But now [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also
Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought
for a second. Because finding fault with them [the people, who were unable to
keep the first covenant], He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of
Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they
did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is
the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the
Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be
their God, and they shall be My people.
The first or old covenant was the law, and it was given to teach us that we can’t
possibly achieve the standard God requires of us – we cannot fulfill the old
covenant adequately. The second or new covenant is Jesus Christ, who became
man and lived, died, and rose again to fulfill the law. The old covenant was
salvation by works; the new covenant is salvation by grace. But the new covenant
is still a covenant, so works are still involved. The law is no longer an outside
structure that we memorize and follow; instead, the Holy Spirit lives inside us and
guides us in fulfilling the heart of our heavenly Father … but we must follow Him
in order to succeed.
As our covenant partner God doesn’t just protect: He provides. He doesn’t just
rescue us, He helps us to be victorious in our battle against the world, the flesh,
and the devil. He decides who the enemy is; He decides which goals in our lives
are His and which are not; He decides what is best for us, we don’t; He is the
head, not the tail. Our part of the covenant is to be a faithful tail and allow Him
as the head. Our works – what we do, and how we use our lives in ministry to
God and others – reflect our faithfulness as a tail.
The new covenant is about works, but it is not salvation by works. You can’t do
one thing to better your chances of being saved; Jesus has done it all. The new
covenant is not “works in order to earn something”: it is “works because you have
already received something”.
You have been given a gift of all-surpassing worth. Your heavenly Father has
given you the very best that He has – Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit – for all
eternity. What He asks in return is not everything, but just the first and best
portion of your time, your treasure, and your talents … not for putting in His great
storehouse, but for proclaiming that same covenant to those who are lost,
hurting, and in despair.
Isn’t it worth investing a bit of yourself to fulfill your part of your new covenant?
Word of God: speak!
Non nobis Domine+
by Fr. Dana Jackson