Does the New Covenant take away Israel’s free will?


by Shawn Brasseaux

No. The Bible verses about the New Covenant causes a Calvinist to say, “See, God’s grace cannot be resisted! He has chosen Israel and she must follow His will!” Indeed, while God has chosen the nation Israel to serve Him, individuals within the nation are given the free will to cooperate with Him by faith or rebel against Him in unbelief. Whoever in Israel trusts His Son automatically falls under the New Covenant.

The primary New Covenant passage is Jeremiah chapter 31: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [34] And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Now, Ezekiel 36:24-28: “[24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. [25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. [28] And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

The Jews under the New Covenant will have the indwelling Holy Spirit just as we Christians do today. After all, without the strengthening of the third Member of the Godhead, they are as powerless in doing God’s will as we would be powerless.

John chapter 14: “[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…. [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

John chapter 16: “[13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

Luke 24:49: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (See also Acts 1:4-5 and Acts chapter 2, the coming of the Holy Spirit on Israel’s Little Flock.)

As concerning Israel under the New Covenant (which is yet future from us), the individual Jews have already exercised faith in God’s Word to them. Redeemed Israelites (corporately, redeemed Israel) came to faith in Christ—already making a willful choice—prior to the inauguration of that covenant. They knew they would have their sin nature removed and they came by faith to God in order for Him to do just that for them. At the beginning of the Millennium and onward into eternity future, their sin nature will be removed. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, they will automatically and completely accomplish God’s will.

One day, friends, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we will have our sin nature removed as well. When we get to Heaven, sin will no longer be an issue for us. Until then, we are exhorted in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.” We are also encouraged to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The implication here is we most definitely can (!) and do (!) refuse to let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts and lives. If we Christians were unable to sin, such instructions would be completely unnecessary. We have free will even now, after coming to Christ. We exercised volition when we trusted the Gospel of the Grace of God in order to pass from eternal death to eternal life. The difference between Israel and us is that we have a relationship with Almighty God through the blood of Jesus Christ apart from any covenants (Ephesians 2:13).

Historical, national Israel most surely can—and did—refuse Almighty God. Most individuals within the nation rejected Jesus Christ and demanded His crucifixion. The Lord Jesus declared in Matthew 23:37-39: “[37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! [38] Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. [39] For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” He also stated in John 5:43: I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (Since they rejected Jesus, they will receive Antichrist. Again, God gives them over to free will!) The Holy Spirit through Stephen accused Israel in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”

Also see:
» How are we “able ministers of the new testament?”
» How did the Israeli patriarchs “resist” the Holy Ghost?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?