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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

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Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant

What is COVENANT THEOLOGY? How many covenants does the Bible have and which are those? What is the Reformed Baptist and Paedobaptist understanding of the covenants? What is 1689 Federalism? Is the New Covenant the Covenant of Grace? Was the Covenant of Grace established before the New Covenant? Were the Old Testament covenants administrations of the Covenant of Grace?

Here we come to a chapter that is different than the one in the Westminster and Savoy confessions (see the confessions side by side here). Were the Baptists trying to be original or were they trying to communicate something else? I and many other brothers do believe that the framers of the Confession were trying to communicate a different COVENANT THEOLOGY than that of their Westminster and Savoy brethren. Let not the reader suppose that I will exhaustively deal with every point or seek to rebut oppositions and answer objections. My objective here is to lay an understanding of COVENANT THEOLOGY as I see it in the Scripture and as I was helped by the books and men mentioned below. This is not meant to be lengthy (although I guess it will kinda be), but concise. [22/09/2015 – It did become lengthy]


§1 The Covenant Of Works

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.1
    1. Job 35:7-8; Ps. 113:5-6; Isa. 40:13-16; Luke 17:5-10; Acts 17:24-25[1]

Introduction to COVENANT THEOLOGY

COVENANT THEOLOGY (also known as Covenantalism, Federal theology, or Federalism) is a Calvinist conceptual overview mand interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology. The standard description of COVENANT THEOLOGY views the history of God's dealings with mankind, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of the three overarching theological covenants of redemption, works, and grace.[2]

COVENANT THEOLOGY helps us see the story of the whole Bible. COVENANT THEOLOGY unites the people of God and their purpose. COVENANT THEOLOGY helps us see the importance given to covenants in the Bible. COVENANT THEOLOGY is opposed to Dispensationalism which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants. In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist COVENANT THEOLOGY and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I've been greatly helped by the following books and men:

I don't pretend to have an answer to every quest...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...the%20Lord's%20Day.pdf"Exercitations On the Lord’s Day or his commentary on the relevant sections about the Sabbath question in Hebrews 3-4. But I have read the abridged version of Exercitations in what is called "A Treatise On The Sabbath". John Owen is not an easy author to read. I find him to be very lengthy and verbose and thus it is hard to have the patience to read, for example, 42-page commentary on two passages (e.g. Heb. 2:1-2). I do not doubt the benefit I would receive from his insight. I have, in fact, read his commentary on Hebrews 8:6-13, which has greatly helped me understand COVENANT THEOLOGY as expounded by Reformed Baptists who affirm what is known as 1689 Federalism, for which I have argued in chapter 7. What I have read are the works of those who employ Owen’s contribution concerning the Sabbath question in their works and in their words.

I would like to discuss this passage under the following headings:

  1. Who is the one who has entered God’s rest?
  2. How is this an argument for present Sabbath-keeping?
  3. How the change of the day takes place.

The last two points will be treated under one heading.

Who is the one who has entered God’s rest?

The majority of commentators answer that this refers to the believer’s entrance into God’s rest (Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole). Yet Owen stands both against the majority in his day and our day in his opinion that, literally, the “he” should be the “He” of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have likewise followed him in this understanding (John Gill, Henry Alford, Joseph Pipa, Robert Paul Martin, Richard Barcellos). This was not the first unique observation and contribution of Owen. In chapter 17, when dealing with Hebrews 10:29 (see here), we likewise noted Owen’s contribution.

Before beginning this important inquiry, let us get the literal translation of this passage. The ESV is unfortunately not wholly accurate in this verse.

Heb. 4:10 YLT for he who did enter into his rest, he also rested from his works, as God from His own.

Heb. 4:10 KJV For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his.

What are the arguments for the assertion that v. 10 speaks of the Lord’s Jesus Christ here?

The Singular Person

It is to be noted that this is the first time in which the Author speaks of the one who has entered God’s rest in the singular person. The Author speaks of:

  • “they” in Hebrews 3:11, 18, 19; 4:3, 5;
  • the plural “you” in Hebrews 4:1, 7;
  • “us” in Hebrews 4:2, 11;
  • “we” in Hebrews 4:3;
  • “some” in Hebrews 4:6;
  • “he” in Hebrews 4:10.

