14th January 2024

Spirit of Grace continued

Passage: John 16:7-11, Ezekiel 39:1-14, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:17-21
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

In our church, we've been learning about the Old Covenant and the move into the New Covenant. And so, history has been divided as far as God's promises, and particularly the covenants that he made with his people, Israel. And both the Old Covenant, through Moses, and then eventually Jesus, through Jesus, the New Covenant was made. But both of those covenants were made with Israel, God's people. Where do we come in as those who are in the church? We come in because in the making of the New Covenant, it was made available on a different basis than that which followed the Old Covenant's reliance on the Mosaic Law. But rather, the New Covenant entrance point was in your attitude to Christ. And Jesus, and belief in him, and trust in him for the forgiveness of sins, was the entrance door. The entrance door into the New Covenant God gave to Israel. And by everybody being invited to come in who were prepared to believe in Jesus, it formed a new body, not just people who were Jews, but a new body, both Jews and non-Jews, anybody, in fact, who was prepared to put their faith in Christ. That's the New Covenant. Now, we've been talking about the move from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. I better ask some questions just to find out whether you're listening, whether people are up to date. Tell me, when did the Old Covenant finish, and when did the New Covenant begin? Tell me what you think as to when the Old finished and the New began. It might have been announced at one stage earlier, but when's the actual turning point that people to get right with God did that through the New Covenant and not through the Mosaic Law? Interesting. Interesting. Interesting question. I hope I didn't twist the question. Here's someone who knows, who has an idea anyway. Go ahead. Just because you've got a beard doesn't mean you know everything. He is given a good piece of information. He said, if you didn't hear it, was when the veil of the temple was torn. And that's true. The veil of the temple got torn by, from the top to the bottom, a very thick thing that people would find trouble tearing. But God did it. That's why the Bible mentions from the top down, it got torn open. The old way of the Jewish temple and all of its requisites finished, and God tore the whole show open. Well, go a bit further. When did that happen? What was the moment that the veil of the temple got torn? Yes? When Jesus died. Yeah, when Jesus died for our sins. Okay, so the old finished at the death of Jesus. Let's talk about Jesus for a minute. Which of the covenants was he under? Give me some answer. Which covenants was Jesus under in his lifetime? Yes, the old covenant. What's your reasoning? You're right. Yeah, all right, because the new covenant hadn't started. Yeah, exactly right. And so Jesus lived part of his life under the old covenant. Anybody wish to venture a reason as to why it was necessary for him to live under the old covenant? What was the advantage in the economy of God for Jesus living under the old covenant before he began the new? There's people, you've got an idea? No? Not very adventurous, the people here tonight. Oh yes, come on, yeah? So he didn't fulfill the law on our behalf? Yes, it has to do with Jesus doing what we had failed. What Israel had failed. What humanity, since we're all fallen since the beginning of the fall in the Garden of Eden. We failed, but Jesus succeeded. And by so succeeding of keeping the law, he made himself to be a sinless sacrifice. Available to God to die on the cross for our sins. So it was necessary for Jesus to be under the old covenant and to prove by his obedience to it that he was the one who could qualify to die for our sins. Did that mean that Jesus only talked about Old Testament, sorry, Old Covenant ideas and Old Covenant standards? The answer to that is no. Jesus actually made himself also a living example of the New. And a lot of his advice was to be what under the New would be the requisites. Did Jesus making statements about how to live and being under the New Covenant, were they easier to handle or harder to handle? Jesus, yeah? Harder. Harder, you're right, but can you give a reason? He went to your thoughts, not just your actions. Yeah, exactly. Jesus didn't just say the outward keeping of the law like the Moses Covenant required, but Jesus addressed even the motives of your heart. He went deeper. I think that's what you were saying, yeah. And so wouldn't that be rather difficult that there's an Old Covenant that everybody's failed except for him, and then there's a New Covenant that he's giving the example of and heading toward and it's going to start when the veil of the temple breaks. Isn't that rather strange that he's introduced a New Covenant that's even harder to keep? Anybody able to answer to me why that is actually not a problem? That Jesus is introducing a New Covenant that's even harder to keep than the Old? Vanessa? I can't hear you. Ah, thank you. She was listening