Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God had a Plan,
First Covenant, Second Covenant - Which Came First?

Which came first – the “First Covenant” or the “Second Covenant”? Well, the answer seems obvious – the Old Covenant of righteousness by the keeping of the Law and the offering of animal sacrifices came first. That was followed by the New Covenant, that righteousness which comes, not by way of the keeping of laws and the offering of animal sacrifices, but through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the word says, according to 2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The first covenant – the law contained in commandments and requiring the blood of animals to be shed – why not just keep it in place? Hebrews 8 is a good place to start to answer that question.

Hebrews 8:6-7 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.

Did you get that? If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second. The problem with the Old Covenant is that man was not truly able to keep the Law, try as he might. It has to do with the heart and nature of man – what man is on the inside, and his inability to be “good.” That’s why Jesus said we must be “born again.”

John 3:3 and 5-6 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." … Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Although as Christians we have been born again, and therefore have a new spiritual heart and a new spiritual nature, we know we still struggle in our efforts to obey the inclination of that new nature as opposed to obeying the inclination of the old nature that we are accustomed to. That’s why Paul told us to walk by the Spirit, not the flesh.

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

But let’s look back at our original question – which came first, the “First (Old) Covenant” or the “Second (New) Covenant”? In truth, God’s ultimate plan was always the New Covenant. Yes, the Old Covenant was a part of His plan, of course, but it was never the goal – that man would somehow survive through obedience to the Law. That was not God’s plan! Jesus was not the “afterthought” but the “forethought.” He is the Beginning and the End, and He was the foundation from the beginning.

Ephesians chapter one is excellent for studying God’s “purpose from the beginning” – here are a few verses from the chapter.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love

5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight

9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,

14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

And from Revelation chapter 22:

Revelation 22:12"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

13"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

15Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

16"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."

17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come " And let the one who hears say, "Come " And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

Why then the Law? If God knew it would be, in a sense, futile, why enact it at all? The Law was given so that we might know our sin. Romans chapters 3 and 5 have a lot to say about God’s purpose for the law in the first place.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;

20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--

13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

15But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

16The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.

17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

19For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

20The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I know we all are so very thankful for the New Covenant – our reconciled relationship to our heavenly Father who loves us and gave His Son to save us, His plan from the very beginning!
Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.


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