Are Adventists Old-Covenant Christians? (part 2)
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As mentioned in the last post, Adventism’s understanding of the covenants is not well known either to us, our inquirers or our critics. Some critics even go as far as to suggest that Adventism’s covenant progression is an unheard-of new heresy. Part of the difficulty in responding to these charges is that, while Adventists have historically written on Scripture’s covenant thought, it has tended to be rare. To make matters worse, the few available resources tend to be from an isolationist perspective (from Adventist to Adventist) that does not help a seeker determine where Adventism sits in the continuum of Protestant covenantal thought.

Covenant with the Lord

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Identifying where Adventism falls in this continuum will be helpful in a number of ways. First, it will enable students of Adventism to see how Adventist covenantal thought fits into the broader historical picture. Second, it will help students identify points of agreement between Adventist theology and other denominations. Third, it will enable us to identify what unique contributions we bring to the table. Fourth, it will enable us to communicate our story in a language that can be understood by other Protestant traditions. And fifth, it will conclusively refute the charge that Adventist covenant thought is both “old-covenant” and an “unheard-of” heresy.

The chart below outlines the major systems of covenantal thought in Protestant Christianity. For the sake of simplicity, I have split the systems into two different categories. As will be demonstrated, the views under the first category embrace the perpetuity of the Law and the Sabbath. This alone shows that Adventists are not the only ones to believe in and uphold these truths, and it severely mitigates against the charge that Adventism is an old-covenant faith. (If this were true we would have to label the vast majority of reformed tradition the same way which is clearly problematic.) The views under the second category reject this perpetuity. As our exploration evolves, this distinction will make more sense.

Category A Category B

Covenantalism

1) Westminster Confession

2) 2nd London Baptist Confession

(Embrace Perpetuity of Law and Sabbath)

Alternate views to Covenantalism

1) Dispensationalism

2) New Covenant Theology

(Reject Perpetuity of Law and Sabbath)

Category A: “Covenantalism”

We begin our exploration of the continuum of Protestant covenantal thought with Covenantalism. Covenantalism is by far the oldest system of covenant thought within Protestantism1. It affirms sola scriptura, the interpretive priority of the NT over the OT (ie. the OT can only be properly interpreted via the NT), Trinitarian doctrine, holds to all the principles of the Protestant Reformation2 and holds to a Calvinist understanding of salvation3. It also contends that the imparted and imputed righteousness of Christ are essential elements of the gospel and that good works are the natural outflow of genuine faith. From there this theological system takes two routes. The first is the view defined by the Westminster Confession (A.D. 1647-49). The second view is defined in the Second London Baptist Confession (A.D. 1689). Below is a brief overview of both.

Westminster Confession 

Salvation

According to the Westminster Confession 4 salvation depends entirely on the sovereignty of God, who in time eternal predestined who would be saved and who would be lost. Thus, at no point in human history has anyone been saved outside of this eternal decree. This includes even those under the Mosaic covenant who were saved, not by works, but only by being predestined to salvation. Due to man’s total depravity in sin, salvation by works has never nor could ever be even remotely possible. This view is essentially a Reformed/ Calvinist understanding of salvation.

Covenant Story

From there the Westminster Confession introduces us to three overarching covenants in all of Scripture. The first is the Covenant of Redemption in which God predestined His elect to salvation before the creation of the world. The second is the Covenant of Works which teaches that man, in an unfallen state (Adam and Eve) were to maintain their relationship with God by obedience to His commands. The third is the Covenant of Grace. According to this view, once man fell into sin, he could only be saved by grace and thus, as soon as the fall took place, there was grace. Every covenant that appears in the OT (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic) are all administrations of the Covenant of Grace. Therefore, the Westminster Confession sees all of the OT covenants as the same as the New Covenant, only dressed in ceremonies. By adhering to the ceremonies, the OT saints could be brought into contact with grace and thus a saving relationship with God.

