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Friday: Further Study: The Everlasting Gospel — 16 Comments

  1. Discussion question #3: I am a diehard creationist because I see evidence for it - lots of it. To me it is important, for if we can't believe in Genesis we really can't believe in any other part of the Bible including the miraculous incarnation of the Son of God who as God died on the cross for us so that we may live. Neither can we believe in the resurrection in which we have our hope as Paul said concerning it, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1 Cor. 15:19 NKJV).

    Evolution does nothing good for Christianity. It is at war with it. It tries to persuade Christ's followers that Genesis is just a fabricated story to meet the psychological and social needs of humanity and nothing more so it ends up destroying the concept of God and special revelation. At very least it destroys the concept of a loving God who created us with purpose and with the best of intensions. It tells us that if there is a God at all He is completely disinterested in us who doesn't care if we live or die. So why would I want to believe in something that annihilates any hope in something better in the future.

    • Tyler,
      Well stated!

      And to the second part of the question it seems one reason for Sabbath observance was to combat the notion of evolution from outside and within Christianity, especially as time draws to a close and scientific advancement lures the generation to place more confidence in celebrated scientists than the sure word (2 Peter 1:19).

      EGW made the following remarkable statement:

      "So long as the fact that He is our Creator continues to be a reason why we should worship Him, so long the Sabbath will continue as its sign and memorial. Had the Sabbath been universally kept, man’s thoughts and affections would have been led to the Creator as an object of reverence and worship, and there would never have been an idolater, an atheist, or an infidel. The keeping of the Sabbath is a sign of loyalty to the true God, “him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” It follows that the message which commands men to worship God and keep His commandments will especially call upon them to keep the fourth commandment (The Great Controversy, 436-438)." (Lift Him Up p. 51)

  2. We need to be careful to distinguish between the Covenant God offered Israel at Mount Sinai and their response.

    In all the Divine Covenants throughout history God determines "the terms" of the Covenants, they are not negotiated agreements. All the Divine Covenants are based on the Everlasting Covenant which is simply stated as: I will be your God, you will be My people and I will dwell with you. All are based on God saving and then transforming His people.

    There was nothing wrong with the old covenant it was perfect because it came from God, it was based on the promise in Gen 3:16 that Jesus would die for them, it was to be accepted by faith and to be in their hearts.

    Those that accepted God's terms by faith were in a Covenant relationship with God. As Paul said not all Israel are Israel, only those that accepted the Covenant by faith in the promise. We see many examples like David and the other heroes of Hebrew 11 who lived by faith.

    However many in Israel misunderstood the Covenant and went about trying to change their own hearts by outward conformity to God’s standards of holiness, not understanding that God wanted to give them a new heart and that the result would be true holiness. These people were in fact not in a Covenant relationship with God, their faulty understanding of God’s perfect Covenant did not change God’s Covenant, however because so many misunderstood and were misled by their leaders looking back their experience is generalized as “the old covenant experience” or is even called “the old covenant” although it was not God’s covenant but a covenant that the people tried to establish. But it was not accepted by God, in fact He told Moses He was rejecting it and the people until Moses basically said we will accept Your Covenant, God.

  3. Abraham’s life gives an example of the different responses to the Covenants God offers.
    God stated the terms of the Covenant and Abraham accepted them by faith, He followed God’s instructions to go to a land even when he didn’t know where it was, he trusted God.
    However when it came to the promised heir Abraham decided to “help” God fulfil His promise and made his own son from Hagar, but God didn’t accept Ishmael as part of the Covenant. God through a miracle created Isaac as the fulfilment of the promise. Then tested Abraham to see if he really trusted God and asked him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham demonstrated true faith and trust in God’s ability to fulfil His promise of descendants and Abraham said “God will provide” and God said: now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only one, from Me.

    It was the same for Israel, some tried to “help” God – these were not part of the true Israel - and others who accepted God’s covenant by faith – these were the true Israel.

  4. The New Covenant is also based on the Everlasting Covenant – I will be your God and you will be My people and I will dwell with you. God offered Israel a new covenant because they had finally and completely broken the Mt Sinai covenant. What was the difference?
    In both covenants God’s words/laws where to be in the people’s hearts (Deut 6:5,6)
    Both based on God saving and transforming His people by faith
    The first was made with literal Israel, the second with Spiritual Israel.
    The first was based on a promise of a Messiah, the second on the fact that the Messiah came to earth and gave His life for His people.

    In the New Covenant so many people understood the Everlasting Covenant better and accepted God by faith and allowed Him to change their hearts which led to changed behaviour that this experience is now generalized as the new covenant experience or even shortened to “the new covenant” although we find this experience of accepting God’s covenant instead of trying to set up their own covenant in the OT & NT historical eras.

