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GOD'S COVENANTS WITH MEN

 

Introduction
1. The proponents of the "non-amenability" theory often base much of their doctrine upon a false idea regarding covenants.
  a. In taking the modern day usage of the word "covenant" as made between people of our time, it is assumed that God's covenants with man are of the same nature.
2. It is believed that a COVENANT is BINDING ONLY when BOTH parties AGREE to its terms and conditions.
  a. These cite Exo. 19:7-8; 24:7-8 and conclude that Israel had to first agree to the terms of the covenant (accept it) before it was binding upon them.
  b. Therefore, they reason that one must ACCEPT the new cove-nant (i.e., in faith & obedience) BEFORE it is binding upon him.
3. Bible shows that this foundational assumption is INCORRECT.
  a. All men are under the gospel of Christ (its authority) because of the universal authority of Christ - Matt. 28:18-19; Heb. 1:1-3.
  b. All are under the gospel of Christ, since it convicts all sinners (Jno. 16:8-13), commands all sinners to repent (Acts 17:30) & will judge all men (Rom. 2:16; l Pet. 4:4-6).
4. In this lesson we will study THE NATURE OF COVENANTS. and see that a person does not first have to agree to obey the gospel before he is amenable to the gospel.
5. And what about so-called "internal covenant laws."  That is, aren't there laws within the gospel which only regulate the conduct of Christians, which don't apply to alien sinners?
  a. We will see that since all men are under the gospel of Christ, whenever one meets a CONDITION described within it, he is then REGULATED in that particular area.
  b. There is ONE law (gospel), although there are many different classes of people -- all of whom are amenable to the gospel.

I. THE NATURE OF COVENANTS.
  A. Definition of "Covenant."
    1. Webster: "A binding agreement made by two or more indi-viduals, parties. etc. to do or keep from doing a speci-fied thing; compact…in theology, the promises made by God to man, as recorded in the Bible."
    2. HEBREW (beriyth) - "A compact" (Strong's Dict, 24); "league" (Young's, 207).
      a. "It is probable that it is 'to bind, ' but that is not definitely established" (I.S.B.E.. II, 727).
      b. "If this root idea is to bind, the covenant is that which binds together the parties" (Ibid.).
    3. GREEK (diatheke) - "A disposition, a contract" (Strong's Dict., 22); "An arrangement" (Young, 208); "A testamenta-ry disposition, will" (The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 96).
  B. Types Of Covenants.
    1. PARITY COVENANTS (Man & Man, cf. Gal. 3:15): Made between two parties of equal power (cf. Business partnership).
      a. Both parties participate in the formation of its provi-sions (terms & conditions) & have to agree to the finished product (negotiate a mutual agreement) before it becomes binding (a contract).
      b. Cf. Gen. 21:22-27,31-32 - Abraham & Abimelech:
        (1) v. 23 - Conditions (Abraham to deal truthfully & in kindness toward Abimelech & his descendants).
        (2) v. 24-26 - Negotiation & agreement.
        (3) v. 27 - Became binding.
        (4) v. 27, 31-32 - They two made a covenant.
    2. SUZERAINTY (VASSAL) COVENANTS (God & Man, Psa. 111:9):   Covenant made by a stronger party with a weaker party (such as a conqueror & the conquered).
      a. Stronger party formed the provisions (terms & condi-tions) & commanded them to the weaker party.
   * b. The weaker party was bound by those provisions at the point of command.
   * c. When the weaker agreed to live by the covenant, it did not cause the covenant to become binding -- It marked his commitment to obey a covenant which was already
binding upon him by commandment.
    3. GOD'S COVENANTS with man are NOT PARITY COVENANTS, they are VASSAL covenants!
      a. God's covenant with Israel illustrates this:
        (1) "My covenant" (not a mutual covenant) - Exo. 19:5-6 ("His" - Psa. 78:10).
        (2) God "declared" & "commanded" the covenant - Deut. 4:5, 10, 13-14 (no negotiation, God declared to them what they were to do).
        (3) God "made it" with Israel - Deut. 4:23.
     * (4) Israel obligated at the point of commandment to obey / perform the covenant (Deut. 4:13 - 10 commandments - Exo. 20:2-17 -- Spoken from the mount!).
        (5) Israel formally acknowledged their determination to obey the law of God -- Exo. 24:3-8; Heb. 9:19-20).
          (a) Israel's agreement was not necessary in order to make them amenable to the covenants (commands)!
       * (b) 24:3-8 - If Israel had said, "we will not obey the words of Jehovah," would that have blocked the binding power of God's words?! NO!
          (c) 9:19-20 - "Every commandment. . .according to the law. . .covenant which God commanded to you-ward."
      (6) Israel's role was to obey the covenant & be blessed, or disobey it & be punished - Lev. 26:3-4, 14-16.
          a. The new covenant of Christ is of the same nature.
        * (1) Christ's law became binding at His death, not when men say "I will accept its terms."
           (2) All men are under the authority of the gospel of Christ whether they agree to it or not! - Matt. 28:18-19
           (3) cf. Mk. 16:15-16 - Can a man say "I will not believe and be baptized" & be immune from the penalty of the covenant?! NO!
           (4) cf. Marriage: Can one say, "I will not abide by what Jesus said re. MDR," & thereby not be under His regulations?! NO! (Matt. 19:6, 9 - "I say unto you").
    4. All men came under the authority of Christ's gospel!