Covenant Continuity/ Discontinuity

Consequently, the Westminster Confession teaches that there are aspects of the OT covenants that are still in effect. The first is the Abrahamic Covenant of circumcision. While the Westminster Confession agrees that circumcision was done away with, they hold that its blessing upon the entire family – including children – remains. Therefore, baptism – the New Covenant circumcision – is also for children. In the same way that children were included in the covenant promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, so they are included in the New Covenant promises via baptism. This view of infant baptism affirms the baptism of infants and children as a continuing reality from the Abrahamic Covenant into the New Covenant. Recall that, in this view, none of the Old Testament Covenants are isolated. They are all administrations of the overarching Covenant of Grace. Therefore we can expect continuity and discontinuity from them.

Another aspect of this is seen in the way in which Covenantalism interprets the Mosaic Covenant. According to the Westminster Confession, the Mosaic Covenant law is divided into three parts. This three part division is proposed to be 1) The moral law, 2) The ceremonial laws, and 3) The civil laws. Because Israel is no longer in covenant with God as a nation (more on this later), its civil laws are abrogated. In addition, the death of Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial laws, all of which pointed to Him as the Savior. However, according to the Westminster Confession, the moral law remains as a perpetual law that cannot be abrogated. This includes all of the Ten Commandments including the Sabbath, which the Westminster Confession identifies with the first day of the week, Sunday. The system goes a step further by affirming that all OT commands are still relevant unless canceled by the NT and identifies the law of Christ as none other than the Ten Commandments.

Those familiar with Seventh-day Adventist theology will see an immediate similarity between this view and the Adventist view, thus demonstrating both harmony with Protestant covenantal thought and mitigating against the idea that the perpetuity of God’s law – including the Sabbath – is somehow legalistic, “un-Protestant,” or a concept present only in Adventist theology. While there are more similarities (and of course differences) these will be explored in part 3. For now, we continue with our exploration.

Israel/ Church Relationship

According to the Westminster Confession the church has always existed. Therefore, the OT version of the church was Israel and the NT version is the church Christ’s apostles established. The Church is, therefore, Israel and always has been. However, national Israel has also met its end as a “people of God” and the Church has effectively continued in its place. As a result, national Israel plays no specific role in end-time events.

Eschatology

Classical proponents of the Westminster Confession were Historicists in their understanding of Bible prophecy. They held to a visible return of Jesus and saw the fulfillment of the Antichrist as the office of the papacy. This system also rejects the end-time scenario of the secret rapture and holds to eternal hell for the reprobate and eternal heaven for the elect. Modern proponents of the Westminster Confession agree with all of these views with exception of the papacy as Antichrist due to abandoning Historicism as a method of interpreting prophecy.

Other Elements 

In closing, here are some brief mentions of other elements inherent to the Westminster Confession. 1) Sign of the New Covenant is baptism. 2) Sprinkling is an acceptable method of baptism. 3) Cessation of spiritual gifts. 4) Church and state are united (state enforces correct theology). 5) Lord’s Supper is an act of remembrance and communion with God.

Second London Baptist Confession 

Salvation 

In keeping with its predecessor, the Westminster Confession, the Second London Baptist Confession 5 also holds to a Reformed/ Calvinist view of salvation.

Covenant Narrative

The Second London Baptist Confession teaches the three overarching covenants of Redemption, Works, and Grace. It also affirms that once man fell into sin, salvation could only ever come by grace and never by works. Thus, Genesis 3:15 introduces the Covenant of Grace which becomes ratified in the New Covenant through Jesus’ death. It also affirms that the OT covenants were means by which God communicated his grace in the OT. However, it differs from the Westminster Confession in that it does not see the OT covenants as iterations of Covenant of Grace “dressed in ceremonies” but as separate and temporary covenants whose only purpose was to progressively reveal the plan of salvation until that plan would be actuated with the death of Jesus. So while the OT covenants pointed the practitioners to, and advanced the Covenant of Grace, they were not the same as the Covenant of Grace. This means that, for the Second London Baptist Confession, none of the OT saints were reconciled to God via the OT covenants. Rather, they were saved in anticipation of the death of Jesus.

