FREE BOOK: The Fourth Stream

Learn of the doctrine of “Christ the Covenant” that has served to bring together New Covenant Theology advocates whose roots were located in various and diverse theological backgrounds such as Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.

This is a free digital publication published by our own ESS. All we ask of you is that you would read it carefully and freely share with others by providing the following link.

www.takeacopy.com/books/The Fourth Stream.pdf

RESOLUTION: Yours or His?

Is the essence of your take-on-Scripture that it is about your resolution: the act of determining to do better?  Or, is the essence of your take-on-Scripture that it is about God’s resolution: His sharpening our eyes to His both determining and fulfilling all things in Christ?

It could easily be the former and that would be quite natural, in keeping with the Flesh.  As for the latter, this would be in keeping with the Spirit, in accord with the Gospel, the New Covenant.

The Spirit gives and interprets His word, so that we might understand how God has resolved to deal with our sin and open our eyes to see,  increasingly with higher resolution, His righteousness in the face of Christ in all of Scripture.  Christ as both the Promise and Fulfillment of all Scripture!

The Spirit’s single means to opening our eyes, giving us the high-def resolution, is all of Scripture being read through the lens of the New Covenant (the Gospel).  If we miss this means, that, the Spirit gives in-sight by/thru the New Covenant, which is Jesus himself (Isa.42.6; 49.8; Mt.26.28; Lk.22.20; 1Cor.11.25; Heb.13.20; ), we miss the Big Picture made up of the many pixels.  We end up missing the Picture for the pixels.  We end up with the low-def resolution, seeing things as if they were essentially about our “being resolved” (a pixel).

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.

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’.

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.

FUNDAMENTALISM: A few thoughts…

A few thoughts on Fundamentalism:

  1. Differences of opinion…differences are necessary (1Cor.11.19)…and yet, Fundamentalism’s remaining closed to honest inquiry is particularly dangerous.  A studious and humble disposition lends itself to honest inquiry and continual study (broader than the scope of our dogmatic).   Our being ‘too married’ to our present understanding of things tends to ‘divorce’ us from growing up in the knowledge of the Lord.
  2. Fundamentalism…everything tends to be black and white…they hold not only the essential doctrines in a closed fisted manner/mentality, but all their beliefs and practices.
  3. Assumptions are had by all…the question is what grounds we have for such and such assumptions, and, are we willing to reconsider those assumptions in the light of a growing understanding of Scripture within the Body of Christ?
  4. Fundamentalism is known to absolutize the principle “you reap what you sow“.   Perhaps, with less consideration of the broader context of things, and with less charity/humility, this perspective finds it easier to take a course that associates all hardship with personal and intentional sin.  Thus, I’m not throwing out the principle itself, but concerned with misapplying it and misunderstanding the theological distinction between suffering under the OC and NC.
    1. So yes, there is such a principle at work in the world, and yet, the principle doesn’t apply with the same theological breadth now (NC) as it once did (OC).  And, it will be applied universally in the end, to all those who are outside of Christ.  In the OC, obedience = blessing/bliss < and > disobedience = cursing/suffering, as a works-righteousness covenant was in place over the people of God.  However, in the NC, the people of God are under a grace-righteousness covenant, wherein Christ is our blessing thru his own obedience < and > Christ bore our curse thru his own suffering (1Pt.3.18).  Subjectively, under the NC, obedience and suffering are at times related; suffering at times being associated with the will of God, not the result of personal/intentional sin (1Pt.3.17; 4.16,19).  Objectively, under the NC, blessing is associated with faith in God’s promise as opposed to works of our own (Gal.3.9,10,14).
  5. Fundamentalism operates with a faulty hermeneutic…a univocal one.  Seeing both the Text and Time (historical timeframe) in a strict-literalistic way.  Reading all Scripture monolithically (as opposed to the opposite error of Liberalisms mythologically hermeneutic) only at the surface, thus missing something of the theological depth and purposes of all Scripture.
  6. Fundamentalism tends to have a cloister-mentality, not only against the World but within the Church, securing itself against ongoing growth in Truth, hence it becomes stunted and stagnant.
    1. More focused upon “doing” (deeds over creeds)
    2. Missing the higher principle of “knowing” (that governs “doing”)
  7. Fundamentalism is a type of Traditionalism (or Romanticism).
    1. Traditionalist, in that, if it was good enough for so and so to believe this or that, it is good enough for us.
    2. Romantic, in that, it places something of an unwarranted hope in “former times” when believers were “really serious” about God; really committed to “being holy”, etc.
  8. Fundamentalism has a proclivity to think in terms of:
    1. “We are better!”
    2. Rather than, “There are better ways of thinking about this or that.”

I believe that Fundamentalism is natural to all of us.  I believe that Fundamentalism is actually a worldly way of thinking.  I believe that Fundamentalism is a problem present in all branches of the Church.

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.

Hermeneutics: Apostolic

Greg Beale made the following points:

 

“Jesus and the apostles had an unparalleled redemptive-historical perspective on the Old Testament in relation to their own situation…this perspective involved a framework of five hermeneutical and theological presuppositions:

1.      the assumption of corporate solidarity or representation.

