Election and the covenant

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Charles Meadows, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
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    I was thinking about this topic the other day - and I am curious how some of the reformed brethren here contextualize this...

    If man is elected prior to any conversion then how is it reasonable to see his relationship with God (via Christ) as a covenant rather than a one-sided interaction. This is of course something with which some of the reformers themselves struggled.

    Any thoughts??
     
  2. TCGreek

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    1. I think Paul uses Abraham as a prototype of the faithful of all time (Rom 4:11; Gal. 3:29).

    2. Abraham was chosen before God entered a covenant with him, which BTW, was a one-sided interaction (Heb 6:13).

    3. And Abraham's circumcision was a confirmation of a one-sided covenant interaction initially.

    4. The elect were chosen in Christ (Eph.1:4).

    Other Reformed brethren will add.
     
  3. ReformedBaptist

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    I would like to add, but I am growing in my knowledge of God's Covenant(s) throughout Scripture. Our church is teaching through a series right now on the covenants entitled "The Lord of the Covenants" As God's Word is being opened to me in this, I was weeping last Lord's Day with joy knowing my election and the eternal covenant God made with me, the son of Abraham. The love of God was magnified in my heart and mind and I was overwhelmed with joy and wonder.

    If you would like to hear the sermons, click the link to our church in my signature and then click on "Online Sermons" and it will take you to sermon audio. For me to comment further on this subject would not be wise. I have more need to be taught in this area than I am apt to teach it.
     
  4. reformedbeliever

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    All of God's covenants were as overlord to the vassels (sp?). In other words.... God was the greater in the covenant process, and dictated the terms of the covenant to the lesser (man). Is this what you were after?
     
  5. Jarthur001

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    The term that I believe is basically at the root and the heart of the whole idea of covenant comes from the general Semitic world. It is expressed most clearly in the Assyrian language. "Birtu" is the term which means "a bond, a relationship." It is God that will established a relationship, a relationship which is so firmly grounded in the very being and word and character of God that it is unbreakable. It is a bond, unbreakable in the way a marriage ought to be. A marriage is a covenant established by God that should reflect the unbreakable relationship of God with us.

    In the human world, covenants are broken: business covenants, social contracts, political agreements. From God's point of view, however, covenant is never broken once the bond is established. It may result in curses on the disobedient, but for those who respond in faith, it is life everlasting because God doesn't break relationships. He keeps us bound to Himself. This covenant can be translated in different ways: "league," "compact," etc. We can think of different aspects of the covenant also. We can talk about the covenant as "unilateral." All of God's covenants are unilateral. God is the only one who functions. However, there are some covenants in the Bible that are "bilateral," with two equal parties. In marriage, we have a bilateral covenant. When Hiram and Solomon make a covenant, it is bilateral.

    There are two other terms that are very important. They are the terms "conditional" and "contingent." Is the covenant conditional? "If you do this, then this will happen." Or is it contingent? "When you do this, this takes place." There is quite a difference between conditionality and contingency. If one insists on the legal conditional aspect, then one can in a way say that people can make a deal with God. In Genesis 29 when Jacob says em Yahweh, if God indeed blesses me, I will give him a tenth. Is he saying "if God does it, then I will," (making a deal with God) or does he say "when God blesses me, I will give him a tenth"? There is a big difference between conditionality and contingency. God asks us to respond to Him with obedience. When we obey, we receive blessing; when we disobey, we receive cursing.
     
  6. larryjf

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    If i'm not mistaken many covenants were one-sided in that they were forceably imposed by an invading king upon an invaded people.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    Covenants were often one sided. But it is a mistake to try to make the Abrahamic covenant about salvation. It wasn't and isn't. It was about land, seed, and blessing. Salvation would come to people as a part of that. But the "covenant of grace" so many talk about has no biblical basis.
     
  8. rjprince

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    WOW! I could not agree more. Have been wondering which "covenant" the post was about? Pretty sure it was about the "covenant of grace" or "covenant of redemption", but was waiting for a few more clues.

    Amazing how many covenantalists blast the dispies for having no basis in Scripture and then do the same thing with a system of "covenants" that are no more explicit than the dispensations.

    PL, thanks. Great post.
     
  9. Charles Meadows

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    Interesting so far...

    As most here know I, though being a great admirer of many reformed theologians, do not consider myself a "calvinist". It seems that there were meany streams of thought in reformation circles and a few of them (Beza for example) became dominant. But I have always thought that a "covenant of grace" didn't quite fit within the framework of later calvinism given the "bilaterality" of a covenant. Of course the suzerain-vassal model of a covenant has biblical precedent - but this seems to fit more with the Fransciscan nominalist (Occam) scheme of thought than with 17th century calvinism.
     
