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Lesson 10: The New Covenant *

Introduction: All this quarter when we have bumped into the topic of the "new covenant" I have asked you: "Is it really new?" If not, what is it? If it's not new, why would God call it "new?" Our lesson this week is devoted to the topic of the new covenant, so let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. New Covenant


    1. We have been discussing covenants all this quarter. Let's review a moment. What is a covenant? (A contract, an agreement, mutual promises.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 31:31-32. At the time of this writing, had God yet made a new covenant with His people? (No. He says a time is coming.)


    3. Is the new covenant like the old covenant? (Verse 32 says it is not like the old covenant.)


      1. What is the old covenant? Is there any way to identify it? (It is the Ten Commandments because it is identified as being given during the Exodus from Egypt.)


    4. What did God envision would be different about the new covenant? What was wrong with the old covenant that needed fixing? (Verse 32 tells us the problem was that the people did not keep their side of the covenant, their side of the contract.)


      1. Let's stop just a minute and consider this. Assume I agree to sell you my car and you agree to pay for it. I hand my car over and you do not pay me as promised. Is there anything wrong with my car? (No.)


      2. It turns out you still want my car and I still want to sell it to you. Since you breached the old contract with me, I say we need a new contract. Because it didn't work last time, I say "Our new contract cannot be like our old contract." What should be changed in the new contract? My car or the way you pay for it? (The way you pay for it.)


    5. Read Jeremiah 31:33. What does this suggest is changed in the new covenant? The Ten Commandments or how they are obeyed? (God still writes of his "law." What is new is the way the people obey the law. In the parallel to our car discussion, it would be the way the person pays for my car.)


      1. How is obedience to the law changed? (God says "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.")


        1. What does that mean?


    6. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Whoa! Remember two weeks ago we studied the story about the Jewish leaders challenging Jesus to identify the greatest commandment ( Matthew 22:34-38)? You remember Jesus' answer? Turns out Jesus' answer is found right here in Deuteronomy 6:5. What other "new truth" do we find in these verses? (The "new" part of the "new covenant," that the law should be in our hearts, is exactly what God had in mind for the "old covenant." This is a point we discussed several weeks ago.)


      1. Read Deuteronomy 6:7-9. Is this God's prescription for writing His law on their (our)hearts? On the hearts of our children?


        1. Or, is this just something that should be done in addition to writing the law on our hearts?


        2. What obligation do we have to do this today? (This is a logically difficult area. If you agree that verses 5-7 apply to us today, why not verses 8-9? The correct answer cannot be "because if we did this tying stuff we would look like dorks." We will get back to this issue later.)


  2. The "New" in "New Covenant?"


    1. So, after all this, what do you think, is there anything "new" in the "new covenant?" While I recommend that you read all of Hebrews 7, let's specifically read Hebrews 7:18-19 and 22-26. What does this suggest about the Ten Commandments? (They are called (v.18) "weak and useless.")


      1. This sounds much different than what we have been reading. Why does this text say the Ten Commandments were weak and useless? (They did not make us perfect.)


      2. What does make us perfect? (Our permanent High Priest, Jesus.)


      3. What does v.22 mean when it calls Jesus "the guarantee of a better covenant?" (This is the most important point. Remember, we needed a new covenant because we didn't keep the law, we didn't "pay for the car" in our example. Jesus obeyed the law for us. He thus became the "guarantee" that this time around we would be able to keep the law. Do you see how a regulation is useless if you do not observe it?)


    2. Read Matthew 5:17-18. What part of the Ten Commandments was done away with under the new covenant? (None of it.)


      1. Why would you leave it in place if it is "weak and useless?"


      2. What does Jesus suggest is the "new" in the new covenant? (This is extremely blunt talk by Jesus. He says that none of the law is abolished because of His life. Instead, Jesus tells us that He came to fulfill the law. What is new is the fulfillment.)


        1. What does it mean for Jesus to "fulfill" the law?


        2. Read Romans 3:20-24. This text tells us that the law testified about something. What is that? (A righteousness from God.)


        3. Is this "righteousness from God" the fulfillment of the law? (Yes! Remember the problem is that the people could not pay for the car. Romans 3:20 essentially tells us that they never could have afforded the car - they never could have kept the law. Instead, the purpose of the law was to make them (us) conscious of sin. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law by living a perfect life. Once the law is obeyed, it no longer is weak and useless. Because of God's grace ( Romans 3:24) we can be justified because Jesus has redeemed us from our sins. Praise God!)


    3. Let's go back a minute to Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Do we have a better answer now about why we don't do this tying on the wrists stuff? Do we have a better answer than we don't want to look like dorks? (Notice that it was the law that was tied to their hands and forehead. Since Jesus has now fulfilled the law, if we should be tying anything to our hands and foreheads it should be the symbol of what Jesus has done for us: the cross. Jesus is our new reminder of the importance of the law. Jesus' sacrifice is what puts the law in our hearts and our minds.)


    4. Read Hebrews 10:8-10. What is the "first" that has been set aside by the "second?" (This is an important part of the new and old covenant discussion. Part of the old covenant was the system of animal sacrifices that pointed to the sacrifice that Jesus would make. When Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then died in our place, He forever fulfilled and ended the system of animal sacrifices. He fulfilled the requirements of the law. This is at the heart of the new covenant.)


      1. Read Hebrews 10:3-4. Why did they have animal sacrifices under the old covenant if they did not take away the sins of the people? (The animal sacrifices not only reminded the people of their sins, they foretold the sacrifice of Jesus.)


      2. We have now released you from tying the law to your hands and your forehead to remind you of the law. We have released you from sacrificing animals to remind you of your sins. What, under the new covenant, has taken the place of these reminders? (Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The Lord's Supper (Communion) is the symbolic way we are reminded of the importance of the law and Jesus' fulfillment of its requirements.)


    5. What importance is left to the Ten Commandments after this? (Read Matthew 5:19-20. If you are reading this lesson because you are teaching it to others, Jesus' words are for you. Nothing in this lesson eliminates our obligation to try to obey the law. What is eliminated is our obligation to keep the law in order to obtain salvation.)


    6. Friend, Jesus has given you a way to "pay for the car," a way to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Will you accept what He has done for you by accepting Him as your Lord and your Redeemer?


  3. Next week: New-Covenant Sanctuary.
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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