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The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) #4069
Fri Jul 18, 2003 3:07 PM
Fri Jul 18, 2003 3:07 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
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New Hampshire
Jason1646 Offline OP
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Greetings Mike.<br><br>You previously wrote:<br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"] The Bible speaks of the New Covenant as being NOT one with the Old but New being built on better promises. If a covenant is built on better promises than perforce it is built on different promises. And if the foundations are different, then the covenants must also be different. The new Covenant was sought because there was a problem with the Old Covenant, the people were unfaithful. Now we still sin today, so the New Covenant didn't change our acts but rather changed the terms by which we relate to God. Who is 100% faithful to God? No one is. But how then did the New overcome the problem of the Old? because God sees his elect through Jesus. Because we are in Him, in Christ, we are declared justified. He remembers our sins no more. (emphasis mine) </font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>I have a few questions for you based upon your quoted comments above. You say that the New Covenant changed the way in which we relate to God. Does this mean that the people of God during the Old Covenant were saved in a different way than we are? If the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old is justification and forgiveness of sins, how were people during the Old Testament forgiven and justified?<br><br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"] Those in only the outward administration of the New covenant are not saved. They are not elect. </font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Agreed, this is the case Old or New if you're speaking about individual election to glory. Some argue for a concept of corporate election, which I don't find very useful.<br><br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"] They are not in a covenantal relationship with God. </font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Well now this is a good topic for discussion and one that I would like to see the church debate, but if someone affirms that those participating in the outward administration of the covenant are legitimately called “covenant members” then this is not heresy. It may be wrong, but it's not heretical.<br><br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"] [Those in only the outward administration] are not covered by the blood of Jesus.</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Are they sanctified by the blood of Jesus?<br><br>Sincerely in Christ,<br><br>~Jason<br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Jason1646] #4070
Fri Jul 18, 2003 5:35 PM
Fri Jul 18, 2003 5:35 PM

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Jason,<br><br>The people of the OT were not saved by trusting in the Atoning Christ but by trusting in God through what He revealed by the Word of God, which is Christ. Their knowledge that their faith was based on was limited to how much of the Word they had recieved. Abraham trusted in God and the promises made by God to him. We are told his hope was in that city of God and in him being the father of many nations and people.<br><br>Likewise, to be obedient to God one had to continue in the Law and of course the sacrifices since no one kept the law 100%. Year after year, and even daily, sacrifices were made for sin. Now we have one sacrifice made once for all sin and do not need to resacrifice.<br><br>Because those who had faith in God both then and now walk in the ways of God [although imperfectly], they walked by faith knowing they were sinners and undeserving. They realized it was not their works that saved them, but God who blessed them by not imputing their sin to them. But true faith results in works foreordained. So even as we believe and therefore obey, so they believed and obeyed.<br><br>If people want to redefine terms and obscure the teachings of the Word, I have no use for that either. Not only do I find it not useful but divisive and disruptive of unity. If A means one thing and B means another by the same word, how can unsaved or newly saved C get a grasp on what the Word teaches? If the trumpet blast is confusing, is it dinnertime or war?<br><br>I agree that it is not heretical to call those who are ONLY in the outward administration in a covenant, and I do say it is wrong. But it certianly causes confusion and misunderstandings of who is in the New C and what it is. Auburnites seem to have progressed from the one to the other and now distort what these and probally other words mean: saved, elect, Christian.<br><br>Those only on the Outward are not sanctified by His blood. They be sanctified [set apart] in some way since they associate with the body but it is only in an external way. The blood of the Lord sets us apart from who we once were by washing and cleansing us from our sins.

