Thursday, October 28, 2010

What We Believe | New Covenant Theology

2What We Believe | New Covenant Theology

We believe there is only one God, creator of heaven and earth. This God exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule to teach us what we must believe and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We believe that all are sinners by nature and by choice. All are guilty before God and deserve his wrath and curse forever. Our very best falls short of meeting his righteous demands and cannot merit his favor. We believe the salvation of sinners is the sovereign work of God alone. As sinners, we cannot contribute to it in any way. Even the faith by which sinners lay hold of Christ is the work of sovereign grace, not the work of sinful nature. We believe that apart from the grace and mercy of God, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, there is no hope for sinners. Sinners are justified before God by the grace of God alone and through faith alone in Christ alone. Human works form no part of the basis of our justification before God. We believe there is only on mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. We believe the new covenant fulfills the spiritual promise of blessing God made to Abraham’s seed. That promise was made, not to any of Abraham’s physical seed as such. Instead, the promise was made to Christ and all who are united to him by faith.
The Law of Moses was intended to be a temporary covenant constituting Israel a nation before God. Though it was not contrary to the promise of God, it was not part of an overarching “covenant of grace.” God never intended this covenant, the ten commandments (Exo. 34:28) to be universal in its scope, nor did he intend it to be perpetual. It began at Mt. Sinai and ended at the cross. Its primary purpose was to demonstrate the true nature of sin as rebellion against God and the impossibility that sinners could ever justify themselves before God. It was a killing and condemning covenant. The new covenant that replaces it is better in every way than is the old covenant. It promises believers forgiveness of sins and an enabling to please God. This the old covenant could never do. We believe when Christ returns in power and great glory, he will bring to fruition all he accomplished when he ratified the new covenant on the cross. *This is only a brief and incomplete statement of our beliefs. Though we do not hold any creed as authoritative, one of the better confessions of faith to which we would subscribe is the London Confession of 1644.

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    Once we become members of Christ’s family, he does not let us go hungry, but feeds us with his own body and blood through the Eucharist.

    In the Old Testament, as they prepared for their journey in the wilderness, God commanded his people to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts, so the Angel of Death would pass by their homes. Then they ate the lamb to seal their covenant with God.

    This lamb prefigured Jesus. He is the real "Lamb of God," who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

    Through Jesus we enter into a New Covenant with God (Luke 22:20), who protects us from eternal death. God’s Old Testament people ate the Passover lamb.

    Now we must eat the Lamb that is the Eucharist. Jesus said, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you" (John 6:53).

    At the Last Supper he took bread and wine and said, "Take and eat. This is my body . . . This is my blood which will be shed for you" (Mark 14:22–24).

    In this way Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacrificial meal Catholics consume at each Mass.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross occurred "once for all"; it cannot be repeated (Hebrews 9:28).

    Christ does not "die again" during Mass, but the very same sacrifice that occurred on Calvary is made present on the altar.

    That’s why the Mass is not "another" sacrifice, but a participation in the same, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

    Paul reminds us that the bread and the wine really become, by a miracle of God’s grace, the actual body and blood of Jesus: "Anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:27–29).

    After the consecration of the bread and wine, no bread or wine remains on the altar. Only Jesus himself, under the appearance of bread and wine, remains.

  2. Michael,

    Some of what you say is true of Roman Catholicism, but some is not. Roman Catholicism does believe that Christ dies at each mass for the forgiveness of Sin. This is one reason why Roman Catholicism is not part of Christianity but a different world religion entirely.