10
May
12

Covenants

One thing that Lesson 19 of the Gospel Doctrines Class covers is the baptismal covenant described in Mosiah 18 of the Book of Mormon.  In that connection the teacher’s manual contains the following quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith.  “A covenant is a contract and an agreement between at least two parties.  In the case of gospel covenants, the parties are the Lord in heaven and men on earth.  Men agree to keep the commandments and the Lord promises to reward them accordingly.”

Here again is an example of how Mormonism and biblical Christianity not only define words differently, but also view matters differently.  The word gospel literally means good news and in the Bible it refers to the very specific good news that Jesus became our substitute, fulfilled all the commandments for us, died for all our sins so that now eternal life is God’s gift to us.  The Bible, and historic Christianity, has always sharply distinguished between this good news of what God has done for us and his commands telling us what to do.  In short, the biblical gospel has nothing to do with God’s commands.  If it did that would not be good news – in light of verses like James 2:10 that state that even breaking one commandment makes us guilty of all.

Secondly, the way that the Bible describes the gospel covenant is all about what God does.  It describes not an agreement between two parties but rather a unilateral action on the part of God.  For example, Jeremiah 31:33-34 says:  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  There is no mention of keeping the commandments or any other action on the part of man.  God’s gospel covenant is 100% about what God does – especially his forgiving us of our sins.  That deserves the description, “good news”.

Because of that good news I know that I am worthy before God – that I am nothing less than a saint in his eyes.  Because of that good news I am eagerly looking forward to Judgment Day knowing that, solely because of what Jesus did for me, I will be eagerly welcomed by God.  Because of that good news I have no doubts that I will be living in the very presence of Heavenly Father for all eternity.  Thank you, Jesus, for doing everything for me.

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17 Responses to “Covenants”


  1. 1 choosethechrist
    May 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Amen!

  2. 2 joshtried
    May 11, 2012 at 6:36 am

    In short, the Biblical gospel has nothing to do with God’s commands.
    I have to say once again this is a rather poor view on the subject. Christ came to fullfil the laws of old, not to completely negate them. When Christ was born, and after he died, the penalty for sin did not change. This is something that is so easily missed over and over by the “Christian” side. The penalty remains death, and it will always be so. The question is who is going to die, you or Christ? I am not saying Christ dies individually for each person. I am saying one of you WILL die for the sins you commit. The good news is you dont have to die, you have a choice to accept Christ. This is good news. I am glad I made this choice.

  3. 3 joshtried
    May 11, 2012 at 6:39 am

    And again, this is prophetic of a time not yet come “and they shall teach no more everyan his neighbor”. If this had happened already, this blog would not exist.

  4. 4 markcares
    May 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Josh:
    According to Hebrews chapters 8-10 Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Christ and does not talk about a time yet to come.

  5. 5 choosethechrist
    May 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    “Jeremiah 31:33-34 is an exact description of the covenant under which the true Christian lives. It is the communion and walking in the Holy Spirit as a result of regeneration of the depraved sinner. It depicts the radical change of the sinner and his new relationship to Jesus Christ. Such a believer is abiding in Christ.”

    “By one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified.” That is the position of the believer. That is where the relationship begins. Those who believe on Christ are cleansed by His precious blood and are brought into immediate fellowship with Him as a child of God. We live and walk and have our being in His presence. He abides, settles down and makes Himself at home in our hearts. We are living with the “new covenant” relationship and everything depends upon His sovereign grace.”

    http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/jer31v31.html

  6. 6 shematwater
    May 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    If you read carefully in Hebrews 8-10 only part of this prophecy is said to be fulfilled.
    In chapter 8 Paul quotes directly Jeremiah 31: 33-34, but he does not claim it to be fulfilled. He uses it as proof that the Old Covenant was not a perfect covenant, but needed to be replaced.
    In Chapter 10 he does not quote it directly, and only references the writing of the law in the hearts and minds of the people. This is also able to be referenced back to Isaiah 59: 20-21, though it is still not a direct quote.
    So, according to Paul the new covenant was been established, but the time had not yet come when it is no longer necessary for us to teach each other concerning God.

    Now, I have to point out that it is not us that changed the meaning of the word “Covenant” but the rest of Christianity.
    Mark declares that “the way that the Bible describes the gospel covenant is all about what God does. It describes not an agreement between two parties but rather a unilateral action on the part of God.”
    Yet the very difinition of a covenant, as given at dictionary.com, is
    1. an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.
    2. Law . an incidental clause in such an agreement.

