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Thursday: Promises, Promises… — 13 Comments

  1. Some years ago, Carmel and I had this little discussion about whether, in our marriage vows we had promised to "love and obey" or "love and cherish" one another. Fortunately someone had the foresight to tape our wedding ceremony but it was on reel-to-reel tape (I bet many of you don't even know what that is!). At the time of our discussion reel-to-reel technology had been replaced by cassette tape (and some of you probably don't even remember that technology either). However, one of my techie mates had kept his old tape recorder and he transferred the recording onto a cassette for us and we listened to it. When we got to the vows bit, there were our voices agreeing to "love and cherish" one another till death dis us part. (and just for the record, we can no longer play the cassette either - such is the march of audio recording technology.) And in the light husband and wife banter that surrounded this whole episode it was agreed that promising to cherish had a nicer sound to it than promising to obey. I could no longer call Carmel, "She who must be obeyed!"

    If our marriage had ever descended into forensic legalism, obeying the civil and moral detail then something would have been entirely missing from our marriage vows. Marriages are not about legalistic law keeping and most of us know that.

    Likewise the covenants have never been about legalism. David makes the point clearly:

    And I delight to do your will, my God, for your law is written upon my heart!” Psalm 40:8 TLB

    Jeremiah too:

    But this is the new contract I will make with them: I will inscribe my laws upon their hearts, so that they shall want to honor me;* then they shall truly be my people and I will be their God. Jer 31:33 TLB

    and Paul thinks it is worth quoting:

    But this is the new agreement I will make with the people of Israel, says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without my even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10 TLB

    Grace changes the relationship.

    • What a powerful analogy. And I loved the reference to Rumpole of the Baily. Obedience truly is a heart matter motivated by love. Hebrews 8:10 is the linchpin of the Christian walk and thank God is not technology dependent.
      Thank you for your enlightened commentary.

    • Grace, freely offered by the Lord, only changes the relationship IF it is received by faith(Eph 2:8). If I exercise no faith, the grace has no effect on me.

  2. Thank you Maurice, the TLB translates Heb 8:10 clearly, this is the crux of the matter, the LORD promises to impute His righteousness to us (wipes our slate clean) and as well imparts His Character to us so we can partake of the Divine Nature while still on this earth.

    We are granted eternal life as a free gift and the fringe benefit is that He is, in the meantime, continually transforming our character day by day, so that we live according to His Principles of Life. This is why the Lord's Prayer says "Give us this day our daily bread" On a daily basis, as we surrender our will to Him, meditate on His Word and communicate with Him, we are being conformed into His Image.

  3. Again, he limited a certain day, saying in David.......Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Heb 4:7.

    'Read carefully Romans 10:3, particularly the last part. What point is Paul making there?'

    At first the people obey the Lord but soon and quickly after they disobey. They disobey from the inside (heart/mind) by faith but were trying to obey from the outside by their works.

    How does spiritual Israelites find themselves in the same predicament? Are we disobeying from the inside but carrying on the same outward rituals? E.g communion service, baptism/rebaptism, our marriages, health care, our diet/vegan/vegetarian, who ethnic group worship where, etc. etc. The same fate of the physical Israelites will be ours if we do the same things they did, i.e If we try to establish our own righteousness.

    • No one will be lost for doing good/right things, regardless of the motive. They will be lost because there is sin in their life while they do the legal limit of "righteousness". Legalism is the fig-leaf apron that is used to cloak sin, which will never fool the Lord.

      Here's the sobering fact: any who harbor sin are not spiritual Israel, no matter what else they may do. The very name describes an experience of overcoming by faith. The judgment we will all face removes the fig leaves(Eccl 12:14)

      It seems we can keep Sabbath and return a faithful tithe while crucifying the Lord at the same time. It's not the Sabbath-keeping or the faithful tithe that will condemn us, but the lack of Christ's Righteousness being received by faith.

      • Robert- the bible gave us clear explanation how men/we will be lost. e.g Hosea 4:6. My people are destroy for lack of knowledge. We hear about Jesus but we reject him, then the time will come when he will also reject us.
        2 Thessalonians 2:10. Humans receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Rejecting truth is like a default, whatever comes after you believe and it is lies.

