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

September 20, 2019 Leave a comment

3. The covenants, thirdly, clearly teach us that all the peculiar purposes of God in relation to the Jewish nation, are now fully accomplished.

Their separate nationality was, as we have seen, secured, and perpetuated, as an essential part of those means by which the fulfilment was certified, of the “promise of God in Christ to Abraham.” When Christ came, and the proof of his Messiah-ship was established, that end was gained perfectly. They, in the providence of God, were soon afterwards dispersed, and have never since enjoyed a national being. And why should they? What is to be gained by it? Yet it is believed by them, and the opinion prevails very generally among Christians, that they will at some future day, be restored to Canaan, and there yet become a great nation. Are the Jews really to be restored as a nation, to Canaan? If they are restored, by what laws will they there be governed? By those of the old covenant? They are all fulfilled, and superseded. As the laws of God, they no longer exist. Sacrifices, oblations, priesthood, circumcision, are not now even when practised by Jews, obedience to God. Will they be governed by the new covenant. Then they will be Christians, and why should they be separated from other Christians of different races? But do not the prophecies declare that they will be restored? Let us examine them. Among the passages which are considered most conclusive on this subject, are such as these:- “Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they have gone, and gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall reign over them all; and they shall no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions. But I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them. So shall they be my people; and I will be their God; and David my servant, shall be king over them; and they shall all have one Shepherd; and they shall walk in my judgments, and obey my statues, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; and I will place them, and multiply them; and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forever more.”[9]

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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The Father covenanted with Christ that He should be the federal head of His people

September 17, 2019 Leave a comment

Let us consider now the various features of the everlasting covenant.

1. The Father covenanted with Christ that He should be the federal head of His people, undertaking for them, freeing them from that dreadful condemnation wherein God foresaw from eternity they would fall in Adam. This alone explains why Christ is denominated the “last Adam,” the “second man” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47). Let it be very carefully noted that in Ephesians 5:23 we are expressly told “Christ is the head of the church, and He is the saviour of the body.” He could not have been the Savior unless He had first been the head; that is, unless He had voluntarily entered into the work of suretyship by divine appointment, serving as the representative of His people, taking upon Him all their responsibilities and agreeing to discharge all their legal obligations; putting Himself in the stead of His insolvent people, paying all their debts, working out for them a perfect righteousness, and legally meriting for them the reward or blessing of the fulfilled law.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part One-The Everlasting Covenant

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

September 13, 2019 Leave a comment

These conclusions, so obviously scriptural, and true, are, I am glad to find, beginning to be acknowledged by the learned, and candid, even in the ranks of our Pedobaptist brethren. I might introduce several authorities, but will satisfy myself with one only. Dr. Hodge, one of the Professors in the Princeton Theological Seminary says:- “It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one his natural descendants through Isaac, were constituted a commonwealth— an external community; by the other his spiritual descendants were constituted into a church, [invisible of course, since, at that time, the only formal organization was that of the law.] The parties to the former covenant, were God, and the nation; to the other, God, and his true people. The promises of the national covenant, were national blessings; the promises of the spiritual covenant (i.e. the covenant of grace) were spiritual blessings, as reconciliation, holiness, and eternal life. The conditions of the one covenant [the old] were circumcision, and obedience to the law; the conditions of the other were, and ever have been, faith in the Messiah, as ‘the seed of the woman,’ the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, [that is, the old covenant with the new] and the commonwealth founded on the one, with the church founded on the other. When Christ came, the commonwealth was abolished, and there was nothing put in its place. The church [now made visible] remained. There was no external covenant, nor promise of external ‘blessings, on condition of external rites, and subjection. There was a spiritual society, with spiritual promises, on condition of faith in Christ.” “The church is, therefore, in its essential nature, a company of believers, and not an external society, requiring merely external profession as the condition of membership.[7]” This is the true testimony. It must be so. It cannot be otherwise. The Jewish church which rejected, and cast out the Christian church, could not be substantially that very Christian church which it cast out, and rejected. The Jewish church into which its members were born by natural birth, could not be the same church with the Christian into which none can lawfully enter but such as are “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”[8] Was the church which contained the Scribes, and Pharisees, and Sadducees, the most open, determined, and malignant enemies of Christ, the same church with that into which none can enter, but those who love Christ with all their soul, and mind and strength? The church of Israel, was the nation of Israel, and, as a whole, could no more be the church of Christ, in the New Testament sense of that phrase, than the American nation, can be called the church of Christ.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

Hebrews 8:10

September 10, 2019 Leave a comment

Before leaving Hebrews 8:10 let us note the blessed tenor of the covenant as expressed in the words immediately following: “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (vv. 11, 12). What conditions are there here? What terms of fulfillment are required from impotent men? None at all: it is all promise from beginning to end. So too in Acts 3:25 we find Peter saying, “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers.” Here the covenant (not “covenants”) is referred to generally; then it is specified particularly: “saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth” be laid under conditions? No; be required to perform certain works? No; but, “shall be blessed,” without any regard to qualifications or deeds of their own—entitled by virtue of their interest in what was performed for them by their covenant head.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part One-The Everlasting Covenant

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

September 6, 2019 Leave a comment

2. The teachings of the covenants, truly interpreted, give us, secondly, important aid in determining the character, and form of the visible Christian church.