Covenant Continuity/ Discontinuity

Because of this, the Second London Baptist Confession teaches that the OT covenants are no longer in effect. Consequently, it rejects infant baptism and instead holds to believers’ baptism which teaches that baptism is only for mature believers who have made an informed decision to follow Christ. While children may have been included in the rite of circumcision, due to the Abrahamic covenant being done away with, we cannot carry this practice into the New Covenant rite of baptism. In short, because the OT covenants were temporary covenants, we are not to expect continuity from them into the New Covenant.

This covenant abrogation view also impacts how the Second London Baptist Confession views the civil, ceremonial, and moral laws of the Mosaic covenant. According to this system even the moral has been abrogated. In other words, the whole law of Moses, as it related to the Old Covenant, has been done away with. However, (and here is a big “however”) this does not mean that the Second London rejects the Ten Commandments. According to this system the Ten commandments are above the covenants because the Law existed prior to them. As a result, while New Covenant believers are not under the Ten Commandments to obey them and relate to them  in the same manner as those under the Mosaic Covenant did, they are still subject to them because they came before the Mosaic Covenant6. As a result, the Second London Confession continues to affirm the Ten Commandments as perpetually binding. This includes the Sabbath which they identify with the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday.

Israel/ Church Relationship

The Second London Baptist Confession affirms that the church was typified by Israel but disagrees with the Westminster Confession in rejecting the notion that they are the same thing. Nevertheless, the Second London Confession agrees that national Israel plays no specific role in end-time events.

Eschatology 

Classical proponents of the Second London Baptist Confession were also Historicists in their understanding of Bible prophecy. They held to a visible return of Jesus and saw the fulfillment of the Antichrist as the office of the papacy. The Second London Confession also rejects the secret rapture and holds to eternal hell for the reprobate and heaven for the elect. Modern proponents of the Second London agree with all of these views with exception to the papacy as Antichrist due to abandoning Historicism as a method of interpreting Bible prophecy.

Other Elements: 

In closing, here are some brief mentions of other elements inherent to the 2nd London Baptist Confession: 1) Sign of the New Covenant is baptism. 2) Immersion is the only acceptable method of baptism. 3) Cessation of spiritual gifts. 4) Separation of church and state. 5) Lord’s Supper is an act of remembrance and communion with God.

Conclusion

As can be clearly seen, there are a considerable number of similarities between Adventist theology and the Protestant covenantal traditions of the Westminster Confession and the Second London Baptist Confession. These similarities will be explored in much more detail in part 4. For now, we can easily identify the Second London Confession as being the Protestant covenant tradition that most closely aligns with Seventh-day Adventism. Our covenant narratives are, by and large, identical, including our views on the Sabbath, the perpetuity of the law of God, the overarching covenants and the Law’s transcendence over the covenants.

While historic Protestants vehemently opposed the seventh-day Sabbath, the theological arguments they use as the foundation for Sunday Sabbatarianism are identical to those used for the seventh day. As a result, many modern-day Protestants no longer consider it problematic to honor the seventh day, even if they don’t personally subscribe to it. After all, the covenant theology they use to defend Sunday Sabbatarianism is identical to the theology used by those who espouse the seventh-day Sabbath (such as the Seventh Day Baptists and Seventh-day Adventist church). As a result, those who accuse the Adventist church of being “Old-Covenant” for honoring the Sabbath unwittingly accuse the vast majority of the Protestant Reformation – the movement which restored the gospel of the New Covenant after decades of papal legalism – as “Old-Covenant” as well. In short, Adventism is no more “Old Covenant” than are the historic Protestant Reformers who also believed in the perpetuity of the Law and Sabbath – positions which are still advocated in contemporary Protestant theology.

In the next post we will turn our attention to Category B and explore the two major covenant systems that present alternate views to those espoused by Covenantalism and which differ quite largely from Adventism. We will then turn our attention entirely to Adventism in part 4 and explore its theology under the framework of covenant theology.


