“Our confidence in remaining in covenant relationship with God is not [in] our works or our sacrifices, but it in the very spirit of Jesus in our hearts, keeping us in faith.” – Lloyd Kim
Lloyd Kim delivers a message at TGC21 from Hebrews 8:6-13 titled “Christ’s Greater Covenant.” The author of Hebrews makes a case, he teaches, that the New Covenant through Jesus is based on better promises of God than the Old. Those promises he describes as three-fold:
- God will remember our sins no more
- God will write his laws on our hearts, and we will be his people
- All will know him, from the least to the greatest
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Lloyd Kim: Thank you so much, Julius, it is such an honor to be here. So grateful for the gospel Coalition for the leadership, who have founded it. But I can’t tell you how excited I am about the new leadership that Julius Kim brings to the gospel coalition. What a privilege. What an honor it is to be here with you today. If you have your Bibles, could I invite you to turn with me to Hebrews chapter eight. We’ll be reading verses six to 13. Hebrews chapter eight, verses six through 13. This is God’s very own word.
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them, when he says, Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish the new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. Not like the covenant I have made with their fathers on the day when I took them from the by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, for they did not continue in my covenant.
So I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is a covenant I will make with the house of Israel. After those days declares the Lord, I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. They shall not teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. And I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. And speaking of a New Covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is being obsolete and growing old, is ready to vanish away. Amen. This is God’s word whether we are conscious of it or not.
All of our striving and life is really a striving for the acceptance of our Creator, our heavenly Father. You know, the book of Hebrews is not talking to those who are wanting to walk away from God, but those who are wrestling with the best way to draw near to Him, to worship Him, to free themselves of their guilt and their sins. Whenever Ernest Hemingway short stories tells of the Spanish father who wants to reconcile with his wayward son, his son, his adult son had run away to the big city of Madrid. And the father, now remorseful wants to find a way to reach out to a son so he takes an ad out in the L. Liberal newspaper, hoping his son would pick up the newspaper and read the ad and, and in the ad, he wrote these words Pocho that was his son’s name. Pocho. Meet me at Hotel Montana, noon, Tuesday. All is forgiven. Papa, love Papa. Now Pocho is a common name in Spain.
And so when the father went to that square, he found 800 young men named pacco. Waiting to reconcile with their fathers. Hemingway strikes a chord in our hearts with a story does does he not? What child doesn’t want to be reconciled with his father, what child doesn’t want to be forgiven and accepted by his dad? And if this is true with our earthly fathers, how much more true is it with our Heavenly Father? You see, there’s a longing within each of us that desires the affection and attention of our Heavenly Father. The author of Hebrews makes the case that this new covenant through Jesus is the better way to approach God than the old. Why? Very simply because it’s based on better promises.
And so today we will walk through these new covenant promises outlined in Our passage, not only to highlight why they are better, but to believe and to trust in them, as they enable us to draw near to God. So the first promise that we will discuss today is that God will remember our sins no more. The second promise is that God will write his laws on our hearts, and that we will be his people. And the final promise is that all will know Him, from the least, to the greatest. So number one, God will remember our sins no more.
Now, I want to start our reflection on the last promise that is quoted in our passage today of Jeremiah 3131 to 34. What is that promise it it says God will be merciful to our iniquities, and he will remember our sins no more. I want to start with this last one, because it’s this promise that is the basis of the others. So what keeps us in good relationship? What keeps us from being in good relationship with God? Well, that’s our sins, right? Our sins not only make us guilty, being the object of God’s wrath, that also produces shame. And shame makes us want to run away from God and others.
So how did the old covenant remedy this problem of sin? The old covenant remedy was sacrifice. And there were all kinds of sacrifice that would regulate how a person could approach God and be forgiven of their sins. The whole Old Covenant system was built around these sacrifices. a worshiper would bring their sacrifice to the priest, in order to be made clean so that they could approach the very presence of God. And so you see this whole system, this Old Covenant system was built around the need to do something, to bring something in order to be right with God.
But if the sacrifices were not good enough, or pure enough, well, then you could be rejected. So what happens when you’re in a relationship that is based on how well you perform? Early in our time in Cambodia, I had a conflict with one of my teammates. In fact, it was my only teammate at the time it was my wife. You see, I wanted to get on with the mission, hosting short term teams doing train jumping right into the work. While she was still grieving the loss of friends and community left behind. Quite honestly, the transition was was easier for me. So it was so hard for me to understand why it was so hard for her.
One night, she tearfully was pouring her heart out to me, and had said, Lloyd, I don’t know why, but it’s just so hard for me. It’s so hard for me here. I turned her I said, Well, maybe it’s your faith. It didn’t go very well. She got so angry and mad at me said I just wanted you to hug me and say that you love me. And so I tried to hug her but she said nope, stay late and push me away. When our acceptance is based on how well we perform, then we are in constant fear of rejection. This is the old covenant way of thinking. And I dare say it still affects us today. How? When we hear those words, whispered in our ears, you’re not good enough. You messed up again, you’ll never be accepted. We tend to believe them. And then fear ceases us fear of rejection fear of being exposed.