Isn’t it interesting to see that throughout Hebrews 3:11-4:13 the singular person is only once employed for entering God’s rest? Whenever the Author speaks of the believer’s entering God’s rest, he always speaks of us collectively and in the plural number. Even after v. 10, in v. 11, the Author calls upon “us” that we should “strive to enter God’s rest”. If the Author is speaking of believers in v. 10, why doesn’t he continue with his use of the plural and say “for we have entered God’s rest and have also rested from our works…” It is certainly strange because that is how the Author speaks throughout his discourse. Moreover, notice that this rest which is entered into is Christ's own rest or alternatively, the believer's. But all throughout the Author's discourse, the believers do not enter their rest, but Go...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...ching of the Regulative Principle of Worship, which Reformed churches are supposed to hold: Only that which is commanded and has precedence in the Word of God, ought to be done in worship. If it is absent, it is forbidden. If it is commanded, it ought to be done. There is no hint of infant baptism in the New Testament, therefore, it is forbidden. Even the so-called covenantal arguments for infant baptism do not stand up to Scriptural scrutiny, therefore, there isn't even a precedent for infant baptism.

Conclusion

We have seen that the fundamental foundation for Westminster infant baptism is the “one covenant, multiple administrations” model of COVENANT THEOLOGY. We disagree and offered a brief positive case for “elect and regenerate only membership” of the New Covenant. We took a look at a few passages which our brethren use to support infant baptism and found them to be vain attempts producing no results. Therefore, since we have the supposed support for infant baptism out of the way, this gives all the more support for the biblical position to baptize professing believers alone.


§3 In The Name Of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

  1. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, 1 in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 2
    1. Matt. 3:11; Acts 8:36, 38; 22:16
    2. Matt. 28:18-20

Water

Water is the element into which we are baptized. Water was used by John and in the same way that water was used by the Apostles in the book of Acts. This is how the word baptism is frequently used in the New Testament. Unless we have other reasons, we should always understand baptism to be speaking of water baptism.

The Baptismal Formula

We are to use the full formula of baptism as given by Jesus when He said: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Baptism in the Name of the God Triune shows that we belong to Him. John Frame observes, "To be baptized into the name of someone is to belong to that person. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:13, 15; 10:2.”[42] We identify with this Triune God and we show, through our baptism, that we belong to Him. John Norcott wrote, “And surely it is one Reason, why Baptism is special is to be administered in the Name of the Father, Son, & Holy Ghost; because he who doth sincerely believe, and is baptized, the whole Trinity, the Father, Son and Spirit is his portion; and that glorious Union of the Trinity in Christ’s Baptism, is in every Believers Baptism commemorated.”[43]

It is quite interesting that the full, trinitarian baptismal formula is not repeated in the book of Acts. Rather, what we have are people being baptized in:

  • in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 10:48);
  • in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16; 19:5).

We should noti

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A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw

...p>I will Lord willing, start reading the Kingdom of God some time soon.

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

...Millennium? The answer to that question is the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus. Premillennialism teaches that the Lord Jesus will bodily come back to earth before the Millennial Kingdom.

Premillennialism teaches that there will be a one thousand year reign of Christ on the earth where He will reign with His saints according to Revelation 20. The Millennium is a time of peace and a time when many Old Testament passages about the restoration of Israel and peace will be fulfilled. The Millennium is not a time when sin or death will not exist, rather, their effects will noticeably be decreased as Satan will be bound for a thousand years.

Premillenniarians agree with COVENANT THEOLOGY or New COVENANT THEOLOGY that the Church is basically the Israel of God. God does not have two peoples, Israel and the Church, but only one people made up of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who are known as the Israel of God and the Church (in contrast to Dispensationalism). They believe that there will be a restoration of the Jews prior to the Millennium and Coming of the Lord Christ.

They believe that the believers, the Church, will go through the Great Tribulation which an indefinite time of persecution prior to the Rapture and Coming of the Lord. At the Rapture, Christ will come with all saints from heaven with resurrection and glorified bodies, and He will transform all living believers on earth so that they would have glorified and resurrection bodies. This is the first resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6. After this, Antichrist will be destroyed by the true Christ and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-2). Then Christ will usher His reign upon the earth for a thousand years of peace and prosperity. But remember, sin and death are not eliminated, but significantly reduced in effect and power.

