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Posts Tagged ‘New Covenant Theology’

 

Real quickly. If you look at the links on the side. I have updated the links by making a new category for New Covenant Theology. If you are interested in knowing more about New Covenant Theology and its distinctives please visit those sites, I promise you that you will not be disappointed. God bless and let me know if you have any questions about NCT.

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I think the first thing  a new disciple should ask themselves or be taught is “what am I to do with the Old Testament and all of those laws”. In some churches the Old Testament is used as an inspirational manual, in others certain laws are used to curb subjective morality (clothes, tattoos) in some denominations the law is supposedly strictly adhered to (until you get to the stoning, real obedience to the sabbath, having mixed fabric clothing), some more solid brothers cancel 2/3rds of it and only uphold the Decalogue, some say those laws aren’t binding but borrow much from it to make certain points and then comes New Covenant Theology. I am of this persuasion and we teach that “All Old Testament Laws are Cancelled” thus consistently pitting the two covenants, the two mediators and work and grace against one another.

Mr Gibson does a really good job giving us a brief and decoded “theologically speaking” work on New Covenant Theology. The thesis of the book is simple and clear:

All Old Testament laws are cancelled, and all New Testament laws are for our obedience. But, you don’t have to agree with me to fellowship with me. If you know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s good enough for me. pg. 7

The book is laid out quite simply. The author provides 24 reasons why. In simple number format, supported with charts, scriptures, ending with a couple of appendices and scripture index.

Mr. Gibson provides numerous verses which describe the Old Covenant commandments and the attitude of these laws by the New Covenant writers. One of the simplest but most important distinctions is found on page 62 in where he shows the distinction between Regressive and Progressive Revelation. New Covenant Theologians believe that “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed. The Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed”

Mr . Gibson also does a brief overview of Christ’s statement “I did not come to abolish the law” in pages 41-55. This is a very brief discussion and would really take a few hundred pages to deal with extensively. Mr. Gibson does however try to squeeze a bunch of truth into those 15 pages, but again this is not the intent of the book so it is treated with as many pages as the book allows.

In pages 81-89, he deals with defining and discussing the 10 Commandments as the Decalogue which really can’t be separated from the rest of the Old Covenant Law. Regardless of what my Covenant brothers say the Ceremonial, Civil and Moral are not biblical terms. John Reisinger in his work “The Tablets of Stone” does an unbelievable job thoroughly working through the definitions and exposing the false dichotomies of the Law.

Mr. Gibson finishes with what I think to believe Covenant Theology’s weakest point. That is the law and sanctification. Sanctification for a Christian is Christ Centered. That is because the power is from Christ and the ability to obey is intertwined within the New Covenant while the Old Covenant is what it is “a ministry of death”. Mr. Gibson also shows that the 10 Commandments are thoroughly insufficient in how we are to love one another (the one another’s) while the New Covenant Law of Christ gives us direct commands on how to live this out and the power to do it.

There are a few setbacks. For an introduction Mr. Gibson spends very little time contrasting Dispensationalism, though this is not the intent of the book it would have been good to see how we differ. Mr. Gibson also does very little exposition on the many verses he provides. Because the book is more illustrative I believe this is why this occurs. But it would be good to have provided some good exposition on some of the key verses (Hebrews 8, the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 7, 2 Corinthians 3).

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know briefly what New Covenant Theology believes and why we have a radical discontinuity with the Old Covenant as a “gracious covenant” as many of my Covenant Theologian brothers would say.

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What would you think if you walked into a local church and they were singing a song with these lyrics on the screen above:

 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…….. Wretched man that I am! Wretched man that I am! Wretched man that I am! Wretched man that I am!

That would really get you prepared for the “ministry of the word” wouldn’t it? No! Not at all. The problem is this is the mantra of many Christians. “Oh wretched man that I am”. Here is what Charles Leiter says in his book “Justification And Regeneration”

It is highly significant that this view of Romans 7 has led to the “wretched man” concept of the Christian life, where “wretchedness”and spirituality are almost equated, and the more holy we become, the more “wretched” we are. In the words of one writer: “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teaching of Scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life.”  A. W. Pink, “The Christian in Romans pg 149.

He then goes on to say:

In other words, the man of Romans 7 is not just battling with sin but utterly defeated by it, in stark contrast with Paul’s description of all true Christians in Romans 6 and Romans 7:1-6.

I agree with Mr. Leiter on this. If Paul’s statement in Romans 7 is the “normal Christian experience” then it doesn’t seem like we have much to do when it comes to conqueing sin in our lives. We are just a product of the old sin nature destined to be defeated and powerless to sin remember what Paul says “not the ability to carry it out”.

