Kingdom and Covenant

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Petty France, Dec 9, 2011.

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  1. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    In my humble estimation, there is an important element missing in most discussions of covenant theology, whether past or present. That element is the relation between kingdom and covenant.

    Discussions of covenant theology swirl round and round because they tend to be somewhat abstract. The terminology used in such discussions has not always helped either. For example, the terms "administration" and "covenant community" are frequently nebulous in their meaning. The theme of kingdom and covenant helps to concretize and clarify these words. It also helps to get to the core of questions like "is the Abrahamic Covenant, in its substance and essence, in continuity with the Covenant of Grace," "is the Mosaic Covenant a covenant of works," and "what's new about the New Covenant?" Relating Kingdom to Covenant is not simply a helpful method of organizing the data of the debate, or a "well it just works" solution, but rather it is a scriptural and theological reality which demands incorporation into considerations of covenant theology.

    So then, what is the relation between kingdom and covenant? Simply put, covenants are kingdom administration. A kingdom cannot function or exist apart from a document or commitment that establishes its boundaries, its constituent members, and that which it offers (blessings or curses). Covenants play this role precisely. Covenants establish the boundaries of the kingdom-realm, the members of the kingdom-people, and the duties/privileges of the parties. By way of covenant, every party involved in a kingdom can know how to act and what to expect. Thus kingdoms manifest themselves in visible forms through the terms of their covenant. Covenants are kingdom administration. Does this fit the biblical data?

    Human history begins with a kingdom and a covenant, the Kingdom of God and the Covenant of Works. God placed Adam in the garden as representative king over creation and commissioned him to guard the purity of the garden and to fill the earth with godly offspring. The Kingdom of God was to take shape through Adam and his posterity, and the Covenant of Works defined the way in which that would be done: through perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience. The eschatological Kingdom of God was set before man from the very beginning, and the Covenant of Works was its charter. Adam, having transgressed the covenant, and as the federal representative of humanity, made it impossible for man to inherit the Kingdom of God through the Covenant of Works. As a result, his guilt and corrupted nature are immediately imputed to every single human being that is ever conceived in this world.

    However, even at the fall, the eschatological Kingdom of God was opened to man again through the promise of one who would keep the Covenant of Works and destroy the curse of sin and death. This is possible, of course, through the Covenant of Grace. The terms of entrance into the Kingdom of God are not in any way altered, but rather a new federal head was provided, one to whom man could be united by faith. This sets up the rest of history as containing those who are the offspring of Adam and those who are the offspring of the new federal head. Both sets of individuals are in relation to the Kingdom of God, some as its enemies and strangers through Adam, and others as its sons and citizens through Christ.

    Fast-forwarding through history, one comes to the covenant made with Abraham. What is promised to Abraham through this covenant is a kingdom. The kingdom promised to Abraham has its boundaries, membership, and blessings defined by the covenant. It will be a kingdom in Canaan, comprised of and ruled by Abraham's descendants. That kingdom will be a fruitful and peaceful land for Abraham's people. God, in making this covenant, swore his own oath to Abraham that these promises would be realized and that this kingdom would be attained. The Kingdom of Israel began to take shape through this covenant.

    Fast-forwarding again through history, one comes to the covenant at Sinai. The Mosaic Covenant was made with the Abrahamic people and in light of the Abrahamic promises. God explicitly told the Abrahamites that they were not receiving this covenant because they were such wonderful people; rather, they were stubborn while God was merciful. Nevertheless, this covenant helps the kingdom to take further shape by introducing the law by which the kingdom will be governed. God had made promises to Abraham, which he would realize apart from merit, but the extent to which the Israelites enjoyed those blessings and remained in those blessings depended upon their obedience of the law. The people were in by grace through Abraham, but they had to stay in by works through Moses. The Kingdom of Israel was a Kingdom governed/administered by the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants.

    God, being holy, cannot simply wink at sin. Thus, one would expect the Mosaic Covenant to immediately disqualify the Israelites, especially given their idolatry with the golden calf. However, the Mosaic Covenant's priestly sacrificial system makes provision for the failings of the people with regard to the law. This is not to say that sins were actually forgiven, but that within this system, the terms being set by God, typological holiness could be maintained. Furthermore, God, as the supreme Lord of the covenant, has the right to be gracious in his execution of the covenant curses.

    When Israel entered Canaan to take possession of the Promised Land, God delivered the land into their hands, but they failed to enjoy it to the fullest because of disobedience. The biblical record is careful to say that God kept his end of the bargain. He made good on all of his promises (Josh 21:43-45). The failure of the Israelites to drive out certain inhabitants was purely the result of their law-breaking.

    When the kingship arose, another covenant further specified the way in which the kingdom would be governed. In fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise of Judean kings, and under the supervision of the Mosaic laws concerning kings, the Davidic line took up office over Israel. The king, too, was under the law, even required to make his own copy and to study it. Under Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel bloomed to be a nation whose number was like the sand of the sea, whose borders stretched the boundaries promised to Abraham, and whose kingship was Judean. The people enjoyed rest and peace in the land. However, in the Davidic Covenant God expressed the fact that the King must obey the law or suffer discipline. This is the record of the Kings, and this is precisely what happened to Solomon in 1 Kings 11:11. Thus the Kingdom of Israel took its final shape, governed by the triplex of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants. This established the king as a federal head of the Mosaic Covenant. The Abrahamic people are blessed by the Mosaic Covenant blessings insofar as the Davidic king keeps the law.

    The ensuing fracture and failure of the kingship and the kingdom is entirely attributed to the disobedience of the king and the people. The testimony of the prophets shows that unless Israel repented and obeyed, they would lose the Abrahamic blessings. As God's kingdom lawyers, the prophets prosecuted the nation using the Mosaic Covenant's stipulations and sanctions. To put one example to the fore, Jeremiah 11:1-8 shows the connection between disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant and how it affected the Abrahamic oath.

    As the nation saw the kingdom falling apart, they began to look forward to a Davidic king who would keep the law, who would restore them to the land, and who would rule them in righteousness and justice. However, their fundamental error was to fail to recognize that the Messianic King and his Kingdom would not be a confirmation or restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. The eschatological Kingdom of God was not the Kingdom of Israel.

    Centuries passed before John the Baptist appeared on the scene and began preaching that all must repent because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. The Messianic King, Son of God and Son of David, was born in Bethlehem, and when he came onto the scene he began to preach the gospel of the Kingdom, to teach about the Kingdom in parables, and to demonstrate the power of the Kingdom in miracles. What becomes clear is that this Jesus was the seed of the woman, and that he was manifesting in history a clear picture of the Kingdom of God, an eschatological Kingdom of perfect righteousness (Matt 4:17).

    The Jewish people, including Jesus' family and disciples, thought that Jesus' message was about the Kingdom of Israel even into the testimony of the Acts of the Apostles. However, this was their fundamental error, and it was not until the Apostles came to understand the true nature of the kingdom that they began to go forward and preach the gospel to all mankind without regard to the boundaries of the Kingdom of Israel.

