August 11, 2019

New Covenant 2019

Why the Cross


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This morning we are going to take a short detour. Last week, we finally got to the New Covenant. We have spent this year moving through the Old Testament in order to understand God’s use of covenants; so that, we can appreciate the beauty of our New Covenant. Last week, I said…

Jesus blood cut the New Covenant. Just like the animals in the Old Testament, Jesus was sacrificed to create a covenant.

Jesus explained this…"This cup that is poured out for you (my death) is the new covenant in my blood.”  The blood of Jesus opens the New Covenant. Here is the amazing point…

If the sacrifice of animals let the people know God would keep his covenant, how much more will the sacrifice of His son assure us God will keep the New Covenant! We can rely on the covenant of God! 

This is significant! The purpose of cutting a covenant with blood is hope, is trust, is knowing, is assurance, is guarantee… is faith. We can rely on the New Covenant because it was cut with the blood of God! 

This morning, we are going to take a slight detour. I want us to pick up what else happened on the cross. I believe the main purpose of the cross was to cut the New Covenant. I have a friend whose favorite saying is, “That’s the main thing.” The cross opens the New Covenant is the main thing. 

But, I believe other things happened on the cross. Our detour this morning is to quickly look at the other things of the cross. 

Here’s the first other thing

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The Cross Covers Sin

Let’s begin with Noah’s Ark. Noah was commanded to…

Genesis 6:14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.”

The word “cover” in Hebrew is the word… “kaphar”. It means what Noah did with the pitch; it covers. “Kaphar” is used throughout the OT to explain what God does with sin.

Psalm 78:38But He, being compassionate, forgave (kaphar) their iniquity and did not destroy them… 

Psalm 79:9Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive (kaphar) our sins for Your name's sake.

Isaiah 6:7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven (covered).”

Jeremiah 18:23Yet You, O LORD, know All their deadly designs against me; Do not forgive (kaphar) their iniquity or blot out their sin from Your sight. 

Leviticus 23:27Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement… 

Yom Kippur… The Day of Covering. It was the day when sins were covered! The Day of Atonement should be translated as the Day of Covering! 

Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Forgiveness is equated with covering. 

Paul quotes Psalm 32 to explain how this covering idea works in the New Covenant…

Romans 4:5-8 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faithis reckoned as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account."

The Cross covers our sins! This is an amazing metaphor. Through the grace of the cross our sins are covered by the blood of the cross. Picture a blanket; a blood-colored blanket, placed over our sins.  There is a pile of sins. The pile is covered by his blood-soaked blanket. God doesn’t see them anymore. It’s as if the sins don’t exist anymore! On the cross our sins are covered!

Remember the main thing… The cross opens the New Covenant. 

But a big thing is… The cross covers sin.

Let’s look at another “Big Thing” which happened on the cross.

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The Cross Opens the Temple

In the Old Testament when a temple was dedicated it was with lots of blood. When King Solomon dedicated the first temple it was with the sacrifice of several tons of animals! 

2 Chronicles 7:1-5As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the LORD. King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So, the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.

In ancient times all temples were opened with sacrifices. The cross does the same thing! The cross opens the Temple! 

Acts 2:1-4 Then the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

Wait, wait that sounds like what happened when Solomon opened his temple! 

This is one of the New Testament equivalents of the filling of the tabernacle with the cloud and fire or of Solomon’s Temple with the glorious divine Presence. Here is the foundation of the belief that with Jesus and the Spirit a new creation has come into being. Instead of the Jerusalem Temple, Jesus himself and his Spirit-filled people constitute the new Temple. 

--Wright, N. T.

We become the temple of the Holy Spirit by the opening of the cross! Each of us filled with his Spirit is a stone in the New Temple! We form a temple in which the Spirit dwells. By which we can be in the presence of God! 

Hebrews 10:19-23Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

We have access to God in the New Temple opened with the blood of the cross!

Main thing… The cross opens the New Covenant. 

A big thing is… The cross covers sin.

Another big thing… The cross opens the Temple! 

Now, let me share, a powerful thing which happened on the cross.

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The Cross Opens the Power of the New Covenant. 

Listen to one of the most influential passages in scripture…

Philippians 2:1-5So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

We are to have the mind of Christ; the mind which…

Philippians 2:6-8who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The willingness to give up equality to make yourself nothing, like a servant, even giving up your life, is the power of the kingdom.  The power of the New Covenant, is the power of sacrifice!

We have the power to change the world. We have the power to reclaim the world. We have the power to advance the covenant. The power of the cross is the power to transform the world! 

Galatians 2:19-20 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  

The cross opens the power of the New Covenant! 

Let me illustrate this power with a story.

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Less than 70 years before Christ, a slave, named Spartacus, led a revolt. At the time maybe a third of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves. Spartacus, was a Thracian gladiator, who decided he did not want to be a slave anymore. He gathered thousands of slaves together in a revolution. Spartacus was a surprisingly great military leader. He won several battles with the Romans. Two legions were dispatched to deal with the slaves. Spartacus defeated two legions of Romans. Then, 8 legions were sent which Spartacus fought effectively with, but who eventually defeated his rebel army. 

Many rebels were killed in the battles with the Roman Legions. Here is the reason I tell this story. 6,000 rebel slaves were crucified. 6,000 Roman crosses. 6,000 rebels died like Jesus. 6,000 crosses stretched along the Appian Way from Rome to Capua. There was a cross with a dead rebel every 40 yards for 130 miles! 

Here was the point. Don’t mess with Rome! 

--The Cross had a social meaning: “Rome is superior. You are vastly inferior.”

--The Cross had a political meaning: “Rome is in charge! Your people are nothing.” 

--The Cross had a religious meaning: “The goddess Roma and Caesar, the son of a god, are superior to any of your local, petty gods.”

As Jesus of Nazareth hung dying on a cross, as a rebel, all those meanings would have been understood by not only the Roman soldiers, but by all who stood at the foot of the cross. A cross, in Jesus time, was always a Roman Cross. All who rejected Roman authority died on a cross. The Roman cross was the symbol of rule by brutality!

But, in a few short years, the cross changed meanings. 

--The cross became the symbol of a new kind of kingdom; not based on brutality.

--The cross became the symbol of love which transformed the world. 

--The cross became the symbol of Jesus as the Son of God!

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than 

men. 

The cross went from a symbol of rule by brutality, to rule by sacrificial love. 

The cross did a 180-degree change of meaning because…

--The cross opens the New Covenant. 

--The cross covers our sins.

--The cross opens the Temple.

--The cross opens the power of God! 

Wow… that’s a pretty good detour.


Tim Stidham

August 11, 2019

Los Alamos Church of Christ