by Rayola Kelley
Have you found yourself being concerned about all the latest movements that are being promoted in Christianity? Sometimes I feel like I am wading through some kind of swamp full of many dangers. I even wonder if there is anything left that is really pure or if everything of God has been tainted with the various infectious “spiritual” bacteria that often breeds in the insane cesspools that surround us. But even when I consider this bleak prospect, I realize God always has a people who have never bowed their knees to any of the gods of this world. (I Kings 19:18).
When I consider the days we live in, Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 vibrates in my mind. This scripture tells us that there will first come a falling away, and then the man of sin will be revealed. Although I know I am watching prophecy coming to pass, I also know that the blessed hope, Jesus coming for His people, is not far behind.
In the years Jeannette and I have been together we have noticed three major paths merging from all of these erroneous beliefs that are taking root in the church. These three paths include a path that always lead back to Rome (Catholicism) in the name of tolerance, peace and unity. The second path leads back to Judaism in the name of the Law, obedience, repentance, holiness and identity. The third path leads to the kingdom now movement with it various heretical doctrines.
The first path leads to idolatry, paganism and an unholy allegiance. The second path leads to legalism, self-righteousness and condemnation while the third leads to lying signs and wonders, deification of man and rejection of the one true God.
Out of all these religious movements, another concept is coming forth and that has to do with covenants. I’m sure you have heard that we are a “covenant people.” Because this concept is gaining momentum, I decided to consider it in a greater light.
I have always been aware that there have been various covenants made in the Bible. According to Dake’s there are actually 16 covenants. These covenants not only mark a time in history where God met man but they also give one a sense of the spiritual condition of man as you study each of them.
As I looked back, I have only been keenly aware of four of the covenants. I think of the covenant and special promise that God made with Noah after He destroyed the world with the flood every time I see a rainbow in the sky.
Another popular covenant was the one that God made with Moses. We call it the covenant of law. I greatly value this covenant that produced the famous ten commandments, which have served as a simple standard of determining justice and moral responsibility for many centuries. Although this covenant has served as a visible cornerstone to many people, it is very limited because it can’t offer eternal salvation. The value of this covenant can be clearly understood when individuals allow it to show them how righteous God is and how lost and hopeless man is. In fact, the law can only curse and condemn an individual who insists on coming under it. (See Isaiah 64:6; John 7:19 Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 3:13, 24; and James 2:8-10.)
The Word of God shows any seeking individual that the sole purpose of the covenant made with Moses was to point lost individuals to the New Testament Covenant. The New Testament Covenant not only offers a person the gift of eternal life but also points a repentive individual to the only sure path to a complete life, Jesus Christ.
The blood of Jesus established this New Testament covenant (Hebrews 9:7-23). In this covenant one finds cleansing and forgiveness of sin instead of condemnation (1 John 1:7-9). Because of what Jesus did to secure this covenant with His very life, everyone who embraces it has the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
Because the New Testament covenant is about a person having the right to come into a relationship with God, I do not think of my life with God (through Jesus) a matter of a covenant, but of a relationship. Every time I mention my relationship with God, I am making a reference to the New Testament covenant.
Ialso realize that a covenant is an agreement between two parties (but I am also aware that it takes at least two parties to have a relationship). If a covenant is an agreement between two parties then there must be conditions or responsibilities for both parties to maintain the covenant.
This brings us to the Christian’s responsibility in this covenant. At this point debates and arguments occur. For example, some people believe for us to keep our end of this new covenant, we must keep the Law. This leads us back to something that can only condemn, not justify (Acts 13:39). Even though I understand the value of the Law, I also know that Jesus completed it and is the end of it (Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 10:4). In fact, Christianity goes beyond the law and the summation of the life it calls for can be found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Since my life is hid in Christ, I do not stand subject to the law but to Jesus Christ and higher principles of life (Romans 5; Colossians 3:3).
The question is how does a Christian uphold the New Testament Covenant if it is not by keeping the Law? The answer is simple, by faith.
The New Testament Covenant leads us back to the Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham was before the Law and his righteousness before God was established solely on the basis of his faith and not on his adherence to some legal code. The Apostle Paul confirms this in Romans 4 and 5. He actually brings this comparison between the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants in Romans 4:13: “For the promise that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Christians are justified by faith and are saved because of it (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-10). Godly faith is active and produces obedience to not only the moral part of the Law but to the spirit of it (Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6). Galatians 3:14 and Romans 5:5; 13:10: confirms this: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost…therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Hebrews 11:6 tells us we can’t please God without faith. Romans 14:23 states that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
As you study Jesus’ words, He also points you back to the Abrahamic Covenant and not the Mosaic Covenant. He always referred to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You can see where His greatest rebuke was towards unbelief, not disobedience to the Law. In fact, His greatest opposition in the form of unbelief came from those who claimed to be of Moses, under the Mosaic Covenant. This point was made evident in the situation that involved the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. This young man claimed to obey the Law. But this claim did not impress Jesus as He in turn claimed that the man was still found wanting in his spiritual life–that in essence he lacked eternal life.
Let me bring you back to my initial question, are Christians a covenant people? The answer is yes but that covenant can only be understood and expressed in a relationship with God that is maintained by living faith in the Son of God. This faith not only declares Jesus is God Incarnate, Son of God, Messiah and Savior, but it expresses itself in love and obedience. This faith brings one under the Lordship of Jesus and ends in salvation (1 Peter 1:9).
What covenant are you under? What path are you walking on? Is your life before God surface because it is what you do or is it inward and based on an active faith in the Son of the Living God?
The answer to this question is of the utmost importance. After all, this subject is a matter of life and death.