Synopsis of Biblical Covenantalism

Here’s a tight synopsis of “Biblical Covenantalism” which I placed in the combox of my contrast between it and Classic Dispensationalism.

Synopsis:

Presupposition – God’s actions always follow His words e.g., Gen. 1:11-12, 24-25, 26-30; 11:7, 9; 2 Kings 1:3-4, 16-17; 5:10, 14; Jn. 21:21-23.  (More so when He obligates Himself in a covenant).
1. There’s a bit to it, but I believe the first covenant is that with Noah and creation in Gen.9.
2. 2 Pet. 3:6-7a divides “the world that then was” from “the heavens and earth which are now.”
3. Our history (in contrast to pre-diluvian history) is governed by the Noahic Covenant with its assurance of uniformity (cf. Gen. 8:22). This uniformity will continue until Christ delivers up this creation to the Father after the Millennium (1 Cor.15:20-28). That covenant provides the stage for the unfolding of the other covenants.
4. The Abrahamic Covenant furnishes blessings for ethnic Israel (“Jacob”) and the Nations. The Davidic and Priestly covenants fill out a covenantal triad for Israel (I place the Land covenant of Deut. 29-30 within the AC).
5. The Mosaic covenant was temporal and served among other things to preserve Israel.
6. None of these covenants have within them the redemptive means for their consummation. This is by Divine design.
7. To ensure Christ (for whom it was all made in the first place and is sustained by Him now) is front and center in His Plan, God places the redemptive means needed by the other covenants in the New Covenant in Christ’s Blood.
8. The eschatological context of the NC passages of the OT, like Jer. 31 & Ezek. 36, point to its being made with the Remnant of Israel at the Second Advent.
9. The Church is not spoken of in the OT, so one should not read too much into its absence in Jer. 31.
10. The NC was made with the Church as distinct from national Israel at the first advent (Lk.22; 1 Cor.11). This is why the Church is not under the Law as a rule of life. The NC links the Church to certain provisions in the AC.
11. The telos within the original creation is carried by biblical eschatology via the covenants to its consummation under the historical rule of the last Adam. Hence, teleology & eschatology are inseparable.
12. This earth is cursed and that curse cannot be removed. But before the New Heavens and Earth Jesus will regenerate it on its “Noahic Base” and present it to God; history having been consummated.
13. The everlasting terms of the unilateral covenants will continue into the eternal realm, which will be closely associated with this realm, especially in its original condition.
14. To reflect the Triune nature of God and the triadic imprint within nature, there will be three peoples of God (Jew, Gentile, Church) who are one people of God. These correspond to the three Persons: Father “marries” Israel; Son “marries” the Church; the Spirit “marries” the Gentiles.

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24 comments

  1. I’ve been a Free Grace Pauline Dispensationalist since 1968. I could care less about Calvinistic
    Covenantalism.
    Calvinism / covenantalism has no
    Scripture to stand on, so why waist
    all these words?
    Are you a Dispensationalist
    or not?
    John G.

  2. Dr. H.
    Jer. 31 says that the new covenant is for the houses of Israel and Judah. I thought the church was grafted in to this Covenant. Isreal will partake in it later when they are restored (Rom. 11). How do you explain that the NC was made to the church?
    Thanx

    1. Will,

      “How do you explain that the NC was made to the church?”

      Answer: progressive revelation. 🙂

      Why would you expect to find Jeremiah talking about the Church? Any relation the Church has to the New Covenant cannot be determined from the OT but the New. The NT is very clear on this I think:

      1. Lk. 22 Jesus makes “the new covenant in my blood” (not “the Lord’s Supper in my blood!”).
      2. The ones He made it with were to be foundational to the Church (Eph. 2:20)
      3. Paul speaks of the words of institution of the new covenant (not the Lord’s Supper) in 1 Cor. 11:25. He uses the term “Lord’s Supper in v.20 FOR the institution of the new covenant.
      4. In 2 Cor. 3:6 Paul speaks of himself and his fellow-workers as “ministers of the new covenant.”

      Moreover, since the Christian is not under the Law of Moses (the “tablets of stone” in 2 Cor. 3:3) it is because he is under the new covenant. (This is an important argument in the Law & Gospel debate).

      Take a gander at this article and the two following, https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/christ-at-the-center-pt-2a/ although there is more to say.

      Your brother,

      P.

