In Hebrews 4:15 we read: And listen to Philippians 2:8 where Paul referred to Christ's remarkable obedience: In New Testament theology, the height of Jesus' loyal service to God was his voluntary death on the cross. Christ plays this central role in New Testament theology because God administers every dimension of life in the new covenant through Christ as the representative of the church. We'll look at the organic development of God's covenants, first in the Old Testament. In Genesis 3:15, God promised humanity's victory over the seed of the serpent. (9) The literal fulfillment is requisite to the display of God’s government in the earth, necessary to the restoration and exaltation of the Jewish nation and deliverance of the earth from the curse. Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of Old Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute. But at the same time, God has shown saving grace to true believers even now. We don't accomplish any good work apart from the mercy of God and the power of his Spirit. We'll look at the element of divine benevolence in both Old Testament covenants and in the new covenant. And God also showed his saving grace to many who were in Israel and adopted into Israel. Abraham also experienced the divine benevolence of common and saving grace as God's covenant representative in the covenant of Israel's election. Mr. Bradley T. Johnson is Pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church and Adjunct Professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. Of course, like each Old Testament covenant before it, the new covenant established policies that were appropriate for its place in history. He is a Trustee of Latimer Trust, a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council, and served as Chairman of the Fellowship of Word and Spirit. Listen to Deuteronomy 8:2 where Moses told the people: In much the same way, the stories of David's life indicate that God tested David's loyalty as the royal covenant representative of Israel. Now, as we've already mentioned, God often implemented the terms of his covenants in ways that were beyond human understanding. Second, we'll see how God's covenants focused on appropriate policies for God's kingdom. Rather, this family of terms meant "renewed," "renovated," "rebuilt," or "refreshed.". Passages like Isaiah 61:4, Ezekiel 36:26 and Job 29:20 make it clear that this term, and its associated verbal forms, did not mean "utterly new." Notice in this passage that the new covenant will bring God's kingdom to its ultimate end when " [God] will forgive [his people's] wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Moreover, according to Psalm 2:4-6; Matthew 28:18; and Acts 2:31-33, the Father's benevolence toward Jesus lifted him to his current position of authority and power during the continuation of his kingdom. Peter J. Gentry and Steven J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012). And finally, the new covenant age will reach its consummation at Christ's second advent when every expectation will be completely fulfilled. In other words, the new covenant is a renewed national covenant with the descendants of Abraham and the Gentiles adopted into his family after Israel's exile ended. We'll briefly survey the Old Testament covenants and then turn to the new covenant. Paul had this concept in mind when he wrote his well-known doxology in Ephesians 1:3: Because we are identified with Christ in heaven, true believers have already received "every spiritual blessing." And we also know that God called for the loyalty of his covenant people in Adam: the entire human race. Find books You can write a book review and share your experiences. And according to 1 Timothy 3:16, Christ was the one who passed the test of loyalty perfectly and was vindicated when the Holy Spirit raised him from the dead. Then, in the continuation, the new covenant age will continue for an indefinite period of time through the history of the church. By contrast, true believers also receive both blessings and curses in this life. Kingdom, Covenants & Canon of the Old Testament Explore the basic theology and overarching story of the Old Testament, and why it is still relevant for Christians today. But he also continued to face curses, such as troubles in his family after the flood. First, greater kings always claimed that they showed benevolence to their vassals. From the time of Noah, God established the stability of nature as a secure place for God's fallen images to serve his kingdom purposes. A cursory reading of the terms of Old Testament covenants reveals a focus on policies that were relevant for particular stages of God's kingdom. Sometimes differences like this don't matter much. He has produced numerous books and theological articles, including Excellence in Preaching: Learning from the Best (IVP, 2011); Stress: The Path to Peace (Inter-Varsity Press, 2014); and Lives Jesus Changed (Christian Focus Publications, 2010). But in general, benevolence, loyalty and consequences formed the basic principles by which these treaty relationships were governed. Gerard Van Groningen explores the covenantal structure of biblical revelation, and how concepts of kingdom, covenant, and mediator unify the Scriptures. On the one side, the church is "in Christ" in the sense that we're identified with him before God in his heavenly court. Throughout his lifetime, Noah also received divine benevolence — both common grace and saving grace — as God's covenant representative in the covenant of stability. Gentry is professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Wellum is professor of Christian Theology. For instance, why does the New Testament teach that we must believe in Jesus for salvation? Prior to the new covenant, the consequences of both blessings and curses were crucial dimensions of God's interactions with his covenant representatives, and with his covenant people as a whole. Dr. Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. At this time, many scholars began to compare biblical covenants with a group of ancient Near Eastern documents usually called "suzerain-vassal treaties." Let's begin with the Old Testament covenants. Kingdom, Covenants & Canon of the Old Testament, Your Kingdom Come: The Doctrine of Eschatology, He Gave Us Scripture: Foundations of Interpretation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Sean McDonough is Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. For this reason, as passages like Romans 4:23-25 teach, this legal vindication of Christ in the court of heaven is imputed to all who have saving faith in him. As many biblical interpreters have noted, New Testament theology is "Christocentric." Stephen lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Karen, and their five children. As such, it established policies that were designed to reverse the failures of the past and complete or fulfill God's kingdom purposes in Christ. from Glasgow University, his D.Min. In this time of final, eternal blessings for God's people, "[He] will put [his] law in their minds and write it on their hearts." Similar blessings and curses came to future generations of humanity, the covenant people Noah represented. Second, we'll see how biblical covenants involved tests of loyalty for God's covenant people. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. All ancient Near Eastern suzerain-vassal treaties had elements in common, but they were also different in many ways. But like each Old Testament covenant, the new covenant renewed, rebuilt, renovated or refreshed the policies that God had established in previous covenant administrations. And Christ's Spirit works within true believers to make us holy. In the Bible, we see covenants between peers. But all of them represented others before God in the judgments of God's heavenly royal court. We need to keep in mind that, as the supreme King, God was the one who determined how the dynamics of his covenants would come to fruition. 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