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Jason1646] #4071
Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:13 AM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:13 AM

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Jason,<br><br>You ask whether one is sanctified who is predestined to reprobation yet finds himself within the outward administration of the covenant. I would say that such a person is indeed more culpable than he would have been had he not taken covenant vows, been a partaker of the elements and been in hearing distance of the Word. However, I have a feeling that you might mean more than this. Please elaborate in specific terms. Maybe be redundant for clarification. [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/grin.gif" alt="grin" title="grin[/img] In what way is the reprobate "in" covenant with God? (I trust we are not talking about a covenant of works but rather the covenant of grace.) Is the hypocrite who remains within the confines of the church dearer to God than the pagan who never darkens the church steps? Does God desire something more for the baptized reprobate than the run-of-the-mill heathen? Please explain why the question of whether the reprobate is in a covenant relationship with God would be a good debate. I'm a bit confused by all the intrigue. We all agree that the reprobate tastes of the heavenly gift and gets glimpses of the world to come, but we also agree that he remains dead in his sin and cannot even understand the basic simplicity of the gospel. He is spiritually discerned, just the like the heathen who never heard of Christ. So how is he different?<br><br>As you agree, God's promise was to Abraham and to his seed. (Gen. 17) The Seed is Christ and by union with Him the elect are truly the seed of Abraham. (Gal. 3) Abraham desired that the covenant would be established with Ishmael, but God refused this request. Nonetheless, Ishmael was to be treated as one who was in the covenant; so he was to receive the sign and seal of the covenant. The covenant was administered to him, though not established with him. In Romans nine we are reminded that the promises of God did not fail. The reason all Israel was not saved was because the promise of salvation did not pertain to all Israel. The covenant promises pertained to the elect alone. Yes, if one did not circumcise his child God said that the child would have broken covenant. So there are "covenant breakers". However, we must not misconstrue what God means by the term. I believe that such an appellation is suitable for those who demonstrate that they are not truly elected into the true covenant of grace, which was made with the elect in Christ. The term simply accentuates the point that the reprobate is responsible for not receiving the promises of God by faith, and that he is in deep weeds to put it mildly. No more, no less.<br><br><br>Blessings,<br><br>Ron<br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) #4072
Mon Jul 21, 2003 1:35 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 1:35 PM
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New Hampshire
Jason1646 Offline OP
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Ron: In what way is the reprobate "in" covenant with God?<br><br>Jason: I'll delay any attempt to answer this until the end, for two reasons. The first is that I don't have a well formulated answer for it. The second is that your other comments and questions guide the way into answering it.<br><br><br>Ron: Is the hypocrite who remains within the confines of the church dearer to God than the pagan who never darkens the church steps?<br><br>Jason: I would say "no".<br><br><br>Ron: Does God desire something more for the baptized reprobate than the run-of-the-mill heathen?<br><br>Jason: Again I would say "no"<br><br><br>Ron: Please explain why the question of whether the reprobate is in a covenant relationship with God would be a good debate.<br><br>Jason: Again, I defer to the end of the post. [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/smile.gif" alt="smile" title="smile[/img]<br><br><br>Ron: We all agree that the reprobate tastes of the heavenly gift and gets glimpses of the world to come, but we also agree that he remains dead in his sin and cannot even understand the basic simplicity of the gospel. He is spiritually discerned, just the like the heathen who never heard of Christ. So how is he different?<br><br>Jason: The question would be as to whether or not there is absolutely no categorical distinction between the reprobate pagan and the reprobate member of the covenant community. There are many similarities for sure, but are they conceived identically in the eyes of God? I think that is a good question for discussion.<br><br><br>Ron: Nonetheless, Ishmael was to be treated as one who was in the covenant; so he was to receive the sign and seal of the covenant. The covenant was administered to him, though not established with him....The term [covenant breaker] simply accentuates the point that the reprobate is responsible for not receiving the promises of God by faith, and that he is in deep weeds to put it mildly.<br><br>Jason: This is where I think we get down most precisely to the question of interest to me. I think you would agree that the reprobate to whom the covenant is outwardly administered are those who can be "covenant breakers". The next question I ask myself is whether or not someone who merely hears the Word but has never been a part of God's covenant community (has never received the outward administration of the covenant) can also be a covenant breaker. For instance, I think we would agree that someone who professes faith, gets baptized, joins the church, and later apostatizes because he was "never of us", is a "covenant breaker". He received its outward administration and did not possess the inward reality. On the other hand, would you say the same thing of the person who comes to church, hears the message of the Gospel, and simply finds it foolish and never joins the church? Has this person counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing? It seems to me that we would not consider him a covenant breaker, for that person never received the outward administration. If one kind of reprobate person can be a covenant breaker and another is not considered as such, then it would indicate to me that the outward administration means something. It places a person into an objectively different category and implies that they are related to God in some legal fashion differently than the reprobate who is a stranger to the covenant community.<br><br>To wrap up my question simply, is it the "administration" of the covenant that creates the context in which someone can become a "covenant breaker", or is it merely the exposure to Gospel truths that creates the context?<br><br>If the outward administration of the covenant does in fact make a difference as to whether or not one may be constituted a covenant breaker, then it seems as though there is a sense (shall we call it, "formally", "externally", "fleshly"?) in which the reprobate are related to God differently and the difference had to do with receiving the external administration of the covenant (i.e. being part of the visible church).<br><br>This is of course a much different than what the Auburn men propose. They deal with the covenant exclusively as an external phenomenon and ignore the very important passages you have pointed out where the covenant is "established" only with the elect. I also affirm with you that the promises of the covenant are only for the elect (which is why the promise has not failed - Rom. 3:3-4 with Rom. 9:8). When John Barach was asked a question related to those texts his answer was basically, "I don't know" with some really bad attempts to provide theoretical possibilities. The problem is created by his absolutizing of the idea covenant in external terms to the exclusion of the texts dealing with a narrower idea. My other concern is swinging too far in the opposite direction (which is the very scenario that has prompted these men to propose a new paradigm) by denying that the external administration of the covenant means anything, and that the only two categories of any relevance to our discussion are elect and reprobate. It seems to me that the external administration of the covenant places a reprobate person in a different category before God than someone who may have even had the same "light" but was never incorporated into the covenant community. I don't know if it is appropriate to call this "in" covenant with God as you asked me, but it seems to me that we should identify this categorical distinction somehow. I think the way in which "covenant" itself is conceived or defined plays an important part in the answer. I look forward to your thoughts on this brother.<br><br>Sincerely in Christ,<br><br>~Jason<br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Jason1646] #4073
Mon Jul 21, 2003 2:19 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 2:19 PM
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In reply to:
[color:"blue"]My other concern is swinging too far in the opposite direction (which is the very scenario that has prompted these men to propose a new paradigm) by denying that the external administration of the covenant means anything, and that the only two categories of any relevance to our discussion are elect and reprobate. It seems to me that the external administration of the covenant places a reprobate person in a different category before God than someone who may have even had the same "light" but was never incorporated into the covenant community. I don't know if it is appropriate to call this "in" covenant with God as you asked me, but it seems to me that we should identify this categorical distinction somehow. I think the way in which "covenant" itself is conceived or defined plays an important part in the answer. I look forward to your thoughts on this brother.