to the Bible reading. Very good. Yes. Because Jesus knew that we couldn't live out the requisites that God actually required. The New Covenant is all about our getting help, our getting someone who's going to be able to enable us to do it. It's not just the icy or cold or legalistic statement of the Old Covenant. It's actually a living person coming to dwell within us and to help us actually to live it out, which is why I'm describing the Christian life. Now, in describing the Christian life, what is it exactly that I'm talking about? What is this helper business? Who can fill that in for me? What is the helper business that makes us able to live out the New Covenant when we're in it? Come on, I was expecting you'd know. Yes? The Holy Spirit, that's right. And the coming of the Holy Spirit to permanently live within people, who got into the Covenant, not like the Old Covenant where the Holy Spirit was about and helping people, but usually they were specialist people and he would come and he would go. Like poor old King Saul who failed and God withdrew his Holy Spirit from helping him. But the Holy Spirit was going to come as a permanent helper in us and that permanent helper, tell me the time of his first arrival and availability. What was the actual time? The time of the helper Holy Spirit's first availability to come into someone's person and help them live the Christian life. No one over there in that learned corner? I would have thought that... The day of Pentecost. Yes, he knew, he just didn't want to say. Yes, the day of Pentecost. And what exactly was the thing going on at the end of which the Holy Spirit was available to come? Tell me what was the very last moment of happening? If you were there listening, what would you be hearing just before that availability of the Holy Spirit to come and indwell you and help you to succeed in the New Covenant? What was actually happening? Did you get that right before by a guess? Can't you add? I don't think so. Say again? Not a bit lost. Oh, well, you've stumbled on the right answer. Yes, you did before. And no one else can tell me what was the actual thing happening for the very first availability of the Holy Spirit to come and permanently indwell a person who's getting into the New Covenant? Come on, you actually know this, yeah? Can we just see, make sure that as far as the habitat is concerned, it's only being kept in the town and still on the people of that place? You are giving a true statement but not answering the question I'm asking. The question I'm... Yes, there's... I need to hear again. The rush of wind and tongues of fire? That was very much just before the occasion I'm talking of, but there's actually some other moment of happening that if you were there cineomographically recording it for people in later years, you would actually have quite a long tape of some particular event that's going on. It's just after what you were describing. There were people speaking in tongues even after that. This is really fascinating. Margie, yeah? Yes? Oh, sorry, yes, go ahead. Ah, that's hitting the nail on the head. The first Gospel message, and by Gospel message, the Gospel had been hinted at and prophesied ahead about, but the actual delivery of a message where people were invited to come and know Christ and get into the New Covenant was given by Peter on the day of Pentecost in which he calls people to come and if they put their faith in Christ they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And that happened, that was the very first Christian sermon and by a Christian. There were sermons that were very Christian-like previously, but this was the beginning actually of the church because the people, and there were 3,000 of them who responded, and got into the New Covenant by coming to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and they received, they were able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Okay, we've actually done very well, and probably I don't need to keep on going on the sermon, but this morning I did want to talk about going from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and I had a list of verses, but I sort of got a bit lost in them and didn't do them very well, so I determined to do better tonight, so I've done one or two of the verses, let's see how we go. So let's turn to, let me see, number two, what was number two? You've got the same order there. Alright, now this is an Old Testament prophecy. In the days of the Old Covenant, God's prophets prophesied a lot about the coming New Covenant, not always using the word New Covenant, sometimes just what God will do, what God will do in the future, sometimes I'd say after this. Anyway, but it says, And I will pour out on the house of David, that's the Jewish people, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so it happened in Jerusalem, as the day of Pentecost did, a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that when they look on me on whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn. Now this is immediately a difficult Bible verse to actually understand and the reason why it's difficult is that the New Covenant period of time