    Jesus Christ inaugurated the eschatological Kingdom of God and the New Covenant in his own blood through his sacrificial propitiatory death on the cross. This Kingdom is everything that the Kingdom of Israel was not. It is a Kingdom of people circumcised in heart, a Kingdom with an eternal inheritance, a Kingdom with a perfect King, a kingdom with a perfect Priest, a Kingdom with a perfect Prophet. In comparison to the Kingdom of Israel, it is entirely new and thoroughly eschatological.

    The Kingdom of God is rooted in the Covenant of Redemption. In Luke 22:29 Jesus says “And I covenant to you, as my Father covenanted to me, a kingdom.” It is the great doctrine of the Pactum Salutis that unites redemptive history. It was God’s decree from before the foundations of the world to give a Kingdom to his Son, but it was the Son’s duty to become incarnate and to win the Kingdom people through his own life and death. The terms by which this transaction takes place between the Father and Son are found in the Covenant of Redemption. The terms by which man enters into this agreement are found in the Covenant of Grace/The New Covenant. Where do we see Christ redeeming the elect unto himself and constituting them as a kingdom? It is in his death. The New Covenant is coterminous with the Covenant of Redemption because it is simply the Covenant of Redemption actualized in history, from the viewpoint of man. The teaching of the Kingdom of God agrees with this in its entirety. Christ is promised a Kingdom, Christ came to establish that Kingdom, and Christ rules over that Kingdom forever.

    The Kingdom of God takes visible form in the church. In fact, the Kingdom of God is the church. Thus, just as the Kingdom is governed by the New Covenant, so also the church must be. Because the Kingdom of God is a realm ruled by Christ in which all enjoy regeneration, forgiveness of sins, imputed righteousness, and sonship/citizenship, no credible claim can be made to the Kingdom apart from profession of faith. A claim to the church is a claim to the Kingdom of God. We are not talking about an earthly temporal kingdom but the eschatological Kingdom of God. Thus enrolling in the visible church is saying "I have an eternal inheritance in the Kingdom because I am a son of the Kingdom. I bow to the King and trust in him to preserve me forever."

    Because the visible church exists between the advents of Christ, and because it exists in the world, it will never be a pure assembly. But it should be as pure as possible. The church is the bride of Christ. To join the church is to claim betrothal to the Son of God. On the one hand, someone who admits a non-professor into the church's membership is knowingly smearing mud on that which should be utterly pure. On the other hand, anyone who claims absolute perfection among their membership is saying that the consummation has already occurred and the bride is adorned for her husband. We must be willing to accept Simon Magus' profession and equally willing to excommunicate him. Likewise, we must be willing to accept those whose faith is as small as a mustard seed or whose faith is childlike, of course including children themselves.

    If the New Covenant is a source of administration for the Kingdom of God, the church, one would expect it to tell the church how it should be governed. It is not silent in this regard. Members join the church through baptism, thus professing faith and repentance, claiming for themselves the King and benefits of the Kingdom. The impossibility of infallibly declaring that a baptismal candidate is regenerate does not make baptism subjective. Baptism objectively is a means of grace to the elect and a means of judgment to the reprobate. We must not play the agnostic when it comes to church membership. If Christ's death made his people a kingdom, and if baptism signifies (among other things) union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, then baptism is a claim to the kingdom, a claim to the church. Baptism says "I will be raised sinless unto eternal life in the consummated Kingdom" just as the Lord's Supper says "I will eat at the marriage supper of the Lamb in the consummated Kingdom."

    No one can enter the Kingdom of God and later leave it. The Kingdom of God is circumscribed by regeneration. The New Covenant is unbreakable. Either Christ made you a part of his Kingdom through his death or he did not. At no time was an apostate ever united to Christ or made a partaker of any of his benefits. They may have been enlightened, they may have been affected by the common operations of the Spirit, they may have sprouted with counterfeit faith, and they may have been considered to be a child of God, but ultimately all was a lie. Nevertheless, apostates are held accountable for their lies and false claims. If a spy is discovered in a kingdom, he is not released because he belongs to another kingdom. He is answerable to the King and is punished accordingly. The warning passages of scripture serve the purpose of causing the sheep to persevere and declaring retributive judgment on the goats. In a Kingdom where no one can betray the King, warnings against betrayal are ultimately directed towards those spies and impostors who clothe themselves in sheepskins. Just as it is incumbent upon ministers to preach the gospel indiscriminately, so it is incumbent upon them to warn all indiscriminately. All men must be made to know the price of rejecting the gospel of the Kingdom and thus its King.

    If you have been patient enough to read thus far, please allow me to drive the point home. What does this mean?
    1. It means that the New Covenant defines the boundaries, membership, and blessings of the Kingdom. While some may think that the New Testament lacks information as to what the New Covenant actually entails, there is an incredible amount of data to be reaped from the teachings of Christ concerning the Kingdom of God.
    2. It means that the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace. If the Covenant of Grace is the only way to attain the eschatological Kingdom of God, if Christ is the federal head of that covenant, if the New Covenant is the way to attain the eschatological Kingdom of God, and if Christ is the federal head (and thus King) of that covenant, the two are absolutely identical. The Covenant of Grace is the retroactive New Covenant as its blessings are appropriated by believers who look beyond Old Testament types to Christ.
    3. It means that there always has been and always will be only one means of salvation, one means of attaining the Kingdom of God, that is through Christ, through the New Covenant. All saints prior to Christ believed in Christ and were united to him by the Spirit by virtue of their faith in that to which the typological covenants pointed. They had faith in the promises of the serpent-crushing seed, the blessing to all nations, the prophet like Moses, the King greater than David, faith in Christ himself.
    4. It means that anyone who is not united to Christ by true faith remains united to Adam and can lay no claim to the Kingdom of God and the church. In Colossians 1, Paul says that we are not transferred to the Kingdom of the beloved Son until we are freed from the domain of darkness. This comes through redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    5. It means that the Kingdom of Israel is not the Kingdom of God, thus the covenants that governed the Kingdom of Israel cannot be used to govern the Kingdom of God. They are types and shadows that served their purpose, but are now abrogated. A return to these covenants violates the teaching of the New Testament, especially epistles like Galatians and Hebrews. That which is moral transcends any covenant. That which is ceremonial and positive ends with the termination of its covenant. The Old has been abrogated. The type should not be used to shape the antitype.
    6. It means that the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants are not, in their substance and essence, administrations of the Covenant of Grace. They are not manifestations or governing documents of the eschatological Kingdom of God. They are types and shadows of it. Any theology of the covenants that equates the Covenant of Grace in substance and essence with these covenants by consequence equates the substance and essence of the Kingdom of Israel with the Kingdom of God. This is the error of the Jews, the pre-ascension apostles, and many dispensationalists.
    7. It means that there is no danger in affirming the Mosaic Covenant to be operating on a works principle because attainment of the eschatological Kingdom of God is not its purpose, nor is it immediately in view. Perfect personal perpetual obedience remains the standard of entrance into the Kingdom of God, however this is kept by Christ. Thus the moral law abides in full in the Kingdom of God as a means of returning thankful service, not as a means of obtaining God's favor. The Christian is not in by grace and out by works.
    8. It means that a covenant cannot be differently administered from time to time. It is illegitimate to say "a covenant under different administrations." A covenant is already an administration of a kingdom, thus a covenant tells its members exactly what must be done. A covenant cannot be differently administered unless the terms of the covenant change, in which case you actually have a change of covenant, not simply a change of "administration." The term "Administration" needs to be equated with the word "Covenant." Change the administration and you change the Covenant. Change the covenant and you change the kingdom. Saying that the Covenant of Grace was differently administered in the times of the law and the gospel is to say that the Kingdom of God was administered differently in the times of the law and the gospel. That is precisely why most paedobaptists insist on denying that the Mosaic Covenant has a works principle in relation to its blessings. How could the Kingdom of God require obedience to inherit its blessings? As has been noted previously, Kingdom of God is not the Kingdom of Israel.
    9. There can be no such thing as an "external and internal administration" in one covenant. Those terms, by definition, mean "external and internal covenant." In Israel one could be a member of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of God, but this was the result of being born into the Abrahamic Covenant and being reborn into the New Covenant. The two are not mutually exclusive, but neither are they two circles of one covenant. The Kingdom of God does not have an “external circle” or “external administration” because it does not have an “external covenant.” Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God, the federal head of the New Covenant. “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9).
    10. A "covenant community" is a "kingdom people." The "kingdom people" are defined by the "kingdom covenant." The New Covenant defines the kingdom people as those whom Christ constituted as a Kingdom through his death.

