Can you explain
in a nutshell what the new covenant is according to the Bible? Please keep
it as simple as possible.
A: There is nothing really deep or complicated about the new covenant if we don't get "carried away with various and strange teachings," by going "beyond the things that are written." (Eph. 4:14; 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:8-9, 11; Heb. 13:9)
First of all we need to understand what a covenant is as presented in the Bible. According to the online WordReference.com English Dictionary a covenant is “an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return.”
Similarly, Insight on the Scriptures describes a covenant as “an agreement between two or more persons to do or refrain from doing some act; a compact; a contract. . . In effect, any promise made by Jehovah is a covenant; it is certain to be carried out; it can be relied on with confidence for its fulfillment. (Heb 6:18) A covenant is in force as long as the terms of it are operative and the obligation to perform rests on one or both parties. The results or the blessings brought about by the covenant may continue, even forever.” —it-1 p. 520 Covenant.
Please note that a covenant is not the same as a dedication, terms the Society often uses interchangeably, thus adding to the confusion of their explanations of scriptural covenants.
Here follows a simple scriptural explanation:
Because of his great respect for man (who
is created in God's image), God deals with people by means of covenants, whereby
he promises to do things for them if they in turn keep certain obligations to
him. Thus the Bible speaks of various covenants that God made with individuals,
groups of people, or his entire nation.
It is a serious sin to break a covenant. —Gen. 1:26-27; 6:18; 9:8-15; 15:18; Ex. 24:7-8;
Lev. 26:14-17; 1 Sam. 13:13-14; Neh. 13:29;
Adam was in a covenant with God, often called the covenant of life. According to the terms of the covenant Adam’s continued life and blessings depended on his obedience to God, expressed in the command not to eat from the “tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Gen. 2:16-17; Deut. 11:26-28; 12:28) When Adam knowingly and willfully ate from the tree he broke the covenant and came under its penalty, forfeiting his relationship with his heavenly Father and the right to continued life, not only for himself but also for all his yet unborn future descendants. They, that is, all of us, have inherited the consequences of his disobedience and are born sinners. (Gen. 3:6; Rom. 5:12) Jehovah purposed to restore this covenant at some future time with "those who had not sinned after the likeness of the transgression by Adam." (Rom. 5:14) Therefore he foretold that he would produce a "seed" or savior (this promise is often referred to as the Edenic covenant) who would provide to God, on behalf of mankind, the basis "for forgiveness of sins" by means of "the blood of the covenant." The hope of being reconciled to God at some future time was held out to all people. —Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22:27; Matt. 26:28; Luke 2:11; Rom. 5:8-10.
God made a covenant with faithful Abraham for the purpose of establishing a nation through whom the Seed would come, and from among whom he would choose faithful others to be close associates of the promised Seed (figuratively spoken of as a bride), a feature of the promise which he kept hidden until his appointed time of fulfilling it. —Gen. 17:9-14; 22:18; Ex. 19:5-6; Matt. 11:11; Gal. 3:16, 28-29; Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1-3; 19:7-8; 21:2.
Upon delivering them out of Egypt Jehovah made a covenant with the nation of Israel, Abraham's offspring, at Mount Sinai; with Moses as the mediator. This Law Covenant was "a shadow of the things to come," and not the actual reality that would set mankind free from sin and death. It would produce the Seed and prepare God's people for the new and better covenant, serving as a "tutor leading to Christ." —Jer. 31:31-34; Col. 2:17; Heb. 9:24; 10:1; Gal. 3:24-25.
The Law Covenant mediated by Moses was destined to go out of existence with the inauguration of the new covenant. At the very start Jehovah had purposed to replace the Law covenant with a new and better covenant once the former had served its purpose. Since the Jews were God's people on the basis of the Law covenant, they needed to be brought into the new covenant in order to continue to enjoy a relationship with God. (Deut. 4:7-8, 33-34; 28:9-10; Psalms 147:19-20) Besides the Jews, people of the nations (all of Adam's descendants) would now be able to become party to the new covenant by accepting the terms and its mediator. Whereas the old covenant was made between God and the nation of Israel, this new covenant would include all mankind. —Mal. 2:10; Acts 4:12; 13:48; 28:28; Rom. 3:29; 10:12-13; Eph. 2:11-18; Heb. 8:6-13.
Jesus, as the promised Seed, is the mediator of the New Covenant, which he validated "by virtue of [his] blood." (Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 9:22) It is Christ's blood that makes forgiveness of sins possible, which in turn enables mankind―born in sin―to be reconciled to their heavenly Father as his sons and daughters and be brought into the new covenant, just as in the case of Adam before his disobedience. (Matt. 6:9, 26, 32; 23:9; Luke 3:38; John 14:23-24; 2 Cor. 6:17-18; Gal. 3:26) The new covenant is "an everlasting covenant," that is, there is no need to ever replace it, for "the Christ was offered once for all time to bear the sins of many." (Heb. 9:28; 13:20) The new covenant is the very reality and fulfillment of God's promise as foretold after the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. It fully accomplishes God's purpose to "gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth," and "to break up the works of the Devil." (John 3:16-17; Eph. 1:9-10; 1 John 3:8) The benefits of "the blood of the covenant" are applied to an individual upon his baptism; his sins are forgiven and he comes under the terms of the new covenant, and is now "declared righteous for life," as long as he remains faithful, just as Adam should have been. —Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 5:18-19; Heb. 3:14; 9:13-15; Rev. 2:10; 3:5; 7:14.
The perfect man Adam did not need a mediator between himself and God. Neither did Jesus need someone to represent him before Jehovah. (Matt. 17:5; Heb. 9:24) Until we can say, as Jesus could, "I always do the things pleasing to [God]," we are in constant need of forgiveness of sins and in need of Jesus as mediator, representing us before God and pleading on our behalf, as Moses the mediator did on behalf of God's people at that time. (John 8:29; 14:6; Exodus 24:2-3; 32:11; Deut. 9:19-20; Rom. 8:34; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 1:8-10; 2:1-2) The thousand year reign of Jesus Christ, with his associate kings and priests, will be "for the curing of the nations," restoring mankind to the vibrant health and perfection that Adam enjoyed before his rebellion. (Rev. 7:16-17; 20:6; 21:3-4; 22:1-2) Therefore, at the end of the thousand years restored mankind will no longer have any need of a mediator to represent them before God, or intercede for them. At that time "[Christ] hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power. For he must rule as king until [God] has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing... But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone." —1 Cor. 15:24-28.