Jesus, the fulfilled covenant

537 jesus the accomplished bundOne of the most consistent arguments among religious scholars is, "Which part of the Old Testament law has been abolished, and which parts are we still required to keep?" The answer to this question is not "either or". Let me explain it.

The old federal law was a complete package of 613 civil and religious laws and regulations for Israel. It was designed to set it apart from the world and to lay a spiritual foundation that leads to faith in Christ. It was, as the New Testament says, a shadow of the coming reality. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, has fulfilled the law.

Christians are not under the Mosaic law. Rather, they are subject to the law of Christ, which expresses itself in love of God and fellow human beings. "I give you a new commandment that you love one another as I have loved you, so that you may love one another" (Joh 13,34).

During his earthly ministry, Jesus observed the religious customs and traditions of the Jewish people, but with a flexibility that often surprised even his followers. For example, he angered the religious authorities by the way he treated their strict rules of observance of the Sabbath. When challenged, he declared that he was the Lord of the Sabbath.

The Old Testament is not outdated; it is an integral part of the Scriptures. There is continuity between the two wills. We can say that God's covenant was given in two forms: promise and fulfillment. We are now living under the fulfilled covenant of Christ. It is open to all who believe in Him as Lord and Savior. It is not necessarily wrong to follow the rules of the Old Covenant, which refer to the specific forms of worship and cultural practices, if you wish. But doing so does not make it more just or acceptable to God than those who do not. Christians can now enjoy their true "sabbath rest" - freedom from sin, death, malignancy and alienation from God - in the relationship with Jesus.

This means that the obligations we have are obligations of grace, ways of life in and among the gracious promises of the covenant and its faithfulness. All such obedience is the obedience of faith, trust in God, to be faithful to his word and to be faithful in all his ways. Our obedience is never destined to favor God. He is gracious and we want to live so that we receive his grace, which is given daily in Jesus Christ.

If your salvation depended on your fulfillment of the law, you would be doomed to failure. But you can be thankful, Jesus shares with you his fullness of life in the power of his Spirit.

by Joseph Tkach