The Millennium will be populated by saints who came with Christ from heaven (both from the Old Testament and up to the coming of Christ), the saints who were transformed at the coming of Christ, unbelievers and those who have turned to Christ after His coming. There is a discussion among Premillenniarians as to the time of resurrection for those who came to faith after the first resurrection, I have heard that some say that they are directly raised after their death, or that they will be raised prior to the Final Judgment.

After the Millennium, Satan will be let loose and will try to destroy the Church, but God will intervene and send him to Hell and thus save His people. Then the wicked will be raised, and then all will stand before God in the Final Judgment after which comes the New Heavens and New Earth, although some believe that the New Heavens and New Earth start with the Millennium. According to Premillennial eschatology, the following things are to be expected:

  1. The Evangelization of All Nations.
  2. The Great Tribulation and Antichrist (Man of Sin).
  3. The Conversion and Restoration of Israel.
  4. The Second Coming:
    1. The Rapture
      1. Resurrection of all dead saints.
      2. Transformation of living believers.
    2. Destruction of Antichrist.
    3. The binding of Satan.
    4. The inauguration of the thousand year reign of Christ.
  5. The Millennium.
  6. Apostasy at the end of the Millennium.
    1. Satan being loosed and leading rebellion against Christ.
    2. Satan and the wicked being destroyed.
  7. The Resurrection of the wicked.
  8. The Final Judgment.
  9. The New Heavens and New Earth.

The following i...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...1:7; 2 Cor. 5:21; John 17:9; Eph. 5:25 (chapter 11).

These are great chapters, especially chapters XI-XV, which deal with important essential benefits of Christ's death in some detail as they retain to the subject of atonement. I'd like to take a quick look at a few of his arguments.

The New Covenant (Arg. I)

The Covenant of Grace, i.e., the New Covenant according to 1689 Federalism, is made only with the elect (see chapter 7 for more on COVENANT THEOLOGY). If that is truly the case, then we have a problem with universal atonement. For more see chapter 7 on Jeremiah 31:31-34; chapter 17 here and here.

Owen's basic argument is as follows:

The first argument may be taken from the nature of the covenant of grace, which was established, ratified, and confirmed in and by the death of Christ; that was the testament whereof he was the testator, which was ratified in his death, and whence his blood is called “The blood of the new testament,” Matt. 26:28. Neither can any effects thereof be extended beyond the compass of this covenant. But now this covenant was not made universally with all, but particularly only with some, and therefore those alone were intended in the benefits of the death of Christ.[37] (Book III, chapter 1)

The Two Classes of Men (Arg. IV)

Owen's argument here is that since the Bible separates people into two categories, namely, believers and unbelievers, and various other designations of the groups, therefore, when Christ is said to die for one, it is implicit that He did not die for the other. In his own words:

If all mankind be, in and by the eternal purpose of God, distinguished into two sorts and conditions, severally and distinctly described and set forth in the Scripture, and Christ be peculiarly affirmed to die for one of these sorts, and nowhere for them of the other, then did he not die for all; for of the one sort he dies for all and every one, and of the other for no one at all.[38] (Book III, chapter 2)

The elect are designated also as:

those whom he “loves”…Rom. 9:13; whom he “knoweth,”...John 10:14, “I know my sheep;” 2 Tim. 2:19, “The Lord knoweth them that are his;” Rom. 8:29, “Whom he did foreknow;” chap. 11:2, “His people which he foreknew;” “I know you not,” Matt. 25:12: so John 13:18, “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen.” Those that are appointed to life and glory, and those that are appointed to and fitted for destruction, — “elect” and “reprobate;” those that were “ordained to eternal life,” and those who “before were of old ordained to condemnation:” as Eph. 1:4, “He hath chosen us in him;” Acts 13:48, “Ordained to eternal life;” Rom. 8:30, “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” So, on the other side, 1 Thess. 5:9, “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation;” Rom. 9:18–21, “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?” Jude 4, “Ordained to this condemnation;” 2 Pet. 2:12, “Made to be taken and destroyed;” “Sheep and goats,” Matt. 25:32; John 10 passim. Those on whom ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

