The Revelation: As Prophecy

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaThe Revelation repeatedly refers to itself as “prophecy.”

Many people assume that Revelation is a prophetic book in the sense of predicting, in rather explicit detail, “the way the world will end.” The most popular approach to Revelation, dispensationalism, both creates and reinforces this assumption.

A theological movement that began in the 19th century, dispensationalism holds that history is divided into various ages, or dispensations, each characterized by different ways in which God deals with humanity. With respect to eschatology, it includes the doctrine of the rapture, or the removal of true believers to heaven before the return of Christ, an idea unknown in Christian teaching before the 19th century.

Popular dispensationalism, disseminated by such best-selling sources as the Scofield Reference Bible, Hal Lindsey’s writings (e.g., The Late, Great Planet Earth), and most recently the “Left Behind” series of books and movies by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, interprets Revelation as portraying, in literal and linear fashion, the course of historical events.

Gorman, Michael J. (2011-01-01). Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation (Kindle Locations 666-675). Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Churches of Christ have largely rejected Premillennialism, so much so that, in the 1970s, a controversy erupted as to the exclusion of Premillennialist Churches from Where the Saints Meet, a book listing all Church of Christ congregations! They were added back in but with a footnote warning possible visitors of their Premillennial views.

(A similar controversy arose only a couple of years ago regarding the exclusion of instrumental Churches of Christ from 21st Century Christian’s Churches of Christ in the United States. And again the excluded churches were returned to the next edition but with a footnote. I wondering whether heaven has a special room for footnoted Christians. Maybe the thermostat is set too high but not hell fire and brimstone high?)

And yet Premillennialism is closely tied to Dispensationalism, a doctrinal error that the mainstream Churches of Christ have adopted with great vigor because so many were converted by use of the Jule Miller Filmstrips — which presented a Dispensational view of biblical history based on the same Scofield Bible notes that created the Rapture theology of Left Behind and similar books. Both theories are creations of the 19th Century.

Now, obviously, there is some truth in Dispensational teaching. The error is in seeing each dispensation as the repeal of the previous covenant and the enactment of a new covenant, rather like nations repealing and adopting constitutions. The teaching makes the OT irrelevant — so much so that we in the Churches of Christ constantly refer to ourselves as “New Testament Christians,” I suppose in contrast to those Old Testament Christians down the road that we imagine to exist. It’s really almost delusional because no one on the planet thinks of themselves as Old Testament Christians.

Rather, many — all who’ve read Paul and the Sermon on the Mount carefully — teach that the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants continue in effect and haven’t been repealed. They’ve been fulfilled, but they continue to be important. Thus, Paul teaches in Gal 3 and Rom 4 that we are saved by faith because of God’s covenant with Abraham. And Paul often cites the Torah as authority for such principles as no one should be convicted except on the testimony of two or three witnesses and we are still bound by “Love your neighbor.” We covered this in the series on covenant theology last year.

It’s astonishing how many Christians in Alabama want to insist that the OT has been “repealed” while also lauding Roy Moore for placing a marble monument to the Ten Commandments in the state judiciary building. You really can’t have it both ways. And how can we be “New Testament” Christians while treating Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” (you won’t find that one in the NT), insisting that we wear our “Sunday best” because the Torah requires us to give the best of the flock (it’s not as though we’re leaving our suits for the poor), and so on.

Some preachers have taken Dispensationalism to the extreme that they see Jesus as an “Old Testament prophet,” and hence they declare our Savior’s words as no more authoritative than the kosher laws of the Torah. Really. We get bent out of shape over a sermon on the Rapture while allowing our preachers to deny the words of Jesus Christ. Again, we are strange tribe.

