Hebrews was written to the Jewish people. Paul was merely taking the old law and there showing them how much greater promise, how much greater testament, how much better blood, and how much greater work God has done for us through Jesus Christ. He made plain to them that the old law was a shadow or merely a teacher to bring them to Christ. There never was any salvation in the law. The only salvation there ever has been is faith in Jesus Christ. Putting it in plain language, the law was to show them their need of Christ.
We want us to see how Paul set Christ forth. In our text, we notice the Apostle Paul sets forth the fact that the law was holy and it was good, because God gave it. However, it was not faultless. Because it wasn't faultless, God complained in Jeremiah and Hebrews both that Israel had not continued in it. Since they didn't continue in it, He regarded them not as a people. Paul stressed that point, and I want to repeat: God complained that they hadn't continued in it, so He regarded them not.
Hebrews 8:7-9 tells us: "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord."
I want us to see there was a turning from each other; on both sides. Israel failed to keep the covenant and turned from God, and God regarded them not as His people. The reason I stressed that point is because it has much to do with what was wrong with that covenant. Someone may say, "What was the trouble with that covenant? First of all, that covenant didn't secure it's apparent object. What was God's apparent object? Ever since man has fallen, He wants man united with God and God united with man. That covenant failed to do that, so God in His Word promises to make a new covenant that will accomplish the end that the first covenant failed to do.
We would have a lot less fighting against holiness and righteousness if people would just look in the Bible and see what God wanted through the first covenant, what it failed to do, and then read how He gave us a second covenant that would accomplish what the first one failed to do.
The New, Everlasting Covenant
What's the end that God is looking for? First, He wanted a covenant that would secure God's faithfulness to His people. I mean a faithfulness forever and a covenant whereby God would never again disregard His people. The Bible uses the term "everlasting covenant".
Second, God desired a covenant that would secure the people's faithfulness to God. This is exactly why God made a new covenant. The new covenant expressly declares these two objects will be obtained. Jeremiah 31:31-34 tells us: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 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; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them saith the Lord; But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Then right over in Jeremiah 32:40, we read, "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them (in the first covenant they disregarded God and He disregarded them, but here He's talking about a new covenant), to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts (here comes both sides), that they shall not depart from me."
What did God want in the covenant? He wanted something that would be a surety to people that God would be faithful to them. On the other hand, He wanted a covenant whereby people would be brought into an experience where they would be faithful to God. He was definitely going to bring a faithfulness on both parts.
Hebrews 7:22 tells us, "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament." We're dealing with something that is definitely sure. God talked in terms of something everlasting. God talked in terms of entering into a covenant where He would never depart from that people and where the people would not depart from Him. To make it sure on both sides, He sent Jesus
If we let Jesus be to us what God wants Him to be, the covenant will be sure. There will be a people who lives before God, where God's faithfulness is shown forth and where He never ceases to do them good. On the other hand, there will be a people who will not depart from Him. They will be faithful to Him. They will live and keep His commandments as He sets them forth. To make sure that it would work, He sent Jesus as a surety. God made this new covenant fool-proof, devil-proof and man-proof.
Jesus Christ, Our Surety
We might as well unwrap our cloak of doubts, cast them aside, and get down to business with Jesus. If we'll meet the condition of the new covenant, there's no way that God will ever fail us or we will ever fail God. He has fixed it.
I'm talking about something that's more sure than the sun coming up. The sun is going to fail to come up one of these mornings, but what I'm talking about won't fail. It will keep right on working after the sun doesn't come up. It will work right here in our life without failure, and then when death comes on us, it will work forever throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.
When we begin to look into this new covenant and God saying, "I will not turn away from them and they shall not depart from me." We come to the conclusion that God is going to have a people. We can get all the pictures we want about the Church falling to pieces, running down at the heels, and raveling out, but that's not the vision I have. God is going to have a people. God has a people, and He will always have a people. Let the Devil turn on all the heat he wants; God will always have a people who will not depart from Him. The Church is alive and She is well. I'm talking about the Church which God has; a people who will not depart from Him.
When we begin to look at this covenant, we get a picture of a pardoning God and an obedient people. There are two parties who need to be eternally united in this new covenant. I want to repeat, our text said God sent Jesus as a surety. The word surety means "one who makes himself responsible for another." It's most beautiful to know that this surety that God sent (Jesus Christ) is a surety on both parts.
I don't fuss around about any promise in God's Word. Whenever the devil tries to make me think that God won't heal me or God won't do this or that, I just look to Jesus. He's the surety of this covenant. He was sent to let us know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God will not fail in carrying out every promise that He put in that covenant. I realize people get some fancied ideas of God doing things for them that He never promised to do; but when it comes to promises that are in the New Testament (the new covenant), Jesus Christ was sent as a surety.
