How To Have a Jesus-Lite Theology of the New Covenant

A New Covenant without Jesus? It happens. I’m living proof. “Without” may be the wrong word. A “Jesus-lite” theology of the New Covenant is a more accurate description of what I want to talk about. Twice in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:6 and Isaiah 49:8), the coming Messiah himself is called the promised New Covenant. He is the covenant. The New Covenant isn’t something outside of Jesus that he brought with him, he himself is the New Covenant. His shed blood is the blood of the covenant (Matthew 26:28). He is both the covenant-maker and the mediator of the covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20).

But when our pursuit of the New Covenant becomes more about gathering information than it is about knowing the Person who is the covenant, things get ugly. When our study of the New Covenant becomes more about data mining the pages of Scripture and less about relaxing into relationship with the Covenant-Maker, there’s something seriously wrong with our theology of the New Covenant. When our comparison of the Old Covenant with the New focuses more on the  performance of those under each covenant, where the actions, words, and attitudes of the people become the litmus test for who’s a believer and who isn’t, we’ve missed the point. When Jesus, who is the New Covenant, receives only occasional, honorable mention and our conversations, conferences, and seminars instead center on the performance of the people, we’re on a slippery slope where our theology of the New Covenant has become man-centered, performance-centered, and fixated on the wrong things.

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