Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 6

Chapter VI
     The Gospel covenant CONFIRMED to Abraham and his spiritual seed of ALL nations is compared and contrasted with the covenant of Circumcision MADE with Abraham and his fleshly seed of the Nation of Israel by Dr. 'John Gill, in Body of Divinity, article "Of Baptism", pp. 903-904. Dr. Gill shows these two covenants are exact opposites and his proofs in substance are as follows:
     "(l) The covenant.of Circumcision was to be kept under the severest
     penalty, as Genesis 17:14 reveals, consequently it was of works and
     not of grace. There is nothing more opposite to one another than
     circum­cision and grace, as Galatians 5:2-4 makes clear. (2)It might
     be broken by failure to observe the command of circumcision,
     whereas the Covenant of Grace cannot be broken. God will not break
     the  Cov­enant of Grace and man cannot, because it is not made
     between God and man, but between the Father and the Son with
     respect to the elect. (3) The covenant of Circumcision had in it things
     which were of a civil and temporal nature; as a multiplication of
     Abraham's natural seed (Gen. 17:2) and a race of kings from him
     (Gen. 17:6); a promise of his being the father of many nations (Gen.
     17:4), and a possession of the land of Canaan by his seed (Gen. 17:8):
     things that can have no place in the pure Covenant of Grace. (4) More-
     over, some were involved in the covenant of Circumcision who Grace.
     cannot be thought to be in the Gospel covenant of Grace. Ishmael was
     in the covenant of Circumcision but not in the Gospel covenant. Esau
     likewise. (5) Furthermore, there were some that when the covenant of
     Circumcision was made were living, but were left  out of it, yet they
     were in the Gospel covenant of Grace; as Shem, Melchisedec, and Lot.
     These we know in the light of the New Testament were not in the
     covenant of Circumcision, but were in the covenant of Grace. There-
     fore, the covenant of Circumcision MADE with Abraham was not the
     Gospel covenant CONFIRMED to him with an oath. (6) The covenant
     of Cir­cumcision o:f Gen. 17 cannot be the same with the Gospel
     covenant of Gen. 12:3 because it falls short of it by twenty-four years
     as Gal. 3:17 plainly shows. (7) The Covenant of Grace was made with
     Christ, as the federal Head of the elect in Him, and that from ever-
     lasting. Quist is the only Head of that coven­ant. If the Covenant of
     Grace was made with Abraham as the head 0£ his natural and spiritual
     seed, Jews and Gentiles, there must be two heads of the Covenant of
     Grace, contrary to the nature of such a covenant and the whole current
     of Scripture. (8) Allowing Abraham's covenant to be a peculiar one,
     and of a mixed kind, it contained promises of temporal things to him
     and his natural seed and of spiritua1 things to his spiritual seed; or
     rather, that there was at the same time when the covenant of
     Circumcision was given to Abraham and his natural seed, a fresh
     mani­festation of the Covenant of Grace made with him and his
     spiritual seed in Christ. That the temporal blessings of it belonged to
     his natural seed is no question: but that ::the .spiritual blessings belong
     to all Abraham's seed after the flesh, and to all the natural seed of
     believing Gentiles must be denied. If the Covenant of Grace was made
     with all of Abra­ham's seed according to the flesh, then it was made
     with his more immediate offspring, even with a mocking persecuting
     Ishmael, and with a profane Esau, and with all his remote posterity;
     with them who believed not, and whose carcasses fell in the wilder-
     ness; with the ten tribes also who revolted from the pure worship of
     God; with the Jews in Isaiah's time, a seed of evil­doers, whose rulers
     are called the rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah; with the
     Scribes and Pharisees, that wicked and adulterous generation in the
     time of Christ. But what serious thoughtful man, who knows anything
     of the Covenant of Grace, can admit this? (see Rom. 9:6,7). It is only
     a remnant, according to the election of grace, who are in this covenant,
     and this cannot be known until they believe, when they appear to be
     Abraham's spiritual seed. If all the natural seed of Abraham as such,
     and all the natural seed of believing Gentiles as such are in the
     Covenant of Grace, then all the natural seed of Abra­ham and of believ-
     ing Gentiles must be all chosen to grace and glory and be redeemed by
     the blood of Christ from sin, hell, and death. They must all have new
     hearts and spirits given to them, and the fear of God put into their
     hearts; they must all be effectually called, their sins be forgiven them,
     their persons justified by the righteousness of Christ, and they them-
     selves perservere in grace to the end and be forever glorified (Jer. 31:
     33, 34; 32:40; Ezek. 36: 25-27; Rom 3:30). But who will venture to
     assert all this of all the natural seed of Abraham or of all the natural
     seed of believing-Gentiles?"
     The Bible speaks of two great covenants: the one typical of' the other; the one temporary, and the other permanent; the one Mosaic, and the other Messianic; the one repre­senting Judaism, and the other Christianity; the one last­ing until the time of reformation (Heb. 9:9, 10), and the other to endure forever. The two covenants are termed "first'' and "second" (Heb. 8:7). When Christ delivered the New He took away the Old: "He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second" (Heb. 10:9). "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). This New and Second covenant is a "better covenant" estab­lished upon "better promises" ( Heb. 8:6). It has a "better Mediator" (Heb. 8:6; comp. John 1·:17); a"better priesthood" (Heb. 7:11-16). It has a "better sanctuary" (Heb. 9:1; comp. 8:1, 2); a "better sacrifice" (Heb .. 9:13, 14; 10:11). The First Covenant with its Sabbaths, Temple, blood sacrifices, priesthood, etc., has vanished away and .that forever (Heb.· 8:13), while the New Covenant is the "Everlasting Covenant" of Heb. 13:20 and abideth forevermore.