  3. Very interesting reading – keeps us sharp, using our brains as well as understanding of Scripture and God in balancing it all out – These are some pretty heavy thoughts – covering a lot of ground – but what stands out the most to me is that God has made Covenants based upon His own ability to keep them and that what He’s promised will come to pass – on that we can count!!!
    Blessings to you, Pastor

  4. I believe that the New Covenant was made specifically with Israel. But it is presently being applied to the church due to our union with Jesus Christ. I would agree that the New Covenant was instituted at the cross. And that it’s complete fulfillment will take place when Israel comes to faith in Jesus Christ in connection with His second coming and enters the New Covenant ( Rom. 11:25-29 ) . I agree with the Scofield Bible and the New Scofield Study Bibel on this.

      1. I agreed with each of the specific points that you made. You could have added the fact that Jesus died for Israel and also for the church for your point of the New Covenant to show some relationship to it since both are to be saved by Jesus death. Plus add that Jesus died for lost humanity and brings together the reality of how all believers in each dispensation are saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ though the New Covenant is made specifically with Israel. The New Covenant is the basis of the dispensation of grace and for the dispensation of the Kingdom reign of Christ on the earth during the millennial kingdom.

      2. Bryan, you make some useful points, but you commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent when you say that “the New Covenant is made specifically with Israel.” It IS in Jer. 31, but in Lk. 22 & 1 Cor. 11 it is just as specifically made with the Church. If that is what you meant (it may be that you wanted to stress the context of Jer. 31), then we are on the same page. If not…I’m sure we can both live with that. 🙂

      3. “Bryan, you make some useful points, but you commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent when you say that “the New Covenant is made specifically with Israel.” It IS in Jer. 31, but in Lk. 22 & 1 Cor. 11 it is just as specifically made with the Church. If that is what you meant (it may be that you wanted to stress the context of Jer. 31), then we are on the same page. If not…I’m sure we can both live with that. ”

        We are on the same page. 🙂

  5. ANY mixing of any covenant with the Body of Christ, those ‘In Christ’ is
    an affront to GRACE!
    Israel & the Church are to be kept separate totality.
    Two completely different dispensations! Two
    completely different
    destinations! One on
    earth, one in Glory!
    The Church is FREE
    from any covenent!
    We,the Church, are
    the BODY of Christ
    Himself! We are the Bride of Christ!
    We have been baptised into His
    BODY! wHY & WHERE
    SHOULD WE HAVE ANY
    COVENANT? FREEDOM IN CHRIST as His body & as His Bride!
    The New Covenant belongs to Israel,
    God’s earthly people. We, His Body
    are His heavenly people! NEVER MIXING
    THE TWO!!

    1. We still must remember that Jesus died also for the church too and not Israel alone. Both are to be saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The church is presently saved by the New Covenant while Israel will enter and be saved by it at Jesus second coming after the great tribulation. While there are about 24 contrast between Israel and the church there are some common features which are true for both. The common feature in this case is that both are saved by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross for their salvation. I would agree that Israel is God’s earthly elect people since God chose Israel alone from all nations on the earth and that the church is God’s heavenly elect people whom are to reign with Jesus Christ on the earth and dwell in the New Jerusalem.

  6. Brother Bryan, Jesus died ‘for the sins of THE WORLD, and created ‘a New Thing’, with out ANY
    COVENANT. The New
    Covenant will be with Israel NOT the
    Church! Covenant &
    Grace DO NOT MIX in
    ANY WAY! Why would
    the BODY OF CHRIST,
    the BRIDE OF CHRIST
    IN GLORY need or
    have any thing to
    do with covenants?
    Love in Christ IN
    GLORY & GRACE,
    John G.

    1. The basis of salvation is the person and work of Jesus Christ of which the New Covenant is based on. I never said that the New Covenant was completely fulfilled in the church but that it does share the spiritual blessings that are promised in it. It will only be completely fulfilled with Israel.

    2. John,

      Theology by mere assertion is always bad theology, no matter who does it. Now please pay attention to my post and answer calmly with Scripture. You and I agree on much, but I will not agree to arguing like this:

      “ANY mixing of any covenant with the Body of Christ, those ‘In Christ’ is
      an affront to GRACE!…
      The Church is FREE
      from any covenent!
      We,the Church, are
      the BODY of Christ
      Himself! We are the Bride of Christ!
      We have been baptised into His
      BODY! wHY & WHERE
      SHOULD WE HAVE ANY
      COVENANT? FREEDOM IN CHRIST as His body & as His Bride!
      The New Covenant belongs to Israel,”

      This is how covenant theologians argue – by deduction and bald assertion. It could be that you can argue your objections by interacting with my post. If so, I invite you to do so.