If we have any doubt, Paul tells us what to do just a little further in the Hebrew letter. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us: "...seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses...Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..." It doesn't have to be finished, it's already finished. He's already done what He said he would do. When Jesus Christ died and shed His blood, as far as God is concerned, everything that He promised is already done; it's finished.
I say, men can depend on what God said. Paul said in Romans 8:32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things." God is ready to pardon, ready to accept, and ready never to forsake because of Christ.
A Reason for Living
Let's encourage everyone to sell out to God and start for God. People may not have any confidence in us or much faith, but God doesn't fret a bit about what condition we're in when He finds us. I've seen it work. I marvel every service as I look at the young people, new converts, in our congregation.
God has saved one young man who was bound with drink and dope. He had lived for over a year in his automobile. He made one hundred an fifty dollars a week and spent it all on dope and drink. God saved him and made a new creature out of him. He's lived for God for months.
The next one is an eighteen year old boy who tried to take his life three times. He works with my son, so the third time he tried to take his life, my son called me and said, "Dad you need to get a hold of him". I got a hold of him. He didn't want to live, because he thought he had nothing to live for. I merely asked him, "Would you like to live if you had something to live for?" His reply was, "Sure I would, but there's not anything to live for." When I got done telling him about Jesus, his only words were, "When can I get this?" I said, "Right now."
These are only two examples of the surety of this new covenant. Friend, you can come to God today. Even if your will power is broken, if you're miserable, if your nerves are torn up, God has so much confidence in Jesus Christ that if you'll truly accept Him, He'll pour all the blessings of the covenant right out on you. You don't have to live and prove it thirty days or thirty years. God will put it on you the second He sees in your hear that you have accepted Jesus Christ. You don't have to worry about anything else. He will put out everything that needs to go out and bring everything in that needs to come in. He's a surety, not only on God's part, but also on man's part.
If we're a Christian today, the devil is out to get us to shift over to our own strength and our own ability. The reason we're not witnessing more and the reason we're not getting more work done is because we've limited God to what we can do. The devil has thrown us a curve. Even though we preach and believe that we can't save ourselves, yet we're trying to keep ourselves out of trouble. I want us to see that because God knew that man couldn't fulfill his part of this covenant, God took on, through Jesus Christ, the fulfilling of man's part of the covenant. When we understand what this new covenant really is, there's only one reason why people are not saved who have heard the Gospel; It's because they don't want to be saved.
New Covenant Produces Faithfulness
In the New Covenant, God stepped in and did man's part. Yes, to make the thing sure, Jesus became a surety on God's part and also on man's part. In this new covenant God has taken the work of salvation in His own hands. If the new covenant had been a covenant of works, again offering salvation on man's works or a covenant that offered man pardon unassisted, one would have ever been saved.
God had a covenant of works in Eden. That covenant God made with Adam was a covenant of works; don't do this or do that. Consequently, man failed. At Sinai God gave a covenant of works---thou shalt and thou shalt not, and man failed again. So, Jesus came as a surety of a new covenant.
I want us to see that God doesn't bring a covenant of works. We realize there are definitely works involved, but let's come down to it gradually. Paul explained in Romans 8:3 that the law was impotent through the weakness of the flesh. He explained why man couldn't keep the law; it was the weakness of the flesh. The sacrifices of the law could not take away sin. Through Jesus Christ, God has promised to remember our sins no more---fully pardon us and bring us to Himself.
Remember we read in Jeremiah 32:40, "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good..." In a covenant there are two parties. The Bible speaks of three main things through the Word of God: God's purpose, God's promise, and God's covenant. God can purpose something and not need a second party. He can promise something by Himself, but when He begins to talk about a covenant, there are two parties involved.
Someone may ask, "What if man becomes untruthful and breaks the covenant?" God provides for this since man cannot in himself provide this assurance. God provides it through Jesus Christ. In addition to His obligations in the covenant, He undertakes for us so that He can be sure on our part. How can he do it? He sent Jesus Christ to drive all doubt from our minds of God's faithfulness. He sent Jesus Christ in the heart of the believer to bring him to the state where he can be faithful.
In Ezekiel 36:26-27 we read: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." I want you to notice how God makes man's part of the covenant sure. Nowhere does He say, "If you will." His whole thought is, "I will, I will, I will, I will." "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you (not make you) to walk in my statutes..." If He just leaves it to man, it will never be sure, so God decided to make it sure. How? "...I will take away the stony heart...and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." He goes right on to say,"...and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
The Witness of the Spirit
If we would accept Christ wholeheartedly and let Him be Lord of our life, we'd have a lot less "spiritual rodeos". If Jesus has His way in our life, we're going to do some walking and we're going to do some keeping. God was faithful in making it sure. He said, "I will cause you." The word cause means "anything producing affect or result." The true result of our living for God and of our being obedient is not because we put forth such great effort; it's because of God's Spirit within us. It's appointed of the Father to see that the covenant is maintained and perfectly fulfilled.
