Monday, September 10, 2007

Covenant Theology

Covenant Theology
Author: tartanarmy (1:07 am)


Covenant Theology

Which brings us to this word as used in the context of the issue before us. Covenant theology (as understood for example in the Westminster Confession of Faith) is the promise which supports a great degree of continuity between the old covenant (represented by works) and the new, to establish his eternal kingdom through the plan of redemption. The 'covenant of redemption' (Ephesians 1:4-7,11; 1st Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8) is what undergirds the covenant of grace in covenant theology.

Those who hold to this system also believes that scripture teaches that the promise or covenant of God in an external sense applies not only to those adults who come to believe, but also to their children. Baptism is a 'sign' of incorporation into the external family of God. This view teaches that scripture shows a certain unity in God's Covenants. i.e., there is a covenant of works and the covenant of grace, and they are intimately related.

In covenant theology scripture looks upon all history as a progressive revealing of this covenant of grace. It carries over the old order into the new in the sense that it is understood that the old covenant law is not done away with, rather it is completed for the believer in Christ. In this way, the old has become new. The true Israel of God was always been the select congregation (i.e., individuals rather than a nation), and the old covenant saints always depended on Christ, rather than their own works. Not one old covenant Israelite was Saved by works, except it was by the work of Christ. The scriptures teach that the old covenant law is still binding, but we can only keep it in Christ Jesus. In Him alone we keep it perfectly. Jesus taught that what He came to do in His life, and the work that He accomplished, was the fulfillment and the substance of all the old covenant 'shadows or types.' Those laws are all kept in Him. No one was ever Saved by the blood of a literal lamb being slaughtered. The old was merely a picture of the new (or true) that was coming.

Hebrews 8:4-5

* "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
* Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount."

God set those old covenant laws to look forward to Christ in whom we could keep them perfectly (as required). Thus Covenant theology is the belief that the law is not destroyed or abrogated, but fulfilled in Christ. In this way only are we dead to the law. In that it cannot 'condemn' us.

When Our Lord established the new covenant, it was proof that there is nothing of merit in the dispensational system or view of the covenant. For Christ Himself was not establishing something radically different, rather, 'by Himself,' He was establishing the true or real fulfillment of the old covenant shadows.

Hebrews 10:1

* "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."

The law was our schoolteacher (Galatians 3:24), showing us that we fall short of the glory of God and couldn't get to heaven by our works. The old testament saints couldn't keep the law by their blood sacrifices, nor did these acts commanded by God make them perfect (keeping perfectly God's laws). The real work of keeping the law falls on Christ's shoulders. In covenant theology it is understood that the law is not ended, we are still obligated to it, but it is made complete (fulfilled) in Christ. We can only keep the law perfectly (which is required) in Christ. We obey God and keep the law only because God is working within us to both will and to do.

Hebrews 13:21

* "Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

The keeping the law is by the work of Christ, and the good that we see is the evidence of Salvation, not the reason (lest any man should boast) for it. Keeping the law is a product of Christ working within us, and God has an external federal family relationship with the visible Church. The same external Covenant relationship God had with the old testament saints. These truths of a 'certain' continuity of old and New Covenants constitute true essence of 'Covenant Theology.'

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