What is the New Covenant?
The New Covenant is God's new agreement with all people, both Jews and Gentiles. The Old Covenant was given to only Israel. The gentiles were not included in the Old Covenant. In order to understand the Bible in context, it is crucial to have an understanding between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. There are other words for a covenant, which are testament, will or agreement. They all mean the same thing. So the words Old Covenant and the Old Testament are synonymous. Read Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 8:6 and Hebrews 8:13).
What is the New Covenant all about? When did it go in to effect? Let's look at scripture and ask some important questions to find out.
The Cross is the Dividing Line of Human History
In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. Hebrews 9:16-17
What is necessary for a will to go into effect?
Does a will go into effect while the one who made it is still living?
What do you think happened when Jesus died on the cross?
Most people would say the New Covenant began when Jesus was born. But from God’s perspective, the New Covenant began at the cross. That is the day that the New Covenant was ushered and replaced the Old Covenant.
This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” Hebrews 9:18-20
How was the Old Covenant put in to effect?
What did God require from the Israelites?
How did they do keeping the commandments God gave them?
The Old Covenant and the Law of Moses was put into effect with the blood animals. God required the Israelites to fully obey the law. If Israel fully obeyed the Law, God would bless them (See Deuteronomy 28:1-14). But if the Israelites did not fully obey the Law, God would curse them. (See Deuteronomy 28:15-68). The Old Covenant is a chronicle of Israel's repeated failure to obey God, of its refusal to keep His commandments and statutes
In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:21-22
What is necessary for forgiveness to occur?
Who shed his blood at the cross?
How many times did Jesus shed his blood?
If there was any further forgiveness needed, what would Jesus have to do? (See Hebrews 9:26 and
At the cross, Jesus took away the sins of the world. It was a one time sacrifice for sins. This is far different from the Old Covenant blood sacrifices of animals, which had to be repeated year after year.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
What did Jesus say when he died on the cross?
What do you think was finished?
When Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross the Old Covenant system of Law and forgiveness was replaced by the New Covenant.
What Was the Reason For the New Covenant?
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people…..Hebrews 8:7-8
Who did God find fault with?
What was the problem with the people?
Could they fully obey the law?
The Israelites were unable to fully obey the law. You and I would also be unable to fully obey the law. Therefore, God had to usher in a New Covenant, which was different from the Old Covenant and not based on following the law. It is instead, based on faith in Jesus Christ.
The Old Covenant and the Law Was Set Aside
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:18
What is the former regulation referring to?
What do you think it was weak and useless to do?
What is the better hope referring to?
What can happen in the New Covenant, which could not happen in the Old Covenant?
You cannot draw near to God by following the law. You can only draw near to God when you know your sins have been taken away completely, which happened when Jesus died on the cross and ushered in the New Covenant.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:18
What enables us to draw near to God?
What do you think the throne of grace is referring to?
When do we need mercy?
The throne of grace happened at the cross, when Jesus took away (not covered), the sins of the world. When we do sin, we can now approach God because we are forgiven of our sins: past, present and future. As a result, we can approach Jesus with confidence and thank him for taking away all of our sins.
“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord. Hebrews 8:8-9
Who was the Old Covenant for?
Will the Old Covenant be like the New Covenant?
Was Israel faithful to the Old Covenant and the law?
Did God turn away from them?
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts, I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive
their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12
List the 4 things the Lord will do in the New Covenant?
The New Covenant is far different from the Old Covenant. It is based on better promises (See Hebrews 8:6)
The Jewish people were given the law. They were unable to keep it. The Gentiles did not have the law (See Romans 2:14). The New Covenant was ushered in by Jesus for both the Jew and the Gentile. The Jew was going to have to let go of the Old Covenant and the law, put their faith in Jesus and receive the good news of the Jesus in the New Covenant. Today, the Gentiles, who did not have the law, can accept Jesus as Savior found in the New Covenant.
You Are a Minister of the New Covenant
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6
What are we competent to be ministers of?
What does the letter refer to?
What does the letter do?
What the does the Spirit of Jesus found in the New Covenant do?
The New Covenant Replaced the Old Covenant
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:8-10
What was set aside?
For what purpose?
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13
What did the New Covenant replace?
How is the Old Covenant described?
The Old Covenant was set aside in order to usher in the New Covenant. And in the New Covenant, and by the cross and we have been set apart and made holy, once and for all.
Unfortunately today, most Christians from a Gentile background have mixed the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. That is why so many Christians today are frustrated and confused about who God and Jesus is. The reason the book of Galatians was written was because of the co-mingling of the New and Old Covenant.
Are you living in the New Covenant or in the Old Covenant?