|Messages By Ovid Need|
Covenant - Jeremiah 31:31,32
I have never heard a Baptist pastor preach or teach on this subject of The Covenant. I am sure some, like Bro. Weaver, have, but I have never heard any. The reason they do not cover this subject is not because it is not important. As we can see here, it is one of the most basic, as well as important, of all aspects of our relationship with the Lord. The conventual relationship of the redeemed with their God is one of the most neglected parts of the whole counsel of God which His people should be taught.
We will not go near as in depth with this as maybe we should, just enough to give you a basic idea, but even at that, you will have to pay attention to follow what we are trying to say.
Our goal in preaching and teaching the Scriptures is not to transfer the notes from my sheet of paper to yours. Our goal is to try to give you an understanding of these things. We will divide this up into two basic parts.
The first thing we need to see is what is meant by a covenant. A covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. When one person assigns a stipulated work to another person with the promise of a reward upon the condition of the performance of that work, there is a covenant. The consistent usage in both the OT and New is always, a mutual contract between two or more parties.
The entire OT is founded upon this idea of a covenant relationship between God and His people, therefore, the NT must be also. The OT presents to us the covenant relationship between God, the nation of Israel and with the believers as individuals. The NT presents to us the covenant relationship between God, the church and with the believers as individuals. This relationship identifies His people as THE COVENANT PEOPLE.
Romans 5:12-21, carries this picture through. In Adam all died because Adam did not fulfill the conditions of the covenant between God and himself. God promised life and fellowship with Himself, to Adam, conditioned upon perfect obedience, which Adam was capable of; "Don't eat of this tree, and live. Eat and die."
Since the fall, God promises the blessing of redemption to Christ as the head and representative of a new humanity, the Church, 1 Jn 4:17. This makes us heirs to every thing that Christ now is, and this claimed by faith. (Paul calls us a new creature in 2 Cor 5:17. Peter calls us a holy nation unto God, 1 Pet 2:9. All under the headship of Christ.)
Actually there are two covenants; one between the Father and the Son. The other between the Father and His people. The first covenant between the Father and His Son is called the covenant of redemption. This covenant is completely beyond any human understanding, and the teaching on this must is one of those things which must be accepted by faith.
This covenant of redemption goes something like this:
There is only one God, containing all the attributes of divinity. But within this one Godhead, there are three persons, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. Because of this distinction of three persons within the one, one may love, commune and communicate with the other. Therefore, the Father sent the Son into the world, gave Him a work to do, and promised Him a great reward upon completion of that work, Jn. 17:4.
This was all planed out before the world was even framed. (There are a great many verses on this, but for times sake, we will not look at many of them. Lk 2:49; Jn 17:18; Gal. 4:4; 1 Jn 4:9, 10 sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins..- gives us the basic work which was assigned to the Son.)
There were three things which the Son had to do to keep His part of this covenant with the Father.
1. He had to leave His exalted place with the Father and had to assume our nature, humbling Himself to be born of a woman. He had to be made in all things like unto us, yet without sin, that He might be touched with the feeling of our infirmities and able to sympathize with those who are tempted.
2. He had to be made under the law, subject to the law and voluntarily undertake to fulfill all righteousness by perfectly obeying the law of God.
3. He was to bear our sins, to become a curse for us, offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of His people. This would involve all of His life's work, His suffering and His death on the cross.
There are 8 basic promises given to the Son in this covenant of redemption. I will give these things without the references, which are mostly prophetic. They should be obvious.
1. The Father would prepare Him a body, formed as was the body of Adam, yet without spot or blemish.
2. The Father would give the Spirit to Him without measure, equipping Him with grace and strength, adorning Him with the beauty of His holiness.
3. The Father would ever be at His right hand for support and comfort even in His darkest hours as He confronted the powers of darkness. Also, the Father would ultimately bruise Satan under his feet.
4. The Father would deliver the Son from the power of death, exalt Him to the Father's own right hand in heaven; giving Him all power and authority and placing under Him all created beings. Giving Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Phil. 2:10.
5. The Son, as head of the Church, would now have the Holy Spirit to send to whom He will, to renew their hearts, to comfort them and to qualify them for His service and kingdom.
6. All who are given to the Son by the Father would be kept safe, so that none would be lost.
7. That a multitude which no man could number would be made partakers of His redemption, and that ultimately the Son's kingdom would cover all the earth, all nations would be included within His kingdom.
