1689 Federalism, differences in substance and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by tdh86, May 17, 2019.

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  1. tdh86

    tdh86 Puritan Board Freshman

    Greetings from the UK in the name of the Lord Jesus!

    This is a question for fellow 1689ers really but feel free to contribute anyway...

    I would see myself as a 1689 federalist. I agree that there is a difference in substance between the Old and New Covenants rather than just a difference in administration. What I'm wrestling with at the moment is the question of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the Old Covenant.

    It seems to me that most 1689 federalists would say there is no substantial difference between the working of the Holy Spirit before and after Pentecost in the sense that they would say that believers under both the Old and New Covenants are regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit. Now, I think it's pretty clear that regeneration by the work of the Holy Spirit is imperative to the work of salvation under any covenant. But does the Spirit's regenerating work necessitate an indwelling? I know that the Lord says of Joshua, for instance, that the spirit is in him; but is that the same as having the Comforter as the Lord promised to His disciples? Would a special indwelling which characterises the New Covenant not be one of the main substantial differences between the New and the Old?

    I'm learning here so please be patient with me.

    Grace and peace,
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Consider the fact that without the indwelling of the HS in a believer, one would be subject to immediate apostasy.

    Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    This comes down to degrees...the Pentecost experience was an amplification of grace, for the event and time.

  3. tdh86

    tdh86 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for the reply Scott. That's another verse that surely has to apply across the covenants. Like I said in my o.p., I think it's very clear that the Spirit was at work in the lives of believers in the Old Testament. I guess I'm trying to get my head round how much of a practical difference in the operation of the Holy Spirit there is in the New Covenant. I'm presuming that, as a Presbyterian, you would say that there is no difference in substance anyway... Whereas 1689 Federalism says there is.
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    That would depend on what u mean by ‘substance’. If u are using it in the immutable sense, I agree. If u use it to describe the quantity, as a Presbyterian, I would disagree. in my opinion, the paraklete is an amplification of the pneuma hagion for a short season to propel the NT church into her next level.
  5. tdh86

    tdh86 Puritan Board Freshman

    That's actually really helpful to hear it so simply put. Your article was helpful too so thanks for that!
  6. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    I do not believe there is actually a difference between the two here. The difference is that we believe the work of the Holy Spirit during the OT was a function of the New Covenant, which the saints participated in "in advance" whereas the Presbyterians would say it was a function of the Old Covenant.

    What we see at Pentecost was an external display of the Holy Spirit as a sign of the formal inauguration of the New Covenant. See this from the FAQ page:

    See also

    And consider also 2LBCF 21.1 (compare with WCF 20.1). The Scripture reference provided for that specific statement (“fuller communication”) is John 7:38-39.

    Here is what Owen says in his section on 17 differences between Old and New:
    Hope that helps. Consider also http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=22410110150
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  7. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    Hebrews 11 recounts the faith of the saints of old. That in my mind would not have been possible if they were not in some measure indwelt by God's Spirit. As to what difference there is between the Spirit's operations at that time and the present, I think it lies in degree and not in substance. Similar to revelation, the saints of old had revelation from God, but not to the same degree that we do today. Our Lord says in Luke 10:24, "Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." In like manner, they did indeed have the Spirit, but not to the fuller degree that believers enjoy him now in the New Covenant.
  8. tdh86

    tdh86 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks so much for your reply Brandon. This was really really helpful. I tend to try to reduce ideas down to help get my head around them and I hadn't managed to do that with on this topic but the articles and the sermon you shared have definitely helped to clear things up. Praise God for His provision of able teachers to His church! :)
  9. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m not sure that is accurate of a Presbyterian viewpoint. We would see the HS works as a function of the COG. The works of the HS beyond regeneration/indwelling were through shadows and types in the OT whereas the fulfillment of the COG in the NC brought about a greater fullness and efficacy.
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    BA is making explicit what is implicit. Accurately stated, there is a true sense (from the Presbyterian view) that it was functional of the Old Covenant--as that covenant was an exhibition, true and formal, of the Covenant of Grace, though mediated by many types and shadows--that all the Persons of the Trinity worked through it, by means of it, for a spiritual end to the human participants (those who participated inwardly and outwardly).

    It is precisely this functionality of the OC that is seized upon by alternate approaches to CT, becoming the bête noire.
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