II. WHILE ALL ARE UNDER ONE GOSPEL (ONE COVENANT), DIFFERENT REGULATIONS APPLY WITHIN THAT COVENANT OF CHRIST AS ONE MEETS THE STATED CONDITIONS (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

-The non-amenability doctrine sees TWO CLASSES of people (alien sinners & Christians) & CONCLUDES there MUST BE TWO SEPARATE LAWS at work. But, can have ONE LAW ruling both classes, but in DIFFFERENT PARTICULARS (cf. Prisoner & myself -- Under same state law, but different particulars).

  A. "We Teach The Alien Something Different From What We Teach A Christian."
    1. Also true of the babe in Christ & a mature Christian (Heb. 5:12). Doesn't mean there are TWO LAWS: One for babe & one for the mature!
* 2. Teach them DIFFERENT ELEMENTS of the SAME GOSPEL!
    3. One law - Different uses.
  B. Same Law, But Different Particulars Within That Same Law.
    1. Alien: Law of pardon; Convict of sins; etc.
    2. Christian: Convict of sins; growth in Christ; etc.
    3. Principle:
      a. All are UNDER LAW (gospel) OF CHRIST - Matt. 28:18-19.
      b. When one meets the CONDITION(S) WITHIN THAT LAW. . . .
      c. He is then REGULATED by it!
    4. Illustrations:
      a. Getting married. Teach about marriage to a teenage class differently than you would a couple about to get married.
      b. Business. When you start a business, are regulated by the laws of the state (were under state law all along)!
      c. Elders. Gospel contains their work, only when you are one are you regulated by those laws.
      d. Lord's Supper. When you become a Christian, are regulated by its laws of observance (l Cor. 11).
      e. Husband / Wife. When you enter marriage, you are then regulated by what Christ taught on these roles in it!
    5. The presence of two classes of people (alien sinners & Christians) does not demand two laws - Application of different particulars within the same law (gospel)!

Conclusion
1. When God makes a covenant with man, man is obligated to obey the covenant because of God's superiority over him. Man's amenability is not contingent upon his agreement to live under God's covenant.
2. While parts of the covenant of Christ addresses alien sinners, parts address the single, married, babe, mature, man, woman, child, servant, master -- It is still ONLY ONE LAW -- THE GOSPEL!
3. We cannot Scripturally say the alien is ONLY under the gospel's teaching on the subject of MDR when he AGREES to submit to it (by becoming a Christian)!
  a. Consistency would demand a similar treatment of all the other classes addressed by the gospel.
  b. Makes God's law subject to the will of man, rather than the will of man being subject to the law of God!