Contrasting the Two Covenants: Blog Series Introduction

Posted Mar 11, 2013 by Jeff Wilson in Everlasting Gospel Hits: 2,419

 

"Married to Another"


A study featuring seven Biblical examples of the two Covenants with one
example illustrated by marriage. We will consider how to be delivered from the natural
“law of sin and death” in the Old Covenant “schoolmaster” system – a religion based upon legalistic performance, disconnection, guilt, shame and frustration. We will explore how to enter into the supernatural “law of the Spirit of life” under the New Covenant of grace and faith.

 

“These things [Salvation by grace Eph. 2:7-10] . . . affirm constantly” (Titus 3:8)

 

“The covenant of mercy was made before the foundation of the world. It has existed from all eternity and was called the everlasting covenant.” 7BC 934

“As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God's law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.” PP 370


Recently I put together a study on the Two Covenants. The complete study is 34 pages long so I decided to break it down and post smaller sections for separate blogs here on MM. The following is the first "example" of 7 I chose to illustrate the nature of the New Covenant. 

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Contents of blog series: 

       Seven (7) Biblical Examples of the Two Covenants: -

                Adam and Eve

                Cain contrasted with Able and Noah contrasted with Babylon

                Abraham’s family during unbelief, correlating Mount Sinai

                The old covenant experience manifest at Mount Sinai

                The Roman Centurion

                Absentee School Kids

                Romans Chapter 7: The illustration of marriage and remarriage.

 

  • Seven (7) Characteristics of the Two Covenants
  • Seven (7) Love Languages of the New Covenant

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Introduction:  This is Part 1 of 3 of an in-depth study presenting seven different examples, characteristics, and love languages of the two Covenants. The last Biblical “example” is illustrated in a figurative way by marriage. Hence the title “Married to Another” (Rom. 7:3,4).  Many more examples could come to mind from Scripture however, I have just included a small sample that I feel clearly serve the purpose of illustrating the nature of either the old covenant, the new covenant or both.

Recently while I was editing and refining this article during “down time” at work, a colleague came behind me, glanced over my shoulder right at my PC screen and said,  “Hmmm, married to another ha”. I think I was right in assuming she naturally took the title quite literally! I felt a slightly awkward and didn’t really want to try and explain that the title is symbolic and refers to being spiritually connected to Christ and that the article is in no way promoting infidelity!

As you read through this article, before long you will notice plenty of Scriptural references to support what has been presented. These are not random references. They are relevant to the text and were specifically chosen to harmonize with the context. I would like to think the things presented on the following 14 pages would not be seen merely as personal opinion. When it comes to Scripture, my opinion is only worth anything as it is influenced by principle pillars of truth which rest on the solid foundation of God’s Word. If you are unsure with anything in this article and especially if you haven’t thoroughly explored this theme, I would then challenge you to prayerfully do so. You can read the Scriptural references and you might humbly come to a very similar conclusion J. But by all means, feel free to disagree. I welcome your feedback. It is quite possible there are things I need to reconsider, clarify or completely change. If after reading this, you have any feedback or friendly criticism then feel free to email me on the above address.

The Everlasting Covenant: There are many different covenants mentioned in Scripture. For just one brief example there is the Covenant God made with Noah by the token of the rainbow, promising that a flood would never again destroy the world (Gen. 6:18; 9:11,18). The covenant we will explore in this article however is the gospel Covenant – the one associated with redemption first given in Genesis after the fall of Adam and Eve with the first sacrifice – prefiguring the Messiah, the “Prince of the Covenant” to come and the promise of gospel enmity implanted in every believing soul that is converted.

The gospel Covenant is also reflected in the Abrahamic Covenant. In actual fact, God promised to establish it with Abraham, His son Isaac and his numerous descendants (Gen 17:21; Psm. 105:8) as we will examine later. These are two of the seven “Examples” we will consider.


Seven (7) Biblical Examples of the Two Covenants

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Example 1

And the eyes of them [Adam and Eve] both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons – Gen 3:7 (An Old Covenant characteristic) . . . . . . Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them Gen 3:21 (A New Covenant provisional characteristic.)

Adam and Eve: (Self-Righteousness Versus God’s Righteousness). After Adam and Eve fell into sin, the characteristics of distrust, fear, shame, guilt, blame, self-justification, disconnection and distancing themselves from God took the place of love (Gen 3:8-13). They lost their covenantal garments of light (signifying their character of purity and innocence) and felt naked and exposed. So they sowed fig leaves together for clothes yet this was an attempt to cover “the shame of their nakedness” (Gen 3:7). This was the result of their own devising and the first example in Scripture of a manifestation of “works” – our first parent’s unsuccessful natural unaided attempt to try and cover their moral problems and deal with their shame. This reflects and illustrates the Old Covenant experience. Only God could remedy the problem. He provided a blood sacrifice for lambskins to cover them.

Life Application: The provisional sacrifice is a gift of God’s free grace. It prefigured the sacrifice (freely given life) of Christ, as “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, who covers the shame of our moral nakedness with His spotless righteousness (Rev 3:17,18; 13:8.). God also promised to put gospel “enmity”, a heaven-born hatred against sin, in the hearts of Adam, Eve and their seed (Gen. 3:15). Gospel enmity characterized by an aversion toward sin (disconnection/lawlessness) is another indication of the new birth testifying of a New Covenant experience.


