The New Covenant: Physical, Spiritual, or Both in Nature?
As I have been writing material for this web site, there are three topics that to me are overwhelming in their impact on defining and describing Christianity as it exists today under the New Covenant. Those three topics are:
1. The biblical fact that God, who is Spirit, lives in each and every believer.
2. That those who are waiting for Christ to come back (return, Parousia, presence) in a physical manner have misunderstood the fact that He has already returned and that return was in a spiritual manner in contrast to their expectation of a physical return.
3. The New Covenant, and everything about it, is 100% spiritual in nature and is not recognizable in the physical, natural realm.
The thrust of this Learning Activity is fact #3 above and its source and support from the Scriptures. As a starting point let us begin with basic English dictionary definitions of two key words in this study.
PHYSICAL – Pertaining to the body, as distinguished from the mind or spirit; bodily; corporeal, pertaining to material things, matter.
SPIRITUAL – Consisting of or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material, supernatural.
More importantly, let’s not look at how man’s dictionary defines/describes these two words, but how the inspired word of God does!
1. “…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
2. Which dictionary word from above do you think fits in with “things that are seen”? ________
3. Which word do you think fits in with “things that are unseen”? _________________________
4. Which of the two words best describes what we as Christians are supposed to be focusing on in this life? _______________________________________________________________________
5. How long are the things we see with our physical eyesight going to last? __________________
6. How long are the things we cannot see with our physical eyesight going to last? ____________
7. Colossians 1:16 _________________________________________________________________
The passage above establishes as biblical fact that there is both a seen (with physical vision) and an unseen (incapable of being seen with the physical vision) world about us.
8. Hebrews 11:1 __________________________________________________________________
The unseen world is only “seen” through faith as we have no physical senses that can detect this world.
9. Colossians 3:1 __________________________________________________________________
Here we understand the clear delineation between the physical and the spiritual as it should be in the life of the believer.
10. 1 Corinthians 2:9 ______________________________________________________________
We are reminded in the passage above that our physical vision and our aural hearing are useless in the detection of what God has prepared for believers. However, too many Christians fail to read and comprehend the verse that follows.
11. 1 Corinthians 2:10 _____________________________________________________________
So, if you are one of the Christians who have concluded that you cannot learn any more about God, take note, the Spirit lives within you and has available to you everything to know about God. Only believers have “eyes” to see beyond the natural to the spiritual.
12. 1 Corinthians 2:12 _____________________________________________________________
The Old Covenant was a physical, natural covenant written on stone. As such it can be touched and seen with the physical senses. In contrast, the New Covenant is written by God on our hearts.
The Christian writer, W. Tozer, wrote in his book, The Pursuit of God:
“We….think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other. We do not deny the existence of the spiritual world but we doubt that it is real in the accepted meaning of the word. The world of sense intrudes upon our attention….It does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five senses, demanding to be accepted as real and final….The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible; the temporal, of the eternal.”
This is the plight of the “religious Christian” who falls prey to their senses and craves that which can be seen, touched, heard, smelled, and tasted in contrast to the unseen world of Christianity. The religious Christian loves the rites, rituals, and ceremonies of the organized man-made and perpetuated physical church under the pretense of that being true spiritual Christianity.
But those who have been awakened by the Spirit to the New Covenant Church have no interest in that which titillates their senses. Most of what they see calling itself “church” today is a violation of the unseen kingdom in which they live and move and have their being.
13. 2 Corinthians 5:16 _____________________________________________________________
14. What does the passage above tell you about Jesus Christ under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? ___________________________________________________________________
15. How are we to know Jesus Christ today under the New Covenant? _____________________
The world emphasizes that we are physical beings therefore we fall into the trap of exclusively thinking in the physical realm. But the Scriptures tell us that we are spiritual beings and should have our emphasis on the spiritual realm. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience!
16. 2 Corinthians 5:7 ______________________________________________________________
17. What does the verse above tell you about the physical and the spiritual? ________________
18. Romans 12:2 __________________________________________________________________
19. What is the most important element of the renewal of your mind that you think of when you read the verse above? ______________________________________________________________
20. Colossians 3:2 _________________________________________________________________
21. Which realm does the verse above place more of a priority on: physical or spiritual? ______
The Old Covenant may be characterized as being a time in the Bible when the emphasis was on a physical tabernacle or temple, a physical priesthood, and various laws, rites, rituals, and ceremonies. The New Covenant is characterized as being a time where God’s temple is unseen being “housed” in the believer, all believers are of the New Covenant priesthood without the trappings of the Old Covenant and all the laws, rites, rituals, and ceremonies which have been replaced with the real essence of what all of that represented in shadows and types in the Old Covenant.
But what about mixing both the physical and the spiritual being the best way to describe the New Covenant? This topic is addressed, in my opinion, in the following gospel parable accounts:
Matthew 9:16, 17
Mark 2:21, 22
In the above parable accounts Christ is giving a lesson to His disciples on how to handle the Old and the New Covenants. The teaching is that if new cloth is put on an old garment both would be destroyed. If new wine is put into an old wineskin, again both will be destroyed. The Old Covenant is characterized by the Law and the New Covenant by grace. To mix the two would destroy both. You cannot drag “stuff” from the old into the new without doing damage.
22. Galatians 3:12 _________________________________________________________________
23. What does the Old Covenant rest on? _____________________________________________
24. Romans 3:27 __________________________________________________________________
25. What does the New Covenant rest on? _____________________________________________
26. 2 Corinthians 3:7 ______________________________________________________________
27. How is the Old Covenant identified in this passage? _________________________________
28. How is the New Covenant identified in this passage? _________________________________
29. Hebrews 7:23 _________________________________________________________________
30. How was the priesthood of the Old Covenant described in the passage above? ____________
31. Hebrews 7:1___________________________________________________________________
32. How is the priesthood of the New Covenant described in the passage above? _____________
33. Hebrews 10:3 _________________________________________________________________
34. How is sin considered in the Old Covenant? ________________________________________
35. Hebrews 8:12 _________________________________________________________________
36. How is sin considered in the New Covenant? _______________________________________
The above are just a few of the drastic differences between the Old and the New Covenants.
37. The above being the case, do you think the Old Covenant and the New Covenant can be mixed or merged together in any way, shape, or form? __________________________________
To my line of logic and reasoning, the parable answers the original question of the nature of the New Covenant without doubt! Everything written prior to the parable discussion in this Learning Activity just lends more support to the conclusion.
Click on Self-Check below to check your answers.