Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Trees - Two Covenants

This post is about the two Covenants. I want to go over, once again, how the Bible had foreshadowed the New Covenant even from the beginning.

Were there not two trees?

One was the Tree of Life. The other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Are there not two covenants?

One was death:

(II COR. 3: 7) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones...
(ROM. 4: 15) because the law brings about wrath
(ROM. 7: 10) And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
(GAL. 3: 10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
(II COR. 3: 6) ...for the letter kills...

The other is life:

(II COR. 3: 6) ...not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(II TIM. 1: 10) but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel
(I JOHN 2: 25) And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.
(I JOHN 5: 11-13) 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Which of these trees is the law?

(ROM. 3: 20) Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Be absolutely assured, none of these things come from the law:
Justification (GAL. 2: 16)
Righteousness (GAL. 2: 21)
The Spirit (GAL. 3: 2)
Perfection (GAL. 3: 3; HEB. 7: 19)
Miracles (GAL. 3: 5)
Inheritance (GAL. 3: 18)
Life (GAL. 3: 21)
Grace (GAL. 5: 4)

The two covenants are not alike.

(JER. 31: 31-32) 31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt
(HEB. 8: 13) In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The New Covenant is better!

(HEB. 7: 22) by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
(HEB. 8: 6) But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
(HEB. 12: 24) to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

The Old is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because by it we know sin. And when we fail in it we receive death.

(GN. 2: 17) of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
(HEB. 10: 28) Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

But in the New is the Tree of Life. Life how? Jesus is the life; not the law:

(JOHN 1: 4) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
(JOHN 3: 16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
(JOHN 14: 6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
(JOHN 3: 36) He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
(JOHN 5: 39-40) 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
(JOHN 6: all) [Read the whole thing. Notice all the talk about life.]
(JOHN 17: 3) And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
(I COR. 15: 45) And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
(II TIm. 1: 1) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus
(I JOHN 1: 1-2) 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us

Jesus Christ is life, and the New Covenant is in His blood. The Old Covenant is death.

(ROM. 6: 21) For the wages of sin is death [by the law we know sin], but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(II COR 3: 3-9)3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. The Spirit, Not the Letter 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

The New Covenant is in Him. We enter it by faith in Him.

(ROM. 1: 17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
(ROM. 5: 1-2) 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
(ROM. 11: 20) ...Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
(GAL. 2: 16) knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
(GAL. 3: 2-7) 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
(GAL. 3: 26) 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
(EPH. 3: 17) that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love
(II TIM. 3: 14-15) 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
(I PET. 1: 6-9) 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
(I JOHN 5: 4-5) 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

It is a gift.

(EPH. 2: 8-9) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

It is a promise.

(ROM. 4: 13-14) 13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect
(GAL. 3: 17-18) 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
(GAL. 3: 29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Even the promise is in Christ.

(II COR. 1: 20) For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

So, we must ask, if the law is death, why the law?

(GAL. 3: 19-25) 19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
(ROM. 5: 20-21) 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And it worked! We are all sinners. Romans 3: 23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." But why would a loving God design a system to bring us all under sin?

(ROM. 3: 25-26) demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

And that brings everything into focus if we know that everything is for God's glory.

(ROM. 11: 36) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

In another way, Paul speaks to this very same thing about the foreshadowing of the two covenants from Genesis:

(ROM 5: 12-19) 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

Yet again, Paul speaks of the relevance of Genesis to the two covenants:

(GAL. 4: 21-26) 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

And I believe, if you can accept these things, the tree of life and the rivers of life in Revelation will also start to make sense to you.

May God bless you and speed you into His New Covenant.

I also want to give a shout out to J from Shadows for an excellent article about "Law or Faith: Which?"
To all of you who have escaped the yoke of legalism and have accepted the wonders of God's grace -- Keep up the good work, people!


Luc said...

Did Herbert get it, that is two trees for the two distinct covenants. I sat in the audience many times while he rattled on about them and afterwords, I had no Idea what he had just said.

If he stated it like you did, it would have made perfect sense, that is, if I could have accepted the simple meaning of words, and not tried to find some meaning that was hidden.

Once upon a time, I was a gnostic. But there's nothing hard about this, nothing arcane, mysterious and encrypted. God laid out the agenda before hand when viewed as a retrospective.

I repeat ad nauseam about the moment the light came on for me. It was always "but without a law there would be chaos"; but a dissertation on law by a college prof included the statement: "there can be no vacuum of law; there's either an external law backed by police and armies, or their is an internal law of the heart." He said:"Imagine a world where there is no need for forces of coercion."

Can't God create a world like that? or is that beyond him.

At that moment the statements of 2Pet 1:4 and Col 1:27 came into focus: 2Pet 1:4 "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature" and Col 1:27 "God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

The very nature of God that renders external controls unnecessary.Imagine a world where the indwelling of love makes "thou shalt not" obsolete. The nature of God doesn't consider evil, so no law is required to control it.

xHWA said...

Wow, Luc. That's an awesome comment you've made. I'm uplifted by it.

I'll have to think on this a while.

angel said...

“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

Love it!

What I wonder is, how do they explain what the “free gift” is if they are still under the Law? How did Jesus’ death benefit them if they are still under the law?

The church I was raised in had a distorted view of grace; it was grace + law = hopefully saved. It was very confusing to me, which is partly why I could never accept it (the other part was purely rebellion!). What a blessing it was to finally study the scriptures for myself and hear another point of view; grace actually makes sense now!

I never heard the two covenants compared to the two trees – I like it! When I think of the two covenants, two words come to mind: hope and hopeless. One gives hope, the other gives none.

Great post, xHWA; and great comment, Luc!