CHRIST: The Unity/Disunity of Old and New Covenants

* NCT on Continuity *

OC/NC continuity exists in the Person of Jesus.  He’s in the OC shadows and then comes forth in NC glory (Col.2.17; Heb.8.5; 10.1; 2Cor.3.10).  ALL of Scripture is the revelation of Jesus (Lk.24.27; Acts3.22; Jn.5.46).

* NCT on Discontinuity *

ALL prior covenantal form/function is transformed (reformed – Heb.9.10; 7.12; Jer.31.31-34) in the Person of Jesus, who is the New Covenant himself (Isa.42.6; 49.6,8; Zec.9.11; Lk.22.20; Heb.13.20).

* NCT on OC Law *

1)      Provoked sin/Promised life

2)     Represented Adam

3)     Prefigured Christ (then)

4)     Incarnate in Christ (now)

* NCT on CT *

1)      CT emphasis = continuity of covenants

2)     NCT emphasis =  FULFILLMENT in Christ!

* NCT on God’s one eternal purpose *

1)      Fulfilled in Jesus (Eph.3.11)

2)     Fully revealed thru Jesus (Eph.1.9-10)

Jesus is our covenant and our law, just as he is our union and our righteousness.

QUESTION: Eternal Law?

In response to a question from a friend at church, about the notion of an Eternal Law and Romans 5 & 7:

Personally, I don’t believe Paul’s (pre-Christian) existence was ever apart from the Mosaic Law. As was Jesus, so too Paul was “born under the law”…all Jews were. (Consider Gal.4:4; Phil.3:5) Gentiles, though not having been born under the Law, per se, were born under the condemnation of Adam’s law-transgression. So they all, Gentiles and Jews are born condemned by the transgression of another. More about this below.

As for the “eternality” of law…we know that the Mosaic Law wasn’t eternal, in that it was set in place over Israel 50 days after the Passover and not before. As for the Law of Christ…it (the Rule of the Spirit) was given 50 days after his becoming the Passover, at Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Lord held forth his Scepter, Rule, in the sense that he sent forth his Spirit to now indwell (rule-within) his people. This new law, Holy Spirit Indwelling, operates antithetically to the Old Law, Mosaic.

The Mosaic Law-Precept: which provokes the Flesh unto Sin – being merely external demand of righteousness. (note: all external laws have this same impact on believer and unbeliever)

The Messianic Law-Spirit: who promotes a faith unto righteousness – being an internal creator of righteousness.

(Consider 2Cor.3:3)

I follow the reasoning…God is eternal…therefore…his law is eternal. It seems a rational inference, but I’m not sure it is a biblical one. Rather, I think Paul would have us to see the Mosaic Law typologically…being a shadowy reflection of that righteousness which is revealed in the person Jesus Christ. (Consider Rom.3:21-22)

Now, Israel was once without the Law…pre-Exodus captivity in Egypt. Once the Law came…they sinned instantly. (Consider Ex.32:4) Note: in Ex.19:7-8 the people had already begun to receive the Law, though it was yet (Ex.20ff) to be engraved in stone. It was the actual giving of the Law in Ex.19 that provoked Israel to idolatry, golden calf. (Consider Rom.5:20; Gal.3:19)

Those who lived prior to this covenant law giving, are those who lived from Adam to Moses. They lived under the death-reign earned by Adam because of his one transgression, though their individual sins were not counted as command transgressions as was Adam’s, who was like the One to come, Christ. We believe then that Adam and Christ both function as representative heads under two particular commands. How each succeeded under his respective command determined the fate of all those whom they represented, even though those represented did not themselves transgress or uphold the particular command. (Consider Rom.5:14-19)

The Law was given then (Rom.5:20) to increase the trespass of Adam, confirming that all men are condemned in Adam, apart from Christ. Israel then typified Adam as Adam prefigured Christ. Israel was created under a command context like the one Adam was created under, and hereby God illustrates in one people (Israel) the nature and effect of Adam’s one transgression, thus setting up a command context in which the Messiah would fulfill all righteousness, thereby winning salvation and bearing our sin.

THOUGHTS ON: NC Thinking

From a discussion held elsewhere:

The COG paradigm is not going to be found in NC thinking.  Though there are of course gracious elements to the Old Covenant…that Covenant itself wouldn’t be seen as gracious, as is the New Covenant.  OC is per Code (Do this and live!).  NC is per Christ (Having done this that we might live!).

The driving force behind NC thinking is “Christ as the unity of all redemption and revelation.”  This makes the idea of “covenant” to be something other than a primary motif, though it certainly factors into the role of Christ as hermeneutical key.