    Sadly we still see people in the NT historical era trying to “help” God fulfil His promise of a new heart by their own actions, we see the result in the Dark Ages where people thought they could pay for forgiveness.

  5. The Everlasting Gospel that has been preached from the beginning and will be preached until the end it is the Good News about God’s Everlasting Covenant of Love that has been offered to everyone from the beginning and will continue into eternity. The Everlasting Covenant is God’s offer to save and transform us back into His image.

    In each covenant God promises His wholehearted commitment in love to their ultimate welfare and happiness, with expectations of their wholehearted commitment in love, loyalty and obedience.
    However at no time was the divine covenant ever reduced merely to a list of legal stipulations with promised rewards for obedience and punishments threatened for disobedience. The rules & regulations were built into the very nature of the relationship and were always to be understood within the context of parental love in which God the loving parent provides the power, promises, protective boundaries and corrective action necessary to ensure that His believing and faithful children will mature in holiness and receive their eternal inheritance in the kingdom of God

    • In Genesis God made a promise after Adam and Eve sinned. I will make you hate sin and one day I will destroy it. In the meantime be obedient to my words by faith, I will be your God the holy one of Israel. I will put my laws in your hearts so you will be able to love God and your neighbour as yourself.

  6. I went back and read the whole of Chapter 30 in Patriarchs & Prophets on the Law and the Covenants. I have discovered that although EGW states "The terms of the "old covenant" were, Obey and live: "If a man do, he shall even live in them" (Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5); but "cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." Deuteronomy 27:26"

    She also makes it clear that "The Saviour typified in the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law is the very same that is revealed in the gospel."

    Her paragraph below is how I understand the progressive revelations of God's plan of salvation, although I might have said it differently.

    "God's work is the same in all time, although there are different degrees of development and different manifestations of His power, to meet the wants of men in the different ages. Beginning with the first gospel promise, and coming down through the patriarchal and Jewish ages, and even to the present time, there has been a gradual unfolding of the purposes of God in the plan of redemption. The Saviour typified in the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law is the very same that is revealed in the gospel. The clouds that enveloped His divine form have rolled back; the mists and shades have disappeared; and Jesus, the world's Redeemer, stands revealed. He who proclaimed the law from Sinai, and delivered to Moses the precepts of the ritual law, is the same that spoke the Sermon on the Mount. The great principles of love to God, which He set forth as the foundation of the law and the prophets, are only a reiteration of what He had spoken through Moses to the Hebrew people: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Leviticus 19:18. The teacher is the same in both dispensations. God's claims are the same. The principles of His government are the same. For all proceed from Him "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17." PP 373

    • Shirley, many are having trouble understanding what is being said concerning the covenants. To my knowledge no one is arguing that God's requirement has changed - it has always been to keep the law.

      The argument here has to do with how that is accomplished. The point that is being made is that the old covenant relied on man's own strength to do it while the everlasting covenant relied on God's strength. It is a matter of what the promises were within those covenants for they were not the same. Nor is the argument about what people did after the covenants were made. We are dealing here with the promises that were ratified as contractual arrangements. For instance if you make a contract that specifies how you are to pay for something and you choose sometime later to deviate from that provision then you will have breached the contract. The contract is only good if you adhere to its provisions and the old covenant provision is, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient" (Exod. 24:7 NKJV). There is no such provision in the new covenant but only states that God, "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" (Heb. 8:10 NKJV). The new covenant is all God while the old covenant was God + man.

      • Hi Tyler,
        You said: "the old covenant was God + man" and that is what I am struggling to process.
        My understanding of the divine covenants is that the terms are set by God and are non-negotiable.
        Secondly a covenant only exists if both agree to the terms and I can't fathom that God would agree to salvation by works.
        Thirdly why did God tell Moses : "I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken" : if what they said was wrong.
        4. Is it not possible that their response could be interpreted as Yes Lord we accept your terms?
        5. The golden calf incident was not the people trying in their own strength to keep God's covenant, they were rejecting God and making their own God.

        I am not trying to be negative or argumentative, it is just that I am having a hard time putting this all together, and I appreciate your assistance to help me understand it all.

      • Tyler,
        It seems that the people responded the only way they could have to God's non-negotiable terms (not man's) in the Old Covenant (Exodus 19:5-8) and expects the same response (nothing less) to the New Covenant, that is "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" If this is not our intention we are already in breach of the New Covenant, which necessarily requires commitment from more than one party. Obedience is mandatory.

