Whatever the new covenant is it is not a theology even if it is often referred to as one. This is because the new covenant is not of the letter but entirely of the Spirit. It is Jesus manifest. The new covenant is simply Christ our life – the spirit of Jesus manifesting as us. Unfortunately not only have many of Christ’s Followers not emerged from the law. They have never gotten beyond the letter that kills – whether this is in a modified ecclesiastical knowledge of good and evil or he system and culture of Christianity.
The Kingdom without the incarnation is a phantom. Even with the Spirit and the gifts it is a shadow of its real self because the incarnation – our union with God – is the soil from which the new creation grows. If we are in the law or its surrogates we are in the old creation and there is no kingdom there.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.’ 2 Cor 3.6.
Despite the attempts of some to avoid the force of Paul’s declaration of the truth about the letter and make it apply to someone not them, the letter always dulls, always, desensitises and reduces spirit to something less than life. The letter is great at turning unlimited potential into humbug. The letter is a factory that mass produces un-discerning clones.
The new covenant is none other than the incarnation manifest as Bob, Ben Jane and Sue. The new covenant is not a variation on the law. Neither is it Christian culture realised in people – since Christian culture can so easily be a distortion and a veiling of our inheritance. Our inheritance is the direct manifestation of God in His people. Jesus did not come to manifest the law in people. He is in us to manifest Himself. This is the meaning of His Body.
A POOR EXCHANGE
Many have never left behind the law while others have simply exchanged it for a Christian rendition of the letter. Many seek to find their security in ‘a systemisation of Christ’ and in so doing perpetrate a reductionism on what was meant to be an infinity: The limitless possibility inherent in Christ come in the flesh is Jesus manifest as you and in all of us as the church. This is our inheritance. It is the talents not buried in the ground. The church manifest as the church is a poor imitation of the Jesus expressed directly as His people. The church Jesus builds is not an institution because it has no truck with the letter. It is the manifestation of Jesus, and the Spirit and our Father in us.
‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV.
God come in our flesh is the life of the church. But more than this it is the power of the new creation. We should not be surprised that John describes the devolution of Christ come in the flesh to the law resurfacing as the letter as originating in the spirit of anti-christ. This decay effectively makes Jesus the shadow when He is genuinely the real. This Satanic ploy subtly undoes, in a guise of holiness, the gains of the cross, the resurrection and the Spirit. ‘Christ come in the flesh’ is the Spirit of Jesus, of our Father and Holy Spirit realised in our person. This is the new creation in spirit and in truth.
“Theologically, the demand for “circumcision” can take many forms, even today. It appears whenever one thinks along these lines: “Faith in Christ is fine as far as it goes, but your relation to God is not really right and your salvation not adequate unless…” It does not matter how the sentence is completed. Whenever such fine print is introduced to qualify trust/faith, there is “circumcision,” and Paul’s defence of the adequacy of trust/faith can come into its own again. The Galatian situation is never far; in fact, it is all too familiar.” ― Leander E. Keck, Paul and His Letters.
Whether the new covenant is a theology or not may be a moot point if we belong to a culture that has devised its own theology. But if you are among those who are keen to agree with God's theology, it will be vitally important.
The new covenant may be taught, discussed, written about and explained. But this is not the new covenant. The New covenant is Jesus realised in you and Jesus as you. The Body of Christ is Jesus as us all.