      I have said before that I don’t not care about defending theological systems. I defended Dispensationalism against the silly 95 Theses because it was being distorted. I AM dispensational in most respects (pre-trib., separation of Israel and the Church, various revelational content in the salvation messages in history). But I realize that everyone is saved by grace through faith. The idea that grace doesn’t mix with God’s covenants shows a profound ignorance of both concepts.

      I hope for better things from you in your next comment.

      God bless you and yours,

      Paul

  7. Paul,

    Can you elaborate more on your statement that the ‘Spirit “marries” the Gentiles’? If you have covered this elsewhere I’d appreciate being pointed to it so I can get a better understanding of your intended meaning.

    Blessings – Tony

    1. Tony,

      You’re not missing something.I ought to have placed only the third “marries” in speech marks to show its speculative nature. I have no biblical warrant for it, but let me explain my reasoning (remembering that this is an outline):

      If it is correct to believe the Father marries Israel after she has been redeemed (Hos. 2), and Christ marries the Church after the rapture (Rev. 19), this would mean these two peoples would have special relationships with the first two Persons. What “special” relationship with God is available to the nations unless it be in conference with the Spirit? If none exists (and it may not), then the redeemed nations have a secondary relationship with God (which the OT may require). What is worse, my nice little triad is all messed up!

      God bless,

      P

      1. I ought to have placed only the third “marries” in speech marks to show its speculative nature. I have no biblical warrant for it, but let me explain my reasoning . . .

        Applying the Rules of Affinity, the idea that the Spirit marries the believing Gentiles (those not part of the Church) would seem to merit a C4:

        C4 = a proposition based on a theological inference usually from another doctrine instead of any plain statement of Scripture (e.g. the covenant of grace, based on ideas like “the one people of God” and “the church as the new Israel”) (emphasis mine)

        So this idea — even though it may be ‘tidy’ — since it appears to lack any Scriptural support, would fall into the “unsafe” region?

        Because C1 through C3 formulations can be measured against the clear statements of Scripture without the need for inferring one doctrine from another, these are the only “safe” categories from within which to construct a biblically based evangelical theology.

        This is what triggered my initial question as I thought I had been reading the Bible for a number of years but was unfamiliar with the idea. 🙂

        We ought to be careful while rightly criticizing the imagined (construed by some to be logical) covenants of CT for their lack of Scriptural support that we don’t fall into a similar trap. Of course, unlike the covenants of CT, this third aspect of point #14 is merely an interesting plausibility and not held as a critical theological plank. Nevertheless, care should probably be taken that readers understand it is of a different (tentative) character than the other statements in your helpful synopsis of Biblical Covenantalism.

        Thanks for clarifying what you were driving at.

  8. last word on subject: You say that my stating that
    the Church is not in the New Covenant
    is showing PROFOUND IGNORANCE! DR. Chafer of Dallas
    School of Theology
    and many others of whom I trained
    under, said & say
    the same thing! Israel has covenants! The Bride of Christ needs no covenant.
    I am NOT profoundly
    ignorant. I do not
    accept Progressive
    Dispensationalism!
    Which you seem to be
    advocating.
    God bless,
    John Gregory

    1. John,

      I had hoped for more from you. You do not appear in a good light in these comments. In this last you misrepresent me. I said:

      “The idea that grace doesn’t mix with God’s covenants shows a profound ignorance of both concepts.”

      You read into this as me saying that the Church is in the new covenant is showing profound ignorance. I said no such thing John.

      Again we get theology by assertion and a refusal to interact with the post. Dr Chafer taught there were two new covenants because he could not reconcile Jer. 31 and 1 Cor. 11. But at least he tried!

      You assert (which you are fond of doing) that I seem to accept Progressive Dispensationalism. I do not. With respect, I think you should stick to dealing with matters with which you are familiar. Then we may have better communications.

      Your brother,

      Paul

    1. Ah, you’ve uncovered the secret. Behind the text lies the real message. It’s in the poetry. It’s saying, “I’m a closet paedo-baptist covenant theologian.” That means you can ignore anything I say in context and bring out the hidden allusions which give the true revelation! As Steve Hays once so wisely opined, “You don’t need exegesis to interpret the plain-sense.”

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