Baptist Views on the Mosaic Covenant

Introduction

Historic reformed theology splits the history of God’s dealing with man into two divisions: works and grace.  The first division is the era in which man could stand or fall before God based on his own obedience (Covenant of Works).  This period ended when Adam fell and was expelled from the garden of Eden.  From the time of Adam’s fall until the return of Christ, God began dealing with man as either fallen in Adam or standing in Christ.  In other words, there are two representatives for all men: Adam and Christ.  The time from Adam’s fall to the return of Christ is a period of grace, because for any man to be restored in his relationship to God, he must receive God’s grace.

Debates amongst Bible students arise when we consider the role of grace and works and the covenant made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.  Clearly, the people had been graciously chosen by God, and not for any good work they had done, and they had been miraculously delivered and made a people.  But, this people were given laws to follow in order to remain in fellowship with God and to retain his blessing.  There are several traditional views within Protestantism to try to explain the Sinai Covenant.

Dispensationalism

Old School Dispensationalists believed that the covenant at Sinai was for the people of Israel a covenant of works conditional covenant respecting their salvation.  God offered the Hebrew people his grace through the Abrahamic Covenant, which they subsequently rejected, and so God made a works-based arrangement with them.  Some also believed that Jews would receive salvation by obedience to the law and observance of the ordinances.

The Dispensation of Promise ended when Israel rashly accepted the law Exodus 19:8.  Grace had prepared a deliverer (Moses), provided a sacrifice for the guilty, and by divine power brought them out of bondage Exodus 19:4 but at Sinai they exchanged grace for law.  (Scofield Reference Bible, Notes on Genesis 12:1)

The Christian is not under the conditional Mosaic Covenant of works, the law, but under the unconditional New Covenant of grace.  (Scofield Reference Bible, Notes on Exodus 19:25)

As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Romans 3:34-26, Romans 4:24-25). The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation

Administration of the Covenant of Grace

Many reformed theologians, in placing emphasis on the continuity of God’s Plan of Salvation between the Old and New Testaments, have considered the Old Covenant, not as a separate and distinct substance from the New Covenant, but rather as only a different administration (or dispensation) of this same gracious covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant then, is wholly a gracious covenant.  The people are given laws, not for the salvation of their souls, but rather to organize life in the promised land and to foreshadow the coming Messiah.  This is Sam Waldron’s view and that of many popular reformed baptist pastors.

Of a Different Substance from the New Covenant

Many Baptist covenant theologians have viewed the Mosaic as being of a wholly different substance and administration from the Old.  They emphasize the legal nature of the Old Covenant, but unlike dispensationalists, do not believe the legal nature was in regards to salvation, but rather was a purely carnal covenant which offered blessing/curse to the people of Israel as a condition for remaining in the land of promise.   This is AW Pink’s view and the view of Pascal Denault and the 1689 Federalism blog.

Republication View

Some Baptists have a sort of hybrid view of the Old Covenant in which the Covenant is seen as being a republication of the law of man’s creation (see Marrow of Modern Divinity).  In other words, God has re-published the original Covenant of Works, made with man in the garden of Eden.  These Baptists, like dispensationalists, believe the covenant offered life and salvation by the perfect keeping of the law of God.  Unlike dispensationalists, however, they believe that no man was able to keep the law of God perfectly to the saving of his soul – with one notable exception!  Our Lord Jesus Christ was born under that covenant and kept the law perfectly!  So, for Jesus Christ, the Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Works.  For the nation of Israel, the covenant was a national covenant that offered blessing in the land through obedience (but not salvation) and offered a sacramental system to ceremonially atone for the sins of the nation and to foreshadow and prepare the way for Christ.  For individual people who lived in the covenant, God dealt with them through his gracious plan of salvation whereby their sins could only be righteous by the sacrificial death and meritorious work of Christ.  This is the view of Jeff Johnson and is similar to recent views held by some Paedobaptists.

Conclusion

This is a thorny issue and each view point has much scriptural support and great theologians speaking for it.  Although a difficult and tough knot to untie, I think that studying grace/works/continuity/discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants is the key for understanding the scriptures!

…[God] was pleased to make known His eternal purpose of mercy unto the fathers, in the form of covenants, which were of different characters and revealed at various times. …Each one reveals some new and fundamental aspect of truth, and in considering them in their Scriptural order we may clearly perceive the progress of revelation which they respectively indicated. They set forth the great design of God accomplished by the redeemer of His people.  (AW Pink)

The post linked below contains a very helpful discussion of these manners and a very lively and edifying series of comments by several great Baptist men who hold to traditional Particular Baptist views.  The brotherly tone and challenging back and forth is very edifying example of charitable theological discussion and many key issues are clearly discussed.

