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The Covenants-Chapter 6d-The Covenants of the Law

We have now examined “the covenants of the law,” and seen their nature, and especially the grand purpose of them all. I have said that this purpose was still further aided, by the inspired history contained in the word of God.

This history is for the most part, recorded in the books of Moses, and Joshua, the Judges, and Ruth, Samuel, and the Kings, the Chronicles, and Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Prophets. Often in its perusal, have you perhaps, earnestly desired more of detail. But detail would have rendered the Bible inconveniently voluminous, and was besides unnecessary to the purpose contemplated, which demanded so much only, as that when Messiah should come, the means of establishing his claims should be perfect. That part of inspired history, however, which is most important to this end, is contained in the genealogies with which the whole Bible so much abounds. These genealogies had previously been scrupulously observed, but they were subsequently enjoined, and regulated by the law of Moses, which is identical with the covenant of Sinai. A learned Jewish Rabbi, of the last age, who afterwards became a christian, and a minister, writing of the testimony for the Messiahship of Christ, drawn from the genealogies, remarks:- “I cannot proceed without observing, and admiring the wonderful provision which was made for this purpose, in the law of Moses. Our nation [Israel] was not only divided into several tribes, but each tribe into several families. And as every tribe had a distinct inheritance, which obliged them to keep genealogies of their several families, so to make them more exact, and punctual in this record, no alteration of inheritance was allowed, for longer than the year of Jubilee, which returned every fifty years. And then every one that could clear his pedigree, and make out his right to the inheritance of his ancestors, was to be reinstated in the possession of it. This made it every one’s interest to preserve his genealogy. But what still further contributed to this end, and made them the more careful in the matter, was the law of lineal retreats. By this law, upon failure of an heir in any family, the next of kin was to be heir at law. Thus was every tribe incited not only to take care of its own genealogy, but of that also of the several families of its kindred, that by knowing the several degrees of proximity of their blood, they might be able at any time, upon failure of an heir, to make out their title to the inheritance of their fathers. This was the method to be taken throughout their generations, so that when the fullness of the time should come for Messiah to appear, he might by this means easily, and certainly, prove his lineal descent, from the seed of Abraham, from the tribe of Judah, and from the family of David.” How often do thoughtless readers of the Bible, look upon these catalogues as useless impediments, if not positive defects. At most, they inspire them with no special interest. In the light of these facts, however, you perceive that they are really chains of pearls, and to every christian of priceless worth. They are, therefore, recorded at great length, in both the Old and the New Testament, and their freedom from error is vouched by their inspiration. As evincive of the Messiahship of Jesus, they are introduced into two of the gospels. Their testimony is direct and most conclusive. And it is also worthy of remark, that Matthew who writes for the Jews, extends his catalogue back only, as far as Abraham, the father of Israel, to whom the second promise of Messiah was made; but that Luke, who writes for the Gentiles, carries his to Adam, the primeval father of mankind, to whom was given the original pledge of a Deliverer from sin. Such was the design of the history, and the genealogies, contained in the divine oracles. They were auxiliaries to “the covenants of the law,” to identify and designate the Saviour of men.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 214

TO VARIOUS FRIENDS

To [Rev. J. W. Harrald].

[Undated.]

DEAR MR. HARRALD, —

I think your having a wife would not quite preclude your being sent out to South Australia. Passage would be paid for both, I think. I am not, however, sure of this, and of course a single man would be preferred. As to moving to some English sphere. I must leave that with yourself. I am sure you will be useful wherever you go. When you feel you ought to leave you shall have my best aid in finding another sphere. I fear your leaving Shoreham would destroy what you have built up, and if this be a wellgrounded fear I would urge you to remain. In any case we should try to meet with a fit successor, before we shifted ground. May our Lord direct you evermore. Present my kindest regards to Mrs. Harrald.

Yours heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

The Wednesday Word: I am a Member of Christ

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Ephesians 5:30.

