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The salvation, which we now enjoy, that came by the Grace of God and is accessed only by faith and not by good works, so that no man may boast, is sealed with blood in a covenant between God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In this covenant that is between the Father and the Son, it is the will of the Father “that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, now… that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ… and I will raise him up at the last day.”[1]

Through our faith in Christ and our obedience to the commands of the Father and the Lord Jesus, the Two Parties of this covenant, we are made co-heirs, beneficiaries, of the covenant as well. As in all covenants, the benefits exist as they are stated in the covenant, but the benefits are not handed over to the beneficiaries until certain conditions of due process are fulfilled. As in a will, the beneficiary will not receive what he is entitled to unless he fulfils certain conditions including being able to prove his identity.

God’s Grace may have been pre-existent to ensure that salvation could come by His Grace. However, though God’s Grace has been poured out unconditionally to all who believe so that they can be saved, the benefits of that Grace do not manifest unless conditions are met. That is why many are saved through their faith but do not live or display a life that testifies that they have received the benefits of the covenant. It is like an heir to a fortune still living as a pauper because he has not provided the necessary documents to verify his identity.

Thus, the conditions that must be fulfilled, so that we may live a life filled with the benefits and not bereaved of them, are obedience to the commands of the Two who forged the covenant. From the Father came this one singular command: “Listen to Him!”[2] that is, Jesus, and from Jesus came a multitude of commands such as praying in secret, preaching the Gospel, healing the sick and so on. Many who have faith in Jesus practise various differing amounts of the commands of Jesus, even if they are ignorant of the Father’s command, yet their lives do not show that they have received the full benefits of the eternal life that is theirs now. And the ‘Proof of Life’ that Christ is indeed in them is quite often sadly missing. Even though they carry a Bible, recite its verses and attend the fellowships, the true riches of the covenant are missing, riches that are unique to the Kingdom of God, which always begin with miraculous power, for as Paul wrote, the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.[3] For all the pomp and ceremony, traditions and doctrines, and fellowship and charity, the true hallmark that the Kingdom of God has come upon such believers is sadly missing. That hallmark of the Kingdom of God is miraculous power to drive out demons, heal the sick and perform miracles.

When Jesus first sent out the twelve, He… gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.[4] Again, the first sign that accompanies believers when they preach the Gospel is this: “In My Name they will drive out demons,” and the last sign is, “they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”[5] When Jesus said the Kingdom of God has come upon us, He said, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”[6] Yet we have the majority of believers who are beguiled into ignoring demons and their existence as they happily placate their conscience and do good works that any other person, even an atheist, could do, such as to offer hospitality, visitations of the sick and imprisoned, clothe the naked and feed the hungry.

What remains missing in our daily lives is the constant flow of the miraculous power that Jesus said is ours. So what then is missing that keeps us short of miraculous power? What is missing is true holiness, which is true separation, for the One from whom the Grace first came to fill Jesus full of Grace, gave us a command to be holy, to be separate, to be set apart. That holiness, separation and sanctification was in His command, “Listen to Him!” meaning no one else. He did not say, “Listen to Him, My Son, and the Prophets as represented by Elijah, and the Law as represented by Moses,” when they stood next to Him on that Mount of Transfiguration. No, in full view with the two representatives of the Prophets and the Law present, God separated Jesus out and commanded His disciples to “Listen to Him!” Thus, the failure of the disciples and subsequently the believers to listen only and wholly to Jesus meant that the condition, the first condition of the covenant, was never fulfilled for the dispensing of the benefits. Do not misunderstand me; all who believe in Jesus that He is the Son of God, can still have their names placed on the will and be a beneficiary. Thus, faith avails the salvation that has come by His Grace. But failure to fulfil the covenant of that salvation has meant that many, whose names are included on the list as beneficiaries, have had to live without the true benefits, and like the heir to a fortune, subsist on a much lesser life.

If, however, one does fulfil the Father’s half of the conditions and does listen to Jesus, you will find that the Son’s half of the conditions of the covenant begins with this one word, “Repent.” It is a word He continued to use to His churches in His letters to them,[7] and a word that is sadly missing as a command in the letters of the apostles. Even though they spoke of repentance, they failed to emphasise that need as a command to be obeyed continuously, even in the churches. Though repentance is practised by and large, for indeed some denominations have so formalised repentance that it takes place at certain times in certain places with certain prescribed rituals only, the true purpose of repentance has been forgotten.

