Posts Tagged ‘Covenant theology’


A common argument used against infant baptism by my Reformed Baptist brothers is that what makes the New Covenant better is that Christ is now the mediator or minister of this covenant. It consists of the elect only whom He perfectly intercedes for being that they are the true spiritual seed of Abraham who the promise is given to, therefore the sign of the Covenant should only be given to those who profess faith in Christ and it should not be administered to our infants or children until they profess faith for themselves since they are not part of the fulfilled Covenant of Grace. Therefore giving the sign to infants and including them in the New Covenant is a vital error since many baptized infants finally apostatize which would then indicate that Christ fails as a mediator. There are other Reformed Baptist who would concede to the fact that our children are in the covenant but then they claim that the sign should not be given but that issue can be for another time. Of course there is more to their arguments but I want to focus on this specific point for this article.

Westminster’s view agrees that Christ is the mediator or minister of the covenant and that the Covenant of Grace is fulfilled in Christ and the types and shadows have vanished in Him and also that the Covenant of Grace is made specifically with the elect alone. What Baptists reject is the vital distinction between the visible and invisible administrations of the covenant. This distinction has always existed but they claim that the new covenant is only invisible and spiritual with the elect alone. Although reformed baptists do affirm a distinction between the visible and invisible Church, they divorce the concept of covenant from church. That is another vital error. Let us leave that also for another time.

It is also quite common these days for our Baptist brothers to use John Owen who is considered one of the most gifted and respected English reformed theologians of our history. They use Owens view of covenant theology specifically from his commentaries on the book of Hebrews chapter 8 and make the claim that Owen is more inline with 1689 Federalism than with Westminster covenant theology and that the implications of Owens understanding of the Covenant of Grace logically leads to a credobaptist view rather than a paedobaptist view. Despite Owen being a paedobaptist he, they claim, was actually inconsistent and contradictory.

It is no surprise that Reformed Presbyterians would absolutely and respectfully disagree with that notion. We believe that assertion has been already proven false by reading the same Hebrews commentary they use by Dr. Owen and also in his polemical work on infant baptism. Nevertheless my intent here is not to go into detail as to why these claims are false nor is it my intent to show where my Baptist brothers misread and misinterpret Owen in regards to the distinction between the Abrahamic and Mosiac covenants in relation to the New Covenant.

What I want to do here is attempt to prove using one of Dr. Owen’s points in his defense on infant baptism that contrary to the reformed baptist assertion that to include infants in the New Covenant who would eventually apostatize would mean that Christ is a failing mediator is false. Furthermore for Owen it is for the very reason that Christ is the mediator and minister of the New Covenant of promise that children of believers should indeed be given the sign of this promise of grace. I found this point most intriguing.

Owen writes:

“Seventhly, Christ is “the messenger of the covenant,” Mal. iii. 1, – that is, of the covenant of God made with Abraham; and he was the “minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” Rom. xv. 8. This covenant was, that he would be “a God unto Abraham and to his seed.”

Now if this be not so under the new testament, then was not Christ a faithful messenger, nor did confirm the truth of God in his promises.

This argument alone will bear the weight of the whole cause against all objections; for, –

  1. Children are still in the same covenant with their parents, or the truth of the promises of God to the fathers was not confirmed by Christ.
  1. The right unto the covenant, and interest in its promises, wherever it be, gives right unto the administration of its initial seal, that is, to baptism, as Peter expressly declares, Acts ii. 38, 39. Wherefore, –

The right of the infant seed of believers unto baptism, as the initial seal of the covenant, stands on the foundation of the faithfulness of Christ as the messenger of the covenant, and minister of God for the confirmation of the truth of his promises.”

Owen here is clearly saying that the sign and seal of the promise of grace in Christ in the Abrahamic covenant was circumcision and that this sign of promise was also given to the children of the believing parents. He goes on to say that the promise in the New Covenant continues to be with believing parents and their children via the sign and seal of baptism. Of course this is also due to the fact that Owen properly understood the nature of sign and seals of covenant promises in that they are signs and seals of the promises of God. Therefore for Owen the covenantal nature of the sign and seal of Gods promise to save continues into the New Covenant and that nowhere is it said to have changed nor has the administration of participants changed. Baptists erroneously define baptism as a present reality in the one believing as the fulfilled promise and then discontinues the aspect of promise for the believers children and deny that they are still included in the “same covenant as their parents”, to quote Owen. For Owen this promise continues into the New Covenant for the children of believers and to reject the sign of grace to children is to also deny that Christ is the minister and mediator of the Covenant of Grace where the promises of God in Christ via grace is magnified to a greater degree.

Owen continues:

“In brief, a participation of the seal of the covenant is a spiritual blessing. This the seed of believers was once solemnly invested in by God himself. This privilege he hath nowhere revoked, though he hath changed the outward sign; nor hath he granted unto our children any privilege or mercy in lieu of it now under the gospel, when all grace and privilege are enlarged to the utmost. His covenant promises concerning them, which are multiplied, were confirmed by Christ as a true messenger and minister; he gives the grace of baptism unto many of them, especially those that die in their infancy, owns children to belong unto his kingdom, esteems them disciples, appoints households to be baptized without exception. And who shall now rise up, and withhold water from them?

