What's "NEW" about the New Covenant?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by steadfast7, Nov 29, 2011.

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  1. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    I really need to flesh out covenant theology. Thanks in advance for your assistance!

    If salvation has always been the same through all ages, and a covenant of grace provided since the beginning that leads to a circumcision of heart (renewing of heart), and the Mosaic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace, then what is "NEW" about the New Covenant?
     
  2. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Dennis,

    First, it is important to note that the New Covenant is not like the previous covenant; the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is defined by its difference to the previous covenant. Even though the Old Covenant pointed to a new and better covenant from its inception, it was not built strictly on grace. It required and allowed for obedience both from true spiritual children of Abraham and physical descendants only. In that regard the covenant was able to be broken through acts of disobedience (v. 32).

    The New Covenant will be unlike the Old Covenant in that it is made with a) only the spiritual seed of Abraham b) it is an unbreakable covenant; by God or man.

    The New Covenant has a "now and not yet" administration. Christians are the spiritual seed of Abraham, and as such they are members of the New Covenant. Unfortunately sin still abides, so the full manifestation of the New Covenant will not be realized until the eternal state.

    Paul writes about the uniqueness of the New Covenant:

     
  3. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Newness of the New Covenant

    Heb. 8:8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--
    9 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.
    10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
    11 "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying,`Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
    12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
    13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

    The covenantees are new- they all know the Lord, whereas the Sinai Covenant included a mixed multitude.

    The work of the Guarantor is new. The Lord Himself assures that every member will comply with the particulars of the covenant.
     
  4. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks Bill. Now, when you say,
    ... is this the Reformed Baptistic understanding of the covenant, in distinction to the Presbyterian view, which views the Mosaic as completely an administration of the CoG?

    This discontinuity between the old and new has always been my reading of the covenants, but is this still a Covenantally Reformed view?
     
  5. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Dennis,

    Well *chuckle* it depends on who you're asking to define what is Reformed. I will say that it is the majority covenantal view among Baptists. I don't want to be accused of gutting grace/redemption out of the Old Covenant; it's there in that the Old Covenant points forward, albeit requires, a better covenant.

    By the way, this is why I believe the baptism debate fails on both sides when arguing over the ordinance itself. The issue is solved if we better understand the nature of the New Covenant.
     
  6. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Agreed Bill. Good thoughts.

    How do you Presbyterians understand the newness of the New Covenant, then?
     
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't think you will find this "new covenant" teaching in the antipaedobaptist revision of Westminster-Savoy. Quite the opposite, following Westminsterian theology the antipaedobaptist revision continues to maintain the offer of the gospel is an administration of the covenant of grace, in which there are some only outwardly called, in which there continues to be temporary believers, and also chastisements and temporal judgements for true believers. On the subject of Christ the Mediator and justification it is maintained that salvation is the same for Old and New Testament believers alike. As there is no revision of Westminster-Savoy on these subjects there is no basis for alleging there is a distinct "Reformed antipaedobaptist" position as over against a Reformed paedobaptist position.
     
  8. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Interesting, Rev. Winzer. If this is so, then both the Presbyterian and Baptistic historic Reformed would agree that the new-ness is only in the administration of the same covenant of grace. It still puzzles me what would be new about it. When the administration moved from the Abrahamic to the Mosaic, it was never called a new covenant. How I am understanding the covenants is that it is the progressive revealing of the same thing, only the image becomes sharper through time. If one grants the analogy, when a sapling becomes a young tree, is it considered "new"?
     
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    According to both Confessions, concerning the law of God, the difference is in ceremonials, on the understanding that morals ever remain the same.

    With the benefit of the Larger Catechism, "more fulness, evidence and efficacy, to all nations" marks the administration of the covenant under the New Testament. So there is a freshness even with respect to substantials even though there is not a complete newness.
     
  10. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    But the covenant of grace was open to those gentiles, even nations, who believed and repented. Is newness, then, only a matter of degree?
     
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The Gentiles were required to be subservient to Israel under the old administration. That which is revealed in the New is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the household of God, Eph. 2, 3; hence the freedom from Israel's ceremonies decreed by the Council of Jerusalem.

    Yes; substantials, morals, are the same in kind, different in degree. Ceremonials have changed.
     
  12. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Remember Dennis that Israel was the Pedagogical Church as it is mentioned in Galatians. One had to adhere to a nationality of Israel in the Covenant. If they didn't they were considered cut off. I think you are forgetting the scriptures that we discussed earlier in Ephesians 2. The Kingdom has now a focus on the whole world as it calls all men together under Christ's Kingship.