is going to embrace from the very beginning at the day of Pentecost through to the moment when Christ comes again. You know when we have Christmas, that's called the first advent. When Jesus returns at the end of the age, that's called the second advent. Alright, there are two comings of Christ. One, Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. Two, when he comes again to judge the world. And that period of time actually encapsulates, although it starts after Jesus has died on the cross as we just talked, but that period of time encapsulates the period that is different from the period of the law under Moses. And this New Covenant time, is a long stretch of time and includes all the things that the book of Revelation talks about. And sometimes the difficulty people have in understanding some of the Old Testament prophecies is when they do talk about what God's going to do in the New Covenant times, it includes going on to all the things that we will read about in the book of Revelation and all the difficult things that will happen in the tumult of people coming just before Jesus returns. There's a very big anger against the Jews. There's going to be the Antichrist. The Antichrist who is angry at the Jewish people as well tries to chase them down because they are going to get converted to become Christians. They'll still be Jews and they will still have on their minds to go and to evangelise even the Jewish country itself. And in that period of time, God says, I'll pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and please for mercy. Now I've got a real question I don't think anybody will answer it quickly. A real good question here. So that when they look on me on whom they have pierced they shall mourn for him. What is that about? So that when they look on me the Lord is speaking when they look on me on him whom they have pierced. What's this language look on me but it's on him whom they have pierced? I'm trying to lead the jury. What does it mean when this prophecy says about Jewish people the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem there's going to come a moment when God will pour on them a spirit of grace please for mercy so that when they look on him on whom they have pierced. Can you interpret that for me, somebody? I can see a few people that I think probably can but they're staying quiet so let others have a go. Damien, I'm sure, he knows what I'm talking about. You can go ahead and tell us. Come on. Well, it's about his second coming. Well, it's about his second coming, yeah. Yep, yep. Okay, exactly, yes. Because before Christ comes back there's going to be an awful lot of hate against the Jews. And there's going to be an anti-Christ. And there's Jews in Jerusalem. Now, he's making a very big important point because what most of us, our modern generation, I'll include me in that, are not very quick to realise is that the Jews have not lived in Jerusalem for very long recently. There was whole centuries where they weren't allowed in Jerusalem where after the destruction of Jerusalem back in 1870 they eventually, after a long period of time they get kicked out of their homeland and there was a saying, I mentioned this this morning, about the wandering Jew. Because Jews were found all around the world wandering from one place to another being persecuted in them all because they didn't have a land to live in. They were kicked out. And they lived all around the world. I can remember being a primary school boy where the rest of the school did not like Jews and used to persecute them. They were little kids. We didn't do anything really bad but Jews were to be picked on. And that was before the time that something very dramatic happened which was God taking the Jewish people back to their homeland and giving it back to them. Now, if you were to take a plane ticket and go for a trip across to Jerusalem today one of the things, especially if you've been brought up in a church, you'd get very surprised at and that is that most of the people living there are neither Jewish in the sense of being Orthodox Jews believing the Old Testament and nor are they Christians. In fact, probably the predominant philosophy that is believed in Jerusalem at the moment is to be an atheist or at least an agnostic or someone that's not one particular religion. There's also a lot of people who are other religions. They're all living in Jerusalem yet some of them are quite fastidious at being Jews because this is their land. They're rather proud of the fact they've been drawn back there. But they're not yet converted. And there's going to be an event that this prophecy is talking about when God does something for the conversion of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. And there's going to be a pouring out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace. Now, what exactly is a spirit of grace? Here's an interesting question just to keep you all still listening. Put your hand up if you've had an experience of there being poured on you grace. Put your hand up if you've had grace poured on you. Come on. More of you than you realise. Grace is when God doesn't treat you as you