This argument may be thus further cleared and improved: –

Christ is “the messenger of the covenant,” Mal. iii. 1, – that is, the covenant of God with Abraham, Gen. xvii. 7; for, –

  1. That covenant was with and unto Christ mystical, Gal. iii. 16; and he was the messenger of no covenant but that which was made with himself and his members.
  1. He was sent, or was God’s messenger, to perform and accomplish the covenant and oath made with Abraham, Luke i. 72, 73.
  1. The end of his message and of his coming was, that those to whom he was sent might be “blessed with faithful Abraham,” or that “the blessing of Abraham,” promised in the covenant, “might come upon them,” Gal. iii. 9, 14.

To deny this, overthrows the whole relation between the old testament and the new, the veracity of God in his promises, and all the properties of the covenant of grace, mentioned 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.

It was not the covenant of works, neither originally nor essentially, nor the covenant in its legal administration; for he confirmed and sealed that covenant whereof he was the messenger, but these he abolished.

Let it be named what covenant he was the messenger of, if not of this. Occasional additions of temporal promises do not in the least alter the nature of the covenant.

Herein he was the “minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” Rom. xv. 8; that is, undeniably, the covenant made with Abraham, enlarged and explained by following promises. This covenant was, that God would be “a God unto Abraham and to his seed;” which God himself explains to be his infant seed, Gen. xvii. 12, –  that is, the infant seed of every one of his posterity who should lay hold on and avouch that covenant as Abraham did, and not else. This the whole church did solemnly for themselves and their posterity; whereon the covenant was confirmed and sealed to them all, Exod. xxiv. 7, 8. And every one was bound to do the same in his own person; which if he did not, he was to be cut off from the congregation, whereby he forfeited all privileges unto himself and his seed.

The covenant, therefore, was not granted in its administrations unto the carnal seed of Abraham as such, but unto his covenanted seed, those who entered into it and professedly stood to its terms.

And the promises made unto the fathers were, that their infant seed, their buds and offspring, should have an equal share in the covenant with them, Isa. xxii. 24, xliv. 3, lxi. 9. “They are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them,” chap. lxv, 23. Not only themselves, who are the believing, professing seed of those who were blessed of the Lord, by a participation of the covenant, Gal. iii. 9, but their offspring also, their buds, their tender little ones, are in the same covenant with them.

To deny, therefore, that the children of believing, professing parents, who have avouched God’s covenant, as the church of Israel did, Exod. xxiv. 7, 8, have the same right and interest with their parents in the covenant, is plainly to deny the fidelity of Christ in the discharge of his office.

It may be it will be said, that although children have a right to the covenant, or do belong unto it, yet they have no right to the initial seal of it. This will not suffice; for, –

  1. If they have any interest in it, it is either in its grace or in its administration. If they have the former, they have the latter also, as shall be proved at any time. If they have neither, they have no interest in it; – then the truth of the promises of God made unto the fathers was not confirmed by Christ.
  1. That unto whom the covenant or promise doth belong, to them belongs the administration of the initial seal of it, is expressly declared by the apostle, Acts ii. 38, 39, be they who they will.

The truth of God’s promises is not confirmed if the sign and seal of them be denied; for that whereon they believed that God was a God unto their seed as well as unto themselves was this, that he granted the token of the covenant unto their seed as well as unto themselves. If this be taken away by Christ, their faith is overthrown, and the promise itself is not confirmed but weakened, as to the virtue it hath to beget faith and obedience”

As we can clearly see Dr. Owen equates the Abrahamic covenant with the Covenant of Grace and that Jesus Christ has always been the mediator and minister of both administrations. We also see that for Owen it has ALWAYS been about the spiritual seed of Abraham even though there are outward administrations of the promise. This is also nothing new.

Therefore in conclusion in Owens view, and in this writers view, to reject the sign and seal of Gods promise of grace to the children of believers is to deny and minimize the fact that Jesus Christ is a faithful and perfect mediator and minister of His own fulfilled covenant of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The following is taken from Dr. Owen’s defense of infant baptism and the argument from silence as making a strong case for the paedobaptist view.

…A spiritual privilege once granted by God unto any cannot be changed, disannulled, or abrogated, without a special divine revocation of it, or the substitution of a greater privilege and mercy in the place of it; for:

1. Who shall disannul what God has granted? What he has put together who shall put asunder? To abolish or take away any grant of privilege made by him to the church, without his own express revocation of it, is to deny his sovereign authority.

2. To say a privilege so granted may be revoked, even by God himself, without the substitution of a greater privilege and mercy in the place of it, is contrary to the goodness of God, his love and care unto his church, [and] contrary to his constant course of proceeding with it from the foundation of the world, wherein he went on in the enlargement and increase of its privileges until the coming of Christ. And to suppose it under the gospel is contrary to all his promises, the honor of Christ, and a multitude of express testimonies of Scripture.

Thus was it with the privileges of the temple and the worship of it granted to the Jews; they were not, they could not be, taken away without an express revocation, and the substitution of a more glorious spiritual temple and worship in their place.

But now the spiritual privilege of a right unto and a participation of the initial seal of the covenant was granted by God unto the infant seed of Abraham, Gen. 17:10, 12. This grant, therefore, must stand firm for ever, unless men can prove or produce:

1. An express revocation of it by God himself; which none can do either directly or indirectly, in terms or any pretense of consequence.

2. An instance of a greater privilege or mercy granted unto them in the place of it; which they do not once pretend unto, but leave the seed of believers, while in their infant state, in the same condition with those of pagans and infidels; expressly contrary to God’s covenant.

All this contest, therefore, is to deprive the children of believers of a privilege once granted to them by God, never revoked, as to the substance of it, assigning nothing in its place; which is contrary to the goodness, love, and covenant of God, especially derogatory to the honor of Jesus Christ and the gospel.

