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From Darkness to Light
Two Covenants Compared.
pp. 213 - 216
Just as hyper-Calvinism has led some of its advocates to take II Cor. 3: 5 out of its
context and, shorn of its place in the Apostle's argument, make it bolster up their doctrine
of decrees, extending what Paul here refers to the matter of sufficiency in ministry, to
practically everything, so there are those who have seized upon the words "the letter
killeth, but the spirit giveth life" to justify their attitude to the Word of God, deriding a
faithful adherence to the actual language and grammar of holy Writ as a slavish bondage
to "the mere letter" and magnifying their supposed enlightened and independent attitude
to "the spirit". The Apostle is not speaking of the Scriptures, but of two covenants, the
one having been written on tables of stone, the other being written on the heart, the one
being denominated "letter" and the other "spirit".
The two essential differences between these two covenants is the difference of life and
"For the letter KILLETH, but the spirit QUICKENETH."
Writing out of his own experience, Paul said later concerning the law:
"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived,
and I died" (Rom. 7: 9).
Just as he places the two covenants in such strong antithesis in II Cor. 3:, so in
Rom. 8:, he says:
"For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin
and death" (Rom. 8: 2),
and in Galatians he said:
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God" (Gal. 2: 19),
"If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness
should have been by the law" (Gal. 3: 21).
The comparison between the two covenants that commences with the contrasting
features of life and death, pass by an easy transition to a comparison between the
transient glory of the one to the lasting glory of the other, summed up in the last verse of
the chapter in the words "From glory to glory".
The Old Covenant is called
The New Covenant is called
(1) The ministration of death.
The ministration of the Spirit.
(2) The ministration of condemnation.
The ministration of righteousness.