Clarification on the Mosaic Covenant and Eternal Life

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Resources for the Epistle to the Hebrews

I’m compiling a list of resources on the book of Hebrews. This post will serve as a repository for those items as I find commentaries/audio/etc.

Commentaries Online

AW Pink Hebrews Commentary

Commentaries Recommended by FF Bruce

A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (1924) – James Moffatt

The Epistle to the Hebrews (1903) – Brooke Foss Westcott

The Greek Testament: Volume 4 (1878) – Henry Alford

Commentary Used for RBS Hebrews Class

William Lindsay’s Lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume 1
William Lindsay’s Lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume 2

John Owen’s Commentary

Hebrews Commentary Volume 1

Hebrews Commentary Volume 2

Hebrews Commentary Volume 3

Hebrews Commentary Volume 4

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Grace: The ONLY Basis of Your Salvation

Introduction

I listened to a sermon last week on the nature of faith and works. The preacher was concerned that so many have been led to sinner’s prayers without making a firm commitment to follow Christ and was advocating that believers present a fuller gospel to prospective converts in order to press upon them a necessary willingness to reject sin and follow Christ. This idea has some merit, but it comes all to close to the errors of John MacArthur’s so-called ‘Lordship Salvation’ where a person is saved (in part) by making a pre-conversion commitment to good works in order to receive salvation (or at least his views can easily be confused this way).

The most popular opposing view to this doctrine is that of another dispensationalist group – the Grace Evangelical Society. Their view is that since salvation is all of grace (and not of works), no pre-conversion commitment to follow Christ (a good work) is necessary. In fact, no good works are necessary at all (!!) – even after conversion. One may be in a state of justification with seemingly no change of nature or visible sanctification at all.

Critique

The problem with both of these views is that they are man-centered. Salvation is not of man, salvation is of the Lord! It is His work through and through. On the one hand, it is certainly not a commitment to Christian cross-bearing that saves us, it is Christ’s cross-bearing that saves us. On the other hand, it is not possible that the Holy Spirit washes one, takes out his heart of stone, writes God’s law on his heart, makes him a new creature for whom all old things (life of sin) are passed away, and seals him with the Holy Spirit of Promise, and all this can make no impact or change on him whatsoever.

In the sermon I heard, the preacher at one point made the mistaken statement that works are the ‘basis’ for our salvation. I certainly don’t think he meant exactly what he said – he was not being careful. But oh what confusion we cause when we are not careful in what we say! We must understand, of course, that works ARE NOT the ‘basis’ of our salvation, but are the ‘necessary evidence’ of our salvation. This may sound like a mere semantic distinction, but the difference between the two is the difference between sound doctrine and heresy!

Below is an examination of the key passage of Scripture bearing on the nature of faith, grace, and good works – Ephesians 2:8-10.

Bringing Scripture to Bear

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

By Grace

Paul begins here by telling us that our salvation is ‘BY GRACE’ … ‘Not of works’. In matter of fact, our salvation is wholly of works. No one is saved apart from sinless perfection. What makes salvation gracious is that when we rebelled (in our father Adam) and lost all ability to obey God or do anything to please him, He sent his son to bear away our sin and live a life of sinless perfection on our behalf. Yes – salvation must be merited, but it is merited by Christ for us! There is so much comprehended in that simple phrase “By Grace…”.

Through Faith

So how do we attain this gracious gift? By making a firm commitment to our own sub-par and ineffectual good works? By pure force of will or intellect? No! This grace comes to us simply through the instrumental means of faith. A simple child-like faith that trusts in Christ and his merit receives life-giving (and sustaining) grace from God.

But is that act of faith itself a good work? Paul tells us that it is not – “and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. Paul teaches us that faith is far from being a human effort – it is a gift given by God. Even the very pleading for mercy is not a capacity the hardened sinner possesses. God Himself gives the desire to reach out to him for mercy and grace.

The reason you or anyone is saved is not because of ANYTHING you have done – NOT your willingness to exercise your own man-made faith or a commitment to clean living. The application of this is “lest any man should boast”. There is nothing that distinguishes one from another in God’s Kingdom, except God’s free dispensing of grace – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom 12:30)

Unto Good Works

So what is the result of our salvation – good works – a changed life that glorifies God, the mortification of sin. One is not saved based on a pre-commitment to good works, but for the one who is regenerated, good works necessarily follow.

Conclusion

I think the reason there is so much confusion in the church about this issue is because those who share the gospel are confused about 1) how much content they need to impart to the hearer for the hearer to make a sound decision, and 2) how much commitment is required from the hearer before we consider the conversion legitimate. This is the wrong approach! We should be concerned with presenting as much gospel truth as we are capable of and have time for and leave the converting work to the Holy Spirit. Preachers should strive to teach the whole counsel of God – those given faith to believe will take hold of it (perhaps slowly). Those who simply have not been given the gift of faith will drift away. True believers will evidence fruit in their life by the power of the holy spirit – public profession in Baptism, hatred for and rooting out of sin, desire to know God and to seek His face, etc.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

These are my thoughts… put yours in the comment section below.

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Some Thoughts on Discipleship

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the first books that one might hand a new believer (or newly maturing believer). In thinking through this issue, it occurred to me that the topic areas relevant to an immature believer are the same as those for a seasoned follower of Christ – the difference may only be the depth of coverage.

For a model for teaching ‘mature believers’, I consulted the Reformed Baptist Seminary of Grand Rapids Prospectus for prospective students. I noted the theological categories that are used to govern the topics taught to aspiring pastors and have put a few thoughts into how this could make an outline of study for a new Christian.

According to the prospectus, the encyclopedia of theology encompasses:

Encyclopedia of Theology

  1. EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY
    • Interpreting the text of the Bible
    • Understanding the Bible’s background: archeology, history, theology
  2. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
    • Apologetics
    • Bible Doctrine
  3. PRACTICAL THEOLOGY
    • Pastoral Theology
    • Church Administration
    • How to live the Christian life
  4. HISTORICAL THEOLOGY
    • Church History – Early, Middle Ages, Recent
    • History of Christian Theology

Not every subject touched upon in a Seminary curiculum is appropriate for a discipleship program, but for the Protestant who holds to the priesthood of the believer, the Christian faith is the same faith for the pastor as the parishioner. Perhaps the average Bible student doesn’t need the same depth of study as a man who is specially called to be a teacher of God’s Word, but from the ‘Man in the Pew’ to the ‘Presbyter’, the faith (and that Standard of faith – the Bible) is the same and the same basic core of fundamental doctrines should be understood and confessed.

Theology and Discipleship

Below are a few notes on how these fundamental areas of theology may be used in a discipleship setting:

  1. EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY
  2. Exegetical theology is the science and art of understanding the scriptures in their literal, grammatical, historical, and theological context ( all while understanding that the whole was ultimately written by the Holy Spirit and comprises one whole and complete Word of God).

    Being able to intelligently read and understand the Bible is the supreme area of importance for the new believer. The ability to intelligently read and understand God’s Word is key to growth and spiritual maturity.

    The new believer who is not trained to read the Bible while understanding the larger scope of God’s overall Story of Redemption, and the role any given passage plays in this unfolding story, is confined to a Bible ‘only’ full of disconnected moralistic ‘stories’ and inspiring sayings and maxims.

    Without the ability to understand how each scripture relates to the whole, and how the whole relates to each scripture, the new believer is a victim to anyone who is able to wrap heresy in a few simplistic proof texts. This is the area of theology that sheds light on all the others. If a disciple learns this critical skill, he is on the proper path to understanding the other tenants of theology as well

    As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby…”  (1 Pet 2:2)

  3. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
  4. Where the exegetical theology student is trying to understand how to read and understand the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the systematic theology student is trying to understand what the Bible, as a whole, teaches about very important areas of doctrine, such as: Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, the nature and attributes of God, the fallen-ness and sinfulness of man, God’s Plan of Salvation for fallen mankind, angels, demons, the afterlife, etc.

    As exegetical theology teaches the believer how to learn about God, systematic theology answers the question “what do you believe about God?” It is the collection of Bible doctrines that are essential for salvation and growth. It is the church’s and believer’s confession of faith. It is the store of basic Bible doctrine that governs the believers thoughts and actions.

    …be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15)

  5. PRACTICAL THEOLOGY
  6. If Systematic Theology is for the believer “what to believe”, practical theology is “how to live in light of that belief.” Practical theology encompasses the majority of books found on the bookshelves of the local ‘christian’ bookstore and encompass areas such as: prayer, overcoming sin and temptation, marriage issues, contentment, joy, suffering, etc.

