Salvation Conditional in the Abrahamic Covenant

 From the book

If Ye Continue, By Guy Duty


In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram. (Gen. 15: 18)

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee. (Gen. 17-4) And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations. (Gen. 17:7)


IT WILL BE HELPFUL IF WE FIRST KNOW what an ancient covenant was. The Hebrew word for covenant is berith, and the Greek word is diatheke. The Definition of covenant in Hebrew and Greek is: “will”- “purpose”- “disposition.”

The reader can check this definition of covenant in some of the leading lexicons.


A Bible covenant was God’s declaration of His “will-purpose-­disposition” toward those with whom He entered into covenant. In making His gracious proposals to men, God, the Covenantor, expressed His will and purpose to His people, the covenantees. He pledged himself that something is done, or would be done, for the covenantees upon the performance by the covenantees of such conditions as stated in the covenant. We shall see many proofs as we proceed to show that God’s covenants were conditional.

There is much nonsense taught in theology with the phrase, “Sovereign will of God.” The Eternal Security teachers use it often. And some of them use it without explaining what they mean by it. The Bible does not use it. It is a term invented by men and loaded with a meaning about predestination that the Bible does not bear. Other doctrines are also taught by other teachers with words and terms that the Bible does not use.

God’s covenant with Abraham imposed a severe condition from the beginning.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee… So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him. (Gen. 12: 1-4)


The history of Israel begins with Abraham. In Scripture he is called the “father” of the Jewish people. Proud Jews claimed that they were Abraham’s children (Matt. 3:9). All God’s dealings with Israel-past, present, and future–are founded in the Abrahamic Covenant. Salvation is based on the Abrahamic Covenant–and this was a conditional covenant.

Other Bible covenants also have their foundation in the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is embodied in, and is carried through, each succeeding covenant. The New Covenant is based on the Abrahamic Covenant. God’s eternal purpose of salvation was conceived “before the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34; Eph.1:4), but this pur­pose is accomplished through the Abrahamic Covenant. Our Saviour was “slain before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8); but the Saviour said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).


Paul stressed the fact that Christ is the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). The Abrahamic Covenant is the basis of many Messianic prophecies. All redemption is based on the Abrahamic Covenant, al­though conceived before the foundation of the world.. And it began with God’s call to Abraham.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not know­ing whither he went. (Heb. 11:8)

This was the first condition of the Abrahamic Covenant. And anyone able to recognize a fact when he sees it cannot deny that it was a condition. What God promised to do for Abraham was conditional upon his leaving his country, home, and kindred. He had to forsake all who would not go with him. If Abraham had not “obeyed” this condition, probably we would never have heard of him.

Doubtless Abraham was fondly attached to his native home, and it may not have been easy for him to forsake the family ties and cherished affections. But “by faith” he left all and went out to a life of testing as God’s covenant-partner. He was a wanderer in the earth, living in tents in a “strange country” (Heb. 11:9).

Had he “been mindful of that country” he left, he could have returned (Heb. 11: 15). There was no constraint, no coercion. Abraham acted with his own free will and choice. He obeyed God’s call, and it is nonsense to speak of obedience without free choice.

It should be evident even to the casual reader that God’s predestinating purpose in Abraham’s life was related to, and conditional upon, a call to separation and obedience that required the acting of faith. Predestination does not stand alone in the Scrip­tures. It is related to, and is conditional upon, other truths.

Here are a few examples:

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glori­fied. (Rom. 8: 30)


This is the way it was with Abraham. His calling and justification were part of God’s predestinating purpose. Between Abraham’s predestination and glorification, he was “called” and “justified.” God, in predestinating Abraham’s glorification, also predestinated the means for this. The Apostles gave much emphasis to this fact of God’s call.

We are “called to be saints” (I Cor. l:2).”God hath … called us… unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:7). We are “called” to “fight the good fight of faith”– “called” to “lay hold on eternal life” (I Tim. 6: 12).

God has “called us with an holy calling” (II Tim.l:9). “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy” (I Pet. 1:15). These and other texts give strong support to the fact that predestination does not stand alone in the Scriptures.

In the writings of the Eternal Security teachers, you will not find predestination used in relation to these conditional subjects. They would destroy their case for unconditional salvation if they did. In dis­connecting predestination from these truths, they are guilty of a dangerous distortion of God’s Word. And if we used the same method of interpretation on other doctrines, we could destroy the meaning of other important Bible truths. Some of the most dangerous errors in Christianity today are the results of this method of interpretation.

