The “I wills” of the New Covenant

The following is an extract from my forthcoming book, Letters from Jesus: Finding Good News in Christ’s Letters to the Churches. The ebook comes out next month; the paperback comes out next Easter. Enjoy!

The Philadelphians are often esteemed as a model church because Jesus never rebuked them—as though escaping censure was the high point of Christian living. (What a sad way to read these love letters from Jesus. “I got a letter from the Lord and he didn’t scold or threaten to kill me. I’m so blessed.”) Each of the seven letters reveals something of the goodness of God, but nowhere does God’s grace and kindness shine brighter than in this letter to the powerless Philadelphians. In less than 250 words, the Lord gives one of the most stunning summaries of the hope held out in the gospel, and he does this by making promises.

Because many people don’t know what makes the new covenant new, they miss these treasures. They read these letters with an old covenant mindset and come away quaking in their boots. This is why it’s essential to understand the difference between the old and new covenants.

The old covenant was characterized by people making promises to God, but the new covenant of grace is based on God’s unbreakable promises to us. In the old covenant people said, “We will,” as in, “We will do everything the Lord says” (Ex. 19:8). But in the new covenant God says “I will.” The old covenant failed because we can’t keep our promises, but the new endures because God is eternally faithful.

In each of the seven letters, Jesus says “I will” at least one time. By making promises to us, Jesus is speaking the language of the new covenant. But to the Philadelphians Jesus says, “I will” no less than eight times:

  • I will make them come and bow down at your feet (Rev. 3:9)
  • I will make them know that I have loved you. (Rev. 3:9)
  • I will keep you from the hour of testing (Rev. 3:10)
  • I will come quickly (Rev. 3:11)
  • I will make you a pillar (Rev. 3:12)
  • I will write on you the name of my God (Rev. 3:12)
  • I will write on you the name of the city of my God (Rev. 3:12)
  • I will write on you my new name (Rev. 3:12)

These promises are not carrots to induce proper behavior. Nor are they performance incentives offered to high achievers. They are pledges from a good God who longs to bless us and who always keeps his word. They are vows guaranteed by the perfect work of Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).

The Philadelphians were highly favored to receive eight beautiful promises. Does this mean they were more special than the rest of us? Not at all. Christ’s words for them are for all the churches.

So how come the other six churches never got these promises? They weren’t ready. The Ephesians had wandered, the Smyrneans were in trouble, the Pergamenes and Thyatirans were conflicted, the Laodiceans were lukewarm, and the Sardians were dead. The other churches all had major problems and Jesus needed to deal with those first.

The Philadelphians were different. They were drinking grace straight from the tap. They did not get more promises because they were better or more deserving but because they were believing-believers. They took God at his word. They had those little fridge magnets that said, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Because they treasured the promises of God, Jesus blessed them with more. They who had been faithful with a little, found themselves with a lot.

___________

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27 Comments on The “I wills” of the New Covenant

  1. Paul, just curious if you also addressed in your book about the time statement of the Book of Revelation. The nearness of its prophetic fulfillment as sandwiched between 1st and last chapters that it will shortly to come to pass in their lifetime.

  2. Looking forward to reading your new book. I was never overly keen on the promise ‘I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, never again will he leave it’. I want to be able to spend eternity exploring the whole of God’s new creation! Just my lack of understanding of the promise, I am sure in reality, it will be awesome!!!

  3. “The Philadelphians were different. They were drinking grace straight from the tap.”

    Did you elaborate this in your book, Paul? I would like to see some verses about this. Can’t wait to get ur (paper version) book. Blessings!

  4. He said, “I will write on you my new name “. When? Wouldn’t it already be done?

  5. Moses Kawuma // November 28, 2018 at 6:09 am // Reply

    Brilliant as always. Paul, just send me a copy of your book now please!

  6. Graham Purkis // November 28, 2018 at 6:11 am // Reply

    Looking forward to the book Paul,since coming to an understanding of the New Covenant and the amazing Grace of God reveled in Paul’s letters I have struggled with the apparent harshness of the letters in Revelation.

  7. Brother Paul, kudos and good-on ya for sending this awesome excerpt today, rather than asking for Giving Tuesday donations. We moved to Atlanta on the heels of graduating from Bryan College (top-tier biblical worldview undergrad school), mid-’70’s, got married near Stone Mountain (’75), and joined First Baptist Atlanta. I often heard Dr Stanley declare the frige magnet quote. He may have been the originator.
    Bless you!

