THE AGREEMENT WITH THE ELECT OF GOD DURING THE GOSPEL AGE OF SALVATION

Some feel that the elect of God who have been called to salvation after the advent of Christ (i.e., those called during the  gospel age)  are under the new agreement with national Israel.  However, this is not entirely true, because the agreement that was established on Pentecost in 30 A.D. is not the agreement that will be made  with national Israel after the return of Christ; it is  a special version of that new agreement. One of the more notable differences is that the agreement with the elect has a testament attached to it and the promise of a better resurrection:

"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).

"Who through faith subdued  kingdoms, wrought  righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths  of lions,  Quenched  the violence of fire, escaped the edge  of  the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in  fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their  dead raised  to  life again: and others were tortured,  not  accepting deliverance;  that  they might  obtain  a  better  resurrection" (Heb.11:33-35 KJV).

THE GENTILES

It is during the gospel age that God began to call all people to have equal status  with an  Israelite in regard to the call to salvation, regardless  of their race or national origin:

"Then  Peter  opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth  I  perceive that  God is no respecter of individuals: But of every nation  he that fears him, and does righteously, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35 Para.).

"For  you are all the children of God by faith in  Christ  Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put  on Christ.   There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither  bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you   are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ's, then are you  Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal.3:26-29 KJV).

 "Wherefore remember,  that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,  who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;   That at that time  you were  without  Christ,  being  aliens from  the  commonwealth  of Israel,  and strangers from the covenants of promise,  having  no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus  you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of  Christ" (Eph.2:11-13 KJV).

"For through him we both have access by one spirit to the Father. Now  therefore  you  are no more strangers  and  foreigners,  but fellowcitizens  with  the saints, and of the  household of  God" (Eph.2:18-19 KJV).

Through the sacrifice of Christ, it is possible for those who are called to  salvation  during the gospel age to have  access to  God  the Father  and receive tremendous  blessings above and beyond those that are offered under the new agreement with national Israel and the  rest  of  humanity after the return  of  Jesus  Christ.

THE AGREEMENT  WITH THE ELECT OF GOD

Much  of  what  is written by the apostles  about  the  agreement between  the Father, Jesus Christ and those called  to  salvation during  the  gospel  age is written in the context  of  the  new agreement  with  national Israel. Moreover,  it  is within the framework of the agreement with national Israel that many of the terms and  conditions  of the agreement with the elect are stated. However, the agreement that the Father makes  with those who are called to salvation during  the gospel age and others who will participate in the first resurrection is unique and it is different from the first and second covenant with national Israel in many ways.

The  apostle  Paul understood  the uniqueness of  this  agreement with  those who are called during the gospel age. Notice what  he says while speaking of those who had seen Christ and been personally taught by him:

"And  last of all, even as one born out of time, he was seen  of me. For I am least of the apostles" (1.Cor.15:8-9 Para.).

When Paul  says that he was born out of time (i.e.,prematurely), he was not speaking of his physical birth; he was speaking about his spiritual birth and the second agreement that God  had  made with national Israel. Paul knew that  the second  agreement  with regathered Israel would  go  into  effect after  the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and that  his calling to salvation during the gospel age was a special gift, which was not given to all Israelites at that time.

Paul was taken out of his former life and given the awesome opportunity to be an apostle of Christ. If  this  had not happened, he would have  died  and  been  resurrected  in the great resurrection of national  Israel  after the  return of Christ (Ezk. chp.37). And he would have  had  his opportunity for salvation under far different circumstances.

A NEW AGREEMENT THROUGH CHRIST

"Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God.  He takes  away the  first,  that he may establish the second.  By which  we  are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ  once for all" (Heb.10:9-10 Para.).

Although what the writer to the Hebrews is speaking about pertains primarily to  the new agreement with national Israel, it also pertains to the  agreement  that  is  made with those who are called to salvation  during  the gospel age.

First the writer to the Hebrews reveals that through Christ's  perfect sacrifice, the  first agreement with national Israel  is  canceled  in favor of a far better one. Then he says that those whom the Father calls to salvation during the gospel age are set apart through the sacrifice of Christ for a holy purpose, and the need  to  perform animal sacrifices to atone for spiritual sin has been eliminated by the sacrifice of Christ.

"For  by  one  offering he has perfected forever  them  that  are sanctified" (Heb.10:14 KJV).

