Acts 10-14

The New Covenant

The New Covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:31-37 and is repeated in Hebrews 8. In Hebrews 9:15 we are told that Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was made with Israel at Mt. Sanai after God had brought the nation out of slavery in Egypt. The Covenant was made when the people agreed that God would be their God and they would be His people. God then gave the nation the Law which they were to obey and their obedience would result in them being so blessed that they would be a testimony to the world of the love of God for the world. God saw this covenant as a marriage covenant.

The nation eventually rebelled and followed the ways of the nations and the culture around them. They ended up enslaved by the nations they had turned to. Time and again God would deliver them but they returned to their old ways and suffered the consequences. They were taken captive and were removed from the Promised Land. When they were finally allowed to go back and rebuild the temple they started out well but over the years corrupted the Law, and instead of being a witness to the world of God’s blessing, they became prideful and judgmental to the point of rejecting the people they were to witness to.

We who call ourselves the Church need to be careful that we do not do the same things Israel did. We are to be influenced by the Word of God not the culture around us. We are to be a witness of God’s blessing to the culture around us. We are to be Holy as God is Holy. The word Holy means to be set apart. In essence it means that we are to be set apart from the likeness of the world and take on the likeness of God. God is love. The Church is to love but this does not mean we are to love as the world or culture around us loves. We are to love as God loves. The love of God gives to the object of that love what that person needs which may not be what they want. They may say if you love me then you will do this or give to me what I want. God sees what that person really needs and His benevolent love is wonderfully expressed in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” NASB

Not everyone will accept the love of God as John 3:19 makes clear. Some love the ways of darkness and evil. God does not become fearful of rejection and compromise His love. He remains in control of His love expressing it with patience and kindness which is the description of love that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 13.

The Holy Spirit is essential in the implementation of the New Covenant. The evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is found in Galatians 5:22&23. These are exhibited in God’s benevolent love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Now, be warned, we are not to manufacture these things but to receive these from the Holy Spirit who started living within us when we were born again. Believers are born of the Spirit, born in the likeness of God.  Unfortunately, we were first born in the likeness of Adam and are plagued with his sin nature. Jesus told us to put that nature to death (separating ourselves from it) by taking up our cross daily and following Him. Luke 9:23

That is what is taking place in the lives of the disciples, the Church, and Paul, as we read the book of Acts. As we see the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the new believers in Jesus we see the Church spreading to the world. In Chapter 10 Peter is shown that the former beliefs taught by the religious rulers regarding the gentiles as unclean was to be put to death on the cross. God uses the visions and dreams Peter spoke of in Acts 2:17 to bring about the transformation of his thinking. Romans 12:1&2

The same was true of Paul. He had to put to death the old nature and its thinking and follow Jesus.

God’s plan to reach the world is presently being accomplished by the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the believers in Christ Jesus. As we read the book of Acts we see the Gospel spreading from Jerusalem into Judea, and to the world as Jesus said. In the latter part of Acts 13 Paul also is being prepared to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.

Now, before we start thinking that God was not interested in the Gentiles before the Church Age, let’s remember that the Old Testament is a history of Israel and not a history of the world. However, careful reading of the Old Testament will give us glimpses of God ministering to the Gentiles. When the ten tribes of Israel were taken captive by Assyria the Israelites were dispersed throughout all the nations Assyria controlled. Those Israelites who kept their culture and beliefs throughout the centuries were a witness to the world. The fact that the prophesies declare that the decedents of Israel that were dispersed will one day return to the Promised Land indicate that they have maintained their culture and beliefs. It is as if God sprinkled them as salt and light throughout the world. Jesus declared that we are salt and light as well.

We need to be careful that we are not influenced by the culture but are a light to the culture. We are to put to death the old nature and follow Jesus. We are to be set apart in God’s likeness and not the world’s.

Remember the old saying, garbage in, garbage out. Let’s change it to Godliness in, Godliness out!

Here are some verses for further study.  

Matthew 5:1-20; 1 Corinthians 13:1:8; Romans 1:1-16; 2 Peter 3:9

Pastor Dave