Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Old Covenant—An Experiment Gone Bad?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Sometimes the most wonderful gift can be wrapped unattractively. That is true of certain "Bible doctrines" that outwardly appear boring or even burdensome, but which are marvelous blessings. One is the Bible doctrine of the Sabbath; in His mercy God asks us to "remember" it, to keep it holy (that's all, to keep holy what He has already made holy!). And Satan wants to make that blessed "remembrance" to appear burdensome.

Another "doctrine" that appears dry as dust (it used to be that way to me!) is the Two Covenants, an idea that I thought only theologians wrangled about in their ivory towers. And the Bible commentaries were no help. It seemed that God was experimenting on Israel, trying this or that method to save them, and since the old covenant was one of His experiments that went bad, He had to think up another method, the new covenant. But that created a real problem: if God Himself has not been sure what to do to save us, how can I be sure of anything?

Then the light broke through the clouds when I read a little book entitled The Glad Tidings by Ellet J. Waggoner, a verse-by-verse study of Galatians. To me it was intensely interesting. God always has had only one way of saving people; He was not experimenting with different ways; the new covenant was always His way; but the people were the ones who tried to invent a different way to get to heaven--they came up with the old covenant idea.

The simple, sunlight truth is that God is too wise ever to try to make bargains with sinners (don't forget, "saints" are sinners by nature) because He knows they cannot fulfill their part of the bargain. His new covenant is not a "contract" wherein both parties, God and the sinner, strike a bargain agreement. It's always His own simple, straight-forward promise to save the sinner by the sacrifice of Himself; and the sinner's proper response is not to promise to do this or that, but to believe and appreciate God's promise--just as Abraham believed.

And there is where the trouble lies: Abraham's descendants at Mount Sinai did not have his faith. So they contrived a different response to God's new covenant promise: they promised to obey (which promise they broke in a matter of days; Ex. 19:8; 32:1-8). So, get under the new covenant today! Believe God's promises to you, and that faith will produce the obedience that has worried you, as it did Abraham.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 12, 1999.
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