    No it isn't only a matter of degree as has been mentioned in other threads you have participated in. The Newness also has to do with how the Covenant of grace is administered. If you want to note that it is only a matter of degree so be it. It is New because Christ has come. That is no small degree. The Promises and Shadows have been fulfilled. We have gone from shadow to reality. We have gone from type to anti-type. We have gone from yearly sacrifices (the old way) to one Sacrifice for all sin past, present, and future. If you want to say that is a matter of degree then I don't know how to tell you what newness is. It was new that our mediation before God by way of the Levitical priesthood has been done away and we now have a better Priest, Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour. That is different and new.

    Remember this?

     
  13. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Agree completely, Pastor Winzer - and I think you've put the case nicely. I do think also, if I might interject, that the testamentary aspect of the New Covenant should be mentioned as well. The New Covenant is also New because it explicitly involves the testament of one who has died (namely Christ) - this testamentary aspect is one that the Old Covenant did not, nay, could not have, as Christ was not yet come in flesh. Now that He has come, lived and died, this other aspect/usage of the Greek word diatheke comes into clear view. This is, indeed, a 'newness' to the New Covenant.
     
  14. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    But I've found covenant theology quick to point out that the Gentile church is grafted into Israel's paradigm except for that which is fulfilled in Christ or nationally significant. What is actually different in the administration, may I ask? Gentiles are still inducted with a covenant sign, they are subservient to the same moral law, their covenant status functions federally, a mixed church membership still exists, blessings and curses remain, and being cut off from the covenant community is still possible.

    Can I get some details on this concept of administration?

    thanks.

    ---------- Post added at 11:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:06 AM ----------

    The Baptist interpretation of a newly constituted regenerate membership is significant enough, in my judgment, to warrant the term "new."
     
  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    We could enumerate all day. Let's take two -- circumcision and passover. It is clear that there was something here too hard to be borne, Acts 15. Christ's yoke is easier, Matt. 11. Circumcision made Moses a bloody man. Christ's blood is shed for the remission of sins. Baptism therefore signifies the effect, the washing. Much easier. Again, passover involved bloody sacrifice. Again, Christ's blood purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. The Lord's supper does not include the typical element of blood-shedding, but only the nourishing sign of feeding on Christ's body and blood. Again, much easier. And so we could go through all the ordinances. No central place of worship. No mediating priesthood. No incense or instruments, etc. All is easy in comparison.
     
  16. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Although these administrations are significant changes, I still read differences in degree - the main one being degree of ease. I think if we were to list them all (a worthy exercise perhaps), we would probably find that administrations under the old covenant are prefigurations or types of what is fulfilled in Christ (sufficient gospel during that administration, of course). Christ's coming supplies the substance to figures like circumcision, passover, temple worship, etc. But baptism and the Lord's Supper are more like reformulations of ordinances that maintain a lot of the same imagery and substance. The New Covenant speaks of it being "not like" the covenant had with the forefathers. Is the force of this "not like" appreciated in the scheme presented?
     
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    A type requires a correspondence or "likeness" to the Antitype. You are admitting the Old Testament ordinances were types, but then you suggest that there should be something "not like" them in the New Testament. Hebrews uses the word "better," "superior," which is a comparative, but you seem to require something that is altogether different and beyond comparison.
     
  18. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Point noted. The superlatives do suggest comparison. Does not the wording of the New Covenant suggest some break from the past? It lists a number of things that suggest regeneration: the law written on minds and hearts, a new heart given, a knowledge of the Lord, forgiveness of sins. This is no doubt attested in Old Covenant religion. Those saved by the CoG enjoyed these benefits fully in Christ, so there's nothing new on that level. I can see how a new administration of the ordinances demonstrate a difference, but the language is still very strong. Is it not possible that the prophet is speaking of other aspects, for example, the membership of the NC (only the regenerate)?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  19. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This was discussed on the previous thread. No, it's not possible. Heb 8-10 utilises the promise of Jeremiah for the purpose of showing a change in the priesthood -- a point of objective administration. The idea of "regenerate only membership" would subjectivise the covenant and destroy the objective, redemptive-historical argument of the text. And the warning which comes at the end of that section in chap. 10, with regard to what would happen if the Hebrews did not hold fast the profession of their faith, would make no sense.
     
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Dennis,
    I think you need to take some time to pray about and meditate on this. I believe your questions have all been answered quite well in the last few threads we have discussed this. You might want to revisit the past thread where we discussed this quite a bit.

    I will give you some of the pertinent posts here. Take some time and think about this before you start repeating the questions. It seems we are just going in circles. It is getting a bit tiring answering the same questions over and over the past few threads.