     The difference between these two covenants, namely, the Gospel covenant of Gen. 12:3 and the covenant of Circumcision of Gen. 17, was typified by Hagar and Sarah (Gal. 4:21-31). Likewise, the difference between the two seeds, namely, Abraham's natural seed after the flesh of the nation of Israel, and his spiritual, seed of faith of all nations, was typified to him by Ishmael and, Isaac in his own family (Rom. 9:6-8). Dr. J. M. Pendleton makes this difference clear in his book Distinctive Principles of Baptists, pages· 58-60.
     "Several distinctive· points o:f difference between the Old Covenant
     and the New Covenant may be seen in Gal. 4:22-31. There are four
     allegorical per­sonages referred to by Paul -- namely, Hagar, Ishmael,
     Sarah, and Isaac. Hagar was a 'bondmaid", and gave birth to a son
     'after the flesh', that is there was in his birth no departure from the
     laws of ordinary generation. This 'bondwoman' repre­sents the
     covenant of Sinai, and 'answereth to Jerusalem, which now is' -- the
     old Jewish Church, which 'gendereth to bondage'. Jerusalem.-- the
     Jewish Church -- is therefore said to be 'in bond­age with her children'.
     To 'gender to bondage' was all that Sinai could do; there was no
     provision in the Sinaitic covenant for anything more: its possibilities
     were exhausted. Sarah, 'the free woman', represents the New Coven-
     ant and the Christian Church, of which that covenant is the charter.
     She gave birth to Isaac, who was born 'by promise' -- 'after the Spirit'
     -- that is, according to a promise the fulfillment of which involved
     supernatural agency. 'Jerusalem which is above' -- the Christian
     Church represented by Sarah -- 'is free, which is the mother of us all',
     that is, of all Christians. Believers in Christ are "the children of
     promise', as, Isaac was. They are born 'after the spirit' and 'of the
     spirit.' Thus it is as clear as the light of day that, while the Jewish
     Church was supplied with its members by GENERATION, the
     Christian Church is fur­nished with its members by REGENERATION.
     This is a prominent difference between the two covenants, and it is as
     great as that between death and immortality. 'But as then', says the
     apostle, 'he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born
     after the S)iri t, even so it is now.' Ishmael persecuted Isaac, and so
     the children of the covenant of Sinai -- Abraham's seed according to
     the flesh -- persecuted, in apostolic times, the beneficiaries of the New
     Covenant, Abraham's spiritual seed. Sinai, in 'gen­dering to bondage,'
     also 'gendered' a persecuting spirit: and it is worthy of remark that an
     infusion of Judaism into the sentiments of any religious denomina­tion
     has a tendency to make it a persecuting denomina­tion. This fact is both
     significant and suggestive. 'Nevertheless, what saith the scripture?
     OF THE FREE WOMAN. So then, brethern, we are not children of
     the bondwoman, but of the free.' Here is authority for keeping all but
     regenerate persons out of the Christ­ian Church: 'Cast out the bond-
     woman and her son.' The Jews, considered as Abraham's natural seed,
     had no right to the privileges of the Church of Christ. They had first
     to become Christ's disciples by faith, and then they were in the
     important sense Abraham's seed. Paul never forgot one of the first
     principles of the gospel economy announced by John the Baptist to
     the Pharisees and the Sadducees: 'Think not to say within yourselves,
     We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able
     of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham' :.Matt. 3:9).
     They were, under the New dispensation, to claim nothing on the
     ground of their lineal descent from Abraham. The gospel places every
     one on the basis of 'pure individuality' before God."
     Note also that, as the son of the bondvroman (Ishmael) was born before the son of the free woman (Isaac) so our - nature in this sense is before our being in grace. Hence, when believers are renewed they are said to be "born again" (John 3:7). Yet, as the promise concerning the son of the free woman ( Isaac) was before the birth of the son of the bondwoman (Ishmael) so the promise of the gospel was 430 years before the Law, and the Gospel covenant came in twenty-f'our years before the covenant of Circumcision, or the covenant of Works. These two promises in covenant laid the foundation of a twofold relation to God; the one Spirit­ual and eternal with Abraham's spiritual seed of' a11 nations; the other typical and temporal, between God and Abraham's fleshly seed of the nation of Israel, which latter was to continue during the period of the typical economy, and no longer (Gal. 3:19; Heb. 9:10). When Christ came, being the promised seed of Abrahan (Gal. 3:16), the Jewish nation ended as God's special peop1e in covenant relationship to Him, because the covenant which was the basis.of that typical national relationship was then abolished. They were CAST OUT as a nation in covenant relationship with God, and that forever! The kingdom was taken from them and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof: 1 Peter 2:9 -- "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, AN HOLY NATION, a peculiar  people; that ye should of shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous him light ."

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