I hope you don't mind me jumping in here at this point, but I thought perhaps I would reply as one who you would probably consider to be in that category of the Auburnites might consider me to have "swung too far in the opposite direction. [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/grin.gif" alt="grin" title="grin[/img]

In Scripture, I find that it is GOD alone who establishes covenant(s) with men. I can't seem to find any place where man has initiated a proposal or established a covenant with God. Man is always the recipient of God's covenant. Further, God not only originates a covenant, but He also establishes the prerequisites, benefits, etc. of that covenant as well as to whom the recipients will be. In the current context, the issue is the "covenant of grace", or to put it simply, salvation. That covenant originated in the Godhead and was established with a special people, whom the Scriptures call the "elect". Throughout biblical history, certain individuals have been set apart as paradigms to represent and illustrate the entire community of people who would be incorporated into this covenant and be reconciled to God in Christ, aka: the Church.

The Scriptures also set forth that this "church" has both an invisible reality and a visible reality; the difference being that the invisible church includes all who are predestined to eternal life and the visible church also includes some who by outward appearance presume to be included with those who are reconciled to God. However, the Covenant is never established with false professors but only true believers who have been regenerated by grace. Until an individual, infant or adult has been regenerated and united to Christ, that individual is said to be under the wrath of God, i.e., not in covenant with God experientially, even those who are elect. Thus it is impossible that there can be any difference relationally to God between a pagan/heathen who never darkens the door of a church and one who has made a false profession of faith, been baptized, taken of the Lord's supper, been ordained to the ministry, etc., etc.. Although, I must qualify that and say that the latter is certainly considered differently by God in that such an individual will be subject to a greater punishment than the former. In short, the latter is under greater judgment; a negative relationship, than the former. It seems to me that the Auburnites and all the various degrees of this "covenantalism" want to teach the opposite. This teaching says that the reprobate are in fact contracted with God "covenantally", joined with Christ, have been given manifold blessings, etc., all which are shared with the elect, LESS the "blessing/gift of perseverance". Further, if a "covenanted reprobate" (an oxymoron if there ever was one) should fall away after a time, the person is called a "covenant breaker". But again, it must first be established that a reprobate can be and does enter into the "covenant of grace" with God through Christ before the term "covenant breaker" can be applied.

