The Appeal of the Covenant of Grace

Let us count that study of sacred doctrine lost which has failed to prick the heart with some spiritual point or with an ap­peal that draws the soul nearer to its God.

By ALONZO J. WEARNER, Chairman, Department of Religion, Union College, Nebraska

Let us count that study of sacred doctrine lost which has failed to prick the heart with some spiritual point or with an ap­peal that draws the soul nearer to its God. The strong and sincere mental appetite for spiritual nourishment, the attitude of mind which seeks ardently for substantial character-forming thought fiber, leads to a comprehension beyond the dead letter of cold, related facts to contact with a living, pulsating current direct from the living God.

Let us consider, for example, one of the many Bible doctrinal topics frequently bereft of its soul-stirring appeal. How very confused and obscure the covenants can seem to be ! The new covenant is more ancient than the old. The old covenant (or is it "testament"?) ended at the cross—or did it? Under which did Israel serve; or was it under both? What relation, if any, has the Decalogue with each; or has it a part in one and not in the other? Covenant in the diction­ary is not the same as in the Bible, or is it? And so on. Now, these are important to solve and harmonize; but when, or before, this is done certain basic facts should reach home.

For our present purpose we may say that, in essence, man, since the introduction of sin," has been, is now, and will be—until sin ceases its reign "—a dependent and helpless creature if left alone.' This- situation was anticipated and provided for." A covenant, originating in• the mind of God, dates from the eternal ages of the remotest past.' This was to constitute the basic law, or constitution, of a kingdom of grace to be established; a provisional government until sinless glory would again clothe mankind.' At some point of time before man's creation the Father and the Son covenanted to carry out this wisely conceived plan.' Accordingly Christ, in obedience, and in due time, became incar­nate' that He might become our nearest of kin,' and thus legally redeem the purchased posses­sion." Thus we may become, if we choose," par­takers of the divine nature,' and be grafted into the Son."

In this way all who are truly "in Christ" enter into His daily companionship," a fellow­ship." a partnership in labor "—the work of re­storing character to the likeness of the Son." He who has entered into this blessed state through baptism and its avowed promises," renews his vows at each partaking of the cup of the covenant at the Lord's supper," "until He come," to put an end to sin. These are our sacred promises in the covenant of grace rela­tionship. In this way only do believers become partakers in the eternal covenant, the covenant of grace made between the Father and the Son so long ago.'

This covenant of grace provides for the for­giveness of sins that are past, through the for­bearance of God ;" but—and let it be noted—also, by the same grace the cleansing from sin's guilty stain.'

Sanctification, the work of a lifetime, is ac­complished by the mystic union which exists between the human and the divine.' Both God and man has each a part to do. These associated labors, through faith and empowered by grace, are the works of this covenant.' It is vain to suppose that these works in any wise accom­plish our justification,' and yet nevertheless it is through these practices and habits of life that sanctification becomes an abiding proc­ess.' There is, therefore, an important place for the works of the law in the plan comprehended in the covenant of grace.'

Obedience from the heart, activated by love, is essential, yet only possible by the power of God's grace. So that, because man is a free moral agent, Christ must rule conjointly with the believers upon the throne over the law in the most holy place of the body temple." His covenanted grace is sufficient to meet tempta­tion and overcome every sin." Here it is that eternal life begins and the newborn babe is kept from continuance in the ways of sin.' By the Word and by prayer, faith and character <Yrow," and finally the promise through which 6the believer joined Christ will be fulfilled. For He "is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding j oy." '

In Christ's day even His disciples at His de­parture on Olivet misunderstood the kingdom of the covenant of grace. They looked for the literal kingdom of glory. In our day this popu­lar concept is reversed. Multitudes seek grace without law, vainly hoping for a utopian mil­lennium, rejecting the literal kingdom so very soon to cover this earth. Brethren, let us by His enabling grace maintain a law-abiding citizenship in the present kingdom of grace, that when He comes in His kingdom of glory we shall be accepted in and with Christ as heirs therein.

 

Notes:

1Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12.

2 Nahum i :9; Rev. 21:4, 22.

3 John 15 :5 ; Rom. 7:18.

4 Rev. 13:8; The Desire of Ages, p. 22.

5 Prov. 8:20-23, 31.

6 Gen. 3:21; Rev. 3:28.

7 The Desire of Ages, p. 834.

8 Phil. 2 :6-8 ; Gal. 4:4.

9 The Desire of Ages, p. 327, par. 3.

10 The Book of Ruth.

11 Isa. 55:7.

122 Peter I :4.

13 2 Cor. 5:17; John 17:21.

14 Ps. 23; Rev. 3 :20.

15 1 John 1 :3-9.

16 Phil. 2:12, 13,

17 1John 3:1-6; Rom. 8:17.

18 Rom. 6:1-12.

19 John 13 :8; 1 Cor. II :25, 26.

20 John 14 :6 ; Isa. 43:11.

21 Eph. 1:10.

22 Rom.  3:25 ; 4:7,8.

23 John 1 :9; Heb. 13 :20, 21.

24 Eph. 5:25-27Gal. 3:11.

25 Phil. 2:12, 13; Cf. Acts of the Apostles, p. 482. par. 2.

26 Gal. 2:16.

27 1 These. 5 :23.

28 Rom. 5:20; 6:12-16.

29 Gal. 2:20.

30 Heb. 8 :10 ; Jer. 31 :31-33.

31 Rom. 5:20, 22; 2 Cor. 22:9.

32 John 3 :3; i John 5:12, 13; The Desire of Ages, p. 388.

33 I John 5:18.

34Rorn. 1017, 13.

35 Jude 24.


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By ALONZO J. WEARNER, Chairman, Department of Religion, Union College, Nebraska

October 1949

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