John Owen. The Works of John Owen. Ed. William H. Goold. Vol. 16. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Print.

 


The following excerpt is from Calvin’s Institutes where he makes a clear logical case for infant baptism. This is not his end all argument but one of the many he uses in contra the Anabaptists of his time. Enjoy!

“In order to gain a stronger footing here, they add, that baptism is a sacrament of penitence and faith, and as neither of these is applicable to tender infancy, we must beware of rendering its meaning empty and vain, by admitting infants to the communion of baptism. But these darts are directed more against God than against us; since the fact that circumcision was a sign of repentance is completely established by many passages of Scripture, (Jer. 4:4.) Thus Paul terms it a seal of the righteousness of faith, (Rom. 4:11.) Let God, then, be demanded why he ordered circumcision to be performed on the bodies of infants? For baptism and circumcision being here in the same case, they cannot give any thing to the latter without conceding it to the former. If they recur to their usual evasion, that, by the age of infancy, spiritual infants were then figured, we have already closed this means of escape against them. We say, then, that since God imparted circumcision, the sign of repentance and faith, to infants, it should not seem absurd that they are now made partakers of baptism, unless men choose to clamour against an institution of God. But as in all his acts, so here also, enough of wisdom and righteousness shines forth to repress the slanders of the ungodly. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature,—a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults. In fine, the objection is easily disposed of by the fact, that children are baptized for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit. This answer at once overthrows all the objections which are twisted against us out of the meaning of baptism; for instance, the title by which Paul distinguishes it when he terms it the “washing of regeneration and renewing,” (Tit. 3:5.) Hence they argue, that it is not to be given to any but to those who are capable of such feelings. But we, on the other hand, may object, that neither ought circumcision, which is designated regeneration, to be conferred on any but the regenerate. In this way, we shall condemn a divine institution. Thus, as we have already hinted, all the arguments which tend to shake circumcision are of no force in assailing baptism. Nor can they escape by saying, that everything which rests on the authority of God is absolutely fixed, though there should be no reason for it, but that this reverence is not due to pædobaptism, nor other similar things which are not recommended to us by the express word of God. They always remain caught in this dilemma. The command of God to circumcise infants was either legitimate and exempt from cavil, or deserved reprehension. If there was nothing incompetent or absurd in it, no absurdity can be shown in the observance of pædobaptism.”

John Calvin, vol. 3, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 369-70.

Here was Calvin’s argument in case anyone missed it.

Calvin had just argued that X can be applied to children. Anticipating objections, he mentions one that argues that X cannot be applied to children because X is a sign (think symbol, not evidence) of repentance and since infants cannot experience repentance, they therefore cannot receive a symbol of repentance.

How does Calvin answer this objection?

Calvin, assuming that the objector accepts the Bible as the word of God and accepting their premise that X is a sign of repentance, reduces the argument to an absurdity by pointing out that Y was also a sign of repentance (X=Y) and yet God commanded Y to be applied to infants.

Given that X=Y (only in the case that both served as a sign of repentance) how then can one thing be conceded to Y but not be conceded to X?

It can’t!

So then, what should a rebuttal to this argument look like? How can one get around it?

Logically, one can not get around it. It is impossible. Does logical validity constitute truth however? No.

So that leaves an objector to explain why one or more of the premises are false. In other words, as far as this argument goes, one needs to explain why X is not a sign of repentance and/or why Y is not.


The New Covenant’s true meaning

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jer. 31:31-34

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
8 For he finds fault with them when he says:
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, Know the Lord,
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more. (Hebrews 8:7-12)

So what’s so new about the new covenant? And what in the world does that have to do with infant baptism or baptism for that matter? Well, as a matter of fact these two passages are being used as proof texts in contra to paedo-baptism or as some in the Presbyterian circles would like to call “Covenant Baptism”. This question really has to do with who are members of the new covenant or who are to be considered as part of the new covenant and recipients of the covenant sign of baptism. Baptist claim that membership in the new covenant is qualitatively different from membership in the old covenant and Heb. 8 it is claimed and asserted that sets forth this clear difference and that in light of this difference the children of believers are not to be recognized as covenant members and receive the sacrament/sign of baptism. THis position suffers from many weaknesses and it is based on poor exegesis. Nevertheless, Paedo’s and Credo’s are in agreement that it is indeed true that there is something new in the new covenant.

The Dispensationalist and “Reformed” Baptist will say that Jeremiah is prophesying that the New Covenant that is to come is going to be different than that of the Old Covenant in that it is in the heart and spiritual. The Old Covenant was not in the heart nor spiritual (depending which baptist you talk to). This is the writers’ point in Hebrews 8. that those in the New Testament church will be saved and regenerate. The New Testament presumes a regenerate membership in the church when they write. Regenerate people are the only ones in the New Covenant. Jesus will radically bring about a new kind of way in dealing with men. There will be no more need to teach the law because God will teach it to all and write it on their hearts. They say that in the day of Pentecost this is clearly seen as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in men.

In the paedo view this view point makes no sense. Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”. Abraham was as much saved and filled with the Spirit as any Christian.

We ask this question, Is Jer. 31 speaking of a new covenant?

The Baptist says, yes, “New”. It’s right there in black and white. “New!”