But prophecy, in the biblical tradition, is not exclusively or even primarily about making pronouncements and predictions concerning the future. Rather, prophecy is speaking words of comfort and/or challenge, on behalf of God, to the people of God in their concrete historical situation. Old Testament prophets were called by God, sometimes in the context of a visionary experience (see Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1), to proclaim the message that God gave them, usually in the form of various oracles that were later written down, but also occasionally in visions, and often in poetic or symbolic language. Whatever the form, the message was one of judgment (on them or on their oppressors) or salvation—and usually both.

(Kindle Locations 679-684).

Since Revelation is a word of prophecy in the biblical tradition, we must take care to understand that its primary purpose is to give words of comfort and challenge to God’s people then and now, not to predict the future, and much less to do so with precise detail. Visions of the future, that is, are not an end in themselves but rather a means—both to warn and to comfort.

(Kindle Locations 694-696).

Now this observation is surely key to the interpretation of the Revelation. That is, if a proposed interpretation wouldn’t comfort or warn the churches of Asia Minor, it’s likely a mistaken interpretation.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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17 Responses to The Revelation: As Prophecy

  1. John says:

    If Christians would read Revelation in the way they read the prophets, then what a more passionate, compassionate and just people the church would be….that is if they read prophets.

  2. Jay, you are creating strawmen and burning them. I find this quite sloppy.

  3. Dwight says:

    This term “NT Christian” vexes me somewhat. A family move to our congregation from Brazil and wanted to place “membership” so our preacher wanted me to, since I was giving announcements, to announce that they were “NT Christians”. After trying to get him to explain why I should say that in this way, he just simply said, “OK just announce they want to assemble with us.” which I did.
    I was kind of under the impression that all Christians were born out of the NT, but on the back of the OT, thus we are just simply Christians.
    Or were the early Christian Jews “Old and New Testament Christians”?

  4. Mark says:

    An “NT Christian” likely means the person went to a church with a fairly correct order of service, was baptized correctly, took communion weekly not a liturgical church, not Catholic, no women in pulpit, no IM, etc.

  5. Larry Cheek says:

    I don’t see any message in The Old Covenant (Old Testament) nor any message in The New Covenant (New Testament) which would identify that there are any Christians among those who did not accept Christ and follow him. There is no infiltrating of the identity of Christian back into Jewish people who were faithful to The Law who did not accept Christ.
    There is messages in the present Covenant instituted by Christ that we cannot apply many of the rules and regulations of the Law into the present Covenant without becoming obligated to obey all of the Law. That appears to create a definite division between the Law of the time before the coming of The Messiah (Christ) and the time since Christ. Paul discussed this very thoroughly in Galatians.

  6. Dwight says:

    Larry, I would counter that this is not really true. Paul had Timothy circumcised and yet this didn’t place him back into the law. I was circumcised and am not in the law. there was a difference between trying to obey the Law as the savior and believing in Christ as the savior even while doing the law. In Col.2 they were being given the latitude to do the feast, Sabbath, new Moon without judgment. There were Christians who were Jews that did the things of the Law like go to the Temple to worship…Jesus and the apostles.
    What many of the Christian Jews were doing was going back the Law and Judaism and turning thier backs on Jesus, not holding to Christ as the savior.
    I don’t know of a list of acceptable practices that would argue for “we cannot apply many of the rules and regulations of the Law into the present Covenant without becoming obligated to obey all of the Law.”
    In reality the Law covered more than worship, actually the Jewish life. If we gave up eating pork and all of the animals that are called unclean by God in the OT, this would not place us back into the Law. We can dedicate a day to God, or not.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwayne,

    How can I possibly respond to a charge that is so vaguely worded?

  8. Let’s walk through some examples.

    “The Churches of Christ have largely rejected Premillennialism” Who? Which Churches of Christ? Where did you find this fact? How can you make such a statement about a non-denominational denomination, one that doesn’t have an established book of agree-upon doctrines?

    “And yet Premillennialism is closely tied to Dispensationalism, a doctrinal error that the mainstream Churches of Christ have adopted” Who tied the two together? Who declared one or both of these a “doctrinal error?” Again, same as above, which Churches of Christ? Where are you finding official “mainstream Church of Christ doctrine?”

