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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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The New Covenant

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Covenants are always made between two parties and all covenants between God and man were derived from the “Everlasting Covenant” (Heb 13:20). “New,” not in the sense of development for it was made in eternity past, but in application. This is the final and eternal covenant between the Father and the Son which involves the Son’s “surety” of redeeming man by expiating sin, and the Father raising Him from the dead. Hence this covenant is not between God and man, but man is the recipient of its eternal provisions.


When a covenant was made between God and man it was always stated as such and involved both parties doing their part, i.e. God instructed Israel to faith and obedience in return for union and blessings. When the Lord Jesus said, “this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mat 26:28), we do not see any language that indicates covenant establishment between God and man, for there is no stipulated accountability of man’s part in it as there was in the prior covenants.


Man has no part in the work of the New Covenant but rather in the manifestation of it. Thus the keeping of the commands of Christ is not a surety for redemption but confirms an antecedent establishment of redemption prior to obedience, for as we know it is Christ’s Cross-work alone which effects expiation.


Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), and God’s love exceeds by being manifested in a greater sacrifice than Self—His Son! This ensures that it constitutes a “gift” and thus eliminates the potential of it being a merited action, and hence no debt to repay. The result is not returning to God anything out of debt but of love and gratitude (2Cor 9:15), which can only be performed and expressed in love to others (1John 4:20).


God used Abraham to signify Christ’s sacrifice, which he would have performed in the faith that “God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Heb 11:19), for he believed God’s promise of using Isaac for future blessings to the children of God.


“Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with His Blood—equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen” (Heb 13:20, 21 NLT).




Notated References:


The ‘blood’ was the seal of the everlasting covenant entered into between the Father and Son; in virtue of the Son's blood, first Christ was raised, then Christ's people shall be so” (Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown).


The blood of Christ on the cross sealed the everlasting covenant of the Gospel of which the resurrection of Christ from the dead was the surety (B. W. Johnson).


The Blood of Christ satisfied divine justice, and so procured Christ's release from the prison of the grace, as having paid our debt, according to an eternal covenant or agreement between the Father and the Son (Matthew Henry).


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