    I have attempted to keep this as short as possible by excluding extensive quotations from scripture and Reformed theologians. I can provide both if asked. Whether or not you agree with all of these conclusions and assertions, I hope that you recognize the value and necessity of incorporating the theme of the kingdom into covenant theology, namely the fundamental distinction between the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of God and that covenants are kingdom administration.
  2. Fogetaboutit

    Fogetaboutit Puritan Board Freshman

    So if I understand, you are saying that the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic covenants were not "administrations" of the Covenant of Grace but were covenants which "pointed" to the Covenant of Grace and this would be the reason why you could have reprobates under those covenants since they were not the administration of the Covenant of Grace itself but only shadows of the Covenant of Grace? So your interpretation of the Covenant of Grace is the eternal covenant between God and his elects which would be seperate although paralell to the various covenant in the Old Testament but in the new covenant the only thing we have left is this pure Covenant of Grace since all of the other covnenants are completely done away with?

    This would also be why these covenants had types and shadows which were done away with when Christ fullfilled them at his first coming and now we live in the "fully" revealed Covenant of Grace?

    So why would we still have earthy ordinance (pictures and shadows) in water baptism and the Lords supper as part of the New Covenant? These are only pictures of spiritual reality correct? I have a hard time wrapping my head around the differences, according to your interpretation, between the New Covenant Dispensation and the Eternal State?

    Although I certainly agree with many of the things you wrote above we still have to deal with the reallity that we still live in a fallen world and in our fallen body. The Kingdom of Israel was a picture of the Heavenly Kingdom of God the same way the Davidic Kingly line was a Shadow of Christ being our eternal King and the High Priesthood a picture of Christ being our eternal High Priest etc. These type and shadows were all fullfilled in Christ at his first coming but as I said we still have to deal with the reality of our current situation. The consummation of God's Kingdom has not been physically fullfilled at his first coming. The same way the Kingdom of Israel was a picture of God's Kingdom in the Old Testament the Visible Church (not necessarily identical to the invisible church) is a picture of God's kingdom in the New Testament.

    The Elects today still live in a "physically imperfect" Kingdom and according the to New Testament scriptures we should expect that unbeliever will still sneak in which is why we need church discipline since we do not live in this perfect kingdom yet.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  3. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    So all children born to believing parents are outside the kingdom of Christ? This does not seem consistent with the covenants of the Old Testament that were given clear signs administered to all age groups who were welcome within the church, though these groups may not have all the privileges yet (similar to a citizen of the US not being permitted to vote until he is 18.) Perhaps the concept of covenant seems vague and disconnected to the kingdom because you do not see that unbroken chain throughout all of history pointing to Christ.
  4. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    Sister, it's true that this is "inconsistent" with those OT covenants. That's because the Kingdom of Israel is not the Kingdom of God. I'll let someone else speak for me.

    Herman Ridderbos:
    "The term "the children of the kingdom" indicating Israel "according to the flesh" (Matt 8:12), is now used in the new sense of the "good seed" (Matt 13:38). The special relation to God that was first applied to the totality of Israel, is now restricted (and extended) to those who respond to the preaching of the kingdom with faith and repentance and have been elected by God to this end.
    This change, noticeable in the gospel, finds its basis already in the Old Testament (Jer. 31). And it is very characteristic of Paul's view that inclusion with God's people (i.e., in the relationship of the covenant) is not constituted by the outward bond established by birth, but that all these categories are applicable in the proper and original sense of the word only to the true, faithful people of God whom he has elected." - The Coming of the Kingdom, pg. 198 - The parentheses are his.

    Patrick Fairbairn:
    "Here, precisely as in the rending of the veil for the ceremonials of Judaism, the exclusive bond for the people was broken at the center: Christ's very mother and brothers were to have no precedence over others, nor any distinctive position in His kingdom; spiritual relations alone should prevail there, and the one bond of connection with it for all alike, was to be the believing reception of the gospel and obedience to it. 256

    So far, therefore, as regards Israel's typical character, their removed and isolated position is plainly at an end: all tribes and nations are on a footing as to the kingdom of God - members and fellow-citizens if they are believers in Christ, aliens if they are not." - Prophecy, 256-257

    Geerhardus Vos:
    "Because the kingdom is in its very essence a kingdom of righteousness, therefore it is impossible for any one to be truly in it without having previously repented. Because the kingdom intrinsically consists in the exercise of the divine saving grace and power, therefore it requires in every one who is to share its benefits that responsive and receptive attitude towards these divine attributes which is called faith." - The Kingdom of God and the Church of Christ, 91
  5. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I understand that the kingdom of God was inaugurated by Christ's resurrection and ascension, but the covenant joins God's people through all ages; there's the inconsistency of leaving children outside the covenant.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I think something that is missing here is the concept of the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ over all things. But I would like to discuss the following at this point.
    Samuel,Is there not law that the Kingdom of Christ is to be governed by in all ages? That Law that was used in the Covenant of Works is used again in all of the Covenants is it not? I would like to see you develop this thought a bit more. I would like to see if you can truly show me a difference in substance between the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New Covenant. I am finding it hard to believe that they differ in substance. Does not the New Covenant also say that we need to obey to remain in the blessings that God pours upon His Church. For example, Jesus Himself promised to remove the candlestick in Revelation 2 if they did not repent. The man in 1 Corinthians 5 was disciplined and put outside of the Church if he didn't repent. Galatians 6:7 reiterates this same concept. The Church in the Wilderness (as Israel is called) had the same grace of discipline also. There was nothing earned by obeying. But there was blessing to be had as the WCF states in Chapter 16...
    In my befuddled way I try to discuss the Mosaic in relationship to how Israel interpreted the Mosaic and how I believe many in the Church are trying to implement it. Give this a short read. The Mosaic Covenant, same in substance as the New? I do believe the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New Covenant are the same in substance. What thinkest thou Samuel?
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    In effect, modern antipaedobaptists have etherealised "covenant;" relating kingdom to that etherealised covenant requires the antipaedobaptist to etherealise the kingdom. That is all that is accomplished by the OP. As an exercise in consistency it has gone a long way towards accomplishing its goal. As an incorporation of biblical and dogmatic theology, however, it is disastrous. In terms of biblical theology, the Davidic covenant is the covenant of the kingdom. One must neglect that important development in order to tie covenant and kingdom together from the beginning of revelation. In terms of dogmatic theology, "the kingdom of God" has always been understood as being connected with the visible church in some way. Even the modern modifications of it accept a partial connection. An etherealised kingdom which relates to an etherealised covenant destroys the claim of the church of God on earth to serve a kingdom which is in the world but not of it.
  8. Unoriginalname