      • Every secret sin, every harbored sin, and every fig leaf used to cloak that sin, will be cast to the bottom of the sea. Micah 7:19.

        Why would He do that, we deserve to die. Because He loves us, we see God's love for for us. His love draws us to the ✝️ of Christ. By faith we put our hand on Him not resisting His drawing unto Himself, we ask for forgiveness, repenting, and confessing our sins. The Sabbath and tithing become a delight. Isaiah 58:13. And He says come unto Me I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28. Then in His arms, He says to us come enter. With joy and gladness we enter the Kings palace, rejoicing in the Lord because we have recieved the atonement by God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Good News Translation says He has made us God's friend. Romans 5:11. As we walk with the Lord He gives us strength and wisdom to share our relationship with others.

        • "Every secret sin, every harbored sin, and every fig leaf used to cloak that sin, will be cast to the bottom of the sea."

          "IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive..." 1 Jn 1:9

  4. I understand Paul to be saying, the covenant God proposed was not so much about obedience by the letter, but so much more about surrender to God’s ability to perfect.

    Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ...”

    “He (God) desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. SC 64”

    In this type of relational surrender the prayer Jesus prayed, “...Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven...” Matthew 6:10, will be fulfilled.

  5. In keeping with Maurice’s comment on Tuesday regarding the simplicity of the Everlasting Covenant, we should keep in mind that although the covenant is written in language of God making it with the Israelites (bigger picture, all believers), in reality, God is both the Suzerain King and through Christ, the Vassal Son. He makes the covenant with us and He delivers the Sacrifice that meets the demands of the broken covenant. He is both the covenant maker and covenant keeper. All we can due is stand in awe of His deliverance and allow Him to write His law on our hearts.

  6. The Isrealites kept the law without a daily relationship with God. Their own initiative to do what is right died out without a lasting relationship with their Sustainer. We see that time and time again in their promise to be good. James could have as easily said promises without working at a relationship die out. We must work at a substantial relationship with God, guess what working at a sustainable relationship is not working for your salvation. In fact we should go after that relationship with God as if it were the most valuable pearl in this world.

    Don't tell me that Marice didn't work at establishing and maintaining a relationship with his wife. I know in my experience the love factor makes the labor enjoyable.

    We may make a fatal mistake if we don't grasp the difference between working for our Salvation and working to maintain a healthy relationship with God.

    God's love bestowed on us by Christ birth, life, death, and resurrection is worth our supreme desire and effort. He 1st loved us. 1 John 4:19.

    "The belated traveler, hurrying to reach the city gate by the going down of the sun, could not turn aside for any attractions by the way. His whole mind was bent on the one purpose of entering the gate. The same intensity of purpose, said Jesus, is required in the Christian life. I have opened to you the glory of character, which is the true glory of My kingdom. It offers you no promise of earthly dominion; yet it is worthy of your supreme desire and effort. I do not call you to battle for the supremacy of the world's great empire, but do not therefore conclude that there is no battle to be fought nor victories to be won. I bid you strive, agonize, to enter into My spiritual kingdom." 'Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing' page 141.1

  7. Like Peter's promise to never deny Jesus, Israel was to learn the hard lesson of failed self-reliance. Their response was correct, but their self-reliance, like ours today, will leave us failing to comply. Our failures are allowed to be our greatest lessons if we will learn from them. In this life, failure may be a blessing if pride is “put to death”(Rom 8:13) by becoming wholly dependent upon the “power of God unto salvation”(Rom 1:16).

    "If, however, the Bible again and again stresses works, why can’t works make us acceptable in God’s sight?"

    Works of righteousness are the evidence of faith/belief, while sin is the sure sign of unbelief. We are to study to know the will of God, and then in faith, choose to follow it by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus' example of faith in God, who lived by “every word” from His Father. Is God our Father too? He has promised the Holy Spirit(Zech 4:6) to any who ask in faith.

    The sin that the word of God condemns in us will lead to death, so we are shown righteousness that we might become Holy as God is Holy, and “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.


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