    “based on the same Scofield Bible notes that created the Rapture theology of Left Behind and similar books” How do you base the Left Behind books on the Scofield Bible? Did you interview the author of those books?

    “Both theories are creations of the 19th Century” How do you know that neither of these “theories” existed before the 19th century? What writings have you found from the 19th century declaring that these are entirely new ideas? Are you certain that no one before the 19th century believed this way?

    “Dispensational teaching…makes the OT irrelevant” Who said so?

    “we in the Churches of Christ constantly refer to ourselves as ‘New Testament Christians'” Same as above. Who? Which Churches of Christ? Have you taken an exhaustive survey recently that reveals this fact?

    I expect much better basis of statement from you.

    Please provide references or clarify your statements.

    For example, you could write, “I find that the ideas expressed in the Scofield Bible notes to be reflected in the Left Behind books. For example… I haven’t interviewed the Left Behind author, but it seems to me that… If anyone knows the author…”

    or you could write, “I have visited several dozen Church of Christ congregations in Alabama. None of the Elders in these congregations profess to believe in Premillenialism or know of any congregations in Alabama who do so. I would welcome the opportunity to visit any if someone knows of them.”

    Do these thoughts make any sense? I would like to read what you think about Revelation—what I find to be the most neglected section of the Bible. I, however, expect you to do better than this post because I have read much, much better and learned much from you on other topics.

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwayne wrote,

    Let’s walk through some examples.

    “The Churches of Christ have largely rejected Premillennialism” Who? Which Churches of Christ? Where did you find this fact? How can you make such a statement about a non-denominational denomination, one that doesn’t have an established book of agree-upon doctrines?

    This is a reference to the famous “Bollite” controversy of the early 20th Century, which continues to this day in some parts of the CoC. It’s well documented in Leroy Garrett’s The Stone-Campbell Movement and many other references. It’s well known to students of CoC history.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Henry_Boll tells much of the story. See also the Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement — several articles therein reference the controversy. I can cite other books that document this.

    And, yes, it is a fact that the CoC has largely rejected premillennialism. See footnote 18 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Henry_Boll. It is certainly not taught at any of the universities affiliated with the CoC, nor is it taught in the most popular periodicals (I subscribe to the GA, used to subscribe to the Spiritual Sword (got really tedious), and have read extensively in many others).

    But there are congregations where premillennialism is still taught, as noted in the Wikipedia article. It’s a distinct minority position today — and our more conservative brothers routinely write articles condemning the teaching. Just do a Google search under “Church of Christ premillennialism.”

    And while we in the CoC have no creed book (other than the Bible), it’s certainly possible to state whether certain views are majority and minority positions. That has nothing to do with creedalism. It’s just statistical facts.

    The fact that this is a minority position is statistically established by the work of the authors of Churches of Christ in the United States and its predecessor publication Where the Church Meets. They survey every congregation they can. They literally count the congregations that teach this point of view — so they can add footnotes. So the fact is established beyond reasonable doubt.

    “And yet Premillennialism is closely tied to Dispensationalism, a doctrinal error that the mainstream Churches of Christ have adopted” Who tied the two together? Who declared one or both of these a “doctrinal error?” Again, same as above, which Churches of Christ? Where are you finding official “mainstream Church of Christ doctrine?”

    As a matter of history, the two doctrines were taught as part of a common schema by Scofield — the guy who wrote the Scofield Reference Bible notes, which are still sold in Bible book stores, although somewhat edited from the 19th Century version, I’m sure.

    I say that both are doctrinal error. You are welcome to disagree.

    I explained the error in Dispensationalism in considerable detail in the How to Study the Bible series posted in 2015.