8. Through the redemptive work of Christ in the Church, all powers would see the divine wisdom of God throughout all eternity, as was planed from eternity past, Eph.3:11.
This was the covenant between the Father and Son, the covenant of redemption; the conditions and promises.
Now, the second covenant, the agreement between the Father and man.
In Christ, as the second Adam, all are made alive because He did fulfill all the conditions of the covenant of redemption. The promise in this second covenant involves the restoration of our normal relationship with the Father which Adam lost because of His sin. In Christ we are reconciled unto God, as all grounds of separation from the Father are done away with. Fellowship is restored, and He becomes our source of life and blessing. As the head of the new humanity (Adam was the head of the old), the redeemed now have everything available to them that Christ is, 1 Jn. 4:17.
Basically, this covenant says: God freely offers every one in the world His blessing of life, salvation, fellowship and redemption all that Adam fortified by sin, through the work of Christ. This promised blessing of salvation is offered to all men; conditioned upon the call of the Spirit of God, and saving faith in Christ.
Ep. 2:8, 9, (For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.) the faith to come to Christ for the payment for our sins, is provided by God the Father. This identifies this covenant as a covenant of grace: Grace identified as God's unmerited favor, in that we can do nothing to merit this wonderful salvation.
Rom. 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. This faith is given by God only to whom He will. Following this statement is Paul's rebuke of those who would complain that the Lord only speaks to certain ones.
John 6:37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. The Spirit of God must draw one to the Son. In this drawing, the person sees that he must renounce other means of salvation, and agree to be redeemed strictly on God's terms. Then we are made partakers of the benefits of this covenant that was made between the Father and the Son before time began.
Let's look a little at this covenant made with man. Even though it is given to different ones throughout the history of mankind, and is known by different names, it still rests upon the redemptive work of Christ, the covenant of redemption made between the Father and Son.
Gen 3:15 is the first promise to man, called the Adamic covenant.
Gen. 9:9 the covenant was established with Noah after the flood, and with his seed after him (before they were even born). This is called the Noahic covenant.
Gen. 17:1-9, this covenant was made clear to Abraham and is called the Abrahamic Covenant. It was not only established with Abraham, but with his seed after him. The terms of this covenant were also clearly stated, v. 9, when God told Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant... This was before the outward sign of the covenant, the rite of circumcision, and 400 years before the giving of the law of the covenant, the 10 commandments. This shows us that the covenant and its law was already in effect when Abraham was called into it.
Gal. 3:17,18, Paul makes an important point that this promise was made to Abraham and his seed after him, and this seed speaks of Christ.
Isaiah 42:4-6 & 49:8 tells us that Christ is the covenant.
It is obvious then, that all who are in Christ are in the covenant. And they are brought in, not by the will of man, but by the will of the Father, Romans 9:15-18. Thus, the true Covenant People, whether they lived in the time before Christ or after, are the ones in Christ.
The redeemed of all ages, before and after Christ, which is the Church, rests upon this covenant promise made to Abraham, Heb. 9:15. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. It was the atoning death of Christ that redeemed the OT saints.
With Abraham we have the founding of a physical nation, and a new humanity, both represented in this covenant. First, the physical nation of Israel, then the spiritual nation of Israel, the church. We also have the promise of redemption made to all who will believe. The redeemed of all ages are recepitions of this promised blessing to Abraham's seed. This promise was made thousands of years before we were born, yet, according to Paul, it covered us. We will see more of this when we look at the covenant between God and man.
A person could go through the outward forms and ceremonies and enter into the visible nation of Israel which represented this covenant. But unless their heart was circumcised (an OT term which represented submission to the will of God), they were not in the covenant with God. The person could also renounce his membership in the covenant nation and be cut off from his people.
Obviously, many who sit in the churches of our day have done just that. They have publicly identified with the covenant people, but their heart is uncircumcised. They have not been borne from above, they have not been born again, a new creation in Christ.
This morning, have you only gone through some motions to be identified with a group of people, or have you truly seen your lost condition, that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures, then you saw your complete hopelessness without Him. Then you placed all of your faith and trust in His finished work in your place?
You say, 'What will people think? Every one thinks I am a Christian.' Well, they will all find out some day. What have you done with the work of Christ?
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