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The New Covenant Promises New Hearts to Keep an Everlasting Law — 8 Comments

  1. I have found this explanation by Skip MacCarty in his book about the two covenants very helpful.

    The old and new covenants are sometimes viewed in Scripture as historical eras and sometimes as contrasting spiritual experiences – contrasting ways of relating to God and His law.
    The old covenant historical era covers spiritual history before the advent of Christ, while an old covenant experience represents either rebellion against God’s law or a legalistic reliance on it as a means of achieving salvation through obedience.
    The new covenant historical era covers the period of spiritual history that commenced with the advent of Christ, while a new covenant experience represents acceptance of God’s salvation by grace through faith and reliance on the Holy Spirit to write God’s law on one’s heart for the empowerment of loving obedience and faithful witness.
    The covenant God made with Israel at Sinai was a grace-based, gospel-bearing, faith-inducing, mission-directed historical old covenant that bore all the DNA markers, promises/provisions of God’s description of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 8:8-12.
    On the whole, Israel’s response throughout its history to the gospel proclaimed and offered in that covenant was an old covenant experience of overt disregard and disobedience on the one hand and legalistic reliance on law-keeping for salvation on the other. It is just as possible to live in the new covenant historical era, in which we live, and experience an old covenant experience through flagrant, unrepentant disobedience to God’s law or reliance on obedience as one’s qualification for salvation. Conversely Scripture affirms that true believers living in the old covenant historical period possessed a new covenant experience (Hebrews 11).
    Skip MacCarty, In Granite or Ingrained?

    • Thanks, Shirley, I agree with Skip's general idea, but I see his summary is being a little too close to the typical explanation that divides salvation history into two historical eras - the Old Testament/Old Covenant "era" of being saved by offerings, etc., versus the New Testament/New Covenant "era" of being saved by works.

      I don't believe in such historical "eras" because there were plenty of people in OT times who lived the New Covenant experience, while there are even more people in New Testament times who regrettably live in the Old Covenant experience.

      I like William's suggestion:

      Maybe we could clear up a lot of confusion by just calling the New Covenant the Everlasting Covenant, and calling the Old Covenant the “useless covenant.” Remember the New Covenant is the renewing of the original everlasting covenant based on better promises – God’s promises.

  2. Thank you so much William. This was much clearer than last week's lesson which appeared at times to equate animal sacrifices as the "old" covenant and Christ's death on the cross as the "new" covenant.

    • I couldn't agree more. Ellen White, in Patriarchs and Prophets, makes it clear that the "new covenant" (of grace) was inaugurated in Genesis 3, repeated to Abraham, and ratified at the cross. The "old covenant" was inaugurated at Sinai, ratified by the blood of animals, and broken at the golden calf. That's how long it lasted.

      The "new covenant" is called "new" only because its ratification came later in time than that of the "old covenant". It appears to me that Paul had to deal with the concept of the two covenants because the apostate Jews of his day were still trying to be saved under the long-obsolete "old covenant," which was based on the promises of man to obey God's law, as opposed to the promise of God to write His law on our hearts.

      The lesson authors might do well to read that book. They have the "new covenant" being inaugurated at Jesus' ascension after His resurrection. This is clearly based on their misunderstanding that the earthly sanctuary and its services were the "old covenant," rather than a temporary, illustrative teaching tool for the "new covenant." They must have been the latter, as Paul insists that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins.

  3. Well said, William! In fact, God's covenant was always open to everyone who believed. Take Rahab or Ruth, for instance.

  4. Amen William so well said and written. And I would like to add this that I recently came to realize.

    Like the marriage covenant, the biblical covenant defines both a relationship and an arrangement. As an arrangement, the biblical covenant contains these basic elements:

    1. God affirmed the covenant promises with an oath (Gal. 3:16; Heb. 6:13, 17)
    2. The covenant obligation was obedience to God’s will as expressed in the Ten Commandments (Deut. 4:13) (we cherish, God brings the true obedience.)
    3. The means by which God’s covenant obligation is ultimately fulfilled is through Christ and the plan of salvation (Isa. 42:1, 6)

    The Bible identifies seven major covenants that God has made with people:

    1st Covenant - Adam (Genesis 1-3)
    2nd Covenant - Noah (Genesis 6-9)
    3rd Covenant - Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)
    4th Covenant - Moses and the Israelite nation (known as Sinaitic or Mosaic Covenant; Exodus 19-24)
    5th Covenant - Phineas ( Num. 25:10-13)
    6th Covenant - David (2 Sam. 7:5-16)
    7th Covenant - New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34)
    Read the following texts. What do they mean by the “everlasting covenant”? (Gen. 9:16, 17:7, Isa. 55:3, Heb. 13:20).

    The Bible incorporates the term “everlasting covenant” sixteen times. Out of them, thirteen are specifically applied to the covenants with Abraham, Israel at Sinai, and David. Each of the covenants mentioned above, although unique, bore the imprint of “the everlasting covenant”. Just as the everlasting gospel is first announced in Genesis 3:15, but then progressively revealed throughout the Bible, the same applies to the everlasting covenant. Each consecutive covenant serves to expound and deepen our understanding of the everlasting covenant of love, which is revealed most fully in the plan of salvation. The New and Old Covenants, as they are often distinguished, contain the same components.

    So I really agree with the renaming the old as the useless because of the response of the people. There was nothing wrong with the covenant, the flaw was in the DNA of the people and their response.

    But I would like to make some points on the seven covenants that God made with men and that turns out to be one for each day of the week.
    Notice the 5th one made to a Priest, who rose up and defended God’s name by showing the price and cost of sin, by slaying a leader who was in open sin. It just so happens, from what I have found, he is the only Levi priest to have led Israel in battle, of which was the job of the King and God was their King at the time.

    The sixth covenant was with King David, in which Jesus took on His humanity, in his house, as promised. And Adam was created on the 6th day, and Jesus is referred to as the 2nd Adam. And David is the only man recorded as eating the show bread from the Holy place, of which was for only priest.

    And the New Covenant, or Everlasting Covenant, is the 7th covenant, and it’s on the 7th day we are to rest and cherish Him, and He sanctifies us as we spend time with Him, and there by allowing Him to fulfill His promise to write His laws on our hearts and live His law of love.

    Heb 12:1 “Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
    2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Rev 14: 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
    New Covenant fulfilled.


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