Jon Bloom's New Book

Not By Sight by Jon Bloom
 
There are books you should read at your desk hunched over and ready to wrestle with rarified ideas. Then there are books that you should read the way you stop by a shaded stream. The trust level is high. The expectation for refreshment is keen. Jon Bloom, the President of Desiring God, has written a book like that. I encourage you to get a copy.
Here is the way Jon describes his aim: “The purpose of this little book is to imaginatively reflect on the real experiences of real people in the Bible in order to help you grasp and live what it means to ‘trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all our heart, and . . . not lean on our own understanding.’ Its goal is to help you believe in Jesus while living in a very confusing and painful world.”
To help you get to know Jon and his book I wrote the Foreword. Here’s what I said:

Foreword

With the apostle John I say, I am writing these things to you so that my joy may be complete (1 John 1:4). My joy. Yes, yours too. But that’s not my point yet. To write on behalf of Jon Bloom and his book is a joy. So indulge me for a moment, if you are willing.
First, I love Jon Bloom. I want to praise the man. He is worthy of your attention.

Jon is a man of worship. He lives under the sovereign grace of God with a happy sense of submission and praise. In fact, he is a worship leader at his church.
Jon is a lover of the gospel of Jesus. He is manifestly glad that his sins are forgiven because of Christ, and his works are the fruit of his justification, not the root.
Jon is humble and ready to confess his sin and heal relationships.
Jon is strong in the word. He has a backbone and is not easily duped.
Jon is a man of vision — a vision for his life and family, and a vision for Desiring God. He has overseen this ministry since the beginning with far-seeing dreams.
Jon is reliable. I would trust him with my life. Indeed I have trusted him with the ministry — which is a huge part of my life.
Jon is wise. Though he is a generation younger than I am, I would turn to him before most older men. There is a gift of wisdom. Jon has it. He is my counselor.

Not surprisingly then this book is also worthy of your attention. All that Jon is as a person is poured out here. And his gifts.
Jon is creative. These meditations are not your ordinary exposition. These are stories. Really good stories. They are rooted in what the Bible says. The creative additions never go beyond what really could have happened. The truths that Jon sees for our lives are based not on what might have been but on what was. The might-have-beens capture give added flesh to the bones of truth. They are touchable.
Jon is persuaded that if you know the truth, the truth will make you free. And truths about the greatness of Christ are the best ones for freeing us from unbelief. And to be freed from unbelief is to be freed from fear and greed and pride and anger and lust and despair and a hundred other permutations of life-ruing sins.
New Christians or old Christians, what we need in order to walk by faith and not by sight is glimpses. I know that sounds contradictory. We need sight not to walk by sight? But it’s not contradictory, because the sight we need is not a sight of what the day holds, but a sight of who holds the day.
And even that sight happens by looking through the window of the word. Which means we see with our ears. Yes it sounds strange. But listen: “The Lᴏʀᴅ revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (1 Samuel 3:21). So we “look” through the window of the word with our ears and what we hear is a sight of God!
If that makes no sense to you, here’s a suggestion. Pick a chapter in this book whose title looks relevant for you. Listen as you read. Look through what you hear. And see if Jesus does not show himself to you in such a way that you trust him more.
That is what Jon Bloom desires. That is what we both are praying for. Your joy of faith. So yes, I wrote this for my joy. And mine will be full if I hear that my happy commendations and Jon’s beautiful narrations awaken in you the gladness of walking by faith, Not By Sight.
John Piper
Founder and Teacher, Desiring God
Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
[Gleaned from Desiring God]

Obstacles To Eternal Security?

 

All the threats and warnings
of the Bible declare with one voice:
sin is an effort to feel secure in
anything other than God.

 

LambsOne of the great obstacles to the enjoyment of this security is the apparent contradiction found in so many New Testament scriptures. Just when we start to feel that we are eternally secure in his love, along comes a passage of scripture that threatens us and seems to rob us of security. And I don’t think there will be any deep, abiding sense of security in God until we own up to these passages of scripture and see how they relate to the assurance of God’s love and power.
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For example, take this sampling from nine New Testament books. Romans 11:20- 21, “Unbelieving Israelites were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Also 15:2, “I preached to you the gospel by which you are saved if you hold it fast — unless you believed in vain.” 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourself to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you — unless you fail to meet the test!” Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Philippians 2:12, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Colossians 1:21-23, “You who were estranged Christ has reconciled in order to present you holy and blameless provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17, “If you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”
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All of these passages teach that the test of genuineness for the Christian is perseverance in faith and holiness of life. They warn us that the attempt to offer security apart from lasting faith and loving lives is perilous. We might succeed and give someone security at the price of destruction.
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But it would be a terrible misunderstanding if we thought that these scriptures were written to threaten our security in God. Exactly the opposite is the case. They are written to threaten our security in everything but God. If you find your security in health, the Bible is a threat to you. If you find your security in your family or job or money or education, the Bible is a threat to you. And in threatening all these utterly inadequate foundations of security, the Bible drives us relentlessly and lovingly back to the one and only eternal and unshakable foundation for security — God.
..
All the threats and warnings of the Bible declare with one voice: sin is an effort to feel secure in anything other than God.Therefore, when God demands on the one hand, “Turn from sinning or you will die,” and on the other hand, “Feel eternally secure in my love, and you will live,” he is not demanding two different things. Sin is what you do when you replace security in God with the other things. So when God threatens our feelings of security in the world, it’s because he wants us to feel secure in his love and power. The threats and promises of Scripture have one message: seek your security in God alone.

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Please note: The above content is but a small portion of a larger sermon manuscript.
The complete Text and Audio is available at Desiring God
 
About John Piper
John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

God is a Covenant-keeping God

Editor’s Note: This seven+ minute video is an excerpt of John Piper’s last pastoral message that he presented to Bethlehem Baptist Church on March 31st, 2013. Within this brief segment Dr Piper hit a New Covenant home run that should be enjoyed by all who are awaiting the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that you too will rejoice in what Messiah has accomplished on behalf of his saints. – Moe
 

To view or read the entire message at Desiring God click here.
 
Gleaned From: “God Raised Your Great Shepherd from the Dead”

A Farewell Sermon | March 31, 2013 | by John Piper | Scripture: Hebrews 13:20–21

Hebrews 13:20: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant. . .”

This is the right way to read this verse. By the blood of the eternal covenant God raised Jesus from the dead. The covenant that Christ secured with his own blood secured his own resurrection. What was this covenant?
It was the covenant described in Hebrews 8: 8–12:

I will establish a new covenant . . . I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . . They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.

Forgiven sins, knowing God, God being our God, and the law of God — the revealed will of God — written on our hearts. This is what Jesus bought for us. Luke 22:20, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The blood of the covenant is the blood of Christ shed to secure the promises of the covenant. God is covenant keeping God at the cost of the life of his Son.
And perhaps the best summary of what he bought for us is Jeremiah 32:40. I preached on this at the 125th anniversary of our church June 16, 1996. “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” Christ died to guarantee for us that God would never turn away from doing good to us, and that God would never let any of his children finally turn away from him.
O how we have reveled in this truth together! All the promises of God are yes! in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). He bought them. All our security is yes in Christ Jesus. He will not let us turn away. All future grace is guaranteed by the blood of Jesus. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Every need met according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). No good thing withheld (Psalm 84:11). All things working together for our good (Romans 8:28). Over every calamity of our lives are written the words to Satan and to our adversaries, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
God is a covenant-keeping, promise-keeping God. And the seal over every promise is the blood of the eternal covenant raising Jesus from the dead to guarantee every blessing in the heavenly places.
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John Piper on the use of the Law and Sanctification

 

Not only can the law not justify,
but it cannot sanctify either.

 
In other words, it is futile to turn to the law to have our condemnation lifted, and it is futile to turn to the law to have our rebellion against God and our love affair with everything but God taken away. Everyone of us has two deep problems – much deeper than our financial problems or our relational problems or our health problems. We are guilty before God and deserve condemnation, and we are rebellious against God and love his creation more than we love him. And my point last week, based on Romans 8:3-4, is that neither of these problems can be fixed by the law of God – by the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai.
But they must be fixed or we perish. To fix the first one God turns us away from the law to Christ. Verse 3:

“What the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”

God took away our condemnation by condemning Christ in our place. Now what did God do to fix the second problem: our rebellion against God and the addiction we have to crave God’s creation more than we crave God?
Did he turn us away from the law for justification and then send us back to it for sanctification? Is the law the first and chief and decisive focus of our lives if we want to triumph over our rebellion and our craving for God’s creation over God? If we want to love our enemies and not return evil for evil, and have patience and kindness, and be bold and courageous in the cause of righteousness, and endure hardship joyfully in service of the gospel, and spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, then where shall we turn for help? How do we become holy, loving, and Christ-like after we are justified by faith alone?
What do you do? Where do you turn? What is your focus and passion? How do you fight for holiness and love and Christ-likeness? You must fight. The alternative of pursuing holiness is to perish (Hebrews 12:14). How do you fight?
Is law the key that unlocks a life of love?
 

The Law Is not the Key to Unlock a Life of Love

Paul says that the key won’t work. The law cannot do what needs to be done. There are at least three reasons why it cannot.
1. The Law Cannot Remove Our Condemnation
The first one we have spoken of enough, so we will pass over it quickly: the great ground of transformation is the removal of condemnation; the law cannot remove it; and so the law cannot provide the basis for our transformation. If we want to be changed into the image of Jesus, we must first have the verdict of guilty reversed – and the law cannot do that, only God can because of Christ. And we receive it by faith alone.
2. The Law Cannot Conquer the Flesh
But there is a second reason why the law cannot sanctify or transform: It cannot conquer the flesh. That is, it cannot change us at the root of our nature: our fallenness and rebellion against God. It cannot take away our reluctance to love God and our treasonous preference for God’s gifts above God (Romans 1:23). On the contrary, Paul teaches us that the law aggravates our sin and stirs up our rebellion.
Let’s review a few of those places where Paul says this, so that we arm ourselves from thinking that the law can get anywhere with our deep rebellion, which Paul calls our “flesh” in Romans 8:3 – “what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh.”
3. The Law Came to Increase Transgressions
Let’s look at Romans 5:19-21. Paul closes his contrast of Adam and Christ like this:

“For as through the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One [Christ] the many will be made righteous.”