A dear friend of mine, when he was young, was approached by a gang of teenagers demanding to know whether he was Protestant or Catholic. Perhaps I should give you some background. This happened at the beginning of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland when tensions between Roman Catholics and Protestants were raging high. I also should mention that my friend was a very dark-skinned young man from India. He smiled at his antagonists and said, “Lads, I am a Hindu.” The leader of the gang then sternly looked him up and down and said, “Yes, but are you a Protestant Hindu or a Catholic Hindu?”

Many times, I also have been asked what I am. In other words, what camp do I belong to spiritually?

That’s easy to answer.

I am Catholic. The word ‘Catholic’ means “universal.” I am not, however, Roman Catholic. I am not under the authority of the man who falsely claims to be the head of the ‘True Church’. He is not the Vicar of Christ and I give heed neither to him nor to his imagined infallibility. The truth is, all Believers are Catholic. We are discovered right across the world (Colossians 1:6). We are those who trust in Christ alone for salvation. Simply put,

We are members of Christ!

I am Baptist. Basically, a “Baptist” is one who baptizes or has been baptized by immersion. In this sense, I am Baptist. However, I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and like all true Baptists put no confidence for salvation in having been baptized, albeit by immersion. Our trust is in Christ Alone!

I am a member of Christ!

I am Presbyterian. Presbyterians believe in leadership by a body of leaders. Paul appointed such qualified elders in the various groups of Christians he worked with (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). In this sense, I am “Presbyterian,” I believe in elders but I am not a devotee of any particular Presbyterian denomination.

I am a member of Christ.

I am a Congregationalists. This term, Congregational, indicates the independence of a Christian assembly in a given locality. Congregationalists hold that there is no such thing as a central government that presides over many churches. The New Testament communities practiced autonomy (Acts 20:17,28). In other words, each assembly was responsible for its own affairs.

In this sense, I am a “Congregationalist,” but I am not a member of The Congregational Church.

I am a member of Christ!

I am an Adventist. This term signifies one who is looking for, expecting and waiting for Christ’s second coming. (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). I am an “Adventist” in this sense, but I am not a member of The Seventh Day or any Adventist Church.

I am a member of Christ!

I am Brethren. Jesus said to His followers, “You are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8). I am one of the brothers (brethren), but not a member of any Brethren Assembly whether Closed or Open.

I am a member of Christ.

I am Pentecostal. Around AD 30, on the Feast of Pentecost, the Spirit was given in His fullness (Acts 2:1,4,16-17,33,38-39). The Spirit came with the chief purpose of magnifying and exalting the Lord Jesus. I fully endorse and adhere to this pre-eminent work of the Spirit. In this sense, I am “Pentecostal,” but I’m not a member of any Pentecostal Church.

I am a member of Christ!

As believers, we are first and foremost members of Christ. Every blood washed, saved person is a member of Christ. That does not mean we are independent of each other. No indeed! Every believer will want, if able, to join with other like-minded believers to worship, receive the bread and wine and to be instructed in the Word. Although we are members of various kinds of churches, believers are first and foremost Christians (Acts 11:26).

We are members of Christ.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Mile Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XIII-Efficacious Grace

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XIII

Efficacious Grace

1. Teaching of the Westminster Confession. 2. Necessity for the Change. 3. An Inward Change Wrought by Supernatural Power. 4. The Effect Produced in the Soul. 5. The Sufficiency of Christ’s Work — Evangelicalism. 6. Arminian View of Universal Grace. 7. No Violation of Man’s Free Agency. 8. Common Grace.

