Blog 72: 2.10.8 - 2.10.13

Phil Ryken

It is sometimes thought that whereas the blessings that God gave to his people in the Old Testament were earthly, the blessings that he promises to give his New Testament people in Christ are heavenly. 

Calvin disagreed with drawing such a sharp distinction between the old and the new covenants.  There is only one way of salvation, he believed, which is one and the same in both testaments. 

Already in the Old Testament, the people of God were looking beyond any earthly blessing to hope for everlasting life.  Calvin proves this from the language of the covenant itself, in which God always promised to be his people's God (e.g. Lev. 26:12)--a spiritual rather than a material promise. 

Calvin believed that God's promise to be our God is the best of all promises.  When he gives us himself, God gives us everything that we could ever need. 

Calvin believed further that God's covenant promise is eternal.  If this were not so, then when God styled himself "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (e.g. Exod. 3:6), he was claiming to be "the God of those who do not exist," which would be a manifest absurdity. 

The patriarchs themselves well understood and firmly believed that the promise of the covenant "extended into eternity."  Calvin demonstrates this in a dramatic way by rehearsing many of the hardships that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob faced during their earthly pilgrimage--a litany of misery.  If these men were living for earthly blessings, then God failed to deliver on the promises he made to them. 

But these men were not living for earthly blessings.  By faith in God's covenant promise, they were looking for a life to come, just like the New Testament people of God.