30 January 2009

The Covenants - 1.30.09

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Had the privilege of teaching a class during the rightly dividing course last semester at The DeLand School of THE BIBLE. The course covered topics such as law vs. grace; 3 groups of people (Jew, Gentile, Church); 3 types of men (natural, carnal, spiritual); standing vs. state; kingdom of God vs. kingdom of heaven; dispensations; and covenants.

Each of the topics covered really made the Bible come together and make sense like it never had before. That’d be the reason why God told us that the biblical study He approves must include right and proper division.

The class I had the opportunity to teach focused on the covenants God has made with men in the Bible. For the next several posts, I am going to give you a condensed version of those notes. I realize these posts will be more doctrinal than devotional in nature, but no serious Bible student could deny the strong correlation between sound doctrine (Romans 1-11) and sound practice (Romans 12-16). Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

First of all, let’s define the word. According to Webster’s 1828, “covenant” comes from a Latin word that carries the meaning of “a coming together; a meeting or agreement of minds.” Mr. Webster defined covenant as a mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or thing; a contract.

Now consider the relationship between dispensations and covenants. The root of DISPENSation is obviously “dispense,” and thus the biblical study of dispensations takes a look at the ways in which God has dispensed or distributed His truth and His grace to the crown of His creation (that’s you and me). The study of the biblical covenants focuses more specifically on how God has dealt out His promises to mankind.

There are many, many covenants in the Bible. Some form of the word appears exactly 300 times. We will focus our study not on the promises and contracts men in the Bible made with each other but with the major covenants God has made with men; those that have had and will have the greatest impact upon the course of history.

Two final things to note before we jump in next time with a look at the Edenic covenant.

1. There are two types of covenants. There are unconditional (or one-way) promises God has made to men. These are statements that God has made regarding what He is going to do; these do not at all depend upon the actions of the other parties involved. And there are also conditional (or two-way) promises God has made to men. These statements include an IF and a THEN. God’s actions under such agreements are dependent upon the actions of the other parties involved.

2. Though these covenants are important, and we should know them because they do have some type of effect on and application to our lives, they focus primarily on God’s dealings with the nation of Israel (1 Corinthians 10:23; Ephesians 2:12). Romans 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.


  1. I am very much looking forward to this study. I am a malnourished Bible student who is looking for the fresh manna from heaven. We do not have any teaching of the covenants or rightly dividing the Word of God in our church here. So please pass that plate to me, I need some badly. Looking forward to partaking!!!

  2. Hey brother! Just a side question from your introduction - do you all believe that there are carnal people (i.e. people who are saved but living carnally)? I grew up thinking that because I was at Northland Community Church and they taught that. I now have a hard time believing that there are partially saved people - people who asked for forgiveness from sin but refuse to repent of sin. I'm not sure I see evidence for that in Scripture. I believe Matthew 7:21 shows that they are excluded when they refuse to repent. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. I've been reading the Scriptures diligently since I was thirteen years old, and that was one of those things that I tossed out way back there, because it didn't seem to match at all with what I've been reading. Well, I'm interested to hear what you know about it. I love you brother. a fellow laborer in the harvest - Paul

  3. Short answer, yes. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 with 3:1-6. The Bible describes 3 kinds of men: the natural man (lost), the carnal man (saved but living like he's lost), and the spiritual man (saved and living in the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit). This is another of those right divisions that really helps the Bible make sense. It's no longer on the church website, but I'll try to get you a link to a sermon on this topic.

  4. Here's that link. http://www.jamesknox.com/mp3/z_doctrineofthechurch/20081123pm_ThreeTypesOfMen.mp3