Unity is thought to be in Christ himself, filling up and fulfilling all covenants leading unto the Incarnation.  Essentially, Christ is understood to be the incarnation of all that the OC Law demands and OC Prophets promise.  Hence, typologically speaking, Christ is the link between the OC covenants as they unfold throughout the OT.

All OC typological (ectypal) realities are subsumed in Christ, the archetypal reality.

Christ would be understood as the colligate of all redemption and revelation, and not a theological category of ‘covenant of grace’.

LAW: of Christ

A few thoughts on the Law of Christ:

1) Law of Christ is not essentially an external ‘code’ we abide by.
2) Law of Christ is not merely an ethic.
3) Law of Christ is Christ, indwelling by the Spirit, thereby ruler of our hearts through faith, bearing fruit unto God.

The Law of Christ/Spirit/Faith is the personal work of God within those he possess, the results of which bears out a two-fold love, of God and neighbor. The former being generated by his love *for* us; the latter being his love shed *in* us.

The Law of Christ is the Indwelling Incarnate (Spirit written on the heart) to which former shadowy types pointed. This New Law differs in *form*…being the living God in us, not merely his code outside of us. This New Law differs in *function*…causing his own people to obey, not provoking them to sin.

The New and Old Law bear the likeness to their respective covenants. The New is the fullness of all prior covenants, in Christ’s fulfilling all the old Law and Prophets, which testify to him. The New Law and Spirit of Prophecy is Christ himself. Christ is the Incarnation of all former types: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc; none of which covenants continue binding in form or function upon the people of God under the New Covenant.

NCT: Christ Over All Things

A must read:  Chad Bresson: What is New Covenant Theology

Excellent; excellent!

I trust this will prove to be something of a catalyst in aiding people to think seriously about the NEWNESS of the NC in Christ.

Appreciate the labor! May the Lord continue to bless, providing us a clearer vision of God’s face in Christ Jesus. He continues to rend the veil that we might behold, believe and be-formed.

Newness: of New Covenant

Richard Gaffin on Fullness of Revelation and Redemption in Christ, the New Covenant:

“From the viewpoint of redemptive history – covenant history in its ongoing, epochal movement toward consummation – there is the most radical contrast. In this respect I will yield to no one in stressing the absolute, “dispensational” difference before and after Pentecost. Before Christ – before his climactic coming in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10), “at the end of the ages” (Heb. 9:26; cf. 1:2) – there is nothing, nothing of substance, only anticipatory, evanescent (Heb. 8:13) shadows cast in advance (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1). With and after Christ’s coming there is everything; he is, without precedent, God’s (finally) revealed “fullness” (Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:19; 2:9) … (Preincarnate) Christ and the Holy Spirit are surely active throughout the old covenant (e.g., I Cor. 10:3-4), but only anomalously, “out of season,” in advance, and, above all, on the basis of who the last Adam was to become, “the life-giving Spirit.” In the redemptive-historical sense … the “not yet” of John 7:39 is to be taken at face value; it is absolute, unqualified.” (Pentecost: Before and After, p. 12)

Two: Covenants, Communities, and Stages

Meredith Kline once wrote:

“They [two covenantal canons] are bound to one another in organic spiritual-historical relationship. They both unfold the same principle of redemptive grace, moving forward to a common eternal goal in the city of God. The blessings of old and new orders derive from the very same works of satisfaction accomplished by the Christ of God, and where spiritual life is found in either order it is attributable to the creative action of the one and selfsame Spirit of Christ. …The continuity between them is evident even in the area of their distinctive formal polities. For when we reckon with the *invisible* dimension of the New Testament order, specifically with the heavenly kingship of the glorified Christ over his church, we perceive that the governmental structure of the New Testament order is like that of the old Israel is a theocratic monarchy.

“Nevertheless, at the level of its *visible* structure there are obvious and important differences between the new covenant community and the old organization of God’s people. …When the full weight is given to these differences, the Old and New Testaments, which respectively define and establish these two structures, will be clearly seen as two separate and distinct architectural models for the house of God in two quite separate and distinct stages of its history. The distinctiveness of the two community organizations brings out the individual integrity of the two Testaments which serve as community rules for the two orders.  

Canonicity: Distinct Canons

Meredith Kline once wrote:
“Together the old and new covenant canons share in redemption’s eschatological movement with its pattern of renewal, of promise and Messianic fulfillment, the latter is the semi-eschatological and consummate stages….As polities for two different covenant orders, the Mosaic and the Messianic, the two covenantal canons stand over against one another, each in its own individual literary-legal unity and completeness.

Covenant: A Governing Thought

One more program from Issues, Etc.. 

