This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Tag: sanctification (page 1 of 3)

Completed by the Spirit: Download the original paper

By request, here’s the com­plete paper from July 2010 from which the Com­pleted by the Spirit blog series was adapted. You’re wel­come to down­load it and dis­trib­ute it freely as long as you do not mod­ify it:

Com­pleted by the Spirit: New Covenant Sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion in Paul (PDF, 240 kb)

Completed by the Spirit Part 22: A Summary

This is the 22nd and final part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

The apos­tle Paul writes through­out his epis­tles that the law was given for a dif­fer­ent covenant and that believ­ers are not under its juris­dic­tion. He makes no qual­i­fi­ca­tions in this: he does not sep­a­rate the law into com­po­nent parts – moral, civil and cer­e­mo­nial – and he does not pre­scribe com­mands of the Torah for our Chris­t­ian walk.

Paul warns us of the power of the law to pro­mote sin in the flesh and implores us not to sub­mit to its yoke of slavery.

While John is often referred to as the apos­tle of love, love is a major focus of Paul’s teach­ing. (A search for “love” in the Pauline epis­tles returns 115 results in the ESV.) It is love that ful­fills the law in the Chris­t­ian; it is a per­fect love of God and of neigh­bor that is a reflec­tion of the rela­tion­ship among the Trin­ity and it is a per­fect love of God and of neigh­bor that is the out­work­ing of our com­pleted Christ-likeness in glory.

Until then, an increas­ing reliance upon the love of Christ – given to us by His Spirit –molds us more and more into His image.

No law can pro­duce the fruit of the Spirit. All that the law can do is pro­duce sin, despair, self-condemnation and self-righteousness in our remain­ing imperfection.

It is our union with Christ through His Spirit that results in our sanctification.

“I have come to real­ize,” writes Jerry Bridges, “that the deep work of spir­i­tual trans­for­ma­tion of my soul has been what the Holy Spirit has done, not what I have done. I can to some degree change my con­duct, but only He can change my heart.”[1]

Thus, while Paul gives us imper­a­tives in his expo­si­tion of what it means to be a fol­lower of Christ in our hearts and in our con­duct, those imper­a­tives have their basis only in the indica­tive of what Christ has done in us.

“[1] There is there­fore now no con­dem­na­tion,” self or oth­er­wise, “for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” ().

Next: Com­men­tary on this series, the after­math of the paper, and fur­ther thoughts on the Gospel vs. Law sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion debate — per­haps sev­eral posts!


[1] Jerry Bridges, The Dis­ci­pline of Grace (Col­orado Springs: Nav­Press, 2006), 106.

 


8:1 There is there­fore now no con­dem­na­tion for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 21: Do Not Submit Again to a Yoke of Slavery

This is the 21st part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Given all that we’ve stud­ied in this series, how do we apply what is shown to us about sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion in Scripture?

How do we grow in holi­ness or coun­sel those who are com­bat­ing sin by rely­ing on the Holy Spirit and fol­low­ing imper­a­tives grounded in the indica­tive of the gospel and the gift of the Spirit of Christ to dwell in us?

Our study has pro­vided us two answers: one pos­i­tive and one negative.

We do focus on the gospel.

We do not focus on the law.

When we set our eyes on Christ and look at His per­son and work, we behold more and more what it is that our union with Him has granted to us. Con­tinue reading

Completed by the Spirit Part 20: A Pattern of Indicative-Powered Imperatives

This is the 20th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

As we noted from the writ­ings of Thomas Schreiner in our pre­vi­ous install­ment, Paul doesn’t give us com­mands, or imper­a­tives, in the form of laws, but rather as based in the indica­tive — that is, in our posi­tion in Christ. Paul exhorts us to be who we now are.

In addi­tion to those pre­vi­ous exam­ples, we can also look to Paul’s let­ters to the Eph­esians and Colos­sians for imper­a­tives grounded in the indicative.

: [1] I there­fore, a pris­oner for the Lord, urge you to walk,” (imper­a­tive), “in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called, [2] with all humil­ity and gen­tle­ness, with patience, bear­ing with one another in love, [3] eager to main­tain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (indica­tive).

Con­tinue reading


4:1 I there­fore, a pris­oner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called, with all humil­ity and gen­tle­ness, with patience, bear­ing with one another in love, eager to main­tain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 18: If We Have the Spirit, Why Do We Need Instruction?

This is the 18th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Why?If sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is the work of the Holy Spirit in us,  why do believ­ers — who have received the Spirit — still need instruc­tion and exhortation?

First, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that believ­ers are still imper­fect this side of glory. As we have seen, the incar­nate Christ as God-Man was the pro­to­type of the believer given the Holy Spirit.

But unlike us, the incar­nate Jesus’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Holy Spirit was perfect.

In Christ, the Spirit’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion was com­plete. Con­tinue reading

Completed by the Spirit Part 17: The Gospel Brings About All Aspects of Our Salvation

This is the 17th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Discipline of Grace cover

The Dis­ci­pline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

Paul’s repeated expla­na­tions of the gospel and his dox­olo­gies to Christ are not given because the peo­ple to whom he writes do not have Christ — or don’t know Him — but because they do know him. Paul writes to the Romans words that echo those we saw last time from :

[14] I myself am sat­is­fied about you, my broth­ers, that you your­selves are full of good­ness, filled with all knowl­edge and able to instruct one another. [15] But on some points I have writ­ten to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God [16] to be a min­is­ter of Christ Jesus to the Gen­tiles in the priestly ser­vice of the gospel of God, so that the offer­ing of the Gen­tiles may be accept­able, sanc­ti­fied by the Holy Spirit. ()

Paul is bring­ing the words and truth of Christ to remem­brance, because it is the gospel of Christ that brings about all aspects of sal­va­tion: jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and glorification.

But that’s not new infor­ma­tion to these saints. Con­tinue reading


Now con­cern­ing broth­erly love you have no need for any­one to write to you, for you your­selves have been taught by God to love one another, (ESV)


14 I myself am sat­is­fied about you, my broth­ers, that you your­selves are full of good­ness, filled with all knowl­edge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have writ­ten to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a min­is­ter of Christ Jesus to the Gen­tiles in the priestly ser­vice of the gospel of God, so that the offer­ing of the Gen­tiles may be accept­able, sanc­ti­fied by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 16: Exhorted in our Union With Christ

This is the 16th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Abraham Kuyper

Abra­ham Kuyper

The Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote in . It is, accord­ing to Abra­ham Kuyper, a “mys­ti­cal union with Immanuel.”[1]

Our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is achieved by God through our union with Christ. “He who calls you is faith­ful; he will surely do it” ().

The great existence-altering event that hap­pens in our sal­va­tion is our union with Christ through His Spirit.

Paul writes in : “I have been cru­ci­fied with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave him­self for me.”

To the Romans, he writes:

[3] Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? [4] We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life. [5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his ().

Con­tinue reading


27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gen­tiles are the riches of the glory of this mys­tery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (ESV)


23 Now may the God of peace him­self sanc­tify you com­pletely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blame­less at the com­ing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faith­ful; he will surely do it. (ESV)


20 I have been cru­ci­fied with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave him­self for me. (ESV)


Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his. (ESV)

The Enfleshment of the Law in the Word Made Flesh

Chad Richard Bresson

Pas­tor Chad Richard Bres­son at the 2011 Bun­yan Conference

At last week’s Earth Stove Soci­ety think tank, Chad Richard Bres­son pre­sented a paper enti­tled, “The Incar­na­tion of the Abstract: New Covenant The­ol­ogy and the Enflesh­ment of the Law.”

Chad asks the ques­tion, “What does the Pri­or­ity of Jesus have to do with New Covenant ethics?” He lists five implications:

1.      That the Law is a Per­son means the Law of the New Covenant is not encoded in exter­nal imper­a­tives or principles.

2.      The Law Incar­nate has placed a Per­son, the Holy Spirit, within the believer as the law writ­ten on the heart. That’s the upshot of ’s under­stand­ing of . The law writ­ten on the heart should not be iden­ti­fied in its typ­i­cal form, but its Anti­typ­i­cal… a Per­son, liv­ing and breath­ing life into and through the New Covenant mem­ber. The entire law “cat­e­gory”, as it moves from Old Tes­ta­ment to New, lands on a per­son. The tra­jec­tory of the ful­fill­ment of the law does not land on a new set of rules or prin­ci­ples, or even a sum­ma­rized list of the law of Christ. The Law as a type has its end in Christ. The law as a type fades away into obliv­ion because all types do… it has become a person

3.      Abro­ga­tion of the law and a denial of third use is a given. The law, like any other type of the Old Tes­ta­ment, has ful­filled its prophetic and rev­e­la­tory role and is gone and done now that the Anti­Type has filled up its intended mean­ing to the fullest.