    I’ve covered premillennialism before, and I’ll be getting to it again as we cover the Revelation. I believe it to be error.

    http://oneinjesus.info/?s=%22the+millennium%22 will take you to a four-part series I posted on the subject in 2010, in response to a reader — Alexander — goading me into taking a position. I’ll take a fresh look at the question later in the current series. It’s not yet written. This was my first serious study of the issue. I’ll be restudying the question as I post the current series. I might even change my mind, but I’d surprise myself if I did because I see the teaching as highly problematic.

    Now, when I say these teachings are “error,” you should not hear me as saying they are damning or grounds for breaking fellowship. I teach no such thing. I just disagree.

    “based on the same Scofield Bible notes that created the Rapture theology of Left Behind and similar books” How do you base the Left Behind books on the Scofield Bible? Did you interview the author of those books?

    Seriously? I have to interview the author to recognize common themes and teachings? I first questioned the Left Behind series in reviewing Barbara Rossing’s book reviewing the theology found in the series. http://oneinjesus.info/2010/06/barbara-s-rossing-the-rapture-exposed-the-message-of-hope-in-the-book-of-revelation/ It’s the first time I’d ever given the topic much thought, but Rossing convinced me not only that Left Behind is unbiblical but deeply unhealthy theology. You should read her book.

    And she documents quite thoroughly the 19th Century origins of these teachings. In fact, I’ve read that claim in many reputable sources — more than I can remember off hand. I’ve never seen anyone attempt to factually challenge the assertion.

    “Both theories are creations of the 19th Century” How do you know that neither of these “theories” existed before the 19th century? What writings have you found from the 19th century declaring that these are entirely new ideas? Are you certain that no one before the 19th century believed this way?

    Of course, no one making up a new theory says “this is new.” The claim is always made that it goes back to the Bible itself.

    This is from the Wikipedia, and it’s well supported in the footnotes (emphasis mine) [not where I got the info originally, but it’s a convenient place to cut and paste from] —

    Dispensational school[edit]

    C.I. Scofield popularized dispensational premillennialism through the Scofield Reference Bible.

    Main article: Dispensationalism
    Dispensational premillennialism[64] generally holds that Israel and the Church are distinct entities.[65] It also widely holds to the pretribulational return of Christ, which believes that Jesus will return to take up Christians into heaven by means of a rapture immediately before a seven-year worldwide tribulation. This will be followed by an additional return of Christ with his saints (though there are post tribulation dispensationalists, such as Robert Gundry).

    Dispensationalism traces its roots to the 1830s and John Nelson Darby (1800–1882), an Anglican churchman and an early leader of the Plymouth Brethren. In the US, the dispensational form of premillennialism was propagated on the popular level largely through the Scofield Reference Bible and on the academic level with Lewis Sperry Chafer’s eight-volume Systematic Theology. More recently dispensationalism has been popularized through Hal Lindsey’s 1970s bestseller, The Late, Great Planet Earth and through the Left Behind Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins. Popular proponents of dispensational premillennialism have been John F. MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Ray Comfort, Jerry Falwell, Todd Friel, Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord (d. 2002), Tim Lahaye, Charles Caldwell Ryrie (in the notes for the Ryrie Study Bible), the theological-folk poetry of Jack Royerton, and Charles L. Feinberg. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock have developed a form of dispensationalism that is growing in popularity known as progressive dispensationalism. This view understands that an aspect of the eschatological kingdom presently exists, but must wait for the millennium to be realized fully.[66]

    Here is a link to an article from NYU teaching the same thing: http://www.nyu.edu/fas/projects/vcb/ChristianMedia/prophecy_premdisp.html.

    Oh, and my dad used to subscribe to the Plain Truth magazine from Gardner Ted Armstrong, because he liked the anti-evolution articles. But it also taught dispensational premillennialism — and I read many if not all the articles during my youth. It struck me as improbable at the time, but I was just 12 or so. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Plain_Truth. So I promised myself one day to study the question to see if any of this made sense. Rossing persuaded me that it does not remotely reflect true NT teaching.

