Adam's first day on this earth was a Sabbath day. God created man on the sixth day, and the first complete day that man had was the Sabbath, and that Sabbath day becomes the first day for man. Carried over to the New Testament, where God finishes and perfects His new creation work in the Lord Jesus, and enters into His rest, it is God's Sabbath, and there we begin. That is our first day – God's rest.
We begin in something that is already perfect. This is the ground of "the everlasting covenant". To grasp the significance of that is to see what the "eternal covenant" is, to come right in on a perfect ground and start there. It is not how we regard ourselves or how we feel about it, but it is God's place for us. The fact is, beloved, that in Jesus Christ you and I will never be more perfect than we are now. Those perfections may be wrought into us progressively, but, so far as the ground of our acceptance is concerned, we are "accepted in the Beloved One", and He wholly satisfies the Father; the Father has come to rest in Him. The work is perfect.
Our acceptance is always on the ground of God's end reached. Till that is settled, we have no steadying thing when God begins to work in us. Do not forget that. If, when God begins to deal with us in discipline and chastening, in training and moulding and formation, we begin at any moment to say, This is all because I am so bad, so wicked, and the Lord has got to do something with me in order that I may be acceptable, we have given our ground away. We shall never be more acceptable, however much the Lord does in us. We have been accepted, not on the ground of what we are, however bad or good that may be, but on the ground of The Beloved. "Accepted in the Beloved One".
We sing – and I wish we would lay it to heart more and more – that His perfections are the measure of our own acceptance. That is where we start. Blessed be God, that is the ground of confidence, and when the Lord begins to take us in hand and we begin to feel what wretched creatures we are, that never implies for a single moment that we are not accepted. The eternal covenant means here, in the first place, that we are accepted on the ground of God's satisfaction with His Son. If we were accepted on our own ground, where we stand in ourselves, there would be no eternal covenant, no ground of security at all. It would be a matter of how we might be tomorrow. But no, it is not a matter of how we are or shall be. The ground is settled in Christ. Now, God is only getting to work to make good in us what is true in His Son, but it does not change the ground. Do not let us give our ground away.
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Mar-Apr 1940, Vol 18-2