The Bible is a book of promises. The apostle Peter called them, "Very great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). The Bible is also a book of covenants. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. God made a covenant of a rainbow with Noah, of circumcision with Abraham, and a covenant with David that his descendants would sit on the throne.
There are two main covenants, however, given in Scripture. They separate the Old Testament and the New Testament. The old covenant is the Law of Moses. It is summarized in Leviticus 18:5, "The man who does these things will live by them." Because we are unable to live up to the standard of the law, the law actually brought a curse on us. However, Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" That brings us to the new covenant.
As Jesus passed the bread and then the cup to his disciples on Passover night he said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you." Hebrews 7:22 states, "Jesus has become the guarantee of the better covenant." The book of Romans states this covenant very simply, "The righteous shall live by faith." The redeemed Christian believer is no longer struggling to uphold the law. Rather, he is credited with righteousness by faith. He simply believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that his sin has been paid for, and that Christ is risen from the dead. God declares us to be righteous and innocent on the basis of our faith, rather than our performance. That is why the true believer will boast in the cross of Christ, for it is his victory and salvation.
The Lord reveals the glory of the new covenant in his first miracle. At a wedding in Cana in Galilee, Jesus took six stone water jars used for Jewish ceremonial washing. They are filled with water and that water is turned into wine to meet the needs of the wedding banquet. The master of the banquet declares, "You have saved the best 'til now." This miracle teaches us many things. It shows us God's blessing on marriage. It shows us that our God is a God of joy. Most of all, however, it points to the new covenant. The ceremonial washings and rituals for which the vessels had been used were replaced with the wine of grace through the blood of Christ.
Oh, the miracle of the new covenant! Scripture states that even the angels long to look into these things. God's plan for the ages is Christ, and He takes up residence in the believer. Paul referred to it as a glorious mystery, "Christ in you the hope of glory." Elsewhere he wrote, "We have this treasure in jars of clay" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Paul concluded, "We do not lose heart though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
If you are still laboring under the heavy yoke of the law, seeking to perform to be accepted by God, repent. It is impossible. Simply ask Christ to forgive you and come into your heart and receive freely of the water of life. Drink the wine of the new covenant, the grace of God, and then with the church join in joyous anticipation of the coming wedding supper of the Lamb. Come Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
Roger Scalice, pastor of Streams of Grace Church, 455 S. Kirkland Road, Golden Valley, can be heard online at www.streamsofgracechurch.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 565-9611.