In steps the power of the New Covenant. I think many today have an over fixation on Justification while ignoring the completion of Christ’s work which includes Regeneration. Justification is what Jesus did, Regeneration is what Jesus is doing through the Spirit. Justification is our positional sanctification while Regeneration is our own going walk towards Christ likeness and away from sin the sin we were slaves to (Romans 6, Ephesians 2, Titus 3).

I think my Anabaptist brothers have this right. You see today Christianity is more about what Jesus did than what He is doing. We look back being “cross centered” while forgetting to move forward being “resurrection centered”. Jesus both died and raised and we are to be raised to a “newness of life”. The “wretched man” is one who has the law and has died do to that law and has no power but to look at sin and keep dying; however the Christian is a Spiritual man, who has the mind of Christ and a new power (Holy Spirit) to be a slave to Christ not to be victim to the old sinful nature. Listen the “can’t do what I want to do” dude is a dead man walking. We are not of the flesh but of the Spirit (Romans 8).

I close with this. If you are a Christian you sinned because you wanted to, not because you have to. We are free from sin’s power. We were formerly chained to it, loved it, lived to please the sinful nature. But that man was buried and has died. Our new life is with Christ in the “heavenly places”. We have now become a slave to righteousness (Romans 6). The New Covenant brings with it a New Heart which has a new disposition against sin. Not only that we not only have a new law (The Law of Christ, 1 Corinthians 9; Romans 7:4-6). We have the authority in the spirit, a power to obey it (Hebrews 8).

So the next time you hear someone quoting this, say  to them “no, no that is a deafeated man, a hopeless man, a dead man”, if you are in Christ you have a New Heart, a new power, under a New Covenant and you have a new Master. Our song says “power, power, wonder working power, in the blood of the Lamb”!

 

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This image is from ASBO Jesus.

This will be my short attempt to explain what I think about the Church. My ideas may be a bit different from many, but I would love to engage.

My introduction paragraph follows…. We are not under the Old Covenant but the New (Hebrews 8-9). Because of that, I don’t need to borrow anything, okay let me rephrase that, I shouldn’t borrow anything from the Old Covenant to shape my ecclesiology. There is radical discontinuity. Which simply means…. I don’t have to obey anything in the Old Testament unless it is transferred to the New, by Christ, the Apostles or other authors of the New Testament. Some may feel this is false, but I promise you, your theology drives you to that point, not the scriptures. In his book “All Old Testament Laws CanceledMr. Gibson says:

There is discontinuity in practice between the Old Testament vs the New Testament since they contain 2 separate laws (although many of the same commands are transferred). And, there is continuity in doctrine/faith between them since God never changes. (Also, there is continuity in God’s one, eternal plan in Christ which organizes all the covenants and the whole bible).

I believe this to be a key to interpreting the scriptures and what is to be practiced by the Church. We are not Jews, we have never been Jews and the Old Covenant was given to Israel and them alone. It has been abolished, it has ceased and has been replaced by the New Covenant Law of God (1 Corinthians 9:21).

Okay, with that out the way I want to bring up three points:

1. The Old Covenant had a mediating group.

To get to God you had to come through the Levites under the Old Covenant. Only they could light the lampstand, change the shew-bread, keep the incense burning, and offer sacrifices on behalf of the people.  Today we are all priest (1 Peter 2) with one High Priest who is alive forever (Heb 9:11). Pastors and elders don’t replace or assume the responsibility of the levitical priest, THE ENTIRE Church does and our High Priest is Jesus. Not to mention Moses was the first mediator. A Senior Pastor doesn’t replace Moses. Jesus does, for he is a mediator of a “Better Covenant”. To try to use Moses instructions from Jethro to lead the Church today is a gross misinterpretation of those verses. We don’t see Jesus or the Apostles every condoning such a hierarchy as a matter of fact he tells us to stay away from such hierarchical structures (Matthew 23).

2. The Old Covenant Had a Place of Worship

The temple was the only authorized place to offer sacrifices and to hear from God. No one else was authorized to offer up sacrifices and no other place was authorized. Our church buildings do not replace the temple or tabernacle. The Church which is made up of every single building does. We now Worship the Father through the Son and that in spirit and in truth (John 4). We offer up sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:15) through Christ. And because He is always heard we don’t have to worry like they did in the Old Covenant  if our sacrifice is accepted, because Jesus makes it acceptable by mediating for us perpetually (Hebrews 8).

3. The Need for a Professionalized Group

Finally the storehouse is gone, the need for a professionalized group is gone, and the need to pay that group is gone. Why? Because as New Covenant believers we are not under a Theocracy. That theocracy has been replaced with a gracious covenant where every nation, tongue and tribe is brought into relationship with God. The priest were commissioned by God to do a work and mediate on his behalf and they were commanded not to work, for they HAD TO be available for service to the people on behalf of God. Today we are priest and all hold the same mediating positions! Though we function differently due to our gifting doesn’t mean that there is a select class. The Church is not the storehouse, that is superimposing the Old, dead covenant unto the new living Church of God. There is no continuity between the two.