Go here, to listen to Kim Riddlebarger discuss the differences/similarities between Calvinism and Lutheranism.   Helpful conversation.  Kim expresses pretty well the basic difference as having to do with the biblical notion of “covenant(s)” and how it needs to govern one’s reading of Scripture.   

Covenant: Context of

William Dumbrell is said to have uttered:

“[T]he Sermon on the Mount is a ‘covenant recall to Israel’ which ‘recalled Israel to the covenant and had the reconstitution of scattered Israel in mind.'”

EXACTLY, and others have likewise concluded the same.

The Sermon on the Mount is not for the Church of Jesus Christ to assume as a direct ethical prescription.  To miss the covenantal framework in which this passage is set, is to miss the heart of what Christ was declaring as the Last and Greatest Prophet of Israel.  The majority view has long been one of assuming Christ is here conveying the ethical scheme the New Covenant Community would live and die by, when in reality it is the Scheme Christ himself would live and die under.

Unfortunately, this (the majority view) is nothing more than an abstract, a-covenantal reading of the text.

New Covenant: Priority of Indicative

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones once wrote:

“[T]he Sermon on the Mount is a description of character and not a code of ethics or of morals. It is not to be regarded as a law- a kind of new ‘Ten Commandments’ or set of rules and regulations which are to be carried out by us-but rather as a description of what we Christians are meant to be” (D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Vol.1, [IVP, 1966], 23).

New Cov’t: Christ-dispensation

Gerhardus Vos once wrote:

 

“[T]the greater distinction of the ministry of the New Covenant springs from this that it is in the closest conceivable manner bound up with the person and work of the Savior.  It is a Christ-dispensation in the fullest sense of the word.  What is possessed by the New Covenant is not the glory of God as such, but the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Gospel: Wherein We Behold Christ’s Present Glory

Gerhardus Vos once preached:

 

“In the Judaistic controversy which shook the early church, forces and tendencies were at work deeply rooted in the sinful human heart.  In modernized apparel they confront us still to the present day. There are still abroad forms of Christless gospel. There prevails still a subtle form of legalism which would rob the Savior of his crown of glory, earned by the cross, and would make of him a second Moses, offering us the stones of the law instead of the life-bread of the gospel. Let us pray that it may be given to the church to repudiate and cast out this error with the resoluteness of Paul. Let us pray that the gospel of Christ might be preached by Christ’s servants and thus be what it was to Paul and his converts, a mirror of vision and transfiguration after the image of the Lord.”

Continuity: of Fulfillment (from Law to Gospel)

Just pondering this evening…

 

1) The matter of getting the Law right: grasping Paul’s covenantal understanding of both the Law and Gospel – Rom.2&7; Gal.4; and 2Cor.3.

 

2) Unfortunately, we can get the Gospel right only to again find our mingling it with the Law, due to our missing the *continuity of fulfillment* between the two covenants in Christ.

 

3) Denying this continuity: we are left seeing Christ’s person and work in obscurity (i.e., the typical tertius usus legis, etc.).

Aeons: Christ/Adam

Mike Horton once said:

“It becomes clear that this two-age model is concerned not with two worlds or realms, but with two ages, one inferior to the other not for any necessary or ontological reasons but for situational and ethical ones…. To be ‘in the Spirit’ is not to be ontologically spiritual as opposed to physical, but to be ‘in Christ’ rather than ‘in Adam,’ to belong ‘to the age to come’ rather than to ‘this present evil age,’ to be ‘children of the resurrection’ of whom Jesus Christ is the ‘firstfruits.’ The age of the Spirit is not contrasted with that of the flesh, says Ridderbos, ‘first and foremost as an individual experience… but as the new way of existence which became present time with the coming of Christ…. This being in the Spirit is not a mystical, but an eschatological, redemptive-historical, category.'”

Faith: Greatest Grace!

John Owen once wrote:

“Wherefore we say, the faith whereby we are justified, is such as is not found in any but those who are made-partakers of the Holy Ghost, and by him united unto Christ, whose nature is renewed, and in whom there is a principle of all grace, and purpose of obedience. Only we say, it is not any other grace, as charity and the like, nor any obedience, that gives life and form unto this faith; but it is this faith that gives life and efficacy unto all other graces, and form unto all evangelical obedience.

“…if it be intended that they are such a condition of the covenant as to be by us performed antecedently unto the participation of any grace, mercy, or privilege of it, so as that they should be the consideration and procuring cause of them, – that they should be all of them, as some speak, the reward of our faith and obedience, – it is most false, and not only contrary to express testimonies of Scripture, but destructive of the nature of the covenant itself.