We understand that, but you should always take time to do a word study or two, and be sure of your syntax and grammar. Now I do not claim to be a Hebrew or Greek expert by no means but I do have the tools for research. So Even though we are talking simplistically about the covenant, we should address the word here. This is a little more heavy than how we have been talking, and may be a bit technical. The Hebrew word is not just the simple “new” but “renew” or “refresh.” The word for “new” is an adjective that is used 53 times in the Old Testament. It comes from the verb form of the word. That verb form is its root and its basic meaning. When we trace the verb through the Old Testament, it is used to mean, “renew or repair” cf. Isa 61:4; 2 Chron. 24:4, 12; Psalm 51:10 (12) Lam. 5:21; 1 Sam. 11:14; 2 Chron. 15:8; Job 10:17; Psalm 104:30; Psa. 103:5; 2 Chron. 24:4; 24:12; and etc. The idea around the word itself as an adjective means taking something already existing and “renewing it”; either repairing it to a previous state or in taking something that was already and making it better. As both a noun and adjective this word refers to things new in this sense, and to things restored. Now some like to think that this word is exclusively meant as “brand new.” But this doesn’t do justice to its use in the Old Testament. They will quote verses like, Exodus 1:8. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt,” or Isaiah 43:19. “I will do a new thing.” These surely seem like “new” is “brand new don’t they?

There is more to it than just quoting a verse or two. For example, without going into great detail, is the station of “kingship” new or not? Is having a new king something brand new or a renewal of the class of kingship? How does the Hebrew mind think about this? How does the rest of Scripture demonstrate this? A new king does not make the class of “kingness” new, even though a new king is a good element of fulfillment to kingship. What about Isaiah 43:19? How would you explain the new things that God does? Does God do “new” things, or is He eternally immutable? It seems we have a theological riddle. How would one reconcile the eternal immutably of God, and Him doing “new things?” I mean, after the act of creation and containment of creation, does He change from doing old things to doing new things?

The obvious and biblical answer to that is yes and no. For God, of course not. He never does “new” things. It is not like He had a plan, made a mistake, and decided to do something “new.” But in our eyes, the realities surrounding the fulfillment of anything God does makes it new to us.  The Lord’s mercies are completely new every morning right? But also “renewed” every morning. (Lam. 3:23). Job desired that his glory was “fresh” in him, Job 29:20. This does not mean “new” but renewed. God’s glory cannot be “new,” as in brand new since it always is. A survey of the Old Testament will show that such a “renewing” in Hebrew is considered as new, though its cognate is old, and simply refreshed. It is almost never used of “new, as in “brand new,” even when God says he does “new things” or “new kings” are put on thrones. There is more to the Hebrew mind and language than thinking one dimensionally about words.

Now considering the context of Jeremiah 31. Chapters 30-33 have an overall structure that uses a repetition of “Behold” four times. It structures the “Restoration” ideas surrounding “Israel” and “Judah.” (Restoration passages are VERY important.) They were in exile and God is promised to bring them out of exile and renew the covenant He had with them. He is not going to renew it like the covenant he made with Moses – with burdensome Laws, so to speak. Rather, He will fulfill it in Christ. The context of Jeremiah is comparing Abraham’s covenant with the Mosaic Law, the tablets of stone, and the promises of the Lord to Abraham, of which we know Christ is the fulfillment. Abraham’s covenant is not new. It is refreshed, renewed, fulfilled, completed, etc., in Christ (which ultimately points to the use of this passage in Hebrews 8). For instance, we are dealing with the same God, the same law, the same people (the elect), the same fallen status of people (in sin), the same status of God (gracious and longsuffering, but also judicious), the same status of justification (by faith alone), the same stipulation (blood covers sin), the same provision of the stipulation (Christ), and the same reward (peace with God and everlasting life). What is really new then?

Now a classic Dispensationalist baptist will say, “I would have said that regeneration is the new thing – the law written on the heart.” But that does not seem to fit well. Was Abraham regenerate??

The greater context of the text does not limit Jeremiah 31 to just “regenerate people”. The restoration ideas do not limit the passage to merely an internal aspect to the covenant. If that were really true, then things like the Lord’s Supper, and Baptism, outward and external sacraments in the New Covenant, would not be necessary. But Jeremiah 31 is not simply speaking about something internal – it is much bigger than that. It includes Israel’s children, and the fulfillment of all the promises to Abraham. Jeremiah 30:20 says, “Their children also shall be as before, And their congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all who oppress them.” And Jeremiah 31:17, right before our passage says this, “There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.” Listen to what Jeremiah 32:18 says, “You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them, the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” And we should not forget Jeremiah 32:39 says, just a chapter after, but in the same context, “then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.” If it is really only just about “a regenerate church membership” then why mention the “good of the children?” Oftentimes Jeremiah 31:31ff is ripped from its context, and misread. Now we are talking about a “renewed Covenant” or a “refreshed Covenant” in Jesus Christ which makes a lot of difference.

Next question then; What covenant is being contrasted with in this renewed or refreshed covenant in this passage? Is it Abraham’s? No. It’s the Mosaic covenant. The covenant here is a renewing, or refreshing of the Abrahamic promise over the scaffolding of the Mosaic covenant. The covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, one that the Messiah will bring in, is going to be the Abrahamic Covenant fulfilled.

What about writing the law on the heart? It is clear that the contrast is one of regeneration. But ask, was Abraham regenerate? Is Paul too stupid to use Abraham as the Father of our faith? We would have to say “yes”, Abraham was regenerate. Was he saved by grace through faith? Yes. Did he have the Spirit indwelling him as you and I do? Without a doubt (Romans 8:8!!!!).

