Read - Hebrews 11
Message - Scott Woodburn
In a recent devotion I made the claim that Adam and Eve were the first members of the church of Jesus Christ. Their son Abel was also a man of faith and even though he died at his brother's hand, he will one day stand again upon this earth. The covenant of grace did not begin with the coming of Christ just as the church did not begin at pentecost.
As we read Hebrews 11 two words constantly jump out as the apostle discusses Old Testament believers.."by faith". From Abel (v4) to the unnamed saints of the final verses the passage is clear, that all of them found their commendation (the favour of God) by faith (v39). Certainly Christ had not yet taken on flesh but He was on His way and the saved in the Old Testament looked forward to His arrival.
In the Old Testament, the covenant of grace was active and effective, yet it was administered differently than today. Back then it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the passover lamb, and other types and ordinances. All of these pointed forward to the Christ who was to come. Paul speaks of the baptism of those who followed Moses and the fact that such men and women drank from the spiritual Rock who was Christ (1 Corinthians 10v1-4). There is a unity among God's people. We are not divided between Old and New Testament, instead we are united by the covenant of grace.
As the Gospel was proclaimed to the nations and Jew and Gentile alike came to know Christ as their Saviour, there was great tension within the church. Even Peter was dragged into the controversy and would refuse to eat with Gentile Christians when Jewish Christians were present (Galatians 2v11-12). Should Christians follow the practices of the Old Testament? Paul's answer was no. Such conduct would not be in step with the Gospel (Galatians 2v14).
Christ has come and everything has changed. The types, signs and shadows have found their substance in Jesus (Colossians 2v17). Gentiles may have at one time been separated from Christ (Ephesians 2v12) but that is no longer the case. Christ is the peace of His people (Ephesians 2v14) and has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God by His cross (Ephesians 2v16).
If anyone has ever been saved, it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The covenant of grace stretches from Eden to this present day, from Adam and Eve to the last person who will ever be saved. One church for whom Christ died. Men and women from every corner of this world and all of them, every single one, a recipient of the unrivalled and unparalleled grace of God.
Q56 What is the reason annexed to the third commandment? The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.