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The Daily Word of Righteousness
God's Unfolding Plan, #3
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: (Hebrews 8:7,8)
Another aspect of current thinking is that the Christian Church has become Israel and the Divine blessing no longer applies to the physical land and people of Israel. God has not forgotten His chosen people. His gifts and calling are without repentance. The names of the sons of Jacob are engraved forever on the gates of the new Jerusalem.
The Scriptures do teach there has been a change of covenant, but we must balance this against another teaching of the Scriptures:
Known unto God are all his works from the creation of the world. (Acts 15:18)
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4)
The fact that God knew the history of mankind in advance of its creation, that the elect were chosen from the beginning, that Christ was slain before Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, leads to but one conclusion: the dealings of God with man are not a series of starts and stops based on man's response to several different plans God has tried to see if they would work.
God's working with man composes a progressive, ever-unfolding revelation of the Divine declaration announced at the outset: let us make man in our image; let us make man male and female; let us make him fruitful; let us give him dominion over the works of our hands.
There have been some changes in the Divine provisions, requirements, and opportunities so that spiritually enlightened man can proceed toward the fullness of what God always has intended for His sons and heirs; but there has been no change in the goals or plans.
The concept of God continually altering His expectations and tactics (as distinguished from the concept of a unified, progressive plan) has produced serious misunderstandings concerning God's intentions. Men are able to interpret God's covenants to mean something other than Micah 6:8. The Jews did this (Romans 2:17-29), and we Christians are doing the same thing. We are perceiving justification by grace through faith as the Divinely-ordained means of circumventing Micah 6:8. We are claiming that believing in Christ relieves us of the necessity for godly behavior. Are we not teaching "the just shall live by faith" means the most important action of a person is a profession of belief in Christ, and after his profession Divine grace excuses his conduct? We have made the Word of God of none effect by our traditions. Christ has become the justifier of an unholy, unrighteous, disobedient, self-centered, pleasure-loving, spiritually careless, worldly "church."
The current definition of the term "grace," along with the start-stop-change conception of God's relationship with His children, has caused us to misunderstand the process and goal of the new covenant.
Precisely what is Divine grace, especially as the term is used in describing the new covenant?
To be continued.