfect High Priest

Hebrews 7:11-16 KJV

"If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (vs.11-12).

Under the first agreement with national Israel, the High Priest was to act as a bridge between God and his people. Because the High Priest himself was guilty of sin and under the death penalty, he was also in need of a perfect sacrifice and a perfect high priest to act as an intermediary between him and God:

"For he of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe, of which  no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord  sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there arises another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life" (vs.13-16).

Because of the imperfection of  both the sacrifices and the High Priest of Israel, no human could pass beyond the Creator God and into the presence of God the Father. But why wasn't this possible? The reason is that the Father dwells in heaven, and any human who is allowed to come into his presence must be totally sinless, holy, and righteous. No human could qualify or had the authority to go before him before the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, because before the advent of Christ, all were sinners and under the death penalty for the violation of the Father's law. Therefore, a new spiritual priesthood was established after the Melchizedec order of priests. See Gen.14:18; Psa.110:4.

Hebrews 7:11-16 shows a change in the conditions of the agreement with Israel; this change allows the elect of God during the gospel age of salvation to go directly before God the Father without going to a physical priest and having him speak to God on their behalf, which was done under the first agreement with ancient Israel:

"Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God. . . He sets aside the first to establish the second. . . Day by day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" (Heb.10:5-12 NIV).

Jesus Christ is now the High Priest who sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. And because of his sacrifice and the new agreement, a new and life-giving way to gain access to the very presence of God the Father has been opened up:

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest over the house of God" (Heb.10:19-21 KJV).

"But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better agreement, which was established upon better promises" (Heb.8:6 KJV).

Our High Priest

Jesus Christ now holds an extremely important position, that is vital to our salvation. This position is that of our High Priest. It is because he lives that he is able to be our High Priest and intercede on our behalf before the Father:

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin"  (Heb.4:14-15 KJV). See also Heb.2:14-18; 9:7-28.

Jesus Christ is our High Priest and Mediator, he understands our weaknesses as human beings. And because he has been human, he understands our proclivity to sin  (Heb.2:14-18). Therefore, when we petition the Father, Christ intercedes on our behalf.

Jesus knows how weak the flesh is and he can explain to the Father, who has never been human, how difficult it is to dwell in this flesh. Then the Father can also understand and have mercy on us and forgive us of our sins, because all of us sin, even after we are baptized. We still need forgiveness on an  ongoing basis, so that we can always stand before the Father as righteous individuals.

When we go before God the Father in prayer, we are supposed to go in the name of Jesus and ask for all things in his name, which  is the same as going and asking by his authority as our High Priest. Why is this necessary? It is necessary because Jesus alone has the authority to intercede on our behalf. See Acts 4:12; Heb.7:25.

Notice what is said about the intercessory power and authority of Jesus:

"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them"  (Heb.7:25 KJV).

"For there is one God [one Sovereign God], and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"  (1.Tim.2:5 KJV).

Through his sacrifice, Jesus Christ is now the immortal high priest and the mediator of the new and better agreement built upon new and better promises from God the Father to his people.

3. The Forgiveness of Sin

"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins" (Rom.11:26-27 KJV).

Until Jesus Christ came and offered himself as a perfect sacrifice, all of Israel along with the rest of humanity were without hope  of eternal life. All faced the cessation of existence at death, because there was no adequate sacrifice to pay for the sins of humanity. Therefore, if the Messiah had not come, or if he had come and failed in his mission to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice, all humanity would be doomed because there would be no way to be saved from eternal death.

"And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb.10:11-12 KJV).

"If the plan that leads to doom was glorious, much more glorious is the plan that makes men right with God" (2.Cor.3:9 LBP).

The reason that the first agreement with the nation of Israel could lead to death as well as life referred to a problem with the people and not the agreement. Therefore, God corrected this problem with a new agreement.

The first agreement failed because of the inherent weakness of the human spirit that resists the law and will of God. The new agreement with national Israel offers Jesus Christ, the Righteous, as its atoning power. It also offers  the transformation of the human spirit through the power of the Father's holy spirit.

Although the law revealed what sin was, and the sacrificial system showed how to have sin temporarily set aside, the flesh was weak, and the people found it difficult to keep the law. They knew what sin was, but they were not able to keep the law, so they had no hope of being saved from eternal death, because the penalty for breaking the law is death (Rom.6:23).

Righteousness and the Law

The law of God also defines righteous behavior. If a person keeps the law and practices it, they are counted as being a righteous person:

"And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us" (Deut.6:25 Para.).

When speaking of the benefits of the new agreement over the old, the apostle James says that if a person who is seeking to be justified before God by keeping the law breaks any one of these laws, that person is guilty of breaking them all:

"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of breaking the whole law" (Jms.2:10 Para.).

Humans can forgive but they have great difficulty forgetting an offense against them. However, the Father's forgiveness is total; he will not only totally forgive our sins but also totally forget them:

"He  has not dealt with us according to our sins; or punished us according to our lawlessness. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, this is how far he has removed our transgressions from us" (Psa.103:10-12 Para.).

"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawlessness I will not remember" (Heb.8:12 Para.).

A person forgiven under the terms and conditions of the new agreement will never have to worry about being punished for past violations of God's law; their sins are gone as if these sins never existed.

