The Covenants: A Follow-up to Andy’s Post on Protective Custody; How Were Old Covenant Believers Saved?
In my first part, I added covenants to Andy’s post on how the law is a guardian until faith comes. In this post, I will further articulate exactly what the New Covenant accomplished in context of salvation.
First, it is very important to note that there is no difference between Old Covenant sanctification and New Covenant sanctification. In both cases, God’s law is the standard for love that sanctifies:
Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 30:15 – “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
This is because love fulfills the law and had the same twofold use by the Spirit in the Old Testament.
Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
A Christian life of love has always been rewarded with a good life. Christians, via ignorance about biblical anthropology in general can suffer the consequences of sin and allow sinful desires to get a “beachhead” in our lives. Loving Christians are also a blessing and even a protection for those who are unbelievers:
Genesis 18:22 – So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
1Corinthians 7:10 – To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Notice also that Old Covenant believers were “righteous.”
2Peter 2:7 – and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked
Before Jesus went to the cross and established the Spirit baptism, Old Covenant believers were born again. Christ shamed Nicodemus because he was deemed a great teacher in Israel and was unaware of the new birth. The Pharisees and Sadducees of that day were of Gnostic ideology and would have rejected a new birth concept out of hand. However, the Old Covenant new birth is not dubbed such. We know the new birth is there, but no good study has ever been done to identify it in Old Covenant terms.
More than likely, it is framed around the idea of Abraham being the father of our faith and the new birth being Abraham’s “offspring.” That is a dominate Old Testament theme that carries over into the New Testament. At any rate, Old Covenant believers were identified as “righteous.” Because Christ’s righteousness was imputed to them? No, remember, the big Protestant thing is that Jesus became righteous by fulfilling the “righteous demands of the law” and then that righteousness is imputed to us. Nope, clearly, Old Covenant believers were already righteous well prior to the law. They became the offspring of Abraham by believing God. I also suspect that this is key, somehow, in understanding the significance of election.
Also, Old Covenant believers were not permanently indwelled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit filled them for special tasks, and was with them (Exodus 31:3). He would leave their presence when they were in sin (Psalm 51:11) in contrast to New Covenant believers (Ephesians 4:30). It can be assumed that He had a role in the new birth, but this is not the same as the Spirit baptism.
When Christ went to the cross, he effected certain aspects of “The Promise” which is not fully realized until the new heaven and new earth; the city built by God (Hebrews 11:10). This is when God’s final enemy will be defeated, death. Prior to this, Christ defeated sin by going to the cross, and disease/sickness will be defeated at the coming of the Millennial Kingdom. This is the kingdom Christ came to preach and why His ministry was accompanied by healing and authority over sin as its major themes.
Prior to the first coming of Christ, Old Covenant believers were saved by atonement; ie., their sins were covered by the law, or as Andy articulated, ALL sin was imputed to the law. This freed them to love by the law. When they died, they went to a place referred to as the abode of the dead. This is where Christ went to preach to the “captives” after He died and then led the captives to freedom. This refers to those held captive by the law, or those who were in its “protective custody” (Ephesians 4:8, 1Peter 3:19, 4:6,).
The New Covenant baptism of the Spirit is actually what the Bible refers to as the “mystery of the gospel”:
Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
This even led to a transition period of sorts documented in the book of Acts (19:1-4).
It also brings to mind another dominate Bible theme: God’s endeavor through the Bible to make all things one, or an endeavor of total unity…a plenary peace between everything. The gospel seeks to reconcile God to man as well as reconciling everything that is divided in human existence and on every level.
Again, this ministry does research to understand the big picture, but the details will only come into focus through the collective efforts of God’s children as they utilize the gifts God gave to man when He resurrected Christ and set the captives free. This ministry can aid in those collective efforts.