  8. Brandon Petrowski // November 28, 2018 at 10:30 am // Reply

    Love it.

  9. Erik Grangaard // November 28, 2018 at 10:56 am // Reply

    When we are weak (little power) we are strong because we are totally dependant on His resources, not our own cleverness.

  10. Good luck with the new book! What makes the new convenant new?
    Jer 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
    “I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
    No more law on the tablets of stone, now it is on our hearts 2 Cor 3:3 “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” What are people repenting from? Sin. What is sin? 1John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
    So lastly and most importantly, what is the OPPOSITE of sin?

    Beautiful!

    • You may be interested in my article “What makes the new covenant new?” And if you want to go deeper, check out my ebook What Makes the New Covenant New? It’s free.

    • The opposite of sin is anything done IN faith. 😉

      • richard elson // December 10, 2018 at 3:39 pm //

        That’s So true momzilla. . . even good acts, great actions with great outcomes are sin if our motivation and strength comes from the wrong place.

        What are your thoughts regarding where the motivation came from for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
        I’m going to hold to the position that God does not tempt, nor would he ever require child sacrifice.
        It’s safe to say that gods in men’s image(motivated by Satan) require such things.
        Abraham seems to be unaware that all inspirations are not from God.
        Even so, Abraham holds to his knowledge of God, (his faith) and is totally convinced that God will still be able to complete what he promised.

        I believe Satan in this story is a false prophet, impersonating God and misrepresenting his true nature. Yet Abraham receives the false prophets words and Abraham’s gets rewarded as if he followed a true prophet.

        My ideas are not properly formed here, maybe you and others can correct me, or add to this.
        Could it be that as long as we trust in a good God even our dumb actions are blessed as God turns the curse of the enemy into a blessing?

    • Tex Bailey – For today He is named, “Word of Yahuah” God (Elohim) Rev 19:13. And then the end of this Age. The New Covenant__ Do Older Covenants give us the answer? The relationship God established with those who love him – was/is contained in Older Covenants. From which comes a Newer Covenant in his blood.
      What I am not convinced of: the Law of God is on my Soul, written on my heart (I am one of his people; spiritual Israel) or Spirit – which was made flesh from stone; now alive to him who called me to himself – in to the Kingdom of Sky.
      Is the Law of God being fulfilled (Mat 5:17-19) today by the living Son-man – still seated a top the sky (heaven)? And if so, why do we believe there has been some type of morphing of the Law of God in to say, the Law of Love – when in the same passage Yahusha (Jesus) says, not until heaven & earth pass away; will the Law of God be fulfilled… it says nothing to the Law of Love.

  11. I can’t stop thanking Jesus for this blog
    Glory to God.

  12. I think God is the one and only one that is right, the only one good. Now then whoever God calls good is one with God to be led by him in his love and mercy of Son given us in the resurrected Christ after this one time death took care of sin.
    So today and then as well anything without Faith to God Father and God Son the two as won for us to be won with them
    Anything without Faith, Belief is sin

    And please stray away from harming anyone else, for conscience sake of others, Love and mercy given us to stand in. I choose and chose to stand in belief Son is risen where new life is given from Father to walk new in

    Thank you for being Father’s servant of risen Son leading you Paul

  13. Rhonda Ludemann // December 12, 2018 at 10:20 am // Reply

    I love your teaching on the I WILLS of God that is in our New Covenant. I keep sharing both of your teachings on them. I heard several ministers explain how knowing why Jesus suffered and died to bring us the New Covenant and all of what the New Covenant means for us as God’s children, should be called Christianity #101 for every new believer! For those who enjoy watching the Star Trek movies, we can see how our Father God pulled off an immeasurably wiser and more cunning win for mankind than what anyone could ever imagined the wisdom Captain kirk had in winning the war-exercise game, Kobayashi Maru, as he deceptively changed the rules of the game so that only he could win it! God is so much nobler than any wisdom conjured up in a fictitious game! He sent His beloved Jesus to live under the Old Covenant Law —for us, FULFILL the Old Covenant—for us, suffer, die and rise from the dead to get us all out of that OLD COVENANT fear and bondage–FOR–us! I would love to see any of man’s wisdom over some fictitious game even dare to compare to what our Father God through His great love and wisdom has done–FOR–us through Jesus. Jesus has made all of us who believe real winners in this present and real world!

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