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Home The Light Articles from 2001 The New Covenant and the Great Commission

The New Covenant and the Great Commission

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The New Covenant and the Great Commission

by C. O. Etheredge

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28).

"Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all..." (Heb. 10:9-10).

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16).

Thus we understand the word gospel simply means "good news" or "glad tidings." Jesus gave two commissions. One during his personal ministry, the other after his resurrection. Contained in each was special news. To the Jews it was good news that the kingdom was at hand. To the Gentile and Jew, after his resurrection, it was good news that Christ had died for their sins and had been raised to rule over the kingdom. It will be very interesting to consider the two commissions and the gospel of each.

The first commission was preached by John the baptist, that the kingdom was at hand. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:1-2). "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light" (John 1:6-8). "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is ful-filled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15). Also Matthew 4:17,23, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people."

Sometime later Jesus selected the twelve whom he sent to the Jews only with the same message. This message was the approaching nearness of the kingdom. "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 10:5-7).

After having given commandment to the twelve, Jesus selected seventy and sent the same message, likewise to the Jews only. Read Luke 10:1-9. In brief summary, the limited commission was given to the disciples before his death, sending them to the house of Israel with the approaching of the kingdom, calling upon them to repent in preparation for the coming.

Next we shall study the great commission and its gospel. The promise to Abraham had included all nations. The first, or "limited" commission had included only Israel after the flesh. Not so with the commission after his resurrection. The promise included "all families of the earth" (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus said all authority belongs to him. Jesus as he emphasized this statement said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." His commission was "teach them also to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." He also inserted this statement, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." The command to teach all nations is emphasized by Jeremiah in chapter 31:31-34. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). After hearing, believing and confessing they were to do what Peter taught in Acts 2:38. "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." The gospel taught by Christ and the apostles is still binding today. Preach the gospel, good news, not of the kingdom’s nearness, but of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4) –whole creation, to all nations.

Closing, ofttimes an exception to this conclusion is claimed by an appeal to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). The contention arises, If the thief was saved without being baptized, why not all of us today? Could we not appeal to Abraham, Jacob, Moses or David? They were under a different law. So was the thief. He lived and died under the Old Covenant. The New Covenant did not become effective until the death of him who made it. "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth"(Hb.9:15-17).

While on earth Jesus had power to forgive sins as he saw fit (Matt. 9:1-8). We are now under the covenant of his blood and must comply with its terms.

–4516 Rimrock Tr., Austin, TX 78723

 

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