|THE NEW COVENANT: The New Covenant and the Testament
Watchman Nee and Witness Lee
HIS GLORY REIGNS
May 16 2008 08:00AM
In Hebrews 9:15-17 it says, "And because of this He is Mediator of a new covenant, so that, death having taken place
for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, those who have been called might receive the promise of
the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament there must of necessity be the death of him who made it. For a
testament is confirmed where there has been death, since it has no force when he who made it is living." The word
"Mediator" in verse 15 carries the meaning of one who acts as a guarantee so as to secure something which otherwise
would not be obtained. In this sense, therefore, "Mediator" can also be translated "Executor." "Testament" in verses 16
and 17 is the same as "covenant." From these verses we see four important things: (1) a covenant as well as a
testament, (2) the one who made the testament, or the Testator, (3) the Executor of the testament, and (4) the
effectiveness of the testament.
A COVENANT AS WELL AS A TESTAMENT
Why do we say that the covenant is also the testament? Is it God or the Lord Jesus who made the covenant with us?
According to God's Word, it is God who has made the covenant with us and not the Lord Jesus. God is the covenanting
party who stands opposite to us. But it is the Lord Jesus who has accomplished the covenant, for this covenant was
made with the Lord's blood. As far as God is concerned, He made a covenant with us; but as far as the Lord Jesus is
concerned, it was through His death that He bequeathed an eternal inheritance to us (Hebrews 9:15). Therefore, it is a
testament, or a will. For a covenant to become effective, the death of the covenanting one is not required, but for a
testament to become effective, the death of the testator is required. By this we see that it is God who made the
covenant with us, but it is the Lord Jesus who through His death bequeathed the testament, the bequest, to us.
As far as the contents are concerned, the new covenant is the same as the testament. They are also the same as far
as our inheritance is concerned, except that in the expression of it there are two sides: God's side and the Lord's side.
As far as God is concerned, He has made a covenant with us; but as far as the Lord Jesus is concerned, He has left us
a testament. We have said that the new covenant includes three major parts: cleansing, life, and power, and the inward
knowledge. As far as God's making a covenant with us is concerned, it is God who promised to forgive our sins and
cleanse us; it is God who promised to impart life and power to us; and it is also God who promised to give us the inward
knowledge, the deeper knowledge, of Himself. But as far as the Lord Jesus leaving His testament is concerned, it is He
who has left us with the cleansing which comes through the forgiveness of sins; it is He who has left us with life and
power; and it is also He who has left us with the knowledge of God Himself.
THE LORD JESUS BEING THE TESTATOR
We pointed out before that the new covenant was mentioned as early as the time of Jeremiah. However, for several
hundred years no attention was paid to this matter. Then suddenly one day it came up again. According to I
Corinthians 11:23-25, on the night the Lord was betrayed He "took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it,
and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper,
saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood." The new covenant here is the very glorious new covenant
mentioned in the book of Jeremiah. Now, through the blood of the Lord Jesus, this covenant has become our
inheritance so that we can enjoy all its contents. This shows us that the new covenant is the Lord's testament, or will.
Our Lord is the Testator. He has given us the spiritual inheritance in His will. What He has given us are the items
included in the new covenant and indicated in Hebrews 8:10-12. These are the things which the Lord has bequeathed
to us in His will. When we inherit something through a will, we receive what we did not originally possess. Through the
new covenant we received something which we did not work for, but which has been bequeathed to us by the Lord
THE LORD JESUS BEING THE EXECUTOR OF THE TESTAMENT
Our Lord is not only the Testator, but also the Executor of the testament, or will, for "He is Mediator of a new covenant"
(Hebrews 9:15). We said before that as the Mediator of the new covenant, He is also the Executor. We know that when
writing a will it is important to have witnesses, but it is even more important to have one who can execute the will. When
there is a will without an executor, the will remains idle. We praise God that the Lord Jesus is not only the One who
made the will, but also the One who executes the will. As far as death is concerned, the Lord Jesus is the Testator; but
as far as resurrection is concerned, He is the Executor of the will. The Lord Jesus brought the blood into the Holy of
Holies (Hebrews 9:12), indicating that the Testator had died; then the Lord Jesus became the Mediator of the new
covenant in the heavens, indicating that He is the One who has the power to execute the testament. Our Lord is truly
worthy to be praised! He has obtained a more excellent ministry, for He has become the Executor of the better
covenant (Hebrews 8:6).
We are told in Hebrews 12:22-24 that we have "come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, heavenly
Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the universal gathering, and to the church of the firstborn ones who have been
enrolled in the heavens, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men who have been made perfect, and to
Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better than that of Abel." This
passage tells us that we have not come to the mountain which can be touched (verse 18), but to Mount Zion, the
gathering place for God, the angels, the resurrected just men, and the firstborn ones. This is also the place where the
Lord Jesus is, He who is the Mediator of the new covenant. In the heavens the Lord is not only the High Priest, but also
the Mediator, the Executor, of the new covenant, so that it may become effective in us. The Lord will insure that the
effectiveness of this covenant established with His blood be realized in us, enabling us to have the life and power to
submit to God, to have a deeper knowledge of God, and to have the forgiveness of sins with no accusation in our
conscience. He is Mediator of these things. According to God's faithfulness and righteousness, this covenant in
inviolable and irrevocable. According to the Lord's resurrection power, this covenant is forever effective. We must say,
"Hallelujah! The Lord is the One who has left us with such a rich testament! He is also the One who has the power to
execute the testament!"