If it is said that the reprobate has no part in the covenant of grace, and yet it is possible to be a "covenant breaker", then what covenant is it that the reprobate violates? Does the Scripture teach explicitly that there is another covenant established between God and man which is not salvific and within which one is joined through Christ?

It is my contention that the term "covenant" has been imposed upon certain relational situations and then expanded to include all sorts of "deductive" things where the Bible is silent. In short, I would classify this attempt as being what Christ deemed, "the doctrines of men". In the attempt to introduce these erroneous ideas, the foundational doctrines, e.g., Unconditional Election, Definite Atonement, Perseverance of the Saints and Sola Fide are diminished and/or contradicted.

In His Grace,



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Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Jason1646] #4074
Mon Jul 21, 2003 2:51 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 2:51 PM

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<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]If the outward administration of the covenant does in fact make a difference as to whether or not one may be constituted a covenant breaker, then it seems as though there is a sense (shall we call it, "formally", "externally", "fleshly"?) in which the reprobate are related to God differently and the difference had to do with receiving the external administration of the covenant (i.e. being part of the visible church).</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Jason ole pal, good buddy,<br><br>If we define "covenant breaker" as those who are supposed to be marked with the sign of the covenant but aren't (e.g., offspring of a professing believers who are never baptized), and include in that number those who are actually marked with the sign of the covenant yet never come to faith, then we can say that the pagans who merely hear the word and are not baptized are not "covenant breakers". Now that we have our terms defined, you are interested in whether there is some relational difference between the two classes of reprobate with respect to their relationship with God. Well, we have already made several observations. We agree that the baptized hypocrite who remains within the confines of the church is not dearer to God than the pagan who never darkens the church steps. We, also, agree that God does not desire something more for the baptized reprobate than the run-of-the-mill heathen. We, also, agree that the baptized unbeliever (all things being equal) is more culpable than the pagan.<br><br>My parting thought is, I believe that any distinction you might come up with between the "covenant reprobate" and the plain old every day pagan will be a distinction without a significant difference. Wilson and co. have been scratching their heads over this one for a few years but nothing seems to be forthcoming but a whole lot of confusion for God's people. Can you elaborate on why you think that such a topic would make a worthy debate? What I mean to say is, are you aware of any differences between the baptized-reprobate and the non-baptized reprobate other than the obvious ones we have already identified? When you say this might be a worth while debate, do you have something specific in mind? What am I missing?<br><br>Thems my thoughts!<br><br>Ron<br><br><br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Jason1646] #4075
Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:07 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:07 PM

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<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]The next question I ask myself is whether or not someone who merely hears the Word but has never been a part of God's covenant community (has never received the outward administration of the covenant) can also be a covenant breaker.</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Jason,<br><br>I would answer no to this, simply because we have already defined "covenant breaker" as (a) one who was to be baptized but wasn't {e.g., offspring of a believer}, and (b) one who was baptized but did not profess faith (i.e., a hypocrite). It would be a monstrosity in reason to define the term one way and then use it in another way. Please appreciate, the only reason I am even entertaining the term in the first place is because it is an approximate derivation of the term God used when instructing Abraham. However, God never had in view the way in which you are now considering using the term. <br><br>Thoughts?<br><br>Ron

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Pilgrim] #4076
Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:26 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:26 PM