Now this raises the question: “Well, if righteousness comes to us through the obedience of Christ, and not through our own obedience, then why the law? Isn’t the law given to provide righteousness?” Paul answers in verse 20,

“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase.”

In other words the law is not the remedy for our condemnation or our rebellion. In fact, it is given to turn our inner rebellion into more blatant and visible transgressions. We see this again in Romans 7:5,

“While we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

In other words, the law does not conquer the flesh, it rouses the flesh. The law plays into the hands of our own sinful passions and stirs them up. We see the same thing in Romans 7:8,

“But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind.”

The law does not conquer the flesh, on the contrary, it gives the flesh another base of operation. Another place to show its rebellion.
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Please note: The above content is but a small portion of a larger sermon manuscript.
The complete Text and Audio available at Desiring God
 
About John Piper
John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

The Mighty and Merciful Message of Romans 1-8

Paul writes the letter to the Roman church to mobilize their support for his mission to Spain. In Romans 15:24 he writes, “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you.” He has never been to Rome and has never met most of these Christians. So he lays out his gospel for them to see in these 16 chapters.
Oh that all our missionaries would know the book of Romans and preach the book of Romans. And Oh that those of us who send would know the book of Romans and live the book of Romans so that we would send missionaries the way Paul wanted to be sent and supported from Rome to Spain. The mighty and merciful message of this book will make rich Americans strip down to a more wartime lifestyle and pour their resources into the cause of the gospel. And the mighty and merciful message of this book, in the mouths of suffering missionaries, will break the powers of darkness and plant the Church of Christ in the hardest places.

The Multi-Cultural, Global Aspect of This Letter

It’s not surprising then as you start to read this letter, there is a multi-cultural, global point to it. In Romans 1:5 Paul tells us the goal of his apostleship: “We have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” That’s why he preaches. That’s why he is going to Spain. That’s why he writes this letter: to bring about faith in Jesus Christ and the obedience that comes from it – “among all nations!” Romans is about the nations – the people groups who don’t yet believe on Christ. Who are not justified and not yet sanctified and therefore will not be glorified if they are not reached with the gospel.
Then in verse 14 he tells us his apostolic obligation again: “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.” And lest we think he has left out the Jews, he says in verse 16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Jews, Greeks, Barbarians, wise, foolish! In other words, this mighty and merciful message of the book of Romans breaks through national distinctions and cultural distinctions and educational distinctions.
This is utterly crucial to see in our pluralistic time – a time very much like the first century when the church of Christ spread so rapidly. Christianity is not a tribal religion, but calls for faith and allegiance from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Jesus is not one among many gods. He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and there is no other name under heaven by which all men must be saved. The mighty, merciful message of Romans is not just one way of salvation among many. It is the way of salvation, because Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God and Savior.
This claim has always been disputed. And it is especially disputed today in America, even among professing Christians, and, of course, among Muslims and Jews. In Friday’s Star Tribune there was another article rejecting the necessity of faith in Christ. A joint commission of Catholic bishops and American rabbis released a document called “Reflection on Covenant and Mission.” The main thrust, the author said, is this: “Efforts to convert Jews are ‘no longer theologically acceptable’ . . . because the Jewish people already ‘abide in covenant with God” (Friday, Sept. 20, 2002, p. A23). In other words, there is one way of salvation for Jews who reject Christ, and there is another way of salvation for Christians who receive Christ.
This is a false and heartbreaking statement from Christian bishops in view of what Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Therefore, concerning the Gentiles who accept him and the Jews who reject him, Jesus said, “Many [the Gentiles] will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom [the Jewish people who reject him] will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12).
So it is utterly crucial that we see the universal claims of the mighty and merciful message of Romans. We are not dealing here with a human opinion, or a human philosophy, or a self-improvement program, or a tribal religion, or something parochial and limited. We are dealing here with the true news that the one and only God has acted uniquely in history to save people by sending his one and only Son to die for sinners and rise again. To reject this news is to perish.

The Thesis of the Letter: Romans 1:16-17

So Paul states his point in Romans 1:16-17 and then explains and applies it in the rest of the letter. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” First, Paul says that his message – his gospel – is mighty and merciful to save: it is the power of God unto salvation. And this salvation is through faith. The power of the gospel to save penetrates to our souls with faith in Jesus Christ.
Then in verse 17 he explains why the gospel has this power: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed.” The gospel has the power to save those who trust Christ because it reveals the righteousness of God. What does that mean?

Romans 1:18 – 3:20: Why All of Us Need to Be Saved

Before he explains what it means, Paul spends Romans 1:18 – 3:19 to show why all of us need to be saved. You see his summary in Romans 3:9, “We have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” And verse 19: “Every mouth [is] stopped, and the whole world [is] held accountable to God.” So we are all sinners. We are all under God’s wrath (1:18). We have no righteousness that could commend us to him, and 3:20 makes plain that we can never save or justify ourselves: “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” We are sinners. We are under God’s just and holy wrath. And we cannot save or justify ourselves by works.

Romans 3:21-31: Revelation of the Righteousness of God by Faith in Jesus and Its Implications

John Piper - RomansNow Paul returns to his main point of Romans 1:16-17 and explains what it means that the gospel is the power of God to save believers because it reveals the righteousness of God by faith. He says in verse 21-22, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested [here he’s picking up the revealing of God’s righteousness in verse 17] apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
So what is the revealing of the righteousness of God that gives the gospel its power and saves believers? It’s the manifesting of “God’s righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus.” It’s God’s righteousness revealed as a gift to us through faith. It’s what we call justification. So Paul says in verse 24 that sinners who trust Christ “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The revelation of God’s righteousness that makes the gospel the power of God unto salvation is the demonstration and the gift of God’s righteousness to sinners who trust in Christ.
Romans 3:25 explains how God can justify sinners without being unjust: “God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” In other words, God ordained for his Son to die in our place so that the Father’s wrath and curse would be on him and not on those who believe. In this way he shows his hatred for sin and his just dealing with it. So now, as verse 26 says, he can be “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
So the death of Christ is the foundation of our justification. If we believe in Jesus, God counts us righteous for Jesus’ sake. We are seen and treated as just. That is justification. And in verse 28 he makes clear that this right standing with God is not by works but by faith, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”
And right here don’t miss the global, missionary, multi-cultural implication of this. Paul himself draws it out in verses 29-30, “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles [the nations] also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” Justification by faith in Christ is the mighty and merciful global message we have for all the nations and all the people groups and all the people we will ever meet. There is one Savior, one cross, one resurrection and one way to be right with the one God: having his righteousness imputed to us by faith in Christ, not by works.

Romans 4: Abraham’s Justification by Faith apart from Works

In chapter 4 Paul makes the case for justification by faith apart from works by using Abraham as an example: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (verse 3). One of the most precious verses in the book is built off Abraham’s example (verse 5): “And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” Not work but faith justifies. And not the godly but the ungodly are justified. This is good news indeed – this is the mighty and merciful message of Romans.

Romans 5: Hope and Security in the Face of Suffering and Death

In chapter 5 Paul sums up with verse 1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then he opens the reality of suffering and death for the justified – and anticipates the huge emphasis on suffering in chapter 8. Verse 3 tells us why we can rejoice in tribulation – it leads to patience and approvedness and hope.
Then against the backdrop of this tribulation he argues exactly the same way he does in chapter 8 – from the greater to the lesser – if God can do a hard thing, he can do an easy thing. Recall in Romans 8:32 he says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all [the hard thing], how shall he not with him freely give us all things [the easy thing]?” That’s exactly the way Paul argues here in Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood [that’s the hard thing], much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God [that’s the easy thing].” Same kind of argument in verse 10: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son [that’s the hard thing], much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life [that’s the easy thing].”
The point is our hope and security in the face of suffering and death, just like it is in Romans 8. Normal Christianity is tribulation. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Don’t ever forget that the mighty and merciful message of Romans is put forth in the context of expected suffering.
Death is a massive reality in all cultures. If you have a gospel you must have some explanation of death and some hope in the face of death. That is what Paul takes up inRomans 5:12-21, and he does it by comparing Adam, whose disobedience brought sin and death, with Christ, whose obedience brought righteousness and life. Verse 19 states the contrast most clearly: “For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous.” Adam’s sin and condemnation were imputed to us because we are united to him by birth; so Christ’s obedience and exoneration were imputed to us because we are united to him by faith.
Then Paul sums up the triumph of grace through Christ in verse 21: “. . . So that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 6: Union with Christ Is Death to Sin and Deliverance from Slavery

Which led to a problem that had to be solved: If we are really justified by faith alone and where sin abounds grace abounds all the more, then why not sin that grace may abound? And Paul answers this in chapter 6 with the teaching that faith unites us to Christ in a real way so that we actually experience with him a death to sin and a deliverance from its slavery (6:6, 17-18). All justified people are being sanctified.

Romans 7: Dead to the Law that We May Belong to Another

Then in chapter 7 Paul argues that it is not an orientation on law-keeping that sanctifies us – or makes us like Jesus. No, “you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. . . We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (7:4, 6).
The Christian life is lived in the free gift and earnest pursuit of a relation to Jesus Christ “That you might belong to another!” (7:4). He is the might and the mercy and the model and the mandate of the Christian life.

Romans 8: Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of Christ

This brought us then in these recent weeks to Romans 8 – the great 8. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ (verse 35)? Do you see the connection between that and Romans 7:4? Dead to the law so that we might belong to another – to him who was raised from the dead, Jesus Christ. That is the key to living and the key to dying. Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ. Answer: Nothing. Who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ? Answer: Nothing.
“So whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord’s, for to this end Christ died and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the living and the dead” (Romans 14:8-9). Live under his lordship, die under his lordship. And always sing to the invincible love of God in Christ.
 

