The Two Covenants

Andrew Murray was an early Pentecostal writer with some very important things to say to the church at large about what it means to be living within God´s holiness and His will. He notes that the Old Testament links the New Covenant promise with God´s law put into our hearts (Jer. 31:31-33) in his book The Two Covenants.

“Because in the New Covenant obedience no longer occupies the place it had in the Old, as the condition of the Covenant, and free grace has taken its place, justifying the ungodly, and bestowing gifts on the rebellious, many are under the impression that obedience is now no longer as indispensable as it was then. The error is a terrible one.
The whole Old Covenant was meant to teach the lesson of the absolute and indispensable necessity of obedience for a life in God’s favour. The New Covenant comes, not to provide a substitute for that obedience in faith, but through faith to secure the obedience,
by giving a heart that delights in it and has the power for it. And men abuse the free grace, that without our own obedience accepts us for a life of new obedience, when they rest content with the grace, without the obedience it is meant for. They boast of the higher
privileges of the New Covenant, while its chief blessing, the power of a holy life, a heart delighting in God’s law, and a life in which God causes and enables us, by his indwelling Spirit, to keep His commandments, is neglected. If there is one thing we need to know well, it is the place obedience takes in the New Covenant.”

He goes on to say, “And last of all, let us understand: Obedience is blessedness. Do not regard it only as the way to the joy and blessings of the New Covenant, but as itself, in its very nature, joy and happiness. To have the voice of God teaching and guiding you, to be united to God in willing what He wills, in working out what He works in you by His Spirit, in doing His Holy Will, and pleasing Him,—surely all this is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

“To a healthy man- it is a delight to walk or work, to put forth his strength and conquer difficulties. To a slave or a hireling it is bondage and weariness. The Old Covenant demanded obedience with an inexorable must, and the threat that followed it. The New Covenant changes the must to can and may. Do ask God, by the Holy Spirit, to show you how “you have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” and how, as fitted as a vine is for bearing grapes, your new nature is perfectly prepared for every good work. Ask Him to show you that He means obedience, not only to be a possible thing, but the most delightful and attractive gift He has to bestow, the entrance into His love and all its blessedness.

It is unfortunate that our former leaders, in their zeal to move from law to grace, forgot that the point of the Holy Spirit´s presence in our lives is to bring God´s law directly into our hearts. The way they taught made the law seem like a curse, not a blessing. Obedience to God has always been the basis of any covenant. Teaching disrespect for the law´s first (Israelìte) administration does not help build a healthy image of a God who is to be obeyed as well as worshipped.

About John Valade

I facilitate and teach in Wascana Fellowship. I have been married to Wanda since 1984. M.Div. from Briercrest Seminary, SK in 2011 and B.R.E. Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University College) in 2000.
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2 Responses to The Two Covenants

  1. Randy Olds says:

    Hi John,

    Great post. Although free grace is exactly that, free, I think that you are absolutely right in that many don’t quite understand that an obedient heart is what springs forth from the gift that we have received through faith in Christ in the New Covenant.

    I have been closely following the debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright on Justification and just started Wrights recently released book “Justification : God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision”. Wright is a big proponent on the fact that good works follow from a life ‘in Christ.’

    This debate has been ongoing for several years now and some have even accused Wright of Pelagianism, a charge in which he vehemently denies. It just seems that many people want to rely on free grace and don’t understand that there is more to the New Covenant than meets the eye. I personally think that Wright has a much better concept of Justification than does Piper (a Calvinist) and am looking forward to finishing his book.

  2. John Valade says:

    I haven´t read Piper, but I do like how Wright frames Justification.

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