The Gifts of Easter Pt. 3 –Big Story or Small Stories?

“In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.”   Hebrews 8:13 

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  John 3:16-17

The new covenant our God has established with us by the blood of His Son Jesus, can be understood in part by the ancient Hebrew covenant of marriage with its customs and practices.  This is because the new covenant is born of the great love story of our God and His pursuit of a people to be the bride for His Son. The role of the Hebrew father in arranging the marriage, the payment of the bride price and the giving of gifts, the betrothal and waiting, the preparing of a new home for the bride, and the final celebration of the wedding feast all point to our God. The famous passage in John 3 above helps us understand the new covenant and its connection to the love story.

The Father in Heaven has chosen a bride for His Son; it is the church of the redeemed.  God the Father of both the Son and of the church has made the arrangement by covenant with Himself to deliver to His son a bride both beautiful and prepared for Him.

The Father is motivated by love not only for His Son but for the bride He is preparing as well.  “For God so loved the world.”  Do we really believe that?  Do you really believe that your God loves you enough to send His Son to die for you?  At the core of this new covenant is this unfathomable love for each of us. Think about how transformational this new covenant could be if we lived like we really believed it.  For many this transforming power may be diminished by the fact that it happened about 2000 years ago. Would we live differently if this had happened last Friday, if it were that fresh in our experience?

Look at what that means for us, from verse 17: “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  You are absolutely, positively, irrevocably not condemned.  Our God’s intention is not condemnation but is our transformation into His heirs and into a partner worthy of His Son.

To accomplish this preparation, this transformation, the fullness of our God is alive in you.  More intimate than any human could be, He is present in you to make you into the person you must be as a member of His church, the Bride of Christ.  The love of our God  is such that He is the one who makes us fit for that role by His own presence within us.

“That He gave His only Son.”  Here is the bride-price of inestimable value.  The price was the Son Himself.  Jesus the Son knew this was the price, and knew He was to pay it forward if He was to gain His beloved.  Our God demonstrated His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

“That everyone who believes in Him.”  All who in faith look to Jesus’ sacrifice will be saved from their deadly sin nature and will take their place in the church of God, the bride of Christ.  The idea of belief as Jesus uses it here means a full commitment and submission to the will of God. The surrender of self is the condition Jesus set forth: “…if any would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.  For the one who finds his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Luke 9:23-24

Those who commit to a life changing belief “…may not perish but have eternal life.”  This “eternal life” does not start after we die; it starts as soon as we turn in submission to our God. Our God fills our being by His Holy Spirit.  As we allow Him control over us that fullness takes over our living each day and leads to our transformation into his children and His heirs.  This transformation prepares us for our place in the church of the redeemed, the bride of Christ.  Many have viewed this passage of scripture as our God’s evacuation plan for us.  Rather than an evacuation plan it is a transformation plan, as Bill Johnson so aptly states it. 

Jesus has given to us gifts by His Spirit living in us.  Like the “mattan” gifts given to the bride (see previous post), these gifts express our great value to Him, and aid in our transformation and preparation for our role with Him.  While this transformation is underway, Jesus is preparing for us our new home with Him in the fully restored heaven and earth.

Our God is inviting us to take our places in this sweeping epic love story.  He is inviting us to join in the Kingdom of His Son and be transformed for our place with Him for eternity.  If we join Him, that eternity becomes our reality now and forever.  The question for us is this: are we living life as a part of this grand story of the ages?  Or are we living our lives in our own small stories every day?  Sadly, far too many believers have chosen an old covenant form of religion out of convenience, ignorance of the new covenant realities, and an unwillingness to surrender fully to their God.

“To our forefathers the Christian faith was an experience. To our fathers it was an inheritance. To our generation it is a convenience. And to our children it is a nuisance.”

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