If this is the case, what makes this renewed covenant in Jeremiah 31 different? What about Hebrews 8? It quotes this at length surrounding the ministry of Jesus as High priest forever? Is Hebrews wrong? What is wrong is the interpretation of Jeremiah 31 that Baptists bring to Hebrews 8. Hebrews 8 quotes the whole passage in Jeremiah. But what if you misunderstand Jeremiah 31? Will you ever understand Hebrew 8? Nope!

This is a renewed covenant, the scaffolding of the Mosaic covenant is gone, and the writing is on the heart. But this is not new, it is the renewed covenant of Abraham, and that is an important point. What else is different about this renewed covenant? It says no one will teach his neighbor saying “know the Lord for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest”. Isn’t this regeneration? No! It can’t be since it is the renewed covenant of Abraham fulfilled in Christ. Many think this meant that those in the New Testament church would be regenerate. That is why Baptist assert “our church only baptizes people on profession of faith.” It cannot be talking about regeneration and just regeneration. Abraham, as Reform Baptist say, was regenerate and that happened before the promise. So Jeremiah’s “newness” or “renewed” covenant is not just talking about regeneration alone. Let’s ask this question: Do we have teachers today? Yes, we have teachers today. But the text says we will not have any more teachers in this renewed covenant. No one will “teach one another saying…”

But we have teachers today. Are we saying the New Covenant is not now? Of course not!

Already/not yet aspect of prophecy

The New Covenant, or Abrahamic Covenant, is a “now and not yet” covenant despite those Baptist who want to deny this fact. In the Old Testament the Abrahamic Covenant was awaiting its fulfillment. But Abraham was saved. It was a “now” and “not yet” covenant. It was “now and not yet” in promise. Jeremiah, although, is quite plain and we need to take the text as it stands. In the New Covenant there will be no more teachers. The verb “teach one another” is “they teach one another.” It is third person. “No one [they] will teach his neighbor.” In the fulfillment of the New Covenant, the renewed covenant of Abraham, there will be no more teachers. When will everyone, from the least in the kingdom to the greatest in the kingdom, know the Lord? And remember, this is a time when there are no more teachers. Do regenerate individuals not need teaching despite their having the Holy Spirit? Do all regenerate church members “know the Lord” exhaustively and completely? I think not.

We would have to say in heaven. Only in heaven will everyone know the Lord completely and in heaven there will be no teachers. I use this same logic with Full Preterist as they attempt to use Jer. 31 as an already fulfilled prophecy.

The renewed covenant made with the house of Israel and Judah is the Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in Christ. It is set in contrast to the ceremonial and judicial laws given at Sinai because the blood of bulls and goats do not really save. Jesus Christ inaugurates the coming of this new kingdom and renewed covenant. In doing so, the New Covenant is “now” for us, since we are saved; but it is also “not yet,” in that in heaven all people will know the Lord form the least to the greatest. There are teachers now in inaugurating the renewed covenant, but there will be no teachers then. There are saved people now, just as in the Old Testament, but the “knowing” is complete only in heaven. No church, anywhere, is made up of all regenerate people, and is without teachers or pastors. Many people think that the New Testament church is supposed to be made up of only regenerate members. That is why dispensational churches only want to baptize regenerate people, those who simply make a profession of faith, and leave the children out. Although, in reality, they have no “proof” in any way of ensuring the person is saved, but they will baptize them anyway. But Jeremiah is not talking about excluding or including people in this way. In the time of Abraham, even people like Esau were included in the covenant, and the New Covenant, is not consummation with a completely regenerate “membership” until we get to heaven. Only then will we have no more teachers.

Its because of thier backwards hermeneutic. Hebrews 8 stops short of the verse quoted so credos figure that’s all they need to pay attention to as if the writers of Hebrews did not understand the Jeremiah chapters in context. If an Old Testament prophecy about the New Covenant expressly included the children of believers when it was written, the New Testament cannot contradict this meaning. It can expound on it and explain it, but never contradict it, otherwise we are left at best with a hermeneutic of severe discontinuity, and at worst we have a contradictory Bible.

The visible administration of the New Covenant (or more simply put, the New Covenant itself) is made up of believers and their children (Jer. 30-34; Isa. 59:21; Zech 10:6-12; Ezek. 37:24-28). Now, the Baptist may say in response that the New Covenant is made up of only the elect. But even if they say that, given their inward/outward distinction, even if only the elect are in the New Covenant “inwardly”, this has no bearing on the “outward” administration, since I think they believe non-elect persons can be part of the “outward” administration. And given that the OT prophecies of the New Covenant explicitly include our children (just like EVERY covenant before it using the same exact language), Baptists have no grounds to exclude our children from the outward administration of it.

Now the question is how are the children included in the outward administration? Are they brought into the church by means of a covenant sign? Or are they just a part of the church by proximity? Also, I’m curious. When Baptist talk about “professing believers”, do they have in mind only people that have the capacity to utter the sentence, “I confess Jesus as Lord” with their mouths? Or is not faith itself, even if it cannot be professed in intelligible words (I believe infants have faith) enough to be included in the church?

And now that I think about it, where exactly does the New Testament teach that only those who publicly profess faith are to be baptized and included in the external administration of the covenant (which I assume you would say is the visible church – if I’m wrong about that, I apologize)? Now, if you say that this is based upon specific examples of baptism in the New Testament, you are committing an is/ought fallacy because you are establishing a universal requirement with a particular example. The absolute most you can say based upon each baptism example is that it is permissable to baptize professing believers, but you cannot say that this is a requirement. So I ask you again, where is the principle specifically given in the New Testament that baptism and inclusion in the church is limited to those who profess faith?

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Circumcision is technically not a guarantee that father Abraham had faith or even righteousness, what circumcision guarantees is God’s promise, that righteousness will be credited on the basis of faith alone. Saying this another way is that circumcision is the sign that authenticates the truth of God’s promise, that HE will accredit righteousness to the one who has faith. What is certified is not necessarily truth about Abraham or any one else circumcised, but a truth of God. Circumcision certifies the truth of God’s promise in the gospel, that all who have faith will be accounted righteous.

Therefore becoming the sign/seal of God’s promise. Baptism is the same thing as sign and seal. In both, God, through the signs promises to be the God of that person when that person has faith and also promises that upon faithlessness that person will be cursed and cut off from the people of God, again consider Ishmael in the OT and Simon the Sorcerer baptized by Phillip.

Abraham possesed faith before circumcision to show that circumcision is the sign of promise to all those who believe like Abraham. Baptism becomes a seal when faith is present.

So I don’t need a verse that says “baptize babies”. Thus we are on equal footing. Furthermore, with the other things Scripture teaches us, (according to my view of course) a disciple is a believer and children of believers should recieve the covenant sign as well. So, we both infer. You cannot show a verse that says don’t baptize babies and I don’t have one that says “do baptize babies”. What we must do then is look at how the bible considers children…the WHOLE text…”tota Scriptura”. If we can show that the Bible considers children as covenant members then we don’t have a problem.

Warning passage of Heb. 10:29

In light of all this, can the Baptist make sense of the warning in Hebrews 10? I don’t think so.

A friend of mine on facebook stated: “Also, with regard to Hebrews 10:29, it says, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified…” This passage can also be rendered as, “…the blood of the covenant by which He (Christ) was sanctified”. The “he” is not referring to the apostate who is in “covenant”, but is referring to Jesus as the one sanctified. Read John 17:19. Jesus says, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”

But what my buddy here fails to realize is that this rendering of the text doesn’t make any sense of the context. The context is clearly speaking of the same person who has commited apostacy. Sure, did Christ sanctify Himself? No doubt, but in this immediate context this is not the rendering. Either way, you still have a person profaning the blood of the Covenant by which Christ was sanctified. Therefore the apostate is still profaning the blood of the Covenant, for how can a person NOT in the covenant profane the blood of the covenant? It just doesn’t make any sense. What also doesn’t make sense contextually is that the writer of Hebrews is writing about an apostate then in a blink of an eye in one quick sentence is talking about Christ then suddenly turns his attention back to the apostate. These Covenantal warning passages make it clear that there is indeed covenant breakers in the New Covenant just like there was in the Old Covenant. In other words there would be no need to warn regenerated elect members of the new covenant that they have the ability to fall away lest you affirm Arminianism.

Again therein lies the Baptist problem. It is a misunderstanding of what the Covenant of Grace is stemming from the promise made with Abraham. Baptists would have to discontinue the Covenant in order for their view to fit but even then it still doesn’t fit tightly because they cannot account for the Covenantal warning passages to the Church not to unbelievers. This where your dispy comes out.

29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, Vengeance is mine; I will repay. And again, The Lord will judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10

Can a baptist account for this passage? Absolutely not!

Conclusion

The “newness” of the new covenant then specifically pertains to the external apsects, the outward administration, of the covenant of grace. The new covenant is not new in its nature or membership as our Baptist brothers would like to believe. One single covenant of grace exists and Gods’s elect have been justified in the same way throughout redemptive history which is by grace through faith. The usage of the Jeremiah 31 text in the Hebrew 8 passage does nothing to establish a change in the membership of those who are in the new covenant nor are children excluded in the new covenant. Covenant membership still includes believers and their children and those who believe that Heb. 8 particularly verse 11 is teaching the exclusion of the children of believers from membership in the new covenant need to carefully investigate and observe that the word “least” (greek: mikros) in 8:11 is also used elsewhere in the NT to refer to children (Matt. 18:6, 10, 14; Luke 9:48). This is also true of the Hebrew word for “least” qaton (Jer. 6:11-13). The congregation of people of God has included children throughout redemptive history and children are still included in the new covenant (luke 1; Eph. 6). These reasonings the Baptists claim abbrogates the inclusion of children in the new covenant but this exegetical logic holds no weight and lacks explicit change in administration since this excluding children in the new covenant is such a radical idea, we would think that there would be a clear command to do so, don’t you think?

In Christian unity,
Ricky Roldan


What is Postmillennialism

To quote a Postmillennial champion, R.J. Rushdoony writes: “Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ, with His coming, His atonement, and His continuing regenerative power in those whom He calls, creates in His redeemed people a force for the reconquest of all things. The dominion that Adam first received and then lost by his fall will be restored to redeemed man. God’s people will then have a long reign over the entire earth, after which, when all enemies have been put under Christ’s feet, the end shall come, and the last enemy, death, will be destroyed.” R.J. Rushdoonyfrom “Back to the Future”

What are we to think of this view? Is this taught in Scripture? After investigating this question for myself, I personally have come to the conclusion that the Golden Age theory does not correspond to biblical teaching. It is the opinion of all Amil’s that a post-millennial eschatological framework (in which they interpret the O.T texts) is insufficient in that it does not seem to be sensitive enough to the two eschatological ages of the N.T. Clearly, N.T does not teach the Post Mill view of a gradual removal of the temporal effects of sin and evil. Nor does it see the victory of the gospel in terms of social, economic and political transformation. Rather, the N.T maintains the eschatological tension between the two ages so that “this age” (Rom 12:2) and its evil implications is antithetical to the age to come when Christ returns to consummate all things.Instead of a gradual transformation, the N.T teaches a cataclysmic end to Satan Kingdom (it will be crushed – not slowly squeezed see Dan 2:44; Matt 13:39-40; Rom 16:20; Rev 19:11ff) then, and only then we will hear the voices from heaven declare “the Kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.” (Rev 13:15)

Having said that, I am a Reformed A-Millennialist, and I want to argue that the Kingdom will advance during this age, however, I do not see the issue turning on the betterment of evil in this present age, but rather in the gathering of the elect (plundering of the strong man’s home see Mk 3:27) through the proclamation of the Gospel until all the elect are gathered into the Kingdom and then the Lord will return and will crush Satan and his Kingdom forever (Consummation).

The Bible teaches this tension between the Kingdom now and the kingdom come. We are taught throughout the N.T about this tension, that’s why we need to patiently wait (Rom 8:25). Moreover, Christ’s eschatological victory is what encourages us to press on even though we are hard pressed, because though we share in the suffering of Christ we know we shall also share in his vindication and victory at the consummation (2 Cor 4:7-11; Phil 3:10) and this is the biblical meaning of what it means for the Church to be Victorious. Consequently, the premise of Post Millennialism that Kingdom of God speak of a fleshly kingdom that will witness the gradual amelioration of evil in this age is in my view the real issue at hand. I believe Riddlebarger is correct on this point, the debate is not over the success but rather on what we believe constitutes the success. The Realized Mil position believes the success is seen now in the plundering of the strong man’s house (gathering of the elect) and the Post Mill expects it to manifest through a golden age where evil is eradicated (almost) and culture, politics etc are transformed. Therefore, to promote the expansion of the kingdom through the conquering of the gospel (the fulfillment of the great commission) in no way implies some earthly golden age that at best is actually gold plated especially for the version of Postmillennialism that also anticipates an Apostasy before Christ return.Yes, it is true that God has promised a time of universal worship, peace, and prosperity, but that will occur only, as the consistent witness of the NT declares, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Postmillennialism repeatedly emphasizes that the struggle between Christ and Satan is a historical struggle that ends in historical victory. TRUE. But this it will end in TOTAL and PERFECT victory at the END of history. In other words, God’s elect and God’s created cosmos enter into COMPLETE (to telos) and perfect deliverance from sin and its consequences (see Rom. 8:18-23). The present earth and heavens will replaced with a “new heaven and a new earth”, “the HOME of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). God’s creational purpose (creative covenant) will be fulfilled in the NEW creation.

Postmil assert that Christ will be with His people to oversee the task of successfully completing its commission and that this is the postmil hope, and also claim that ONLY the postmil view can account for this, is not true at all. The Realized Mil certainly believe that this age will not end until Christ’s purposes are fulfilled.

The postmil view has failed to establish the making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them requires that fulfillment be in Postmil terms.

The Lord only knows of TWO ages, the present age and the age to come. Postmil view teach THREE ages, the present evil age, an intermediate future golden age, and the age to come. I am fully aware that our Postmil brothers will reject the description of their view that it has three ages as they assert that this present age will gradually merge with the “golden age” and claim it is really only two ages in agreement with us Amils but Jesus NOWHERE predicts some glorious future on earth before the end of the world, as the postmil view would have us believe. On the contra, the things He Himself experienced are the things that His Church will experience. A disciple is not above his teacher or a slave above his master. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, “deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12,13).As the reign of the truth of the gospel is extended, also the forces of evil will gather strength, especially towards the end consider the parable of the wheat and tares taught by Christ in Matt 13:24-30. The Gospels only speak of two ages. This age is temporal, the age to come eternal. Matthew 13 is explained as the kingdom age, then the judgment, followed by eternity with the Father. Postmillennialism repeatedly emphasizes that the struggle between Christ and Satan is a historical struggle that ends in historical victory. TRUE. But this will end in TOTAL and PERFECT victory at the END of history. The postmil view has failed to establish the making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them requires that fulfillment be in Postmil terms.

Postmillennial Proof  Texts

Old Testament passages frequently cited to substantiate the reality of an unrealized millennium(either in its Pre- or Post- form) do not hold any weight.

Isaiah 65:17-25 in one clear example. We both would agree that the passage speaks of a golden-age. The Postmil (as well as the Premil) will argue that the passage mentions children dying at one hundred years old, and sinners accursed at the end of the same period time. Hyper-literalizing this passage they insist that it must refer to an imperfect golden-age. And since the one thousand years obviously pertain to a time in which sin and death remain, they feel it is perfectly natural to superimpose the one passage on another.

Careful examination, however, shows two faults with this presupposition. First, there must be unquestionable evidence for identifying the Isaiah prophecy with Revelation 20. This evidence is totally lacking. The two are brought together in an unnatural union. Who can prove, scripturally, that when Isaiah wrote “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”, he was speaking of the SAME period that John calls the “thousand years”? There are indications in the passage itself that it is not to be treated literally like “dust” becoming the serpent’s food can hardly be literal.

In many discussions with my Postmil brothers they unanimously are armed and ready to refer to Isaiah 65 as a clear proof text of a era of peace before the return of Christ. What they fail to realize is that the contents of Isaiah’s poetic prophecy are no more literal than the description of the eternal state in Rev. 21 and 22. Who can interpret all the details of those two chapters literally? In both, Isaiah and Rev., language is used, in terms of what was considered most pleasant and astonishing in that day, to get across what words with their present limitations are incapable of correctly expressing. How else can perfection be described in words which have imperfect objects and concepts as recipients? This is what is called “Anthropomorphic Language”. It is difficult to understand why this passage should be misinterpreted when it clearly is identified with the eternal state by the New Testament. The millennial references are totally without evidence, but its identification with the eternal state is affirmed by an abundance of biblical evidence. This one passage has been singled out to demonstrate the way in which OT passages which actually refer to restoration from captivity, the New Testament age, and the eternal state are erroneously applied to the assumed golden-age. Amillennialists are in agreement with the Postmillennialists that we expect the millennium to be an age of imperfection. In opposition, we do not view it as the fulfillment of the golden-age prophecies. We believe the prophesies to be truly golden not gold plated. This is not to say that no OT prophecies refer to the present age, quite the contrary. But in accord with both Old and New Testament teaching, they find fulfillment of the “golden-age” prophecies in the eternal state, only then can it be said that all that glitters is Gold. I find it extremely interesting and suspicious that postmil have to resort to OT prophesies that speak nothing of a golden age but refer unanimously to the golden age of new heaven and new earth which is Heaven.

To quote Dr. Herman Bavinck “to interpret the prophecy of the Old Testament literally means that one breaks with Christianity and lapses back into Judaism” I agree!

Furthermore, there is nothing in Psalm 2, 22, 110, Dan 2, Zech 9, Isaiah 2 and especially Isaiah 65 that cannot be understood to be referring to the consummation. Dan. 2 conveys to us the invincibility and ultimate victory of the Kingdom and even its inauguration (Mk 1:15). But, it does not speak to the issues relating to what constitutes victory. Indeed, the promise of Psalm 2 revolves around the content of the Messiah’s inheritance not the timing of it, Psalm 2 does not even speak to the issue that separates Realized Mill aka Amil and Post Mil. Similarly, Zech 9 only confirms what both camps readily agree on that the King’s dominion will extend over all the earth. That Psalm 22 affirms that the Messiah will fulfill, inherit both the Abrahamic and Davidic promises is undisputed among reformed students. Psalm 22 speaks about the content of His inheritance (the families/nations). That Postmils interpret “all the families of the earth will remember and turn…” as a promise of a golden age is a possible interpretation, but hardly the only one. Moving on to the New Testament it knows absolutely nothing of imperfect golden-age preaching. While there is a consistent appeal to look for the perfect golden-age of heaven, nothing can be found about an imperfect interim. Everywhere the eternal state is held out as the future hope of the church militant. The millennium is never preached as such. The only satisfactory explanation is that the millennium is a present reality not a future hope. None of the verses offered by our Postmil brothers necessitate a postmil interpretation but rather seeing these fulfillments in Christ coming to once and for all destroy all His enemies hence the “until” and “til” key words, is to correctly exegete these passages. I believe that there is NO biblical warrant to put these events before His coming, if the golden age was such an important event why is the NT not decisive on an era pre-dating Christ return? The silence of in the New Testament record is deafening especially when it is supposed to be explaining and bringing to light the Old Testament. That fact alone should raise a brow and cause reflection and caution.

Optimism vs Pessimism?

In regards to the Postmil accusation that their view is “optimistic” and the Amils is “pessimistic”. I think the folks who talk about that are referring to what life in this world is like, so if some of us don’t think the present millennium means raging political success, we’re pessimists. I rather resent that notion as it is a false claim and it really doesn’t seem as if Scripture is encouraging us to have such an approach to the success of the Gospel, as if its all about our political success now. The Scripture says in this world we will have tribulation which can mean political persecution as well as other things. Yet even in those circumstances the Gospel continues to spread. Of course, Amils believe that eventually things will get worse, and no one wants to hear that. But I don’t feel it’s too optimistic to say it never gets better than this, I’m looking forward, optimistically, to the new heaven and new earth, where righteousness dwells. That doesn’t excuse inaction in sharing the Gospel and helping our neighbors and trying to restrain depravity as God allows us.But the problem is that the Postmil would say that gospel succession can only mean a Christianization of all nations ushering in the golden age but the Amil will say that gospel succession means that it will save God’s elect who are in all nations but not that it will Christianize entire nations or most of the nation so then the Postmil will accuse the Amil of pessimism because they don’t have a million kabillion trillion or whatever people getting saved hence God loses cause there are more people in hell than heaven, that’s silly to be quite frank. If being optimistic means to believe that the gospel will do its job, then for heaven’s sake we are all optimistic, don’t you think. There needs to be more clarification on the whole optimism vs. pessimism thing cause again quite frankly its ridiculous if you ask me. Also I believe that the correct understanding of Christ’s commission is that we are to make disciples OUT OF every nation not make every nation a disciple. Again I see a superimposing of the text in postmil terms. If we allow, as we are supposed to, the New to interpret the Old then we will observe that “all families” and “all gentiles” must mean families and gentiles OUT OF every tongue, nation, and tribes (Revelation) the fullness of the Elect.

Well, there you have it. These are my main reasons as to why I reject the Postmillennial view of eschatology. We as Christians should be placing our hope in the Victorious return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, placing our hope in anything else is misplaced at best and one not taught in Scripture.

In Christian charity…………………Grace and Peace