Firm Foundation #7

    THE TWO COVENANTS

    In the course of the world’s history God has given two different written covenants to man. The first of these was the law of Moses given at Sinai. The second is the law of Christ given in the first century of the Christian age. To properly understand and appraise the divine law governing us today, it is necessary for a person to have a proper concept of these two covenants. The two covenants are usually called the Old Testament and the New Testament – the law of Moses and the law of Christ. The law of Moses was an exclusive law, while the law of Christ is a universal law. The old covenant included the Jews and excluded all other peoples. It was given for the purpose of preparing the world for the reception of King Messiah and when it had accomplished its purpose it was abrogated. No man living today is obligated to the old law. The commands governing people in this age are the laws of the New Testament.

    In Galatians 4:21, Paul gives an allegory of two women. They were Agar and Sarah, the two wives of Abraham. Paul says that Agar represents the old covenant and that Sarah represents the new. He reminds us that the bond woman, Agar, was cast out and in chapter 5, verse 4, says, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Concerning the law of Moses, Paul also says, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). The Mosaic covenant with its rites, rituals, ceremonies, feasts and fasts was given as a guide until Christ should come and now that Christ has come, redemption is by him rather than by the old law.

    In another place Paul makes this argument: “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men: forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God: who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious” (2 Corinthians 3:1-11). The Mosaic law is the ministration of death written and engraved in stones. When Moses came down from the mountain, having received the ten commandments from God, his face shone as a result of having been in the divine presence and it was necessary for him to put a veil over his face. In this place, then, Paul clearly refers to the two covenants and plainly says that one, the old law, is done away and that the other, the new law, remains.

    In writing to the church at Ephesus Paul refers to the distinction between the Gentiles and the Jews. “Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at the time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants, of promise, having no hope, and without God in this world: but now, in Christ, ye sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us: having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:11-16). In this place Paul says that in time past something had acted as a barrier between Jews and Gentiles. He tells us that the separating partition was a law of commandments contained in ordinances – the Mosaic law- and that this law was abolished in the flesh of Christ and slain by Christ on the cross. This was done in order to make Jews and Gentiles one new man in Christ, so making peace. In still another place Paul says concerning the work of Christ, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross, and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days” (Colossians 2:14-16).

    Paul makes an argument based on a well-known principle of law to show that the old covenant is abolished. We know that if a man should make a testament, or a will, and after a time make a second testament, that upon his death his second or last will and testament is the instrument used by the administrator of his estate to dispense the heritage. Paul says, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Hebrews 9:16, 17). God made two wills, the Son died after the second will was made. Therefore, God’s last will and testament is the instrument that is used in dispensing his blessing. In Hebrews 9:15 Paul says, “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.” There is a new testament, and therefore an old testament. There is a first testament, and also a second testament. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9)

    The Old Testament is the inspired word of God and is profitable. It should be studied and its lessons learned. But it is not the law-governing people today. That old law commands worship on Saturday, the offering of bloody animal sacrifices, the observance of feasts and fasts. It is agreed on every hand that we are not obligated to observe these things. The old law is carnal, physical, and fleshly. The new law is spiritual. The old law was given that man might be taught to understand and appreciate spiritual values and to strive after those things which remain. It had a definite purpose and need but having accomplished that purpose has been abolished in the blood of Christ. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say until you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17,18). The Lord tells us that the Mosaic law was not to pass away till all things be fulfilled. The word “till” is a limiting word. If we should say a person couldn’t vote “till” he is 21 years of age, it would be understood that when he reached the age of 21 he could vote. Jesus said the law would not pass till it was fulfilled. When the law was fulfilled, it did pass. Jesus said that he came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it. We know that the Lord did the thing he came to do. When he died on the cross he said, “It is finished.” Jesus had accomplished his work, completed his mission, and fulfilled the law.

    The knowledge that we are under the new covenant rather than the old is vital to a proper understanding of the Bible and to a proper appreciation of our responsibilities and duties. We cannot go back to the old law for religious authority today. The law governing us is the law of the New Testament. Let us dedicate ourselves to the proposition of knowing the law to which we are amenable and obey it.

    Section 1-Fill in the Blanks

    Question 1
    The first written covenant God gave us was the __________

    Question 2
    The second written covenant God gave was the __________ __________.

    Question 3
    The law of Moses was an __________ law.

    Question 4
    The law of Christ is a __________ law.

    Question 5
    Paul gives an allegory of two women which teaches an important lesson concerning the two covenants. The two women were _________ and _________, two o the wives of __________.

    Question 6
    __________ represents the old __________ and __________ represents the new.

    Question 7
    __________, representing the __________ covenant, was cast out.

    Question 8
    The __________ law exceeds the __________ law in glory.

    Question 9
    Christ took away the __________ __________ that he might establish the __________ __________.

    Question 10
    The Mosaic law was __________ to the cross of Christ.

    Section 2-Yes or No

    Question 1
    The old law is done away and the new law remains.
    YesNo

    Question 2
    The old law acted as a barrier between Jew and Gentile.
    YesNo

    Question 3
    The old law was abolished in order to make Jew and Gentile one new man in Christ.
    YesNo

    Question 4
    A will or testament can be changed after the death of the testator.
    YesNo

    Question 5
    It is profitable to study the Old Testament.
    YesNo

    Question 6
    It is profitable to study the Old Testament.
    YesNo

    Question 7
    It is profitable to study the Old Testament.
    YesNo

    Question 8
    The old law was not to pass away until it was fulfilled.
    YesNo

    Question 9
    Christ lived under the old covenant.
    YesNo

    Question 10
    The old law was a schoolmaster to bring the people to Christ.
    YesNo

    Section 3-Complete the Scriptures

    Question 1
    “The __________ thy __________ will raise up unto thee a __________, like unto me; unto __________ ye shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

    Question 2
    “And there was a __________ that overshadowed them: and a __________ came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved __________: hear __________” (Mark 9:7).

    Question 3
    “Not every one that __________ unto me, Lord, __________, shall enter into the __________ of __________; but he that __________ the __________ of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21)

    Question 4
    “But those things, which __________ before had showed by the mouth of all his __________, that __________ should suffer, he hath so __________” (Acts 3:18).

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