Recently, I experienced an event which was, to say the least, life changing. No! I’m not writing about the new birth, which was also, most definitely, life changing, entailing a changed heart attitude.
I am alluding to heart surgery requiring a triple by-pass. The heart that beat in my chest 5 weeks ago is now substantially altered, with three grafts made from a vein in my right leg supplying blood to the required parts. During these weeks I’ve been given a new lease on life, experienced the prayer fellowship of brethren world-wide, and an assurance of the Lord’s presence, of His being “with me” such as I have never known previously. I was given a peace which I would have loved to give to many who were worried about my condition.
I’m not sure why, but whilst thinking of these events, I’m drawn to think of things such as new wine skins, and the fact that new wine was never placed in old wine skins, simply because the old skins could not contain the pressure of the new wine, and would burst.
The old veins around my heart could not do the work required of them, and despite having led a life conducive to good heart health, other factors such as heredity came into play. My paternal grandfather died from a heart attack, my father had a heart attack and eventually died from the consequences. My mother suffered similarly.
I consider that, to all intents and purposes, because I had no damage to my heart muscles, I now have a new heart, reconditioned with sound blood vessels, but not simply patched up, like an old wine skin.
The New Covenant is very much like these new blood vessels. It is NEW, not the Old Covenant patched up. It is new because of the New Covenant Person (Isaiah 42:6) who is the New law written on the heart by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.
Here is “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”, Christ dwelling in us by His Spirit is our New Covenant Law. (Jer. 31-34)
Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Covenant and then as our New Covenant Person He revealed what was hidden in the Old Covenant types and shadows in the light of His person and ministry . He did not come to abolish the law or the prophets but to fulfill them, to meet all the requirements and expectations of the Old Covenant as it was given to Moses (Matt. 5:17) Hence His cry from the cross, "It is finished!"
He made concrete, and gave reality, to what the Old Covenant foreshadowed, and could never achieve (Heb.8:7).
It foreshadowed a people who would function by the power of the Holy Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and who are directed and caused by the Spirit to be lovers of Christ, and of each other.
This is the evidence of a changed heart which Jesus spoke of to the old Pharisee, Nicodemus (John 3:3). This is a radical life change. It is New wine requiring New wine skins to contain the absolute newness and power of a life motivated by love towards the One who took our covenant place before the justice of God, and our brethren.
You and I are "in Christ", if we are as Jesus soke to Nicodemus, "born again", and as such we are a "new creation " as Paul told the Galatians in 6:15. Our relationship with God through this "new birth" involves much more than"becoming a Christian" or "joining a church."
We are spiritually new, the spiritual offspring of the Father, born as a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor.5:17). We are part of a new humanity that is only marking time in this world as we know it. In Christ we have been baptized into one body by one Spirit, which is not governed by man's laws of organization, but by the life and nature of the New Covenant Person who created it.
Our hope of righteousness puts no weight in personal acts of piety but in the changed heart that has been placed within you. And, as I was promised as a young man, "He who began the work in you will finish it to the praise of His glory".
Our very existence as God's children, is in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Our citizenship is in heaven, ". . . we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). As the book of Hebrews, makes clear, we have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem and to the heavenly assembly, the church of the firstborn (Hebrews 12: 22-24). The New Covenant requires a circumcision made without hands (Colossians 2:11) and a new heart in the Spirit (Romans 2:29), not the flesh.