Pristine Grace

The New Covenant
Essay 02
Jesus Christ: The End of Obligatory Covenant
by Bob Higby
The New Covenant

Heb. 8:7-13

John 6:35-40; 43-58

John 10: 7-18; 25-39

Romans 8:28-39

Romans 9:14-28

Phil. 1:6

(NOTE: For the sake of brevity, the scriptures cited will not be quoted in full. All who read this study are encouraged to examine them carefully. Otherwise, the issues raised will be difficult to comprehend.)

     The only bilateral covenant in scripture is the one mentioned in Exodus 19 that God cut with physical Israel. It is the one and only obligatory covenant. Jesus Christ was made under the law and fulfilled every aspect of this covenant (Gal. 3:10-13, 4:4,5). It is now dead and gone forever (2 Cor. 3). All other covenants established by God in the Bible are wholly promissory. The fulfillment of none is dependent on human action or faithfulness.

     Following the tradition of Justin, Pelagius, Thomas Aquinas, and Wesley; many 'evangelicals' have proposed that the fulfillment of the New Covenant is 'conditional' upon faith. Wesley is often quoted as saying this: 'God does nothing except in response to the prayer of faith.' So God's acts are proposed to be wholly dependent on the prayers of feeble and failing humans! Those who promote this notion fail to comprehend that a 'justifying faith' dependent on human character and initiative is no more faith--but justification by works.

     The New Covenant promises that all of God's requirements will be written on the heart. The gift of faith (belief in the Son), the ultimate work of God's Spirit within man (John 6:29), is the most important fulfillment of Christ's law written on the heart.

     Is it possible for a regenerate Christian to lose salvation? This question has haunted believers ever since Justin Martyr began publishing his innovative views (on papyrus) regarding free-will Christianity. What shall we think about the monstrous 'revolving door?' If a Christian loses grace, is it possible to regain it later? Is it possible for those who 'choose' to reject grace in this life to obtain it in the 'great beyond,' as Origen has proposed? Origen only took Justin's views to their logical end.

     The New Covenant promises that all of God's requirements will be written on the heart. The gift of faith (belief in the Son), the ultimate work of God's Spirit within man (John 6:29), is the most important fulfillment of Christ's law written on the heart.

     All of these Justinian quarrels over human autonomy are absolutely irrelevant in light of the New Covenant. They were started by individuals who wanted to mingle pagan philosophy (regarding the 'liberty' of man and his supposed mastery over fate) with the gospel. It was one of the greatest attempts at 'gospel prostitution' in history! The devilish doctrine of 'repetitious justifications' was founded early in the great apostasy prophesied in 1 and 2 Timothy. It has continued ever since.

     Faith in the gospel of Christ is conceived in the redeemed soul as a gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8, Acts 13:48, John 3:8). It is not conditional upon the exercise of the human will! If this conclusion be true, it is also true that God will certainly preserve faith in his elect until the day of salvation. He cannot do otherwise. If he has unconditionally removed the guilt of our sin and remembers it no more, he will also unconditionally preserve our faith until we enter glory!

     The essence of the New Covenant (Eph. 1:4-14) is a saved people in Christ. Before the foundation of the world, God elected to save a people to eternal life in his Son. It was determined that these persons would be born 'without hope and without God,' dead in trespasses and sin. They would subsequently be saved by the atonement of Christ. The Holy Spirit would write the 'law of faith' (Rom. 3:27, Heb. 8:10) on their hearts in God's appointed time. This is the essence of the covenant. God will accomplish his purposes. His pleasure will certainly be done; his Word will not return to him void of fruition.

     The NT truth of the Preservation of the Saints (that dreaded 'P' in TULIP) is absolutely essential to a continued assurance of salvation. If we believe that loss of our salvation is even remotely possible, it will effect our faith and our Christian love. We cannot possibly love others in the Congress of Christ unconditionally if we believe that our own salvation might be lost at some point in the future.

     God is not like Baal on a journey. He doesn't tease us with the best news in history and then threaten us with a revolving door. If we believe this Justinian and Wesleyan nonsense, it will severely affect our relationship with other believers. It is inevitable that if we view God's justification in Christ as 'conditional' and 'removable,' we will perceive our acceptance of other believers and imputation of God's grace to them as 'conditional' and 'removable.'

     Having said all of this, it is important to realize that the 'once-saved-always-saved' dogma of Dwight Moody and later 'evangelicals' is very dangerous. It would have us believe that people choose to come to Christ of their own free-will. Afterward, no matter what their free-will chooses to do, God has supposedly promised to save them in eternity. This is not the scriptural doctrine of an elect people foreordained unto good works (Eph. 2:10). The elect of God will have his laws written on the heart. It is promised in the New Covenant! This includes both faith (which is our only assurance of justification) and resulting obedience to the whole counsel of God. Those who lack a growing evidence of a passion to believe and follow all of God's truth in scripture have never experienced salvation.

     In the scriptures, the law of God and word of God are interchangeable concepts. His word is truth (John 17:17)! Obedience to Christ is not simply a matter of following moral commands. It is an issue of believing the light of gospel truth as opposed to darkness. The gospel must determine our view of everything. The manner in which we respond to issues of truth is a definite measure of whether we respect and obey the gospel.