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Piper Quotes: The Church is the New Covenant Community

New Covenant Gleanings from the ministry of Dr. John Piper.

The church is the new covenant community
– “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25) – we say when we take communion. The new covenant is the spiritual work of God to put his Spirit within us, write the law on our hearts and cause us to walk in his statutes. It is a spiritually authentic community. Unlike the old covenant community it is defined by true spiritual life and faith. Having these things is what it means to belong to the Church. Therefore to give the sign of the covenant, baptism, to those who are merely children of the flesh and who give no evidence of new birth or the presence of the Spirit or the law written on their heart or of vital faith in Christ is to contradict the meaning of the new covenant community and to go backwards in redemptive history.
The Church is not a replay of Israel. It is an advance on Israel. To administer the sign of the covenant as though this advance has not happened is a great mistake. We do not baptize our children according to the flesh, not because we don’t love them, but because we want to preserve for them the purity and the power of the spiritual community that God ordained for the believing church of the living Christ.
I pray that you will be persuaded of these things, and that many who have been holding back will be baptized, not to comply with any church constitution, but by faith and obedience to glorify the great new covenant work of God in your life. Have you been washed by the blood of the Lamb? Are your sins forgiven? Have you died with Christ and risen by faith to walk in newness of life? Does the Spirit of Christ dwell in you? Is the law being written on your heart? Come, then, and signify this in baptism, and glorify God’s great new covenant work in your life.

[learn_more caption=”Source”] Gleaned from: “HOW DO CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM CORRESPOND?” – August 29, 1999 [/learn_more] [button link=”http://www.desiringgod.org” color=”lightblue” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Desiring God![/button]

John Piper Quotes: The New Covenant – December 15, 1996

New Covenant Gleanings from the ministry of Dr. John Piper.

Simply Replacing Shadows with the Reality is not Enough

 
It wouldn’t work if God simply took away the shadows. It wouldn’t work if God even set Christ before us as the great Reality and left us to ourselves to know him and love him. If that’s all God did, our worship and our lives would not become radically spiritual and internal and personal. On the contrary, we would construct as fast as possible a manageable, man-made, external religion. No, if God is going to take away the shadows of external, ritualistic, will-power religion, then he is going to have to do something powerful and dramatic in us and not just outside of us. Because as sinners we are wired to another way.
And what God promised to do, with the coming of Christ, was the New Covenant.
To see this, let’s begin with verse 6:
But now He [Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry [that is, more excellent than the Old Testament priests who mediated God’s grace through the sacrificial system], by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
Better promises build a better covenant relationship between us and God and this relationship is what Christ obtains and takes care of as Mediator. What those better promises are we will see in a minute.
Verses 7-8:
For if that first covenant [this is a reference to the law with all of its shadows and, in general, without divine spiritual enablement to keep it] — if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second [which is what Jesus is now bringing]. (8) For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant . . .
Now notice carefully where the fault lies in the first covenant. Verse 7 says that the first covenant was not faultless. But then verse 8 explains this by saying, “For in finding fault with THEM . . .” — not “it” but “them.” The fault with the first covenant was with “them.” Well, who was “them,” and what was their fault, and what was this covenant anyway. All those questions are answered in verses 8-9:
For finding fault with them, He says [now he quotes Jeremiah 31:31ff, the prophecy of the New Covenant], “Behold, days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; (9) not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them,” says the Lord.
So here you can see that the old covenant was made with the people of God (Israel); it was made with them as they came out of Egypt, which I think means in that general time period, a few months later at Mount Sinai as Moses received the law; and it was an arrangement of how God and man were to relate that they failed to keep: “they did not continue in my covenant;” and so God looked away from them and they suffered judgment again and again.
The faultiness of the first covenant — the Mosaic law — was not that God gave bad commands, but that the people had bad hearts. There was divine forgiveness and patience in the first covenant (Exodus 34:6-7). There was the call for faith in the first covenant (Numbers 14:11; Hebrews 3:19; 4:6). There were promises of God’s love in the first covenant (Exodus 34:7). But, by and large, these things did not get into the people’s hearts. It was mainly external rather than internal. Obedience by will-power rather than by reliance on the Spirit; and ritualistic rather than personal.
What Was the Flaw in the Old Covenant?
What was wrong? What was the flaw? There are two ways to answer that question. From the human side and from God’s side. From the human side the problem was unbelief and hard-heartedness (Hebrews 3:8,15,19; 4:7). From God’s side the problem was that God withheld the sovereign enablement of his Spirit.
Listen to Deuteronomy 29:4. Moses is speaking as he looks back over forty years of rebellion in the wilderness: “To this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” That was the ultimate reason why the old covenant was inadequate. God had lessons he meant to teach in the Old Testament and they involved enduring generations of stubbornness and rebellion and hard-heartedness until the time the new covenant should come.
But now it comes with Jesus Christ, the Mediator of a new covenant. Let’s read the description of it in verses 10 and 11 (and save verses 12-13 for next week):
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them.
He says three things about this new covenant: First, the will of God is going to be written not just on stone tablets or white Bible paper, but in the mind and on the heart. Second, the new covenant will establish a relationship of ownership of us by God: “I will be their God and they will be my people.” And finally, the new covenant will be personal and intimate. When it is perfected we won’t have to exhort each other to know the Lord, because we will know him intimately and personally. “All shall know me from the least to the greatest.”
We Need God’s Will Written on our Hearts
So you can see the new covenant is exactly what we need if God is going to replace shadows with Reality. If God’s will is that we be free from externalism and formalism and ritualism and traditionalism, so that our faith and our corporate worship and our life can be radically spiritual and personal and internal, then we need more than the blowing away of the shadows of the Old Testament. We need for God to write his will on our hearts. We need for him to assert himself powerfully in our lives as our God. We need for him to see to it not just that he is knowable, but that we know him.
And so my prayer for us this morning and in this Advent season is that we would grasp the preciousness of the new covenant as never before. Christ is the Mediator of a new and better covenant for us. What’s new about it is that it does not leave us in our bondage to sin. It does not leave us in our so-called free will — which is only a code word for slavery to self and sin. The new covenant does not leave us in our vaunted self-determination and death. It sovereignly overcomes our rebellion and resistance and frees us to delight in God and in the will of God written on our hearts.
Christ is the Mediator of this new covenant, according to Hebrews 8:6. What does that mean? It means that his blood — the blood of the covenant (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 13:20) — purchased the fulfillment of these promises for us. It means that God brings about this inner transformation by the Spirit of Christ. And it means that God works all this transformation in us through faith in all that God is for us in Christ. The new covenant is purchased by the blood of Christ, effected by the Spirit of Christ and appropriated by faith in Christ.
 
[learn_more caption=”Source”] Gleaned from: “Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant  (Part 1)” – December 15, 1996 [/learn_more] [button link=”http://www.desiringgod.org” color=”lightblue” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Desiring God![/button]

John Piper Quotes: New Covenant – February 7, 1993

New Covenant Gleanings from the ministry of Dr. John Piper.
The new covenant was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . [and] I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

So the new covenant is God’s pledge to forgive the sins of his people and to put his laws within us and to write them on our hearts, and to be our God and to make us his people.
The new covenant is not a mere possibility; it is a new creation. It is something not merely that God proposes, but something that he accomplishes. It is the creation of a people for God who will not forsake him. They will be his people and he will be their God for ever. The certainty of it lies not in them, but in God’s covenant commitment: he says that he will forgive their sins and remember their iniquity no more. And he says that he will write his laws this time not just on tablets of stone, but on tablets of the heart.
So the two problems that separate people from God are solved in the new covenant.

1) The first is the problem of guilt because of sin (which Jesus solves by shedding his blood to lift our guilt by taking it on himself–“I will forgive their iniquity”–“this cup is the new covenant in my blood”).

2) The other problem is rebellion–our tendency to run away from God and follow the destructive suggestions of the world (which God solves by writing his law on our hearts so that it is not just his will imposed from outside, but it is his will experienced from the inside as our own will).

Another way of promising the new covenant was made by Moses in Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” In the new covenant “thou shalt love the Lord your God” is not just a command, it is also a gift.
Ezekiel 36:27 puts the new covenant commitment of God like this: “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” In the new covenant the allegiance of the human partner in the covenant is not left in question. God secures it–with the infinite worth of his Son’s blood and with the infinite power of his own Spirit.
The connection between the new covenant, and the death of Jesus, and the working of God in the hearts of his people to cause them to walk in his ways is made explicit in Hebrews 13:20-21.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

There it is: the blood of Christ, the eternal covenant, and God fulfilling the new covenant promise to work in us what is pleasing in his sight.
 
[learn_more caption=”Source”] Gleaned from: “THE NEW COVENANT AND THE NEW COVENANT PEOPLE”  1 Corinthians 11:17-34[/learn_more] [button link=”http://www.desiringgod.org” color=”lightblue” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Desiring God![/button]

As I Have Loved You, Love One Another

John 13:31–38

When [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”

It is the night before Jesus is crucified. The twelve apostles are eating with Jesus that most important of all meals. Jesus had just said in John 13:21, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” John was reclining next to Jesus and asked him (in verse 25), “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, probably in a low voice so that only John could hear (since when Judas left the others had no idea what was going on, verse 29) “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it” (verse 26). Then he dipped the bread and gave it to Judas. And said “What you are going to do, do quickly” (verse 27). And in verse 30 Judas leaves.
And the next thing Jesus says (verse 31) is, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” At the very moment when the final betrayal has been set in motion — at that moment Jesus says, “Now.” “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” Now. Now that the final process of being handed over to be killed is in motion, now the Son of Man, Jesus, will shine with the greatest glory. And God will shine gloriously in him.

