Making a Deal

By John David Clark, Sr. - January, 1993

Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you. . . . For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not...forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. Deut. 4

A deal is a deal. One of the marks of a righteous man is that he sticks to a bargain, even if later he discovers that there was a better deal to be made. The Psalmist described the righteous man as one who does not change even if the bargain he made turns out to be "to his own hurt" (Ps. 15:4).

In the Bible a covenant is a sort of deal. It is an agreement between God and man. God agrees to protect, defend, and guide man, and man agrees to serve God and obey His commandments. Every covenant God has made has been a forthright agreement, without any proverbial "small print", and without any ulterior motives on God's part. Everything He promises to do, He makes clear. And everything He requests man to do is spelled out in explicit terms so that there is not the faintest possibility of misunderstanding.

No one is required to come into God's covenant with man. Of course, in the case of this New Covenant, or New Testament, it would be very foolish for us to think that on the appointed Day of Judgment we will be saved from damnation if we do not; nevertheless, as with all of God's covenants, no one can be forced to enter into it. Of the relatively few sacrifices God required of ancient Israel, none was accepted if the sacrifice was not willingly offered. Repeatedly, God insisted that if a man brought an offing to the Lord, "he shall offer it OF HIS OWN VOLUNTARY WILL at the door of the congregation before the Lord" (Lev. 1:3).

No one was compelled to bring his sacrifice to be offered; however, a Jew would be taking a terrible risk of eternal damnation if he refused to fulfill his obligations under the covenant which God made with the Israelites. Further, if one did bring an animal to be sacrificed, it was required that he bring the right animal to the right place (the tabernacle) and present it to the right man (the anointed priest). In other words, a man who was in covenant with God was required to worship the way the covenant plainly said to worship. A deal is a deal.

Another element of God's Old and New Covenants which needs more to be stressed is the promises of God - all of them! When the promises of God to those in covenant with him are mentioned, usually what comes to mind are His blessings and promises of eternal glory. And when we enter into God's covenant, we agree to meet God's clearly stated conditions to receive those blessings. Moses reminded Israel constantly of the blessings which would result from obedience to God's will. Even to his final days on earth, Moses is found pleading with those in covenant with God to live so as to be blessed with the promised blessings of God:

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord shall set thee on high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shalt thou be in the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.... Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.... Blessed.... Blessed.... Blessed . . . etc."

On and on goes Moses' enumeration of the blessings which God PROMISED to pour out upon those who kept their end of the bargain, or covenant, He made with the Israelites. But another element of the covenant to which God and man agreed was that which dealt with curses. In the same sermon in which Moses enumerated all the blessings of the covenant, he reminded Israel of the curses which await the unfaithful.

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and statutes which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the city and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, and the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.... Cursed.... Cursed.... Cursed . . . etc.

On and on goes Moses' enumeration of the curses which God PROMISED to pour out upon those who failed to keep their end of the covenant, He made with the Israelites.

So, we may confidently continue to proclaim that the promises of God are sure. He is faithful to His word. Much is said concerning this. But what is almost never mentioned is the fact that not all the promises of God are pleasant. Indeed, some of them are absolutely dreadful. Those who are considering the call of Christ should be told this. To be born again is to enter into covenant with God. And to enter into covenant with God is to agree to the rewards of righteousness which God has promised to those who obey Him and to agree to the curses which God has promised to those who are disobedient to the covenant they willingly make with Him. A deal is a deal.

Jesus warned those who followed him to "count the cost" of discipleship (Lk. 14:25-33), for in the great final judgment it will be better for a man never to have agreed to God's covenant than to have agreed to it but failed to keep the bargain. The Apostle Peter said it this way:

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (2Pet.2:20-21)

Who is more worthy of punishment, one who never promised to obey God or one who promised but was unfaithful? What ministers need to impress upon those to whom they preach is that the New Covenant is a covenant indeed. It has its promises, just as God's Old Covenant with Israel contained promises. The New Covenant promises far surpass the Old Covenant promises in glory, and the New Covenant curses far surpass the Old Covenant curses in terror and wrath. The author of Hebrews writes (10:28-29):

He [the one in covenant with God] that despised Moses' law [the terms of the covenant] died without mercy.... Of how much SORER PUNISHMENT, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

What everyone who is considering the call of Christ should know is that if they come to Christ asking for remission of sins, thus to enter the New Covenant, this New Covenant demands perfection before the Lord. There are commandments to be kept if those who are in covenant with Christ would be saved from the coming wrath of God. And if those commandments are not kept by those who are in this covenant, their punishment for sin will be far greater than the punishment of one who has committed the same sin but never came into this covenant.