This is brief because I don’t want to lose you; however, we live under a New Covenant that is in opposition to what it is discontinued from. To take Old Covenant examples and superimpose them on the Church is to do a disservice to what Jesus purchased with His own blood. The Old Covenant was ratifed with the blood of bulls and goats “once Moses sprinkled the tablets he also sprinkled the people”. Today we are covered by the blood of the living God. He has created something new, and the last time I checked new really means new!

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I have stumbled across a new site dedicated to New Covenant Theology. Here is what they say about themselves:

As stated on the front page, New Covenant Journal exists to exalt Jesus Christ. It strives to do so by providing good instruction for the head and the heart. And in the spirit of full disclosure, we want you to know that our teaching flows from a theological perspective which embraces the Doctrines of Grace (aka Calvinism, Reformed Theology, TULIP, Sovereign Grace), the baptism of believers (i.e., not babies), and New Covenant Theology (in opposition to Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology). If the latter means little or nothing to you, thank the Lord for His gracious providence because this journal is designed to enlighten you.


On the homepage, you will find a sort of magazine/website hybrid. Similar to a typical web page, the layout will contain information (some static, some changing), links, recommended resources, etc. You will also find the articles of the current issue, the “magazine” portion. These compositions will be written and edited as if for a published periodical and displayed accordingly. We hope to post four issues annually.


Each issue divides into two major sections: New Covenant Thinking and New Covenant Living. The former presents lessons from the perspective of New Covenant Theology, exposing the weaknesses and errors of the other theological systems. The latter seeks to bring the Lordship of Christ and the grace of His Gospel to bear upon the diverse facets of life. Topics will include family, work, friendship, book reviews, movie reviews, logical thinking, how to vote, how to pray, how to develop holiday traditions, and lots of other things that we haven’t thought about yet.


For the foreseeable future, we will not be featuring a blog, but one of our contributors does. He writes about New Covenant Theology and much more. You can get there from here.


Along the way, we will provide links, audio, video, essays, etc., of good sound theology, even if their authors are not New Covenant Theology adherents. Though we would love for everyone to stand eye-to-eye with us, we recognize that many good and godly folks see things differently. On matters where we do agree, we happily recommend them to you. (We may lead you to matters where we disagree, too, but we’ll be sure to point that out.)


While on the topic of disagreement, we want you to know that we consider all who believe the Gospel to be our brothers and sisters, even if we strongly oppose some of their theological views. So while we may try to knock them off of their platforms, we do not consider them out of the party. We like those guys. We desire to display truth and biblical fidelity, not to create strife and division.

Enjoy!!!!

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I already knew (I am a Master Prophet) that there would be some miscommunication. That is due to the limited space, the “thoughts behind my comments” (as Q would say) and just the lack of being able to think of every angle or exception that would be raised.

In summary, what I was attempting to convey is this. We must always look back to the Cross as our only static and objective measure of our position in Christ Jesus. I want to ensure that I convey that. What I was not saying is that “there will be no evident fruit and works that proceed the work of grace in the life of the believer”. I personally believe that there are two separate but 100% guaranteed works that Christ accomplishes. 1. Justification. 2. Regeneration. I will not get into the Order of Salvation in this post, but I will focus on the latter.

Regeneration promises us two things. It is the work of the Spirit that gives us the new nature and that new nature guarantees us that what God began in saving us He will continue in sanctifying us. What I mean is this. As a believer (with some minor exceptions such as premature death, or mental capacity) God promises us a work of grace that will conform us to the image of Christ Jesus. As someone used Ephesians 2:10 rightfully we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Not only that the Spirit that resides in us will bear fruit (how much, when, and which ones could be up for debate and makes examining them as an evidence of salvation is what I am arguing against).

Because I am convicted by the tenets of New Covenant Theology, I believe that in the Church the promise of the FULLNESS of the New Covenant including the promises of the New Heart is in operation in the Church today. The writer of Hebrews says this:

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away

I hate to include all of the verses but we have to understand that the writer of the book of Hebrews (ultimately the Holy Spirit) was convinced that the Old Covenant was fully vanished (or obsolete) and the New Covenant is in full operation for those who have placed faith in Christ or better expressed the Church.

