GREL 1003: Principals of Biblical Faith
Prof. J. Gordon Eisenman
11 October 2000
Why do we need the Covenants?
Could mere obedience to law bring about forgiveness of sins and salvation? Gods whole plan of salvation is promised and understood through the Covenants. Many denominations have different beliefs, however, thanks to the Covenants, all believe that the only condition for salvation that He requires is faith. These Covenants were and are still very necessary because they convey Gods promise. An understanding of the Covenants helps build a persons faith and gives one a much better basis for understanding of the Bible.
The need for the Covenants was pointed out by God in Romans 3:23, where He said, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In the Old Testament, the believers did not have Gods Spirit in them as a permanent gift. The laws, of the Old Covenant, were broken by Gods people, even though, both Covenants made clear that the way to be declared not guilty by Him was not for good work or deeds, but by faith.
The Old Covenant What and Where
Whenever God makes a promise or gives man a commandment or a prohibition, He makes a covenant with man. This type of contract usually comes about through negotiations. Once an agreement is reached, it is usually sealed in some formal way. Thus, it becomes binding to everyone. The Old Covenant was essentially a contract between God and the Israelites (His chosen people). He sent Moses to these people to convey his message, which was If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation (KJV) Exodus 19:5 6. The physical sign of following the Old Covenant was circumcision.
The Mosaic Law was a central part of the Old Covenant. This law was the moral record of how Gods people were supposed to live. The vehicle by which God taught people about their own sinfulness and their need for a savior was the Law in the Old Testament. However, Paul, along with the rest of the apostles, taught that salvation was impossible through obedience to the Law, even under the Old Covenant. Paul stated this in Romans 3:20, because of the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. He also goes on in Romans 4 to show that not even Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, was justified before God through faith, not by works. In Timothy, when Paul uses the words Scriptures or sacred writings, he is referring to the Old Testament, which of course, included the Law.
Old Covenant Followers
There were several people who followed the Old Covenant, such as Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Jacob and Moses. One such person who was good and followed everything God told him to do was Moses. The Bible makes it clear that Moses is founder of the Jewish people and Judaism, the faith, but that Abraham is the founder of the nation. As the leader of the Jews he freed them from slavery in Egypt, as well as protected them from the wrath of God, and negotiated with God on their behalf. Moses is said to be the author of the first five books of the Bible, best known as the Torah. He is the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, who had many face to face meetings with God.
God had Moses come up the mountain, where he received the stone tablets (the 10 Commandments) to take down to His people and thus interpret these laws to them. God trusted and believed in Moses because he always followed His direction and never, was there any doubt of Moses faith.
Old and New Covenant Similarities and Differences
God put both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant into motion and He set the terms. The ultimate goal of both covenants is they will truly be my people and I will be their God Jeremiah 31:33. Jesus was more concerned about the condition of a