UNDERSTANDING THE TWO COVENANTS
Those who become Christians must believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Christians must also understand the Two Covenants. The Bible is divided into two parts: (1) the Old Testament, and (2) the New Testament. The Old Testament contains the Law of Moses. It is also called the First Covenant. “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (Hebrews 8:7) The New Testament contains the Law of Christ. “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24) So we today live under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. We are to read and study the entire Bible but we live under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
ALL OF THE BIBLE IS TRUE
The entire Bible is true, but the New Testament is the part of the Bible that applies to us. There are many valuable lessons that we can learn from the Old Testament. Learning these great lessons gives us reason to study the Old Testament often. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) In the Old Testament God told Abraham to offer his son upon an altar. “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2) But, we do not have to do that. This event was absolutely true but it is not something that we must repeat today. God gave Noah explicit commands concerning building an Ark. (Genesis 6:14-16) This event was also true but again that is not something that we must repeat today. We live under a New Covenant. “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 8:8)
THE FIRST COVENANT WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS
The Law of Moses or the First Covenant had to be done away before the Law of Christ or the New Covenant could be established. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Hebrews 10:9) The Law of Moses, the Old Covenant was done away with or it was completed with the death of Jesus. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;.” (Colossians 2:14) The Old Testament Law ended when Jesus died on the cross.
Consider these truths:
1. Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets; when He fulfilled them, they were no longer needed. (Matthew 5:17) All of the things that had been written about Christ in the law, prophets, and psalms were fulfilled when He died on the cross. “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” (Luke 24:44)
2. Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses. When He fulfilled the law, He took it out of the way. The Law of Moses is no longer to be obeyed. Jesus Christ brought a new law. “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)
3. The Law of Christ is called the New Testament or the Second Covenant. The Old Law was for Jews only. The New Covenant, the Law of Christ, is for all people. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28) Christians must live according to the teachings in this New Covenant.
4. We are to abide in the doctrine of Christ. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9) Things not found in the doctrine of Christ include animal sacrifice, burning incense, trips to Jerusalem for worship, circumcision, keeping feast days and new moons and keeping the Sabbath Day.
Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; let us never try to go back and live under the Law of Moses. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:1-4) To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (John 6:44-45), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent off all sins (Luke 13:3), confess Christ as Lord (Matthew 10:32-33) and be baptized to be saved. (Mark 16:16) After baptism remain faithful to God. (Luke 10:22) The New Covenant was ratified through the blood of Jesus Christ. Not only did His death pay for our sins, it also ended the Old Covenant and began the New.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street,
Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA