The New Covenant Commission
May 28, 2015
This past week have seen further developments in the progress of the Kingdom, along with some new insights and revelations.
We have already seen the transfer of authority last October from the beast nations to the saints of the Most High, followed by the coronation of the overcomers at Passover last month. Now at Pentecost, May 24, 2015, we saw the commissioning of the overcomers for the work ahead. This was accompanied by some helpful insights that provide some guidance and understanding of this particular message.
At the forefront was a fresh look at Pentecost itself. This day did not represent the coronation, as it did with King Saul and even with the church at the start of the Pentecostal Age. In our time, the coronation was at Passover during the time of Unleavened Bread, following Jesus’ pattern (what might have been, if He had been accepted at that time).
I had a fresh revelation of the difference between the first Pentecost under Moses and the second in Acts 2. These two Pentecosts were similar in many ways, but they had one important inherent difference. The first was given to establish the Old Covenant, while the second was given to establish the New Covenant. Both Pentecosts established a covenant, but the covenants were different.
The first, being the Old Covenant, involved man’s vow to God (Exodus 19:8), whereas the second was God’s vow (promise) to all men. Anticipating the second covenant, Jesus told His disciples (after His resurrection) that He was “sending forth the promise of My Father upon you” (Luke 24:49).
On the surface, this was a promise to send forth the Holy Spirit. However, the gift of the Holy Spirit was not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The Holy Spirit was sent in order that God could fulfill His vow according to the New Covenant. Without the Holy Spirit, the people could never become what God said He would make them to be.
And so in Galatians 4:23, while discussing the two covenants, Paul says that “the son by the free woman (was born or begotten) through the promise.” This contrasts with the son of the bondwoman, who was born (or begotten) “according to the flesh.” Paul says in Galatians 4:28, “And you, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” In fact, Paul goes further by saying in Romans 9:8,
8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants [or “seed”].
In other words, the vow in Exodus 19 could never make anyone a child of God. To be a child of God required the New Covenant, by which God (by the agency of the Holy Spirit) begets a new creature in us by the seed of the incorruptible word (1 Peter 1:22-24). This is spiritual seed, not fleshly seed. Those who elevate the fleshly seed of their parents (back to the first Adam) and attach that seed to Sonship are yet “children of the flesh.”
The Old Covenant required a fleshly vow to be established, and it could only remain effective if those men actually fulfilled their vow, remaining sinless to the end. Obviously, since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), even after they professed Christ, salvation was not possible through the fleshly covenant.
For this reason, Paul wrote his gospel to the Galatians, telling them of the futility of the Old Covenant. Not only for those remaining in Judaism was it impossible to fulfill the Old Covenant vow, but also for those believers in Christ who wanted to return to the Old Covenant. Adding Jesus Christ to the Old Covenant (by requiring circumcision, the sign of the Old Covenant) was not the will of God. So Paul says in Galatians 5:2-4,
2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Those who “receive circumcision” are those who demand that men be circumcised in order to be in a covenant relationship with God. Fleshly circumcision that is done as a religious rite is an act that adds one’s name to the list of Israelites in Exodus 19 who vowed obedience under the Old Covenant. It remains in force unless one repudiates it and comes by faith under God’s vow, which is the New Covenant.
In other words, one cannot simply add Christ to the Old Covenant, thinking that this enhances one’s relationship with God. In fact, this is the danger that people face in the “Hebrew roots” movement. Looking for Hebrew roots can be very good when people study Scripture, but many cross the line and attach themselves to the Old Covenant, and this is not so good. They do not understand the progression of divine revelation, because they have not been taught the core difference between man’s vow and God’s vow.
The point is that there are two Pentecosts: one that establishes the Old Covenant, involving man’s vow to God that men attempt to fulfill in order to keep their word; and the other that establishes the New Covenant, involving God’s vow to man that is received by faith as God keeps His word.
The problem is that in Acts 2, what was meant to establish the New Covenant became another Old Covenant vow as Christian theology progressed in time. It blended the two covenants in a new combination, as if the promise could come by the will of man. Christians added Christ to the Old Covenant, thinking that the Holy Spirit would assist them into become perfect and thus fulfill men’s Old Covenant vow.
Church opinion was that the Jews failed to keep the Old Covenant vow because they did not have the Holy Spirit, while the Church could indeed keep the Old Covenant vow through the power of Pentecost. This type of Old Covenant Pentecostalism was based on the same fallacy that Paul warned of in his letter to the Galatians. You cannot simply add Christ to the Old Covenant. You cannot say that the Holy Spirit will assist your flesh man to become perfected and thereby attain immortality. No, the Holy Spirit begets an entirely new creation man within you, allowing the Old Man of flesh to die and the New Man to receive life.
So Pentecost of 2015 brought me into a clearer revelation of the New Covenant by which we are being commissioned to the work ahead. In order to accomplish that work, we need to regain the New Covenant message that Peter and Paul presented. Peter had a more difficult time wrestling with this new concept, but in the end, he shows in 1 Peter 1:22-25 that he understood this clearly. We are begotten as sons of God by spiritual seed, not by fleshly seed, “and this is the word which was preached to you.”
Likewise, John 1:12, 13 shows that the beloved disciple also understood this:
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born [begotten] not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
Becoming children of God is not by the will of man, but through God’s will. This is an inherent distinction between fleshly begetting and divine begetting. One uses fleshly seed to beget fleshly children, while the other uses spiritual seed to beget spiritual children. Further, Paul says that only the spiritual children are the true sons of God and heirs of the promise.
It is essential that we grasp this clearly in order to do the work that we are now commissioned to do. We are called and commissioned to fulfill the divine plan that was clearly presented to Abraham himself, when God told him, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). We are being commissioned to bless all families of the earth. Many fleshly people believe that they are called to fulfill this commission, but they have no such calling, because they are not children of promise, but of the flesh.
At the Pentecost meeting in Dallas, I taught on the meaning of tsedeqah and tsedeq (i.e., Zadok). The words are usually translated “righteousness,” but tsedeqah means “righteous acts,” or what comes from tsedeq. The outworking of a righteous heart involves many things, but much of it is covered by two ideas: fulfilling what you promise to do, and generosity. (“Tsedeqah” is what beggars shout to passersby in the Mideast.)
A righteous God does “righteous acts” (Revelation 15:4). In other words, he fulfills His vow that He made under the New Covenant. Furthermore, He is a generous God, kindhearted and benevolent, full of love and joyful giving. He is not the stern, mean God that so many have thought. He is not stingy with His salvation, but is indeed the savior of all men.
In order to fulfill our commission, it is important to understand the righteousness of God and His righteous acts. We are not to go out with a message of loveless sovereignty, as the Calvinists do. Neither are we to present Him as a God who is too weak to overcome man’s will. The key is to understand both Romans 5 and Romans 9, so that we know the God of Love who is also sovereign. Further, He is wise enough to devise a plan for humanity that actually works, a plan that does not lose most of humanity.
If we have this understanding—or at least obtain this understanding in the days ahead—then we will be effective apostles of the New Covenant in the work that lies ahead.
Dr. Stephen Jones