THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 12-31-00
LESSON TITLE: THE LORD'S RESPONSE TO THE BIRTH COVENANT
Happy New Year's Eve! Let me welcome each of you this holiday morning to our program. I hope you have all had an enjoyable and fun holiday season. And, I also wish you all the blessing and joy of this New Year, as we each strive to serve God according to His Will.
This morning we will have the opportunity to approach the throne of God in prayer, through the study of His Word, and by singing songs of praise. I hope we will each be edified and do our part to make this time of offering acceptable in His sight. Now, let's talk to our God, through prayer.
There are many happy days in our lives that we like to reflect on and think about. Many of us think back to the fun we had during our younger years. Some of us like to think back to the day we first learned to drive or the time we first fell in love. Others of us like to think back to the day we were married or the blessing of our first child. Whatever that special moment was, we all have those memories that stand out clearly in our minds.
This morning, our first song deals with the happiest day in every Christian's life - that is the day we obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. As followers of God, we know this should be the most important day in our entire life, because it marks the moment we were purchased with the blood of Christ and blessed with the promise of eternal life. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we together sing, "O Happy Day?"
(SONG # 1)
As we mentioned a moment ago, we have now seen another year come and go. If you're like me, this year has really flown by. In fact, it almost feels like we went to bed on January 1, of 2000 and woke up on December 31, 2000.
Many of us look back to this new year of the Millinnium and we see many great and wonderful things which were accomplished. Some of us improved in our physical lives and some of us have committed more to our spiritual nature.
On the other hand, many have suffered grave and dear losses in this past year. Others have overcome great trials and tribulation in order to have made it even to this day.
This morning, I want to encourage you and to let you know that this new year which begins tomorrow, will only be what we ourselves chose to make it. If we give it our all and make every effort to accomplish things in this life for self and God, then we will be successful. However, if we chose to accept things as they are or have always been, without trying to improve or better ourselves - then we have no one to blame by ourselves!
You see, God has always promised us that we will have everything we need. He has said that He will give us good health, physical possession, and spiritual wisdom, if we will but obey Him and do His Will. I think the problem is today that so many blame God for not doing His part, when really the error is that we are not willing to do our part toward Him.
Think about that for a moment. Have we forgotten all that God has already done for us in this life. He has given us the very breathe in our body and the ability to live in this world. Besides this, He has also given us His own Son, as a sacrifice that we might be cleansed of our sins and be added to His Family. The point is, God does love us and He has already shown it. We must respond to that love if we want the continued blessing from Him in this life.
So where are you in your life today? Are you able to see that God is doing great things in your life, because you are doing what He has asked you to. Or, do you see that God is not blessing you in your life and have you considered that this is probably because you are not serving Him as commanded. Chose today to get your life right with God, and to fulfill that which He requires through His Word.
This morning we will continue our series of study with this specific topic, "The Lord's Response to the Birth Covenant?" So after our next song together, we will be lead in this study from God's Word.
Today we have a guest speaker with us, who is the minister for the Bona Church of Christ in Bona, Missouri. Brother Jim Poland will return in a few minutes and guide us in our lesson thoughts of the morning. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the day, the name of the song, "Face to Face."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Jim Poland
Thank you for tuning in. This morning I would like to discuss with you Jesus' response to the birth covenant.
A man asked Jesus one time, "How could a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" It seems like rather a strange question. Yet, when we understand the background of this man, it isn't quite so strange. So first of all, let us notice from God's word that God did make a covenant birth with His people.
It begins back with a seed promise that was made back in Genesis 3:15, to the seed of woman. And then it begins to be clarified by the time we get to Genesis chapter 12 and the promises made to Abram when he was told to leave his country and go to a land that God would show him. He gave him three basic promises: 1.) That through his seed, that is through his descendents, he would make of him a great nation. 2.) He would give that great nation then the land of Canaan. 3.) Through that seed promise, he would also bless all the families or nations of the world. This promise begins to focus even more in Genesis chapter 17 when God told Abram that He was going to make a covenant between He and Abraham and he would be the father of many nations. This would be a descendant promise. This would be a seed promise. This would be carried on through those that were born through Abraham's descendancy.
They were also to keep this covenant, he said in verse 9, and that it was going to be kept between he and God, and that a sign of this covenant was going to be circumcision of the male children that were born to his generations, and that any child that was not circumcized would be cut off from their people as he had broken the promise. Now all of this was involved with the child without any choice on the child's part. They would be born into this relationship. These promises were not to just any seed of Abraham but they began to be narrowed down in verse 17 of chapter 17. Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old bear a child?" And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before you." You see, Abraham had tried to have a child with Sarah, but they had decided that they would instead have a child through Hagaar because they could not have a child of their own. His name was Ishmael. So Abraham not having a child, offered this Ishmael as the descendant. But this is God's reply, Then, God said, "No. Sarah, your wife, shall bear a son. You shall call his name, Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant with his descendants after him.
He narrowed it down to Abraham's son, Isaac. We can trace his lineage from Isaac to his son, Jacob. Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Israel had twelve sons. From those twelve sons, God developed a great nation of the twelve tribes of Israel while they were in Egyptian bondage. And then after Moses brought them out, a great nation later, and took them on to Mount Sinai to give them a law. Part of this law was to carry on this seed promise, this birth covenant. Through their law and through their descendancies. In Leviticus, it told them the two continued to circumcise the male children that were born and on from there, we understand in Deuteronomy chapter 5 that they were told that this law was given just to them and not to their fathers. So any child that was born from this descendency of Isaac, Jacob, Israel, was automatically born into covenant relationship with God. Given the sign of this covenant of circumcision, eight days later, all of this without any choice on the child's part. And from there, they were taught to know the law and to know God and to live faithfully as children of God.
There was this third promise that through his seed all of the families of the earth would be blessed. We aren't left to wonder what this was talking about, because when we get to the New Testament, Galatians chapter 3 and verse 16, we read, Abraham to Abraham and his seed were the promises made, and he said not the seeds as of many, but as of one who is Christ. So we know all of this descendency and the seed promises were leading to the coming of Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, to be the king of their kingdom. However, before Christ came we notice also in the prophet Jeremiah, as he spoke to the children of Israel in Jeremiah chapter 31, that he said that, There would be a new covenant made with the house of Israel. Behold the days are coming says 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 I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand and lead them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was a husbandman to them says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it in their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother's saying, "Know the Lord", for all shall know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin, I will remember no more.
It was this passage that was quoted in Hebrews of the New Testament chapter 8 when they were making the comparison between the Old Law and the New Law and how that the Old was taken out of the way and the New was established. In Hebrews chapter 8, verse 7, it says, For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second because finding fault with them, he said. And then he went on to quote this passage from Jeremiah chapter 31. So we know that this New Testament was brought into existence. The Hebrew Christians were encouraged not to go back to it because it had been taken out of the way and he gives us then five hundred years before the fact in Jeremiah some very key elements of this New Covenant, and the difference between it and the Old.
First of all, he said that, This covenant He would make, that He would put His laws in their minds and in their hearts. The King James says, Their inward parts and their hearts. We know that this is something that is different from the Old Covenant, the Old Law, for those who were born into that covenant relationship were taught the law of God later, but in the New Covenant, He said, I will put My law in their minds. They aren't just free from all law. The New Covenant, the New Testament has a law of its own. He said, I will be their God and they shall be My people. He also said another thing of this. That none of them shall teach his neighbor or his brother saying, "Know the Lord, " for they shall know Me. Some feel this has not been fulfilled yet, because teaching is still going on. But He's not talking about if teaching would stop. He's talking about what would not be taught any longer and what would be taught under the New Covenant, was they would not be taught to know the Lord, and the reason they would not be taught to know the Lord is because they would already have come to know Him.
He would be merciful to them and their sins would be forgiven. Salvation is attached to this covenant also. So Jeremiah talks about these things and we understand that under the New Testament, under the New Covenant, this is not going to be involved with infants because they were going to have to be old enough for the law of God to be placed in their minds and in their hearts. It's not going to be by physical birth. It's going to be by education. It's not going to be by intuition, or the feelings of man. It's going to be by studying His law and studying His will to know this. Their going to have to come to know God first enough to be able to recognize Him as God and then they could come to a New Testament covenant relationship in this birth with Christ.
Now, Jesus' response to this birth covenant. Jesus' response to this covenant is, "You must be born again." You see, there was a man who had been born of this first covenant, born of Abraham's seed, born into covenant relationship with God, circumcized eight days later, had been raised to know God's will and to know God to the point that he was a ruler of the Jews. We can read about this man in John chapter 3. His name was Nickodemus. This ruler of the Jews came to Jesus at night and he said, "Rabbi, we know that you're a teacher from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly I say to you unless one is born again, he can not see the kingdom of God." Now Nickodemus was rather puzzled by this and so he was wondering how this was going to affect his covenant relationship with God and he asked this question, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" But Jesus insisted. He answered, "Most assuredly I say unto you, unless one is born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." You see, this new birth is not going to be involved with the physical birth. If it were involved with the physical birth, then one would have to go and be born of the seed of Abraham in order to be in this covenant relationship. Nickodemus had already done that. But now Jesus is telling him, "You've got to experience a different birth, " and this birth He describes as "one of the water and the spirit."
We need to understand what it means to be born of the water and the spirit. We get some clues from this when we begin to look for those who have been brought to a new relationship and a new existence and a new covenant with God. Second Corinthians, chapter 5 and verse 17 for example says, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new. Whatever it takes to get into Christ is what it takes to experience being this new person, being born again, being washed and born of the water and the spirit.
Going back to Galatians chapter 3, shortly after he said that the seed was Christ, that came from Abraham, he goes on to make the comparison that the Old Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to the New in verses 24 and 25, and then he says, As this relates to you and I today for you are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. We become the offspring of God. We come into covenant relationship with God and become His people by faith in Christ Jesus. The point of contact for that is brought out in the next verse. For as many of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now we know what it means to be in Christ. This is what the Bible describes is the way to get into Christ, is to be baptized into Christ. He goes on in that particular passage in verse 29 to say, Then, you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
Born of the water and the spirit is all brought together in the very first sermon and the response to that that was given to those who had been born of Abraham's seed, Acts chapter 2. You see there Peter preached to them concerning how Christ had come to fulfill the prophecies, how that that which happened on that day of Pentecost, came to fulfill the prophecies of old, how that Christ had come, they had crucified Him, but He was the Messiah. They had placed Him in a tomb. Yet, He rose from the dead and He ascended back to the Father to sit on the throne reigning in His kingdom. When these people heard this and they understood this and they believed this, when this was placed in their mind, we see in verse 37 they were cut to the heart. These were believing people. We know that they understood that faith was not enough. Faith only would not do it. So they asked Peter, "What shall we do?" Peter didn't say, "Well you already believe. It's okay. You're saved." He told them what they needed to do. He says, "Repent therefore and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
To be born of the water and the spirit is to be born into Christ where we are made a new creation. Jesus' response to the covenant birth is that we must be thus born again. There is a circumcision also that is involved with this and you can read about the circumcision in Colossians chapter 2. For those having been baptized are then to rise to Christ and seek those things that are above in chapter 3 putting off the old man of sin and putting on the new man in Christ. So thus we have the Old Testament has been taken away and now we have the response of Christ. We must be born again.
(SONG # 3 - "Fairest Lord Jesus!")
It has been a great privilege to have you with us today for the Living Word Program. I hope that together we have all benefited from the service to our Lord. Let me invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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As those of the new birth, may we all do more to be like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.