    Unoriginalname Puritan Board Junior

    Um... What does etherealise mean?
  9. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    To make ethereal.
  10. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    Replies to follow. Time is short! Thanks for your replies thus far.
  11. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for your reply,
    As to the concept of Christ's universal kingship, I most certainly would not deny that Christ's Kingship is universal. The question is what is the relation of each person to Christ as King? The answer was given above by Fairbairn, Ridderbos, and Vos. "All tribes and nations are on a footing as to the kingdom of God - members and fellow-citizens if they are believers in Christ, aliens if they are not." I'll add Bavinck's voice to the discussion.
    "In the Synoptics, Christ appears on the scene as a preacher and founder of the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom includes within itself the love of the Father, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal life; and Jesus, in his capacity as Messiah, ascribes to himself the power to grant all these benefits to his disciples. Just as he has power to heal the sick, so he also has the authority to forgive sins. By this combination of powers, he proves that he is the complete Savior of his people. For that reason, too, there is no way of gaining admission into that kingdom and no participation in those benefits except by faith in his name. For it is he himself who gives his life as a ransom for many and who, in his death, breaks his body and sheds his blood to inaugurate and confirm the new covenant with all its blessings (Matt 20:28; 26:28)." Bavinck, Vol III. 383

    So there is no doubt that Christ is King, but unbelievers are the enemies and aliens of the kingdom. For that reason I'm unsure that you would want to use the term "Mediatorial" in relation to Christ's universal kingship. Christ is not the Priest of the reprobate, thus he does not mediate for them.

    As to the role of the law, the nature of the Mosaic Covenant, and the substance and essence of the Covenant of Grace, if you have read the work that my brother and I presented, which I believe you have, and if you have read my entire post above, then what follows may prove somewhat redundant. I'll attempt to speak simply enough.

    I am in agreement that the moral law, used in the Covenant of Works and expressed in the Mosaic Covenant, remains binding on all mankind, New Covenant members included. Their law-keeping has no bearing on their justification, as I know you agree. Their law-keeping does have a bearing on their sanctification. Being God's sons, they are subject to his Fatherly chastening when they disobey him. In fact, Hebrews 12:8 says that if one has not been chastened by God, one is an illegitimate child and not a son. Believers are often chastened, but never condemned. Likewise, as you showed using the confession, God accepts our works as perfect in Christ and is often pleased to reward us accordingly. The law is not our taskmaster nor our judge, but rather the lamp to our feet and the light to our path.
    There are also positive laws in the New Covenant, baptism and the Lord's Supper for example. It is a moral requirement to obey the Lord in regard to these commands, but they themselves are not moral.
    As to church discipline and even the removal of churches by Christ himself, they are not the same thing (although I don't think you were equating them.) Vos, speaking of the church as the Kingdom, says that church discipline's "proximate end is the self-preservation of the church in the state of holiness which befits her profession, and would be destroyed by the exercise of religious fellowship with such as remain unrepentant in the face of open sin." In light of that, church discipline either restores an erring brother or manifests his hypocritical profession and dispels him from the church. The removal of a church's lampstand does not necessarily mean that the individuals involved are being excommunicated (manifested as unbelieving), but it does mean that the King of the church, being displeased with their witness of him, sees fit to remove their testimony as a visible local entity.

    Perhaps that gives some clarification on the role of the law in the New Covenant?

    The semi-short form reasons as to why I see the Old Covenant(s) as different in substance from the New is this: (Side note: I use Cov of Grace and New Cov interchangeably. It's somewhat unconscious, so please don't read too much into a switch of the two)
    1. The Covenant of Grace is first shaped by the Covenant of Redemption. It is the redemption of the elect in history according to the decree of God.

    "The covenant of redemption is the pattern for the covenant of grace. However, it is more than that. It is also the effective cause for carrying out the latter." Geerhardus Vos
    "The covenant of grace revealed in time does not hang in the air but rests on an eternal, unchanging foundation. It is firmly grounded in the counsel and covenant of the triune God and is the application and execution of it that infallibly follows." Herman Bavinck

    2. The Covenant of Grace is then shaped by contrast to the Covenant of Works. All mankind, fallen in Adam, remains in Adam until brought from death to life in Christ through grace by faith alone in Christ alone. No one escapes the curses of Adam's covenant apart from the sovereign election of the Father who sends them to his Son. No one passes from death to life apart from the work of the Spirit.

    "As Adam was the head and representative of his posterity, so Christ is the head and representative of his people. And as God entered into covenant with Adam so He entered into Covenant with Christ. This, in Rom. v. 12-21, is set forth as the fundamental idea of all God's dealings with men, both in their fall and in their redemption." Charles Hodge

    3. Abraham is the federal head of the Abrahamic Covenant, not Christ. The promises were made to him and his offspring. That offspring was his natural progeny. The secondary identification of the offspring as Christ in Galatians proves this point that there are two covenants active here. Abraham's covenant, which was one of grace, that is, operating on a basis of imputed blessings, perfectly typified Christ's covenant, the one of grace, also operating on a basis of imputed blessings. The relation between the two is typological. Hodge is helpful, although I disagree with the way he words the first sentence.

    “It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a church. The parties to the former covenant were God and the nation; to the other, God and His true people. The promises of the national covenant were national blessings; the promises of the spiritual covenant (i.e., the covenant of grace), were spiritual blessings, reconciliation, holiness, and eternal life. The conditions of the [national] covenant were circumcision and obedience to the law [...]. There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, and the commonwealth founded on the one with the church founded on the other.” Charles Hodge

    4. The blessings promised to Abraham, namely the Kingdom of Israel, are simply NOT the blessings of the Kingdom of God. The Jewish people at rest in Canaan are not the elect at rest in the New Heavens and New Earth. See the quote immediately above. The relation between the two is one of type and antitype.

