Saturday, July 27, 2019

Six Views on New Covenant Fulfillment


By Michael J. Vlach
(@mikevlach)

Below is a listing of six views on New Covenant fulfillment of which I am aware. This is simply a listing and is not a refutation or defense of any of these views. Also, my emphasis is not on the adherents of each view, although I make some general statements concerning which theological camps hold to each view. For the curious, I hold to View 6.  Here are the views:

1.    The New Covenant will be fulfilled in the future with national Israel; the church has no relationship to the New Covenant (some classical dispensationalists)

2.    There are two New Covenants—one with Israel and another for the church (some traditional dispensationalists including John Walvoord)

3.    The New Covenant is completely fulfilled with the church; there is no future fulfillment with national Israel (Covenant Theology and some non-dispensational systems)

4.    The New Covenant will be fulfilled with Israel but the spiritual blessings of the covenant are applied to the church today (some traditional and revised dispensationalists)

5.    The New Covenant will be fulfilled with Israel but the church is an added referent to the New Covenant promises so there is a sense in which the New Covenant is being fulfilled with the church. The New Covenant has two referents—Israel and the church (some revised dispensationalists; Paul Feinberg)

6.    Since the New Covenant was given to Israel for the purpose of also blessing Gentiles there is literal fulfillment of the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant to all believing Jews and Gentiles in this present age, while the physical/national promises await fulfillment with Jesus’ second coming when national Israel is incorporated into the New Covenant (some revised and most progressive dispensationalists)

21 comments:

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  3. Thank you very much! Great synthesis.

    But, what's the difference of the adherent examples of the points 1 and 2: classical and traditional dispensationalists? Is there difference between them?

    Elivando Mesquita.

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  4. Thanks guys for your comments

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  5. I would lean toward #4 - along with Toussaint (I believe).

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  6. re: #6 - Would you say that the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant were enjoyed by believers of the Old Testament (eg. Abraham, Moses, and David) as well?

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  7. No. Have to have the Messiah for New Covenant blessings.

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  8. But didn't David have the law on his heart and experience the forgiveness of sins (Psalm 51)? I would argue that the New Covenant blessings (the law on the heart, knowledge of the LORD, forgiveness of sins, "I will be their God and they will be my people”) had always been enjoyed by the faithful among God’s people. It’s true, these blessings had not yet been secured until the coming of the Messiah, the “guarantor” of the New Covenant. But they were still enjoyed by those who embraced God’s promise in faith.

    The problem that Jeremiah’s prophecy addresses is that the majority in Israel did not embrace God’s Word and thus did not enjoy these New Covenant blessings. The prophecy seems to be anticipating a time when all of Israel (and not just the remnant) will know the Lord, have the law on the heart, and experience the forgiveness of their sins.

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  12. Romans 9:4 tells us that God made covenants only with the nation Israel:
    "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; [Rom 9:4]

    The Church, the body of Christ, is not under the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34, Ezek 36:22-38, Deut 30:1-8, Lk 1:72-75).

    Not long after the Noahic covenant, made with all of mankind, God separated Israel from the nations (Gentiles) and no longer entered into covenant relationship with the Gentiles (Ex 19:5-7, Deut 6:24-25, Heb 8:6), as He had done with Noah.

    The age in which God dealt with the entire human race ended in failure. As a result, around 2,000 BC, God initiated a new program. No longer would He deal directly with all mankind. Instead, He would mediate His communication through a new, chosen people and establish covenants with them in order to bless the world.

    Israel was now to be the channel of blessings to the nations as God wants all nations to be blessed (Gen 12:3). With the creation of the Abrahamic Covenant, God created a division of the human race into Jew and Gentile. With Israel’s rejection of their Messiah and the creation of the Church, the body of Christ, there are today, within our current dispensation, three divisions (1 Cor 10:32): Jew, Gentile, Christian (members of the body of Christ).

    In order to understand the Bible correctly, one must understand that the Abrahamic Covenant decreed all divine blessing would be mediated through Israel. Abraham is the father of the Jews (Is 51:2; Mt 3:9; Lk 1:73; Jn 8:56) and God made all covenants from this point forward exclusively with Israel (Rom 9:4; Eph 2:11-13). Gentiles and members of the Church are never called Israel or included in Israel.

    God did not and has not made a covenant with the Church, the body of Christ (Rom 15:8, Gal 4:4, Eph 2:11-13, Rom 9:4). Covenants are solely made with the nation Israel.

    The Abrahamic, Land, Mosaic, Sabbatic, Davidic, and New Covenants were divine promises made to Israel, each based upon God’s sovereign plan for the Jewish people.

    The gospel of the grace of God (1 Cor 15:1-4) is not a covenant.

    Item #1 in your list is the correct position.

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    1. I appreciate your interaction but this is a tough sell. Your view means the church is under no covenant.

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    2. "Gentiles and members of the Church are never called Israel or included in Israel." This statement seems to clash with Ephesians 2:12,13 where Paul says: '...remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." I believe that "being brought near" means that the Gentiles (the believing ones) are no longer "foreigners to the covenant" but participants in them. So this seems to refute the point that the covenants are only for Israel.

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  14. The most extreme view, in my humble opinion, is the first. This should preclude any participation in the Lord's Supper since the Church in that view has no right to the New Covenant. How one who holds that view could recite “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood,” and then allow it to pass their lips is beyond my understanding.

    This extreme view is represented by the following.

    Roy E. Beacham, “The Church Has No Legal Relationship to or Participation in the New Covenant,” in Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant: 3 Views, ed. Mike Stallard (Schaumburg, IL: Regular Baptist Books, 2012), pp. 107–144, s.v. Ch. 3; edited and retitled from “The New Covenant of Scripture in ANE Covenant Context: A Preliminary Presentation,” a paper presented on 23 SEP 2009 to the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics meeting in Clarks Summit, PA; on Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at https://dispensationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/09_Roy_Beacham_ANE-Covenants-and-NC.pdf [accessed 30 DEC 2019].

    Christopher Cone, “Hermeneutical Ramifications of Applying the New Covenant to the Church: An Appeal to Consistency,” paper presented on 24 SEP 2009 to the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics meeting in Clarks Summit, PA; on Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at https://dispensationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/09_Christopher_Cone_Hermeneutical_Ramifications_of_Applying_the_New_Covenant_to_the_Church.pdf [accessed 30 DEC 2019].

    John R. Master, “Some Questions And Observations Regarding the New Covenant,” paper delivered 3 APR 1992 at the Eastern Regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society at Capital Bible Seminary, Lanham, MD; available from the Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN) at http://www.tren.com as TREN #ETS-0533 [8575].

    John Reis Master, “The New Covenant,” in Issues In Dispensationalism, gen. eds. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody, 1994), pp. 93–110.

    John R. Master, “The New Covenant In The New Testament: An Eschatological Perspective,” paper delivered at the 49th National Conference of the Evangelical Theological Society, Santa Clara, CA, November 20-22, 1997; available from the Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN) at http://www.tren.com as TREN #ETS-4946 [9363].

    John R. Master,”An Analytical Summary of Dispensational Views of Jeremiah 31:31-34 in Light of the Passage’s Historical and Exegetical Context,” paper presented in SEP 2009 to the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics meeting in Clarks Summit, PA; retitled “New Covenant Considerations” on Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at https://dispensationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/09_John_Master_New_Covenant_Considerations.pdf [accessed 30 DEC 2019].

    John Master, “Foreword,” in Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant: 3 Views, ed. Mike Stallard (Schaumburg, IL: Regular Baptist Books, 2012), pp. 15–28.

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