A BETTER RESURRECTION

In  the Book of Hebrews chapter eleven, there is a long  list  of righteous individuals who died without receiving God's promises:

"Who [these people] through faith subdued  kingdoms, wrought  righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths  of lions,  Quenched  the violence of fire, escaped the edge  of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in  fight, turned  to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received  their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not  accepting  deliverance; that they might obtain a  better  resurrection" (Heb.11:33-35 KJV).

The entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews chronicles these righteous individuals  and their deeds of faith as they lived and  died  in obedience  to God. Verse 35 shows that they did all this in  order to obtain a better resurrection.

Is one resurrection better than another? The answer is YES!  The reason that these individuals are promised a better  resurrection than  other people is because their agreement with God is different from the agreements with national Israel.  The thing  that  makes their agreement unique has to  do with  the awesome  opportunity  that they have been given in regard to  the responsibilities  and rewards that they have been called to  participate  in. When one reviews the rewards and opportunities  for service  to humanity that will exist in God's kingdom  for  those called  to participate  in the first  resurrection,  it  becomes obvious that the first resurrection is the best and most  desirable one.

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith,  received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect"  (Heb.11:39-40 KJV). See also Heb.11:13.

There  are  people who will participate in the first resurrection who were  called  to salvation before and during the first agreement with  national Israel  as  well  as people who are called after  the advent  of Christ.

THE  CALL TO PARTICIPATE

There  are four basic reasons why God called people before the advent  of the Messiah to participate in  the first resurrection. Moreover, these same reasons apply to those he calls after the advent of the Messiah to participate in the first resurrection.

1. They are to prepare a people to help Jesus Christ rule the world  upon his return:

"And  has  made us to our God kings and priests: and  we  shall reign  on  the  earth"  (Rev.5:10 KJV).  See  also  1.Thes.3:13; Rev.3:21; 20:4-6.

2. They are to preach the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God:

"And  this  gospel of the kingdom shall be preached  in  all  the world  for  a witness to all nations; and then  shall  the  end come" (Matt. 24:14 KJV).

3. They are to preach the message of repentance:

"Go  you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in  the name  of  the  Father, and of the Son, and of  the  holy  spirit: Teaching  them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . ." (Matt.28:19-20 KJV).

4. They are to grow in grace and knowledge (2.Pet.3:18) and learn to perfect  the ways of God in order to be able to fulfill the  purpose for which they were called:

Major Responsibilities

One of the major responsibilities of those in the first resurrection  is to assist in the conversion of humanity. God the  Father and  Jesus Christ want everyone to obtain  salvation  (1.Tim.2:4; 2.Pet.3:9).  For  this task, some are called to be  trained and prepared through trials, tests, study of God's word, and prayer in order to grow  in grace  and  knowledge, so that they will be able  to fulfill an office  of a king-priest to rule and teach God's truth  to  those who have never heard or understood the way to salvation.

Those  in the first resurrection (i.e., the elect of God  of  all ages) will be the examples, leaders, and teachers of the ways  of God  for the rest of humanity who have never had  an  opportunity for salvation.

Awesome Rewards

Those  who  participate in the first resurrection  are  also  the inheritors  of the Kingdom of God and many other  blessings  that are not available to the rest of humanity:

"When  the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all  the  holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his  glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep  from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but  the goats  on the left. Then shall the King [Jesus] say to them  on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father [God the  Father], inherit  the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of  the world" (Matt.25:31-34 KJV). See also Jms.2:5.

Those  in  the  first resurrection will inherit  the  Kingdom  of Heaven as a part of their reward: "Blessed are the poor in  spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:3 KJV, see also v5).

The elect of God  will inherit his Kingdom and receive  many other rewards for  their faithfulness and obedience to God.

Inherit all Things

Not only will the righteous inherit the Kingdom, but also they will inherit all things. What a tremendous reward to inherit the Kingdom and to be joint-heirs with Jesus of all  that  will ever exist.

"He  that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will  be  his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev.21:7 KJV). See also  Heb.1:1-2, 5-8.

Note:  

See  our study papers about the  first  resurrection, heaven,  the  reward of the saved, and immortality  for  details about the rewards of those called to the first resurrection.

HOW TO BECOME AN HEIR

What  are the requirements necessary to become an heir, and  what does a person have to do to acquire the inheritance?   

"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into  Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The  time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel"  (Mk.1:14-15 KJV).