     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  21. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    I've been trying to percolate over this concept of a charge of subjectivising the covenant. Honestly, I think the terminology just needs to be presented to me in simpler terms. However, allow me to interact with what I think you're saying. I don't think that the change in objective priesthood needs to dominate the discussion. Look at what the writer of Hebrews says RIGHT before he cites Jeremiah. He says, "For he finds fault with THEM when he says:" ... and he goes on to quote the New Covenant. His concern IS subjective at its inception, it seems to me. It is about people. It is about the people to whom the NC applies, at least in my reading. The problem that he views is that God's people are an unregenerate people who do not know the Lord. But, in the New Covenant, this will not be so. God makes sure of it by his own atoning blood.

    And, the argument about the need for teachers in the New Covenant ... there is a very real sense in which there is no need to admonish a regenerate person that they ought to know the Lord. The last thing on my mind is to encourage you, Randy, or Rev. Winzer, that you ought to know the Lord. This is not on my evangelistic priority list. And I happen to think that this is an outworking of the New Covenant.
     
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I have had people in my life who have told me during certain times that they were worried for my soul and that they were concerned for my eternal state. It was very appropriate. And this has been years after my conversion. Backsliding is a very real concern for us. Many people have made confessions and been baptized confessing Christ with their mouth and yet have not been regenerate. The call for the Church is to keep that in the forefront. We are to be consistent in this call to Know the Lord. The reality of knowing the Lord is also an eschatological thing. That is why St. Paul challenges others in 2 Corinthians 13:5 and why the warning passages are written. The encouragement to know the Lord is a very real.

    Dennis, please do what I asked. Take some time to pray and consider the whole and what has been said.

    Also consider the way this is spoken of. It also is in conjection with Jeremiah 31 I believe.

     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  23. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Dennis,

    Here's something that might be of interest Covenant Theology I just found it this morning, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet.
     
  24. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    When was there a time when it was necessary to admonish a regenerate person to know the Lord?
     
  25. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Allow me to quote Micah and Samuel Renihan, who drill down more in detail on the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace. Thanks go to Chris Poe for linking the article in which this quote comes from:

    The above quote does appear to be the majority view among Reformed Baptists today.
     
  26. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Yep, It is from Westminster California alright. It smells like and looks like Klinean Theology which I have grown to disagree with. As an OPC Pastor friend of mine noted, "I believed Kline would be the next theologian appropriated for his contributions to Covenantal-Baptist theology."
     
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I think they have a lot to do with Christ redeeming and gathering the Elect. Those National Promises reflect how God works and has his dealings with the Church in the Wilderness and in the Land. It is about the pedigogical way God raised the Church in the Old Testament and it reflects how He deals with the Church as a whole. It isn't a works paradigm. It is a relational paradigm of grace and how God deals with His Church. And it looks like that is the way he deals with the New Covenant Church also. He will remove the candlestick and He will bring down the hammer so to speak. There are plenty of passages that indicate this. It is a grace that He does this. And in 1 Corinthians 10 he says that we should consider it. For they should be remembered as examples. What a grace.
     
  28. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Randy, I'm not sure of the cross-over between paedobaptist WSCAL and the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies at WSCAL. In other words it doesn't automatically follow that the IRBS is "tainted" by Horton, Clark, et al.
     
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Please look at what the writer has said from the beginning of chapter 8 leading up to the verse you have quoted. The section is entirely taken up with the priesthood. Go through the various contrasts in chapter 9. What is the point of concern? The ordinances as they relate to the priesthood. The objective work of Christ in His once offering up of Himself as a sacrifice is made the contrast. Look, again, at what is said before and after the quotation in chapter 10: "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." The issue pertains to the priesthood which makes atonement for sin. According to Hebrews, "I will remember their sin no more" means there is no continual sacrifices made for sins. Then look at the warning which closes this section of the Epistle: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." The point is, There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins under the old covenant administration. From beginning to end the only use that is made of the passage from Jeremiah is the objective, redemptive-historical significance that it has with respect to the change of priesthood.

    I am sorry that you feel no need to exhort your brethren, Dennis. That sounds hyper-Calvinist to me. God uses means to work in His people's lives. While we are in chapter 10 of Hebrews perhaps you could take some time to meditate on the chain of exhortations in verses 19-25. It is obvious that the writer did not regard the passage from Jeremiah as if it did away with the need of teaching.
     
  30. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Randy, respectfully, you are articulating the typographical aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant. The point is that no one is called into covenant with God based on national, or "physical" promises.
     
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