Friday, March 31, 2006

Exploring the nature of the New Covenant

Before it dies off completely, drop by and read the discussion on Frank's blog about the nature of the new covenant. We've hit upon paedobaptism, & are now embarking on who is in the covenant. I'm trying to understand the correspondence between OT Israel & NT believers, as it relates to unbelievers in the covenant. I say there aren't any, but at least one person over there says there are.

What say you? Comment here or there.


Charles Sebold said...

Brave Sir Robin is going to post here, for the moment.

I just don't see how a covenant that is called "better" in special reference to the old one that was broken, can be breakable. Jer. 31 seems awfully clear:

"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." -- Jer. 31:31-34

It seems to me that the whole point of the new covenant is that this time there is a change in their heart (the law written upon it), He is their God, they are His people, and they shall all know Him, they shall have their sins forgiven, and their iniquities will be remembered no more. The upshot of it all is, it is unbreakable, so if somebody is outside the covenant, it's because they were never in it. Al's importing the idea of "discontinuity between OT and NT covenants" as an explanation for the view you are defending (Matt) seems like a red herring; it's pretty clear from Pauline writings that Abraham and every other OT believer was part of the new covenant even though it wasn't revealed yet, but certainly plenty about the Mosaic covenant did indeed pass away when the priesthood changed from Aaron's sons to the Messiah. If people don't understand that, I wonder why they think Hebrews was written or what it is saying. The whole idea of there being "new covenant breakers" seems to me to be foreign to Hebrews, although 10:29 obviously is a passage that has to be dealt with exegetically (e.g., can somebody who fits the Jer. 31 definition of a new covenant member actually trample underfoot the Son of God, or reckon His blood as being unclean (I think no), or is it possible to be considered "sanctified" in context without being a member of the new covenant (I think yes)?).

rebecca said...

A long time ago I wrote this, which explains how I see thing on this issue.

Charles Sebold said...

Rebecca's post says it better than I did (either here or in Frank's meta). I did especially like the bit comparing circumcision to baptism, and showing that baptism isn't to the new covenant what circumcision was to the old, but it's a sign of the circumcision of the heart in the new. It's what I wanted to say, but I couldn't have put it so concisely or clearly.

Gummby said...

I agree.

BugBlaster said...

Me too.

Daniel said...

"I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

I understand this "baptism" to take place the moment I am justified through faith in Christ. At that moment I am transferred "into" Christ - baptized not with water, but spiritually speaking I am immersed into the "body of" Christ (the church).

It is this spiritual baptism that bears witness to one's inclusion in the New Covenant. Water baptism is the ordained way to testify that this internal baptism has taken place.