Sunday, August 06, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Has God Changed His Promise to Abraham?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

God does fantastic things, and the sooner we understand Him the better. He made what appear to be wild promises to His lone patriarch who was willing to forsake his home in the great city of Ur of the Chaldees, and live in a tent the rest of his life. God promised to give Abraham the whole world for "an everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:8; Rom. 4:13), and the everlasting life needed to enjoy it (2 Peter 3:13), and of course the righteousness necessary to inherit it. All this God promised to Abraham and his descendants as a gift without question.

But millions of Christians cling to the idea that 430 years later God revised His promise and changed it into a bargain, a mutual contract with legal terms and conditions. The inheritance must now be "offered" to Israel on condition first that they become obedient. The "promise" must now involve numerous "curses" threatened for disobedience--all of which were fulfilled in the multiple destructions of Jerusalem.

The popular notion of the covenants requires that God changed His promise into a conditional "offer" of salvation that leaves salvation to the initiative of the people. "Obey and live" is now the fundamental idea; disobey and die.

But there's a snag: when God made His "wild" promises to Abraham, He not only promised--He swore an oath to "give" it all to him and his descendants. He staked His very throne, His existence, on His promise to give it all for free.

God giving His law on Mount Sinai introduces no new feature into His "covenant," for if He made the slightest change in its provisions He would nullify the "will" that was fixed for eternity by the "death of the testator" when "the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world." No, says Paul; salvation is fixed for eternity: it's by grace through faith, which itself is the gift of God.

Which do you want--the New Covenant or the Old?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 26, 2002.
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