Thursday, August 31, 2006

What's not new about the New Covenant

I was reading several chapters yesterday of The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism ed. Gregg Strawbridge. A great book and very useful in looking at several aspects of the biblical theology surrounding our practice of covenantal baptism. Chapter 7 by Jeffrey Niell, (at time of writing) a CRE pastor in Arizona, answers an assertion from John MacArthur based on Hebrews 8. The punchline of MacArthur's assertion is that the New Covenant is new in that it stresses interior, spiritual reality ("all shall know the Lord") in contrast to the exterior, formal reality of the Old Covenant.

In response Niell offers these zingers of what's not new in the New Covenant:

  • A people of God called the church.
  • Internal religion (Heb. 8.10 cf. Deut 6.4-6)
  • Divine initiative
  • Vital, covenantal relationship with God (Lev. 26.12)
  • Vital, personal knowledge of God. (Heb. 8.11)
  • Grace, mercy and forgiveness (cf. Psalm 85, Ps 32, Ps 103)
We have in Christ
  • the prophetic word now made sure
  • a perfect, high priest
  • a perfect, final, unrepeatable sacrifice
  • a brother in the battle against sin
  • the reality forecast in shadowy figures, types, and symbols
  • no more bloody sacrifices
  • no veil in the holy place
  • a share in the fellowship offerings as a kingdom of priests
  • and we will go on in eternity enjoying his fulness, transformed now from one degree of glory to another.

I'll leave you with a hymn to lead your heart to praise and wonder at Christ's fulfillment of both covenants!

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong a perfect plea

A great High Priest whose name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the Just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the Risen Lamb

My perfect spotless righteousness

The great unchangeable I Am

The King of glory and of grace

One with Himself I cannot die

My soul is purchased by His blood

My life is hid with Christ on high

With Christ my Savior and my God

With Christ my Savior and my God


pilgrim said...

Is this going to come out in your sermon?

It seems to be a similar train of thought from how I understood what you were going to do.

RevGoT said...

It seems that grace oriented people feel like they have to almost spit on the ground when they mention the law or the old covenant. Hebrews says the old covenant is inferior only because the fulfillment has come and has been enacted with better promises. Hopefully this can correct some of the abuse heaped on the old covenant, which is indeed part of the covenant of grace!!

And yes it will come through, hopefully loud and clear!