1ST COVENANT

THE TWISTED FIRST COVENANT

“The ten commandments are based on a call for faith in the God of the exodus, just like the moral teachings of the NT are based on a call for faith in the Lord of Good Friday and Easter” John Piper (ref#277).

FATHER, from Genesis to Revelation Your entire Bible holds the one theme: Your people trusting in You.  The subject of “faith” did not instantly appear with Your 2nd Covenant.  It would be well for all Your chosen ones if we would just trust in Your instructions.  However…

For some simply trusting You is not an immediate concept.  I, for one, spent many years trying to love and be loved by You through my own efforts.

“Sin is essentially man’s failure to trust in God, an act or state of unbelief” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p13, [Gen 3:6]).  “…the human heart would much rather offer to God its works, no matter how costly, than humble itself to confess sin.  That is the reason why man is always predisposed to go the way of works” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#100, p80).

“…concerning Israel…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom 9:27, 10:2-3 ESV).  “…in…the covenant God had made with them, they perverted His grace by seeing it as dependent on their own law-keeping” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1631, [Rom 10:3]).

“Why did Israel fail to achieve right standing with God through the law?  They did not pursue obedience to the law in humble trust, but tried to make it a means of establishing their own righteousness” The ESV Study Bible (ref# 125, p2174, [Rom 9:32]).

“…many in Israel twisted the Mosaic law into legalism.  That is, they severed it from its foundation of faith…and thus turned the commandments into a job description for how to earn the wages of salvation” John Piper (ref#277).

“The law never commanded anyone to try to merit his salvation.  The law is based on faith in God’s promises, not on legalistic strivings.  The mistake of Israel was not in pursuing the law, but in pursuing it by works instead of by faith” John Piper (ref#277).  “The Jews’ zeal and sincerity does not lead them to salvation.  The broader principle is that many sincere, ‘religious’ people are wrong in their beliefs” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2174, [Rom 10:2]).

1ST COVENANT

OLD COVENANT LAW

“The LORD was pleased for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious” (Isa 42:21 ESV).

“To understand the Old Covenant aright we must ever remember its two great characteristics — the one, that it was of Divine appointment, fraught with much true blessing, and absolutely indispensable for the working out of God’s purposes; the other, that it was only provisional and preparatory to something higher, and therefore absolutely insufficient for giving that full salvation which man needs if his heart or the heart of God is to be satisfied” Andrew Murray (ref#279).

“The dispensation of the old covenant was one of distance….When He [GOD] manifested Himself on Mount Sinai to His own chosen…one of the first commands He gave was, ‘Set bounds about the mount’ (Exod 19:23)….It was as if the Lord…wanted to teach man that sin was…utterly loathsome to Him…” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 15th PM, brackets mine).

“A…use of the Law is to curb sinners….not only the reprobate, but also of the elect, previous to regeneration” John Calvin (ref#113, p218).

“God’s end in giving us the law was, that we might be fitted for Christ, and obtain justification by believing in him” Matthew Poole (ref#282).  “People see that they are condemned; they are convinced by the Law that they cannot save themselves…Hence, the importance of preaching the Law still;…it is needful that people should be made to feel that they are sinners, in order that they may be prepared to embrace the offers of mercy” Albert Barnes (ref#280).

1ST COVENANT

COVENANTS

“…God works in history to redeem His chosen ones through a series of covenants.  These covenants define His law, assess penalties for breaking His law, and provide for the imputation of Jesus’ vicarious fulfillment of God’s requirements…” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p148).

INTERVENING FATHER, Your loving will and compassion work to my advantage through the covenants You set in place.  Through them I have no question about my course with You.

“A covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p515).

In sovereign authority You reveal Your desire and my part is only to accept or reject it (ref#63, p 515).  You will be my GOD and I will be Your child if I keep Your decrees and ordinances (Lev 18:5).  Moses writes that the man who can practice the perfect conformity to Your will shall live (Rom 10:5).  “If you obey…by loving the LORD…by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments…then you shall live…” (Deut 30:16 ESV).

FATHER, how I long to keep Your covenant but, my contribution makes it impossible.  I may not murder, but I certainly can’t keep Your law that says I am a transgressor even if I am angry at someone (Matt 5:21-22).  And Your stipulation is that if I fail in one point of Your law, I become accountable for all of it (James 2:10).

So, because I can’t keep Your covenant I am liable to judgment—liable to the hell of fire (Matt 5:22).  The very ordinance which You designed and intended to bring me life actually means death to me (Rom 7:10).  On my own I cannot keep Your covenant of works.

“…the covenant of works is still in force for every human being apart from Christ, even though no sinful human being can fulfill its provisions and gain blessing by it….for Christians today to think of themselves as obligated to try to earn God’s favor by obedience would be to cut themselves off from the hope of salvation” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p518).

Thank You, FATHER, for CHRIST and Your covenant of grace.

FAITH

WEAK FAITH

“Faith has its trials as well as its temptations….The faith of a child of God may not only be severely assailed, but there are times when that faith may waver greatly….Nothing but the divinity that dwells within that grace keeps it….David: in the strength of faith slaying Goliath, and in the weakness of faith fleeing from Saul!…Nothing but the power of God and its own incorruptible and imperishable nature preserve it” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 2nd).