John Felt the Amazement

Of all the disciples, only John could at this moment feel the full amazement at this. John had heard Jesus say that Judas was the one — the betrayer. At that moment he must have been utterly stunned. Judas. The one we’ve trusted with the money these three years (verse 29). Suddenly, in a flash, a whole cluster of Judas’ peculiar behaviors take on a whole new meaning. So this is why he gave Mary such a hard time for anointing Jesus with expensive anointment (John 12:3–6). He wanted her to give that to Jesus, so he would have access to it.
John watches Judas leave, and he can’t believe what he is watching. And while John’s mind is churning the incredible news that Judas is a betrayer, and may be doing his foul work at this very moment, he hears Jesus say, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” And another boulder is thrown into the churning waters of his mind. Glory! Now! Judas. Betrayal. Glory. And in what must have been one of the most emotionally charged moments of John’s life, the next word he heard was, “Little children” (teknia, verse 33a).

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:33–35).

Little children, I am going where you cannot come. I’m leaving you. Up till now everyone knows you are my disciples because they see you following me around Judea and Galilee. You’ve put your life on the line by just being identified with me. But now I will not be here any longer for you to follow. Following my physical presence will not be the mark of your discipleship any more. So I give you a new mark. A new commandment. Love each other. Little children.

Called “Little Children”

So here’s John with his heart bursting with conflicting emotions: Betrayal has been put in motion. The glory of God is about to be seen. Jesus is leaving them. And, in his absence, love for each other is to bind them together and bind them to him. And in a moment of conflicting and intensified emotion, Jesus reaches for a word of singular affection and calls them all “little children” (verse 33).
Does this tell us anything? I think it tells us that this moment in the life John the apostle was so profound, and so moving, and so memorable that it left its mark years later not only on the writing of this story, but on his entire first epistle (1 John). And 1 John therefore becomes our earliest and most authoritative commentary on Jesus’ new commandment.

An Apostolic Commentary

Consider a few things. This word “little children” (teknia) occurs only here in the Gospel of John. There were other places it could have been used, as when Jesus called out to the disciples in John 21:5, “Children, do you have any fish?” But that’s a different word (paidia). Only here, does he call his friends “little children.”
Not only is this the only place this word is used in John. It is the only place it is used in the entire New Testament — except for one book. John’s first letter. And there it is used seven times in five chapters. Just as Jesus called his friends “little children” the word becomes John’s favorite name for his flock, “little children.” A coincidence? Perhaps.
But consider this. Nowhere else in the New Testament does the term “new commandment” occur outside this story — except in John’s first and second letter. Of all the New Testament writers only John picked up on this term.

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7–8).

So I feel constrained to believe that John was profoundly moved and shaped by this moment at the last supper. And the connections with his first letter incline me to think that the earliest and most authoritative commentary on the new commandment in John 13:34­–35 is what John says about it in his first letter.
Here are two striking things about the way John handles Jesus’s new commandment.

The Love of God — Our Model

First, nowhere in any of his letters does John refer directly to the love of Jesus for his disciples. So he never says: “Love each other the way Jesus loved you.” He always talks about the love of God for his children. The love of the Father. When Jesus comes into the picture, the point is: God loved us in giving Jesus for us. And when it comes to the one we should model our love on, John doesn’t say Love like Jesus. He says, Love like God:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10–11).

What are we to make of this? What I make of it is that this is exactly the way I would expect the writer of the John’s Gospel to talk. As John thought back on that moment with the betrayal in motion, the glory of God about to shine, Jesus leaving, and love binding, what overcomes him is the thought: I was leaning on the shoulder of God. God had put Judas in motion. God was about to be glorified on the cross. God told us to love each other like Jesus — that is, like God.
So in his first letter, John isn’t minimizing Jesus when he puts all the focus on the love of God in Jesus. He is maximizing Jesus. This Jesus who gave us the new commandment and told us to love each other the way he loved us — this Jesus is God incarnate. And John could not get over the truth: God was loving us there that night. God was loving us the next morning. Every act of Jesus, the Son, was an act of God the Father. John is not saying the love of Jesus is not important; he is saying the love Jesus is the love of God. So when the new commandment says, Love each other as I have loved you, it means: as God has loved you.

This Is How You’ll Know

And here’s a second striking thing about the way John handles the new commandment. Jesus said in verse 35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John pondered very deeply the phrase “my disciples” and what must happen for that to be known. And what he concluded was that being a disciple means being truly born again. To be a disciple is not just to be outwardly aligned with a Christian church or a Christian movement or a Christian name, but miraculously changed by the Spirit into a person with a new heart of love for the Father and for Jesus and for his followers (and, of course, for his enemies, but John’s emphasis falls on loving fellow believers, just like Jesus did here in John 13:34 — that you love one another). And love is how you can know this has happened.

  • Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)
  • By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
  • Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
  • Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light.” (1 John 2:9–10).

Or as Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” All people will have good evidence that you are born of God and know God and are a child of God and are in the light and no longer in the darkness. People will know you are truly a disciple of Jesus by whether you have been given a new heart of trust in Jesus and love for his followers.

Embedded in the Call

And I don’t put the word “trust” there just because that’s right thing to do. I included it because when John thought about the new commandment he knew that the new commandment was not an isolated commandment to love, but a commandment embedded in the call of Jesus to trust him as the sin-bearing Lamb of God for everything we need. And we know that because John said in 1 John 3:23, “And this is his commandment [singular], that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
In other words, in John’s mind, Jesus’ command to believe on him, and his command to love each other are inseparable. So together he calls them one commandment: “This is his commandment [singular], that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” People won’t know you are a disciple of Jesus if you make no profession of faith in Jesus. But if you declare yourself openly to be a disciple of Jesus — your Savior, your Lord, your Treasure — then your love for others will be decisive in showing that you are real. Are you a true believer? Are you really a disciple? Is he really your treasure? Have you really been changed by Jesus? They will all know “if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). So when Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” he meant, love confirms that your profession of faith in me is real.

What Makes This New?

Why is it that love proves discipleship? Why is it that when disciples love each other there is such good evidence that they are true disciples of Jesus? Why is this one-another-love so compelling? The answer comes when we ponder why Jesus calls this commandment new. If we see what makes the commandment new, we will see what makes it have such compelling power to prove true discipleship, true faith in Jesus.
The command to love each other is not new in and of itself. Leviticus 19:18 said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” What appears to be new is the way we are to love, namely, “as Jesus has loved us.” Verse 34b: “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Never before had the Son of God come into the world and laid down his life for his people. That had never happened before. This degree of greatness making this degree of sacrifice, had never happened. This is new.
So is Jesus simply saying: If you imitate this kind of sacrifice in loving each other, you will be fulfilling the newness of this commandment?

More Than Imitation

If we listen to what John says in his first letter about what makes this commandment new, we see there’s more going on than imitation. Here’s the way John puts it in 1 John 2:8:

It is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you [it’s truly new in Jesus, and it is truly new in you], because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

In other words, what makes this love new is that it is the arrival of the glory of the Lord — the Light of the world — that will one day fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. When the Messiah comes and brings his kingdom, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). And Jesus is the Messiah. His coming was the dawn of the kingdom of God. He was the Light of the world. And he said (verse 31) that this night the Son of Man would be glorified and God in him. This night the light would shine most brightly when he lays down his life for his friends.
And then John says in the next verse (1 John 2:9–10), “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light.” In other words, what makes the disciples’ love for each other new — and this command for it new — is that they are not just copying the light, they are in this light. They are in the love of Jesus. This is how John sees the newness of this love.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That’s what happened that night and the next morning. And John says that what makes that new — and what makes the commandment new — is this love was the arrival of the Light of God — the glory of God — at the end of the age to fill the earth. And the commandment for us to love each other just as Jesus loved, was not mainly a command for imitation, but for participation. John says, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light.” When we love each other in obedience to the new commandment, we are loving each other with the love of Jesus. His love is being perfected in our love. This is not mainly imitation, but manifestation. Our lives are in Jesus, in the Light, and our love is his love.

Loving with His Love

Jesus comes back to this in John 15 and makes the meaning clear: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12–13). Yes. And how do we love like that? John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
This is our newness. This is the new commandment. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Yes. But not by copying my fruit, but by connecting to my vine. You don’t mainly imitate. You participate. Your love for each other is not a simulation of mine, but a manifestation of mine. You are the branches. I am the vine. If you abide in me, you can bear fruit, and prove to be my disciples (John 15:8). This is how all people know you are truly my disciples.
So the reason the love we have for each other shows that we are truly Jesus’ disciples, is that it is only possible because we are grafted into the life and love of Christ. We love as he loved, because we love with his love.
So, Bethlehem — “my little children!” — in these crucial days, these historic days in the life of our church, this is what Jesus is calling for among us. “Just as I have loved you, that you, Bethlehem, love one another.” Go low in foot-washing-like service to one another. Lay down your lives, your privileges, for one another. Love your brothers and sisters across all racial and ethnic lines. Love the weakest and oldest and youngest. Love the disabled. Love the lonely trouble maker. It is certain when you love that you cannot atone for anyone’s sin. But you can do something like it, because “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). How blessed the church — especially the church in transition — that loves like this!
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To view or listen to this message by Dr. John Piper visit Desiring God.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
 

Let Us Walk by the Spirit

Scripture: Galatians 5:25
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
 
This is the second in a series of messages on the Holy Spirit. Last week we dealt with the cause of the new birth. I argued from John 3:5–8 that human nature, with which all of us are born, will not enter into the kingdom of God unless it is changed. This change is called being born again. And what this means is that the Spirit of God creates something new; he takes out of us the heart of stone that rebels against God, and he puts into us a new heart which trusts God and follows his ways. Or to put it another way, the Holy Spirit establishes himself as the new ruling principle of our life. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In other words, that which is begotten by the Spirit has the nature of the Spirit, is permeated by the character of the Spirit, is animated by the Spirit. This change is owing wholly to the Spirit’s work of free grace, prior to any saving faith on our part. The new birth is not caused by our faith; on the contrary, our faith is caused by the new birth. “No one can come to the Son unless it is granted to him by the Father” (John 6:65). Therefore, the life we have in Christ is owing wholly to the work of God’s Spirit, and we have no ground for boasting at all. We live by the Spirit.
Now what? Galatians 5:25 states concisely what our next step should be. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Paul is in full agreement with Jesus that it is by the work of the Holy Spirit that we have been given new life. “Even when we were dead through trespasses God made us alive together with Christ . . . We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:510Colossians 2:13). Just as God once said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, so he “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Now Paul, in Galatians 5:25, draws an inference from how our new life in Christ began: if it began by the Spirit, then all our subsequent life ought to be carried out by the Spirit (see Galatians 3:1–5). If it was by the free and sovereign power of the Spirit that our new spiritual life came into being, then the way that new life should be lived is by that same free and sovereign power. “Walk by the Spirit” means do what you do each day by the Spirit; live your life in all its details from waking up in the morning until going to sleep at night by the enabling power of the Spirit. But what does that mean, practically speaking? How do we “walk by the Spirit”?
Let’s observe a few things in the immediate context of Galatians 5 and then bring in some other Scriptures in order to get as full an answer to this question as we can. I’ll conclude by describing five things involved in walking by the Spirit.

