Today’s Reading: Hebrews 8
Why should you go to heaven?
I have asked many people that question. The number one answer I get is, “I am a good person.” I remind them about what Jesus said. Jesus, who cannot lie, said that, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).
And based on that person’s answer . . . now two are good in the universe: God and that person. They start to see not only is that not the right answer, they start to see the futility of that answer. God the Father did not send His only Son to suffer horrifically on the cross so that you can do your best to get to heaven. The cross means more than that. Jesus did not die to get you to church. Jesus died to get you to heaven. You have no way to get to heaven on your own, you need help. You need a miracle. You need a new covenant. The old covenant put you in the driver’s seat to do your best, and the Old Testament revealed that even at your best, it can’t get you to heaven.
Hebrews 8 shows us the help and the miracle—it’s the new covenant: “Now Jesus the Messiah has accepted a priestly ministry which far surpasses theirs, since he is the catalyst of a better covenant which contains far more wonderful promises!” (verse 6 TPT).
What is the “far more wonderful promises” of the new covenant? What makes this so different? It’s what God says next in the form of two words. What follows verse 6 reveals the heart of God and offers us great help and hope. Those two words? I will.
Seven times in this chapter, God says, “I will.” The new covenant is all on God. Where the old covenant was man trying to do better, the new covenant is God saying, You can’t, but I will.
We live in a culture that embraces the I will: I will be better. I will get this right. I will be a success. I will be rich. I will get to heaven.
If you answer the question “How do I get to heaven?” with something you do, then the “I” of the “I will” is you. You can’t be the “I.” The “I” is the Son of God. It’s what He has done for you in the new covenant. Martin Luther so powerfully reminds us of this when he said: “What makes you think that God is more pleased with your good deeds than he is with his blessed son?”
What follows the statement of “far more wonderful promises” is this (all quoted from the NIV):
“I will make a new covenant.” (Verse 8)
“This is the covenant I will establish.” (Verse 10)
“I will put my laws in their minds.” (Verse 10)
“[I will] write them on their hearts.” (Verse 10)
“I will be their God.” (Verse 10)
“I will forgive their wickedness.” (Verse 12)
“[I] will remember their sins no more.” (Verse 12)
The new covenant is what God does for you, not what you do for God.
Another word for you being the “I” is legalism. You are working to make God like you and bring you to heaven. Legalism eliminates God’s involvement in your life and puts it all on you. Legalism says that God will really love you if you can change. As Tullian Tchividjian said, “The ironic thing about legalism is that it not only doesn’t make people work harder, it makes them give up.”
That is when God says, I have a better covenant for you.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis said something that reminds me of the greatness of God’s I Will. Digest these powerful words: “Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer. But the difficulty is to reach the point of recognising that all we have done and can do is nothing.”
That’s the new covenant.