deserve. When he treats you because of his love. Grace is so connected to the love of God. What is the most famous verse in the Bible that's about God's grace? Someone tell me the most famous verse in the Bible. Come on, anybody. Can't hear you. Four. It begins with four. Four, yeah. So she's inviting everybody else to give the next word. Is that right? . Hey? . Oh. Well, that would be included, yeah, when Jesus appeared to Paul and forgave him and called him. But I was thinking of a more famous verse than even that. It's in fact the most famous verse in all of English Christianity all around the world. And people, no one would disagree. You could type it in on GT, what do you call it, chat thing. Is it GT or IT, whatever it is. You could type it in, what's the most famous verse in the Bible, and you'll get this answer. Check out when you get home, see if I was right. John 3.16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but should have everlasting or eternal life. And that is the most famous verse that people, English-speaking peoples, know about from the Bible. And it is about what God's gift of grace was. That if he sent his Son to die, that you, just by believing on him, would have eternal life. And this is a verse about how it's going to happen to the bulk of people living in Jerusalem. And there'll be a lot of folk there who were previously intellectual, or people who believed nothing, or people who were atheists or agnostics, who are going to experience this sense of grace coming on them from God and which they will have a vision of Jesus dying for them. Notice it says, Look on me, and it's God speaking, but on him whom they have pierced is the one who was pierced by the Roman soldiers. The people who put Jesus to death, the people whose heritage was that their ancestors put him to death, are going to have a time of a period of grace come on them, and they shall mourn for him. As one mourns for an only child because it will break in on them that they'd been longing for their Messiah to come and had always been talking about the coming one, the coming one, but he came and they crucified him. And they're going to be so repentant and so sorrowful that they shall mourn, it's like you mourn for an only child, and weep bitterly over him. As one weeps over a firstborn, it's talking about the conversion time of the people of Israel. And that's going to happen just before Jesus Christ comes back again. I don't know how far before, but it's part of the new covenant time, but the other end of it. The day of Pentecost when people got in the door at Peter's first sermon, that's the beginning of the new covenant time, but the end of it's just before the second advent, before Jesus comes, and the Jewish people are going to become Christians. What will they do on becoming converted to this Christ? What will be one of the activities? Yes? Yes? They witness to the rest of the world. They get a witness to the rest of the world. They're going to get around, and who is going to be chasing them down and help them to death if he can? Who is going to be chasing him down? This is testing if you know any of the things about just before the second coming of Christ. Who is going to be chasing him down? I'm surprised. I think more of you know. I've been trying to get answers out of you. And yes? The Antichrist, exactly. And the Antichrist is a devil-inspired human person, but is indwelt by Satan, and he is trying to present himself as the promised Messiah, but he's a phony, and he wants to take over the world, and he'll hate the Jews and try and get them all killed, but they'll be busy running around witnessing to people. All of this is in the time period of the New Covenant, and that's Zechariah's testimony. I would guess that most of you, this is a bit of a surprise, that some of the prophecies about the New Covenant includes in it about the things to do with those end times, and so I'd better get some proof for you, so you go away saying, yeah, Jim was right. Not that I need to be known as right, but I want the truth to be believed. And so we'll go to Joel. Now, I'm not sure which one is Joel. Joel... OK. Joel 2, 28-32. Oh, you've beaten me to it. OK. It shall come to pass afterward, now this is one of those Old Testament prophecies where it uses the idea of afterward to refer to not the present period of time where the Old Covenant was in force, but in the New Covenant time, so it says afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, old men dream dreams, I talked about this this morning, and your young men shall see visions, even on male and female servants, in those days I will pour out my Spirit. Now, this is a promise that came true just shortly after Peter's sermon when the Holy Spirit was available, because that's what happened, the Spirit got poured out, and indeed Peter so testifies to that being the explanation of what's happening just back then in Jerusalem, and in Acts, we'll come back to this a bit later, but in Acts chapter 2. So turn, if you wish, to Acts chapter 2, and there we have Peter and his preaching, it says in the... is it Acts chapter 2? Oh, is it a quote? It's a quote from Joel, I think. In