Note: This article was originally published at www.pomopastor.com as “The Hole in Adventism: Identifying our Place in the Continuum of Protestant Covenantal Thought.” It has been edited for republication on Sabbath School Net.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covenant_theology
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_solae
  3. https://carm.org/calvinism
  4. Note: The Westminster Confession is the view held by the Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Congregationalist denominations.
  5. The Note: The 2nd London Baptist Confession is the view held by the Confessional Baptist denominations.
  6. One example of this is the Sabbath. Under the Mosaic covenant, breaking the Sabbath was punishable by death. Under the New Covenant it is not. Thus, while the Second London affirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath, it sees the Sabbath, under the New Covenant, as liberated from the restrictions and punishments connected to it via the Mosaic Covenant. By way of another example, the same can be said of adultery. Under the New Covenant a believer caught in adultery can face church discipline, but under the Old Covenant it was punishable by death. So while the law still applies, it has been liberated from its Mosaic Covenant restrictions. It is still a sin to commit adultery, and believers are still under obligation to obey this command, but it is not punishable by death as it was under the Mosaic Covenant.
Amen!(10)

Comments

Are Adventists Old-Covenant Christians? (part 2) — 22 Comments

  1. Marcos:

    Not being a theologian, I have a few questions after reading your second article. Although the word covenant is used repeatedly, I do not find a definition of the terms Old Covenant and New Covenant. And then there is mention of "OT covenants" which I presume refers to Noachic, Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic covenants. I may have heard of Adamic covenant too elsewhere.

    My understanding, as an Adventist, is that the Old Covenant refers to the one made at Sinai and described in Exodus 19 when the PEOPLE PROMISE TO OBEY THE LORD AND FAILED. The New Covenant on the other hand is when GOD THROUGH HIS SPIRIT WRITES HIS LAWS IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS (Jer. 31:31-34, Hebrews 8 & 10). And it has nothing to do with compartmentalization into the OT and NT.

    In addition, as I had earlier quoted from ST August 24, 1891 para 10, EGW uses the following three terms interchangeably: the covenant of redemption, the covenant of grace and the everlasting covenant.

    Is there a simple answer to my musings?

    Amen!(8)
  2. "I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

    While looking for another passage that contained certain Hebrew words found in Dan. 9, I found 2 Sam. 5 and 1 Chr. 11, where David made a covenant with the people who wanted him to be king. Why did these passages use the same sort of language found in a Messianic prophecy? I didn't know.

    But then it became clear. And one point was that David's covenant with the people contained the same element found in all of God's covenants with us, whether old or new. David agreed to be their king, and the people agreed to be his loyal subjects. That's the same as "I will be their God and they shall be My people."

    Therefore, it makes no sense whatsoever to try to use the covenants to say that the law isn't binding or that the Sabbath has been abolished. The new covenant doesn't put us in charge. We're the people, not the God, in the agreement.

    What we have today is the same problem the Jews in Christ's time had. They wanted a Savior from the Romans, not a Savior from sin. In other words, they wanted to be part of the kingdom without having to obey the king.

    By definition, a covenant in which we pledge that God is our God, and we are His people, necessitates a Savior from sin, since the only way He can be our God and we can be His people is if we are brought into repentance and obedience to His law. How could the Jews have missed this key point? But then, how could so many professed Christians today miss this key point?

    Amen!(6)
      • Your welcome.

        There are many ramifications to it, including for the Sabbath. The idea that we can pick whichever day we want puts us in charge rather than God, and is thus contrary to true new covenant theology.

