Home > Covenant Theology > The Covenants-Chapter 9g- The Teachings of the Covenant

The Covenants-Chapter 9g- The Teachings of the Covenant

4. From these covenants, together with the history of Israel, and instructions of the prophets, you learn, fourthly, that the gospel church was not visible until the coming of Christ. Men eminently pious; deeply imbued with the spirit of true religion, existed in every age; not among the Jews only, but also among the Gentiles. They were all believers in the Messiah promised as yet to come. But they were not visibly organized as the kingdom, or church of the Redeemer. The gospel covenant, which was their guide, and support, has existed, as we have seen, from “before the foundation of the world.” It is, therefore, really the oldest of all the covenants. It is consequently, called the new covenant, not in respect of the date of its origin, but of the period of its visible administration, which did not commence until after the old covenant had served its purposes, was fulfilled, and had passed away. For all that concerned holiness, and salvation, it was, nevertheless, fully as effective immediately after the fall, as it is at this hour. Christ Jesus was “A Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”[13] All who in any age have been saved, have obtained their deliverance through faith in him. Up, however, to the time of his personal appearing upon earth, there was no formal outward organization. The only external administration was legal, and typical. To any one who will maturely examine the subject, these facts must be apparent. Readily may you trace the approach of the church to the period of’ its visibility. Previous to the advent, the covenant, and kingdom of Christ, are ever spoken of, as being in the future. By Ezekiel Jehovah said, “I will establish unto you an everlasting covenant.”[14] And, in another place, “I will bring you into the bonds of the covenant.”[15] By Daniel he said, “In the days of these kings [the Roman Emperors] will the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms; and it shall stand forever”[16] Thus did all the prophets speak of the church, up to that moment when the Old Testament dispensation was closed. The kingdom was not yet formally inaugurated. You open the new Testament, and what do you there find? John the Baptist comes, “preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[17] “Messiah the prince” appears. He is recognized in his baptism, as the “Son of God.”[18] Having entered upon his ministry, he proclaims of the kingdom, “It is nigh thee, even at the doors;” at this moment, “the kingdom of God is within you.”[19] To which an apostle adds, “Now is come the kingdom of our God.”[20]

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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