The first things that must happen before a  person can become  an heir  is  that a person must be called of God to  become  an  heir (Jn.6:44,65). After  this call, a person must believe  the gospel concerning Christ and the Kingdom of God, ask the  Father for  forgiveness for violating his law, and stop  violating it.

"Then  Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to  you,  Except you  eat  the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his  blood,  you have no life in you" (Jn.6:53 KJV).

This verse shows that we must go through Jesus Christ  to receive eternal life at the resurrection.  

Acts  2:38 tells us that after one repents, one must be  baptized for the forgiveness of sin and the receiving of the holy  spirit.  Therefore, a person must believe in Christ, repent of one's sin, be baptized, and then receive the holy spirit. When one accomplishes these things  one becomes a son and heir of God and is authorized to receive an inheritance at the  resurrection of the just (Rom.8:11-14).

BAPTISM

"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one  of you  in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of  sins,  and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).

During  the gospel age of salvation, the baptismal ceremony and its various steps is the process by which people make and ratify an eternal agreement between themselves, God the Father, and Jesus Christ.  Upon  completion of the final ritual  of  the  baptismal ceremony, a person receives the holy spirit and becomes a son of God the Father and a  brother of Jesus Christ in the holy and divine Family of God.

The  baptized person is then committed to an endeavor  that  will then lead to eternal life as a member of the family and government  of God (Rev.3:5,21; 5:10; 20:4-6). However, it will lead them to eternal death if  this commitment  is  not kept (Lk.9:62; Heb.6:4-6; 10:26-27;  Rev.20:13-15; 21:8). God the Father and Jesus Christ have committed  themselves to help the newly begotten son with the very power that  sustains the  universe and all that exists. See Matt.6:25-34;  Heb.13:5-6; Jn.14:12-14. See our study paper about repentance,  baptism, the new creation, and spiritual maturity.

Romans 6:1-9 KJV

Paul reminds the elect at Rome of their baptism  and  their sinless condition before God:

"What  shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin,  that  grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin,  live any longer therein? Know  you  not, that so many of us as were baptized  into  Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (vs.1-3).

"Therefore  we are buried with him by baptism to  death:   that like  as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory  of  the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (vs.4-5).

When  a person is raised out of the baptismal water, that  person is symbolically and literally raised to a new life. The repentant person has become pure and sinless and is no longer under the  penalty  of death  for  violating  God's law. The spirit and  body  have  been purged of all sin and defilement:

"Knowing  this, that our old man is crucified with him, that  the body  of  sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we  should  not serve  sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we  be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live  with  him: Knowing  that Christ being raised from the dead  dies  no  more; death has no more dominion over him" (vs.6-9).

DEAD TO SIN

"For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he  lives, he  lives to God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be  dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ  our Lord" (Rom.6:10-11 Para.). See also Rom.7:6; Heb.9:13-14.

As  Christ  is dead to sin, so are those who  have  God's  spirit dwelling within them. They are free from sin and its penalty and they can look forward to being an immortal spirit-being that  can never die:

"For  in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with  him and  was buried with him; and then you came up out of death  with him  into a new life because you trusted the Word of the  mighty God who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead in sins,  and your  sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave  you  a share  in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your  sins, and  blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of  his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of  sins and  destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross"  (Col.2:12-14 LBP). See also Col.3:1- 4.

SINS WASHED AWAY

Although baptism is symbolic of a physical death and a  resurrection  to a new life, it is much more. During  this  ceremony, the  person being baptized is washed clean and purged of all  sin by  the power of God's spirit through the  sacrifice  of  Christ. And the baptized person becomes devoid of sin and stands righteous before God.

Under the first agreement with national Israel, the washing  with water was as an act of purification. During the gospel age, it  is the  baptismal water and the blood of Jesus Christ  that  picture and perform this purification. In fact, it is through the sacrificial  blood of Jesus that we are washed clean and  forgiven  of our sins and purged of all defilement that would prevent us  from coming before the Father to receive his spirit.

Paul, Titus, and John all spoke about the washing away of sin through  pure water, the blood of Jesus, and the cleansing power of  God's spirit:

"Let  us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of  faith, having  our  hearts sprinkled from an evil  conscience,  and  our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb.10:22 KJV).

"Or  do  you not know that the unjust ones will not  inherit  the Kingdom  of God? Do not be led astray, neither  fornicators, nor idolaters,  nor  adulterers, nor abusers,  nor homosexuals, nor thieves,  nor  covetous ones, nor drunkards,  nor  revilers, nor plunderers shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And some of you were these  things, but you are washed; but you were  sanctified;  but you were justified in the nature of the Lord Jesus, and  in  the spirit of our God" (1.Cor.6:9-11 Para.).

