RELIGION -OR- RELATIONSHIP?

HEBREWS 8:7: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What do you think of when you hear the name, Jesus? Do you think of religion or relationship? Is Jesus someone who lived in history that you have heard about or is He someone you daily walk with and have fellowship with? Another way to ask this is –

Is your faith on the inside or the outside?

The Bible talks about two Covenants – Old and New. The Old Covenant is identified with the Old Testament. When someone thinks about the Old Covenant they usually think about Moses and the Ten Commandments. Even the way we keep our time divides on the line of the Old and the New Covenant – B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (in the year of our Lord, or in Christ).

The Jews were God’s chosen people. They were given the Law and the Commandments. They were the recipients of His Covenant and Promises. Yet, they turned what was supposed to be a relationship into a dead and outward expression of religion. They sought to be justified by what they did outwardly and ignored the true condition of their heart.

Before we become too critical of the Old Testament saints we need to examine our own hearts. Today, countless people who claim to have faith are walking in this same error. Whenever we focus on the outward appearance and neglect the true condition of our hearts we are walking in the Old Covenant. We can go to church, serve as volunteers, try to follow the Ten Commandments, and still be as lost as many of them were.

This is why the writer of Hebrews states –

  • “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”

The first covenant was deficient, not in its content, but in our ability to follow it. The reason for this was the condition of our hearts. Without a changed heart, it was like trying to put a bridle on a stubborn mule. No matter what was attempted externally, it had no impact on one’s life internally. This is the reason Jesus came. This is what He accomplished on the cross. His death for our sins, His victorious resurrection, and His gift of the Holy Spirit invite us to a New Covenant.

Jesus invites us to move from religion to – RELATIONSHIP!

  • “Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews‬ ‭8‬:‭8‬-‭12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I too was once bound by the outward expressions of religion. I went to church, sang the songs, and listened to the messages, but nothing changed in my life. Then, one day, when I cried out to the Lord to change my heart, something wonderful happened. I discovered the transforming power of the Holy Spirit giving me a new heart and a new life. Everything that I once did out of duty I began to do with new meaning out of love. The power to live a better life was not coming from without. It was the response of a new relationship coming from within!

It was when I met Jesus personally through faith that I began to live in a daily relationship of love with Him!

I fear that we have exchanged the call to transformation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the same old covenant that kept the Jews from believing in Christ. This modern day version of the “old covenant” – is a religion that focuses on style, technology, the manipulation of emotions through media, and entertainment – rather than on the simple power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love all the tools we have today to share the Gospel. However, it can become the new religion that keeps us from the reality of relationship if we are not careful.

The power of transformation does not lie within our practice of church. This is just another dead end of religion. The power of transformation in Christ lies only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the call to personal faith in Him!

  • “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Father, thank You for delivering me from religion and bringing me into a relationship with Jesus Christ my Lord! Bring renewal to my heart and the heart of Your church. Let us rediscover the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and call others to this wonderful walk of faith!

  • “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭20‬-‭21‬ ‭NKJV‬

Come, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and move from religion to – RELATIONSHIP!

In Jesus’ Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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