    5. No sins were forgiven through the Mosaic Covenant. This fact alone should carry great weight. Consider the contrast of the author of the Hebrews throughout his epistle, or consider the contrast of Paul in Galatians 4. Both authors urge their listeners not to return to Judaism, not because a better administration of the same covenant is here, but because a better covenant is here. The previous covenant couldn't accomplish what they were looking for, namely forgive their sins. The blood of bulls and goats did not take away sins, the daily sacrifices did not cleanse consciences, and even the day of atonement did not accomplish forgiveness. Yet again the relationship is one of type and antitype.

    6. I know we haven't argued this point yet, but the Mosaic Covenant operates on a principle of works-based blessing and cursing. The Covenant of Grace freely imputes its blessings to its members. Those two principles are polar opposites. It is typical of Christ's law-keeping on behalf of the elect in order to secure their eternal blessings in the Kingdom of God.

    7. The Davidic covenant ruled over the typological Kingdom. In the same way that this covenant brought Israel's kingdom to consummation, so does Christ's kingship. Christ fulfills the promise of this covenant just as he fulfills the demands of Moses and the promises to Abraham. Christ, being a descendant of David, occupied the unique place of truly being the King of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of God. But what he demanded of his kinsmen was allegiance to him as King of Kingdom of God, not as King of the Kingdom of Israel. He rejected their attempt to enthrone him over the nation, denied the place of his own family with regard to his Kingdom, and said that righteousness greater than that of the pharisees was necessary for entering into his Kingdom. The relationship is typological, yet meets in history in the person of Christ. Jesus established a new Kingdom, an eternal Kingdom, an eschatological kingdom. He did not establish the Kingdom of Israel, as much as the Jews and disciples wanted him to.

    8. In Summary, the New Covenant/Covenant of Grace fulfills all three OT covenants while remaining distinct from them. Paul's distinction of Federal Headship in the Abrahamic in Galatians 3, his distinction between two covenants (Jerusalem above and below) in Galatians 4, the difference in blessings between the covenants, the lack of forgiveness of sins through the Mosaic, and Jesus' rejection of the earthly Davidic throne all reveal a type/anti-type relationship. The New Covenant was active and real in the Old Testament through those types, but remained distinct from them. From the beginning, the Covenant of Grace was the accomplishment of the decree in the Covenant of Redemption and it was the freeing of sinners from the curses of the Covenant of Works. Abraham, Moses, and David never brought sinners from death to life, nor did their covenants promise eschatological life in the Kingdom of God. Abraham, Moses, and David looked past the earthly promises to the substance, Christ, and were thus equal in dignity, privilege, and standing with us today. For the substance to be the same, at least the Federal Head and the Blessings would have to be the same. This is not the case.

    Moving on to Moses.

    I read your blog post and Pastor Ramsey's post within it. I agree with Pastor Ramsey that Paul, in Romans 10, is talking about Leviticus 18:5 as it was misapplied by the Pharisees. However, let me make this comment. The pharisees were not wrong in identifying a works-principle in the Mosaic Covenant. They were wrong in thinking that this works principle led to eschatological life through righteousness. In other words, they thought that keeping the Mosaic Covenant could establish themselves/Israel as the Kingdom of God. That was never its purpose, nor did it ever promise that. Quite to the contrary, the Mosaic Covenant established the regulations by which Israel as a Kingdom would be blessed or cursed in the land of Canaan. The works principle stands, but on the typological kingdom level.

    The Israelites were supposed to see their failures and look in faith to the one who would keep the law, the Messiah. They were supposed to feel the weight of their consciences remaining even after sacrifices and long for a perfect High Priest. When one says that the Mosaic republishes the Covenant of Works, it is not to say that the Kingdom of God is being reopened to man through a works covenant, but rather that in a typological fashion the works-principle is being republished as a pedagogue to the nation (and to the world). Israel's failure as a nation shows the persons of the world their failures as individuals. Through its scrutinizing lens, it increases sin, thus preparing redemptive history for the coming of the Messiah who was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law.

    If the Mosaic Covenant does not contain a works-principle for blessings and curses, on what basis does God prosecute and divorce Israel? If the Mosaic Covenant is a grace-principle covenant, God, by definition, cannot divorce Israel. Why? Because in a covenant of grace, their relation to him depends purely on what he imputes to them. God didn't tell Israel "I'm tired of your whining; I no longer impute to you my covenant faithfulness." Rather he rightfully said "I have been faithful, but you have broken the terms of the covenant. I made it clear from the start what the curses would be if you whored after other gods. By your disobedience and unfaithfulness you have broken this covenant, and you are no longer my people."

    Paul's contrast of law and promise in Galatians 3 shows this fundamental difference between two kinds of covenants: one by promise/imputation, the other by obedience/reward. The two are polar opposites. The Judaizers were still trying to make Moses good for earning eschatological life. That's why Paul has to write to the Galatians and show them that the addition of the law never impeded or inhibited or touched the promise (the Covenant of Grace as it was revealed through the Abrahamic Covenant). However, on the typological kingdom level, the Mosaic Covenant most certainly shipwrecked the Abrahamic Covenant. Israel lost the Abrahamic land and their special place as the Abrahamic people explicitly because of disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant. If there were no works-principle in the Mosaic, Israel would not have been able to lose the land. What is amazing is God's continual patience and mercy to them. Israel was not finally cast off until the Messiah was born and they rejected him. God made the epochal redemptive historical shift from the Kingdom of Israel to the full revelation of the Kingdom of God, he brought the Messiah to existence from Israel's own womb, and he commissioned Christ and the Apostles to preach to Israel first, but they rejected him. By their disobedience they forfeited their claim to the Kingdom of Israel, and by their unbelief they forfeited any claim to the Kingdom of God.

    I know that you feel the danger of affirming the essence of the Covenant of Grace with the Mosaic, if it's a works principle. If their essence is the same, then we are still in Covenantal Nomism. However, that is not the case. I have explained above the role the law plays in the New Covenant, why the Old and New differ in essence, and why there is no danger in affirming the works principle in the Mosaic Covenant.

    I appreciate your patience in reading.

    ---------- Post added at 04:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:00 PM ----------

    I'll reply to this soon. In the meantime, concerning the relation between the Kingdom, Covenant, and Visible Church, I offer this paper which I recently submitted for a class. There will be overlap with other statements I have made above. It shows that this view of Kingdom, Covenant, and Church does not etherealise anything. The visible church is not sacrificed for the sake of a view of the covenants.

    As a side note, I'm confused by your statement about the Davidic Covenant being the covenant of the kingdom. Perhaps you could elaborate on that. My preliminary response would be simply that the New Covenant fulfills the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants. Consequently, the New Covenant, as the covenant of the kingdom, includes the fulfillment not only of the Davidic, but also the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. I do not believe we are forced to choose one over the other. They all come together in Christ and his New Covenant.
  12. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    I think Luke 18:15-17 offers a direct biblical refutation of your position:

    Luke 18:15-17 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

    First, note that v. 15 uses the phrase καὶ τὰ βρέφη to identify who is brought to Jesus. The intensive καὶ plus the term τὰ βρέφη (the youngest word for children in the New Testament, sometimes applicable even to unborn children) tells us that within this group were the most newly born babes.