We have to understand that though the Old Covenant did have some graciousness in it, by the mere fact that God communicated with sinful man Paul calls it a “ministry of death” and earlier in Chapter 8 of Hebrews the writer says “it has better promises and is a better covenant”. Whats the difference in the two? The first places the law outside of man with no power to obey it. It is a deathly ministry. Paul says in Romans 7 “the commandments came and I died”. He goes on to say “I don’t have the ability to carry it out”.

However in the New Covenant the promises of the ability to carry it out becomes a reality. Paul says in Romans 6 “we have died to sin” and “been freed from the power of sin and death”. This freedom is a reality and a new disposition against sin. Do I carry it out? The answer is no and that is why Paul commands us in Ephesians 4 to “put on the new man”, and “don’t grieve the Spirit” both of these imply that there are times when I will not put on the new man and that I will grieve the Spirit of God. However we can no longer say as Paul says as an Old Covenant believer “I don’t have the ability”.

So I say all of that to clarify this. The TRUE believer will bear fruit, will do good works and will grow and mature given some exceptions. Why? Paul gives us another promise and work of God in Romans 8:29:

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

So I am not advocating antinomianism nor am I advocating a faith the produces lip service. I am advocating a faith that is real genuine but however can only truly be measured by looking at face of God in Christ “the author and finisher of our faith”. I am wanting to prevent a method today that seems to throw grenades in friendly populated areas in order to snuff out a couple of enemy soldiers. That would unwise in military tactics and that would be unwise in the body of Christ. We must be careful not to shake the faith, even if temporary, those little ones. We must be careful to safeguard their assurance not shake up the false professor. Christ will set the goats on one side and the sheep in the other. That is not our job. But again I believe in the fullness of the New Covenant one promise being that of a new heart pre-wired to love God and His commands and the ability to walk it out. Our God is faithful not only to save but also to sanctify and this promise every believer will see. God bless and sorry for any confusion.

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If you have read much of anything I have written you realize that Tyris and I both hold a high view of the New Covenant. This high view effects the way we see the Law greatly. I love reading the Puritans and I have many great brothers in the faith that would say with ease “the Law is a tool for sanctification” .They would somehow separate the 10 commandments from the Old Covenant thus rendering it trans-covenantal. I will be clear. I punt that idea as far as I possibly can. Why?

Well there are many reasons the primary one being we are under a NEW COVENANT. I have asked the question numerous times and I usually get some logical and non-biblical answer; however, the question is “when the bible says new just how new is it”? Or better yet when the writers of the New Testament say the Old Covenant has passed away, has been abolished, or has been deemed useless, what exactly does those terms mean. Where am I going? Glad you asked.

My home church is going through Ephesians and I have grown to love the book more and more each day. Calvin and Steve have done an excellent job expounding the text and just making it very practical. I am also co-teaching (well I have been doing the listening and Steve has been doing the teaching) bible study methods at our church and it has been lovely to see people fall in love with God’s word. There are some drawbacks of not first understanding the metanarrative of scripture and understanding the overall redemptive view of the scriptures but all in all it has been really good.

So as I am studying my methods and doing a structural analysis/diagram these verses jumped right off the page, found here in Ephesians 2 (not to mention Calvin preached it so well).

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (ESV)

There is enough to eat on in this text that it is unbelievable. But I want to focus on what actually divided Jews and Gentiles. It is found in verse 15. What was the dividing mechanism under the Old Covenant? Ding, ding, ding. The Law expressed in ordinances. So what did Christ do to make two people one new man? He ABOLISHED IT! From the study of the Old Testament it was clear that Israel was the covenant people of God and that covenant wasn’t intangible. It was clearly tangible and could easily be identified. No one could come to an Old Covenant Jew and say you are not the people of God and if so prove it. They would have to go no further than the tabernacle or the temple and talk to the High Priest. They could show you the tablets handwritten by God.

Many will tell you to run away from the Law for salvation by faith and then in turn point you back to the Law for sanctification. This is something very difficult for me to understand. Not only do we begin in the Spirit but we continue on by the Spirit. We are not under law but Grace. We don’t run back to ordiances in order to be transformed to Christ-likeness. Those things were a shadow. We not turn to Christ through the Spirit. The Law brought forth condemnation and death, why turn to it for life? However, the Spirit brings liberty and life why turn from Him?

This is but a short exhortation to flee law based sanctification. Turn to the Lords Spirit for purification. It is He who empowers to live for Jesus not the Law. The ordinances have been done away with in the New Covenant. Walking in the newness of Life! These passages also show the biblical truth that there is but one people the Church. No more Israel/Gentile distiction. God ONLY HAS ONE PEOPLE! And they are those who have put faith in Christ. I have tackled that numerous of times and it isn’t the focus of this post. For this trip lose the Old Covenant Law and turn to the New Covenant Law of Christ which is a better promise because we are given the ability to obey by the Spirit.

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