God called Abraham to forsake all. And Jesus said, Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)


This forsaking all is the acting of faith. It is the work of faith, not the “works of the law.” Salvation is God’s grace and love and mercy to sinful mankind. It is not for man to boast or glory in the works of his faith. The acts of his faith are the ful­filling of God’s conditions for salvation. Abraham, by his faith, fulfilled the conditions of God’s calling in his life, and Paul said that all who have faith will also “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Rom. 4: 12). The forsake-all condition was clearly stated by Jesus as a requirement to be His disciple.


We now consider the second condition in the Abrahamic Covenant.

I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (Gen. 17: 1-4)­


The first condition required that Abraham leave his country and kindred. The second condition commanded him to “walk” (continually) before God. He left Chaldea by faith, and by a continual act of faith, he satisfied the covenant condition of a continual walk before God. Men talk much about the sovereign will of God in relation to salvation, but divine sovereignty imposed these covenant conditions upon Abraham. Not to have obeyed these con­ditions would have been disobedience, unbelief, and an offense to divine sovereignty.


New Covenant law has the same moral conditions as the Abrahamic Covenant. We must “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham.” This truth has frequent emphasis in the New Cove­nant.

In Romans 6:4, we “walk in newness of life.” In Luke 1:6, God’s covenant members walk “in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” In John 12:35, the New Covenantor commanded: “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” Our only security and protection against darkness is to walk in the light.

In Galatians 6: 16, Paul gave his blessing to those who “walk according to this rule” of New Testament righteousness. In Ephesians 5:2, 8, we are commanded by the New Covenant apostle to “walk in love” and to “walk as children of light.” Colossians 1:1, tells us to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” From Galatians 5:16, we are told we must “walk in the Spirit.” I John 1:6 says that those who profess to be saved and “walk in darkness” are liars. I John 2:6 declares: He who is saved “ought himself also to walk, even as he walked. ” III John 4 says that the true children of God “walk in truth.” Those who are not of the truth walk in “lusts” (I Pet. 4: 3) . Paul gave us a test by which we can determine who is of God and who is not. He said we are to “mark them which walk,” and if they walk according to the “ensample” Paul gave us, then they obey the New Covenant conditions and are saved (Phil. 3: 17). Those who fail the walk-test are not saved.


Is not the New Covenant opposed to the teaching that our salvation does not depend on “anything that we may or may not do”?

In Genesis 17: 9-14, the Covenantor added the third condition to the Abrahamic Covenant:

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your fore­skin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you….  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an ever­ lasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circum­cised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.


Abraham and his family were placed under this covenant condition. Those who did not obey the condition were “cut off” from the covenant. Covenant-breakers were not allowed to remain in the covenant family. God told Abraham in verse 4:

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee…. ” The Pulpit Commentary

 comments on this: as for me, is equivalent to ‘so far as I am concerned,’ or ‘I, for my part.’ “


God had His part in the covenant, and Abraham and his family had their parts. God offered His covenant to men, and for His part, as far as He was concerned, it was done. God recognizes His oath-bound covenant responsibilities to perform and make good His promises. The Covenator fixed the con­ditions and pledged himself to His covenantees. If the covenantees broke the covenant conditions, they were cut off from the covenant. They forfeited their covenant rights.

Abraham lived by faith and obedience to the covenant conditions. God required that he “keep” the covenant, and no one could remain in the covenant who did not likewise keep its conditions. There was no such security as once in the covenant, always in the covenant.


In the Old Testament covenants the death penalty was often inflicted for covenant violations. We shall see more of this in the Sinai Covenant. We look now at the fourth condition in the Abrahamic Covenant.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offer­ing upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (Gen. 22: 1,2, 10-12)


This was doubtless the greatest test of Abraham’s life. It was Abraham who was tested. Some teachers deny free will and liberty of choice, and say it is all sovereign will. But if Abraham was not tested with his free will and choice, then, what was it that was tested that day on Moriah’s mount? Surely, God was not testing His own sovereign will. Observe what God said about Abraham after the test:

By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for be­cause thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiply­ing I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen. 22: 16-18)


Now, dear reader, with these facts before us, I ask you a fair question: When God said, “because thou hast done this thing… because thou hast obeyed my voice,” by all the laws of language and logic, does this not prove that God’s covenant dealings with Abraham were conditional? Would God have made the promises to Abraham if he had not obeyed these conditions? Consider another fact. When God told Isaac to go down into Egypt, He said:

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed: Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Gen. 26:3-5)


The Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary is one of the highly respected commentaries, and in their exposition of the above Scripture, they present both the divine and human parts of the Abrahamic Covenant:

The Covenant securing these blessings originated entirely in Divine grace; but it was suspended on the condition that Abraham should walk before God…and since he had through the grace which had enabled him to attain an extraordinary strength of faith, fully met that condition by an obedience honored with the strongest expression of Divine approval, -­Isaac, his son, was now assured that the covenant would progressively take effect…. God had foreknowledge of Abraham, but this foreknowledge did not make him a predestinated puppet. This foreknowledge did not dispense with the covenant conditions; it did not set aside the requirements for faith and obedience. The covenant fulfillments did not come to Abraham by God’s foreknowledge without Abraham’s fulfillment of the conditions.

Three times God connected the covenant fulfillments with-­”Because thou hast done this thing…because thou hast obeyed my voice.” This is also indicated in Genesis 18:19, where God said He knew Abraham and what he would do: For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judg­ment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

This text teaches that God chose Abraham to do His will and to carry out His purposes “that” the covenant blessings might come upon him. The Hebrew for “that” means, literally, “to the end that,” “in order that” the blessings might come upon him. “His habitual attention to, and faithful performance of, these duties, was a compliance with the conditions on which the Divine promises had been made to him.”

Dr. S. R. Driver (1846-1914). Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford was one of the revisers of the English translation of the Old Testament (1876-1884) and one of the top-ranking Old Testament authorities of modern times.

Professor Driver wrote concerning the condition of the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 17:1-4; he said: “Upon this condition … God grants His covenant” to Abraham. “Walk before me, and be thou blameless.” “The condition Abraham is called upon to fulfill … [is] the duty of leading generally a righteous and holy life.    

Upon this condition …God grants His covenant.” On the command that Abraham offer up Isaac, Professor Driver said: “God tested Abraham to ascertain whether his faith is real. When Jesus was teaching in Israel, His sharpest rebukes went to a group of hypocritical Jews called Pharisees. They boasted that Abraham was their father, and they considered themselves the predestinated heirs of Abraham’s eternal kingdom. But Jesus exposed them with one test:

They answered and said unto him. Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, lf ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. (John 8:39)


Jesus, with this Abrahamic works-test, exposed them as being of “your father the devil” (v. 44). The true spiritual sons of Abraham will continually obey God’s covenant conditions, as Abraham did. Abraham did not have a one-act-of-faith experience.

Christ here made the New Covenant conditional by imposing similar conditions as those required of Abraham.

The New Covenant is founded on the Abrahamic Covenant. Salvation is of the Jews. Abraham is the “father of us all” (Rom. 4:16).


The Abrahamic Covenant was for Abraham and “thy seed after thee in their generations.” This covenant was not stripped of its conditions as it passed to Abraham’s descendants. It was not conditional for Abraham and unconditional for his seed.

Not only salvation but the Kingdom of God is founded on the Abrahamic Covenant. And membership in the Kingdom is conditional. In my book on the Covenants, I have given many Biblical proofs for the fact that the Kingdom of God is founded on the Abrahamic Covenant.

God gave Abraham an everlasting covenant and an everlasting kingdom “because” he obeyed God’s covenant conditions. God also gives us an eternal covenant of life if we “do the works of Abraham.” The Bible tells us more about Abrallam’s faith than about the faith of anyone, it is held up to our view as a model of faith. It was a faith that exhibited his works, and Jesus required the same works of faith from those who claimed salvation in New Testament times.


The works of Abraham were continual. From Chaldea where he was called to forsake all, to Moriah’s mount, where he was commanded to offer up his son Isaac. Abraham believed and obeyed.

God’s covenants carry a guaranteed security. They are instruments of certainty. They are Covenants of Surety. But this divine suretyship is denied to all who violate its conditions. So, it is not a question of what is in the covenant, but who is in it. Again, these covenants had no such security as once in the covenant, always in the covenant, unless one continued in the covenant.

The facts of the Abrahamic Covenant force us to the conclusion that God’s covenant of salvation to Abraham was conditional. The leave-all condition, the walk-before-me condition, and the offerup-Isaac condition place it beyond all reasonable doubt. Salvation is of the Jews. The Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation of Jewish salvation. The Abrahamic Covenant is conditional.


IF YE CONTINUE, Guy Duty 1966

Bethany House Publishers

Reproduced with permission




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