1. TEACHING OF THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION

The Westminster Confession states the doctrine of Efficacious Grace thus: — “All those whom God has predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

“This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it.” 1

And the Shorter Catechism, in answer to the question “What is effectual calling?” says, “Effectual calling is the Work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel.” 2

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

A true knowledge of the covenants is indispensable to a correct presentation of the gospel

March 26, 2019 4 comments

Sufficient should have already been said to impress us with the weightiness of our present theme, and the great importance of arriving at a right understanding of the divine covenants. A true knowledge of the covenants is indispensable to a correct presentation of the gospel, for he who is ignorant of the fundamental difference which obtains between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace is utterly incompetent for evangelism. But by whom among us are the different covenants clearly understood? Refer unto them to the average preacher, and you at once perceive you are speaking to him in an unknown tongue. Few today discern what the covenants are in themselves, their relations to each other, and their consequent bearings upon the design of God in the Redeemer. Since the covenants pertain unto the very “rudiments of the doctrine of Christ,” ignorance of them must cause obscurity to rest upon the whole gospel system.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Introduction

Unto us who are called

Unto us who are called” I received a note this week asking me to explain that word “called;” because in one passage it says, “Many are called but few are chosen,” while in another it appears that all who are called must be chosen. Now, let me observe that there are two calls. As my old friend John Bunyan says, “The hen has two calls, the common cluck, which she gives daily and hourly, and the special one which she means for her little chickens.” So there is a general call, a call made to every man; every man hears it. Many are called by it; you are all called this morning in that sense; but very few are chosen. The other is a special call, the children’s call. You know how the bell sounds over the workshop to call the men to work-that is a general call. A father goes to the door and calls out. “John, it is dinnertime?”- that is the special call. Many are called with the general call, but they are not chosen; the special call is for the children only, and that is what is meant in the text, “Unto us who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” That call is always a special one. While I stand here and call men, nobody comes; while I preach to sinners universally, no good is done; it is like the sheet lightning you sometimes see on the summer’s evening, beautiful, grand, but who have ever heard of anything being struck by it? But the special call is the forked flash from heaven; it strikes somewhere, it is the arrow sent in between the joints of the harness. The call which saves, is like that of Jesus, when he said, “Mary,” and she said unto him, “Rabboni.” Do you know anything about that special call my beloved? Did Jesus ever call you by name? Canst thou recollect the hour when he whispered thy name in thine ear, when he said, “Come to me?” If so, you will grant the truth of what I am going to say next about it,-that it is an effectual call. There is no resisting it. When God calls with his special call, there is no standing out. Ah! I know I laughed at religion; I despised, I abhorred it; but that call! Oh! I would not come. But God said, “Thou shalt come. All that the Father giveth to me shall come.” “Lord, I will not.” “But thou shalt,” said God. And I have gone up to God’s house sometimes almost with a resolution that I would not listen, but listen I must. Oh! how the word came into my soul! Was there a power of resistance? No; I was thrown down; each bone seemed to be broken; I was saved by effectual grace. I appeal to your experience, my friends. When God took you in hand, could you withstand him? You stood against your minister times enough. Sickness did not break you down; disease did not bring you to God’s feet; eloquence did not convince you; but when God put his hand to the work, ah! then what a change; like Saul, with his horses going to Damascus, that voice from heaven said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?” There was no going further then. That was an effectual call Like that, again, which Jesus gave to Zaccheus, when he was up in the tree: stepping under the tree, he said, “Zaccheus, come down, to-day I must abide at thy house.” Zaccheus, was taken in the net, he heard his own name; the call sank into his soul; he could not stop up in the tree, for an Almighty impulse drew him down. And I could tell you some singular instances of persons going to the house of God and having their characters described, limned out to perfection, so that they have said, “He is painting me, he is painting me.” Just as I might say to that young man here who stole his master’s gloves yesterday, that Jesus calls him to repentance. It may be that there is such a person here; and when the call comes to a peculiar character, it generally comes with a special power. God gives his ministers a brush, and shows them how to use it in painting life-like portraits, and thus the sinner hears the special call. I cannot give the special call; God alone can give it, and I leave it with him. Some must be called. Jew and Greek may laugh, but still there are some who are called, both Jews and Greeks.

Then to close up this second point, it is a great mercy that many a Jew has been made to drop his self righteousness; many a legalist has been made to drop his legalism and come to Christ, many a Greek has bowed his genius at the throne of God’s gospel. We have a few such. As Cowper says:

We boast some rich ones whom the gospel sways,

And one who wears a coronet and prays;

Like gleamings of an olive tree they show,

Here and there one upon the topmost bough.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Christ Crucified,” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 11, 1855

The Covenants-Chapter 6c-The Covenants of the Law

The third and last of these collateral covenants, is known as the covenant of Sinai.