How Do We Walk by the Spirit?

The phrase “walk by the Spirit” occurs not only in verse 25 but also in verse 16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.” So here we see what the opposite of walking by the Spirit is, namely, giving in to the desires of the flesh. Remember, “flesh” is the old, ordinary human nature that does not relish the things of God and prefers to get satisfaction from independence, power, prestige, and worldly pleasures. When we “walk by the Spirit,” we are not controlled by those drives. This is what verse 17 means: the flesh produces one kind of desires, and the Spirit produces another kind, and they are opposed to each other. Walking by the Spirit is what we do when the desires produced by the Spirit are stronger than the desires produced by the flesh. This means that “walking by the Spirit” is not something we do in order to get the Spirit’s help, but rather, just as the phrase implies, it is something we do by the enablement of the Spirit.
Ultimately, all the good inclinations or preferences or desires that we have are given by the Holy Spirit. Apart from the Spirit we are mere flesh. And Paul said in Romans 7:18, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing.” Apart from the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, none of our inclinations or desires is holy or good, “for the mind of the flesh is hostile to God’s law and does not submit to it because it cannot” (Romans 8:7). The new birth is the coming into our life of the Holy Spirit to create a whole new array of desires and loves and yearnings and longings. And when these desires are stronger than the opposing desires of the flesh, then we are “walking by the Spirit.” For we always act according to our strongest desires.
Therefore, “walking by the Spirit” is something the Holy Spirit enables us to do by producing in us strong desires that accord with God’s will. This is what God said he would do in Ezekiel 36:2627:

A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you . . . I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.

Thus when we “walk by the Spirit,” we experience the fulfillment of this prophecy. The Holy Spirit produces in us desires for God’s way that are stronger than our fleshly desires, and thus he causes us to walk in God’s statutes.

Led by the Spirit and Not Under Law

This, then, explains the two parts of the next verse in Galatians 5, verse 18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” It is easy to understand, in view of what we have seen, how Paul could shift from the phrase “walking by the Spirit” in verse 16, to “being led by the Spirit” in verse 18. The phrase, “being led by the Spirit,” simply makes more explicit the initiative of the Spirit in the life of a Christian. We don’t lead him; he leads us. We are being led by him through the stronger desires he awakens within us. “Walking by the Spirit” and “being led by the Spirit” refer to the same thing. “Being led by the Spirit” stresses the Spirit’s initiative and enablement. “Walking by the Spirit” stresses our resulting behavior. The Spirit leads us by creating desires to obey God, and we walk by fulfilling those desires in action.
This explains, then, why we are not “under the law,” as verse 18 says. “If you are led by the Spirit (i.e., led by him to obey the law), then you are not under law.” You are not “under law” in two senses. First, you are not under the law’s condemnation because you are fulfilling the just requirement of the law. That’s what Paul meant in Romans 8:4 where he said that Christ died “in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit.” When you walk by the Spirit, you fulfill the basic requirement of the law and so you are not under its condemnation. The second sense in which we are not under law when we “walk by the Spirit” or are “led by the Spirit” is that then we don’t feel the pinch or burden of the law demanding of us what we have no desire to do. When the Spirit is leading us by producing godly desires, then the commands of God are not a burden but a joy. So in that sense too, walking by the Spirit frees us from being under the law. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Works of the Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit

Now, if we look at verses 19–24 which follow, we will find one more expression about the Spirit which confirms and expands what we have seen so far about “walking by the Spirit.” In these verses Paul contrasts the “works of the flesh” (19–21) with the “fruit of the Spirit” (22–23). The opposite of doing the “works of the flesh” is “bearing the fruit of the Spirit.” This is exactly the same contrast we saw in verse 16: “Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The “works of the flesh” are what you do when you “gratify the desires of the flesh.” The “fruit of the Spirit” is what appears in your life when you “walk by the Spirit.” Therefore what we have in these verses are three images of the Spirit’s work in our life: “walking by the Spirit” in verse 16, “being led by the Spirit” in verse 18, and bearing “the fruit of the Spirit” in verse 22.
Why does Paul refer to the “fruit of the Spirit” instead of the “works of the Spirit” to match “works of the flesh”? In view of what we have seen so far, I think the reason is that Paul wants to avoid giving any impression that what the Spirit produces is our work. It is not our work; it is his fruit. What we do when we walk by the Spirit is simply fulfill the desires produced by the Spirit. And what better way is there to describe the ease of following our strongest desires than to say it is like having the Spirit’s fruit pop out in our attitudes and actions? Therefore, just like the phrase “led by the Spirit,” so also the phrase “fruit of the Spirit” stresses the Spirit’s initiative and enablement to fulfill God’s law.

Love Your Neighbor

The last thing we want to notice in these verses about “walking by the Spirit” is that it refers basically to one kind of behavior: loving behavior. The first thing mentioned in the fruit of the Spirit is love in verse 22. This is emphasized even more in verses 13 and 14:

You were called to freedom, brethren, only do not use your freedom as an occasion for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Just as the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are contrasted in verses 19–23, so here giving in to the flesh and serving each other through love are contrasted in verses 13 and 14. This shows that love is the all-encompassing lifestyle of one who bears the fruit of the Spirit, is led by the Spirit, and walks by the Spirit. This is confirmed by the reference to the law in verse 14 and verse 18. In verse 18, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” In verse 14, “If you love your neighbor, you fulfill the whole law.” Therefore, loving your neighbor and being led by the Spirit (or walking by the Spirit) are almost synonymous.
Almost. But there is a crucial difference which should make us very grateful that Paul taught what he did about the Holy Spirit. If all we were ever told was, “Love your neighbor,” we probably would have set about trying to do it by ourselves and would have turned love into a work of the flesh. We know this happens because of 1 Corinthians 13:3 where Paul says:

If I give away all that I have and if I deliver my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.

Nothing! Listen carefully now. This is utterly important for your life. Yet it is understood by so few. It is possible to undertake the most sacrificial acts imaginable for other people and still not please God. Give away all your goods and your own life, too, and come to nothing in God’s eyes. It is possible to be eulogized by the world as the greatest philanthropist or the most devoted martyr and still not please God. Why? Because what pleases God is walking by the Spirit and being led by the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit! The great problem in contemporary Christian living is not learning the right things to do but how to do the right things. The problem is not to discover what love looks like but how to love by the Spirit. For Paul it is absolutely crucial that, if we came to life by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit, we learn to walk by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit. In view of the sovereignty of the Spirit who leads us where he wills by the stronger desires he creates within us, what should we do? What, very practically, is involved in obeying the command, “Walk by the Spirit”?

Five Steps Toward Walking by the Spirit

Let me conclude by mentioning five things that I think we must do so that it can be truly said that we are walking by the Spirit.
1. Acknowledge
First, we must acknowledge from our hearts that we are helpless to do good apart from the enablement of the Holy Spirit. As Paul says in Romans 7:18, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing.” What did Jesus mean when he said in John 15:5, “Without me you can do nothing”? Of course we can do something without Jesus: we can sin! But that’s all we can do. So, the first step of walking by the Spirit is: admit this fact and let it have its devastating effect on our pride. We cannot do anything pleasing to God without the constant enablement of the Spirit.
2. Pray
Second, since it is promised in Ezekiel 36:27 that God will put his Spirit within us and cause us to walk in his statutes, pray that he do it to you by his almighty power. Many of you know the glorious, liberating experience of having an irresistible desire for sin overcome by a new and stronger desire for God and his way. And as you look back, to whom do you attribute that new desire? Where did it come from? It came from the merciful Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us pray like Paul did in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 for that chief fruit of the Spirit: “Now may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men.” And let’s pray like the writer to the Hebrews did in Hebrews 13:21,

And now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ.