"But  when  the kindness and love of God our  Savior  toward  man appeared,  not by works in righteousness which we had  done,  but according  to his mercy he has saved us, through the washing  of regeneration and the renewal of the holy spirit, which he  poured out  on  us richly through Jesus Christ, our  Savior"  (Tit.3:4-6 Para.).

"And  from  Jesus Christ, who is the faithful  witness,  and  the first  begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings  of  the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev.1:5 KJV). See also Rom.5:9; Eph.2:13;  Heb.13:12; 1.Jn.1:1-7; 3:5-6; Rev.5:9; 7:13-14.

THE TEMPLE

Under  the first agreement with national Israel,  the  priesthood, the people, and all things that came into close contact with  God had  to  be purified and kept clean, because God will  not  dwell where there  is  sin  (Lev.19:2;  1.Pet.1:15-16) or impurity (Ex.29:36-46; Deut.23:14; 1.Cor.3:17).

God  has not changed. Under the new agreement, he  still  requires that  all  things that come into close contact with him  be  free from all sin and impurity:

"And  what agreement has the temple of God with idols?   for  you are  the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will  dwell in  them,  and walk in them; and I will be their  God, and  they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and  be you  separate, says the Lord, and touch not the  unclean  thing; and  I  will receive you,  And will be a Father to you,  and  you shall be  my  sons  and  daughters,  says  the  Lord  Almighty" (2.Cor.6:16-18 KJV).

Why Purify the Body

God  the  Father will not allow his spirit to inhabit  an  impure place—a  physical as well as a spiritual change  takes  place during  the baptismal ceremony. In the baptismal water, God  purifies  the body through the power of his spirit so that  his  holy spirit   can  dwell  within  the  person's  physical body (See 1.Tim.5:22;  Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22;  1.Pet.1:22;  1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4):

"Don't  you  know that you yourselves are God's temple  and  that God's  spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple,  God will  destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 NIV).

"Haven't  you yet learned that your body is the home of the  holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you?  Your own body does  not  belong to you.  For God has bought you with  a  great price.   So  use every part of  your body to give glory  back  to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LPB).

The body of a child of God is a temple of God; it  is God's Holy Place where his spirit dwells.

God will not allow his spirit to inhabit a sinful person;  therefore,  the  first step toward salvation is to repent in order to  rid  one's  mind (God's  Holy Place) of all sin.  The second step is to  sincerely ask  God the Father to forgive our sins through the sacrifice  of Jesus  Christ. The third step is to be immersed in water for  the washing  away  of  sin through the blood of Christ  and  for  the purifying of the physical body, which will become a temple  where God will place his spirit.

BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT

After   people are made sinless and pure through Christ's  sacrifice,  God the Father can ratify his agreement with them  by placing his spirit within them.

Upon receiving the holy spirit, the baptized person becomes a son of  God  and an eternal agreement between the  person,  God  the Father,  and  Jesus  Christ has been  ratified  and  sealed.  See Rom.8:16-19; Jer.31:31-33; Heb.8:8-11.

Notice  what John the Baptist says about being baptized with  the spirit:

"I indeed have baptized you with water:  but he shall baptize you with the holy spirit" (Mk.1:8 KJV).

"And  I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with  water, the same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the spirit  descending,  and  remaining  on him, the same  is  he   which baptizes with the  holy  spirit" (Jn.1:33 KJV). See  also  Lk.3:16;  Acts 11:15-16.

THE  INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

"If  you love me, keep my commandments. And I will  petition  the Father, and he will give you another comforter that he may remain with  you  forever  the spirit of truth, whom  the world cannot receive  because it does not see him, nor know him. But you  know him,  for he abides with you, and shall be in  you"  (Jn.14:15-17 Para.). See Jn.16:13-14.

"For  as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the  sons of God"  (Rom.8:14 KJV).

Paul also says that only those who have the spirit of God are his sons.  The holy spirit is so important that having or not  having it is the difference between having or not having salvation. See Rom.8:9; Jn.14:21-24.

The Father's And Christ's Spirit

Under the terms and conditions of the agreement with the elect of God  during  the gospel age,  the children of God are  given  the Father's  holy spirit, which imparts various attributes and  powers. The  elect of God also have the spirit of  the  Father  and Christ dwelling within them.