...rnity. All the members of the New Covenant are truly regenerate and Spirit-dwelt believers. This is seen for example from Hebrews 8:6-13 where all members of the New Covenant, from the oldest to the youngest know the LORD. Not merely know about Him, but truly know Him. Furthermore, this New Covenant is unlike the Mosaic Covenant which had members who were unbelievers and members who were believers. This New Covenant is one which will not be broken like the Mosaic was and from whence apostasy is impossible. So basically, the Universal Church or the Invisible Church consists of the members of the New Covenant, all redeemed and elect believers throughout all ages. For more on COVENANT THEOLOGY, I refer you to the case I tried to provide for 1689 Federalism in chapter 7 (see here).

Matthew 16:18

The Lord Jesus promised to establish His church which no power of hell could stand against. He said:

Matt. 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

It is Christ who builds His community of believers, His congregation, His church. Men do not build the church. Men may build church buildings, but Christ is the architect of His Church. Sadly, this is often now what this verse is remembered for As Albert Barnes noted, if “it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it [Matt 16:18, and who the rock is], and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for.”[2] The controversy that surrounds this verse between the Protestants and Catholics lies in the fact who “this rock” is which is being referred to and the further Roman Catholic implications of this. The Roman Catholic church claims that here Christ gave Peter supreme authority over the church and raised him above all other disciples. Furthermore, they see in this the Papacy. They say that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and from him, there has been a direct succession of popes/bishops of Rome. Therefore, they see in the Pope the authority of Peter, which they understand as being the supreme on earth over the Church. The Pope, so to say, is Christ on earth.

Barnes was right, these things could not be found anywhere in the Bible, let alone in Matthew 16:18. It was not the intention of the Lord Jesus to give us here a doctrine of a single bishop of Rome who will be called the Head of the Church. There is no difficulty in identifying Peter as “this rock” which Christ was speaking of. As Keith Thompson has studied this passage and observed, “Conservative Protestant exegetical scholarship is basically unified in affirming Peter is the rock here. D. A. Carson, Craig Blomberg, Craig S. Keener as well as the late Oscar Cullmann and W. F. Albright among many dozens of others are in agreement on this point.”[3] The difficulty lies in the fact that the Papists have read all kind of things in the words of the Lord Jesus which He never intended.

The Apostle Peter did function as the "starter" of the Church. On the day of Pentecost, it was he who first preached the Gospel to the Jews (Acts 2:14-41). Furthermore, it was also he who brought the message of salvation to the Gentiles in Acts 10. So, in a real sense, Christ did build His church on Peter's preaching and through Peter's ministry. This may also be tied to the key's given to Peter a few verses later (Matt. 16:19). But it is wrong to say that by this declaration and by this deed, now Peter is the hea...


A Short Review of Sam Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith

...v/t1.0-9/p180x540/969197_624405707571866_615878345_n.jpg?oh=5646757fc46bc07957be1c8cfee7c7a8&oe=554B10D0&__gda__=1434816445_1adfc208991a5c319091fd03eefef936">Here is a picture of my baptism back when my hair was long. 

 

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A Review of O. Palmer Robertson's The Israel of God

...the biblical home of the people of Israel, continue for ever and ever.” So spoke the President of the United States in a speech delivered before the Israeli Knesset assembled in Jerusalem. He was recalling with apparent approval the words of his desperately ill pastor. He concluded the speech by saying, “Your journey is our journey, and America will stand with you now and always.” (p. 1)

It seems that this and such mindset was the driving force behind writing this book. The book is not polemic, but rather, it simply presents what the Bible as a whole teaches on some topics related to the Israel of God. It is obviously against Dispensationalism by its adherence to COVENANT THEOLOGY, but it does not attack Dispensationalism directly. Its purpose is to set a positive case on what the Bible says without really engaging with the other side.

Its Land

The first chapter is dedicated to the Land of Israel. This is a hot issue nowadays. I will be the first to tell you that I hate politics and I don’t want to do anything with it and there is a lot of politics involved with Israel in the Middle East. I am not interested in political discussions. I am a theology nerd. I am interested in the theological claim of the land and God’s plan with the Jews.

