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10 bullet points on Covenant Theology

1. Start with recognizing the three foundational covenants: the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace. Some want to tuck the Covenant of Redemption into the Covenant of Grace and so only talk about the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, but the problem with that is the Covenant of Redemption is the foundation of both the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, not just the Covenant of Grace alone. The Covenant of Grace is the Covenant of Redemption as it is played out in historical time (the Covenant of Redemption is convened before creation in eternity); yet the Covenant of Redemption also underlies the Covenant of Works made in the Garden. The Covenant of Works is what Jesus comes to fulfill after the first Adam fails to fulfill it. This is part of the plan of redemption as laid out in the Covenant of Redemption. Some don't want to recognize the Covenant of Redemption because the Westminster Confession of Faith doesn't mention it directly and they want their confession to be perfect, but no document made by man will be perfect because it would rival the word of God itself.

2. It's important to realize there are three unique players in God's plan of redemption: pre-fall Adam, National Israel (as opposed to individual Israelites), and Jesus Himself. This is important to know so that you don't compare any of these three players with fallen man in general, pre or post-incarnation.

3. Jesus (the second Adam) came to fulfill what the first Adam failed to fulfill. So did this mean Jesus came to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Well...yes, but obviously the garden is no more and the scene has changed post fall. So that Covenant of Works made in the Garden was republished on Sinai (the Mosaic Covenant) - in obviously elaborated form - so that Jesus could be "born under the law" and have that specific law to follow and fulfill to a 't.' Which Jesus did. Which only Jesus could do.

4. For some odd reason nobody in this discussion of Covenant Theology wants to talk about how National Israel is a prototype of the coming Messiah. It's curious because it is central to understanding Covenant Theology and to understanding God's plan of redemption overall. National Israel mirrored Jesus' life (for instance going down to Egypt). National Israel also came into existence to be the bloodline of the coming Messiah, from Adam through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Twelve Tribes. National Israel's history also was the actual substance of the engrafted word of God. You can see how close an identity as a type National Israel had with the coming Messiah. Blood, history, biography, etc. This typology is important to see why the Covenant on Sinai was made and how it relates to fallen man. National Israel was not fallen man, individual Israelites were fallen people, just like us, but as the entity National Israel they were a unique player in God's plan of redemption. There is NO similarity between National Israel and any people or nation that is not National Israel, pre or post-Incarnation. Individual Israelites were saved by faith in the coming Messiah just as we are saved by faith in the already come Messiah, but National Israel as an entity is unique as a type of the coming Messiah.

5. Saying the Mosaic Covenant is a republication of the Covenant of Works is not saying that anybody can be saved by their own works after the fall. This point is demagogued by many in the general discussions and arguments over Covenant Theology. The Mosaic Covenant was the republished Covenant of Works for National Israel as a prototype of Jesus, and for Jesus Himself to be born under and to fulfill.

6. Jesus' very fulfilling of the republished Covenant of Works on Sinai *is the Covenant of Grace for fallen man* once fallen man appropriates Jesus' accomplishment by faith. This is the only sense that the Mosaic Covenant is both a Covenant of Works and a Covenant of Grace at the same time. In other words: there is only one way to be saved........works. Either your own works (good luck with that, fallen man who has original sin and who has actively sinned from birth), or Jesus Christ's works, appropriated by faith. The latter route is the Covenant of Grace.

7. An aside: it helps to get an overall skeletal sense of the history of the plan of redemption by reading Thomas Boston's Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. Why? Because it will clearly show the differences between the pre-fall state of man in the Garden; the post-fall state of man in this fallen world; the new state that a human being enters when regenerated by the word and the Spirit; and finally the state of glorification beyond physical death. Knowing these four different states helps one in not making category mistakes. For instance, some very respected theologians treat Adam in the Garden the same as if he was a fallen man like us. No, Adam in the Garden was different from us. Adam had the ability to sin, and the ability to not sin. We as fallen people have the ability to sin, and the inability to not sin. Everything we do is sin. We are dead in sin. Adam in the Garden was not. He became like us after his fall, but prior he was different from us. Regarding sin and the four states it goes like this:

Man in innocence in the Garden: able to sin, able to not sin
Fallen man: able to sin, unable to not sin
Regenerated man: able to sin, able to not sin
Glorified man: unable to sin (which is a wholly new state that even pre-fall Adam did not possess)

8. The other covenants (other than the Noahic) had to do with setting up the Nation and Kingdom of Israel. The Abrahamic Covenant made Abraham's offspring, including the God-man Jesus Christ, God's unique people, with their own land, in time to set the stage for His overall plan of redemption. The Mosaic Covenant gave National Israel it's laws and ceremonies, again to enable them to bring the future Messiah into being undefiled by any of Satan's attempts to defile that royal bloodline. The harsh laws for adultery, for instance, had this for it's reason for existence. The Davidic Covenant set up the line of the Kingdom. The Noahic Covenant established the theatre of redemption, keeping it safe from future judgment like what happened with the flood, but obviously not keeping it safe from the final judgment. National Israel's history also played the role of showing the world that one can't earn one's salvation by one's own works.

9. In spiritual warfare the Covenant of Redemption is like the Christian's Magna Carta, or legal Constitution that he or she stands on when challenged by the Devil. There is also a small analogy regarding this with what being a citizen of Rome meant back in the apostle Paul's day. It granted rights and protections non-citizens didn't have.

10. It has to be stated that there is intentional deception by some when discussing Covenant Theology. Those who are mostly concerned with protecting infant baptism are the worst offenders (but Federal Vision types have their own motives for deception). Those concerned with protecting infant baptism distort Covenant Theology by first insisting that the Old Covenant mentioned by Paul is not Sinai but is the Abrahamic Covenant. They have to maintain the parallel, as they need it, between physical circumcision and ritual water baptism (when the bible makes circumcision of the heart - which is regeneration by the word and the Spirit - the parallel to physical circumcision). They also have to say one can be in the Covenant of Grace and not be in the Covenant of Grace *at the same time.* This is ad hoc garbage doctrine.

Addendum: Here is a continuation post on an esoteric point regarding Covenant Theology.


Blogger c.t. said...

One element of Covenant Theology (of God's overall plan of redemption) that I didn't bring out in the ten points is the fantasy novel like journey of it all. That sounds like a shallow analogy (I don't even read fantasy genre type novels, but I have read a lot of mythology, folktales, and things like Grail Romance in my life which are similar). Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress gets at this element of the Christian journey as well. When seen in this light then things like the Covenant of Redemption itself can be seen as a sort of Magna Carta that the legal rights of God's elect rests upon. In the spiritual world where such rights may be challenged by dark forces. For instance.

Also, if you read my esoteric point on Covenant Theology that I linked at the bottom of the post you can see how the so-called sacraments can become actual practices (being awake, loving your enemy as seen as practical conscious shocks, taught in esoteric Christian school literature like Ouspensky's Fourth Way) that God's elect do to make there way in the spiritual realm, through obstacles and when confronted...

February 22, 2017 at 1:35 AM  

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