  10. larryjf

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    The biblical basis for a "covenant of grace" is the fact that there is a "new covenant" that is referred to in Heb 10:29 as having to do with the Spirit of "grace."

    The whole Bible after the fall speaks volumes about God's covenant with mankind being from His grace and not from our good deeds earning a place in the covenant.

    I am a "Covenanter" and believe that there are 2...Works and Grace. All of the dispensations of the covenant of grace in the OT are simply unfolding that covenant in more detail and more broadly...
    From 1 man (Abraham)...to 1 family (Jacob)...to 1 people (Moses)...to 1 nation (David)...to all nations (Jesus).
     
  11. ReformedBaptist

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    WOW! I could not disagree more. It wasn't about land, though it was included as a type and shadow. Abraham sought a heavenly country, not an earthly.

    But I am still learning.
     
  12. larryjf

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    But isn't the covenant of grace bilateral?
    The Reformed view of that covenant is that it is between God the Father and God the Son. We are only part of the covenant as we are found in Christ.
     
  13. ReformedBaptist

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    I like that last sentence. There is only one people of God. The Hebrews text interprets Jerimiah 31. Good stuff!
     
  14. reformedbeliever

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    Bilateral would be between two equal opponents. I don't think that is the case with us and God. I could be wrong in how I see this. I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. :)
     
  15. rjprince

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    Now we are getting somewhere!!! This is foundational and the whole point of my thread on successive revelation.

    ANY INTERPRETATION THAT TURNS A CLEAR AND SPECIFIC OT PROMISE ON ITS HEAD, IS NOT A VALID INTERPRETATION IN THAT IT DENIES THE SPECIFICS OF THE OT PROMISE!!!

    JER 31 was not to the spiritual seed of Abraham, it was to the descendants of Israel and Judah! Even in the Olivet discourse there is a distinctoin between Israel and Gentile believers as far as the grand scheme is concerned. Yes I know that Jews and Gentiles are one in the Body of Christ at this time, but look at how the focus shifts back to Israel following the "times of the Gentiles"!

    Luke 21:24 -- 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    To say that the Abrahamic covenant was not about the land is to deny the CLEAR wording of the TEXT! Sure, Abraham's relationship with God was all about faith, but the details of the covenant are solidly tied to the land!
     
  16. larryjf

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    bilateral means having 2 sides...not necessarily opposing sides. Besides, Christ does represent the elect in His relationship to the covenant.
     
  17. ReformedBaptist

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    You are a bit jumpy there lol

    Notice I didn't say it wasn't about land. I said the land physcallly speaking was a type and shadow. So, there is land included. But the bigger picture is heavenly Jerusalem, not earthy. To say Hebrews is turning the promise of God on its head is wrong. The Hebrews writer take Jeremiah 31 and the new covenant there and applies it to Christ and His Church.

    For example,

    Jeremiah 31:31 says "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:"

    Heb 8:8 says, "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:"


    So we know the Hebrews author is looking at the same passage of Scirpture you and I are in Jeremiah. How do we know this is New Covenant in the blood of Christ? Because the text says so. When we continue on from this place in chapter 8 and follow it to chapter 9 we read:

    "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb 9:11-12


    The writer of Hebrews applies THIS to the New Covenant that Jeremiah spoke about.

    "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."

    Also, in another place in this epistle we understand:

    "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Heb 11:8-10

    Abraham wasn't looking for a tract of land in Cannan. He was looking for a heavenly country:

    "For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." Heb 11:14-16
     
  18. larryjf

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    But to interpret the promises the same way the NT does is how we are supposed to do it, not as if the OT was in a vaccum devoid of NT exegesis.

    Speaking of the great OT folks of the faith we read...

    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16)

    Later in the same chapter we read...

    And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Heb 11:39-40)

    The reason they did not receive what was promised is because all of the promises point to Christ as their fulfillment.

    We are not merely heirs of Israel, but of all things in Christ, as the covenant of grace is now expanded to all things...

    but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Heb 1:2)

    For those who believe in different literal covenants throughout the OT i must ask...where they saved outside of Christ since His covenant was not inacted?
     
  19. rjprince

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    RB,

    Jumpy? Prolly. Very little excites me like contending for the truth of the Word.

    Gotta go to a meeting...

    RJP
     
  20. ReformedBaptist

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