Covenants, Are They Conditional?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Heavenly Pilgrim, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. Heavenly Pilgrim

    Heavenly Pilgrim
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    Some time ago I was asked what I understood about covenants. I simply shared that I understood them to be conditional. After considering that notion I thought it might be interesting to look at covenants. I am certain we have many on the list very adept in their understanding of them that can help us out.

    What do you know about covenants?
     
  2. Dan V.

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    God's Covenant with Man

    1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

    2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

    3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

    4. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

    5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old testament.

    6. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the new testament. There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

    From The Westminster confessions Of Faith.

    They got it right.

    Sincerely,

    Dan V.
     
  3. BobRyan

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    God sovereignly chooses to "So love the World" and to "Draw ALL mankind unto Himself" John 12:32.

    Man does not convince God to do it.

    But God also chooses that man be enabled to choose or reject salvation - free will.

    "He came unto His OWN but HIS OWN received him not" John 1.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  4. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    ,

    HP: Why do you say this? Does not Scripture say that we are all saved by faith, those in the OT as well as those in the NT?
     
  5. Link

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    It depends on the terms of the covenant.
     
  6. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: And..........Keep going:)
     
  7. standingfirminChrist

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    A covenant is a solemn vow. A covenant is made by one person only. It is not the same as a contract.

    A contract can be broken by either party. A covenant, since it is made by only one, cannot be broken by another.

    In light of that truth, go back and read all the verses in the Word of God that speak of a covenant and enjoy feasting on some wonderful truths.
     
  8. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: And a great Lord’s Day to you and Linda.

    Let me read from Noah Webster’s dictionary. “1. A mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or forbear some act or thing:…2. A writing containing the terms of agreement or contract between parties:… 3. In theology, the covenant of works, is that implied in the commands, prohibitions and promises of God; the promise of God to man, that man’s perfect obedience should entitle him to happiness. This do and live; that do , and die………….
    The covenant of grace, is that by which God engages to bestow salvation on man, upon the condition that man shall believe in Christ and yield obedience to the terms of the gospel.”

    I personally find that a covenant at its core an agreement between two parties, a contract binding both parties to the conditions stated in the contract. Although it may be initiated by one, it is an agreement ‘between’ two or more parties. Only as the other(s) enters into agreement with the stated conditions of the contract, is the covenant placed and kept in effect. The covenant ceases to be a binding contract when either of the parties fail to meet the conditions, stated or implied. This appears to be exactly what happened with the covenant God made with Abraham. God stated that He divorced Israel due to their disobedience.

    That would be my general understanding of a covenant.
     
    #8 Heavenly Pilgrim, Sep 16, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2007
  9. Tazman

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    Hello All, its been a while, but I'm sick today and my family is at church. But I did want to respond a bit:

    I do agree that in the case of God & man, yes God is the only person that sets the terms of the covenant. Jesus gave example of those who must give up everthing must to be His disciple and if they were not willing they could not be his disciple (Luke 14:31-33)

    God done the same thing with Abraham Gen 17:
    9 Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."

    Man also set covenants with eachother (Labon and Jacob Gen 31)

    But in either case terms were set and must to be upheld by both parties. Now in God's case with man He will always hold up is part, but that doesn't mean we will. Though God provides us everything we need for righteousness there is one thing he has never done and that is remove our "freedom of choice".
    So with that Said God while condeming some who broke the covenant between them and and Himself ultimately God upholds his covenant with Abraham by not completely destroying his decendants for their disobedience.

    Also, I cannot at this time see why a convenant and a contract cannot mean the same thing?
    • terms are set and agreed upon (regardless of who is involved)
    • Once agreed upon (verbally and/or physically) should not be broken by either parties
    • Can be broken by either party involved (the only given to this is that we Know God Never breaks first)
    • If or when broken the one that broke the convenant first will be held responsible to the consequences associated with breaking the agreement as deemed necessary by the one that upheld their part.
     
    #9 Tazman, Sep 16, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2007
  10. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: I am sorry that you are not feeling well, but just the same, Scripture stands. Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    A very well thought out and delivered post. :thumbs: Yet another way God uses that which might be considered as evil for good. :) (referring to being sick and as such being inclined to post)
     
  11. Tazman

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    Much appreciated. Thank you.:thumbs:
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    There are essentially three kinds of covenants in the Ancient Near East (ANE).

    1. A Royal Grant or a Promissory covenant -- Unilateral and unconditional -- Someone makes a promise to someone else with no conditions attached. An example of this is the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant or the New covenant.

    2. A suzerainty treaty -- a conditional treaty between a master and a servant. The master promises provision and protection in exchange for service and loyalty. The Mosaic covenant is a kind of this kind of covenant. If the servant fails his end of service and loyalty, the master is no longer obligated to provide and protect. He can, in fact, punish the servant or release him.