Disobedient saints are, of all men, most certain of damnation. More certain of damnation than Hitler, Nero, or any other infamous villain in history is the man who has been washed from his sins and then, breaking his oath to God to obey Him, returns to the filth of wickedness. "Judgment begins at the house of God", wrote Peter, "And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?". None of those wicked villains were born again. None of them agreed in their lifetimes to the terms of His covenant, that they would deserve God's wrath if they sinned. But the man who enters into God's covenant agrees to the punishment which the covenant prescribes for transgressors. He is witness against himself because he has been taught the will of God and has, by entering the covenant, promised to obey it.

Remember Jesus' words, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, BUT HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mt. 7:21-23). A deal is a deal. In Jesus' parable of the wedding feast (Mt. 22:1-13), the man who was invited, and came, to the marriage of the king's son was then cast out by the king when that man did not wear to the marriage feast the required festive garment. And when the king commanded that he be cast out, said Jesus, "He was speechless."

Those who have never agreed to the terms of this New Covenant, agreeing to live according to God's commandments, may plead for mercy by claiming ignorance, but not so with the born-again believer. Every child of God who is cast into the lake of fire will be cast into that horrid place without one word of defense. They had agreed to the terms of the agreement while they yet lived. Among believers who are unfaithful to their vows to God there will be, at the final judgment, as Jesus said, "Weeping and gnashing of teeth", but there will be no excuses offered. A deal is a deal.

Every apostle that wrote, warned the children of God that faithfulness to the covenant was a prerequisite to being saved in the end. This is why Jesus himself said the things he said the way he said them. Nearly every parable of Jesus has this same point: only the faithful will be saved from the wrath of God. In his monologue concerning the end times, Jesus included this sobering exhortation to his followers, which should be constantly repeated, and is constantly repeated by every wise minister of the church, "Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But HE THAT SHALL ENDURE UNTO THE END, THE SAME SHALL BE SAVED" (Mt. 24:11-13). By "endure" Jesus means "continue to keep the terms of the covenant". Paul repeated to the church the same warning in many different ways. To the Roman believers he wrote, "For if God spared not the natural branches [the Jews], take heed lest he also spare not thee [the church]. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God. On them [the Jews] which fell, severity, but toward thee [the church] goodness, IF THOU CONTINUE IN HIS GOODNESS. OTHERWISE THOU ALSO [CHURCH MEMBER] SHALT BE CUT OFF" (Rom. 11:21-22).

According to these men who knew God, Israel's history served as a warning to the church, an example of God's way of dealing with those in covenant with Him (1Cor. 10). And what do we learn from Israel's history but that God requires obedience of those who agree to obey Him? Many teach that God does not require His people to obey Him, that salvation will be given to all who are in covenant with Him in Christ, irrespective of their behavior on earth. This is as foolish a notion as vain man has ever invented, an error that is as old as is false prophecy. Even the Israelites had the slick, professionals who convinced the populace that obedience to the Law of Moses was not required and that God would save them simply because they were His people. And God said that all such doctrines wearied His soul (Mal. 2:17). It is no wonder that there is such abysmal ignorance of the books of the Old Testament. Foolish men are teaching the church that Israel's history is irrelevant to the church's life.

James exhorted the church also to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (1:23). There is always the temptation for saints to simply "go through the motions" of religious observance instead of being filled with the Spirit. After all, that is more than most sinners do. But religious observance means nothing, less than nothing to God. He is not impressed with numbers, with human architecture, nor with lovely ceremonies. He is impressed with humility and faith, and He is touched with the feelings of our infirmity.

"To whom much is given, much shall be required", said Jesus. To those who have heard the word and entered into covenant with Christ in God, much has been given. It is only right that God should require more of those who know Him better. Liars in the pulpit tell people that because they are in Christ, God expects less of them, that holiness is not required of them, but the truth is, if one has entered into God's covenant, no sin will be overlooked in judgment. As the author of Hebrews told the church, "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." And as God said to His chosen people Israel through the ancient prophet Amos, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; THEREFORE, I will punish you for ALL your iniquities" (3:2). A deal is a deal.

Our new book, Revelation is ready! By mail, the price will be $4.00. There are many things to be said concerning the events of the end times, but there is one thing that is starkly evident:


Paul said that Jesus would return at "the last trump". The "last trump", according to John's revelation is the seventh trumpet. And any sensible student of the scriptures will admit that the events which accompany the preceding six trumpets have not yet transpired. The time for the Second Coming is not "at hand". Study the order of events in this book, as the Scriptures really lay them out, and be set free from the emotional hype of Christian minsters who move people with the false hope of an "any moment" coming of the Lord. Jesus will return, but not in the immediate future. There is work, much work, to be done, and with our eyes constantly toward the skies the church will never accomplish it. At some point in the coming years the events will transpire which will cause us to "lift up our heads", for "our redemption is drawing near". Right now, however, we should have our eyes on earth and the task which the Father would have us accomplish.

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