        Amen!(6)
    • Bob, the New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant or the Davidic, according to Scripture.
      The NC is based on the *promise* to Abraham: “ In you and in your seed (CHRIST) shall ALL nations be blessed”(Gal 3:8,14,16). Its ratification involved one party only, God (Gal 3:19,20). This was an unconditional promise of blessing requiring nothing from any other party. This was the strength of the promise: everything depended on God and nothing on man. The living figure and example of it was the promise of a son, Isaac, to Abraham. When Abraham tried to fulfill the promise by his own works, he produced Ishmael - eternal trouble for the Middle East and the world. When he decided to wait on the Lord (Rom 4:19,20), Isaac was born of God, the Spirit. [When Jacob and his mother attempted to secure the firstborn blessing, although God had promised that the literal firstborn would serve the younger, God’s firstborn, only trouble resulted. He never saw his mother again, and enmity between him and his brother ruled. God’s way rules.]
      On the other hand ratification of the Old Covenant involved mediators, the Angels (for God) and Moses, for the ONE nation of Israel. This occurred because Israel, due to their slavish fear of death, committed themselves to WORK hard to obey all that God said. This covenant will be fulfilled only if both parties completed their part of the agreement. God knew, from the outset, that they could not keep their part of the agreement (Dt 5:29). Their spiritual condition was “dead in trespasses and sins, slaves of sin”. As in Egypt when in physical slavery, they could not produce their quota because they were not provided straw as before.
      We must accept God’s purpose for the Law (Gal 3:19). There is no getting around it for any thing good. The law was intended to reveal sin in its true character as transgression. Until the law came man did not recognize sin as transgression. Adam transgressed in violating a positive, known law. The law was given to a nation of slaves of sin who, therefor, could not obtain righteousness by it. It was meant to show men what hopeless sinners they were, so they would cry out to God to save them by His grace - just as they cried out under physical slavery in Egypt; like the Rom 7:24 man who got relief through the ministry of the Spirit under the grace of God in Rom 8. This covenant resulted in cursing and condemnation. God’s covenant with Abraham was a promise of blessing. The ministry under the Law demonstrated the unworthiness of man to receive free and unconditional blessing. Man will be blessed only by the grace of God.

      Amen!(3)
      • Hi Kenny.

        Of course there are differences between the various covenants, but there is at least one basic similarity:

        "I will be their God" (Gen. 17:8).

        "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I ... will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer. 31:33).

        Anytime you read the words "their God," "my God," "His people," "I am the God of Abraham thy father," etc., it implies this aspect of the covenant relationship between God and His people.

        The promises of the New Covenant are not unconditional.

        "From a sense of thorough conviction, you can then testify to men of the immutable character of the law manifested by the death of Christ on the cross, the malignant nature of sin, and the righteousness of God in justifying the believer in Jesus, on condition of his future obedience to the statutes of God’s government in heaven and earth" (RH April 24, 1888, par. 15).

        A principal difference between the Old and the New is who does the writing of the law in our hearts. Under the Old, the people tried. That never works. Under the New, God does the writing, and that works, if we allow it to.

        Amen!(4)
  3. An excellent summary of the two major Protestant positions, historically speaking. Today many of us see the covenants in two other contexts which influence our understanding: history and literature.

    First of all, since the work of Mendenhall and others, it is important to acknowledge that concepts of treaty and covenant are part of the political language of the Ancient Near East. Various Bible covenants are to some degree modeled upon (but also modifications of) treaties and covenants made between various parties. The Holy Spirit chose to use existing cultural forms, which the writers and readers of ancient scripture readily understood, even though these ideas might be difficult for us today.

    Secondly, as these ancient covenants no longer neatly fit modern life, modern approximations must be made if we want to produce language that makes sense today. In our political system, contracts play an important part in economic, political, economic and social life, but how these might apply to the divine-human relationship is difficult to ascertain. One method is to affirm the metaphoric power of "covenant" in our life and thought. Literary analysis of many of the Bible's key covenant concepts, along with their controlling narratives, might help us here.

    With these two to aid us, we might better understand scripture than if we naively read the texts and try to apply them literally to modern Christian life.

    Amen!(2)
  4. What do you think the purpose is of the number of different covenants that God provided from the first to the last as recorded in the Holy scriptures? If you think you have the answer, I would expect it will be forth coming. God's Plan of salvation may be different than your definition based on a finite mind. Isiah 55 :8,9. seems to agree.