They concur with the New Testament, in establishing the fact, that it is “A congregation of faithful men, in which the true word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered, according to Christ’s ordinances, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.”[2] It is therefore, a purely spiritual body, called out of the world, by the gospel [3] and formally organized for the service of Christ, according to his own laws. In professed agreement with these doctrines, but practically, in direct opposition to them, it has been very generally assumed, that “The Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are one, and the same church, under different dispensations.” This proposition, you must, from the examination through which we have passed, be convinced cannot be sustained. The covenants themselves, plainly show that the Jewish church, and the Christian church, are organized upon different, and dissimilar covenants; that they are composed of wholly unlike material —the one of the entire Hebrew nation, the other of “faithful men,” believers only; that one was a figure of the other; and that when the gospel church, the reality, was visibly organized, the Jewish church, the figure, ceased to exist. The covenants of the law, were the charter of the Jewish church. They were designed, as we have seen, to bear witness to Christ. When he came, and was acknowledged, their purpose being accomplished, they were superseded, since when the charter expired, then of course, expired with it, all the peculiar privileges it conferred. The Jewish church, therefore, was not continued in any form. The new covenant was now introduced into visible administration. This is the charter of the Christian church. If the apostles teach us truly, these churches were so unlike, that the removal of the Jewish was necessary to the introduction of the Christian:- “He taketh away the first [covenant says Paul,] that he may establish the second.”[4] And David speaking prophetically of Messiah, says:- “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedeck.”[5] In exposition of this passage, Paul remarks:- “If perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should arise, after the order of Melchizedeck, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity, a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of whom no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, [such is the stipulation of the covenant] of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is far more evident,” that “there is a disannulling of the commandment going before [the old covenant] for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law [the Jewish covenant] made nothing perfect; [being figurative merely] but the bringing in of a better hope [the gospel covenant] did; by the which hope we draw nigh unto God.’[6] Can that which is removed, and that which is placed in its stead, be after all, substantially the same thing? Can the law be changed, and still continue to be the same law? If not, then the covenant of the Christian church, is another covenant than that of the Jewish church; having a new Mediator, a new order of priests, new sacrifices, and a new service. It follows, therefore, that “The Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are not one and the same church under different dispensations.” Consequently all the deductions from this source to which men are wont to resort, in reference to the nature, form, and ordinances of the Christian church, are baseless, and necessarily fall to the ground.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

God is the God of His people in a much more blessed sense

September 3, 2019 Leave a comment

What has been pointed out in the above paragraph receives confirmation in many other Scriptures. When renewing His covenant with Abraham, Jehovah said: “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). That is the great covenant promise: to be a God unto any one sides that He will supply all their need (Phil. 4:19)—spiritual, temporal, and eternal. It is true that God is the God of all men, inasmuch as He is their Creator, Governor and judge; but He is the God of His people in a much more blessed sense. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and 1 will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb. 8:10). Here again we are shown that it is with respect unto the covenant that, in a special way, God is the God of His people.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part One-The Everlasting Covenant

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

1. One among the most impressive lessons taught us by the covenants is, I remark, in the first place, the demonstration they give of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth.

Of all the covenants of the law especially, this was the primary purpose. These, as we have seen, provided, to a great extent, the testimony required, to place the faith of both Jews and Gentiles upon an immovable foundation. Is not the proof of his Messiahship given by them, and their auxiliaries, perfectly conclusive? Was not Jesus the Christ? Is the promised Deliverer yet to come? Then all is lost irrecoverably. Come when he will, it never can be certainly known that he is the promised Messiah. No means exist—no means ever can exist— by which his claims may be satisfactorily established. The Jews from whom he was to spring are no longer a nation, but driven centuries since, from their country, are in hopeless exile. Their laws which God pledged himself to maintain until his advent, ceased to be administered eighteen hundred years since. Long ago has past the prophetic period for his appearing. The genealogies of the tribes are all wholly lost. Not a Jew can be found on earth, who, as they themselves confess, knows, or ever can know, whether he is a descendant of David, or of some other Hebrew family. Messiah not yet come! Then all prophecy, and all history must be discredited. The Bible itself is a fable, and no confidence can Be placed in its revelations. Religion, in all its forms, is only a delicious dream! But, happily, we labor under no such uncertainties. God himself has provided, in these covenants, and their auxiliaries, against all indefiniteness. The proof that Jesus is the Christ, is full and “infallible.” He came at the precise time, and in the very place, fixed by prophecy, for the coming of Messiah; all the collateral events occurred which were predicted to transpire at his appearing; the family from which he sprung; the place of his birth, and of his teaching; the works which he did; the events previously predicted, of his life, betrayal, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension; all these leave upon the intelligent, and unprejudiced mind, no doubts. It is absolutely certain that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of men.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants