How I Maintain Righteousness (Ephesians 2:15)
The Spiritual Pecking Order ( John 14:26)
Another thing my first pastor did not know to tell me was the fact there is a the pecking order – a spiritual hierarchy – in heaven, and where I fit in as a believer. As I began to investigate my new life in Christ, I found others had never made this simple connection. Once I did, so many things began to fit in.
The next several blogs will deal with how things work together. A lot of people know certain aspects of their salvation, but do not know how things work together. That’s part of systematic theology which we don’t get much in church. It’s not hard. It all starts with knowing that you are a righteous new creation.
As I said before, I didn’t know that as a new creature, I was made righteous. Put another way, I was made righteous through my confession of faith in Jesus Christ, God the father recreated my spirit. I don’t have to rely on grace and mercy but righteousness. Grace and mercy are the mechanisms that bring you to salvation. But, righteousness is what keeps you saved and in covenant with God through Jesus. (1Peter 1:23) I know that is a shock to many people. God does things through you because He is a righteous God with a moral responsibility to do what he says for His family, not on the basis of grace or mercy, but because of your position in the family.
How do I keep being righteous even though in flesh I sin? This is where the spiritual pecking order comes into play.
The Spiritual Pecking Order:
God the Father Provides
God the Son Procures
God the Holy Spirit Applies
God in Me, Administrates
This is an important link in your understanding how righteousness works in heaven. The only reason I get a chance to share in this pecking order is my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the nature of this relationship that allows me access to what the Father provides?
God the Father and God the Son are directly in new “kainos” covenant together, not you. You are not fundamentally eligible to be in covenant with God the Father. You, as a gentile or Jew, are strangers and aliens from God. (Eph 2:19) But, through the blood of Jesus, you are partakers of the new covenant indirectly through your faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. Think about that for a minute!!
That means you are not in direct covenant with God. You are in covenant indirectly because of what Jesus the Christ did on the cross, just like everything else He does. Think about this: when you pray, why do you pray in the name of Jesus? Because He gets it for you from His Father, because of your covenant relationship with His Father and with you. He is the mediator of a better covenant: one you cannot break because He cannot break it. Don’t believe me? Let me ask you these questions?
Who did God make the Adamic covenant with? (Genesis 1:28-30)
Who did God make the Noahic covenant with? (Genesis 6:18)
Who did God make the Abrahamic covenant with? (Genesis 12:3)
Who did God make the Mosaic covenant with? (Exodus 19-24)
Who did God make the Davidic covenant with? (2 Samuel 7:11-17)
Who did God make the “New” Covenant with? (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:8)
The Evidence for a Covenant with Christ
If you answered Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the Lord Jesus Christ you are right. The only way that any human benefits from these covenants is indirectly through these men. Most people do not understand the “old” covenant was “cut” between God and Moses and mediated (administered) by the high priest. If you remember back in Exodus, they were afraid of God and disobedient. Likewise, so am I ineligible.
The Bible does not directly use the word covenant in describing the relation between God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet once we have become familiar with the features of a covenant, it becomes clear that such a covenant exists.
1. The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants were promises made, not just to Abraham and David, but to Abraham and David’s Seed. We have already seen that the Seed refers to Christ (Gal. 3:16). This means, then, that here we have a covenantal promise made to Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3:15-19 Paul not only uses the words promise and covenant as synonyms, but he clearly says that God’s promise was made to Jesus Christ (see verses. 16, 19).
2. Christ was the second Adam (Rom. 5:12-19). As such, He stood in Adam’s place to be the covenantal Head and Representative of the human race.
3. Christ’s repeated statements that He was sent of the Father for an assigned task and that He Himself was fulfilling a predetermined obligation and trust signify a covenant between the Father and the Son (John 6:38, 39; 10:18:17:4).
4. The Father made promises to Christ in respect to Himself and His people (John 5:30, 43; 6:3840; 17:4-12). The Son claimed a reward for the task He had faithfully executed (John 17).
5. In Luke 22:29 Jesus says, “. . . I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me. The verb appointed is diatithemai, which means to appoint by will or covenant. This is covenantal language.
6. Christ addresses His Father as “My God” (Ps. 22:1, 2; 40:8; etc.), which implies covenantal relationship.
Christ was appointed to the office of Redeemer from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The covenant of redemption was set up from eternity (Rom. 16:25). In the councils of heaven the Father and the Son covenanted together that Christ should redeem the sinner by taking his place and fulfilling his obligations. Redemptive love therefore preceded creative love. God’s love carefully planned man’s future and made provision for every emergency. The salvation of the human race has ever been the object of the councils of heaven. The covenant of redeeming mercy existed from all eternity. So surely as there never was a time when God was not, so surely was there never a moment when it was not the delight of the eternal mind to manifest His grace to humanity.
Although the covenant was made from eternity, it could not be ratified and sealed until Christ had fulfilled all that He covenanted to do. When he cried, “It is finished!” He addressed His Father. The compact was now fully consummated. Christ had fulfilled the pledge which He had made. He had paid the price of man’s redemption.
In resurrecting Christ from the dead, exalting and glorifying Him at His own right hand, and giving Him the gift of the Spirit for the church, the Father fulfilled His covenant promises. He will consummate them when all the redeemed are with Christ in the earth made new (John 17; Rev. 21 & 22).
In God’s eternal purpose He arranged that His fellowship with man would be based on a more enduring foundation than the stability of creature-righteousness. It is said, for instance, that any partnership or marriage is no stronger than the weakest partner, just as no chain is stronger than its weakest link. But God based His fellowship with man on the surety of Jesus Christ. On the event of man’s failure to render perfect righteousness in his relationship to God, Christ would stand Guarantor for man — that is to say, He would undertake to fulfill man’s responsibilities in such a way that the perfect God-man relationship would endure for eternity.
God’s eternal covenant with Christ was the reason why God could keep renewing His covenant with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David and the Christian church. Otherwise the righteous God could no longer have continued His association with the sinful man. Back of every pact which God made with the human family and underpinning every covenant, was God’s covenant with Jesus Christ. For this reason Old Testament history moved irresistibly forward to its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Time and time again divine wrath was suspended only because it was put to the account of Jesus Christ, who in due time would pay all covenant debts at the bar of eternal justice.
Think about this: if God made a covenant directly with you and me we’d break it because we are humans. That would mean that God would loose His creation again. But, if He made it with a God-Man, it would be unbreakable and He would have fellowship with His creation again – forever!
This is why we should celebrate the Lord’s Supper so that we keep reminding ourselves and showing forth the covenant in His blood, this is why we plead the blood (covenant) of Jesus over ourselves and situations in our life, this is why we pray in the name of Jesus, our covenant brother.
The fact the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly keeps the “kainos” covenant for me is major revelation to the church member who is fighting to keep the covenant under his or her own power. This is the most important relationship in the pecking order in heaven. We need to get this part right so that the other parts fall into place. So then what is our part? Our part is being an adopted child of God, heir to the riches of heaven. What does it mean then to be an adopted child of God?
More on the next post.