4.      Imper­a­tives have a role to play in the New Covenant, but they can­not eclipse the Indica­tive, a Per­son, from whence they come. It’s not a mat­ter of bal­ance, as some have sug­gested. The New Tes­ta­ment doesn’t not speak of, explic­itly or implic­itly, a so-called bal­ance between the Indica­tive and imper­a­tive. In fact, see­ing the New Tes­ta­ment as hav­ing a heavy empha­sis on the imper­a­tives says more about the pre­sup­po­si­tions of the inter­preter than it does about proper hermeneutics.

5.      An Incar­nate Law does not mean that com­mands in the New Covenant are not impor­tant. It does not mean that obe­di­ence is not impor­tant. It sim­ply means the grounds for the dis­cus­sion have changed. Obe­di­ence to com­mands is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the inward obedience-causing law writ­ten on the heart.

Chad has more at his blog, The Vossed World, includ­ing a link to his paper on Scribd.


3:1 Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the min­istry of death, carved in let­ters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the min­istry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the min­istry of con­dem­na­tion, the min­istry of right­eous­ness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that sur­passes it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is per­ma­nent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the out­come of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hard­ened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day when­ever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is free­dom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, behold­ing the glory of the Lord, are being trans­formed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)


31:1 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

Thus says the Lord:
“The peo­ple who sur­vived the sword
found grace in the wilder­ness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an ever­last­ing love;
there­fore I have con­tin­ued my faith­ful­ness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O vir­gin Israel!
Again you shall adorn your­self with tam­bourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the mer­ry­mak­ers.
Again you shall plant vine­yards
on the moun­tains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watch­men will call
in the hill coun­try of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with glad­ness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
pro­claim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your peo­ple,
the rem­nant of Israel.’
Behold, I will bring them from the north coun­try
and gather them from the far­thest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the preg­nant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great com­pany, they shall return here.
With weep­ing they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stum­ble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coast­lands far away;
say, ‘He who scat­tered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shep­herd keeps his flock.’
11 For the Lord has ran­somed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radi­ant over the good­ness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered gar­den,
and they shall lan­guish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourn­ing into joy;
I will com­fort them, and give them glad­ness for sor­row.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abun­dance,
and my peo­ple shall be sat­is­fied with my good­ness,
declares the Lord.”

15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamen­ta­tion and bit­ter weep­ing.
Rachel is weep­ing for her chil­dren;
she refuses to be com­forted for her chil­dren,
because they are no more.”

16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weep­ing,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your chil­dren shall come back to their own coun­try.
18 I have heard Ephraim griev­ing,
‘You have dis­ci­plined me, and I was dis­ci­plined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
19 For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was con­founded,
because I bore the dis­grace of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my dar­ling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remem­ber him still.
There­fore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.

21 “Set up road mark­ers for your­self;
make your­self guide­posts;
con­sider well the high­way,
the road by which you went.
Return, O vir­gin Israel,
return to these your cities.
22 How long will you waver,
O faith­less daugh­ter?
For the Lord has cre­ated a new thing on the earth:
a woman encir­cles a man.”

23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:

“‘The Lord bless you, O habi­ta­tion of right­eous­ness,
O holy hill!’

24 And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farm­ers and those who wan­der with their flocks. 25 For I will sat­isfy the weary soul, and every lan­guish­ing soul I will replenish.”

26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleas­ant to me.

27 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to over­throw, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:

“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 But every­one shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

31 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with 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. 33 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. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neigh­bor and each his brother, say­ing, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the great­est, declares the Lord. For I will for­give their iniq­uity, and I will remem­ber their sin no more.”

35 Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord of hosts is his name:
36 “If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the off­spring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”

37 Thus says the Lord:
“If the heav­ens above can be mea­sured,
and the foun­da­tions of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the off­spring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the Lord.”

38 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Cor­ner Gate. 39 And the mea­sur­ing line shall go out far­ther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole val­ley of the dead bod­ies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the cor­ner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be uprooted or over­thrown any­more for­ever.” (ESV)

The Promise and Necessity of the Spirit

Pas­tor Moe Bergeron

Pas­tor Moe Berg­eron spoke at the Earth Stove Society’s 2011 Think Tank (in which I par­tic­i­pated) on July 27 on the topic “The Neglect of the Spirit of God in NCT.”

Paul con­trasted the Old Covenant econ­omy of the let­ter with the New Covenant econ­omy of the Spirit (, ) but most the­o­log­i­cal sys­tems — includ­ing the New Covenant The­ol­ogy move­ment — obscure, ignore or dimin­ish the role of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling Spirit of Christ in the believer. Moe believes that it’s time to change that.

