Era of the Spirit
The Gift of the Spirit is part of the New Covenant, and the first fruits of the New Creation and the gathering of the nations. The history of Israel includes national sins that caused her expulsion from the Land of Canaan. However, God foresaw her failures and determined to institute a new covenant, one ENERGIZED AND CHARACTERISED BY HIS SPIRIT. This covenant included the salvation of the nations and would culminate in the New Creation at the end of the age. With the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the Age of the Spirit commenced.
The death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth inaugurated a new era in Salvation History, the messianic age, and the time of fulfillment. In him, the “LAST DAYS” began in earnest and all God’s promises are now being fulfilled in and by Jesus.
|[Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash]|
When Israel repented wholeheartedly, as promised in the Hebrew Bible, the God of Abraham would then gather her “from among all the peoples where Yahweh your God has scattered you.” Moreover, He would “MULTIPLY you beyond your fathers” and “CIRCUMCISE your heart to love Him with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live” - (Deuteronomy 30:3-6).
Two things are noteworthy in the passage from Deuteronomy. First, God planned to “multiply Israel beyond her forebears.” The English term “multiply” translates the same Hebrew verb found in the call to Adam to be “fruitful and multiply,” and in God’s promise to multiply Abraham’s seed - (Genesis 1:28, 17:2).
Second, the restoration would occur when God “circumcised Israel’s heart” and inscribed His law on it, an internal change promised in the Hebrew scriptures and actualized by God’s Spirit under the promised “New Covenant”- (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20).
The promised restoration of Israel was far more expansive and glorious than anything the ancient nation had ever known or imagined, an act of sheer grace by which Yahweh would enable His people to fulfill the covenant through the “new Spirit” given by Him. This describes nothing less than a new creative act that impacts all the nations of the earth - (Isaiah 65:17-18, Revelation 21:1-3).
In the New Testament, the promises are fulfilled in Jesus as God implements His New Covenant, including the covenant promises to Abraham and Israel - the “circumcised heart” and the “new Spirit.”
Jesus came to fulfill the “Law and the Prophets.” The Jews who saw him experienced something “greater than Jonah,” “greater than Solomon,” “greater than David,” and greater than the Temple. In the Nazarene, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated and now is advancing across the Earth - (Matthew 5:17-21, 12:6, 12:28, 12:41-42).
Having established the “New Covenant in his blood,” Jesus commenced building his community. But in this new era, his “assembly” of saints is formed around and centered on him, not the Land of Canaan or the Temple in Jerusalem:
- In him, “what things God had before declared through the mouth of all the prophets… the covenant that He covenanted with your fathers, saying to Abraham, in your seed shall be blessed all the families of the earth” - (Acts 3:24-26, Acts 10:42-43, 13:18-33).
According to the Apostle Paul, “All the promises of God find their ‘Yea’ and ‘Amen’ in Jesus.” He ascended on high “that he might fulfill all things.”
The jurisdiction of the Torah was only for a limited time - “until Christ came” - the true seed of Abraham. In him, all those who have faith in the Word of God as the Patriarch did become the “children of Abraham” and heirs of the promises - (2 Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 3:24, Romans 10:4).
Jesus became the Suffering Servant portrayed in Isaiah who “confirms the promises to the fathers so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” Thus, the promise of “blessing for the nations” given to Abraham is fulfilled by Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. The original covenant has been expanded far beyond the limited boundaries of Canaan - (Romans 15:8-9).
Prior to his death, the Gentiles were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” However, because of Jesus, “Those who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The ancient promise to regather God’s people is fulfilled as BOTH Jews and Gentiles respond in faith to the Good News of the Kingdom announced by Jesus and his disciples.
From the beginning, God’s purpose was “to sum up all things in Christ in the fullness of the times.” This included the redemption of the nations and the physical creation itself - (Ephesians 1:10, 2:11-13).
When referring to the Promised Land, the Hebrew Bible employs the terms “inheritance,” “inherit,” “heir,” and “promise.” In the New Testament, the same terms are applied to what God is accomplishing now in His Son, including the Gift of the Spirit. He is the true heir of Abraham and the heir of all things - (Matthew 21:38, 28:18, John 13:3, Colossians 1:12-13, 1 Peter 1:3-5).
The Gift of the Spirit confirms the status of believers, both Jewish and Gentile alike. They are the “children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Anyone who has received the Spirit becomes part of his new community regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or gender.
Thus, the salvation provided by Jesus is a universal offer of life for all men, women, and children.
He is Abraham’s true “seed,” and as partners with Jesus, his disciples also become “heirs according to promise.” Moreover, the Spirit is the “earnest of our inheritance for the redemption of the possession” - (Romans 8:16-17, Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 1:13-14).
He is “the mediator of the new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance.”
He implemented the prophesied New Covenant by becoming the heir of Abraham. Consequently, all who are “in Christ” are coheirs with him and “children of Abraham” who will receive the same inheritance - (Romans 8:1-23, Hebrews 8:6-13, 9:15).
The apostles are “ministers of the New Covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit,” another allusion to the New Covenant promised in the Hebrew Bible in which God writes His laws in hearts freshly circumcised by His Spirit - (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 31:34, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6).
In his death and resurrection, the Nazarene became the “surety of a better covenant” and established the promised new one. Moreover, because he established the “New Covenant,” logically, “he made the first one obsolete” - (Hebrews 7:22, 8:6-13, 9:15, 10:16).
The bodily resurrection of Jesus was an act of new creation. God did not resuscitate a corpse but gave him a gloriously new and immortal body that is no longer subject to death, disease, and decay. This means that his resurrection inaugurated the New Creation, although there is an overlap between the existing age and the coming one - “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, a new creation, the old things are passed away, behold, they have become new” - (1 Corinthians 15:42-50, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
The arrival of the New Creation means the redefinition of the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, Abraham will “inherit the world,” and not just a tiny strip of land in the Middle East - (Romans 4:13).
Moreover, his disciples are also his coheirs. Their final hope will be realized in the bodily resurrection. At present, the creation itself “sighs and travails in birth pangs” as it “ardently awaits the revelation of the sons of God.” But that condition will end when the “Lord of Glory” appears again at the end of the present age.
Both humanity and the entire universe, at present, are subject to decay and death due to Adam’s “transgression.” But God will reverse the curse when His sons receive the redemption of their bodies. In the interim, his disciples have the Spirit as the “first fruits” of and down payment on their final redemption - (Romans 8:17-23).
The New Creation is the ultimate inheritance of believers. According to his promise, “we look for the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwells righteousness,” and in it, “God will tabernacle with men, and they will be his people.”
When that day does arrive, He will wipe away every tear and death will cease forevermore - “Behold, I make all things new!” - (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1-7).
All this has been set into motion in the Age of the Spirit inaugurated by Jesus Christ. The “New Covenant” and “New Creation” began with his death, resurrection, and ascension, a process that is currently underway, and one that will consummate in the bodily resurrection of the saints and the arrival of the “New Heavens and the New Earth.”