If it is God alone who works in us what is pleasing in His sight, then above all, we mustpray. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
3. Trust
The third step involved in walking by the Spirit is faith. We must believe that since we have come under the gracious sway of God’s Spirit, “sin will no longer have dominion over us” (Romans 6:14). This confidence is what Paul meant by “reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to God” (Romans 6:11). We simply count on it that the Spirit who made us alive when we were dead in sin wills our holiness and has the power to achieve what he wills. You may remember in one of my sermons on prayer I said that one of the things we believers can pray for with undoubting faith that God will do it is our sanctification, which is the same as being led by the Spirit.
The reason we can is that we know that God will cause his children to be led by the Spirit. And the way we know this is because of Romans 8:14, where Paul says you can’t even be a child of God unless you are led by the Spirit. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” If you are a child of God, you have a solid and unshakable promise that God will give you victory over those powerful desires of the flesh. One word of caution: do not prejudge the timing of the Holy Spirit’s work. Why he liberates one person overnight but brings another to freedom through months of struggle is a mystery concealed for now from our eyes.
4. Act
The fourth step in walking by the Spirit after you have acknowledged your helplessness without him, prayed for his enablement, and trusted in his deliverance is to act the way you know is right. Notice: this is not step number one. If this were step number one, all our actions would be works of the flesh, not fruit of the Spirit. Only after we have appealed for the Spirit’s enablement and thrown ourselves confidently on his promise and power to work in us, do we now work with all our might. Only when we act with that spiritual preparation, will we be able to say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:10,

By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

Or in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (see also Romans 15:1819). A person who has acknowledged his helplessness, prayed for God’s enablement to do right, and yielded himself confidently to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit has this astonishing incentive to do righteousness, namely, the confidence that, whatever righteous act he does, it is God almighty who is at work in him giving him the will and the power to do it. It is a sign of hasty prejudice when a person says, “Well, if the Spirit is sovereign and I can’t do any good without his enablement, then I may as well just sit here and do nothing.”
There are two things wrong with that statement: it is self-contradictory, and it is unbiblical. It is a contradiction to say, “I’ll just sit here and do nothing.” If you choose to sit in your chair while the house burns down, you have chosen to do something, just as much as the person who chooses to get up and save himself and others. Why should you think the one choice any more inconsistent with the sovereignty of God than the other? And such a statement is also unbiblical because Philippians 2:12 and 13 says,

Beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (get out of the chair, the house is on fire!) because (not “in spite of” but “because”) God is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

It is a great incentive, not discouragement, that all our effort to do what is right is the work of almighty God within us. At least for myself, I am greatly encouraged when the going gets rough that any effort I make to do right is a sign of God’s grace at work in me. “Let him who serves serve in the strength which God supplies, that in everything God may get the glory” (1 Peter 4:11). To God be the glory!
5. Thank
The final step in walking by the Spirit is to thank God for any virtue attained or any good deed performed. If without the Spirit we can do no right, then we must not only ask his enablement for it but also thank him whenever we do it. Just one example from 2 Corinthians 8:16. Paul says, “Thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus.” Titus loved the Corinthians. Where did that come from? God put it in his heart. It was a fruit of the Spirit. So what does Paul do? He thanks God. And Titus should, too. Thanks be to God who puts love in our hearts!
“If we live by the Spirit, then let us also walk by the Spirit.” Let us acknowledge from our heart that we are unable to please God without the Spirit’s constant enablement. Let us pray for that enablement. Let us trust confidently in the Spirit’s power and promise to give that enablement. Then let us do what we know is right. And having done it, let us turn and say with all the saints, “Not I, but the Spirit of Christ within me.” Thanks be to God! To himbe glory for ever and ever! Amen.
___________
Preached March 1, 1981 by John Piper
Series: Four Sermons on the Holy Spirit

 

Faith: The Link between God’s Love for Us and Our Love for Others

Galatians 5:1-6
Dr. John Piper

THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

    Introduction and Review
This morning I ask the question: What is the link between God’s love for us and our love for others. This is a transitional message in the series on “The Greatest of These is Love.”
For four weeks we have been talking about the depths of Christ’s love for us. The cost of it was infinite: it cost the suffering and death of the Son of God. The strength of his love was so great that he overcame the obstacle to it in our own ungodliness and unworthiness. The benefits of his love are as great as everything God owns in the universe. Nothing will separate us from him. And nothing good will be kept from us by him. We are his heirs. And his love was free. Nobody took his life from him. He laid it down of his own accord. He loves his people — those who will have this love as their treasure — with a love that cannot be greater than it is. If you will receive it as your treasure and cherish it, Christ loves you more than you can comprehend.
And yet it has been our goal to comprehend it in part. And we have been encouraged to pursue this because of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19,
[May you be] rooted and grounded in love, [and thus] be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.
So he prays for us — and we are praying — that by sending our roots down into the depths of the love of Christ we may comprehend it. Not by standing aside and merely observing it, but by rooting our lives in it. Drinking it up. Savoring it. Depending on it. Taking some risks on the basis of it.
Two Links Connecting Christ’s Love For Us and Our Love For Each Other
Now today we ask more about this root — this link between being loved by Christ and our loving others. What is it practically that converts the love of Christ for us into our love for others?
There are two answers in the book of Galatians. One answer is the Holy Spirit. The other answer is FAITH. And then there is a text that links these two answers in a way that is full of practical implications for living a life of love this week.  [Read the balance of this instructive message at Piper’s Notes]

It's All The Work Of God

Hebrews 13:20-25

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 22 But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. 24 Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. 25 Grace be with you all.

The Christ We Have Seen in Hebrews
On March 31, 1996, we began our preaching series on the book of Hebrews. Today, eighteen months later, we end it. For my part, it has been one of the high plateaus of my 17-year journey at Bethlehem. I have seen Christ and savored his supremacy over and over again. I have come near to him and spoken with him and enjoyed him and worshipped him

· as the final Word of God in these last days (1:2),
· as the Creator of the heavens and earth whom angels worship (1:6,10),
· as the Pioneer of our salvation who was made perfect through suffering (2:10),
· as one who became flesh that he might die in our place and free us from the fear of death (2:14f),
· as one superior to Moses as a son is superior to a servant (3:5f),
· as a sympathetic High Priest who opens the way to the throne of grace (4:14-16),
· as one who saves for all time those who draw near to God through him (7:25),
· as the Mediator of a new blood-bought covenant to secure that our sins will be forgiven and the law will be written on our hearts and that God will be our God (8:10-12),
· as the one who by his blood purifies our consciences from dead works to serve the living God (9:14),
· as the one who put an end to all sacrifices by putting away sin once for all through the sacrifice of himself (9:26),
· as the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of God until all his enemies are made a stool for his feet (12:2; 1:13),
· as the one who suffered outside the gate that he might sanctify the people by his own blood (13:12),
· as the one who will never leave us or forsake us but will help us forever by the power of an indestructible life (13:5-6; 7:16).

Dr John Piper
Dr. John Piper
In these months together in Hebrews, Christ has revealed himself to us again and again for our encouragement and our hope and our perseverance, so that we might have strength and love to meet together and stir each other up to live well and to die well by faith, which is the assurance of things hoped for.
I want to end this series with an special invitation at the end of this service for people to come to the front and receive a prayer that God would preserve and complete the work he did in your life during this series of messages. I’ll mention the seven categories of people I will invite to come so that you can be thinking and praying about whether you should come. If God has done one or more of these things for you through his word in Hebrews, I hope you will come at the end of this service. 1) Those who have been converted to Christ, and have been brought to saving faith in him. 2) Those who were straying or drifting toward destruction and have been awakened and brought back to a serious pursuit of God. 3) Those who were enabled to renounce some besetting weight or sin and get some new measure of victory over it. 4) Those who have been restored in a relationship that was broken. 5) Those who came to a major new way of viewing the world – some significant new insight into the nature of God or his ways – that has changed the way you think. 6) Those who have entered a crisis in your lives and found strength to carry on for Christ’s sake. 7) Those who have heard a call to missions or some vocational change for kingdom purposes. I’ll mention these again at the end.
Farewell Blessing
But to get us ready for this ending, let’s look at this writer’s farewell blessing. What does he want us to leave with? What does he want to bless us with and to pray into our lives? And when I say “us” I mean those who, imperfect as we are, and prone to wander, and stumbling daily, nevertheless have seen enough of Jesus to put our trust in his promises and our lives in his hands. To you who have done that – or who will do it as I speak this morning, he gives you these six things:
1. You have a God of peace.
Verse 20: “Now the God of peace . . .”
He is at peace with himself and at peace with you. O how many of you wish you had had fathers who were at peace with themselves! But they were tormented. They were divided and torn and frustrated and double-minded and distant and angry. The peace of Christ did not rule in their hearts. And they did not bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness in the family. There was tension and stress and sadness and fear and uncertainty, and no sweet, happy, relaxed, secure peace. You wanted that, even if you didn’t know it. And you didn’t get it.
And the promise as we end the book of Hebrews is: Now you have it. Your Father in heaven is a God of peace. He is at peace with himself and he is at peace with you. He is like a great ocean, calm in himself, and he gave his Son to suffer in our place so that we might have an eternal family of peace.
2. You have a deathless Shepherd.
Verse 20: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep . . .”
Nowhere in this book until this very moment has the writer called Christ a “Shepherd.” But now, as he takes his leave, as it were, and puts us into the hands of another, he says, “You have a Shepherd – to lead you and to protect you. And he is no ordinary Shepherd. He is raised from the dead and therefore cannot die again and cannot therefore be defeated by any foe.
Therefore, if you will trust him and follow him, you will be safe. The great danger this book is written to warn against is that we would drift away from the flock of God and choose another shepherd besides Jesus. That would be folly. For there is no other who can lead us to green pastures and still waters – to God’s right hand where there are pleasures for evermore.
3. You are bound to God by a blood-bought, eternal covenant.
Verse 20: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord . . .”
This is a reference back to the new covenant in chapters eight and ten. When Christ died, he sealed for God’s elect a covenant that will last forever and will never be broken. It is God’s pledge to give us eternal salvation (5:9), eternal redemption (9:12), and eternal inheritance (9:15). And what makes it eternal and unspeakably superior to the old covenant is that God swears on the blood of his Son that not only will he keep his side of the covenant, but our side as well. So the writer says in the fourth place that . . .
4. You have a God who equips you to do his will.
Verses 20-21: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will . . .”
His covenant with you is eternal and sure because he does not leave you without resources to do his will. He provides you with what you need to keep your side of the covenant, namely, faith that works itself out in love.
But someone might say, “Oh yes, he gives resources, but we must put those resources to use. He gives us the word, and the church, and prayer, and suffering, but we must respond in faith to keep our side of the covenant, and be pleasing to him. So the covenant is only as sure as we are strong.” But this is not true. Because the writer says, in the fifth place . . .
5. You have a God who works in you what is needed to please him.
Verses 20-21: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
He wants to leave us with no mistake and no uncertainty that our covenant relationship with him is eternal. So he reminds us that the very essence of the new covenant, and what makes it new, is that God keeps his side, and God keeps our side. He not only equips you with resources for doing his will, he “works in you what is pleasing in his sight,” namely, persevering faith – for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (11:6). He causes us freely and joyfully to use the resources he gives.
You are secure not because you are strong, but because God is sovereign and because God is faithful to his new covenant promises. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes” (Ezekiel 36:27). All the exhortations to persevere in this book God will fullfil in those who are his. This is my only hope to be a faithful minister of the gospel and a Christian until I die.
Finally, in verse 25 he sums it all up.
6. You have the promise of all-sufficient future grace.
Verse 25: “Grace be with you all.”
In other words, as I take leave of you, I hand you over to the abundance and power of future grace. The grace of divine peace, the grace of a deathless Shepherd who guards and guides you, the grace of an eternal covenant that secures an unbreakable relationship, the grace of God’s commitment to equip us with all the resources we need to do his will, and finally – lest any of his own ever be lost – the grace of God to work in us what pleases God. This grace be with you.
To Jesus Be Glory Forever and Ever
And so, that is what I want to pray onto you this morning as we close. I want the Lord to get the glory for what he has done in these eighteen months of savoring his Son in Hebrews. Did you see that phrase in verse 20: “. . . through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen”? The point of all this grace is that Jesus receive glory. That is the ultimate point of the book and the Bible and the universe – the glory of Christ and through him, the Father.
So I think it is right to put some of his work on display this morning by asking you to come forward. I know that in one sense we could all come. The word of God preached in the power of the Spirit has good effects in all the children of God. But those I want to come are these:
1) Those who have been converted to Christ, and have been brought to saving faith in him. 2) Those who were straying or drifting toward destruction and have been awakened and brought back to a serious pursuit of God. 3) Those who were enabled to renounce some besetting weight or sin and get some new measure of victory over it. 4) Those who have been restored in a relationship that was broken. 5) Those who came to a major new way of viewing the world – some significant new insight into the nature of God or his ways – that has changed the way you think and pray. 6) Those who have entered a crisis in your lives and found in the message of Hebrews strength of carry on for Christ’s sake. 7) Those who have heard a call to missions or some vocational change for kingdom purposes.
As you come we are going to sing “Knowing You.” Bring your worship folder with you so that you can sing this song as your song of consecration to the Lord as the greatest value in your life, and your readiness to go with him outside the camp.
October 19, 1997
Bethlehem Baptist Church
Copyright John Piper
From John Piper: Our mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ. Feel free to copy and share this message by following our lead in not selling it but by providing it freely to others. We ask that you share it in its entirety as is. For more information about our ministry visit our web pages at Desiring God Ministries or email us at DGM.

Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant (Part Two)

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Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant  (pt.2)
(Hebrews 8:6-13)


But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

A Threatening Prediction

Dr. John Piper
Dr. John Piper
For those who had ears to hear there was a threatening prediction behind Hebrews 8:13. It would not have seemed threatening to everyone, but to many it would have and it did. The writer interprets the word “new,” in the phrase “new covenant” from Jeremiah 31, like this: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” What does he have in mind? This old covenant is “ready to disappear”? For those whose whole way of life was defined by this “first” covenant, this predicted disappearance would have been threatening.
Let me give you a background that will help you hear this the way I think he meant it to be heard.
It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of what happened in A. D. 70 in Jerusalem. It was an event that, for Jews and Christians, was critical in defining their faith for the next 2,000 years. God had been at work for 2,000 years since Abraham, calling, preserving, judging, forgiving and blessing his people Israel. He had commanded an elaborate system of sacrifices and priestly ministries and feasts and rituals to define Israel among the nations and to make himself known to them and to point them to the future fulfillment.
Christianity Threatened the Jewish Way of Life
Now Christians claimed that the Messiah had come, Jesus of Nazareth. The great mass of Israel rejected this claim. The rejection resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of the early Christians. The claims of the Christians raised a huge question for the Jewish people as a whole. What would become of their way of life? The new faith seemed incredibly radical. For example, in Acts 6 Stephen is proving to be an irresistible witness for the truth of the Christian faith. To stop him, false witnesses are brought in. And what is their charge? Acts 6:13-14:
They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
There you have the meaning of Christianity for the Jewish leaders. It meant the destruction of the old ways. The “vanishing” of the first covenant. They could sense it. He speaks against this place (Jerusalem) and the Law; and they really believed that Christianity threatened the existence of the Temple itself. And if the Temple falls, then what will become of all the “customs” of the Old Testament and the whole religious life of Judaism? The issue was so sharp they killed Stephen over it.
And they did indeed have reason to be afraid. Not only had Jesus actually said that the Temple would be destroyed, he had predicted the entire destruction of Jerusalem. For example, in Luke 19:43-44 he said,
The days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.
In other words, the Jewish people had reason to fear these early Christians. Even though they were a meek and peaceful band that would rather die than live by the sword, nevertheless at the very heart of their faith was the implicit end of the Jewish way of life as they knew it. So much so that the end of that way of life (not by Christian violence, but by God’s hand) would be a partial vindication of the Christian’s claim to truth.
The Roman Destruction of Jerusalem
For decades before and after the birth of Jesus the atmosphere in the land of Israel was tense with the spirit of rebellion against Rome. The Jewish people chafed under this godless power, and dreamed of deliverance. In September A. D. 66, Florus, the Roman governor of Judea, provoked the Jews by raiding the Temple treasury and taking what he thought the Jews were withholding in taxes.
This provoked a riot, and he ruthlessly crucified some of the citizens and allowed his troops to plunder part of the city. This enraged the people. Eleazar, the Jewish Captain of the Temple, persuaded the priests no longer to offer daily sacrifices for the welfare of the Roman emperor. This was an ominous sign of open revolt against Rome by a tiny vassal nation.
In a surge of courage and folly, the Jewish forces stormed the fortress of Antonius in the city and took it and wiped out the Roman soldiers. So the die was cast, and there was no turning back. Vespasian, the Roman general, came to put down the revolt in 67 and took all of Israel except Jerusalem. He returned to Rome to become emperor and left the finishing of the work to his son, the general Titus. After a five-month siege, he broke through and burned the Temple to the ground in August of 70. A few Jewish groups held out for a while, but all eventually collapsed, including the force at Masada, who committed mass suicide in 73 rather than be handed over as captives.
The End of Judaism as it Was
That was the end of Judaism as it had been known for hundreds of years. The priesthood was at an end. The animal sacrifices were at an end. The worship life that centered on Jerusalem and the Temple was at an end. And it has never been restored to our own day. Judaism as we know it today in Minneapolis and New York and Tel Aviv is not the same way of life practiced before AD 70.
What is the meaning of this cataclysmic event for Judaism?
It was a witness to the truth of Christianity. Jesus predicted it. And it came to pass. Christians did not fight against Israel in this revolt. In fact, Christians suffered in Jerusalem with Israel because of the revolt. As far as Rome was concerned Judaism was the tree and Christianity was the branch. If they could destroy the tree of Judaism, they could wipe out Christianity as well. Jews and Christians suffered together in AD 70.
So the destruction of AD 70 was not an act of anti-Semitism. Rather it was an act of divine judgment. That is what Jesus says in Luke 19:43-44: these things happened“ because you did not recognize the time of your visitation,” — that is, you did not recognize the coming of the Messiah. It was God’s testimony that the coming of Jesus was in fact what the book of Hebrews says it was — the replacement of shadows with Reality — Christ himself.
One of the early church fathers, Athenasius (born A. D. 373), put it like this,
It is a sign, and an important proof, of the coming of the Word of God, that Jerusalem no longer stands. . . . For . . . when the truth was there, what need any more of the shadow? And this was why Jerusalem stood till then — namely, that [the Jews] might be exercised in the types as a preparation for the reality.*
In other words, one might say, the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem was God’s way of saying: “Wake up to the meaning of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.”
Now we come back to Hebrews 8:13 with a new sense of what was at stake in these words: “When He said [in Jeremiah 31:31], ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.”
Christmas Means Two Things
What we saw in the last two Sundays looking at Hebrews 8 is that Christmas means two things.
1) It means the replacement of Old Testament shadows with reality. The temple and tabernacle and sacrifices and priesthood and feasts and dietary laws were all shadows and copies of the Reality in heaven, namely, Jesus Christ and his work as our High Priest and our Sacrifice and our focus of worship. Jesus fulfills and replaces the shadows of the Old Testament.
2) And the second meaning of Christmas that we saw in this chapter is that God makes the Reality of Christ real to us personally by the work of the new covenant when he writes the will of God on our hearts (v. 10).
So Christmas means shadows are replaced with Reality: Old Testament copies give way to the Original, Jesus Christ. And it means that God goes beyond that, and moves powerfully into our hearts and minds to overcome our resistance to this Reality. He writes the will of God — the truth of the Reality of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6) — on our hearts, so that we are willing and eager to trust him and follow him — from the inside out freely, not under constraint from rules outside.
A Third Meaning — God is Merciful
Before we connect these two meanings of Christmas with Hebrews 8:13 and the destruction of Jerusalem, let’s add one more from verse 12: “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” This is the end of the quote from Jeremiah 31. It begins with “for” or “because.” So it is the ground or basis for the other promises of the new covenant (in verses 10-11).
God said, I will write the my will on your hearts, and be your God, and cause you to know me personally . . .For I will be merciful to your iniquities and remember your sins no more.” In other words, the death of Jesus for our sins is the foundation of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:27; 9:28; 10:12). It’s the basis of the other promises. If Christ had not died for our sins, God could not be our God or write the law on our hearts or cause us to know him personally. All that mercy was obtained by the blood of Jesus. This is why Jesus called the cup of the Lord’s supper, “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
Here’s what the writer wants us to understand. God is just and holy and separated from sinners like us. No fingerpointing here — like us! This is our main problem at Christmas and every other season. How shall we get right with a just and holy God? Nevertheless God is merciful and has promised in Jeremiah 31 (five hundred years before Christ) that someday he would do something new. He would replace shadows with the Reality of the Messiah. And he would powerfully move into our lives and write his will on our hearts so that we are not constrained from outside but are willing from inside to love him and trust him and follow him.
A Christmas Gift Worth Singing About!
That would be the greatest salvation imaginable — if God should offer us the greatest Reality in the universe to enjoy and then move in us to see to it that we could enjoy it with the greatest freedom and joy possible. That would be a Christmas gift worth singing about.
That is, in fact, what he promised. But there was a huge obstacle. Our sin. Our separation from God because of our unrighteousness. How shall a holy and just God treat us sinners with so much kindness as to give us the greatest Reality in the universe (his Son) to enjoy with the greatest joy possible? The answer is that God put our sins on his Son, and judged them there, so that he could put them out of his mind, and deal with us mercifully and remain just and holy at the same time. Hebrews 9:28 says, “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”
This is what verse 12 means: Christ bore our sins in his own body when he died. He took our judgment. He canceled our guilt. And that means the sins are gone. They do not remain in God’s mind as a basis for condemnation. In that sense he “forgets” them. They are consumed in the death of Christ.
Which means that God is now free, in his justice, to lavish us with the new covenant. He gives us Christ, the greatest Reality in the universe, for our enjoyment. And he writes his own will — his own heart — on our hearts so that we can love Christ and trust Christ and follow Christ from the inside out, with freedom and joy.
Jesus Christ is the Goal, the Reality
When Jerusalem fell to the Romans in A. D. 70, and the Temple was burned, and the sacrifices stopped being offered in Judaism, and the Levitical priesthood came to and end, God was saying with his power and providence: Christ was the goal of it all. Christ was the Reality; the rest was shadows. Christianity is a faith woven into history. It is not a mere set of ideas. It is about a person, Jesus, who came into history and died and rose again. And it is about a God who intervenes in history to bear witness to the reality of his Son, Jesus Christ.
And look around today. Is it not astonishing that God has preserved the Jewish people to this day. And there is yet a future for them in Christ according to Scripture. But what do we see? Are they meeting at the Temple? Are they offering animal sacrifices? Do they look to the Levitical priesthood for their mediation with God? No. Why? Because Jesus said, “they did not recognize the time of their visitation” (Luke 19:44). The existence of the Jewish people today and the transformed version of Judaism that they follow is a constant witness to the world that the first covenant is vanishing away. That the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has come. That he has inaugurated the new covenant. That the shadows have been replaced by Reality. And that the Spirit has written the will of God on our hearts.
So let us look to the great final reality of Christ, and put our hope in him, and love him and worship this Christmas.
From John Piper: Our mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ. Feel free to copy and share this message by following our lead in not selling it but by providing it freely to others. We ask that you share it in its entirety as is. For more information about our ministry visit our web pages at Desiring God or email us at DG.

Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant (Part One)

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Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant  (pt.1)
(Hebrews 8:6-13)


But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.


Replacement of Shadows with the Reality

Last week we saw that Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the Reality that casts the shadow. Remember from Hebrews 8:5 that the priests serve a copy and a shadow of heavenly things. The tabernacle and temple were a shadow; the official priesthood was a shadow; the animal sacrifices were a shadow; the feasts and dietary laws were a shadow. And when Christ came, the shadows began to fall away, because Christ himself is the Reality. He is our temple and tabernacle, our focus and place of worship. He is our High Priest and Mediator and Intercessor. He is our atoning sacrifice. He is our Passover feast and spiritual food. He is our purity and holiness that sets us off from other people.

Dr. John Piper
Dr. John Piper
And we saw last week that there’s a reason why the worship and focus of the New Testament is so radically spiritual, rather than ritualistic and traditionalistic. The reason is that Christianity is a missionary faith. That is, the message of the New Testament is meant to be preached to all peoples, and the radical worship of the New Testament is meant to be incarnated in all cultures. That was impossible in the Old Testament. The tabernacle, priesthood, sacrifices, feasts and dietary laws could not be transferred to other peoples and cultures. It was a come-see religion. Christianity is a go-tell religion. That is why Christianity is radically spiritual. Radically internal. Radically personal. And we could add radically ethical, lest anyone misunderstand “internal” to mean “private.” It is meant for all peoples, tribes, tongues and nations. So almost all the mandated ritualistic, formal, external aspects of worship life are gone. What remains is a radically spiritual, internal, personal joyful dependence on all that God is for us in Jesus, and the outworking of love and justice in community.
Now this week, the writer takes us down this same path a little further. He says that this radically spiritual, internal, personal way of relating to God is, in fact the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant. That’s what today’s text is about. And we are going to spend two weeks on it.
Simply Replacing Shadows with the Reality is not Enough
It wouldn’t work if God simply took away the shadows. It wouldn’t work if God even set Christ before us as the great Reality and left us to ourselves to know him and love him. If that’s all God did, our worship and our lives would not become radically spiritual and internal and personal. On the contrary, we would construct as fast as possible a manageable, man-made, external religion. No, if God is going to take away the shadows of external, ritualistic, will-power religion, then he is going to have to do something powerful and dramatic in us and not just outside of us. Because as sinners we are wired to another way.
And what God promised to do, with the coming of Christ, was the New Covenant.
To see this, let’s begin with verse 6:

But now He [Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry [that is, more excellent than the Old Testament priests who mediated God’s grace through the sacrificial system], by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

Better promises build a better covenant relationship between us and God and this relationship is what Christ obtains and takes care of as Mediator. What those better promises are we will see in a minute.
Verses 7-8:

For if that first covenant [this is a reference to the law with all of its shadows and, in general, without divine spiritual enablement to keep it] — if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second [which is what Jesus is now bringing]. (8) For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant . . .

Now notice carefully where the fault lies in the first covenant. Verse 7 says that the first covenant was not faultless. But then verse 8 explains this by saying, “For in finding fault with THEM . . .” — not “it” but “them.” The fault with the first covenant was with “them.” Well, who was “them,” and what was their fault, and what was this covenant anyway. All those questions are answered in verses 8-9:

For finding fault with them, He says [now he quotes Jeremiah 31:31ff, the prophecy of the New Covenant], “Behold, days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; (9) not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them,” says the Lord.

So here you can see that the old covenant was made with the people of God (Israel); it was made with them as they came out of Egypt, which I think means in that general time period, a few months later at Mount Sinai as Moses received the law; and it was an arrangement of how God and man were to relate that they failed to keep: “they did not continue in my covenant;” and so God looked away from them and they suffered judgment again and again.
The faultiness of the first covenant — the Mosaic law — was not that God gave bad commands, but that the people had bad hearts. There was divine forgiveness and patience in the first covenant (Exodus 34:6-7). There was the call for faith in the first covenant (Numbers 14:11; Hebrews 3:19; 4:6). There were promises of God’s love in the first covenant (Exodus 34:7). But, by and large, these things did not get into the people’s hearts. It was mainly external rather than internal. Obedience by will-power rather than by reliance on the Spirit; and ritualistic rather than personal.
What Was the Flaw in the Old Covenant?
What was wrong? What was the flaw? There are two ways to answer that question. From the human side and from God’s side. From the human side the problem was unbelief and hard-heartedness (Hebrews 3:8,15,19; 4:7). From God’s side the problem was that God withheld the sovereign enablement of his Spirit.
Listen to Deuteronomy 29:4. Moses is speaking as he looks back over forty years of rebellion in the wilderness: “To this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” That was the ultimate reason why the old covenant was inadequate. God had lessons he meant to teach in the Old Testament and they involved enduring generations of stubbornness and rebellion and hard-heartedness until the time the new covenant should come.
But now it comes with Jesus Christ, the Mediator of a new covenant. Let’s read the description of it in verses 10 and 11 (and save verses 12-13 for next week):

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them.

He says three things about this new covenant:

First, the will of God is going to be written not just on stone tablets or white Bible paper, but in the mind and on the heart.

Second, the new covenant will establish a relationship of ownership of us by God: “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

And finally, the new covenant will be personal and intimate. When it is perfected we won’t have to exhort each other to know the Lord, because we will know him intimately and personally. “All shall know me from the least to the greatest.”

We Need God’s Will Written on our Hearts
So you can see the new covenant is exactly what we need if God is going to replace shadows with Reality. If God’s will is that we be free from externalism and formalism and ritualism and traditionalism, so that our faith and our corporate worship and our life can be radically spiritual and personal and internal, then we need more than the blowing away of the shadows of the Old Testament. We need for God to write his will on our hearts. We need for him to assert himself powerfully in our lives as our God. We need for him to see to it not just that he is knowable, but that we know him.
And so my prayer for us this morning and in this Advent season is that we would grasp the preciousness of the new covenant as never before. Christ is the Mediator of a new and better covenant for us. What’s new about it is that it does not leave us in our bondage to sin. It does not leave us in our so-called free will — which is only a code word for slavery to self and sin. The new covenant does not leave us in our vaunted self-determination and death. It sovereignly overcomes our rebellion and resistance and frees us to delight in God and in the will of God written on our hearts.
Christ is the Mediator of this new covenant, according to Hebrews 8:6. What does that mean? It means that his blood — the blood of the covenant (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 13:20) — purchased the fulfillment of these promises for us. It means that God brings about this inner transformation by the Spirit of Christ. And it means that God works all this transformation in us through faith in all that God is for us in Christ. The new covenant is purchased by the blood of Christ, effected by the Spirit of Christ and appropriated by faith in Christ.
The best place to see Christ working as the Mediator of the new covenant is in Hebrews 13: 20-21:


Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant [this is the purchase of the new covenant], even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The words, “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight,” describe what happens when God writes the law on our hearts in the new covenant. And the words, “through Jesus Christ” describe Jesus as the Mediator of this glorious work of sovereign grace.
So the meaning of Christmas is not only that God replaces shadows with Reality, but also that he takes the reality and makes it real to his people. He writes it on our hearts. He does not lay his Christmas gift of salvation and transformation down for you to pick up in your own strength. He picks it up and puts in your heart and in your mind, and seals to you that you are a child of God.
COPYRIGHT 1996 John Piper
(Source: http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper96/12-15-96.htm)