    3. A parity treaty -- a conditional covenant between equals where both parties agree on something. An example is the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech, or Jacob and Abimelech.


    There is no "covenant of works" or "covenant of grace" in the Bible. Those are theological constructions placed on Scripture by a theological system.
     
  13. Dan V.

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    The covenant of works is not 'saved by works'. Adam was made upright, and God required of him perfect obedience. Had he passed the test, he would not have fallen and lived forever in blessed fellowship with God.

    Christ, the 'second Adam' kept God's requriement of perfect obedience for us. This imputation of His rightousness to us, and our sin to Him, offered freely in the gospel, is the essence of the 'Covenant of Grace'.

    Read it again:

    2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

    3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

    Hope this helps,

    Dan V.
     
  14. BobRyan

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    All true -

    The Gospel begins at the gates of Eden as Adam and Eve step out into the world with their newly evolved sinful natures.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  15. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Let’s look at the first covenant you list with God and Abraham. What establishes the notion in your mind that there were no conditions attached?

    PS: Read carefully post #9 by Tazman if you have not already. Why don't you just respond to his post. He presented his ideas far better than I have presented mine.
     
    #15 Heavenly Pilgrim, Sep 16, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2007
  16. Pastor Larry

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    The fact that there are none given, and the fact that at the confirmation of the covenant in Gen 17, only God walked between the animals. If you study ANE covenants you will understand the significance of that.

    The AC is constantly referred to throughout the OT and there is never a condition placed on it.
     
  17. Tazman

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    I'm not too sure what you're getting at, but I can only take the information provided with common sense from Gen 17 as should anyone.

    God initiated with Abraham of His own accord (Abraham did not do anything deserving of God approaching Him with such an awesome promise).

    God initiated the covanant and set the terms of it's agreement. Terms are to be followed to enter the covanant and continue in the covanant. If terms are not met then Abraham and his decendants would not have entered or continued in it.

    simple.
     
  18. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Pastor Larry, how about addressing this passage of the Word of God? Is the covenant here addressed conditional according to this verse? Can man break this covenant? If it is not speaking of a conditional covenant, explain to the list how man can break something that he did not even agree to nor is he required to keep.
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    No, the covenant is not conditional. Participation in the covenant is. Remember, with the AC there are two issues: the covenant itself and the participation of generation in the covenant. God made clear that the covenant is unconditional, tied only to his own faithfulness. But a generation could forfeit their participation in the covenant through disobedience (cf. the Palestinian covenant in Deut 28-30, in which eviction and loss of covenant blessings is promised for disobedience, yet restoration is promised).

    It was possible, through lack of circumcision, to break the covenant which meant forfeiting participation in it. That did not however, change the covenant itself.
     
  20. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    Quote:
    Pastor Larry, how about addressing this passage of the Word of God? Is the covenant here addressed conditional according to this verse? Can man break this covenant? If it is not speaking of a conditional covenant, explain to the list how man can break something that he did not even agree to nor is he required to keep.


    HP: It would appear to me that your explanation is incoherent. If a covenant has two promises attached, one for obedience and one for disobedience, why is it not clearly conditional? Can a covenant be made that has not either a promise of blessing or curse attatched? This covenant obviously has two, not one, promised ends.


    In order for a covenant to be made, which is an agreement between two or more parties, all parties have to be in agreement at least at such a time as the covenant is made to enjoy the blessing promised. If the agreement between the two parties can be broken, and the promised outcome of it will be changed if the other to which the covenant is made disobeys, the covenant is indeed conditional. If the covenant states do this and live, do this and ye shall die, and one disobeys, you still have a covenant, but now the certain hope of that covenant becomes death not life, punishment not fellowship and blessing.

    You admit that one can ‘forfeit’ participation in it which for all practical purpose makes the covenant, while one is in a state of forfeiting, of no good or beneficial effect, for it has been broken, disannulled, and ceased. Still the same, the covenant still stands in another sense, althought the promise changes from blessings to a curse. Instead of a covenant of promise and hope it becomes a covenant of death and destruction. God did not say, “My covenant with all its blessing still continues whether or not you maintain circumcision.” It specifically states that if one fails to keep covenant, the blessing the covenant established would be disannulled and a curse would stand it its place between God and the man who broke covenant. The promise of the covenant changes if disobedience ensues. How can you disavow that such is not clearly a conditional covenant, the promise of the covenat changing as the conditions to its blessings are not kept? The covenant we are addressing promises two, not one, consequents depending on their obedience or disobedience does it not? Do this and ye shall live, and do this and ye shall die is about as conditional as the mind can possibly consider. Why would you deny such a clear fact as this?
     
    #20 Heavenly Pilgrim, Sep 18, 2007
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