    Often, these are the first types of books given to new believers, but with solid grounding in Biblical studies and basic Bible doctrine, the new believer is apt to believe anything sprinkled with Bible verses. Much of the Puritan writings are very helpful in this category, most of what is found on tv, radio, and the bookstore is NOT!

  7. HISTORICAL THEOLOGY
  8. History is often neglected by believers, but may be very edifying. History teaches us how we came to be, and how we came to believe what we believe. It gives us a rich appreciation for our Bibles and our faith, and though not as important as the other areas, it is not to be neglected

Relative Importance of the Various Heads of Theology

In looking at the RBS Perspectus, I found the following break-down for the number of hours of classroom teaching in the various categories listed above.

EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY: 42 HOURS
SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: 31 HOURS
PRACTICAL THEOLOGY: 22 HOURS
HISTORICAL THEOLOGY: 10 HOURS

Not surprisingly, ministers of the Word of God spend most time studying how to study and teach the Scriptures. Next, they are indoctrinated in the core beliefs of their faith. Next, practical issues related to the Christian life and leading a local church. Finally, they study historical topics related to the history of doctrine, the church, and their denomination.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a good discipleship syllabus would include, first of all, some basic teaching on the structure of the Bible as a whole and how to read and understand it in light of what it reveals about God’s Plan of Redemption. A good curriculum would include, of course, basic teaching on those Bible doctrines that are of fundamental importance – those which define the essence of Basic Christianity. It would include some solid practical aspects of particular importance to the growing, maturing believer. And, it would include a brief Christian history primer that gives a broad perspective on what God has done for our over 2,000 years of church history.

“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…”  (Matt 28:19 ASV)

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. ”  (2 Pet 3:18)

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Denault on the Sinai Covenant

Some notes upon re-reading Chapter 3 of Pascal Denault’s “The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology”…

The Covenant concluded between God and Israel in the Sinai desert was a progression of the covenant of circumcision [i.e. the Covenant of Promise with Abraham]. The Sinaitic Covenant was specifically concluded with the physical posterity of Abraham for the accomplishment of the carnal land/seed promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. The natural posterity of Abraham was to inherit the Promised Land and the Sinaitic Covenant was made to this end.

But, did the Covenant serve a fuller purpose?

Why Was the Old Covenant Given?

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; …But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal 3:19-24)

According to the Apostle Paul, the law (i.e. the Covenant made at Sinai) was given to guard against sin until the Promised Seed of Abraham would come. The Old Covenant had a distinct role in preserving and keeping the Hebrew people separate so they could fulfill their mission of bringing the Messiah into the world.

Paul also states that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus Christ. The law teaches us our failures and short-comings. The law teaches the justice of God and our need of a sacrifice, a priesthood, and a mediator. By giving the Hebrews a picture of the offices and roles of Christ, it taught them to weary of their rites and sacrifices and to despair of the priesthood and to seek mercy and grace, no longer under types and signs, but in its fullness in Christ.

Does the Sinai Covenant Continue?

The Apostle continues…

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

(Gal 3:25-29)

Now that the Gospel of Grace has been revealed, we no longer require the ordinances, types, and shadows of the Old Covenant. There is no longer a distinction between Jew and Greek required. The Promises made to Abraham are not to be passed from generation to generation through the physical seed of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham has come and fulfilled the promise and received all it’s blessing. Those that are united to Christ are heirs of the promises, and with Christ, the heirs/seed of Abraham.

Denault’s Analysis

Brother Denault’s analysis, from his reading of 17th Century Particular Baptist works, is that the historic Baptist position is that goal of the Sinai Covenant was achieved in three ways:

  1. It preserved the Messianic lineage (Gal 3:16-29, Rom 9:4-5).
  2. The Old Covenant pointed typologically towards Christ – Priest, Mediator, Judgement, Sacrifice, Atonement, Deliverance, etc.
  3. It Concluded all under sin, so that faith could only be by faith in Christ (Gal 3)

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Countdown to Resurrecton Sunday

Given that Resurrection Sunday is 3 weeks from today, it might be a good time to be reading from the gospels as you meditate on the Atonement and Resurrection over the next few weeks.

Since we have 21 days until the celebration of the resurrection, and since the Gospel of John has 21 chapters, you could commit to reading a chapter a day!

