The Covenant of Joy
This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
Next week will be my fifteenth anniversary as an ordained presbyter in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.). I have been blessed by God to preach most Sundays during those same years. I love preaching and one of my favorite topics is the blessings of the new covenant (Heb. 7:22). The New Covenant gives me a unsurpassed security in my relationship with the Lord: I do not have to fear being rejected, discarded, or ignored by God. The new covenant gives me and you a security that no other person, document, or event can provide.
What makes the New Covenant better than the Old? The New Covenant secures the promise of an indwelling Holy Spirit who by his mighty power will produce an obedient and holy people of God. In the New Covenant, God promises that he will keep us by his divine power, therefore we need never to fear losing our salvation (Eph. 1:13-14).
The new covenant is an eternal binding promise that God in Christ will love each believer and never let them go (John 10:25-30, Isa. 49:15-16). The new covenant is God’s promise that he will pursue us and woo us and guide us and change us so that we as believers will follow him all the days of our lives (Jer. 32:38-41). Not only does God commit himself to keep us, but he places his Holy Spirit in us as a seal to the deal. The Holy Spirit becomes a deposit guaranteeing our final salvation upon the Second Coming of Jesus (2 Cor. 1: 18-22). Therefore, we need no longer to be sin-conscious, self-conscious, or performance-conscious, we are now free to be fully conscious of Christ and all the benefits he has provided for us in the Cross (Eph. 1:3).
Here we have arrived at the central mystery of living the Christian life. Christ has died for our sins and risen from the dead. Because of his blood and righteousness we are forgiven and counted righteous by God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9; Rom. 5:19). Therefore, Christ has become the Yes to all God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Everything promised by the prophets for the new covenant has been purchased for us infallibly by Christ. These new-covenant promises include, “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart . . . so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6); and, “I will put my law within them . . . on their hearts” (Jer. 31:33); and, “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek.11:19); and, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezek. 36:27).
All of these new-covenant promises have been secured for us by Christ who said at the Last Supper, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The blood of Christ obtained for us all the promises of the new covenant. But look again at these promises. What distinguishes them from the old covenant is that they are promises for enablement. They are promises that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We need a new heart to delight in God. We need the Spirit of God whose fruit is joy in God. We need to have the law written on our heart, not just written on stone, so that when it says, “Love the Lord with all your heart,” the Word itself produces the reality within us. In other words, we need the gift of joy in God. Left to ourselves, we will not produce it. That’s what Christ bought for us when he died and shed the blood of the new covenant. He bought for us the gift of joy in God.
John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 52.