        The requirement being the same, the question is how do we honor our part of the agreement? We do it through Christ. Christ first forgives us for our past breach and gives us power to avoid breach. The requirement is perfect obedience; the provision is grace (1 John 2:1). And grace was available under the Old Covenant, so Moses and others could please the Lord already having the Law written in their heart (Deuteronomy 6:5, 6).

        EGW states:

        “Under the new covenant, the conditions by which eternal life may be gained are the same as under the old—perfect obedience.” (SDA Bible Commentary p. vol. 7 p. 931)

        "The gospel does not weaken the claims of the law; it exalts the law and makes it honorable. Under the New Testament, no less is required than was required under the Old Testament." (RH Nov. 1, 1892)

        • Hi Hugh, thank you! That is how I understand the Word.
          There would be less confusion if all understood that the Everlasting Covenant came first and all subsequent divine covenants were progressive revelations of it.

          • But then, Shirley, we probably would not have had the one lesson we need so much which is that we cannot keep the law in our own strength. Even Paul relied on what happened under the old covenant in some of his theology concerning righteousness by faith. If nothing else try to understand what Ellen White is telling us about the purpose of the old covenant in Patriarchs and Prophets.

            To what Hugh said, yes grace was available but not under the old covenant - it wasn't part of the agreement. In order for those people to get grace they had to fall back under the everlasting covenant that was based on grace rather than works which is what God wanted them to do.

            I think one of the problems everybody is having is in trying to make both the old and the new covenants the same kind of covenant. They are not - the old covenant is just like our contract where two parties come together and agree on each performing something in order to fulfill the terms of the contract. The new covenant is more like a treaty, only unlike a treaty where the vassal is the one that performs; the new covenant has the sovereign Lord doing all the performing. The other side (all of us) only has to accept the covenant, while God is doing all the work.

            It may take you a while to see this because once a person is used to seeing a particular pattern it is difficult to see something different. Optical illusions are good examples of what I think is happening here. I once had one that took me hours to finally see the picture within the picture. The same here; once you see it everything makes a lot more sense and it ends up becoming a wow moment like a light just turned on in a dark room.

          • Hi Tyler.
            We agree that the important point is we cannot change our hearts we need a miracle from the LORD and then we need his power daily to live in harmony with His character and we need His forgiveness when we fail.

            But for now we are going to have to agree to disagree on the make up and terms of the old covenant.
            However I will continue studying and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide me.

          • In this comment I would like to flesh out the concept that Paul used what happened under the old covenant in his theology of righteousness by faith.

            First we should understand that Galiatians was primarily written because the church was, "turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel" (Gal. 1:6 NKJV). In Galatians 3 Paul homes in on the specifics of the problem, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? . . . Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal. 3:3-5 NKJV). It is important that we understand that Paul is arguing against obtaining the blessing of God through the working of law and that it is only possible through faith. It is the same presentation he gave to the Roman church where he argued that we are justified through faith rather than works.

            The next thing big thing he gets into is the legalities of law and the relationship the old covenant had to the Abrahamic covenant. He states that, "I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it . . . And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect (Gal. 3:15-17 NKJV). In other words once a covenant is confirmed as was the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 15) another covenant that comes after it cannot change the previous one. "For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise" (Gal. 3:18 NKJV) and anything after can't annul the promise therefore the old covenant with its fleshy promises does not replace the Abrahamic covenant that was by the promise of God.

            In the next chapter Paul uses a metaphor concerning Abraham's wives to explain the relationship between the two covenants:

            Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar-- for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children-- but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:21-26 NKJV; for those deep into theology compare this to Heb 9:1-10 which is also about the same problem)

            Notice here that he is referring to the covenant made at Sinai as one that enslaves while the one that comes from Heaven (the new covenant) gives freedom. One is through the enslavement of works and the other is through divine promise. Further he is not talking about how people relate to the covenants but about the covenants themselves. As he said in Hebrews, "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises" (Heb. 8:6 NKJV). The old being the promises of man that attempts to become righteous through the law which enslaves as opposed to the new which acquires righteousness through faith in a promise from God which gives freedom from slavish works.

  7. Discussion Question #2: When feeling discouraged about my spiritual state I refer to the Gospel of John in chapter 14:1-3 where I find comfort in His words telling us that He is gone to prepare a place for us and that He will come back for us so we should hold on. No matter the crisis we may be going through, it's only for a matter of time and if we take God at His word we will be comforted and not give in to the things that are happening around us. Yes we will be cognizant of all the happenings but if we would just listen to the Lord and believe, we will be comforted, even in the darkest of times. My encouragement to us all is that we keep holding on, claim His promise and we will be rewarded in the end. Blessings!!


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