The following is adapted and expanded from a portion of my July 28, 2009 presentation, “I Did Not Come To Abolish” given at the New Covenant Theology Think Tank in Evans, N.Y.
Despite its brief mention and a lack of a far-reaching or biblically-explicit context to support the notion, there have been whole theologies and there have been whole NCT doctrines built around a systematic, rather than an exegetical and biblical theology approach to “the Law of Christ.”
Covenant Theologians would typically refer to it as identical to the moral law or Ten Commandments, and would consider as the imprimatur, “I have not come to abolish the Law,” full stop. Continue reading
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (ESV)
There are some on the edges of New Covenant Theology who wish to make the law of Christ into a new codified law, which may make logical sense from a systematic approach, but which goes beyond the context of the phrase in .
Thomas Schreiner points to loving one another as the identity of the law of Christ:
It seems most promising to identify the law of Christ with the admonition to love one another (), for there is a clear link between and 6:2. The Old Testament law “is fulfilled” (peplērōtai) in the injunction to love one’s neighbor as oneself ( in ). And the law of Christ “is fulfilled” (anaplērōsete) when believers fulfill one another’s burdens (). If we carry the burdens of other believers, we show our love for them. Sacrificial love for fellow believers, then, fulfills the Old Testament law and the law of Christ. Such a reading fits with –10, where the Old Testament law is capsulized in the admonition to love one another. We also could say that Christ’s life, and the sacrifice of his life in his death, exemplifies to the uttermost the law of Christ. That is, Christ’s life and death are the paradigm, exemplification, and explanation of love. However, –10 guards us from oversimplifying the nature of Christ’s law, for love is expressed when believers fulfill moral norms. The law of Christ is exemplified by a life of love, but such love is expressed in a life of virtue.
Church New Covenant style is a loving, learning, and ordered mess; just like any family. Your family is a mess, but there is (or should be) some semblance of natural symmetry and order evident in your daily lives. Family members don’t quit on each other, at least they shouldn’t. When someone gets upset, they aren’t looking to leave and go down the street and become part of another family. Such an idea is ludicrous. No, they learn how to work through their problems and in that problem-solving they learn how to communicate better and know and understand each other better. Doing church New Covenant style is like that.
From the First London Baptist Confession, 1646:
The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him.
Preparationism, the notion — among some Puritans, but existing to this day — that an unrepentant sinner needs to be beaten down by the law before hearing and receiving the gospel, is destructive. It can breed a lack of assurance by those who believe they were not chastened enough by the law or a false assurance in those who were made to feel guilty but who did not hear and believe.
The New Testament doesn’t preach the law. It preaches Christ and Him crucified.
At the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, it was so that He could demonstrate His glory. Indeed, begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
reminds us that all of this creation was by Christ — by Him, through Him and for Him — and declares that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
As Abraham Kuyper wrote, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’”
All creation is here out of God’s great joy in His glory and His desire to make it known through His Son. Continue reading
19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (ESV)
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (ESV)
Over the past several years, I’ve seen, read, and participated in a lot of discussions about what laws or commandments we need to follow in the New Covenant, what a Biblical Theology of the New Covenant should be, or what the eschatology of NCT adherents should be. (That last one is a particularly volatile one at the moment, with some amills wanting to kick out the premills.)
In other words, there’s a lot of conversation about NCT orthodoxy.
But what about NCT orthopraxy?
What should a church that teaches New Covenant Theology look like? What are its hallmarks? Continue reading