    Amen!(0)
    • All through human history we have been on a learning experience. God had been trying to drum into out thick heads that he loves us and has our best interests at heart. The covenants were/are an expression of that relationship. None of the covenants were ever intended to be the final epitome of knowledge and relationship. Just as marriage is only a step along the way of our love relationship with our spouse, so each covenant is a step along the way of humanity's relationship with God. Definitions, by their very nature, are somewhat static in their expression and should always be viewed as only a step in the journey. Nobody suggests that once you have participated in the wedding ceremony, you have arrived in your relationship with your spouse. It is, or should be a growing relationship. Likewise our relationship with God is not limited to the statement of a covenant, but is, or should be a dynamic growing relationship.

      Yes there is a difference in God's thoughts and our thoughts, but God has bent over backwards in his effort to give sufficient evidence of his love so that we can understand the plan of salvation. it is not rocket science, it is an expression of selfless love that we can appreciate, even if we cannot communicate it eloquently.

      Amen!(3)
    • Not sure who your question was addressed to, Paul, but here's my response:
      Covenant language was already in widespread secular use in the Ancient Near East, covering all kinds of relationships from marriage to international treaties. When the ancient Israelites wanted to redefine or stipulate their relationship to the divine, they looked to use such language. The many covenants in the Bible are occasions when the relationship of the people to God was redefined for new times and new circumstances.

      Amen!(1)
  5. Interesting, the differences we view on just about any given subject that comes to mind. Our solutions and opinions are often based on experiences we have encountered at one time or another. However when considering the purpose for a number of covenants, there is usually a certain amount of conjecture involved on an finite mind. The answer that seems to be logical is because we humans are the other part of the covenant and as such are responsible for any failures that have occurred. Do we not have to consider that God is all knowing and these failures do not come as a surprise? That is another well worn discussion. If we thought as God thinks there wouldn't be any questions would there? Wasn't the covenant that we see and have seen since Noah was given the first and maybe the most important one. There were similar reasons for each covenant. Idol worship of some form was always the reason for The grace and love that is given to fallen man.

    Amen!(1)
    • The most important covenant for us now is the New Covenant. "The great law of love revealed in Eden, proclaimed upon Sinai, and in the new covenant written in the heart, is that which binds the human worker to the will of God." {DA 329.3}. This is the purpose of the everlasting covenant "according to the eternal purpose which (God) purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:11) in the council of heaven. All the different covenants in the Scriptures are iterations of it.

      Amen!(2)
      • Pramod, the Lord made definitive distinctions between the covenants we are addressing. If there *are* distinctions, wouldn’t it be best if we acknowledge them and proceed to where they lead?
        God says in Deut. 5:2,3: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord DID NOT make this covenant with our fathers, but with US, with all those of us alive here today.”
        And Jer 31:31-34: “... I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, NOT like the covenant that I made with the their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put MY LAW within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God and they shall be My people. And they will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother... they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,” declares the Lord.
        The new covenant law is the Spirit of Life of Christ Jesus. The old covenant was the ministry of the Letter, a ministry of death and condemnation.
        It’s interesting that God, who is SPIRIT, makes a distinction, also, between His Rest of Gen 2:2,3 and the rest He gave to Israel - Dt 5:15; Ex 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Ezk 20:20. He states: “Therefore I swore in my wrath, truly they shall not enter into My rest.” Psa. 95:11 But they were resting every sabbath, meanwhile.

        Amen!(1)
        • Hi Kenny:
          Having read up a little more, I do see clearly the way the Scriptures differentiate between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant both in the OT and the NT. And reading from EGW, it appears that through the Old Covenant "they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant" which, by the way, "is called the 'second' or 'new' covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant". {PP371}
          It is interesting that God refers to "my covenant" in Ex. 19:5 which I suppose is a reference to the Ten Commandments. In Deut. 4:13, these are called "his covenant".
          Thanks for helping me see the distinction between the Old and New Covenants.

