I’ve been reading a series of well written articles by Dr Reluctant a Dispensationalist about Covenant Theology. I have commented on those a couple of times. And although I agree with Dr Reluctant, (I’m sure not his real name), that covenant theology misses what I will call, the thread of promises made to Israel in the covenants and where they were to lead Israel in Bible prophecy; still I also find Dispensational Theology to miss altogether several facts that are clearly stated in scripture.
In fact I will say that for me it is easy to see what each side misses and to follow that thread to the real truth that both sides unfortunately overlook.
But we cannot overlook the promises made in the covenants to Israel. The New Covenant cannot do away with those promises, but neither can the Church steal away from Israel the very covenant which is the promise of their salvation. The New Covenant, is that promise which the Dispensationalist claims for the Church only, completely leaving Israel out of what is theirs.
Paul who was the Biblical Jewish Theologian called to and gifted for our understanding on these issues, was chosen to teach us. Here is what he says regarding the covenants and the Christ (the Jewish Messiah) to you and me.
Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, [thus] establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. (NASB1995)
Jesus had told us that He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. What does that mean? The answer is found in what the new covenant promise was to do. Listen:
Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (NASB1995)
So was This new covenant just for Israel. Jesus stated something that made Him the fulfillment of this covenant.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20 NASB
Dispensationalists make the critical error of having the Church steal this covenant away from Israel. True the Reformed Covenant Theologian also errs and has the church replace Israel, but what if the church were simply adopted into Israel as Paul teaches. Doesn’t he?
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, (NASB1995)
Dispensationalists say that we become citizens within the church family, not Israel. Covenant Theologians say no the saints already existed, but somehow they do a magic trick and replace Those saints called Israel with the church. So let’s dig further, and see if we can learn Paul’s teaching of truth.
Paul what’s going on?
Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” [which is] performed in the flesh by human hands– 12 [remember] that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (NASB1995)
So Paul is stating that there were men “in Christ” from Israel before we Gentiles were joined to them. most of us in the church today were added gentiles. You may say I’ve never heard of such a thing. Listen:
1 Peter 1:10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that [would come] to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (NASB1995)
Peter tells us that the Spirit of Christ was in and directing the Prophets concerning a salvation that was coming to us.
If you go back over this teaching of Paul’s you will see that we are now, in Christ” made a part of this same covenant relationship that Israel was delivered by God in the form of promises.
So these covenants are to play out in the future for Israel and they will include us as part of each promise.
In the next post, we will look at Jesus the Redeemer and groom of His bride. In that post we will look at who makes up His bride, some of you will know already, and some will be surprised.