Often we think of repentance that we may be cleansed and forgiven of our sins, but we forget our repentance in fact permits God to first forgive us of our sins, and so it gives rise to that one hallmark of God that makes everyone who knows Him fear Him. He is the God who forgives and He poured out His Grace into Jesus so that, through faith in Him, men may receive the salvation that first displays the glory of God that is manifested in His ability to forgive. God isn’t just an awesome God because He is holy, powerful, “compassionate and gracious… slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands,” but He is also God who is “the Lord, the Lord …forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”[8]

So, it is not only sin that He forgives, but wickedness and rebellion, for wickedness came first in Satan’s heart, the wickedness to forsake God and usurp His position, and the sin of pride, which led to open rebellion. For us, sin came because Eve was deceived, but Adam already had the propensity to forsake God, that is, leave God out of the picture when he said of Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”[9] It is wickedness and sin that lifts up and fosters rebellion. Thus, when Adam showed the propensity to wickedness by not even mentioning God’s part in bringing Eve forth, Satan knew that if he supplied the sin, Adam and his sons would join in the rebellion even if out of ignorance.

If God was only “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and maintaining love to thousands,” but unforgiving, then not a single son of Adam would ever experience any of these sides of God, but only the fury of His anger when it does erupt, even though it takes a long time. Even in the Old Testament, forgiveness of sins was already there in that covenant, except that forgiveness was attained only by careful fulfilment of the prescribed sacrifices demanded by the law. In the New Covenant, no sacrifice is demanded for those who wished to have their sins forgiven, no sacrifice at all, only a little mustard seed of faith was needed to move that wicked, rebellious mountain of sin that obstructed us from God’s view – faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus, when we act on repentance because it is a command, and not do it as if it is God’s privilege that we repent, but it is our duty that we must repent, we allow God to be the Person He wants to be, a Person He could become thanks to wickedness, rebellion and sin – God the Forgiver. For God is forever gracious, compassionate, loving, slow to anger, faithful and maintaining love to thousands, and no sin, wickedness or rebellion is needed that God the gracious, the compassionate, the loving God, the God who is slow to anger and God the faithful One, maintaining love to thousands, was what He always was before sin, wickedness and rebellion came. But, God the Forgiver manifested because of the wickedness, rebellion and sin, that which would have remained unproven of God was revealed by the wickedness, rebellion and sin of His creatures. It is as if God moved on into a new phase of His existence, God the Forgiver, and our continuous repentance permits God to continually remain in pursuit and revelation of this hidden quality of Him, God the Forgiver. Thus, the Grace of God permits Him to forgive us because the condition of the covenant that underwrites our salvation begins with holiness and repentance, so that forgiveness would be manifested.

And since it is the purpose of this covenant to not only save the lost through faith, but out of those saved would come the ones who would be raised up to be sons of God in the fullness and stature of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that they would be imitators of God, then it is imperative those imitators have the proof that they are indeed the new creation who came because of a new manifestation of that which had been hidden in God until they came, that is, God the Forgiver. And His imitators must also forgive as well as being powerful, compassionate, perfect, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness and maintaining love.

The one quality that sets the new creation apart from the old so that they can truly be said to be new, is the ability to forgive, for the old creation was made without rebellion, wickedness and sin. The manifestation of these three in the old ensued its destruction and provided the means by which God revealed a part of Himself that was not revealed when He created the old but that which would be needed if He were to bring the new creation out of the old.

God revealed to all of creation that He forgives, that is why He is to be feared and He expects us, the first born of that new creation that came from the Newness of God, to also likewise forgive as we have been forgiven. The failure to do so then leaves those who have begun the process to be birthed into the new creation, limp and powerless, still born as it were, having the feature of a birth but without the ‘Proof of Life.”

To be continued…


 

[1] John 6:40, 17:3

[2] Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 6:35

[3] 1 Corinthians 4:20

[4] Matthew 10:1

[5] Mark 16:17,18

[6] Matthew 12:28

[7] Revelation 2 – 3

[8] Exodus 34:6-7

[9] Genesis 2:23

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