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE TESTAMENT
Hebrews 9:16-17 tell us that "...where there is a testament there must of necessity be the death of him who made it. For
a testament is confirmed where there has been death, since it has no force when he who made it is living." One day our
Lord told His disciples: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20). This means that the One who made
the will has died, and that the covenant has begun to become effective. When the Lord Jesus brought the blood into
the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:12), He was telling God that the One who made the testament had died. Even those of us
who are living realize that the One who made the testament died, for whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we
show forth the Lord's death (I Corinthians 11:26). "Show" can also be translated "declare." Whenever we eat the bread
and drink the cup, we declare that the Lord has died. The Testator has died, and now the testament, the will, has
It is the Executor's responsibility to make the will effective. We are entitled to every bequest in the will. If the Executor is
faithful, we shall receive all the bequests in the will, but if the Executor is not faithful, we may not receive the bequests to
which we are entitled. Since our Lord is a responsible Executor, we shall receive all the bequests in the testament. As
we have mentioned before, what the Lord has bequeathed to us in His testament includes three major items: (1)
cleansing which comes through the forgiveness of sins, (2) life and power, and (3) an inward knowledge of God. These
three items comprise all the needs of our spiritual life. The Lord Jesus has died and risen again for us. He not only left
us a testament; He is also the Executor of the testament. Therefore, we should no longer live a life of poverty, dryness,
and impotence. We should receive by faith all that is included in the testament.
Have you ever considered that it is enough to be baptized once in our life, but that we frequently need the breaking of
bread in remembrance of the Lord? During the time of the Apostles, the believers broke the bread in remembrance of
the Lord on the first day of every week, because the cup is the cup of the new covenant (Luke 22:20; I Corinthians
11:25). Every Lord's Day when we drink the cup, we know that we are standing upon a covenant. The Lord said, "This
cup is the new covenant in my blood"; therefore, when we drink, what we see is not the grape juice or the wine itself, but
a new covenant which the Lord established with His blood. The Lord wants us to drink all that He has given to us.
Every Lord's Day we are reviewing this new covenant so that we may remember the Lord and receive all that is included
in this cup. The Lord wants us to remember, every time we drink it, that God is bound by this covenant and that He
delights to give us all that is promised in the covenant. The Lord wants us to remember that we can enjoy constantly all
that is included in the new covenant. Whenever we remember the Lord before God, this is what He would have us see.
Both the bread and the cup are for us to remember the Lord. The Lord is dealing with us according to the terms in the
covenant. Therefore, when we remember the Lord, we are remembering Him in the covenant.
Whether the testament is effective or not does not depend upon our efforts, but has much to do with whether or not we
know what the riches in the testament are and whether we can believe in the effectiveness of the testament and in the
fact that the Lord Jesus is the Executor of the testament. Now we shall give some illustrations.
The Forgiveness of Sins
Take, for example, the forgiveness of sins. Some may think, "I have sinned; I must try to do my best and to do good
until my sins can be forgiven. But I do not know how long it might take before the sins could be forgiven." Others may
think, "I have sinned; I should pray again and again until one day I feel at peace. Then my sins will be forgiven." But in
both cases we must realize that this is something they are trying to do by themselves; this is not something the Lord has
bequeathed to us in His testament.
We must realize that our sins are cleansed and forgiven not through the accumulation of good works, for going good is
merely our basic duty; neither does it depend upon our praying until God forgets our sins, for our sins can never be
erased through our prayer; neither is the whole matter resolved by praying until we forget our sins. We must realize
that the matter of our sins being cleansed and forgiven is not solved by any other than the blood, for "without shedding
of blood there is no forgiveness" of sins (Hebrews 9:22). It is the blood of the Lord Jesus which cleanses us from all our
sins (I John 1:7). "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). This is the testament and this is the new covenant. Can we believe this?
The Release from Sin
Concerning the matter of release from sin, Romans 6:14 says, "For sin shall not lord it over you, for you are not under
law but under grace." Some say this: "Although the Scriptures declare this, yet I still feel as weak as water. Whenever I
face temptation I always fail." People like this continually try to do something themselves and continually struggle. This
is not a bequest they find in the testament; this is not the new covenant. If they see what the new covenant is, they will
say: "Praise God, power does not come from me; power is a bequest from the Lord to me!" This is the testament and
this is the new covenant.
Knowing and Doing God's Will
Some may say, "How can I know God's will, and how can I do God's will?" The answer is that both the ability to know
God's will and the power to do God's will are bequests in the testament of the Lord Jesus. Everyone who belongs to the
Lord should obey God's will. Everyone who belongs to the Lord not only has the potential for knowing God's will, but
also has the potential for doing God's will, for the Lord has bequeathed to us in His testament the ability to know God,
and He has also bequeathed to us the power to do God's will (Hebrews 13:20-21). This is the testament and this is the
The eternal inheritance which the Lord has bequeathed to us is spiritual and cannot be exhausted in our lifetime. But
today how many belonging to the Lord can say that they have been purified and that they no longer have any
conscience of sins? (Hebrews 10:2). How many can say that the Lord's law has been imparted into their mind and
inscribed upon their heart, and that by the inner life and power they are able to do God's will and please Him? How
many today can say that because of the Lord's anointing in us we by no means need man's teaching to know God?
Brothers and sisters, we must all realize that the Lord through His blood established the new covenant and bequeathed
the rich testament - the bequest - to us. He is also the Executor of this will. Therefore, if we can receive it by faith, we
shall become rich and free.
"O Lord, may You cause each one of us to see what the testament, the new
covenant, is so that You may be fully satisfied when You see the effectiveness of the
covenant of Your blood."
The New Covenant, by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, Copyright 1981, Living Stream Ministry.
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