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<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]If it is said that the reprobate has no part in the covenant of grace, and yet it is possible to be a "covenant breaker", then what covenant is it that the reprobate violates? Does the Scripture teach explicitly that there is another covenant established between God and man which is not salvific and within which one is joined through Christ?</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br><br><br>Pilgrim,<br><br>I agree with you 100% that the covenant is established with God, and that man has nothing to do with the terms of the covenant including his election into the covenant. I, also, agree with your theological position that those who are in the covenant of grace cannot break the covenant because God has staked his life upon it in an oath of self-malediction (Gen. 15). I, however, am willing to make my argument a little less straightforward because of the notion of "covenant breaker", which is mentioned in Genesis 17:14. I, with you and I hope Jason, see this merely as a term for those who were to be part of the outward administration but were never circumcised. I would also include in that number those who were not of faith and ended up going out from us. Such people in no way broke the covenant of grace. The promise didn't even apply to them. These people are just becoming more darkened in their minds. To try to press this term in the way that Wilson and the rest are trying to do is unfortunate indeed. The term "broken my covenant" simply means that the one who does not receive the promise, (who was either born in a covenant household or was identified with the visible church), did not exercise saving faith. The person broke the terms that he was bound to upon being born in the household or being baptized. When the hypocrite is baptized, he is bound to the terms of the covenant; he is more culpable as it were. When an infant is born within a believing household, he too is more culpable. There are terms placed upon such people, but again the covenant of grace cannot be broken because it is made with Christ and the elect.<br><br>Blessings,<br><br>Ron<br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) #4077
Mon Jul 21, 2003 7:25 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 7:25 PM
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<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]My parting thought is, I believe that any distinction you might come up with between the "covenant reprobate" and the plain old every day pagan will be a distinction without a significant difference. Wilson and co. have been scratching their heads over this one for a few years but nothing seems to be forthcoming but a whole lot of confusion for God's people. Can you elaborate on why you think that such a topic would make a worthy debate? What I mean to say is, are you aware of any differences between the baptized-reprobate and the non-baptized reprobate other than the obvious ones we have already identified? When you say this might be a worth while debate, do you have something specific in mind? What am I missing?</font><hr></blockquote><p> Doesn't this debate have real pastoral significance if the threat of apostasy is real? Isn't what a pastor and a church has to say about the besetting sin of a member of the church vastly different than what a pastor has to say to a pagan about the same sin? Maybe I missed this in the posts above (if so, forgive me), but the distinction seems to have distinct practical pastoral significance. To the former you can preach repentance and God's covenantal promises brother to brother and sister to sister in the context of discipline whose sole purpose is reconciliation of the member of the visible church to Christ. To latter, it seems much more contingent. To the former a calling back; to the latter a calling for the first time.<br><br>Clay

Last edited by onefear; Mon Jul 21, 2003 7:31 PM.
Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: onefear] #4078
Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:18 PM
Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:18 PM

