Heb 9:15 And for this cause he (Jesus) is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Sometimes people get so caught up in what I call “Christianeze language” that they overlook what a Bible passage actually says. By “Christianeze”, I mean that people have a particular religious meaning or ideology attached to a particular word that may or may not actually fit what the word really means. Rather, they were taught someone else’s interpretation of that word apart from the actual meaning of the word. “Testament” is one of those words. Let me give you a standard dictionary definition:
tes·ta·ment ˈtestəmənt/ nounnoun: testament; plural noun: testaments
- a person’s will, especially the part relating to personal property.
- something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality.“growing attendance figures are a testament to the event’s popularity”
synonyms: testimony, witness, evidence, proof, attestation; More
- (in biblical use) a covenant or dispensation.
- a division of the Bible.noun: Testament; plural noun: Testaments
- a copy of the New Testament.noun: Testament
A testament is a will, as in “last will and testament. It is also a covenant, or in modern language, “a contract or agreement.” The verse I cited at the beginning references a “new testament (contract agreement)” verses a “first (or old) testament (contract agreement)” between God and humankind. When you sign a NEW contract, whether for refinancing a car, a house , a loan, whatever, what happens to the first (or OLD) contract? It becomes null and void! The same is true with the Bible’s Old Testament and New Testament, yet many who profess to follow Jesus and the New Testament are living as if the Old Testament is still in effect. I need to share something profound with you, so clear your head and focus for a moment:
I know why Christianity in America (at least in part) is on the decline. I’m not talking about just the rejection from non-Christians, but about the falling away of those who for years professed Christianity. Here’s the reason:
2Co 3:5-6 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (6) Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The Old Testament is a KILLER! It’s all those rules. Try to live by it, and it will kill you. The OLD testament was never given for us to live by…we can’t…no one can; it was given to expose sin and show the religious and the world that we all needed a NEW DEAL! We got that NEW covenant….NEW Testament…in Jesus, and Jesus gave his followers something called, “The Spirit.” That word too scares a lot of people because a lot of very foolish things are done in the name of “the Spirit.” Its another word that the religious like to throw around but seldom know its meaning or what it is. Ready for a definition?
- nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.“we seek a harmony between body and spirit”
synonyms: soul, psyche, (inner) self, inner being, inner man/woman, mind, ego, id;pneuma“harmony between body and spirit”
- those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period.“the university is a symbol of the nation’s egalitarian spirit”
synonyms: ethos, prevailing tendency, motivating force, essence, quintessence;atmosphere, mood, feeling, climate;attitudes, beliefs, principles, standards, ethics“the spirit of the age”
The spirit is the nature, character, disposition, or attitude of a person. Simple right? But in the Bible, the word “spirit” is sometimes capitalized as “Spirit.” That indicates it’s a PERSON. So when Jesus gave his followers “HIS Spirit, the Spirit of God”, he was giving them, by the above definition, the non-physical part of himself that was the seat of who he was. And who was he? He was and is God in human form.
A big reason for the decline in Christianity today, I believe, is because of a rejection of the Spirit of Jesus (which our above verse said would bring life) in favor of trying to follow and adhere to a bunch of rules (which the above verse said would bring death). Whether you’re someone who is seeking or someone who is religious, stop and think about that for a minute. Most of the churches I’ve been to claim Jesus and his Spirit, but try to live by the Old Testament. It makes them judgmental and hypocritical. Judgmental because they try to impose all those crazy rules that don’t even apply to today, such as what clothing you should wear, what you should or shouldn’t eat or drink, what words you can and can’t use, where you should or shouldn’t go, and what you should or shouldn’t do. Meanwhile, the people judging can’t live by the standards they try to impose on others and are guilty of the hypocrisy of a secret, hidden, double life…except the problem is…it really isn’t that secret or hidden. Can you relate? I can, because at one time I was one of those, until it just got to the point I couldn’t play that game any longer, so I cried out,
“God, you know I believe you’re there and that Jesus was God in the flesh who died for me, but I’m missing something, and until you show me, I’m done. I’ll just go to work and do the best I can until you answer or until I see you when I leave this place.”
Guess what. God answered. And one of the first things he showed me was what I’m sharing with you in this blog, and it can be summed up as follows:
The Old Testament was never given to live by; it was given to expose sin and our need for a Savior, AND, The New Testament is not to be treated as the Old: it isn’t about setting up a new set of rules…its about KNOWING JESUS by giving us a reference to what the moving of his Spirit in history looked like so that we would know it 2,000 years later.
That is why the Spirit will always lead a person to the Bible, the written account of history from God’s perspective, not man’s. The apostle Peter told us that:
2Pe 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Yes, I know there are many who think the Bible is a man-made, man-directed book, but the part that undermines that idea is all the specific prophecies that have come to pass, some even in our lifetime, but I don’t want to get sidetracked into that here. My point is, the New Testament is the record of the life of Jesus and his early followers who were under the influence of his invisible Spirit after he left this earth…and do you know what the mandate is?
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Be careful how you interpret that…don’t get it backwards, thinking, “if I DO the New Testament, that’s loving people.” No, no, no, and a million times NO! Those things are EXAMPLES for us of how the Spirit of God worked in that first century culture. I have news for you…it isn’t the first century anymore…the culture has changed…DRAMATICALLY!! Trying to make the New Testament a new set of rules to live by is like failing to follow an old set of rules, but thinking you can now somehow follow a new set of even more difficult rules! Come on, let’s be honest…I think we all know how hard it can be to love people…but I digress. It was never about keeping rules, it was about what those rules represented…loving God and others…and in doing that, the “rules” change from culture to culture, people to people, and from one time in history to another.
The New Testament gives a lot of grace and liberty, not a bunch more “new” rules! And not only that, but I’ve got news for you, that Old contract of “rules” was destroyed when the new one came out:
Col 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out (synonymous with “to obliterate”) the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
The passages that follow then go on to tell us not to let anyone judge us in what we eat, what we drink, or what holy days (holidays) we celebrate or don’t celebrate. It even talks about people who “appear” to worship, but that its a show of selfish pride and accomplishment that doesn’t really worship God at all.
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why I believe Christianity today is in major decline. But I don’t want to end on that note because it is such a sad and sour note. There is a good note, and that good note is that, despite all the nonsense, God is real, Jesus is real, and you can get to know him and his love…and it’s utterly AMAZING! I guess that’s why its called AMAZING GRACE!
The grace of God in Jesus is second to nothing…ever…it frees your spirit and conscience…it frees your mind…it sets you in a place of peace in such a way that nothing in this world can truly shake you…and…AND…it drives you to really love those around you, whether they’re lost and searching or fellow followers of Jesus. Grace allows for mistakes and seeks to help and support, not condemn…people get enough condemnation from themselves and the world around them..I don’t want to pile on and give them more of that. I want to be someone who is known for loving others as Jesus did…because he does…and he wants to love others today IN THE SPIRIT through each and every one of us until his return. I look forward to that day and that kingdom…it truly will be a storybook ending with a climactic battle of good verses evil and everything…but that’s another blog for another time.
Until them, I love you all enough to tell you the truth, even if it makes you think I’m crazy. I just ask that you think on the things I’ve said, and may the Spirit and truth of God deliver you from the religion of the Old letter so that you may truly get to know Jesus and have LIFE!
Have a GREAT day!