    Second, Jesus announces that it would be sinful to bar the children from his blessing, for τῶν … τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. This is clearly a possessive genitive, showing that the infants do in fact have an ownership of some kind in the kingdom of God.

    Third, the children are not merely symbols of other people who are actually the people Jesus is talking about. That notion is ruled out by the word τοιούτων. The correlative demonstrative pronoun τοιουτος (such as) is inclusive; it points out one instance of a larger category. So, when Jesus said "such as these," he meant that "all these" stand as representatives of a broader category that necessarily includes them. The other option would be the adjective ομοιος, which signifies a mere similarity or likeness. If Jesus had used that word, then we could view the actual infants there as mere symbolic props for a spiritual point pertaining to other people. Those who possess the kingdom are those who merely share some quality in common with the infants. But both Mark and Luke use a form of τοιουτος. (By the way, in formal English, "such as" is inclusive and "like" is exclusive. This point is tested on the GRE.)

    Fourth, bringing this full circle, if one skimps on the grammar and adopts a ομοιος reading, it still doesn't quite make sense. Remember, this group includes newborn infants. Newborn infants don't have moral virtues. They don't consciously trust or depend or whatever else people try to read into that passage. They just exist. (Any psychological rendering of the infants is a distinctly modern view.) So, we must answer the question, "How does an infant receive the kingdom of God?" I don't think Jesus means to give a positive answer; rather, he is contrasting works with non-works. An infant cannot do anything to receive anything. A Jewish infant was an heir to the kingdom simply by being included in God's covenant.

    In any case, even apart from certain quibbles of interpretation, I suggest that in Luke 18:15-17, Jesus is reaffirming the status of covenant children as heirs of the kingdom.
  13. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Are you saying that Abraham is a type? If so who or what is the antitype?

    The Abrahamic Covenant included not just his natural offspring but all those Gentiles that professed belief in Abraham's God and their children.

    This was true from the time of Abraham right through the Mosaic period, and is still true today, although most of the Jews have been temporarily cut out of the Abrahamic Covenant (see Romans 11).

    How can it be said that the Abrahamic Covenant has terminated with promises like these:

    "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. (Gen 17:4-7)

    The Abrahamic Covenant isn't dispensed with under the New Covenant, but finds expansion and flowering under its New Covenant phase, as was promised to Abraham.

    The Land of Israel is still part of God's Kingdom, geographically-speaking, but God's Kingdom geographically-speaking has expanded to include the whole Earth. The whole Earth has been given to God's people to be conquered by God's Word.

    The visible Israel of God has expanded to include all Jews and Gentiles who profess the Christian faith and their children.

    And the Gospel which came in its fulness with Christ does not annul the Abrahamic Covenant so that only the elect - which cannot be infallibly identified - are in the New Covenant.

    Christ is administering the Abrahamic Covenant in its New Covenant phase.
  14. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate your exegetical care and precision. I hope my disagreements with you do not undermine that. Please allow me to reply.

    1. I agree entirely that the individuals being brought to Jesus were little children, even including infants. That much is clear.

    2. I also agree that Jesus is teaching that at least someone can claim to possess the Kingdom, or to say that it belongs to them.

    3. I must disagree with your argument concerning τοιουτος and ομοιος. Τοιουτος can carry the meaning of analogy, similarity, or likeness. Allow me to provide an example from the grammar book that was used in my Greek courses. Lysias, a professional speechwriter, opened a courtroom defense in this way:

    περὶ πολλοῦ ἂν ποιησαίμην, ὦ ἄνδρες, τὸ τοιούτους ὑμᾶς ἐμοὶ δικαστὰς περὶ τούτου πράγματος γενέσθαι, οἱοίπερ ἄν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς εἴητε τοιαῦτα πεπονθότες.

    “I would consider it quite an important matter, gentlemen, that you be the same sort of jurors for me in this matter as you would be for yourselves, if you had experienced such things.” (The translation was provided in the textbook.)

    You argued that if similarity and likeness were the point, “then we could view the actual infants there as mere symbolic props for a spiritual point pertaining to other people. Those who possess the kingdom are those who merely share some quality in common with the infants.” You may not agree that this is what Jesus is doing, but I at least wanted to show that τοιουτος can bear that meaning.

    BDAG cites all three parallel passages in a row (Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16) as examples of the following entry: “Of persons, such a person, either in such a way that a definite individual with special characteristics is thought of, or that any bearer of certain definite qualities is meant.” BDAG sees this instance of Τοιουτος as marking out definite qualities in individuals. If the age of the infants is that quality being highlighted, we can only enter the kingdom as infants. I would suggest that this is not what Jesus is saying. He is making a comparison of likeness based on similar qualities, but not with regard to age.

    4. As to your fourth point, it’s clear that we disagree as to whether or not likeness is being intended here. But, I actually agree with your conclusion (minus the last sentence): “So, we must answer the question, "How does an infant receive the kingdom of God?" I don't think Jesus means to give a positive answer; rather, he is contrasting works with non-works. An infant cannot do anything to receive anything. A Jewish infant was an heir to the kingdom simply by being included in God's covenant.”

    The infants’ utter helplessness is precisely the point of comparison that Christ takes advantage of here. He is not talking about childlike faith. I agree. In two of the three parallel passages the infants are the accusative direct objects, being brought to Christ. In Matthew they are actually the nominative subject, but with an aorist passive verb. In each passage they do nothing.

    Now compare that idea with the fact that Christ makes the application that unless one is like these infants, they will not enter the kingdom. What does that mean? It means that one cannot enter unless one is brought. So you’re right, this is about works, non-works. Consider also the event that takes place immediately after this in all three parallel accounts. The same point is made when a man asks Jesus what must be done to inherit eternal life. Christ tells him to keep the whole law, the disciples marvel at how difficult salvation is, and Jesus says that God can do the impossible. First Jesus says you must be helpless, then he says you must do it all yourself. He reinforces the first point in a reverse fashion with the young man.

    So then, those who possess the Kingdom are those who are brought into it as utterly helpless and dependent as infants, bringing no good works of their own but relying entirely on the power of God to do that which is impossible for man. Unless one is like that, they will not enter into the Kingdom of God. Entrance into the kingdom is salvation. Compare what has been said above with the need to be born again in John 3. Unless a man is born from above, he cannot see or enter the Kingdom. Unless the Spirit brings you, you cannot enter.
  15. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    In many ways I agree with your assertions above. We can say that Abrahamic promises continue to this day. But, as I have said elsewhere, the Abrahamic promises that continue to this day are the promises that pertain to the Covenant of Grace, revealed in the Abrahamic Covenant. In looking at the Abrahamic and the New Covenants we must recognize a type/antitype relationship. So that when the New Covenant comes it fulfills the Abrahamic Covenant, and in so doing it abrogates the typological elements that pertained to it. The question then must be asked, what was typological, restricted to the time of Israel as a nation, and what was antitypical, messianic, and eternal?