Those called to salvation prior to the advent of the Messiah  did not have the Father's or Christ's spirit placed in them,  because the  Father  had  not been revealed  (See  Matt.11:27;  Lk.10:22; Jn.8:19), and the Creator God had not yet become the Messiah. Moreover, these people did not receive the spirit of  sonship   (Rom.8:14-15) nor  did  they have the law of God placed within their minds  and spirits (See Jer.31:33; Heb.8:8-10). See our study about the spirit of God for a complete explanation of the holy spirit,  the Father's spirit, the spirit of Christ, and the spirit of Sonship.

Under the new agreement, those to whom the Father gives the  holy spirit  (his spirit power), his spirit, and the spirit of  Christ are  in a condition of sinlessness and purity as they live out their physical  lives. See our study paper about  the spirit of God.

THE LAW PLACED WITHIN

"But this shall be the covenant [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.).  See also Ezk.36:27.

"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).

Those  called to salvation after Christ's death and  resurrection are  the  first to have the law of God placed within  their  very being through the power of the Father's holy spirit.

"Forasmuch  as you 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 on tables of stone,  but  in the fleshly tables of the heart"  (2.Cor.3:3 KJV).

When  people receive the holy spirit, the laws of God are made  a part  of  their very nature and being, which makes it possible  to  be conscious  of the difference between  righteous  and unrighteous concepts  and behavior. Having these laws as a constant  part  of the  consciousness alerts a child of God to the right  spiritual path that  should be followed as one experiences life  with its various trials and temptations.

THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION

Another  important function of the holy spirit is to transform  a person  into a  son of God. When this function of the  spirit  of God  is applied to a person, that person is transformed into a son of God and made a member of the Family of God. This transformation places  a person at the starting point of eternal and immortal life.  This is the time of spiritual conception from which we can grow toward spiritual maturity and perfection into an immortal spirit-being.

In his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul draws upon the  example of the Roman adoption system to illustrate how a person becomes a son of God:

"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the  sons of  God.  For you did not receive a spirit of  slavery  again  to fear,  but  you received a spirit of adoption by  which  we cry, Abba! Father! The spirit itself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Rom.8:14-16 Para.).

Roman adoption was extremely difficult to accomplish, because  the Roman father was the absolute controlling power over the  family. No matter how old a son became, he was still the absolute possession  and  under the absolute control of his  father.  This  made adoption  into another family a very serious and difficult  thing to  accomplish.  Moreover, even when a father did agree to an adoption, there were a number of symbolic  ceremonies  and rituals, which required the presence of many witnesses, that had to take place before  any adoption was considered legal and binding under Roman law.

Once  a son was legally adopted into his new family, he lost  all rights  to his old family and gained the rights of  a  legitimate son in his new family. By law, his old life was completely  wiped away (e.g., all debts were canceled). He was regarded as a  completely  new  and different person who was entering a  new  life upon  which  the old life had no meaning or importance.  Under Roman law, he was considered the son of his new father.

Paul  says the holy spirit is the witness  of the  adoption  into the  Family of God whereby the past life is wiped away—it  is gone. All debts are canceled, and the new son of God begins a  new life in the God family with all the rights of sonship.

TRANSFORMATION INTO A SON OF GOD

Upon  receiving the spirit of God, a person is  literally  transformed from the original human creation into a new and  different being.  The  old  person, which only had the spirit of  man,  ceases  to exist and a new person who has the spirit of God dwelling within is born. See Jn.3:3-7; 2.Cor.5:17. See our study paper about the sons of the new creation.

Although a child of God still appears to be human, a transformation has  taken place. Anyone who has received the holy spirit is different  from other humans. A person with the holy spirit is a son of God, with the genetic imprint of the God family. Although a child is not yet an immortal spirit-being, they are still a child of God and a member  of the  Father's  spiritual family, and at some time in  the future they will shed the body of flesh and receive an immortal spirit  body. See 1.Cor.15:51-54; 1.Thes.4:13-17; Rev.20:6. Those  who respond to God's call to salvation, repent, are  baptized, and receive his spirit can look  forward  to  tremendous rewards and happiness forever as an immortal being in the  Family of God.

SEALING THE AGREEMENT

"And  Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the  people,  and said,  Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has  made with you concerning all these words" (Ex.24:8 Para.).