          Amen!(1)
  6. Hi Kenny:
    I understand that there are different ways of looking at some of these covenants, e.g., the problem with Old Covenant, as I understand it, was that the people misunderstood their role and said, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do", not realizing that they could not do it.
    I have heard of various covenants such as Adamic, Noachic and Abrahamic covenants in addition to the everlasting covenant, the covenant of redemption, the covenant of grace and, of course, the Old and New Covenants. I ask myself, "Did God have different plans for mankind at different times?" My own conclusion is that God's plan from eternity has been the same: for us to be reconciled to Him---to be at one with Him---that He would be our God and we would be His people (Ex. 19:8, 1 Pet. 2:9, Col. 1:19-20, Eph. 1:9-10 & Rev. 21:3). And the way He accomplishes that is through the New Covenant in which He writes His law of love in our hearts (Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:10 & Heb. 10:16).
    The same idea of at-one-ment is recorded in the High Priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17 where He repeatedly says that the Father, the Son and His disciples may all be in one another and "that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26).

    Amen!(1)
    • Pramod,

      When you read, ponder a bit. There may be fewer differences between these various covenants than what some say.

      Take for example the Noachic covenant. The giving of that covenant is one of three stories in which (a) God is manifesting grace already, (b) a sacrifice is offered, and (c) after the sacrifice is offered, promises are given. The other two stories are the offering up of Isaac, and the cessation of the plague after David numbered Israel. Each of these stories shows that the blessings come through sacrifice, since promises are made and blessings are given after the sacrifice. But since grace was already being shown before the sacrifice, the sacrifice in the story wasn't what would bring the blessings, but only a symbol of the sacrifice that would.

      In Noah's story, it is clear that being cut off is a punishment for sin, and the covenant is a way to escape that penalty.

      It seems that Moses picked the stories from the first 2000+ years of history that would best teach us about salvation, amongst other things. This is why Stephen, when defending his faith in Christ in Acts 7, though he never mentioned Christ during his discourse, cited Joseph being sold by his brothers in order to prevent from being fulfilled the prophetic dreams of Joseph's becoming their lord. But the brothers thereby brought about the fulfillment of those dreams, making him their savior during the famine. Stephen said they sold him out of envy, and Pilate, the gospel says, knew the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to him out of envy.

      Stephen said God promised to give land to both Abraham and his descendents, but never gave Abraham any. This is true. This is what Genesis says. Why does Genesis teach this, and why did Stephen point out this fact? Because Genesis is thereby teaching that there will be a resurrection, and Stephen in his defense had to lay a foundation for belief in the resurrection.

      Thus the story of the Noachic covenant is really teaching us about the new covenant, and was meant to do so. We are even told in the SoP that it is through the plan of salvation that the wicked come forth from their tombs after the millennium, and the Noachic covenant might indirectly be referring to the fact that it won't be water, but fire next time.

      Amen!(1)
      • Thanks, Bob. That's a lot to chew on.
        I am beginning to look at covenants as follows: The Old Covenant was meant to make us realize our need of a Saviour. In the New Covenant the Saviour brings about the change that is needed in our hearts and minds. In other words, a Christian must experience both the Old and New Covenants in his life---first the futility of his own efforts to save himself (legalism) and, secondly, a surrendering to the Lord to change him (righteousness by trust).
        Let us see what Marcos has to say in the 4th instalment of his series.

        Amen!(1)
        • Yes, that seems a good way to think about them in a homily. However, as a Gentile Christian "we" were never under any of the Old Testament covenants. They were mostly for the Jewish people. Perhaps if you are Jewish you may see it differently.

          Amen!(0)
          • "If you are Christ's, you are Abraham's seed" (Gal. 3:29). I hope that includes Gentile Christians!

            Amen!(0)
  7. Great comments everyone! We are fast approaching part 4 of the series where I share that SDA understanding of the covenants. Some of you seem eager to get to that! haha.

    In the meantime, check out part 3 which covers the other 2 popular covenant thelogies in the christian world today. Understanding these will help answer the "Are Adventists Old-Covenant Chrisitians" question which I dig into in part 4. Hopefully it will be up next week.

    Blessings!

    Amen!(1)

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