    I know that Kline is unpopular here. But I will quote him at this point.

    "In Hebrews 11 and 12 the common kingdom inheritance of Jewish and Gentile believers is identified as Zion, City of God. Abraham looked for the city of promise (11:10) but did not receive it (11:13). Neither did any of the other just people of God, prediluvian (11:4ff.) or postdiluvian (11:8ff.), all the way down to the coming of Christ: "These all...received not the promise" (11:39; cf. v.13). For God had ordained that they should attain the perfection of the true eschatological inheritance of the heavenly city only in association with his new covenant people (11:40). Even those who under the old covenant experienced the first level fulfillment are here flatly declared not to have received the promise - so far is it from being the case that the first level realization of the land promise continues alongside the second level as a permanent parallel to it. The statement made in Hebrews 11:39 regards the second level realization as the single real fulfillment, so relegating the first level kingdom land to the status of nothing more than shadow prototype."

    "Not analogy then but typology describes the relationship between the two levels of fulfillment of the kingdom-inheritance...Kingdom level one is identified with the old covenant and level two with the new covenant, and the new covenant is continuous with the old in a successive manner that involves its replacing of the old...Continuity there is between the two levels of fulfillment, the continuity of the substance and its shadow. It is a continuity in which the old gets annulled and removed, its place being taken by the new, the real and permanent fulfillment of the prophetic promise continued in the old."

    Using typology, we see the Abrahamic land promise fulfilled first in Canaan, then second in the New Heavens and New earth. We see the people promise fulfilled first in the twelve tribes of Israel, then second in the elect fullness of Jews and Gentiles. We see the king promise fulfilled first in the Davidic line, then second in the kingship of Christ. In each case the first level is abrogated and the second level shines forth eternally. If we insist that every aspect of the Abrahamic persists, we give the dispensationalists a free pass. Then, we should expect Israel to occupy a special place and land in the New Heavens and New Earth. We cannot assume that every aspect of the Abrahamic continues. Through typology we must consider the type, its antitype, and thus conclude what has faded away and what will remain eternally.

    As a last point on the side...let it be noted that the Abrahamic Covenant included children because it was made with a family, or more correctly, a nation. The Covenant was made with Abraham and his seed. To say that the Covenant of Grace was "made" with believers and their children cannot be reconciled with the fact that the Covenant of Grace was "made" outside of time between the Father and the Son and the elect in Him. We must not confuse the federal headship of Abraham with that of Christ. Also, we must not make parents federal heads in the Covenant of Grace. Call it the parental authority principle, the solidarity principle, or the oikia principle, but in the Covenant of Grace there is only one federal head. "Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to him." (Rom 8:9) Of course there is much more that could be said about this on both sides, but I wanted to make the point that the inclusion of children is simply the result of a covenant being made with a man and his offspring. That man was not Christ, thus his covenant is not Christ's covenant.
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    From what I have been taught one must understand Hodge in context. Rev. Winzer made this point to me a few years ago. His systematic fully places the Abrahamic as an administration of the Covenant of Grace. If one looks at Ephesians chapter two one must question the above and wonder if it is a biblical understanding.

    After all the Old Covenant believers were called the Church in the Wilderness and they all drank of Christ. Whether it be the Covenant of Grace administered in Abraham, Moses, or in the Promises given to David they were all an administration of the One Covenant of Grace. Not two Covenants of Grace as some would prefer even amongst the Baptist ranks.

    I believe this is also true of the New Covenant Church as I have mentioned afore and believe you have missed. Especially in light of St. Paul's exhortation in 1 Corinthians 10. If what I mentioned before was not true then St. Paul wouldn't have exhorted the New Covenant Church in the way he did using the Old Covenant Church as an example.
    As I showed you in the Leviticus 18:5 and Romans 10:5 passage it was Israel's misreading of the Covenant. The same is true concerning St. Paul in Galatians I believe. The Israelite's were misapplying the law and removing the factor of justification by faith alone. They were bringing themselves under bondage and those they were trying to put under their bondage. As I tried to show you before they were misreading Moses and the Old Testament thus living under the Curse of Adam. And St. Paul only has anathema for them. After all the Gospel was preached in the Old as it has been duly noted in quite a few places that I have sighted already in the things you have read.

    Also if the Abrahamic Covenant is not to be equated with the New in relationship as administrations of the One Covenant of Grace with Christ as the Federal Head then there would be no need for us to be called children of Abraham which St. Paul strongly distinguishes us as. That places Christ as the Federal Head of the Abrahamic Covenant.

    Covenantal Nomism is what Isreal held to by reading Moses incorrectly. If St. Paul made such parallels as I noted concerning 1 Corinthians 10 and I proved my points about Leviticus and Romans it should be noted that Israel was misreading Moses and the Old Testament trying to establish their own righteousness and thus the works paradigm was not the intention of the Old but a relational grace was the intention that was governed by God's law. They were corrupting the Word of God as St. Paul noted in 2 Corinthians 2:17 trying to establish their own righteousness which Moses warned against.
    That last statement from Patrick Ramsey is also true of the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord wasn't pitting the Old Covenant law against some new law of Christ. He was correcting the things they had heard. You have heard it said... but I say to you... Jesus was correcting their poor instruction and affirming the Law of God instead of calling attention to some higher and better law in Christ as some would have us believe today. If this works paradigm wasn't important in refuting then I don't believe St. Paul would have spent much time refuting it trying to get others to see the Covenant of Grace in Christ from After Adam's fall to his present writings.

    We have discussed the modern republication issue quite a bit on the Puritanboard. It just falls flat in my estimation.
  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This is a fallacy in my estimation. A father still holds a place of headship in his family. The husband is still called the head of the wife. No, he is not the Federal Head as Christ is. Christ was the Head of Abraham and Sarah also. If that isn't true then there is no salvation for us nor for him. Especially, since we are called the children of Abraham by faith. I know some people don't believe the Lord visits the iniquity of the father of the children to the fourth generation. I believe the Lord still does this. I believe it has a direct correlation here also.

  18. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    The family is a civil unit, so in a situation like theocratic Israel you have a fusion of cult and culture within a covenantal context. Israel was a geopolitical nation. On that level parents certainly function with headship and authority. Marriage itself is a covenant after all.

    I hope you see that if I'm defining the Covenant of Grace as I do, being united to Christ by grace alone through faith alone, parents cannot introduce or expel their children with regard to that union. Paul's commands to spouses, children, slaves, etc, instruct them as to how to live a Christian life in each of those contexts. It does not, however, make the parents federal heads of children in the Covenant of Grace.

    Consider also:
    Deuteronomy 24:16
    16 "Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

    And consider all of Ezekiel 18 which plainly declares the Lord's mind concerning righteousness and the relationship between parents and children. On the level of the Covenant of Grace, the eschatological Kingdom of God, a parent's righteousness or unrighteousness cannot influence the interest of the child in the Covenant of Grace. However, on the level of the Kingdom of Israel, God retained the right to punish people temporally throughout their generations.

    So, I do not deny that Fathers have headship in the family. I deny that they have headship in the Covenant of Grace.

