Sunday, 16 October 2016

Sermon Sunday 16th November: New Covenant

Reading: Hebrews 9:14

Do you despair about the country?  It seems full of corruption, stealing, ineptitude etc etc.  What is to be done?

Jeremiah had a similar situation in his time; he is called the "weeping prophet" (Jer 9:1). Do we care so much about our situation? Jeremiah's was a situation of disaster; it finally led to war and exile.  We are already in exile from God!

What is to be done?            
They did not obey God's law, which they had been given centuries before, but they did not believe anything would happen to them. And us? God knows our situation, and the threat for our ignoring him is trouble, as in the drought in the time of Elijah, ultimately total loss. See Hebrews 2:3

God had a radical solution! Jeremiah prophesied a new covenant (Jer 31:31f), a promise highlighted in Hebrews 8.  Look for what is repeated in scripture! God acts - He is the living God! The Exile gave them, and gives us, another chance!

In the new covenant, God says "I will write my law within", not just on paper, or even on stone - they are external.  Rather he puts it in the mind.  First we need to be convinced that his way, the way of Jesus in the sermon on the mount, is best.  Indeed, if we did obey it, the world would be wonderful.  But that is not enough, so he also puts it in the heart, and transforms our will, so we WANT to obey.

Howdoes he do this? A covenant is a relationship, which needs a mediator, who is Christ.  He deals with what separates us from God, our sin, by dying for our forgiveness, which gives access to God (Heb 8:12). In fact he does not just forgive our sin, but forgets it in our justification.

We shall then KNOW Him, which is not just mental, but means be related.  We have eternal life (John 17:3), and we have it now!  This gives a foretaste of God's perfection which we will enjoy in heaven

What must we do?  First accept what he has done, secondly repent (Acts 2:38) - a word which means a renewal of mind.  Then as Jesus said in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:13-16), live now as salt to improve the world now, and light to warn a sinful world.

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)

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