The Message and the Old Covenant

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William Branham mentioned the "old covenant" 16 times in over 1100 sermons. He mentioned the term "new covenant" only 11 times. Does this mean that the differences between the new covenant and the old covenant are not important? What does the Bible say about this?

What is the "new covenant"?

Jeremiah speaks of the new covenant:

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”[1]

And when Jesus replaced the Passover with the Communion, he stated:

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[2]

We read in Hebrews 9:15 that:

Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.[3]

Is the "Old Covenant" still relevant?

Paul refers to the Ten Commandments are the "ministry of death" in 2 Corinthians 3:7 and the writer of Hebrews tell us that:

...by calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.[4]

How does an obsolete covenant relate to the new covenant Gentile church?

The apostles' letter to the Gentile churches

In Acts 15, we find Paul and Barnabas in Jerusalem telling the apostles about their concerns with certain people who were preaching that the old covenant applied to the Gentiles such that they were required to keep the law. The apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church met to consider the issue.

Peter stated his view clearly:

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.[5]

And James was even clearer:

“Brothers,” he said, “listen to me." ...“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” [6]

The apostles, elders and the entire Jerusalem church agreed and sent a letter to the Gentile believers:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
Greetings.
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.  So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul — men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:
You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.
You will do well to avoid these things.
Farewell.[7]

This letter raises a number of questions, including:

  1. Why aren't the ten commandments included?
  2. What about tithing?
  3. Why were three of the commands related to food?

Why were these four commands the only requirement?

James argues that the Gentiles who turn with faith to God should not be burdened with issues of the law. The council of elders in Jerusalem asks Gentiles to be sensitive about four matters and to refrain from:

(1) the pollution that comes from idols (see Mal. 1:7);
(2) sexual immorality, probably associated with pagan rites and temple prostitution (from the Greek πορνείας, porneias);
(3) strangled things; and
(4) blood matters (from the Greek αἵματος, haimatos).

This list reappears with slight variation in Acts 15:29 and 21:25.

The reasons for the list are not so much about keeping the law as having a spirit of sensitivity about that which may cause offense to Jewish Christians. The issue is not establishing a fixed set of practices but respecting the practices of Jewish believers and not forcing oneself on another because of such views.[8]

These four rules reflect the rules in Leviticus 17:8–18:18 relating to Gentiles living in the land of Israel. Gentile converts were not required to become Jewish proselytes and keep the whole law, but only those parts of it that were required by Moses of Gentiles who lived in Israel.[9]

These four rules were simply meant to create peace and harmony between the Gentile Christians and the Jewish believers, many of whom still kept the Mosaic law.

Do we have to keep any part of the law?

Most Christians believe that Christ redeemed us from sin but that is not what scripture says. Paul teaches us that:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...[10]

In fact, if you try to keep the law today you are not justified before God:

Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith...[11] For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.[12]

What the new covenant teaches us is that the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself."[13]

We, therefore, can conclude that for a woman to wear pants is not sin. For someone to believe that, means that they do not understand the Gospel... they do not understand the new covenant.

Quotes of William Branham

The old and new covenant

109 The New Testament means “New Covenant.” The Blood Life, the Blood Life Itself, is the Token. The Life out of the Blood is the Token. Remember, in the Old Testament, the actual blood of the lamb had to be applied. Here, it’s the Token of the Blood; it is the Life from the Blood, that’s in the person, for the Token.

  64-0208 - The Token
  Rev. William Marrion Branham
  

24 Now, the Old Testament, the Aaron’s plate was done away, with the Old Covenant.

  64-0306 - A Greater Than Solomon Is Here Now
  Rev. William Marrion Branham
 

329 New Testament is “new covenant,” new Life, shows Jesus has met every requirement for us that God required, to make us back, truly, sons and daughters of God, under the Blood, where there is no more condemnation.

  63-0901M - Token
  Rev. William Marrion Branham
  

149 The bloody Lamb is our Token tonight. In Hebrews 13:10 and 20, it is called the “everlasting covenant,” if you’d like to read it. God’s Blood-bound promises made us free from sin and flesh. It is an everlasting covenant, to worship Him and show forth His promised signs. The New Testament is the new covenant in His Blood. The Bible said so. The New Testament means the “new covenant,” Blood Life, new Life Token in us. Where the old blood stood for a simple sign of the chemistry that a lamb had died, the Holy Ghost is the Life that was in the Person of Jesus Christ that’s displayed in you and I, tonight. Outside of that, there is no mercy. “Only when I see the blood, I’ll pass over you.”

  63-1128E - The Token
  Rev. William Marrion Branham

119 The New Testament means “new covenant.” The Blood means “Life.” The New Testament is the Holy Ghost testament, the Holy Ghost giving testimony of what Jesus Christ has raised from the dead, showed Jesus has met every requirement for us, and is alive today. The Token proves He is alive to identify Hisself with us, according to His promise. Now how can a man read the Bible and see that He promised it, and see Christ return in these last days in the form of the Holy Ghost and identify Himself alive? That’s the Token. That’s the sign. That’s the price paid.

  64-0308 - The Token
  Rev. William Marrion Branham



Footnotes

  1. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Je 31:31–34.
  2. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Lk 22:20.
  3. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Heb 9:15.
  4. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Heb 8:13.
  5. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ac 15:7–11.
  6. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ac 15:13–21.
  7. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ac 15:23–29.
  8. Darrell L. Bock, Acts, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 505-507.
  9. David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 434–435.
  10. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 3:13.
  11. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 3:11–12.
  12. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jas 2:10.
  13. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 5:14.


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