    As to our discussion above, we have made our positions clear. I suppose that we could go on, but I have four final exams in the next three days, so I won't be up for that at the moment. Besides, at this point we'd probably end up playing Bible Baseball, lining up our best verses and throwing them at each other. Perhaps we should agree that the other person is wrong. ;) Agreeing to disagree just doesn't sound right.

    Still, I would like to know what your summary answer would be to the question of on what basis/principle God exiled and divorced Israel. (With passages like Jeremiah 11:1-8 in mind)
  19. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    If the new covenant fulfils the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants, it does so because there are particular promises in each of those covenants which are fulfilled. What are the particular promises of the Davidic covenant? A seed and a throne for ever -- a dynastic kingdom. On the basis of these terms Messianic hope of a restored Israel were built. "The son of David" as the hope of Israel is fulfilled in Jesus. In His person the Kingdom is present. On this understanding it is impossible to speak of "kingdom and covenant" as being united together from the first.

    There is no doubt that the community of people who gather upon profession of faith in Jesus is, in one important respect, identified as the kingdom of Christ in its present form. It is impossible to make sense of the kingdom parables without this identification in view. These parables contain historical progress and make allowance for conditions of imperfection prior to the consummation.
  20. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Bavinck beautifully lays out the Reformed view of the unity of the essence of the Covenant of Grace, both Old and New:

    Reformed- For His Glory

    ---------- Post added at 05:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:57 PM ----------

    From whom did you learn such a thing?
  21. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Abraham and the covenant associated with him are not classically viewed as typological, as e.g. Moses and David are viewed as typological.

    Abraham is viewed as the first of the covenant people in God's covenant plan with a particular nation, expanding to include all nations. Abraham is also viewed as the Father of the faithful, and the pre-eminent example of faith. But he is no a type of anything, and has no antitype.

    As you know it was also made with all who were engrafted into the Abrahamic stock and their children.

    The New Covenant is the expansion, flowering and augmentation of the Abrahamic Covenant that was promised to Abraham.

    The Old Covenant is the Old Covenant phase of the Abrahamic Covenant, and the New Covenant is the New Covenant phase of the Abrahamic Covenant.

    The attempt to hyper-spiritualise the New Covenant is also wrongheaded. The New Covenant includes the whole of this Earth. It also includes our bodies as well as our souls, and our children.
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I do not believe these passages contradict each other as you seem to be thinking. It is utter nonsense to believe that the Pentateuch does this. This is like pitting Moses against Moses. Didn't we discuss this being done already?

    Wow, where did you learn this from? I have never heard a Reformed Baptist even speak like this. And I was one for three decades. God uses means and this is just utter nonsense. That is like saying God doesn't use written words or actions of Godliness to draw people to himself and St. Peter says that a wife can be used of God to win an unbelieving husband. St. Paul also says that about the believing and unbelieving spouse in 1 Corinthians 7. And if this wasn't true why would parents be charged with not provoking their children unto wrath and raising them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

    Also this teaching that no sins were forgiven through the Mosaic Covenant is out of accord. Especially since God said they were forgiven. After all, Moses preached Christ and the forgiveness of sin. Please don't tell me that God didn't reconcile a people to himself using the Mosaic. That would blow my mind away. Methinks dispensationalism is alive and well. Christ is the substance of the Covenant of Grace through all of its various administrations. To deny this is beyond me.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like the New Covenant to me. Israel was given a way to walk in. That way included abiding in Christ and seeking that forgiveness and daily repentance we all need. After all we are also given 1 John 1:9. They were admonished to seek the Lord and not depart from Him as we are. Same grace. Same warnings and threatenings. Same overarching Covenant of Grace. Concerning the last verse I could equate it with Judas and Esau. Though they sought repentance they found it not. Even when they sought it with tears. Even the author of Hebrews makes mention of our need to be diligent in these matters.

    One must also read it in relationship to Jeremiah chapter 3 and the whole book. Also notice Isaiah 50. Did God put his divorced one away permanently? Did he not bring her back home as he promised?

    God will not hear the prayer of those who seek him for benefit only. He will hear them if they repent and put away their harlotry. The reasons he divorces and puts away are plain. So are the reasons he refuses to hear prayer as the reasons he does hear prayer. He desires mercy as it is stated in Jeremiah 3 and 12. God will remove the candlestick if we do not repent as it is stated in Revelation chapter 2. These are grave warnings to be heard by the Church in all ages. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

    As a side note a lot of people like to quote Jeremiah 31 but they neglect chapter 32 which places more light upon the context. It is unsafe to lift passages out of context and not consider the whole. We would do well to read Jeremiah 31 with it's further exposition of the later part of chapter 32.

    It would be wise to read the whole context of Jeremiah before we want to lift passages out as stand alone things. That is why we use the terminology, "The whole Counsel of God."
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  24. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps "influence" was not the best word to use. All I meant was that parents cannot save children. God will not bar a son from the Covenant of Grace because his father was wicked, nor will he admit a son into the Covenant of grace because his father was righteous (Ezekiel 18). Does that clarify? Of course parents can be means of bringing their children to Christ through teaching and godly example. They must do so! I do not mean to hint at a denial of that in any way shape or form. But ultimately they must pray to God to do a work of regeneration in the heart of the child. They can sow and water, but God must give the increase. There is no disagreement there.

    When I say that no sins were forgiven through the Mosaic Covenant, all I mean is that those animal sacrifices did not atone for sin on the level of eschatological righteousness. Of course sins were forgiven during Moses and under Moses, but not through the blood of goats and bulls. I am not denying the continuity of salvation throughout redemptive history.

    "Hebrews 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."

    "12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 17 then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin."

    If their sins had been forgiven through the animal sacrifices, they would have stopped sacrificing. They had to cleanse themselves constantly and repeatedly in order to stay in Canaan. Their failures drove them to the one perfect sacrifice that actually could save them from their sins. That is why the New Covenant was new, and why it was not simply more of the same kind.
  25. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    We are in agreement for the most part. I just think you need to tighten up your terminology a bit. There was forgiveness in the Old Covenant and in the Mosaic. It was in the fact that it pointed to Christ. Forgiveness is the same and found in the atoning work God performed. He shadowed it in the Old which preached Christ. It was fulfilled in Christ. Moses pointed to Christ. As Jesus said, "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." So to say the Mosaic didn't have forgiveness of sin is incorrect.

    I love the Ezekiel 18 passage. Maybe you should read it with New Covenant eyes and see the warnings in it also. I also believe that God will hear the prayers of parents and will hearken unto them for their children. I love Ezekiel 22:30. And I sought for a man to stand in the gap.... God uses parents and Godly influence as a means to call our children. If we act wickedly he is not obligated to hear us. He graciously does so when we turn to him though. It is promised. I believe him. We can be used to save our children, spouses, and friends. We are called upon to do so. There are many admonitions from the word to act accordingly. Especially by our conversation and doctrine.

  26. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Okay, now you are really making me lust after Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics Elder Van Der Molan. I am so in need of this set. Penny pinching time.
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