“You don’t have to hide in guilt when weak faith gets you off the path, because your hope in life isn’t your faithfulness, but his.  You can run in weakness and once again seek his strength.  And you can know that in zealous grace he will not leave his craftwork until faith fully rules our heart unchallenged.  He always gives freely what we need in order to do what he has called us to do” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 12th).

“…this direct faith; it is simply resting upon Christ…realizing our utter weakness and helplessness and hopelessness….” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 10th).

FATHER, when I recognize weak faith my first reaction is to rely on myself to rise to the occasion.  Misguided, I think I own faith and it is my responsibility to make it better.  But, no; I own nothing; I have given my life to CHRIST.  Now that I know, continually remind me that my strength of faith comes from You.  If I dislike my weak faith let me turn to You and plead and not think twice of trying to raise faith myself.

FAITH

FAITH IN SUFFERING

“…Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through…suffering comes out proved genuine…” (1 Pet 1:6-7 MSG).

“…Paul…had a thorn in the flesh, and he could not understand it.  It seemed all wrong to him.  He wanted to preach the Gospel, but the thorn was a hindrance to him” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, May 6th).

“Let us trust this love.  Trust it when veiled, trust it when it threatens to slay, trust it when it seems to frown, trust it even when we cannot trace it” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 6th).

“Jesus…is a…Brother born for your adversity.  His grace and sympathy are sufficient for you….You are now to walk by faith and not by sight.  This, then, is the great secret of a life of faith: to hang on Jesus daily, to go to Him in every trial, to cast every burden on Him, to take the infirmity, the corruption, the cross, as it rises, simply and immediately to Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 4th).

“According to the degree of our faith will be the degree of our peace, our hope, our strength for duty, and our patience in trial” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p195).  “…your faith may be sharply tempted or severely tried, but it shall never, never quite fail; for Jesus lives in you, and lives in you forever” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 3rd).

“…I am suffering…But I am not ashamed…for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return” (2 Tim 1:12 NLT).

FAITH

FROM FAITH TO FAITH

 “…the righteous will shall by his faith” (Hab 2:4 ESV).

“When faith and duty demand anything from us, we must close our eyes to all obstacles and go forward in our work; for all events are in God’s hands alone, and they will happen as he pleases.  Our duty is to proceed, even if we think our labors may be in vain and will not bear fruit” John Calvin (ref#164, April 28th).  FATHER, I desire help to possess the faith to allow the days to play out by Your hand.  May I find it not important whether I think I’m doing well or poorly.

“The grace you’ve been given is not just the grace of forgiveness and acceptance; it’s also the grace of empowerment.  So get up and follow….So here’s how this works.  God has promised to supply and empower; your joy is to follow him by faith where you live every day.  You don’t wait for the provision before you move.  God has not promised that you will see it beforehand.  You don’t try to figure out what God is going to do next and how he will meet your needs; you move forward in the certainty that he is with you, for you, and in you” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 6th).

“Would you have more faith?…Then take heed that you are diligent in the use of every means of grace,–diligent in your private communion with God,–diligent in your daily watchfulness over time, temper, and tongue,–diligent in your private Bible-reading,–diligent in your own private prayers” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p195).

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:17 NIV).

“Faith…teaches us to hope for and to desire every blessing from God” John Calvin (ref#164, March 1st).

FAITH

CHRIST, MY OBJECT OF FAITH

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love” Henry Scougal (ref#220, p304).

“When we are satisfied with our counselor we will do what he counsels.  But more than that.  True faith delights in all that Jesus is—his character, his personality, his nature.  This means that his counsel itself will be beautiful to us.  We will love holiness because it is an expression of the personality of the One whose personality we cherish” John Piper (ref#220, p250).

“You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation” (1 Pet 1:8-9 MSG).

“…The conquering power…is our faith.  The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5 MSG).

“By the indwelling of the Spirit, and realized by faith, Christ abides in the believer and the believer abides in Christ.  ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one’” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 6th).

“Faith is receiving Christ” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p92).  “The Christian faith is faith inChrist.  Its value or worth is not in the one believing, but in the one believed—not in the one trusting, but in the one trusted” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

FAITH

FAITH IN CHRIST NOT IN THINGS

“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb 12:2 ESV).

“Would you have more faith?  Then seek to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p196).

“Is there anything in the true Church of God that would…indicate a proneness to substitute for Christ something in the experience of the believer?  Indeed.  Examples are…only too common.  When the act of faith is substituted for the object of faith…Faith is only the channel through which…blessings are received.  And yet, who has not detected in his heart a tendency to look to faith for the evidence of his Christianity instead of to Christ, thus making the act of believing a substitute for the object in which we believe” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, April 29th)?

“…where there is true faith, Christ will always be known and realized, as an actual living personal Friend.  He that knows nothing of Christ as his own Priest, Physician, and Redeemer, knows nothing yet of believing” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p191)!

“We glorify God when our service comes from faith in his strength, because the one who gives the strength gets the glory….1 Pet 4:11” John Piper (ref#220, p212).