And so in our insecurity, what do we run to? We run to the only things that we can control. Our obedience our works, are sacrifices. And then we appeal to these things to justify ourselves, to silence our critics to prove to others why we are worthy of acceptance and love. This is not life. Slavery and it leads either to self righteousness or to utter depression and despair. So what’s the alternative? Well, the alternative is the new covenant in Jesus Christ, because God promises in this new covenant that he will forgive our iniquities, and he will remember our sins no more. And how can he make this promise because of the once for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross on Calvary mountain. This new covenant was established by the perfect sacrifice of Christ for our sins. And so Jesus, the god, man, who we’ve heard about earlier in this conference, paid in full all of our past, all of our present, and all of those future sins. It removes that guilt, that burden that we he removes the shame. And then he closes us with his robe of righteousness, so that when we come to the Father, we come to his embrace. And to those words, I love you, you are accepted.
Your sins, your failures, all of your mistakes are remembered no more. It is this first promise that sets us up for the other to the second promise. The second promise that we will reflect on today is that God will put His laws in our minds and write them on our hearts and that he will be our God. And we will be his people. Why is this promise significant? Well, because it’s the way that God keeps us in relationship with him. Why did the old covenant fail? It failed not because God failed, it failed because the people failed. God says of His people Israel, they did not continue in my covenant, chapter eight, verse nine. And the old covenant way of remaining in relationship with with God was by keeping the law and keeping the laws what formed the very identity of his people Israel, the nations would know that that he was their God because they kept the Sabbath. circumciser boys ate only kosher food. Well, the problem with this system is that you don’t really have to know God or love God to keep the rules. She was possible to follow the letter of the law, but not the spirit.
And so over time, but with this system breeds? Well, it’s an external religion. It’s a cultural faith. And it doesn’t take too long for people to ask, why are we keeping these rules anyway? Here’s the thing. This Old Covenant pattern of thinking still affects us today. We call it cultural Christianity. Because it is possible to do all things that Christian Christians do go to church, read the Bible, pray, even go on missions without having a genuine relationship with God. This was my story. I was raised in the church raised in a Christian family in the small town where I grew up, there was a church on every block.
Andeven before our wrestling matches at a public high school, all the wrestlers on our team would gather on the mat to pray, can you believe that? And when we prayed, it was always almost always a prayer for protection, but then ended with with and God help us to kick there. Amen. You see, being a Christian in that small town was just like being an American, playing baseball eating apple pie. Everybody was Christian. But nobody was was really Christian. Because at the end of the day, we didn’t have a genuine relationship with God. This is what the old covenant way of thinking does. It it breeds in an external religion, a cultural faith. Well, at the end of the day, it’s not really Christianity.
So what’s the alternative? The new covenant in Jesus promises that God would put His laws in our minds and write them on our hearts. What is he describing? He’s describing the work of the Holy Spirit giving us life giving us a new heart making us a new creation. The prophet Ezekiel announces a similar New Covenant promise. God says in Ezekiel 1119, to 20, and I will give them one heart and a new spirit, I will put within them, I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes. Keep my rules and obey them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. So this New Covenant promise is the gift of the Holy Spirit to all those who belong to Jesus Christ. And that is His Holy Spirit that enables us to keep our relationship with God keep us in relationship with God and guarantees a statement that He is our God, and we are His people.
So our confidence in remaining in covenant relationship with God is not our works or our sacrifices, but it in the very spirit of Jesus in our hearts, keeping us in faith. What is the Spirit doing us? Well, you know, Spirit makes us sons and daughters of God, it’s by the Spirit of adoption, that we can cry out to God our Father. And it’s the spirit that bears in us it’s fruit, love and joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. The Spirit makes us want to be obedient to God. And so this is what makes the New Covenant so much better than the old, instead of breeding this external religion. The new covenant bears and breeds heart change, and a genuine relationship and love for God. And this is a posture that we need to be used by God. And this leads to our third point.
So number one, God promises that he will remember our sins no more. Number two, he promises that he will write his laws on our hearts, and that he will be our God and we will be his people. What is the final promise we will reflect on today, and that is this. They shall not teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother, know the Lord. For all will know the Lord from the least, to the greatest. Now, why is this promise significant? It’s significant because it speaks about our status before God and each other.