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Clay,<br><br>Interesting post. Originally we were talking about the difference between the relationship that a baptized reprobate has with God as opposed to the pagan-unbaptized reprobate's relationship with God. For the most part we have concluded that the degree of culpability is the main issue with respect to the relationship each type has with God. As for how pastors and sessions are to deal with the two types of persons, I think we are now moving into a new area of concern. That being, how does the relationship between genuine believers and hypocrites residing within the visible church differ from that of genuine believers and those that don't profess Christ in the least? In response I would say that the church is to treat all baptized professing-believers the same, until there is conclusive evidence that the subject in question has become delinquent in doctrine or lifestyle, making his profession of faith no longer credible. I think we are all in agreement that the church is called to administer the covenant, including covenant-discipline, to baptized people indiscriminately. Accordingly, YES, the relationship the church has to reprobates within the visible church is different than the church's relationship to the overt mission field. The relationship has to do with the administration of the covenant. However, our relationship is often built upon deception, whereas God's is not. We might think we are having fellowship with the reprobate, but in the end we will find out that we really weren't. YES, we agree that when the reprobate is disciplined (i.e. receives other aspects of the administration of the covenant) he becomes increasingly more culpable. We have noted this all along I trust. <br><br>To bring this full circle, in what way are reprobates "in covenant with God"? Wilson and co. make no distinction between the administration of the covenant and the establishment of the covenant. They believe that because one can "break covenant" in this way that, therefore, the reprobate is on equal footing with the elect. Accordingly, God's promise to the elect is alleged to be conditioned upon faith. We all start out equal in their eyes and then faith becomes the deciding factor for covenant blessing. Whereas we believe the Scriptures teach something quite different for the people of God: "I will be your God, and you will be my people." Faith in our covenant structure is a gift that God grants to all whom He has established the covenant with. Faith itself is a gift of the covenant promise! Given Wilson's view, I would not look to God's promise in order to receive what the promise contemplates, but rather I must look to my faith. Given our structure of the covenant believers should simply continue to believe God's promise. [color:blue]Whereas Wilson and co. is saying, "Has God said?"</font color=blue><br><br>Blessings,<br><br>Ron<br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) #4079
Wed Jul 23, 2003 10:02 AM
Wed Jul 23, 2003 10:02 AM
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Jason1646 Offline OP
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Hello Ron,<br><br>I appreciate your patience brother. I am trying to distill my thoughts as clearly as possible here, so please bear with me as I struggle to do so.<br><br>What I think is worth debating here is whether or not the concept of covenant should be properly conceived of as that eternal decree of God to save the elect or if it is also appropriate (or even better) to contemplate the covenant as the actual physical and historical dealings with men, through which that eternal decree is realized only with the elect.<br><br>To use terms that are familiar to us, it seems to me that there are two fundamental paradigms at work here, with one of them comprehending the covenant in terms of the “Promises” and the latter comprehending the covenant in terms of the outward “Administration”. Since they each choose to view the covenant in different contexts, it can be difficult to debate the issue without talking past each other. The reason why I think a careful and thoughtful debate on the matter is edifying is because each one of these paradigms emphasizes a biblical truth, though it must also be the case that one of them comes closer to representing the idea of “covenant” in Scripture. My desire then, is to sort out the elements of truth contained in each emphasis and then adopt terminology that is most consistent with the Scriptural appearances of God’s covenants in Scripture.<br><br>That being the case, it seems to me a worthwhile question to ask if we would be better served in association the idea of covenant with the “covenant administration” and distinguishing the Promises of the covenant from the covenant itself. For instance, when God speaks to Abraham in Genesis 17 He says:<br><br>7 "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.<br>8 "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."<br>9 And God said to Abraham: "As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.<br>10 "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised;<br><br>Without going into great exegetical detail, I would suggest that the promise to be God to Abraham and his descendents is just that, the promised blessings of the covenant, but not necessarily the covenant itself. The covenant is identified with circumcision (what we have called the external administration of the covenant). Later on in Genesis 17 we read, "He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” Again, the covenant is more closely connected with the outward administration here, though I would agree with you that the establishment of the covenant, or the realization of the promise connected with the covenant are only fulfilled in the elect. There are other places in Scripture where the covenant would be closely associated with the outward administration, such that God is said to make a covenant with a group of people that is clearly mixed with elect and non-elect, for instance:<br><br>"The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. (Deuteronomy 5:2-3)<br><br>Again, I think you would agree with the terminology that the covenant was administered to these people, and I agree. But the point I am driving at is this: It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases we have to insert “administered with” in places where the covenant is made. For instance, this would be the case anytime someone broke the covenant or transgressed the covenant. I obviously cannot reproduce all the instances here, but if you simply look up all the references to covenant I think you would find this to be the case. So my question is, if this is the way in which the covenant is most often addressed in Scripture, why not associate the covenant most closely with the idea of the covenant administration, and make a distinction between that and the promises of the covenant, which are only realized in the elect or intended for them. I believe there is not only Scriptural warrant for identifying the outward administration of the covenant with the covenant itself, but in making such a distinction between the covenant and its promises. For instance:<br><br>Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.<br><br>Acts 2:39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."<br><br>Ephesians 2:12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. <br><br>In these texts, I believe there is a subtle distinction between the covenant itself and the promises signified in the covenant. These promises are only for the elect, those whom the Lord will call. Similarly Romans 9:8, Romans chapter 4, etc. would be quite agreeable to this emphasis of the promise being only for the elect.<br><br>All this to say that I find some compelling reasons to associate the idea of the covenant more closely with the physical and historical administration of God’s redemptive plan and making a distinction between this and the promises of the covenant, which are made and realized only with the elect. The physical “objectivity” to the covenant is that to which I find appealing in of the “Boothian” paradigm. I think by going that way you have to insert fewer shims in Scripture when dealing with God’s covenants. At the same time, the unconditional character of the promises is something I have come to learn and appreciate through my interactions with you, and an important part of what I think is severely lacking in the articulation of the “Boothian” paradigm. Hence, I find the discussion valuable because I find myself learning things from both parties who tend to emphasize particular aspects associated with the covenant. I think the primary difference we would have here really boils down to something as subtle as a preference over whether or not we should call “the outward administration” of the covenant simply “the covenant” and make a distinction between it and the promises of the covenant which are only promised to and realized in the elect.<br><br>Does that make any sense whatsoever? [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/dizzy.gif" alt="dizzy" title="dizzy[/img]<br><br>Sincerely yours in Christ,<br><br>~Jason<br><br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) [Re: Jason1646] #4080
Wed Jul 23, 2003 11:29 AM
Wed Jul 23, 2003 11:29 AM