I highly rec­om­mend you give Moe a lis­ten: http://earthstovesociety.com/?p=314


3:1 Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the min­istry of death, carved in let­ters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the min­istry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the min­istry of con­dem­na­tion, the min­istry of right­eous­ness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that sur­passes it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is per­ma­nent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the out­come of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hard­ened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day when­ever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is free­dom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, behold­ing the glory of the Lord, are being trans­formed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)


3:1 O fool­ish Gala­tians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was pub­licly por­trayed as cru­ci­fied. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hear­ing with faith? Are you so fool­ish? Hav­ing begun by the Spirit, are you now being per­fected by the flesh? Did you suf­fer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who sup­plies the Spirit to you and works mir­a­cles among you do so by works of the law, or by hear­ing with faith— just as Abra­ham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abra­ham. And the Scrip­ture, fore­see­ing that God would jus­tify the Gen­tiles by faith, preached the gospel before­hand to Abra­ham, say­ing, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abra­ham, the man of faith.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is writ­ten, “Cursed be every­one who does not abide by all things writ­ten in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evi­dent that no one is jus­ti­fied before God by the law, for “The right­eous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becom­ing a curse for us—for it is writ­ten, “Cursed is every­one who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the bless­ing of Abra­ham might come to the Gen­tiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

15 To give a human exam­ple, broth­ers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been rat­i­fied. 16 Now the promises were made to Abra­ham and to his off­spring. It does not say, “And to off­springs,” refer­ring to many, but refer­ring to one, “And to your off­spring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years after­ward, does not annul a covenant pre­vi­ously rat­i­fied by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inher­i­tance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abra­ham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of trans­gres­sions, until the off­spring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an inter­me­di­ary. 20 Now an inter­me­di­ary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then con­trary to the promises of God? Cer­tainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then right­eous­ness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scrip­ture impris­oned every­thing under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held cap­tive under the law, impris­oned until the com­ing faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be jus­ti­fied by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were bap­tized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is nei­ther Jew nor Greek, there is nei­ther slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s off­spring, heirs accord­ing to promise. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 14: The Very Stuff of New Covenant Ethics

This is the 14th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

In our last install­ment in this series, we noted that love is a God-given, Spirit-provided qual­ity that impels actions in the believer and that it is that same Spirit-provided love that forms the out­work­ing of the New Covenant ethic.

Love In Hard Places by D. A. Carson

Love In Hard Places by D. A. Carson

We’ll con­tinue and wrap up our look at love with a rather long quo­ta­tion from D. A. Car­son, in which he sum­ma­rizes Paul’s view on love as it relates to those two loves – God and neigh­bor – which have their expo­si­tion in the two tables of the Old Covenant:

Sim­i­larly, Paul insists that what is ful­filled in one word, viz. , the com­mand to love one’s neigh­bor as one­self, is the entire sec­ond table of the Deca­logue: love is the ful­fill­ment of the law (). Despite argu­ments to the con­trary, the dou­ble com­mand to love is not some sort of deep prin­ci­ple from which all the other com­mand­ments of Scrip­ture can be deduced; nor is it a hermeneu­ti­cal grid to weed out the laws of the old covenant that no longer have to be obeyed while bless­ing those that are still oper­a­tive; nor is it offered as a kind of reduc­tion­is­tic sub­sti­tute for all the Old Tes­ta­ment laws. In some ways, the twin laws of love, love for God and love for neigh­bor, inte­grate all the other laws. They estab­lish the proper motives for all the other imper­a­tives, viz. lov­ing God and lov­ing one’s neighbor.

But the “ful­fill­ment” lan­guage sug­gests some­thing more. All the laws of the old rev­e­la­tion, indeed all the old covenant Scrip­tures, con­spire to antic­i­pate some­thing more, to point to some­thing beyond them­selves. They point to the com­ing of the king­dom, the gospel of the king­dom; they point to a time when life prop­erly lived in God’s uni­verse can be summed up by obe­di­ence to the com­mand­ment to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength and by the com­mand­ment to love your neigh­bor as your­self.[1]

Con­tinue reading


18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own peo­ple, but you shall love your neigh­bor as your­self: I am the Lord. (ESV)


Owe no one any­thing, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has ful­filled the law. For the com­mand­ments, “You shall not com­mit adul­tery, You shall not mur­der, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other com­mand­ment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neigh­bor; there­fore love is the ful­fill­ing of the law. (ESV)

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