The New Covenant In My Blood (Luke 22:20) (part 1)

What follows is a sermon preached by Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987), who was Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1929–72. This transcription from an audio recording was made in the 1990 and is published here with the permission of Westminster Media. This sermon is significant because it not only preaches the gospel but it reveals a side of Van Til that is insufficiently appreciated: Van Til the pastor and churchman. In it one detects the influence of Geerhardus Vos (1862–1949).


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:

The subject of my message this morning is “The New Covenant In My Blood.” What did Christ mean when he said, “this cup is the New Covenant in my blood”? That is the question with which we shall be concerned this Good Friday service.

Of course the shed blood of our Savior is, by the words of the institution of the Supper, connected with his broken body. But he uses the word you in particular with the shedding of his blood. And Hebrews speaks of the New Covenant which has made the first whole. When it does this, then it contrasts the blood of bulls and goats with the blood of Christ. The way into the holiest, into the very presence of God, says Hebrews, what is not yet made manifest while as yet the first tabernacle was still standing.

On the great day of atonement, the high priest of the old dispensation would go into the holiest of holies where [he shed] the blood of bulls end of goats, which he offered for himself and for the errors of his people. But these sacrifices could not make him that made this service perfect as pertaining to the conscience. If men’s consciences were to be redeemed from dead works then a better sacrifice must be made.

Now comes the high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, by his own blood, into the holy place. “Having obtained eternal redemption for us through the eternal Spirit, he offered himself without spot on to God to purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.”

I have here before me a pamphlet entitled “the finished work of Christ.” It is of that the blood of the new Covenant Speaks. The Old Testament institutions could not finish, that is, they could not complete the work of salvation from sin for man. They were ordinances given for the time then present in order to point forward to the time when the work of redemption would be finished through him who should come, the priest, not after the order of Aaron but after the order of Melchizedek.

To be sure, it was a great privilege to be among God’s chosen people in the time of the Old Covenant and with them to receive the oracles of God. Nowhere else but among Israel did the living God, Creator of heaven and earth, speak with man in the way that he did to Israel. He spoke to them of the coming Redeemer, who, if they looked for him, would cleanse them from the dead works of righteousness. And now this Redeemer has come!

For three years Jesus called the attention of the chosen people to the fact that he was the promised one. But always the leaders of the people rejected him. Even so, Jesus continued to say that he was the one of whom Moses and the prophets had spoken.

Part 2


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  • Cornelius Van Til
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    Rev. Cornelius Van Til, PhD (1895–1987) studied at Calvin College (A.B.), Calvin Theological Seminary and at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a Th.M. He earned his PhD at Princeton University. He served briefly in the pastorate but taught apologetics and theology at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1929–1972. The best introduction to his life and work is John Muether, Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman.

    More by Cornelius Van Til ›

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  1. R. Scott Clark
    Is there more to this sermon than shows up here? If this is a sermon in its completeness, I would be surprised–Van Til is rarely this incomplete in his analysis of things.
    If there is a way to access the entire sermon, I would appreciate it. I am in conversation with some Particular Baptists who presume the newness of the “New Covenant in my Blood” as almost a “revolutionary change” from the old covenant–where the old is completely eliminated and a new order is instituted–not based on and fulfilling the older but completely dismissing the old order.
    Any assistance on this would be appreciated.

      • Thank you. Sorry, in my enthusiasm to read the post, my brain skipped the Part 1 of the title–I caught the rest of it. I will practice patience, then.
        Thanks for the other resources listing.

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