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Jason,<br><br>I disagree that the covenant is more closely associated with the administration rather than the establishment of it. The administration serves the establishment and not the reverse. I would suggest that the all the promises are directed toward the people of God, and to them alone. God promised Adam that the Seed would crush the serpent’s head. He promised Noah that He would preserve the world (in order that He might redeem the world). God promised Abraham that He would be the father of many nations and that redemption would come to his (spiritual) offspring through the one singular Seed, who is Christ. God promised David that a King would come to rule over the hearts and minds of Abraham's offspring and that the laws given to Moses would be etched upon the hearts of His people; and that they would walk in His statutes and keep His commands (not perfectly of course). All of these covenants of promise are without condition. Accordingly they are made to the people of God, who receive the one promise by faith through the administration of the covenant. The promise is that God will be the God of His people. Christ's vicarious life was His covenantal-life; His intercession is His covenantal-intercession; and His atonement is His covenantal atonement. There is no universality about it. The covenant is as particular as election is.<br><br>You state: <blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]Without going into great exegetical detail, I would suggest that the promise to be God to Abraham and his descendents is just that, the promised blessings of the covenant, but not necessarily the covenant itself. The covenant is identified with circumcision (what we have called the external administration of the covenant)….Again, the covenant is more closely connected with the outward administration here, though I would agree with you that the establishment of the covenant, or the realization of the promise connected with the covenant are only fulfilled in the elect. There are other places in Scripture where the covenant would be closely associated with the outward administration, such that God is said to make a covenant with a group of people that is clearly mixed with elect and non-elect, for instance:</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>It seems as if you are trying to draw some distinction between the “promised blessing” and “the covenant itself.” What do you think the covenant itself is? The covenant is a mutually binding compact that is sovereignly transacted by the Lord, wherein a promise is made that calls for trust on the part of those who are intended to receive the covenant-promise. The promise, in other words, is contained within the covenant. It’s a covenant of promise, not of condition. That’s the point! Since the promise is particular, the compact must be made with those to whom the promise is made. As you know, Paul reminds the gentile believers at Ephesus that prior to receiving the gift of Christ, they were strangers to the covenants (plural) of promise (Singular). There were many covenants pertaining to one Promise – Christ. Since the covenant is a covenant of promise we may not pit the promised blessing against the covenant itself. <br><br>Simply because God determined to have the church administer the covenant to the children of professing believers does not nullify the fact that the covenant is one of promise. We agree that only the children of the promise receive what the covenant contemplates. When people within the visible church do not exercise faith and receive the promise, it is not because the promise has failed but rather it is because such people are not the children of the promise! The administration of the covenant cannot nullify, change or alter the promise of the covenant, which is made with the elect in Christ. <br><br>I must say that I’m having a difficult time interacting with your position because it seems a bit vague at least to me. I feel as if I’m trying to put into words what you might mean, and then trying to interact with your position. <br><br>Sorry if I missed your point.<br><br>Blessings,<br><br>Ron<br>

Re: The Unity of the Covenant of Grace (for mikew) #4081
Mon May 17, 2004 10:17 PM
Mon May 17, 2004 10:17 PM

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Bringing this old thread up to the top since we have been discussing some of these things lately.
I was searching for something else RonD wrote. I couldn't find it and found this instead.


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