PERSEVERANCE WORKS EXPERIENCE
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Rom 5:1-4, KJV). " . . . and perseverance, proven character . . . " (NASB). " . . . perseverance, character . . . " (NIV). "And steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope" (ASV).
Devotion 1 of 24
There are a number of things that are unique about the NEW Covenant. That is another way of saying it is, indeed, "new." The uniqueness, or newness, of this covenant is not to be found in the area of earthly procedures or disciplines of life. Those areas are, indeed, addressed by the New Covenant writings, but they are not at the heart of the covenant, nor are they things that distinguish it.
In this, the New Covenant differs significantly from the old Covenant. The Old Covenant was encapsulated in the Ten Commandments, which were called "the words of the covenant" (Ex 34:28). Around these commandments were a vast number of ordinances and statutes. Most of them were procedural in nature. They were not an end of themselves, but depicted in procedural form the great salvation that was going to be wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. They were the "shadows" of the coming "substance," or "body," which is of Christ (Col 2:17). In a vivid declaration of the nature of that first covenant, the Spirit affirms it was "concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation" (Heb 9:10, NKJV). The "time of reformation" is the "day of salvation" over which Jesus is presently presiding.
The New Covenant is "new" in the sense of being a different kind of covenant. It is of another order. This is according to God's own promise, made through Jeremiah. "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant . . . Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt" (Jer 31:31-32). The Spirit confirms in Hebrews 8:8-13 that this is the covenant currently being mediated by Jesus. It is the covenant in which we have been "made accepted in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6).
This New Covenant is an effective one, accomplishing the objective God determined before He made the world. His intent was to have a people for Himself--individuals bearing Divine traits, willingly working with Him in the fulfillment of Divine purpose.
The Desire of God and the Need of Man Fulfilled
This covenant fulfills the desire of God and the need of man. It gratifies both the Lord and those included in the covenant. It satisfies the requirement of Divine justice, and allows the free conferment of mercy upon the people. How gloriously unique it is! It frees both God and man! It frees God to lavish His grace upon us, and do it justly. It frees us from the guilt of, and consequent enslavement to, sin and death!
Why Law is Required
Some may wonder why there was a need for the Old Covenant in the first place. Why was such a law given to men--a law that demanded more of them than they were able to give? It was necessary to prepare the way for the coming Savior--to confirm the need for one, and the hopelessness of trying to make ourselves acceptable to God--even when we were told how to do it.
When men are dominated by sin, they must be ruled by Law. The Law is made for the lawless (1 Tim 1:9). Law presumes recalcitrance on the part of the people. That is another way of saying the people under Law are not basically inclined toward the Lord. Their fundamental desire is to please themselves, not God. For this reason, they must be governed by Law. There is no virtue in such an arrangement. That is what sin does to people; it makes them self-centered and ungodly, or ungodlike. No merit can be gained by such people keeping a law that is fundamentally unlike themselves.
This series of messages will underscore one of the great distinctives of the New Covenant--PERSEVERANCE. It will confirm that once people are justified by faith, a whole new life is opened to them. It will expound some of the involvements of perseverance working, or producing, experience.
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Your only begotten Son, grant me the grace and wisdom to see the greatness of the New Covenant, as well as my need for it.
-- Tomorrow: THE NEW COVENANT IS UNIQUE --