The Blood of Christ

As stated earlier, the law of God requires that a violator of the law must be put to death (Ezk.18:4,20; Rom.6:23). However, under all of the old agreements, the Creator God allowed the life of an animal to be substituted for the life of the violator in order to temporarily set  sins aside.

In order to form a new and better agreement (Heb.8:1-10) and provide a way through which violations of the law could be totally forgiven, the Creator God came to earth as a human and sacrificed his own life as a substitute for the lives of those who violate his Father's law (See Isa.43:11; 45:21 and our study paper concerning Christ's last Passover and his sacrifice for humanity).

It is only through Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice and intercessory authority with the Father that all who avail themselves of the new agreement can have their sins forgiven and forgotten by the Father (See Psa.103:8-13; Isa.1:18-19 and our study paper concerning salvation).

The writer to the Hebrews said that the sacrifice of Christ is the ultimate and final sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin:

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb.9:14-15 KJV).

As human beings, we cannot begin to comprehend or understand the enormous sacrifice the Creator made when he became a human. The price he paid was worth more than the sum total of all that exists, because he was and is the Creator of all that exists.

The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ not only removes the sins of those under the new agreement but also because of Christ's perfect  sacrifice, the Father forgets those  sins forever, and his children stand before him as innocent and  righteous individuals.

Once Christ made the perfect sacrifice, there was no longer a need for any other sacrifice to ever be made again for the atonement of spiritual/moral sin as was done under previous agreements with the Patriarchs and national Israel.

4. The Law Placed Within

"But this shall be the agreement that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says  the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer.31:33 Para.).

"For this is the covenant [agreement] that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:" (Heb.8:10 KJV).

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (Heb.10:16-18 KJV).

Because people before the second agreement did not have the law of God as a part of their mental and spiritual make-up, they found it very difficult to obey and worship God properly. Because of this innate problem with people, God decided that he would form a new agreement and include a provision to change what was wrong with people by placing his law in their minds and spirits.

Because God has only one set of laws that show people how to behave toward each other and how they should worship him, it seems logical that the law being spoken of in Jeremiah chapter 31 and Hebrews chapters 8 and 10 is the same law that he gave to the nation of Israel as a part of his first agreement with them. This is the same law that is written in the hearts and minds of people under the new agreement.  In other words, he will write these laws in their very beings, thereby making the law a part of the thinking process of individuals he calls to salvation.

5. The Holy Spirit

After Christ came, anyone who  accepts the terms and conditions of the new agreement has no excuse for not being able to successfully obtain salvation, because under the new agreement, each person has the tools that will guarantee success, if they are used properly.

The most important tool that God gives people to help them in their effort to please him and to obtain salvation is the holy spirit.

Understanding the importance of this tool, King David asked God not to take his holy spirit from him. David did this because he knew that this was the tool that God gave him to help him obtain salvation and secure eternal and immortal life:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit" (Psa.51:10-12 KJV).

Prior to and during the first agreement with national Israel, various attributes and functions of the holy spirit were given to a few people, but with limitations placed on the kinds of attributes, functions, qualities, and power that were given. The scriptures also show that many of these individuals who had this spirit-power within them will be in the first resurrection.

The holy spirit that David had is the same tool that is given to those called during the gospel age of salvation. In order to help them secure  eternal life, this tool will also be given to those who will  live under the new agreement with national Israel (See Lk.11:9-13; Rom.8:26-27; Eph.4:21-32; 6:17-18 and our study paper concerning the spirit of God).

Under the new agreement with national Israel, there is now a better method by which a person can secure salvation and eternal life. This new method will succeed where the old one failed because it has a perfect sacrifice, a perfect High Priest, the forgiveness of sin, the law placed within our minds and spirits and the indwelling of the holy spirit.

AN EVERLASTING AGREEMENT

The new agreement with national Israel, the elect of God, and the rest of humanity concerning how to obtain salvation will never fade away, but will continue to exist after the return of Jesus Christ until God's plan for the salvation of humanity is  accomplished.

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant [agreement], Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Heb.13:20-21 KJV). See Matt.26:27-28; Lk.22:20; Rom.16:20.

After the return of Jesus Christ, all people will have an opportunity to receive the spirit of God; moreover, they will have spiritual strength available to successfully obey God (Jer.50:19-20).

Today, prior to Christ's return, the New Agreement brings with it an opportunity to be among the first of humanity to be made a part of the Family of God as a son of God the Father like Jesus Christ is.  It offers an eternal inheritance of the earth and all that exists in this physical dimension of time and space and a spiritual inheritance so fantastic that it cannot even be comprehended by the human mind. All of this and more is offered by God the Father to those he calls and extends the new agreement to in this age of human existence.

SUMMARY

Because Jesus Christ was the Creator God before his human birth, he lived a righteous life in perfect obedience to his Father's law, and he unselfishly substituted his life for our lives in payment for our sin,  there is now a new and better agreement between God the Father and humanity.

The good news message concerning Jesus Christ and the New Agreement ensures that humanity is now guaranteed an opportunity for salvation with a much simpler and easier method to maintain a harmonious relationship with God the Father and  obtain eternal life in the Family and Kingdom of God.

By B.L. Cocherell, file b1w6