This covenant gave to the people of Israel their peculiar national government. It was made not with Abraham but appropriately “with the fathers, when God took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” During several generations, the family of Abraham was far from being prolific. But irrespective of this fact, many years must necessarily pass before they could be sufficiently numerous, or otherwise in a condition, to take possession of the promised land. In the providence of God, they were removed into Egypt. For a season they were honored for the sake of Joseph. Ere long, however, jealousies arose; they were oppressed, and soon after enslaved; and all those events were literally realized, which were revealed to Abraham, in the covenant of the land of Canaan. His seed were strangers in a land that was not theirs; they served the people of that land; and they afflicted them four hundred years. Why did God – the inquiry naturally arises – permit his people to be so long, thus overwhelmed with misery, and suffering? Two infinitely wise, and benevolent reasons at once present themselves to the mind. Their social position as slaves in Egypt, was immeasurably important, since they were thus preserved; and thus only could they have been preserved effectually; from so inter mingling with the people of the land, or becoming so attached to the soil, or so scattering apart from each other, as to frustrate the purposes of God in making them a nation. When, therefore, the command came for their removal, they were ready to depart. This was the first reason. The second had respect to their multiplication. To a rapid increase of numbers, servile relations, and habits, all observation and experience prove, are, of all others, the most favorable. Their oppression was, therefore, essential to their prosperity, their deliverance, and the fulfilment of “the covenant of promise in Christ.”

The time came when they were to go forth from “the house of bondage,” and “become a great nation.” Their numbers had increased until now besides their old men, and women, and children, they counted six hundred thousand warriors! They were therefore, ready, and with the blessing of God fully able, whatever obstacles might oppose them, to take possession of the promised land. At the divine command, under the guidance of Moses, and amidst miracles, wonders, and manifest exhibitions of the power, and direction of God, they quitted Egypt, and took their way towards Canaan. As they passed through the wilderness of Arabia, they received this covenant, which organized them as a nation, “at the holy Mount.” In synopsis it was written upon “two tables of stone,” which Paul calls, “The tables of the covenant;” but in its enlarged form, and with its various rites, and ordinances, it extends through Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. God said, speaking from Sinai, to all the people, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar people unto me, above all people.” And the people answered: “All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” This covenant is more especially called “The law;” not so much because of any peculiar moral principles it promulgates, since these, as we have seen, are the same with those of every other covenant, and must necessarily pervade all God’s dispensations, being the inevitable emanations of his own holy nature, as because it constituted the national government, which was at the same time the religion of the Hebrew people.

You cannot but observe in this covenant, the same obvious purpose which characterized both the others, to keep Israel separate from all other nations, until the coming of Christ. This object was guarded by numerous and most stringent enactments. For example: “Thou shalt not,” was the language of one of the laws, “make marriages with them. Thy daughter shalt thou not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” All their social, as well as their domestic intercourse, was so regulated that an Israelite might not, in any sense, be connected as an equal, with a Gentile, of whatever class. On this subject Peter said, addressing his Christian brethren, “Ye know that it is an unlawful thing, for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or come unto one of another nation.” In what appeared to them to be a violation of this covenant—for as yet the Christians seemed not to understand that in the coming of Christ its purposes were consummated, and that it bad passed away—this apostle preached the gospel in the house of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion. The disciples instantly, upon learning this fact, upbraided and contended with him, saying: “Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” The fundamental laws of Israel made all uncircumcised people “unclean” to them. They were not permitted to be socially in the same house with Gentiles, to be companions of such, nor even to eat at the same table with them. All such intercourse was a religious pollution, and a moral degradation. Thus did the covenant of Sinai concur with the other two, in keeping Israel apart from all other nations, until “the covenant of promise in Christ,” to Abraham should be fulfilled.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants