5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor. 3:5-6)
When Moses came down from mount Sinai, after having spent 40 days together with God during which he received the law and the stone tablets with the 10 Commandments, he found a people in great moral decay. During Moses’ absence, the same nation that repeatedly had witnessed God’s supernatural interventions, so that it could escape slavery in Egypt, had now done the unthinkable. The people had made an idol; a golden calf, that they worshipped and credited with saving them from the captivity in Egypt. As they offered sacrifices to this golden calf, they even committed sexual immorality.
In his great disappointment over Israel’s behavior, Moses demolished the tablets of stone with the 10 Commandments, that God had written with His own hand. The people’s actions resulted in God’s judgment, so that 3 000 people were killed with sword in one day. Thus, when the law was given on mouth Sinai – which was the starting point of the Old Covenant – 3 000 people died (see Ex. 32:25-28).
On the day of Pentecost, however, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples that were gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, things were quite different. Just as the Old Covenant was initiated when the law was given to Moses on mouth Sinai, the day of Pentecost was the birthday of the New Covenant, since the Holy Spirit from that day has written God’s law in the hearts of the believers. As Peter preached to the amazed throng of people who had gathered – after hearing the disciples glorify God in different languages as they spoke in tongues – 3 000 people came to faith in Jesus Christ (see Acts 2:41).
As the Old Covenant – the covenant of the law – was instituted, 3 000 people died. However, as the New Covenant – the covenant of grace – was inaugurated, 3 000 people received eternal life through faith in Jesus. The law leads to death while grace leads to life. We should be very grateful that we now live in the New Covenant!
When Paul compares the Old and the New Covenant in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, he points out how completely different they are:
The Old Covenant… The New Covenant…
is of the letter (v. 6) is of the Spirit (v. 6)
kills (v. 6) gives life (v. 6)
is the ministry of death (v. 7) is the ministry of the Spirit (v. 8)
was written and engraved on stones (v. 7)
had a glory that passed away (v. 7) is more glorious (v. 8)
is the ministry of condemnation (v. 9) is the ministry of righteousness (v. 9)
had glory (v. 9) exceeds much more in glory (v. 9)
now has no glory (v. 10) has a glory that excels (v. 10)
was glorious (v. 11) is more glorious (v. 11)
is passing away (v. 11) remains (v. 11)
The Old Covenant – the covenant of the letter – leads to death and condemnation and no longer has any glory. The New Covenant, however – the covenant of the Spirit – leads to life and righteousness and contains a much greater glory that always remains, Paul explains.
Paradoxically, both covenants are found in the same Bible. The great majority of all Christians have not understood the difference between them. This has led to that the Gospel has lost its breakthrough power, since a ”little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). By mixing the gospel of grace with the law, we have preached both life and death, righteousness and condemnation – simultaneously. What contains a much greater and lasting glory has been mixed with what has passed away and no longer has any glory.
As born-again believers you and I are servants of the New Covenant. The ”gospel” we are to live and preach must thus be based only on the New Covenant. For this to become a reality, we must first receive a revelation from the Holy Spirit regarding how the two covenants differ.
We often hear that if only Christians pray more, forsake more, or become more united, God will send revival. Statements like such may be well-intentioned but are simply not correct.
Prayer is very important. Forsaking the world and Christian unity likewise. However, revival only comes in one way: As a result of believers preaching the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit (read the book of Acts!). For this to happen, we believers must first get a revelation of what the gospel truly is, so that we can share it accurately. It is impossible to preach something correctly if we haven’t understood the message.
God does not hold back the revival. He does not have to be convinced or petitioned to send a new outpouring of His Spirit. God is more motivated to see people come to faith than we will ever be. The revival is already here. Revival fire is spread through the preaching of the gospel – followed by signs and miracles. When God sent Jesus to earth – and the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost – He sent everything He will ever send. God does not have to be persuaded to send revival. He has already given us the Great Commission – to share the gospel with all creation – and equipped us with everything we need for the assignment to be accomplished.
The revival we for decades have heard prophesies about, longed and prayed for, will be preceded by believers rediscovering the gospel of grace. The whole body of Christ must be re-educated in New Covenant realities, so that what is preached in our churches, Bible schools, and seminaries is the gospel of grace – and nothing else!