New Covenant Network was set up in order to encourage exploration of the New Testament writings.
When writing to the Galatian believers, the Apostle Paul reminds them of these things.
Even as "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness".
Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all nations be blessed".
So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them".
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, "The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them".
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree": That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, "And to thy seed", which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
One of the greatest mistakes made by some, is to imagine the Hebrew people as the only recipients of God's covenants. It is true that the first covenant (Old Covenant) was made solely with those who came out of Egypt by Moses - yet even that covenant was extended to those of other nations outside of Israel (Jacob's offspring) if they were obedient to the requirements placed upon them by Jehovah. Likewise the New Covenant that was made with the House of Israel was also extended to the other nations (see Acts 10:34-48).
As the Apostle Peter said, "God does not respect anyone's person" (Acts 10:34). Yet there is a perceived folly by some that He does, and that He has respect to those who are of Abraham’s seed according to the flesh. For believers in Christ Jesus, this perception is nothing other than gross heresy. Jesus Himself makes this fact abundantly clear.
“I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father."
They answered and said unto him, "Abraham is our father". Jesus saith unto them, "If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
Ye do the deeds of your father."
Then said they to him, "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
Jesus said unto them, "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (John 8:37-47).
Those who persist in promoting the grave error - viz. that the "Jewish" nation are God's "peculiar people", have flagrantly rejected the clear teaching of both the Lord Jesus Christ and that of His Apostles. Peter (the Apostle to the Jews) declared in no uncertain terms that God's "peculiar people" are those who are born anew.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
"For all flesh is as grass;
and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.
The grass withereth,
and the flower thereof falleth away:
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever."
And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have "tasted that the Lord is gracious".
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture,
"Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious:
and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded."
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient,
"the stone which the builders disallowed,
the same is made the head of the corner",
And "a stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offence",
even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
But ye are
"a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
an holy nation,
a peculiar people";
that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were
"not a people, but are now the people of God:
which had not obtained mercy,
but now have obtained mercy.”
(I Peter 1:23-2:10).
It is striking to note that the Apostle Peter wrote “...you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (I Pet. 2:9-10). These designations were first attributed to the Lord's Old Testament people, yet here we find them being applied to those who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and been born again.
“A chosen generation”. “A royal priesthood”. “A holy nation”. “A peculiar people”. Did these attributes transfer from the Lord’s Old Testament people to His New Testament people - “A peculiar people” - or have we somehow mistaken the true identity of God’s Israel? The Apostle Paul wrote; “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...” (I Tim. 2:5), and James wrote; “You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). Just as there is one God, so there is also one people of God. “...which in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God”. At no time has God had two people, two holy nations. The Lord refers His own people as “a peculiar people”, meaning that they are peculiarly His. By definition He cannot have two peoples.
When writing to the saints at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul said; “Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” He continued “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:11-13, 19-22). Here we understand that those once considered as Gentiles by those who had received the outward “sign” of circumcision (“in the flesh”), were now “through the blood of Christ” “fellow citizens” of the commonwealth of Israel along “with the saints” and we're now members of God’s own household. There are not two commonwealths of Israel, not two households of God, not two companies of peculiar people, just the one - the people of God, God's Israel.
The writer to the “Hebrews” (believed to be Apostle Paul) said; “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:10-13). This promised New Covenant (or Testament), written with the blood of Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20. I Cor. 11:25), was a covenant with the house of Israel - God’s people; not a covenant with some other group of people. Understanding this helps us grasp the fact that there has only ever been (and only ever will be) one people of God - one Israel.
The Apostle Paul refers to “Israel according to the flesh” (I Cor. 10:18) and states in his letter to the Romans, that such are not the children of God. “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:3-8).
This statement by the Apostle - “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed”, helps us to distinguish who the children of God are. Further the Apostle John wrote; “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto his own, and His own received him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons (children) of God - to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13). Here the Apostle John identifies the children of God as those who receive Christ (God’s Anointed One) and are, as a consequence, born of God. John is clear to state that ethnicity, the flesh and the will of man, has no part in this, and that God’s children and born “of God”. Speaking to Nicodemus (“the leader of the Jews”) Jesus reiterates this very fact, saying; “Jesus answered, Of a truth, of a truth, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again (or from above)” (John 3:5-7).
God’s people are a people “born from above”, they are not only born of water (first birth), but also born of the Spirit. “Seeing y0u have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: Having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away...” (I Peter 1:22-24). “As new born babes...” (I Pet. 2:2) Also, they are “children of promise”. “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:8). The Apostle Paul declared; “...to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.” and “...if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:16 & 29).
John the Baptist was the forerunner of the New Covenant to be made with the House of Israel, proclaiming that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ - the one who takes away the sin of the world and baptises with the Holy Spirit, and that He had come to usher in the Kingdom of God, calling on the House of Israel to repent. It was the House of Israel according to the flesh to whom Christ revealed Himself, whom also John the Baptist called to repentance. Only those who received Him - by believing upon Him (in that and in subsequent generations) - obtained the “right” to become children of God, and be born from above. Thereby entering the kingdom of God and His Christ; for “unless a man be born again” he can neither see nor enter the kingdom - “Which were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This is the very reason the Apostle Paul states that Christ is our peace; “who has made both one [that is, those who receive Christ both of the Circumcision and of the uncircumcised Gentiles - according to the flesh] and has broken down the middle wall of partition [between both parties “according to the flesh”]. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances [the Old Covenant Laws]; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God...” (Eph. 2:14-19). From believers (in Christ) both of the Circumcision and the uncircumcised, the Lord has made “one new man”, in whom there is neither Jew or Gentile.
This new man is God’s Israel, of which Israel according to the flesh was a type, a “figure of the true”. As such they are “fellow-citizens with the saints” and belong to God’s own household - the House of Israel. “For this man (Christ) was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who has built the house has more honour than the house. For every house is built by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:3-6).
(text in bold are quotes from the Old Testament).
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