the last days, Joel had said in the Old Testament prophecy, God declares that I'll pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, and even on my male servants and female servants, in those days I'll pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. Because the existence of prophecy is a part of the new covenant. Now you're saying, but this is a pretty dicey thing for you to tell me, it happens in new covenant days, it should be happening with us, that there be prophecy? Is that what I'm saying? Yeah, I am. And Peter went on to say, and this is very interesting, and I'll show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, and blood and fire and vapour of smoke, sun turned to darkness, moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, that great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Now what's actually happening here in this quote is that the new covenant is not just the new time of the church, full stop. The new covenant is all the time from when the temple curtain got broken, Peter's sermon offering the Holy Spirit happened, and the church was started, and goes right through to the second coming, and all those things in the book of Revelation and elsewhere in Scripture is that what's going to happen right at the end is all a part of new covenant times. And so when the Scriptures, even in the Old Testament times, prophesise of that new covenant, they tell the lot. But it doesn't mean that it all happened at the day of Pentecost. Let's go to Acts chapter 2 a bit further, and I should have us read the appropriate place, if I can only work out what it is. But in Acts chapter 2 what you discover is that the first part of the people repenting and the Jerusalemites getting converted is not yet mentioned. It just mentions that the Spirit comes and the sons and daughters, and they're prophesying. And so we have in Acts chapter 2, oh goodness me, my little method of finding things isn't working. I'll tell you what, can I help myself out of getting you to see this clearly by going to another quote? We'll come back to the book of Acts. But let's go to the John passage that we had read to us as the Bible, reading John 16, 7-11. And here's Jesus, this is getting in the lead up to his being crucified, and he's telling his disciples he's going to die, and getting them ready. And as he begins to talk to them, he talks to them more and more about the Holy Spirit, which they do not have personally living in them. In fact, Jesus says at one time, he's been with you, the Holy Spirit, but not in you. But when Jesus goes away, the Helper is going to come and live in you. Let's read it. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it's to your advantage that I go away. He's going to go away to heaven. He's going to go away when he dies from the tomb, and then rises from the dead and goes off to heaven. But when he goes away to heaven, he says, the Helper won't come to you if I don't. But if I go, I will send him to you. Now tell me about sending. What does that little verb sending mean? It means some distance between the person sending and the person receiving. This is not Jesus in the upper room getting breathed on and him saying, receive ye the Holy Spirit. That was him telling them what was to happen, but, not giving it to them then. He had to get to heaven to be away from them to send the Holy Spirit, the Helper. If I go, see, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment, concerning sin because they do not believe in me or they have not believed in me. And once the new covenant days had been installed, the central message its gospel was, you must believe in Jesus. And if you don't believe in Jesus, you will be damned. There is only one way for the grace of God to reach you as if you put your arms around Jesus and take him as your personal saviour. And if you take Jesus as your personal saviour, then you will be forgiven. But if you don't believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will convict you of your sin because you did not believe in him. Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and the righteousness is the righteousness that he in his perfect sacrifice and he in his perfect living represents in the acceptance that the Father gave to him and that he gets accepted in heaven and what actually happens when you become a Christian is that you get into the acceptance that Jesus earned in all of his righteous living, in all of his obeying the law of the old covenant, all of his going to the cross and all of his being prepared to die for our sins, all of his achievement as the perfect sacrifice, the righteousness of this one. He's called the righteous one. God accepts him. God with a mighty shout accepted Jesus into heaven. