By: Bruce Telfer
As we approach the end of time, adversity and persecution for Christians is going to increase. The only way we are going to survive, this time of trouble, is if we have a hard and fast, unbreakable, relationship with Jesus. But what is a relationship with Jesus? As Christians we have often heard that we must have a relationship with Jesus. But how often have we been told, what that relationship to Jesus is? Have we ever heard this relationship defined? After all there are many different types of relationships. Every single one of us is in a myriad of different relationships on a daily basis. There are family relationships, friendship relationships, employment relationships, business relationships; we even have relationships with our pets. So, when we speak about our relationship to Jesus, is it like one of these common human, every day relationships, or is it something different?
Asking other people is not a good solution. If we did, we would get a multitude of different answers. The best solution, to finding out how we should have a relationship with Jesus, is to ask Jesus Himself. Jesus answered this question at the Last Supper when he said:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matt. 26:26-28.
A new testament is the same as a new covenant. When Jesus spoke about the new testament, he was telling us that the relationship He wants to have with us is a covenant relationship. If we want to have a relationship with Jesus we have to enter into a covenant with him. This is the way it always has been. Adam and Eve were in a covenant relationship with Jesus. So were all the patriarchs from Noah onward.
In the Old Testament we always find God inviting His people to enter into a covenantal relationship with Him. Why should the New Testament era be any different? And in fact it is not different. Yes, the New Testament speaks about a new covenant, and because there is a new covenant many assume there must be a radical difference between the old and the new. But there is no difference. The Old Testament covenant and the New Testament covenant are exactly the same (except for the fact that the ceremonial law has been abolished). The only reason that a new covenant was necessary is because the people did not keep the terms and conditions of the covenant. The fault was with the people – not the covenant (see Heb. 8:8).
A covenant is an agreement or a contract between two or more people. Attached to the contract are terms and conditions that all parties that enter into the contract agree to. If we look at the Mt. Sinai covenant/contract we can identify what the terms and conditions were:
And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words. Ex. 24:7, 8.
Here we see the components of the covenant. God offers the Israelites His covenant on the basis that they keep the law (the law being the terms and conditions of the covenant). The people agreed to the terms and conditions, but we know that they failed to keep the terms and conditions. Therefore, the Mt. Sinai covenant failed. But it only failed, because the people failed.
However, God is never thwarted. What He has promised to do He will accomplish. He promised that He would rectify the problem by entering into a new covenant with His people (see Jer. 31:31-33). He also promised that he would cleanse His people, by removing the stoney heart from His people, and by giving them a new spirit, which would enable them to keep the law.(see Eze. 11:19, 20; 18:31; 36:25-27). All of these promises were achieved at the Cross:
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. Heb. 8:6-10.
Many people want to have a relationship with Jesus as the Lamb. This is an easy thing to do - it is a matter of acceptance – it requires little effort on our part. But Jesus is also our King. How do we have a relationship with a King? That’s right, we obey Him. This is a much more difficult thing for us to do. This is why the Israelites failed at Mt. Sinai. But the law has now been lifted off the stone tablets and placed in our hearts. At Mt Sinai the people looked at Jesus on the mountain and they were afraid of Him. At the Cross we look at Jesus and we learn to love Him. Love enables the law to leap off the stone tablets into our hearts. At Sinai, the people agreed to keep the law, because they had to. At the Cross we keep the law because we want to. This is the only difference between the two covenants.
What Jesus accomplished as the Lamb enables us, or gives us the right, to enter into covenant relationship with Him. When Jesus acts as our King he carries out His covenant obligations/promises to be our God. In other words, He defends us, He wins our battles for us, He brings us through all adversity, and rewards our faith and steadfastness.
If we want to survive the adversity and persecution that is coming upon us, we have to have a relationship with the Lamb and the King – not, just the Lamb. To be continued: ‘The Will of the Father’…