Following this schedule, you will read about Jesus triumphal entry just a few days before Palm Sunday. And between Palm Sunday and Easter, you will read about the last supper, upper room discourse, Jesus and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, the betrayal, arrest, trial, beating, and Crucifixion. On Good Friday you will read of the empty tomb and on the day before Easter you will read of Jesus showing himself to his disciples and his ascension to glory.

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In reading some of AW Pink’s The Divine Covenants tonight, I found the following note under Section III of Part 5: The Sinaitic Covenant.

For much in the early paragraphs of this chapter we are indebted to an able discussion of the character of the Sinaitic covenant by Robert Balfour, which appeared in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review of July 1877.

After much searching, I was able to find this particular journal article, linked below, at archive.org. The article begins on journal page 511, which is roughly page 521 of the scan. Give it a read to find out what brother Pink found so remarkable.

Balfour, Rev. R. G. (1877). The Sinai Covenant. The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, XXVI, 511-526.

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Sinaitic Covenant, part 2

Notes on Sinaitic Covenant from my own thought after reading some of AW Pink’s Divine Covenants

The covenant with the Hebrew people made at Mount Sinai:

  1. Was built on the Abrahamic Covenant
    • It was a carnal and temporal fulfillment of it
  2. It was preparatory for the coming of the Messiah and the ushering in of the New Covenant
    • It was intended to be temporal – see Gal 3:19
  3. It was conditioned on obedience –
    • Promised outward blessing for the chosen people in the chosen land
    • Promised cursing and calamaties if the people rejected the rule of Jehovah
    • Blessing and cursing for the whole of Israel was based on obedience to the law; but the salvation of individuals was all of grace through faith as in every age, irrespective of the sin/obedience of the nation as a whole (Heb 11)

Hebrews 8

6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry [Christ has a more excellent ministry than Moses], by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant [The New Covenant is better than the Old (Sinaitic Covenant)], which was established upon better promises [The promises of the New Covenant are eternal - those of the Old Covenant were temporal]. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. [Jeremiah 31:31-34] 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Analysis

This passage is a great corrective to Reformed Covenant theologians and Dispensationalists alike.  The Covenant Theologian must take note that the New Covenant is founded upon better promises and is “not according to the covenant” that was made with Moses.  It is not merely a new administration of one covenant, it is entirely new and distinct from the old and temporary one.  Also note that every member of this New Covenant is converted – a regenerate church is assumed.

The Dispensationalist must note the passing of the levitical priesthood and the temple.  These have no future in God’s plan.  They were a “shadow of heavenly things“; that is types to serve until the anti-type has come.  Also note with whom the Covenant will be made – Israel.  Jehovah has dis-regarded the disobedient Hebrews, but He has found favor in one Hebrew – the Messiah.  Those that are Messiah’s are the people of God, a holy nation (1 Pet 2:5), fellow citizens of Israel (Eph 2:19), and en-grafted ‘unnaturally’ into the tree of Israel (Rom 11).

Says AW Pink:

Observe carefully what is said in Hebrews 8 to be the characteristic difference between the new and the old economies: “I will put my laws into their minds and write them in their hearts” (v. 10). No promise in any wise comparable to this was given at Sinai. But the absence of any assurance of the Spirit’s internal and effectual operations was quite in keeping with the fact that the Mosaic economy required not so much an inward and spiritual, as an outward and natural obedience to the law, which for them had nothing higher than temporal sanctions. This is a fundamental principle which has not received the consideration to which it is entitled: it is vital to a clear understanding of the radical difference which obtains between Judaism and Christianity. Under the former God dealt with one nation only; now He is manifesting His grace to elect individuals scattered among all nations. Under the former He simply made known His requirements; in the latter He actually produces that which meets His requirements.

 

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The Sinaitic Covenant, part 1