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus was the biggest shout God could make of saying, he's my boy. I lift him up and brought him back to life again because that was God's statement to all of eternity that he accepts Jesus and his sacrifice. And Jesus is accepted into heaven and given the highest place and the Bible tells us that when you come and believe in Jesus, you get into his acceptance. You get accepted as belonging to him. He's called being justified by being united to Christ, being justified by being connected to Jesus and he forced open heaven for humanity to be accepted because he was the God-man and he was the one who had lived properly and his righteousness is the righteousness that you get in the door through. And when a person hears the gospel and they're convicted of being a sinner, it doesn't stop them coming to God's grace. He just sets them up ready to take on the acceptance available through Jesus. And because he's the perfect one, because he's the one who's conquered, because he's the one that God has made chief of all individuals of all time, he's the one whose name Jesus now has given the greatest authority in heaven and on earth and you have by coming to him been grafted into all of his blessings and as the Father accepted him, so he's accepted you. And one of the greatest blessings of the New Covenant is to recognise that because of the acceptance of the Father of Jesus, you have been totally forgiven. Your past is totally erased and your righteousness is that which is yours because of your connection to Jesus. And when the Helper comes, he'll not only convince people who haven't believed in Jesus, but he'll speak to people who have believed in him of where the righteousness is found in Christ. And there is nothing more beautiful than that moment, it might have happened to me when I was a boy of nine, I still remember it, of coming to Christ and there being nothing between me and God, no sins, no... I was totally accepted and that sense of belonging to God, being his beloved, from that moment on, I was his beloved just as are you if you have come to Christ, you are someone he accepts because of Jesus. And one of the things the Holy Spirit does in our lives when you let him speak to you is he convinces you of your righteousness in Jesus. I don't know how to say that in a way that it will register, but your righteousness is not you doing all these special things, not you living out the old covenant law, not you becoming a very nice and sweetie twitty person that everybody smiles at and underneath you know you're not necessarily that person, but your righteousness is what you are in him. And it releases you from all the effort some people feel being a Christian is just too hard to be. But when you simply rest in the person that he has made you, the Holy Spirit is the one bringing that conviction to you. He convinces the world, concerning sin and of righteousness, but also judgment. And in righteousness, because I go to the Father and you see me no longer, it's his mission in the heaven to set it up for your acceptance. Well, that's a fantastic thing. And what we get out of the new covenant is enormous. I've actually got more verses, but I think I've given enough for tonight. And it's been wonderful to hear us tracing through when the old covenant finished and when the new covenant began. And the fact that Jesus bridges both. Necessarily so, because he had to live under the old to prove the success of his life in order to be the sinless sacrifice that will allow us to be forgiven. I hope that's been a help. And about the old covenant and the new covenant, especially to realise that the new covenant includes a lot of the difficult things that are going to happen in Israel, which is rather timely to know when you're reading the newspapers or listening to the way you get your news. I still buy newspapers. But how you hear about what's happening in Israel to know that this is getting nearer the times where Jesus may well come. And that we don't have to fear that because we have the righteousness of Christ. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for, Lord, the second attempt for me to talk about the old covenant and the new covenant. And Lord, to get onto some of these verses. Lord, I praise you for the work of the helper. Thank you that he was made available as a part of the gospel message. By believing in Jesus, you not only get the forgiveness of sins, but you get the gift of the Holy Spirit. Lord, if there's someone here who's been saved, who's been struggling as a Christian because they're just not aware of what they've been given, that if they've come to you, we pray the Holy Spirit will speak to them on the inside, speak to them in their hearts that he's there with them. They have received the helper. They may not have known it, but may the Holy Spirit register his presence in their hearts and lives to give them the assurance that he's going to help them with all the sanctification needed, that he's going to help them with their being accepted, no longer fearing non-acceptance, but knowing their acceptance is because of the righteousness of Jesus that the Holy Spirit communicates that we have. Father, thank you for these many lessons and we thank you, Father, that we're prepared for all that the book of Revelation might bring and all the difficulties that we might hear about in the news and whatever is happening with Israel, because we can trust you about all that working out for us. We thank you in his name. Amen.

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