With every kind of teaching imaginable today, how are we going to know how to truly keep what God has commanded? It's an inside operation. The Spirit is right down in there (our soul). Truth only comes one way---by revelation. Everyone of God's children have the discerning quality of the Holy Spirit.
We don't need any man to teach us. Certainly we need pastors, and certainly we need teachers. It's God's ordained plan. Nevertheless, when it comes down to acknowledging within our own heart and mind what truth is, we don't acknowledge truth because some minister told us truth. The Spirit witnesses to us that it is or is not truth.
Any person is wasting all their time working on themselves. If we get an experience like God wants us to have, He will keep us. We can put all our time in on helping somebody else. This is the only way we can live victoriously.
When the devil says, "What are you going to do when this or that happens" We should say, "That's not for me to plan out. My surety has it fixed. He already know what I'm going to do. He's going to tell me what He wants me to do, and I'm going to do what pleases Him." We can live a victorious life.
"...this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Faith in what> Faith in the surety of this covenant---Jesus will take care of us.
Isaiah 42:6 says, speaking of Christ, "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." Here Christ was spoken of being given for a covenant of the people. Isaiah 49:8 tells us, "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages." All of us know it is through Christ the reconciliation between the human and the divine are perfectly affected.
2 Corinthians 5:16-19 tells us: "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh...if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold , all things are become new. And all thing are of God [What does "all things" mean? God, through Jesus Christ, has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.]...God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself..."
Paul was a faithful minister and had taught those people to put their faith and trust in God. They realized it was from God they got their strength and help. He gave them the secret of victory; "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). God doesn't ask us to work out one thing that He doesn't work in.
So many people in sin today have no will; their will is broken. The Scripture tells us, it is God in you, ...to will..." "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory" (Matt. 12:20). He brings us victory. Our will can be broken to the place of a broken reed, but if we come to Jesus Christ in old-time repentance, where we are short on will. He will use His. Certainly our will must function to a degree. Nevertheless, if we are willing, God will work in us. It is God working in us both to will and do of His good pleasure. When God puts His Spirit in us, we're not going to have too much trouble living godly. All that a man must be and do is secured in Christ.
Walking in the Light
Someone may ask, "How does Christ make a surety to us?" The first surety is through His Word. In John 5:24 it tells us, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." If we believe the Word and put faith and trust in God who sent Christ, we will have everlasting, eternal life, and we'll never come into sin or condemnation.
Here's a point that's very plain, but it seems confusing to some. Sometimes as we live for Him, Jesus may show us something that we've been doing in our life that is wrong. If we acknowledge it (Yes, I know I'm worn."), we won't come into condemnation. That's what is called "walking in the light". When He brings light and knowledge to us, it doesn't need to bring a bit of condemnation. The only way it will bring condemnation is if we refuse the light.
Paul taught the same thing in the Corinthian letter. He said, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). What do we see? We see Christ; we see what we ought to be. If we will measure to it, the power of the Spirit will change us into what we see in there, even from glory to glory.
He is a surety to us by His blood that was poured out; to ratify, to prove, and confirm the covenant. He is a surety to us by His Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 lets us know the Spirit of God is a sealing as well as sanctifying. It seals the covenant, and if we don't break the seal, we can be sure we can live for God.
How can the Spirit make it so sure for us? 1 Cor. 2:12, speaking of the Church at Corinth, tells us, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." What did God give us the Spirit for? That we might know, understand, and have knowledge of the things that are freely given to us of God.
How does He give them to us? 1 Cor. 2:13 explains, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:11-14). The whole business of our salvation centers in Jesus Christ. He's the surety!
Do We Have the Surety?
We need to be reminded that the covenant of peace is built on Christ. The Bible plainly teaches that he that hath not Christ hath not the covenant. 1 John 5:12 teaches, "...he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
We read in Ephesians 2:11-13: "Wherefore remember, that ye 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 ye 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." He is the surety. Everything about it rests in Him. He is the surety on God's part; He is the surety on our part. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." How thankful we are for that. He puts us in, He is our strength, He is our wisdom, He is out joy, and He is our victory. Without Him we can do nothing.
The Apostle Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Friend, He is the surety. Does He live in your life? Does He have control of your life? It's one thing to claim Him as Saviour and quite another to proclaim Him as Lord of our life.
[ The End ]