The meaning of the "New Covenant"
E&MS November-October 1991
Q. The New Covenant Church of God also calls itself just the "New Covenant". Does this mean that your Church is the only real Christian Church?
A. No, absolutely not. It is very important that we clearly distinguish between the several meanings given to the term "New Covenant" as these often get confused.
Firstly, the New Covenant is the covenant of the fullness of time, of the consummation of the ages (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 9:26) and is, for this reason, also called the Everlasting Covenant (Hebrews 13:20; 12:28). This does not mean that the grace that brought to pass the Old Covenant (or Law of Moses) is negated (cancelled), but that that grace is brought to its fullest exhibition. In other words, the New Covenant is God's covenant relationship on the higest level of achievement. And it is everlasting because it cannot be replaced by grace on a "higher level" -- it is the fullness of grace.
It is important, therefore, that we see the relationship between Covenant and the Grace of God. A Covenant is not possible without grace -- the underserved loving kindness of God. Covenant and grace are, in a way, inseparable. To enter into a covenant with God and to faithfully adhere to that covenant makes a person the automatic recipient of grace. He gets more than he invests...always.
Every person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and trusts in Him wholly and seeks to be obedient to His commandments through grace, enters the New Covenant as an individual. He has entered that river of grace which is the fullness of all covenants and all grace. He becomes a part of the invisible, spiritual Church -- the "Church Universal" , which we in the New Covenant Church of God sometimes call the Church of the Holy Spirit. That born-again soul enters into an Everlasting Covenant because there is nothing superior to it.
It follows that since not every born-again Christian is sanctified to the same degree that there are, ipso facto, many degrees of grace and many degrees of the New Covenant. To be more accurate, we should perhaps say that to be born again is to enter into a degree of the New Covenant, or Everlasting Covenant. Whereas in the Old (Mosaic) Covenant there were also many degrees of purity and sanctification, this was not an everlasting covenant, and therefore it was unable to mediate the fullness of God's grace which only Christ could do.
We need to also briefly consider the relationship between the Covenant of Abraham and the Covenant of Moses. Chronologically the Mosaic Covenant came after the Abrahamic Covenant, just as the New (or Christian) Covenant followed the Mosaic. In terms of grace, the Abrahamic Covenant was much deeper or higher than the Mosaic one that followed it. The fact that the Mosaic Covenant was a lower covenant than the Abrahamic Covenant didn't cancel the promises of the former. Because a nation (Israel) rejected the Abrahamic Covenant didn't mean that the latter wasn't awailable to individuals. And here we come to our second point.
The New Covenant has both an individual as well as a collective or communal aspect. The national community of Israel was placed under the Mosaic Covenant and never attained the Abrahamic even though certain individuals were certainly living under a fuller grace that derived from the Abrahamic Covenant.
Today there is, in the Christian world, no national covenant. There is no nation upon the earth which is living a single system of laws and ordinances under the government of a theocracy. Many Islamic nations live under various kinds of theocratic law but this law is neither the Old nor the New Covenant. The only major attempt to form a theocratic nation in recent times was Deseret, the kingdom of the Utah Mormons, which was short lived. Today Mormons, and others (like the Jehovah's Witnesses), are, in a way, "nations within nations", having plans for theocratic government but unable to implement them. (The Jehovah's Witnesses are waiting for the Millennium, as are the Mormons and other groups).
At the moment, then, there is no theocratic government in the fullest sense for there is no "Christian Nation" in the sense that Israel was a theocratic nation. Therefore the New Covenant exists purely on a spiritual level.
The New Covenant Church of God is a part of the wider New Covenant and therefore a part of the Church of the Holy Spirit. It is, though, laying the foundation for a theocratic society, a nation, called Zion. In that respect, it is doing the same as Jehovah's Witnesses, Utah Mormons and conservative Reorganized Latter Day Saints (and possibly some others). We are not, however, Jehovah's Witnesses, Utah Mormons or RLDS, or anyone else.
When we, as New Covenant Christians, speak of ourselves as being the New Covenant, we mean the following:
In the first category, we are part of the same reality and covenant as all born-again Christians. We feel very much a part of them even if this feeling is not reciprocated because they do not understand us.