Dr. Robertson argues that the “concept of a land that belongs to God’s people originated in Paradise” (p. 4). Adam was told to work the land and multiply. That was the original ideal plan if the Fall had not taken place. Then the whole earth would have been God’s land and God’s temple. The land being a sanctuary is another aspect. This is why the Lord God tells Israel that “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev 26:11-12). God places His sanctuary among His people like He did with the Tabernacle and Temple. This concept of the sanctuary of God among His people had its fulfillment in Jesus Christ of Whom it is written that He “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). But it will also have its ultimate fulfillment on the New Heavens and New Earth (Rev 21:1-5).

An important aspect which Dr. Robertson highlights is the fact that the land actually belongs to the Lord. As Leviticus 25:23 puts it, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.” The land is the Lord’s and the people of Israel are merely strangers and sojourners in the land with Yahweh. He gives the land to whomever He wills and does with it as He pleases.

An important aspect which Dr. Robertson highlights and the New Testament emphasizes is that the land is typological of the New Heavens and New Earth. Hebrews 11 says that although Abraham was the one who received the promise of the land of Canaan in which he sojourned, yet he was actually looking and desiring “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb 11:16). The saints of old were “seeking a homeland” which is not of this world (Heb 11:14). Although Abraham lived in the “the land of promise”, says Hebrews 11:9-10, yet in actuality he understood the typology of the land and therefore “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (v. 11). This is clearly the New Heavens and New Earth, and not the land of Canaan.

In Romans 4:13 we have the promise of the land expanded. It is no longer the small land of Canaan, but now it is the whole cosmos—the New H...


John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...Eph. 1:7; 2 Cor. 5:21; John 17:9; Eph. 5:25 (chapter 11).

These are great chapters, especially chapters XI-XV, which deal with important essential benefits of Christ's death in some detail as they retain to the subject of atonement. I'd like to take a quick look at a few of his arguments.

The New Covenant (Arg. I)

The Covenant of Grace, i.e., the New Covenant according to 1689 Federalism, is made only with the elect (see chapter 7 for more on COVENANT THEOLOGY). If that is truly the case, then we have a problem with universal atonement. For more see chapter 7 on Jeremiah 31:31-34; chapter 17 here and here.

Owen's basic argument is as follows:

The first argument may be taken from the nature of the covenant of grace, which was established, ratified, and confirmed in and by the death of Christ; that was the testament whereof he was the testator, which was ratified in his death, and whence his blood is called “The blood of the new testament,” Matt. 26:28. Neither can any effects thereof be extended beyond the compass of this covenant. But now this covenant was not made universally with all, but particularly only with some, and therefore those alone were intended in the benefits of the death of Christ.[16] (Book III, chapter 1)

The Two Classes of Men (Arg. IV)

Owen's argument here is that since the Bible separates people into two categories, namely, believers and unbelievers, and various other designations of the groups, therefore, when Christ is said to die for one, it is implicit that He did not die for the other. In his own words:

If all mankind be, in and by the eternal purpose of God, distinguished into two sorts and conditions, severally and distinctly described and set forth in the Scripture, and Christ be peculiarly affirmed to die for one of these sorts, and nowhere for them of the other, then did he not die for all; for of the one sort he dies for all and every one, and of the other for no one at all.[17] (Book III, chapter 2)

The elect are designated also as:

those whom he “loves”…Rom. 9:13; whom he “knoweth,”...John 10:14, “I know my sheep;” 2 Tim. 2:19, “The Lord knoweth them that are his;” Rom. 8:29, “Whom he did foreknow;” chap. 11:2, “His people which he foreknew;” “I know you not,” Matt. 25:12: so John 13:18, “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen.” Those that are appointed to life and glory, and those that are appointed to and fitted for destruction, — “elect” and “reprobate;” those that were “ordained to eternal life,” and those who “before were of old ordained to condemnation:” as Eph. 1:4, “He hath chosen us in him;” Acts 13:48, “Ordained to eternal life;” Rom. 8:30, “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” So, on the other side, 1 Thess. 5:9, “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation;” Rom. 9:18–21, “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?” Jude 4, “Ordained to this condemnation;” 2 Pet. 2:12, “Made to be taken and destroyed;” “Sheep and goats,” Matt. 25:32; John 10 passim. Those on ...