 

2.      that Christ is viewed as representing the true Israel of the Old Testament and true Israel, the church, in the New Testament;

 

3.      that history is unified by a wise and sovereign plan so that the earlier parts are designed to correspond and point to the latter parts (cf. Matt. 11:13-14);

 

4.      that the age of eschatological fulfillment has come in Christ;

 

5.      as a consequence of (3) and (4), the fifth presupposition affirms that the latter parts of biblical history function as the broader context to interpret earlier parts because they all have the same ultimate divine author who inspires the various human authors, and one deduction from this premise is that Christ as the center of history is the key to interpreting the earlier portions of the Old Testament and its promises…

 

“Subsequently, New Testament Scripture interprets the Old Testament Scripture by expanding its meaning, seeing new implications in it and giving it new applications…this expansion does not contravene the integrity of the earlier texts but rather develops them in a way which is consistent with the Old Testament author’s understanding of the way in which God interacts with his people – which is the unifying factor between the Testaments. Therefore, the canon interprets the canon; later parts of the canon draw out and explain more clearly the earlier parts.

 

“…If the contemporary church cannot exegete and do theology like the apostles did, how can it feel corporately at one with them in the theological process?

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.).

Debate: Baptism

Here are links to the *baptism debate* between Schreiner and VanDrunen.

Here: Grace Reformation Church

Here: Introduction

Here: Credobaptist View: by Tom Schreiner

Here: Paedobaptist View: by David VanDrunen

Here: Q&A Session

 

Both of these men expressed in a most charitable manner their own particular views.  Well done!

Personally, I most appreciate Schreiner’s argument.  In these sessions he accomplishes more to define a sound biblical/theological view than even the book he co-edited, entitled Believer’s Baptism.  The book was decent, but here in this debate he presents a rather cogent argument of faith in the *word* of the Gospel preceding the *sign* of the Gospel. 

At the end of the day, Schreiner demonstrates what a consistent redemptive-historical scope of Scripture should look like, particularly as it applies to Christ’s person and work being the resolve of all Old Testament covenants.  Schreiner’s thinking maintains the biblical-theological momentum that sets the context for understanding New Covenant baptism.

VanDrunen’s comments certainly have appreciable value.  And, he demonstrated well, within his demeanor, the graciousness of the Gospel ministry. 

Elsewhere, Lee Irons explains how that circumcision and baptism are not equal, as is commonly thought among paedoists.  Of course, Lee isn’t arguing a credoist position but is honest enough to admit that this circumcision/baptism line of thinking doesn’t hold up.   (Sorry, I don’t recall exactly where Irons makes such comments, but it is somewhere within his lengthy The Unfolding Mystery series.

A hearty thanks to Grace Reformation Church for hosting and sharing this debate.  It provides a great resource for us who once baptised our infants and now understand differently.  As we listened to the entirety of the debate, my 13yr old twins and 15yr old had opportunity to hear both sides and be able to see something of the concerns that dear old dad (and mom!) had/has, which disrupted our relations with the local Presbyterian church.  It was interesting to hear their comments that were prompted by the arguments themselves. 

For me personally, it was coming to understand the currents of redemptive history that caused me (after years of consciously embracing a paedoist systematic) to question the validity of what is now seen as a rather mono-lithic view, paedoism.  Actually, as I studied Vos, Kline, Ridderbos, Calvin, Goldsworthy, Irons, Riddlebarger and others, their fine two-age/two-adam/two-kingdom/law|gospel hermeneutic began to cause me to question their handling of the promise/fulfillment in Christ as it pertained to baptism.  As this developed over the course of a few years, I began to take a closer look at the ‘proof texts’ for paedoism, and became convinced otherwise.  It was then, that, I began to listen to what Baptist’s had to say and found some of it to be quite weak.  In time, I happened upon materials by folks like Schreiner, which helped confirm what I was now seeing in the Text. 

 

Just do it!

John Piper once preached:

What Then Shall Those Who Are Justified Do with the Law of Moses?

Read it and meditate on it as those who are dead to it as the ground of your justification and the power of your sanctification. Read it and meditate on it as those for whom Christ is your righteousness and Christ is your sanctification. Which means read and mediate on it to know Christ better and to treasure him more. Christ and the Father are one (John 10:30; 14:9). So to know the God of the Old Testament is to know Christ. The more you see his glory and treasure his worth, the more you will be changed into his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), and love the way he loved – which is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).

I say it again. What shall you do with the law – you who are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law? Read it and meditate on it to know more deeply than you have ever known, the justice and mercy of God in Christ, your righteousness and your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon this Slippery Rock

Chris Arnzen, host of Iron Sharpens Iron, interviewed  Eric Svendsen, author of: Upon this Slipper Rock

 

In the course of their discussion a number of helpful points were made, that address Roman Catholic attempts to “denigrate the Scriptures in their zeal to promote the authority of Rome.”