You see, not everyone in the Old Testament had the same status. Who was responsible for teaching the people. In the Old Covenant it was the priests. They were the guardians of the law and the gatekeepers of the temple, the gatekeepers of the very presence of God. And it was a priest who appeal to their brothers, know the Lord, keep God’s commandments. But they were also the ones who stood at the doorway of God’s house and determined who could come in, and how far it all depended on whether you were a priests, a high priest, a man, a woman, a Jew, a Gentile, clean or unclean. And so this old covenant made clear distinctions on who was on the inside.
And who was on the outside. How does this Old Covenant way of thinking affect us today? Unfortunately, we still make distinctions in the church. And I’m not talking about biblical qualifications for membership or offices in the church. I’m talking about how we often make others feel like they don’t belong based on unbiblical distinctions. And what has made this worse is, is the tribalism in our culture has unfortunately seeped into our church.
And as a result, we have these official or unofficial gatekeepers who keep those with the wrong political view, ethnicity or gender out in the outer courts of the church, saying yes, you can come but you can only come so far. And it’s become all too easy for us to be absolutely convinced that the person who voted for this candidate or that candidate, those whose views on racial injustice differ from ours or any number of other issues that these people can’t possibly know the Lord. So divisions and distinctions continue. But what’s the alternative? Well, very simply, it’s to believe, the promise of the New Covenant, that all will know the Lord from the least, to the greatest. How through the once for all sacrifice of Christ, because Jesus makes us all sons and daughters of God. And this speaks to our new status.
All those in Christ are members of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, all of us, from the least to the greatest, have access to the throne of grace through Jesus, our high priests. The apostle Paul writes, there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, but all are one in Christ. Galatians 328. And so if God freely and readily accepts us from the least to the greatest, well, shouldn’t we as well? Do we believe that all of our brothers and sisters know the Lord. Diedrich Bonhoeffer in his classic exploration of Christian community life together, encourages us to relate to each other only through the mediation of Christ. And what he means by this is that we should see our brothers and sisters as Christ sees them. And trust that Jesus is working in their life, Bonhoeffer writes, because Christ has long since acted decisively for my brother, before I can even begin to act, I must leave him his freedom to be Christ’s, I must meet him only as the person that he already is, in Christ eyes.
The fact that Jesus removes all the barriers for all people to draw near to God is what makes this New Covenant so much better. It gives us all a new status, new access, and shapes our new covenant community culture, how we even view and see each other. So what do we do with these better promises of the new covenant? We believe them, we trust in them. And then we allow them to ignite in our hearts a deep passion for God and His mission. You see, we cannot walk away from this passage without mentioning the expansive nature of the New Covenant. All people from the least to the greatest, are invited into this new covenant. This is good news. Beloved, this is good news for the poor for the week. For the broken, this is good news for all, who have not yet entered into this better covenant.
Early on, in our time in the Philippines, we hosted a short term team from the United States. And one day we invited the team to come with us to a very poor community that was living right beside these train tracks next to one of our partnering churches. And the Filipino pastor that was with us, led us through this community. And he knocked on one door to a house and we were invited into this small, cramped, one room shack. There are probably about eight people in that family and they were all staring at us as we walked in. And then without warning, the pastor, he turned to me and he said, and now my friend is going to share with you some good news. And I was like, wait, what? share the gospel that we didn’t talk about this. But of course, the short term members were all looking at me and as a missionary there, they were expecting me to do what missionaries do.
And so I took a deep breath and I prayed. And then I stumbled through a gospel presentation. But the whole time there was this very palpable sense of the Holy Spirit there in that room with us. And so when I asked this family if they would like to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they all all of them said yes. And prayed with me. And I know there are times when people just say yes to be polite or to get you quickly out of the house, but this was not one of them. Everyone on the team experienced that same powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, changing lives, drawing this family, to our Heavenly Father. When we walked out of the house, the Filipino pastor turned again to me and he said, Brother, salvation has come to this house. Be encouraged because their names are written in the book of life.
The new covenant promises that all shall know the Lord from the least, to the greatest. And so beloved, if there was ever a time to share good news, it is now on the heels of a global pandemic, with all the racial and ethnic tensions, the political divisions, this, these new covenant promises give us hope of healing, of reconciliation and peace for this life and the life to come. So let us join our Savior, let us declare the promises of the New Covenant. For all who are on the outside, for all who stand in the outer courts of the Gentiles for all who longed to be in relationship with our Heavenly Father, let us call them to come to this better covenant.
Come and receive all the promises, all the blessings, all the status, all the freedom, all the honor all the glory and all the power in Jesus. Because Jesus is the better way, Jesus is greater, amen. Let’s pray. Father, we thank you so much that you have invited us into this new covenant relationship with you through your Son Jesus. We do pray that these promises would dwell in our hearts and our minds and affect us deeply. We pray Father, that the fruit of these promises working in our life in your Holy Spirit would result in the desire to see your name your glory, Your Honor, exalted among the nations. We pray this all to the powerful, faithful name of Jesus, our Lord and covenant mediator, amen.