It has been stated in some of the recent discussion that, although the covenant may have been an important way in which God dealt with his people in the past, the coming of Christ has rendered the arrangement somewhat less relevant. The suggestion seems to be that, even though “covenant” is a biblical term, the concept has very little to do with the work of Christ; or perhaps, if it is somehow connected with Christ, it is really not all that pertinent to our salvation. I would suggest, on the contrary, that Christ has everything to do with God’s covenants, past and present, and that the New Covenant especially is a very important part of the salvation we have in Christ.
I pass over, for now, a discussion of Christ’s relationship to the former covenants made in the Old Testament. Many volumes have been written, and many more could still be written, on how Jesus is the focal point of God’s covenants made with Abraham, with
First of all, the establishment of the New Covenant was one of the primary purposes for which Christ shed his blood on the cross. We see this from the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper in which Jesus referred to the cup as “my blood of the covenant” (Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24) and as “the new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:21; I Cor. 11:24). Hebrews also tells us that the reason Christ had to die was that the New Covenant could not have been put into effect without the shedding of his blood (Hb. 8:16-17). The New Covenant, then, is a work initiated and inaugurated by Christ, particularly through his death.
Second, the New Covenant is a work that continues to be mediated by Christ (Heb. 8:6). It is an arrangement that he perpetually guarantees and administrates (Heb 7:22). It is through this covenant that he continually intercedes for the saints before God (Heb 7:25). The New Covenant, then, is the work of Christ from beginning to end, he being both its founder and perfecter (12:2). It is founded upon his sacrificial death and perfected through his heavenly intercession. The covenant, then, far from being an atrifact with which Christ did away, is an arrangement which he died to ratify and a relationship that he lives again to mediate.
The importance of this covenant becomes even clearer when we look at the specific aspects of our salvation that are provided through it. It is through this covenant in Christ that our sins have been forgiven (Mt. 26:28; Rom. 11:27; Heb 8:12; 9:15, 22). It is through this covenant in Christ that God has become our God and we have become his people (Heb 8:11). It is through this covenant in Christ that we are able to draw near to God (Heb 7:25). It is through this covenant in Christ that we are sanctified (Heb 10:29). It is through this covenant in Christ that God’s laws have been put into our minds and written upon our hearts (Heb 8:11). It is through this covenant in Christ that our consciences have been purified to serve God (Heb 9:14). It is through this covenant in Christ that we are to receive our promised eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15) In short, it is through this covenant in Christ that we are saved (Heb 7:25).
Why would it be, then, in light of all these things, that someone would think that covenants are merely Old Testament arrangements which Christ set aside at his coming? How could someone say that after the death of Christ, we are no longer saved by covenants? If we are saved by something other than God’s covenant, then certainly, we are saved by something other than the work of Christ-- the scriptures will not allow the two to be separated. God thought that this covenant was worth the blood of his Son; certainly it is worth more attention than evangelicals tend to give it.