Earliest Origins of the Old and New: Most Christians consider the everlasting gospel as foundational to their faith. In fact, “the everlasting gospel”, “the gospel of Christ”, “the gospel of salvation”, “the everlasting covenant”, “the Abrahamic Covenant” and “the New Covenant” and the object of “the gospel of the kingdom” are really seven (7) different expressions describing much the same thing – character restoration. This is the central theme of the Bible. It is important to realize that although some of the above phrases contain the word “new” and “old”, this doesn’t imply that those particular Covenants were ALTOGETHER applicable to a particular dispensation.

Sealing the Covenant: It is true that the New Covenant was not sealed and ratified until the cross when the “messenger of the Covenant would come” (Dan. 9:27; 11: 22; Matt. 26:27, 28; Heb. 9:16,17; Mal. 3:1) and eventually seal the covenant with His own blood. Paul writes, “For where a testament [Covenant] is, there must also be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:16,17). It was after Calvary when Christ the “testator” died that the real force of the New Testament /Covenant took place.

Most people have a legal will in place by the time they reach a certain age. But the provisions contained in that will/testament are not executed until that person’s death. In the same way, Christ’s covenantal will would begin to take effect as soon as He had confirmed the covenant by His death. After someone’s death, the covenant/will cannot be changed. No one can add anything to it or take away anything from it (Gal 3:15). However, it may need repeating that the New Covenant/Everlasting Gospel is not restricted to a particular dispensation.  Both Covenants exist today “The Covenants are not matters of time but of condition” – Glad Tidings, chapter 4, E.J. Waggoner. The gospel experience of deliverance, “enmity” and supernatural victory available in the New Covenant extended back to Adam and Eve just as the Old Covenant experience, which also began with Adam and Eve, can extend forward to the present (Gen 3:15; Eze. 36:25-27.) Both Covenants developed further over time and the contrasting experiences associated with them became clearly noticeable in different people’s behavior. Let’s examine some examples.

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Example 2

By faith [firm trust/belief] Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. – Heb. 11:4

Cain contrasted with Able / Noah contrasted with Babylon: The New and Old Covenant experience was further demonstrated in the world’s first parent’s children - Cain and Able. They both professed to serve the living God. When God required a sacrifice, Cain brought an bloodless offering from the fruit of the ground produced by his own works  – indicating unbelief. This act of Cain points to an Old Covenant experience. Cain’s offering revealed a heart of unbelief (to do religion his way) and God “had no respect for it” (Gen 4:5). Able on the other hand brought a living sacrifice prefiguring Christ the life-giver. This demonstrated faith in the Messiah to come and was acceptable to God (Gen 4:4).

Noah and ancient Babylon: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house . . .  and became heir of righteousness which is by faith” Heb. 11:7. Cain's experience is further reflected in the tower of Babel. After the event of the flood during the days of Noah, the people of the ancient world decided to build a city and a tower whose height may reach unto heaven” in an attempt to save themselves and escape from another deluge of water Gen 11:4. They did not accept or see the significance behind the Covenantal rainbow of promise. The rainbow was a divine promise and merciful reminder that God would never again allow the earth to be swallowed up by a flood. The man made structure of the tower of Babel was the epitome of works-based religion. It is further reflected in modern Protestant/Papal/New Age mentality. This humanistic religion of Babylon to this day will be made more manifest as we approach the end.

The characteristics of Satan’s lady “Babylon”, this great “whore”, will stand in clear contrast to the Christ’s representative lady – His beloved bride and faithful church.  Lucifer the great deceiver and leader of Babylon will influence the religio-political beast powers to "have indignation against the holy Covenant" and Christ’s holy bride. However, Christ’s lady’s message invites all people to receive the blessing of the marriage covenant and experience (“the everlasting gospel”). This will eventually cause Babylon to "fall" and come to an end (Rev 14:6-12; Matt 24:14).

Life Application: When we were “born of the flesh” (our first birth) we all naturally inherited an inflexible “law of sin” nature (Rom 8:23,25; 8:2). Unaided by God’s Spirit or grace, we soon very naturally and easily develop a moral nature/character that has a tendency toward self-justification that tries to obtain righteousness and approval by our own worldly or religious performance. This is amazingly subtle. (Any of you parents may from time-to-time notice this in your kids). This natural tendency is so enmeshed into our nature that, without the illumination of God’s Word in exposing our moral defects we find it very hard to recognize and usually do not want to acknowledge this! We find it difficult to admit the reality of our bent to sinfulness. I regularly encounter wonderful people from wide differing socioeconomic backgrounds influenced by “New Age” mentality. These often times sophisticated and educated people appear to highly prize and value love, peace, healthy living, spirituality etc. They are often high achievers and that in it self is not always a bad thing for Christians either. (It is good to faithfully develop our God-given gifts and talents. Matt 25:14-30). So although these people may have many admirable qualities, under the subtle deception of their philosophy there is usually either a lack of knowledge of, a complete denial of, or a reluctance to want to acknowledge the inherent sinfulness of human nature. They believe in the “inner light” and the humanistic philosophy that humanity can naturally develop the good inside themselves (find enlightenment like in Buddhism etc.) but they do not recognize in and of ourselves, without divine supernatural converting power, “there is none righteous no not one”. (See Jer. 17:9; Rev 3:15-18; John 3:6, 9:41; 1 Cor. 15:50; Jer. 13:23; Isa 64:6; Mark 7:21,22; Rom 3:10).

God has always desired that His people would, at least eventually, experience the New Covenant and learn from the hopelessness of the Old. Fortunately, oftentimes when people get tired of the old, fed up with either a life of sin and guilt, or, the emptiness and futility of attempting to obtain righteousness by personal religious achievements, they are moved to the foot of the cross to seek liberation in the New.

See the next "Married to Another" blog for example 3.