Bible Testaments and Covenants
The sixty-six books of the Bible are divided into two sections called the Old and New Testaments. These testaments contain wills or covenants between God and man. There are two testaments because no one could qualify as an heir under the first testament. When the second testament was established the first became the Old Testament and the second became the New Testament.
The goal, reward, or inheritance to be received by humans qualifying as heirs under terms of either testament is eternal life. Those who do not qualify will perish. Eternal life is presented throughout the Bible as a future gift or reward, and never as something mankind presently possesses. Jesus is bringing our reward with Him upon His return to the earth:
Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him. (Isaiah 40:10)
Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him... (Isaiah 62:11)
And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me... (Revelation 22:12)
The only way one could become an heir to eternal life under the first covenant was to never sin. However, there was a fault in the first testament in that all mankind sinned! Therefore, no one could gain eternal life under the first testament. Since the first covenant contained faults, God created a second or New Testament:
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. (Hebrews 8:6-7)
Is it not inconceivable that omnipotent God produced a covenant that contained faults? However, was the fault with God or man? Was it God's fault that no man ever had the character to live a sinless life? Was it true that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God?" Could any human ever live a sinless life and become an heir to eternal life under the Old Testament? Why would God make the requirements so strict that no one could qualify? Look at what God desired to accomplish. He is creating replacement caretakers for the angels who sinned and failed their original assignment on earth:
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:6)
Jesus, or the Word, created everything that was ever created:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
He would not directly create immortal spiritual angels again. He would create man a little lower than the angels and have them earn immortality through their obedience. After all, the angels on earth did not work out because they sinned against God. Therefore, in His plan to create replacement caretakers, He would rule out the character flaw which caused the original caretakers to fail. That flaw was sin! Any humans who sinned would not be allowed to eat from the tree of life and live forever. If they sinned they would die the second death and that would be the end of them forever. This was the design philosophy of the Old Testament covenant.
Man and woman were created separately in the Garden of Eden and both could make their own independent choices. Both chose to eat from the tree which God commanded them not to eat from. Thus they sinned, just as the rebellious angels they were created to eventually replace. God separated them from the tree of life so they could not eat its fruit and live forever. He then created laws which mankind must individually obey in order to gain eternal life. If any man or woman could live a sinless mortal life by obeying God's laws, that person would inherit eternal life. This would rule out sinners from becoming immortal spirits. However, no human ever became an heir under this covenant because every human ever created had sinned.
Once the Trinity of God makes an agreement and sets the steps in place to create that agreement, God never violates His part of the agreement. God remains constant:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)
If the wages of sin is death and all have sinned, then all must die! That's how the original testament was set up. Thus, no replacements would be created under this covenant! What to do?
Suppose some human could live a sinless life. He would not be under the death sentence. He could then give his life freely as a sacrifice for the others to free them from the death sentence imposed by the first covenant. Man would then no longer be liable under that first covenant. Our liability would be eliminated when the penalty was paid. Therefore, we could enter into another covenant with God in which the flaw in the original could be corrected. This is exactly what occurred when Jesus Christ came to earth as a human. He lived a sinless life, then sacrificed His life as punishment for our sins. Since His sacrifice made eternal life possible for us, the new requirement to attain eternal life under the New Testament became a belief in Jesus Christ and recognition of His sacrifice.
Under the New Testament man came under grace and not the law. Good works earned one salvation under the Old Testament. That is, if a person never violated any of God's laws, he gained eternal life. After Jesus died for us, we fell under the grace of Jesus Christ for our salvation, not our works to fulfill the law. So sin does not control our salvation:
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
We must now believe in Jesus Christ to inherit eternal life. Upon creating a New Testament, the first covenant became the Old Testament:
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13)
When did the Old Testament vanish away and the New Testament become valid?
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. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth (Hebrews 9:15-17)
A testator is a person who makes a will. "A testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." Therefore, the New Testament became effective and the Old Testament vanished away as a will when Jesus Christ died on the cross. Once the New Testament became the active will, no one could gain eternal life by remaining sinless as required under the Old Testament. This includes infants! The only path to salvation presently is through a belief in Jesus Christ under terms of the New Testament covenant. Infants do not believe in Jesus Christ:
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
The path by which infants inherit the Kingdom of God is covered in Chapter 8 entitled The Resurrections - What Really Happens. Only those who qualify under terms of the New Testament covenant gain everlasting life. Those terms are:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
If we believe in Jesus we become heirs to the Kingdom of God under terms of the New Testament which became effective when Jesus died on the cross. We enter the Kingdom of God when born again as a spiritual being at or after our resurrection. It is a real experience, not simply some emotional sensation one gets when he or she accepts Christ. The two requirements to enter the Kingdom of God are clearly stated in the following verses:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:5-7)
The two requirements are to be born as a human being of water, then to be born again as a spirit.
In reading the Bible from start to finish, one will notice a sharp contrast between the two testaments. The Old Testament is considerably more ruthless and bloody as compared with the New Testament. One explanation for this is the different requirements under which one could become an heir under the two testaments. Under the Old Testament one had to never sin. Therefore, any potential obstacle which might cause one to sin needed to be ruthlessly eliminated. God apparently agreed as He commanded the children of Israel to erase all life from the cities in the lands He gave to them as an inheritance. If any life remained it would be a stumbling block and temptation to sin:
But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)
Not only did God command the children of Israel to kill every living thing, He even listed the peoples to be destroyed so there would be absolutely no misunderstanding. The children of Israel violated this command to kill every living thing and later intermarried and worshiped the gods of these people:
And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God... (Judges 3:5-7)
Their failure to obey this bloody command of God may explain the constant warring in the Middle East to this day. That is, surviving relatives and offspring from the original inhabitants have been competing with Israel over possession of the Promised Land to this day. Contrast the Old Testament approach to the New Testament philosophy. The New Testament taught a totally opposite approach of turning the other cheek and forgiveness:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39)
The general Old Testament theme is fighting evil with evil, an eye for an eye. Although this "eye for an eye" policy may originally sound harsh, it can also be viewed as setting an upper limit on punishments. That is, if a person puts your eye out, the most you can retaliate is to put out his eye, and no more. By contrast, the New Testament theme is forgiveness and overcoming evil with good:
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)
Why this reversal of philosophies? Once again it is due to the requirements of the testaments. Under the New Testament sin can be forgiven since a scapegoat took the punishment for mankind's sin. Under the Old Testament one had to obey all commandments without exception and must accept the punishment of death for disobeying any commandment. Consequently, any source which might cause people to sin needed to be ruthlessly destroyed!
There were some God fearing people who lived during Old Testament times, but they all sinned. Since Jesus had not as yet died for their sins, what happened to Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Solomon, David, and others? They are presently dead and buried:
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. (Acts 2:29)
For David is not ascended unto the heavens... (Acts 2:34)
These God fearing men will be resurrected from the dead as mortals in the second resurrection. They will learn about and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior at that time and be born again as spiritual beings into the Kingdom of God. Chapter 25 entitled Today Is The Day Of Salvation will prove this to be their fate!
Proceed to the next chapter.
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