    “Dispensational teaching…makes the OT irrelevant” Who said so?

    I lived it. I grew up in it. I know it from intense, personal experience. But, as I noted in the article, this is not to say that all dispensational teaching is wrong. Rather, it’s the notion of dispensations as laws being enacted and repealed (which, by the way, owes much of its attitude to Calvinism. Read up on the supralapsarian and infralapsarian controversy and you’ll see what I mean. We owe a lot of our error to John Calvin and company. We rejected TULIP but retained the culture and mindset of the early 19th Century Calvinism in which the Campbells and others were trained. And, yes, that’s my own conclusion based on a lifetime of experience. I’ve posted the detail back up over the years. http://oneinjesus.info/2007/04/a-theological-history-of-restoration-movement-thought-part-05-john-calvin/ would be a good example from 2007.)

    Oh, and I took Bible courses at Lipscomb in the 1970s every day for my entire undergraduate degree — along with daily chapels. I know what the attitude toward the OT has been. Nothing was more popular than nailing the OT to the cross. We heard the most prominent preachers from across the country speak.

    On the other hand, it was Dr. Harvey Floyd who introduced me to Deu’s teachings on “circumcision of the heart” as a requirement of the Torah — which completely turned my world (and my classmates’ worlds) upside down, as we’d all been taught that the Law of Moses was about superficials and the exterior and most certainly NOT the HEART. I still remember how shocked we are were to read Deu 10. That was a key moment in beginning my spiritual journey out of legalism. I realized that I’d been taught something profoundly mistaken.

    “we in the Churches of Christ constantly refer to ourselves as ‘New Testament Christians’” Same as above. Who? Which Churches of Christ? Have you taken an exhaustive survey recently that reveals this fact?

    Seriously? Do you doubt the truth of this statement? Let’s do a quick Google search of “new testament christian” “church of christ”. And, no surprise, you get a long list of hits on Church of Christ congregational web sites.

    Again, been there, done that. Lived it.

    In my youth, I’ve attended Churches of Christ in many locations, read gobs of tracts, heard the sermons, and even attended Lipscomb where I studied Apostolic Church under Batsell Barrett Baxter. I have a sister who attended ACU. I’ve put two sons through Harding. I’ve attended lectureships at Pepperdine, Abilene, Tulsa, and Lipscomb. I’ve read lectureship materials from Freed Hardeman going back to the 1950s. I’m well read in the Gospel Advocate. I’ve read all the major Restoration Movement histories — and many minor ones.

    I’ve served on CoC parachurch boards. And I’ve only been blogging every single day since Feb 2007 on Church of Christ themes, and I’ve read maybe over 50,000 comments from across the planet (computer crashes and hacks make an exact count impossible). It’s been an educational experience — and likely a unique one in the Churches of Christ.

    So my knowledge isn’t perfect, but it’s more than statistically significant. And no one has challenged the truth of what I said about “New Testament Christians,” just whether I can prove it. It’s true because I’ve experienced it across the country.

    We are not alone in this error — which is symptomatic of the Dispensational theology taught in the Jule Miller filmstrips. Many other Christian denominations seem to be under the illusion that other denominations teach Old Testament Christianity. It’s really odd when you think about it. Maybe it’s anti-Catholic — because they have priests and treat the mass as a sacrifice. I don’t know. But it’s a habit we need to drop because outside of our tribe (and few like tribes), it comes across as really strange. Like saying “biblical scripture” or “divine deity” or “fruit of the vine grape juice.”

    Dwayne,

    I suspect that your challenge to my lack of proof is really a challenge to the truth of my position on some related issue, such as premillennialism. I’ll be explaining my reasons for my views in detail as we go — in posts yet to come. I encourage you to challenge my assertions when I make the detailed case from Revelation, etc. if you disagree. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who disagree with me and who would profit from hearing the other side and the ensuing dialogue.