- (1) That we are a part of the same spiritual New Covenant as all truly born-again Christians -- we are a part of them, and they of us, even though they may not perhaps acknowledge that we are;
- (2) That we are the foundation (if we are faithful) of the physical Kingdom of God on earth, a temporal New Covenant called ZION which has yet to be built.
In the second category, we are working along the same lines as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jewish Zionists and others in an outward sense even if we do not feel very much kinship spiritually with any of them.
Taking these two together -- combining the two senses of "New Covenant" into one -- we are rather unique. Our "spiritual-temporal" New Covenant marks us apart from orthodox Christians as it does from non-orthodox "Kingdom-builders". Thus when we call ourselves the New Covenant we mean New Covenant in a unique way, a covenant which noone else has entered into. We do not mean that we are the only Christians who are a part of the New Covenant of the blood of Christ as represented in the Communion or Eucharist (Lord's Supper), for that is the essential (and most important) meaning of "New Covenant". For the heart of the "New Covenant" is the spilled blood of Calvary which anyone has the right to partake in, no matter what church they belong to.
Finally, a word about the New Testament which is called the New Covenant also. The books that make up the "New Testament" are not the "New Testament" or "New Covenant" itself and thus the name is rather misleading; they are, rather, the TESTIMONY of the New Covenant.
Jesus Christ is Himself the New Covenant. Let us be quite clear about that. The Church (whether the New Covenant Church of God or any other organisation) is not -- and cannot be -- the New Covenant for that would indeed be spiritual robbery, even blasphemy. It can, however, be a MANIFESTATION of the New Covenant, or Christ, and that indeed is what the New Covenant Church of God is assaying to be.
We, as New Covenant Christians, are a part of a covenant that we are trying to incarnate in its fullness. We become the New Covenant in proportion to our sanctification as (a) individuals in Christ, and (b) a community or Body in Christ. All Christians are, of course, assaying to do the same thing also, so what makes us different from them? In a general sense, we are no different, being the same fallen, fallible, sinful sons and daughters of Adam as they are. But specifically we have a call that is unique, a call which, as far as we know, noone else has received. This call is embodied in the Five Commissions of the New Covenant Church of God.
That call may, of course, change, or be modified in time. It is for us to live close to the Lord and to be sensitive to His will. Our desire is not to be "separatist" or be "apart" from other Christians but in a sense we have to be because of what God wants us to do. We are an emerging "nation", just as Israel was, except we are under the New Covenant of Christ and they were under the (Old) Covenant of Moses, and have therefore been "set apart" or "consecrated" to do a special job for the Lord. Though we may frequently yearn to be more intimately involved with the wider Body of Christ (every true Christian does), for the time being we live with the reality that we have been called to be separate, though we equally know that one day we will be able to blend fully with all Christians, and we rejoice and look forward to that day. Certainly there should be no desire in the hearts of New Covenant Christians to be eternally "separate" -- how lonely that would be! But so long as we as a people of God are willing to go deeper into covenants with Christ than other Christians, then that separation is inevitable. If seen in this light -- from the point of view of Christ -- then it is not we who separate ourselves from other Christians (for that is far from our hearts) but they who separte from us, because they are not willing to follow Christ as deeply as we are, or are frightened and mistrustful of us.
Having said that, it gives us great joy to see increasing numbers of Christians who are willing to follow Christ more deeply. Each time this happens, we as a Covenant People are able to move one step closer to them, and they to us. And we believe this will increasingly happen in the last days until, as Paul says, we will become "one faith, and one baptism". In the meantime we must not allow sentimentality or loneliness to obscure the real issue, which is to get a sleepy Christian world to awaken to its sacred call, as well as witnessing to the world without Christ that is drowning in sin. The walk of the prophets has always been a lonely one and we, as a prophetic church, must we willing to walk that path of loneliness until the brighter day.
 Sometimes called the "Catholic Church" -- not to be confused with the "Roman Catholic" Church.
This page was created on 6 July 1998
Last updated on 6 July 1998
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