ABIDE IN CHRIST,
as tf)t Sutetg of the ©obenant.
Jesus was made a surety of a better testament.—Heb. vil. 22.
AF the Old Covenant Scripture speaks as not being faultless, and God complains that Israel had not continued in it; and so He regarded them not (Heb. viii. 7-9)- It had not secured its apparent object, in uniting Israel and God: Israel had forsaken Him, and He had not regarded Israel. Therefore God promises to make a New Covenant, free from the faults of the first, and effectual to realize its purpose. If it were to accomplish its end, it would need to secure God's faithfulness to His people, and His people's faithfulness to God. And the terms of the New Covenant expressly declare that these two objects shall be attained. "I will put my laws into their mind: " thus God proposes to secure their unchanging faithfulness to Him. "Their sins I will remember no more" (see Heb. viii. 10-12): thus He assures His unchanging faithfulness to them. A pardoning God and an obedient people: these are the two parties who are to meet and to be eternally united in the New Covenant.
The most beautiful provision of this New Covenant is that of the surety in whom its fulfillment on both parts is guaranteed. Jesus was made the surety of the better covenant. To man He became surety that God would faithfully fulfill His part, so that man could confidently depend upon God to pardon, and accept, and never more forsake. And to God He likewise became surety that man would faithfully fulfill his part, so that God would bestow on him the blessing of the covenant. And the way in which He fulfills His suretyship is this: As one with God, and having the fulness of God dwelling in His human nature, He is personally security to men that God will do what He has engaged. All that God has is secured to us in Him as man. And then, as one with us, and having taken us up as members into His own body, He is security to God that His interests shall be cared for. All that man must be and do is secured in Him. It is the glory of the New Covenant that it has in the person of the God-man its living surety, its everlasting security. And it can easily be understood how, in proportion as we abide in Him as the surety of the covenant, its objects and its blessings will be realized in us.
We shall understand this best if we consider it in the light of one of the promises of the New Covenant. Take that in Jer. xxxii. 40: "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that Izvill not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."
With what wonderful condescension the infinite God here bows Himself to our weakness! He is the Faithful and Unchanging One, whose word is truth; and yet more abundantly to show to the heirs of the promise the immutability of His counsel, He binds Himself in the covenant that He will never change : "I will make an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from them." Blessed the man who has thoroughly appropriated this, and finds his rest in the everlasting covenant of the Faithful One!
But in a covenant there are two parties. And what if man becomes unfaithful and breaks the covenant? Provision must be made, if the covenant is to be well ordered in all things and sure, that this cannot be, and that man too remain faithful. Man never can undertake to give such an assurance. And see, here God comes to provide for this too. He not only undertakes in the covenant that He will never turn from His people, but also to put His fear in their heart, that they do not depart from Him. In addition to His own obligations as one of the covenanting parties, He undertakes for the other party too: "I Will Cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them" (Ezek. xxxvi. 7). Blessed the man who understands this half of the covenant too! He sees that his security is not in the covenant which he makes with his God, and which he would but continually break again. He finds that a covenant has been made, in which God stands good, not only for Himself, but for man too. He grasps the blessed truth that his part in the covenant is to accept what God has promised to do, and to expect the sure fulfillment of the Divine engagement to secure the faithfulness of His people to their God: "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."
It is just here that the blessed work comes in of the surety of the covenant, appointed of the Father to see to its maintenance and perfect fulfillment. To Him the Father hath said, "I have given thee for a covenant of the people." And the Holy Spirit testifies, "All the promises of God In Him are yea, and in Him are Amen, to the glory of God by us." The believer who abides in Him hath a Divine assurance for the fulfillment of every promise the covenant ever gave.
Christ was made surety of a better testament. It is as our Melchisedec that Christ is surety (see Heb. vii.). Aaron and his sons passed away; of Christ it is witnessed that He liveth. He is priest in the power of an endless life. Because He coniinueth ever, He hath an unchangeable priesthood. And because He ever liveth to make intercession, He can save to the uttermost, He can save completely. It is because Christ is the Ever-living One that His suretyship of the covenant is so effectual. He liveth ever to make intercession, and can therefore save completely. Every moment there rise up from His holy presence to the Father, the unceasing pleadings which secure to His people the powers and the blessings of the heavenly life. And every moment there go out from Him downward to His people, the mighty influences of His unceasing intercession, conveying to them uninterruptedly the power of the heavenly life. As surety with us for the Father's favor, He never ceases to pray and present us before Him; as surety with the Father for us, He never ceases to work, and reveal the Father within us.
The mystery of the Melchisedec priesthood, which the Hebrews were not able to receive (Heb. v. 1014), is the mystery of the resurrection life. It is in this that the glory of Christ as surety of the covenant consists: He ever liveth. He performs His work in heaven in the power of a Divine, an omnipotent life. He ever liveth to pray; not a moment that as surety His prayers do not rise Godward to secure the Father's fulfillment to us of the covenant. He performs His work on earth in the power of that same life; not a moment that His answered prayers—the powers of the heavenly world—do not flow downward to secure for His Father our fulfillment of the covenant.
In the eternal life there are no breaks,—never a moment's interruption; each moment has the power of eternity in it. He ever, every moment, liveth to pray. He ever, every moment, liveth to bless. He can save to the uttermost, completely and perfectly, because He ever liveth to pray.
Believer! come and see here how the possibility of abiding in Jesus every moment is secured by the very nature of this ever-living priesthood of thy surety. Moment by moment, as His intercession rises up, its efficacy descends. And because Jesus stands good for the fulfillment of the covenant,—" I will put my fear in their heart, and they shall not depart from me,"—He cannot afford to leave thee one single moment to thyself. He dare not do so, or He fails of His undertaking. Thy unbelief may fail of realizing the blessing; He cannot be unfaithful. If thou wilt but consider Him, and the power of that endless life after which He was made and is a High Priest, thy faith will rise to believe that an endless, ever-continuing, unchangeable life of abiding in Jesus, is nothing less than what is awaiting thee.
It is as we see what Jesus is, and is to us, that the abiding in Him will become the natural and spontaneous result of our knowledge of Him. If His life unceasingly, moment by moment, rises to the Father for us, and descends to us from the Father, then to abide moment by moment is easy and simple. Each moment of conscious intercourse with Him we simply say, "Jesus, surety, keeper, ever-living Saviour, in whose life I dwell, I abide in Thee." Each moment of need, or darkness, or fear, we still say, "O Thou great High Priest, in the power of an endless, unchangeable life, I abide in Thee." And for the moments when direct and distinct communion with Him must give place to needful occupations, we can trust His suretyship, His unceasing priesthood, in its Divine efficacy, and the power with which He saves to the uttermost, still to keep us abiding in Him.