    In fact, the reason I asked for more detail, is so I could respond. I don’t mind the disagreement — at all. In fact, I learn more from those who disagree than those who agree. It pushes me deeper and forces me to speak more precisely and study more deeply — all of which is good for me and, hopefully, the readers.

    Jay

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    You have stated,
    “And yet Premillennialism is closely tied to Dispensationalism, a doctrinal error that the mainstream Churches of Christ have adopted with great vigor because so many were converted by use of the Jule Miller Filmstrips — which presented a Dispensational view of biblical history based on the same Scofield Bible notes that created the Rapture theology of Left Behind and similar books. Both theories are creations of the 19th Century.”
    I am very familiar with both The Jule Miller Filmstrips and the concepts which are drawn from the scriptures. I would challenge you in the statement that the divisions of time portrayed in them were drawn from the Scofield Bible notes. You seem to be saying that you do not recognize that God has modified the instructions given to mankind from beginning until now in the scriptures.
    Leading to the statement that seems to be saying there are no newer covenants which have replaced any prior covenants and to teach such would be teaching “error”.
    “The error is in seeing each dispensation as the repeal of the previous covenant and the enactment of a new covenant, rather like nations repealing and adopting constitutions. The teaching makes the OT irrelevant — so much so that we in the Churches of Christ constantly refer to ourselves as “New Testament Christians,” I suppose in contrast to those Old Testament Christians”

    Well it only takes a few keystrokes on a computer to do some searches on (covenant/s) to find much that God and his writers have written about covenants being replaced with another called (a new covenant).
    There is even a Book of The Covenant. That was given to the Jews.
    2Ch 34:30 ESV And the king went up to the house of the LORD, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
    The scriptures promise and for tell and identify that there is a new covenant which has been established by Jesus’ Blood.
    (Jer 31:31 ESV) “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,

    (Luk 22:20 ESV) And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

    (1Co 11:25 ESV) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    (2Co 3:6 ESV) who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    (Heb 8:8 ESV) For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

    (Heb 8:13 ESV) In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

    (Heb 9:15 ESV) Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

    (Heb 12:24 ESV) and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

    Heb 8:13 appears to me to be making a statement that you are denying to exist as you make this statement, “The error is in seeing each dispensation as the repeal of the previous covenant and the enactment of a new covenant, rather like nations repealing and adopting constitutions”.

    I hope I have misunderstood your conclusion.

  11. Jay,

    Thank you. Much better. You are now backing your statements with references and personal experience.

    We still have the issue of stating what Churches of Christ hold as doctrine. As a non-denominational denomination, we don’t have a book of doctrine. I find it “sloppy” to state that “the majority of Churches of Christ believe or practice fill-in-the-blank.” My experience seems to differ from yours in the anecdotal evidence. I have not found any detailed surveys of CoC beliefs or doctrine. If anyone knows of any from graduate school studies or other research, please provide references.

  12. Dwight says:

    I can easily say that “conservative” coC teach against instrumental music and giving money to organizations doctrine across the board, because that is what makes them innately “conservative”.

    I think while is true that the NT replaced the OT, it only did so in the sense of what justified men before God. Prayer was done in the OT and in the NT as well. God didn’t repeal prayer only to reinstitute it.
    And men could do the things of the Law, but had to understand that these didn’t justify one to God, but rather Jesus did. This new testament was also called the perfect law of liberty in that it didn’t hold man down to the Temple or the Law, but allowed man to express his faith in an unlimited way towards God. It was however a new way of thinking and was stumbling block to the Jews because they thought they were the children of God, which the NT opened up to all.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    As I stated in the main post, we covered this ground in depth in the 2015 series on covenant theology. It was part of the series How to Study the Bible.

    We covered this in the series on covenant theology last year.

