I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. (Jeremiah 32:40-41)
Note: I heard Dr. Charley Lynn Chase preach on this theme in Houston. This post expands on my notes from his message.
1. We Have Hope Because God Is Committed to Jesus’ Followers
Even though this is an Old Testament passage, Christ taught us that He came to fulfill all the Scriptures. The whole Old Testament was speaking about Him and Christian believers are grafted into the one covenant people that God began to gather in the Old Testament.
Dr. J. Alec Motyer (1924-2016) was an Irish scholar who learned to love the Bible at his grandmother’s knee. He said that if the Israelites under Moses would have given their “testimony,” they would have said something like this: We were in a foreign land, in bondage, under the death sentence. But our mediator—the one who stands between us and God—came to deliver us. We trusted God’s promises, took shelter under the blood of the lamb, and the Lord led us out. Now we are on the way to the Lord’s Promised Land. We are not there yet, but we have God’s Scriptures given by the Holy Spirit to guide us and we also have God’s presence in our midst. And the Lord will stay with us until we get to our true country, our everlasting home, the city with foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.
Dr. Motyer said: “Now think about it. A Christian today can say the same thing, almost word for word.” The Old Testament people were saved by God’s grace, just like we are, freely forgiven and accepted by God through faith in the Mediator, the Messiah, who God would provide. The Israelites were saved by God’s grace alone and received His salvation by the costly atonement of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!1
Jeremiah Wrote About Jesus
About 600 BC, God sent Jeremiah to announce Christ’s advent in advance. The Lord said, “I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land.”2 Old Testament believers could be optimistic because Messiah was surely coming. Christians can be hopeful because Jesus has already come the first time, He is now working all things for our good, and He will return for us.
Charley Chase says: In Jeremiah, God commits to us. These words are as much ours as a check written to us or a present with our name on it. Through the Bible’s very great and precious promises, the Lord speaks to us as directly and individually as He did when He spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Lord is committed to us, that’s why we have hope, joy, and grace-based optimism. He promises: You will be my people, and I will be your God.3
2. We Have Hope Because God Is Committed to Doing Things for Us
The Lord is committed to acting to bless us, not just sentimental words. Chase says: A covenant in the Bible is the equivalent of God signing an ironclad, no loophole contract. It’s a formal, official, no-walking-it-back promise, written with the indelible ink of God’s faithfulness on the stationary of His omnipotence. In substance, a covenant is God telling us, “May I cease being God (which is impossible) if I don’t do for you what I give you my word I’ll do.”
On the night before Jesus’ atoning death, He ate the Passover meal with His disciples. He explained that His blood was going to be shed on the cross to ratify the new covenant, foretold by Jeremiah. Here are a few blessings that belong to Jesus’ followers:
- Christ chose us and is a forever faithful husband, protecting and providing for us even when we are unfaithful. Jesus loved His church (His believers) and gave Himself up for us to make us holy and clean. Christ’s followers are His bride, His wife.4 How can we not be optimistic in Christ?
- Jesus will put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts so that we walk in newness of life. For the Jews, God’s law was engraved on tablets of stone and placed in the Most Holy Place. Now Christians are God’s living temple, made of living stones, and the Holy Spirit puts God’s truth in our hearts so that we follow Jesus and forsake everything that is contrary to Him.5 How can we not be optimistic in Christ?
- The Holy Spirit gives us eternal life so that we know the only true God personally, through Jesus, whom God has sent. We are no longer the most important person in the world to us; Christ is. The Lord gives us understanding to know Him, the King who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth. And God delights in us.6 How can we not be optimistic in Christ?
- The Lord will forgive our wickedness and will remember our sins no more. Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. On the cross He said that our sin debt to God was paid in full, so He made perfect reconciliation between God our us.7 How can we not be optimistic in Christ?
The Christian religion is a faith of ultimate victory in Jesus, where the gates of hell can never prevail against Christ and His chosen people (R. J. Rushdoony, see Matthew 16:18)
To be continued. You can read Grace Focused Optimism (Part 2)
Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Motyer comments adapted from Tim Keller. 2 Jer 23:5. 3 Jer 30:22, 31:33. 4 Jer 3:14, 31:32; Eph 5:25–27; Rev 19:7; 21:2,9. 5 Jer 31:33; 2 Cor. 3:3; Heb 8:10; 1 Pet 2:5. 6 Jer 9:24, 31:34; John 17:17; Heb 8:11. 7 Jer 31:34, Luke 19:30; Rom 4:25.