    Thus, taking Marks understanding of the Gospel Covenant, he has altered the very meaning of the word covenant by saying that it is not an agreement between two people. The LDS have changed nothing, but have simply allowed the word to actually mean what it has always meant, and not assign a different meaning to it to fit our doctrine.
    Interesting that dictionary.com also gives this deffinition of the term covenant: Bible a. the conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture.

    A covenant is a two-way agreement, and to use the term in reference to a one-way action is to miss use the term.

  7. 7 JBR
    May 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    There is an OT revelation in which God also made a one way covenant… he did it with Abraham… Genesis 15 (specifically Gen 15:17)

    Back then, when a covenant was to be made, an animal was cut in half and both parties were to walk in between them. In this instance with God and Abraham, God only passed between the cut animals.

  8. 8 JBR
    May 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    should read… specifically Gen 15:17-18

  9. 9 joshtried
    May 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    “According to Hebrews chapters 8-10 Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Christ and does not talk about a time yet to come.”

    Mark, IF this time has come, then it is also past already. By definition, you are trying to teach me of God, and I am trying to teach you. If this is part of the new covenant, and is supposed to stay part, then it can not have happened yet. I dont mean to be mean about this, but can you explain why you are trying to teach me if this has already happened?
    “for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord” Here, we have a couple of points. #1, we know that the Lord is speaking. We know that he does not lie. #2, we see that this is something that will happen in the future by the word “shall”. We all understand past and future tense, and this word is definitely future tense. The thing i see here is no definite timeline is given as to when this is going to happen. We do however see in Revelations a time when this definitely happens. “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled”
    We know that the time spoke of during Jeremiah was definitely not complete during the time of Christ, because he was teaching EVERYBODY, and they killed him because they didnt believe him. They did not know him (which is part of the prophecy). And after his death, THEY (his disciples) were teaching EVERYBODY. We know from historical evidence that at no time between Jesus dying and now has there ever truly been peace on earth. There was always something happening, someone fighting about something. Only during the second coming will there be an end to war, and even then only for 1000 years. Only during that time will Satan be locked up and not able to influence the hearts and minds of men. Only during that time will men no longer teach each other.

  10. 10 shematwater
    May 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    JBR

    I have to disagree. Just because we only read a direct statement concerning God’s promises at this time does not mean the covenant was one-sided.
    We later read in chapter 17 verse 1-2 “the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”
    Notice the command to be perfect, and if he is perfect the covenant will be made.
    In chapter 15 we also read of the faith of Abraham, his sacrifices of animals, and all that he has already done. The covenant that was made was not simply “I will do this and you don’t have to do anything.” It was more “Because you have already done this, I will do this.” Later it was continued as “You do this and I will do this.”

  11. 11 JBR
    May 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Shem,
    You can disagree, for that is what I would come to expect.

    “Abraham believe and it was credited as righteousness”

    That is why Paul also revealed that if Abraham’s righteousness had to do with anything beyond belief then those whose like yourself who include something beyond just belief actually have as Paul phrases it a valueless faith and worthless promise. You will not seea loving God but a wrathful God, for Paul reveals that that is boasting.

  12. 12 JBR
    May 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    The revelation of Romans 4 is based on Gen 15:17-18.

  13. 13 shematwater
    May 12, 2012 at 12:52 am

    JBR

    And James wrote concerning Genesis 15: 17-18 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

    Clearly it is by combining works with faith that one is justified, and not through works only, which is what Paul was talking about.
    No one can claim that because of their works they are justified. But one can claim that because of their works Christ will justify them. That is the difference.

  14. 14 JBR
    May 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Shem,
    Genesis 15: 17-18 has nothing to do with James’ “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” …

  15. 15 shematwater
    May 13, 2012 at 2:21 am

    JBR

    Of course it ahs nothing to do with James. I mean James is only quoting from it, but it has no relation at all.

    “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS IMPUTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: and he was called the Friend of God.” James 2: 23.

    I understand how a direct quote means nothing.

  16. 16 JBR
    May 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Shem,

    The section of James 2: 23 is not referencing Genesis 15: 17-18, nor is he quoting when you attempt to link works righteous.

  17. 17 shematwater
    May 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    JBR

    He is quoting, just as much as Paul is. He is also referencing, as he says that the scripture he is quoting was fulfilled when Abraham offered Isaac.

    Quite honestly, this is ridiculous. You are simply denying the blatantly obvious because it interferes with your doctrine to actually acknowledge that it is there.


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