Notes on Sinaitic Covenant from AW Pink’s Divine Covenants -

  • Abrahamic Covenant promised the Messiah would spring from Abraham’s descendants
    • This necessitates that Abraham’s line be kept separate
      • The Messiah must trace his unmixed lineage back to Abraham
      • Abraham’s descendants must be separate from the heathen to preserve the knowledge and worship of God
      • Hebrews sheltered in Egypt when they were few and weak
        • Hebrews protected from the gods and inter-marraige with the Canaanites
        • Egyptians despised Israelites (Gen 46:34) – nations kept separate – people and religion
        • Egypt afforded an great opportunity for the Hebrew people to learn writing, building, etc.
        • Hebrews left Egypt with approx 2 million unmixed and faithful to Jehovah
  • God delivered the Hebrews from bondage by the hand of a mediator
  • The people are brought to Sinai where God constitutes them a nation and makes a covenant with them
    • The covenant was a national covenant with the nation of Israel that promised blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience
    • Regarding individuals -> every man (in his natural state) was fallen in his father (and representative head) Adam (by the transgression of the Covenant of Works) or he stood in his Savior and representative head (by virtue of the Everlasting Covenant of Grace) – the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • The national covenant made with the nation of Israel was not for the salvation of individuals
      • It was for the purpose of keeping Israel separate
      • It was a type of the Covenant of Grace between Christ and believers – “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things..” (Heb 10:1)
      • At times, Israel was faithful to God and received his blessing and favor – yet there were unbelieving individuals in it.
      • At times, Israel was unfaithful to God and received his condemnation and wrath – yet there were believing individuals in it
    • The covenant made with Israel was temporal and carnal
      • It was a temporary system of government of religion and government until its purpose was fulfilled
      • It was preparatory for a new and better and unending covenant
        • Preserved God’s word
        • Preserved Abrahamic promise of a redeemer seed
        • Taught the people of God’s holiness, righteousness, justice, patience, mercy, and grace
        • Taught the need for forgiveness, a sacrifice, a mediator
      • The blessings of the covenant were not salvation as a reward for obedience, but rather long life , health, and blessing in the land of Canaan

AW Pink recommends a close reading, and re-reading the words of Thomas Scott on these matters.  He says that the following  quotation “contains the most lucid, comprehensive, and yet simple analysis of the Sinaitic covenant which we have met with in all our reading. It draws a clear line of distinction between God’s dealings with Israel as a nation, and with individuals in it. It shows the correct position of the everlasting covenant of grace and the Adamic covenant of works in relation to the Mosaic dispensation.”

 

The national covenant did not refer to the final salvation of individuals: nor was it broken by the disobedience, or even idolatry, of any number of them, provided this was not sanctioned or tolerated by public authority. It was indeed a type of the covenant made with true believers in Christ Jesus, as were all the transactions with Israel; but, like other types, it ‘had not the very image,’ but only ‘a shadow of good things to come.’ When, therefore, as a nation, they had broken this covenant, the Lord declared that He would make ‘a new covenant with Israel, putting His law,’ not only in their hands, but ‘in their inward parts’; and ‘writing it,’ not upon tables of stone, ‘but in their hearts; forgiving their iniquity and remembering their sin no more’ (Jer. 31:32-34; Heb. 8:7-12; 10:16, 17). The Israelites were under a dispensation of mercy, and had outward privileges and great advantages in various ways for salvation: yet, like professing Christians, the most of them rested in these, and looked no further. The outward covenant was made with the Nation, entitling them to outward advantages, upon the condition of outward national obedience; and the covenant of Grace was ratified personally with true believers, and sealed and secured spiritual blessings to them, by producing a holy disposition of heart, and spiritual obedience to the Divine law. In case Israel kept the covenant, the Lord promised that they should be to Him ‘a peculiar treasure.’ ‘All the earth’ (Ex. 19:5) being the Lord’s, He might have chosen any other people instead of Israel: and this implied that, as His choice of them was gratuitous, so if they rejected His covenant, He would reject them, and communicate their privileges to others; as indeed He hath done, since the introduction of the Christian dispensation”  (Thomas Scott).

This perspective on the Old Covenant steers a path between the Dispensationalists who see the Old Covenant as a way of salvation by law keeping and the Reformed who see it as an administration of the Covenant of Grace.  C

 

 

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Blog Alert

For the last 7-8 years the Particular Baptists have had a strong and growing presence in the blogosphere.  Now the ladies are joining in on the fun!  Introducing Reformed Baptista – a new new blog for “Baptist Women of a 1689 persuasion“. 

A brief welcome below from the “Reformed Baptista” team -


A few months ago I was browsing several Christian blogs. There are outstanding blogs out there written by women, but personally I wanted something that would focus the lens to a Confessional Reformed Baptist viewpoint. Not much appeared on my Google radar, so my husband suggested I start one, thus the creation of Reformed Baptista. My goals for this blog are to work through the 1689, explore a bit of Baptist history, and provide edification and encouragement for women. Links to online sermons, papers, and other media may also pop up from time to time. If there’s anything you would like to read about, let me know.

Ultimately I hope this blog will cause you to consider Christ, search the Scriptures, and praise the triune God. To Him be all the glory.

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