REFORMATION SUNDAY
“Where are you living BC or AD?”
October 29, 2000

Jeremiah 31:31-34

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Introduction:   Although Jesus Christ is the author of the New Covenant; which is His new plan and way of living, there are many in the church today who are living under the rules and regulations of the old covenant.  How is this possible?  These people choose to live and move in the Old Testament although they often claim that  they are New Testament people.  The question for us then to consider this morning is: “how do we keep ourselves living in the New Testament?” 

Ironically, it is in the Old Testament lesson, appointed to be read in churches on this Reformation Sunday that will help us to remain New Testament and new covenant people.  This lesson will help us make the transfer from the old covenant to the new covenant.  It will help us live under God’s new order.  Let’s examine this new covenant which was promised by the prophet Jeremiah and fulfilled by Jesus Christ. 

Again, recall our question for today; in which era are you living?

I.      The Old Covenant

A.   It was a broken covenant – “which they broke” v.32 The history of God’s people under the old plan and the former way of doing things is that they broke the agreements which God had established over and over again. They broke the covenant because they were in constant rebellion against God. Because they could not keep the commandments the people were living in open rebellion against God. Try as they might they could not live the perfect life. So likewise, those who try to come to God on their own terms are only fooling themselves. We can not come to God trying to reach perfection. It will not do. We can not come to God on our own no matter how hard and gallant the effort.

B.    It was an external covenant – “which I made with your fathers” v. 32 The old covenant will not do because it was made only with one race and class of people. The people of the old covenant had to be born into the covenant.  If you were not of the race which God had determined that He would bless mankind was out of luck. The covenant of the Old Testament was a closed covenant. It was only for one group of people. It was a covenant of class and of privilege. It was a right of birth.

Today people try to live under the old covenant when they come to believe that only their church and their opinion is the correct one. True God’s ways are known in the Scriptures, which are clearly marked. We need to follow those precepts. But we dare not think that our way is God’s way, or that because we are found to be from a certain group that we have become “the frozen chosen people of God" Remember John the Baptist’s words as he responded to the comment “we are Abraham’s seed and of a chosen class”. He said: “…and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” {Matthew 3:9}

Then, there were the people from our Gospel lesson: “They answered Him, "We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, 'You shall become free'?" { John 8:33}  To this Jesus responded: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”  {John 8:34-36}

C.   It was a taught covenant – “each man taught to his neighbor” v.34 No one could know God personally under the regulations of the old covenant.  Each had to be taught. The relationship of the old covenant was a taught and learned religion. The people could know about God but they could not know God personally.

Transition:  That is why Jesus came that we might know Him, to have fellowship with  Him and to understand Him.  Jesus said: “ I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” {John 10:10} It is this new covenant which truly sets us free to be the people of God. 

II.     The New Covenant

A.  Heart – “I will write it upon their hearts” v. 33 The old covenant only went to the head. This new covenant is centered at the heart. Jesus came to make a change in us. He came to give us a real deep and personal relationship with Him. This covenant is aimed at the heart. Now God dwells within me, personally, and in a close intimate way.

B.  Mind - “they shall all know Me” v.34 Under the old system people could know many things about God but they could not really know God.  Now we can.  We have been renewed in the mind by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Now we have all that we need to really know God.  Our will is not fashioned according to His will. His plan becomes our plan. His way of living now becomes our way of living because we have been renewed in the mind. Because of the new covenant each of us can now know God.

C.  Soul – “I will forgive their iniquity” v.34  With this new covenant there is now the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven – period! We have been set free from the powers of sin, of death and of the power of the enemy.  Jesus has said “once you know this truth, it will set you free!” We are truly free because God has forgiven all of our sins and He remembers them no more!

Conclusion:   This new covenant which Jeremiah promised that God would make has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  There is no need to rewrite another covenant. This covenant is once that will last for all time. We renew this covenant every time Jesus comes to us in His Word and where His Word is connected.  The father renews His covenant each time the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. It is renewed every time we witness a baptism and renew our own baptism.  We are new covenant people. Live under this freedom today and every day.  In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria+