Tag Archive: New Covenant Theology


Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Is God your boss? When you go to work, who would you say you are working for? According to Paul in his letter to the Colossians, we Christians should work as if we are working for God. Because, in fact, we are working for God. Even if your boss is not around to see your work, God is. If you feel your work is underappreciated, know that God has seen it and will reward you for it. If you are slacking in your work, know that God sees this too, has forgiven you of that, and has given you his Holy Spirit to help you work better. So, remember that when you go back to work: God is your boss, and his praise will last for eternity.

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘”After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”‘” Acts 15:15-18

When David was king, he commissioned musicians to constantly be performing music for God surrounding the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. The prophets Isaiah and Amos looked forward to a time when constant celebration before the presence of God would be restored.

In Acts, we learn from the Apostle James that these prophecies have been fulfilled: The church is for what the prophets searched. We, the believers in Christ, are the singers constantly worshiping God. And this worship is no longer confined just to those of Abraham’s lineage, those who are ethnically Jewish: It is for all, Gentile and Jew alike. I, someone of mostly Northern European ancestry, can participate in this celebration. All in Christ are part of the rebuilding of God’s Kingdom, are part of the grand festivity.

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old. Micah 7:18-20

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Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

Today, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, people across the country will come together and feast in a time of thanksgiving. Typically, people give thanks for their family, country, prosperity, and God. As Christians, we also have something to be thankful for: A kingdom. We will all share, one day, in the rule of an eternal land. And we also have the world around us. God made humans to be administrators of a vast and wonderful universe, and we Christians have God’s Word and indwelling Spirit to guide us in how to rightly manage and oversee it. So, are we thankful? How so? How can we give back to God all that he has given us?

He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:23-27

The people of the Kingdom of Israel, and the successor kingdoms such as Judah, the Hasmonean dynasty, and Herodian Kingdom and Tetrarchy, prided themselves on the fact that they were God’s People. They, and only they, a tiny spit of land in comparison to the vast domains of empires such as the Chinese, Indians, or, later, the Macedonians and Romans, had access to God, were given laws by God through which they could honor him. But, as Jesus makes clear in the passage above, many, if not most, Jews did not truly follow God. Jesus explains that he will be asked by his fellow inhabitants of Nazareth to perform miracles for them – not out of a desire to seek after God, but as a challenge to his authority. They did not accept his claims as a prophet and Messiah. So what does Jesus do? He tells them that he will go to places where he will be accepted, that being Jewish did not entitle them exclusive rights to his ministry. He shows that even in the Old Testament, God often rejected Israel and sent his prophets elsewhere.
What does this mean for us? I am a Gentile – I come from almost entirely a European background, perhaps some Native American mixed in, but no Jewish ancestry as far as I know. Under the Old Testament law, I would have to become a Jew in order to live in God’s Kingdom. But not so anymore. Jesus came for the whole world, his ministry was not confined to the Jews, and his death atoned for all who believe. His love is lavishly inclusive. He is Christ for the whole world.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

What does your church look like? Not the building, but the people. Who comprises it? In the Old Testament, only those who were circumcised into Judaism and followed the Mosaic Law were part of God’s blessing and promises. While there were select times when mercy and blessing was granted to those outside of Israel, God’s chosen people were a particular ethnic group, confined within territorial boundaries. While anyone was welcome to join this people, they had to adopt Israelite customs in order to do so. Not anymore.

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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. Ezek. 11:19-20

 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. Ezek. 36:26-27

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Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within 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 a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12

The inscription of this psalm explains that David wrote it after Nathan the prophet confronted him about his grievous evil: taking another man’s wife and then having her husband, one of his great army champions, killed in battle. Obviously, this it is hard to imagine an act more despicable, and, after Nathan calls David out on this and condemns him, David pens this psalm in grief, remorse, and repentance.
What I want to look at today is verses ten through twelve. Here, David asks God to restore his soul, and for the Holy Spirit to stay within him. David had no guarantee of this. His predecessor, Saul, also had the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. But, after impatiently making sacrifices himself instead of waiting for the priest, Samuel, to make them, the Holy Spirit left Saul. To me, Saul’s sin pales in comparison to that of David’s, and I think that David felt this too. Thus his desperation. However, unlike Saul, David turns back to God, realizing that only God can cleanse him of his wrongdoing.

And that is to be our response when we sin as well. But, our prayer to God should be different than that of David. After Christ ascended, he sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us and keep us on the path of right. And, unlike with David in the Old Testament, we have a guarantee that he will not leave us. Our sin has already been removed by Christ’s death on the cross. The Holy Spirit lives in us forever, and empowers us to live Christ’s work out in our lives. We still do not always follow God, but we know that, if Jesus has died for us, his Holy Spirit will restore us, and that our heart will remain clean.

And it happened when [Jesus] was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” …Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Jesus… When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Luke 5:12, 13, 18, 20

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“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24
New Year’s resolutions have a reputation as being notoriously unreliable. Around the beginning of every new year, I find comics in the paper joking about how short New Year’s resolutions are. It is easy to promise to live better, but far easier to fall back into old habits. Yet, for the Christian, there is a promise that we can rest in: If we believe in Christ, then we have been made new, and, though we may struggle to overcome the temptations of this world and our desires, we know that we will never truly fall out of the arms of Jesus.

Through the atonement, the death of Christ on the Cross, our old self was crucified. We have been raised up to new life, and nothing the world sends at us can take that away. Even our own failures cannot undo what Christ has done. He resolved to live among us, and to atone for our wrongs at the Cross. No matter how much our resolve may falter, we know that God’s resolve never will. He has resolved to make us like him, and no mistakes that we might make will prevent him from fulfilling that resolution.