"When  Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law  to  all the  people,  he took the blood of calves, together  with  water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all  the  people. He said, 'This is the blood  of  the  covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.' In the same way, he  sprinkled  with the blood both the tabernacle and everything  used  in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly  everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood  there is no forgiveness" (Heb.9:19-22 NIV).

The formal ratification of the first  agreement between God and the nation of Israel was sealed with the blood  of an  animal. This ratification and sealing of the  agreement  with blood is important to note, because the second agreement is  also ratified and sealed with blood—the blood of the Creator God in human form. See Matt.26:26-28; 1.Cor.11:25; Heb.13:20.

Just as the Creator God sealed his agreements with the Patriarchs and the Israelites with blood, he has sealed the new agreement with  blood.  However, the new agreement is not sealed  with  the blood of an animal; the new agreement is sealed with the blood of the Creator God himself who became Jesus Christ.

THE PERSONAL AGREEMENT

Contrary to what many believe, baptism is not for the purpose  of binding a person to a group of people or to one particular physical organization or another. Baptism is a person's acceptance  of the terms  and conditions of the new agreement between  God  the Father, his chosen people, and  the God Family.

Baptism  is the making of an agreement between a person, God  the Father,  and Jesus Christ. Baptism is the induction of a  person into the holy and divine Family of God.  Baptism is a step toward becoming a god-being in the Kingdom and Family of God.  No earthly organization of humans can offer this grand and awesome privilege—only the Father can bind a person to himself and place a person into his Family  (Jn.6:44-45).

The  allegiance  one makes at baptism is to God  the  Father  and Jesus Christ, not to any other.  Baptism  is a very serious  step to  take.  From the moment one is baptized and receives the  holy spirit, a commitment of gigantic proportions has been made by the baptized person, by God the Father, and by Jesus Christ.

THE ADMINISTRATORS

At  Christ's death, his will and testament began to go  into  effect, and after his resurrection he commissioned his followers to execute and administer his will and testament:

"Go  you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in  the name  of  the  Father, and of the Son, and of  the  holy  spirit: Teaching  them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the  world  [age]. Amen" (Matt.28:19-20 KJV).

This  is  the  most important job the Father has  ever  given  to anyone other than his Son Jesus Christ. The Father's children are the   administrators of Jesus Christ's will and testament  today and they  will  continue to  administer it after his return,  when  the  Kingdom of God is established on earth.

Every time a child of God explains the hope of the salvation that is in the meaning of Jesus Christ's life, crucifixion, and resurrection  to  anyone,  that person is having the  will  of  Christ administered to them. However, it is the responsibility of  each person  who  receives  this knowledge to respond in  a  positive manner in order to become an heir of Christ's will and testament.

Yes, it is true that if you will believe in Christ (believe that  his sacrificial  blood will remove sins), repent from breaking  God's law,  be baptized, and live according to God's laws and  ways  of life, you can also become an heir of Christ  and  receive eternal life.   

The apostle Paul also tells us that the administrators of the new and better agreement of God are the elect children of God:

2.Corinthians 3:6-11 NIV

"He has made us competent as  ministers of a new covenant—not of  the letter but of the spirit; for the letter kills,  but  the spirit gives life" (v6). See also 1.Cor.15:3.

The  old way of obtaining salvation—by trying to perfectly  keep the law—ends in death, because everyone has sinned (Rom.3:23; Gal.3:22). However,  through  a  new agreement, the holy spirit imparts life because it is through  the power  of the holy spirit that one can have the desire  and  help required to successfully obey God. See Rom.8:11.

"Now  if the ministry that brought death, which was  engraved  in letters  on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites  could not  look  steadily at the face of Moses because  of  its glory, fading though it was" (v7).

The  old way to obtain salvation under the first  agreement  with national  Israel began with such glory that the people could  not bear  to look at Moses' face as he repeated the laws of   God  to them.

"Fading though it was, will not the ministry of the spirit be even  more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is  glorious,  how much more glorious is the ministry that  brings righteousness!" (vs.7-9). See Ex.34:27-35.

The glory that is made possible under the new agreement is  much greater than the glory that radiated from Moses' face after he had been  with  God. The glory that can be secured through  this new agreement  is  similar to the glory that emanates  from  God  the Father  and  Jesus Christ. The reason adherence to  the  new agreement will result in this type of glory is that, under  the new agreement, the children of God have the necessary tools (i.e., the holy spirit) to do the Father's will.