    My views have not changed. And I made the same criticisms of the Jule Miller filmstrips etc. at the time for the same reasons. Please be kind enough to click the link and see the detailed exposition there. I shouldn’t have to repeat this material in its entirety in each post to be understood.

  14. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I have reproduced all those posts so I can review them. I noticed that there were very few comments throughout the whole series. I was very busy during that time of year and did not post much, I do remember reading the material and having many conflicts with your concepts. The brief scan that I have made so far has led me to believe that there still is no place in that system which will coordinate with a concept of covenants not being replaced by a later covenant.

  15. Dwight says:

    I think there are plenty of concepts that argue for a new covenant which replaces the older covenant. The new wine in the old wineskins and the new cloth and the old cloth. Trying to force one to merge with the other will be disastrous and won’t work. One must wholly replace it in concept and yet it is still a cloth and wine in a wineskin in nature.
    Gal.3:24-25 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
    The law went away.
    But not the faith in God….that is faith in Jesus.
    The law looked forward to the savior and the savior replaced the law, he was superior. Hebrews.
    The difference in the new covenant reflects a better sacrifice and redeemer, Jesus, and a freedom from sin and a freedom to worship God not seen in the other one, but built within this freedom to worship freely is the concept that worship in general even if Jewish in nature is not bad or to be rejected.
    Col.2 reflects that they could still practice the things of the law within the context of Jesus as the savior, but could not go back to relying on the law as the way to God.
    Rom.3:1-2 “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God” was about not rejecting being a Jew and the things of the Jew but placing these in the proper context of Jesus. There was profit in them, but just not profit to justify, as only being in Christ could justify.

  16. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    In Gal 3 and Rom 4, Paul says were saved by God’s covenant with Abraham. Therefore, that covenant remains in effect.

    Israel is promised circumcision of the heart if they return to God in Deu 30:6. The prophets identify this promise with the Holy Spirit — as does Paul in Rom 2 — and Paul says the Gentiles are saved by this very promise — in the Torah! Therefore, that covenant remains in effect. The “covenant” is not just the commands but also the blessings and curses.

    God promised David that his descendant would sit on the throne of Israel forever. Therefore, that covenant remains in effect.

    Obviously, each covenant has been transformed by those that followed. But it’s fulfillment, not repeal. Jesus himself said,

    (Matt. 5:17-19 ESV) 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. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Paul wrote,

    (Rom. 3:31 ESV) 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

    Dispensationalism treats the covenants as “laws.” I’ve read plenty of CoC authors who speak of Jesus or Paul “legislating.” We begin with the assumption that it’s all law, interpret everything in this “light,” and ignore all that’s inconsistent — and so “prove” a legal system. But the covenant system is far more subtle, deep, and rich.

    After you read the covenant posts in the How to Study the Bible series, read the “Salvation of the Jews” series that follows. You’ll see how it plays out in understanding the OT. For example, if Abraham was saved by faith, and we’re saved by faith, then how were the Jews saved? Did the Abrahamic covenant go into hiding during the Mosaic age?

    It’s a radically different way of looking at Torah, which in turn changes how we understand the NT.

  17. Dwight says:

    Yes, Jay. I’ve heard many lessons on that the OT law was earthly and worldly (IM included in this)in that people were just expected to do it out of obedience (no faith involved) and yet we are talking of God’s law here. God hasn’t changed and always wanted faith in the following of his law. The great thing about David is his demeanor of following God in that he not only did the law, but more as he wrote many psalms, worshipped in song and music, etc. He was devoted to God in a time when most of us would argue that they couldn’t possibly do that under the OT covenant. And even in the NT we find those that bucked the perceived system in this as well, even some gentiles. God always required the heart and soul and love of man.
    The things of the OT were shadows of what was to come and then we see what was to come in Jesus and yet the shadow is still being cast, but now we can see both the shadow and the one who cast it. Jesus is the focus of the NT and was the focus of even the OT of a savior and reconciliation.

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