Christian leaders who teach the Old Covenant have a unique ability to make you feel like you are not doing enough. That you are not doing enough to change yourself or to change the world. I mean, heck, are you really loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself!?
When you hear messages such as that, just remember that Jesus taught the Old Covenant. But after His resurrection, the New Covenant went into effect. And as Jeremiah prophesied, the Old Covenant is NOT like the New.
Another burden put on believers by Old Covenant preachers, is that we do not have strong enough faith. As far as I’m concerned, I have NO power in and of myself. And my faith certainly has no power besides the fact that my faith in the gospel has given me the righteousness of God. (Romans 1)
When I believed in the gospel, I was given the power of God. The power of knowing the truth. Not because I “believe” the truth, but because I KNOW the truth. I know the eternal One who dwells inside of my mortal body.
The power that is in me is YOU, Jesus Christ. It is CHRIST living within me.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith… the righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1-16-17)
There are so many voices out there in the Christian world speaking lies, speaking deception. That is why is it always important to return to the simplicity of the gospel: that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and then rose again on the third day.
Let’s continue to put our trust in Him, in the Living God, and in His power that was revealed through the simple truth of the gospel.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6, 35-36, NASB.)
Do you love your enemies? God does. He loves His enemies because He is kind.
“For He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Verse 35)
Is all of your behavior good? God’s is. He always does good. Our attempts at doing good, on the other hand, are called “dead works” (Hebrews 6 and 9.)
How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14, NASB)
Are you a merciful person? Are you full of mercy and compassion and forgiveness toward others? Well, hallelujah! God is! He is the only One who is merciful. That is good news because we really need His mercy!
The first verses listed above, from Luke 6, are part of the famous “Beatitudes,” a.k.a., The Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, trying to get them to see that they needed Him as their Messiah, their Saviour. But the fact is that they had already rejected Him and at that point in the story, they were already planning to destroy Him, to do away with Him. Why? Because, according to them, He “worked” on the Sabbath Day.
Yes. How dare Him, right? He actually walked through a grain field and allowed His disciples to pick wheat and eat it. In addition, He healed a man who had a withered hand . . . on the Sabbath day!!! Shocking, huh?
The Pharisees were like, “You evil unrighteous person! You picked wheat! You healed a man!” . . . uh? Okay.
It’s ridiculous to us, of course. But to them, it was audacious and wrong and against the rules!!!
And yet, all of us, at one time or another were just like the Pharisees. Blind, rule-following, religious, prideful jerks who rejected Jesus and saw no need for His love, His goodness, His mercy.
But . . . I can take a deep breath, take a sigh of relief and rejoice in His mercy to me.
“He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)
I can be thankful today and every day, no matter what my circumstances are, because He has saved me by faith through grace.
I just want to praise Him today and remember that I am NOTHNG like Him. Neither are you, if you’re honest, and that is good news! Because He is God, and we are not.
What is the unpardonable sin? What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? I believe it is the sin of unbelief.
The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that there are two ways to commit the sin of unbelief. The first way is to reject the mercy of the living God. The second way is for a believer to reject the promise of rest.
Writing to his Hebrew brothers and sisters, the anonymous author pleads with them to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
The author illustrates this with the story of the Hebrews who refused to enter the Promised Land. Their sin of unbelief prevented them from entering into the land of Israel, and instead they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
“So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19
God promised them the land of Israel, and they did not believe that He could deliver on His promise. That’s a hefty sin! The author of Hebrews explains that their unbelief was an act of disobedience.
“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18-19
The unbelief of the Israelites was a foreshadowing, and the reality is the sin of rejecting the gospel. To reject the free gift of salvation that is being offered to you today is essentially to tell God, “I don’t believe you. You are not trustworthy.” Again, a very hefty sin.
We need to believe in the gospel and be saved because we all have sin and we all are spiritually dead (whether Jew or Gentile). Believing in the gospel message allows us to enter the true promised rest. We rest from our works of self-righteousness, and we trust that God has done all of the work Himself.
And that is where the second “sin of unbelief” comes in. In chapter four, the author of Hebrews switches his audience and begins to talk to believers. Hebrews 4 is often titled, “The Believer’s Rest.”
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any of you may seem to have come short of it.” Hebrews 4:1
As a born-again believer, if we fail to enter His rest, we have failed to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins. In other words, we are still trying to do work that will make us holy and righteous and good.
Hebrews chapter four explains this in detail.
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11
The land of Israel was a land of rest because all of the homes were already built, the vineyards were planted, the roads were cleared and the wells were dug. The land of the New Covenant is a land of rest for us today because all of the work has already been done. Obedience has been accomplished: God Himself came to earth and obeyed the Law of Moses. Forgiveness has been given: God died on our behalf, so the debt has been paid in full. Salvation is being offered: He redeemed and justified us through His complete forgiveness of sins, and He now offers the gift of life — His Holy Spirit — through His work of resurrecting from the dead.
The great Bob George used to emphasize that the gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15, and that it is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can add nothing to the gospel, and if we do we will be led astray into false doctrines.
If you are an unbeliever, we plead with you to believe in the gospel.
If you are a believer, we plead with you to give up trying to “work for God,” trying to “serve God,” and simply to REST.
We must believe completely that the only thing we can trust in today, tomorrow and next week is his death, burial and resurrection.
Click here for an excellent verse-by-verse Bible Study on the book of Hebrews. Aaron Budjen, a Hebrew himself, has made all of his messages available for free at his website, http://www.LivingGodMinistries.net