"For  what was glorious has no glory now in comparison  with  the surpassing  glory. And if what was fading away came with  glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" (vs.10-11).

The  laws of God  showed people their sins; however, the people who lived before  the  advent of Christ had great difficulty  keeping  the  law perfectly  because  of the weakness of the flesh. Therefore,  to them  the law led to death, because the penalty for breaking  the law of God is death (Rom.6:23).  

The  new  agreement is much more glorious because  it  has  Jesus Christ,  the  Righteous, to offer as its atoning  power.   If  we claim the promise of forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice  of Jesus Christ and truly believe that we are forgiven for our  sins through his sacrificial blood, we are justified or  declared righteous in the eyes of God the Father—our sins are  forgiven and forgotten.  We are then justified and put in contact with the Father by the death of his Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. chp.5):

"In fact, that first glory as it shone from Moses' face is  worth nothing  at all in comparison with the overwhelming glory of  the new  agreement. So if the old system that faded into nothing  was full of  heavenly  glory, the glory of God's new  plan  for  our salvation   is certainly  far  greater,  for it   is   eternal"  (2.Cor.3:10-11 LPB).

Why was the glory of the first agreement worth nothing when  compared  to  the  new agreement? The first agreement  has no value  because  it  only revealed  what sin was and there was no way found  under the first agreement to forgive sins.

When  the  first and second agreements with national  Israel  are compared,  the second one has an overwhelming glory,  because  it contains  the tools necessary for success that the first one  did not have.  These tools are as follows:

AFTER REPENTANCE AND BAPTISM, WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT?

The  majority  of people who attempt to  follow  God  today believe  that all or most of the law of God  was  canceled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, although he says,

"Do not think that I am come  to destroy the law, or the  prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt.5:17 Para.).

Christ says the same thing today that he said to the  professing righteous of his day concerning his Father's law:

"You  do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the  power  of God" (Matt.22:29 Para.).

Most  people  do  not understand the truth of  God  because  they refuse  to  obey  the laws that he created  for  their  benefit.  Obedience to these laws will bring an understanding of God's mind and purpose for humanity:

"O  how love I your law!  It is my meditation all the  day.   You through your commandments have made me wiser than my enemies: for they  are  ever with me.  I have more understanding than  all my teachers:  for your testimonies are my meditation.  I  understand more  than  the  ancients, because I keep  your  precepts"  (Psa.119:97-100 Para.). See our study papers about the law of Moses and of Galatians 3:19.  

A  careful  study of the scriptures will reveal that all  of  the terms and conditions that were in the old agreement with national Israel are a part of the new agreement. The  only  exception is those items specifically changed or superseded by  Christ's sacrifice  (among  these  are the Passover observance, and  the temple  worship system).  Many other things such as the  commandments, the annual observances and festivals, and the health laws are still a part of the new agreement and are binding upon the people of God today.

NON-COMPLIANCE

The rewards of the new agreement are far superior  to  the old one, and the penalties for non-compliance of the new agreement are more severe:  

"For  it is impossible for those who were once  enlightened,  and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of  the holy spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of  the  world to come, If they shall fall away,  to  renew  them again to repentance; seeing they crucify  to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.  For the earth which drinks  in  the rain that comes often upon it, and  brings  forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God:  But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and  is near to cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Heb.6:4-8 KJV).

Once  this  agreement is entered into by God and  an  individual, there is no turning back.  

Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV

"For  if we sin willfully after that we have received the  knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,  But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" (vs.26-27).  

"He  that  despised Moses' law died without mercy  under  two  or three  witnesses:   Of how much sorer  punishment,  suppose  you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God,  and  has  counted the blood of  the  covenant  [agreement], wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has  done  despite to the spirit of grace?"  (vs.28-29).

"For we know him that has said, Vengeance  belongs to me, I  will recompense  says  the Lord. And again, The Lord shall  judge  his people.   It  is a fearful thing to fall into the  hands of  the living God" (vs.30-31).

If people willfully refuse to honor their contract with God,  he cannot  bless them, but he must instead curse them under  the  terms and  conditions  of the contract. See Deut.30:15-19.

SUMMARY

Today, before 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, just as Jesus Christ is.  The new agreement offers immortality and an eternal inheritance  of the  earth  and  the universe, 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 offers an agreement to in this age of human existence.

By V. O. Jones and B.L. Cocherell, file b4w16