What began to “go forth” from Jerusalem on Pentecost was the preaching of the full truth about God’s means of saving the world in Jesus Christ. Since then, anyone who has heard that message — and obeyed it — has come into a forgiven relationship with God.
One way we might define those who are God’s people in the new covenant is that they are those who know God. And don’t misunderstand: they are those whom God knows to be those who know Him. “The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Timothy 2:19).
In the prophets, God’s judgment upon sin was always accompanied by a message of great hope for those who would come back to Him. In our study of the “new covenant” in Jeremiah 31, let’s look today at what was said about the “hearts” of those within this covenant.
It was a privilege for Israel — as the family of Abraham, the physical vessel God used to bring the Messiah into the world — to be the first in line to receive the new covenant, the gospel of Christ. But thanks be to God, the invitation is now for all of us.
That which could never have been known about God, it is now possible for us to know. Of course, Jesus did not by His bodily characteristics show us what God looks like. Rather, it was the character of God — and God’s will for us — that Christ revealed.
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). So it is a colossal, towering truth that Paul presents to us when he says that in Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). But nothing less than this will suffice for our salvation.
Can God be known? Here is the gospel’s position: God has, in Jesus Christ, made it possible for us to know Him (John 1:18; 17:3). Sin robbed us of the truth about God, but in His Son we can regain that knowledge — and knowing our Creator, we may truly live.
The portrayal in Isaiah 53 of Jesus’ silent, lamb-like suffering is part of that prophecy’s depiction of what would happen to the Messiah as He underwent the punishment for our sins. Nothing else like that death has ever taken place in the history of the world.
All of the phrases in Isaiah 53 say what many other Scriptures affirm: the Messiah’s death was vicarious. He suffered FOR us — substituting Himself on our behalf at the bar of God’s justice and agreeing to take the penalty that we had incurred by our sins.
When God entered the world as a human being, He did so in very lowly circumstances. He wanted those who would be attracted to the gospel to be people who were looking for forgiveness — rather than “niceness” as the world perceives niceness.