• New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Infant Baptism and the Connection to the Abrahamic Covenant

    As we have noted before, for the Reformed paedobaptist, the covenant of grace is the foundational argument for paedobaptism. Within the covenantal system, the specific covenants mentioned in Scripture are just various manifestations of that singular covenant. Specifically, however, for the Reformed paedobaptists, the New Testament discussion of the “old covenant” is the Abrahamic covenantal manifestation of the covenant of grace. In contrast, the Bible’s mention of a new covenant is not not “new” in the sense of something that has not been seen before, but rather, a renewed version of that Abrahamic covenant which already existed. Note, for example, renown Berkhof’s explanation. “The covenant made with Abraham was primarily a spiritual covenant, though it also had a national aspect, and of this spiritual covenant circumcision was a sign and seal….  This covenant is still in force and is essentially identical with the “new covenant” of the present dispensation. The…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    When Did God Establish the Sabbath Command?

    There are many questions a New Testament believer is faced with when thinking through the Sabbath. For example, why was Israel commanded to keep the Sabbath? This is perhaps the most important question, and as I have written elsewhere, I believe the purpose of the Sabbath command was to give visible demonstration of the fact that Yahweh is Creator and Redeemer. When Israel kept the Sabbath, they were demonstrating that, as Creator, God had the right to dictate how one is to function in the created world. But another important question arises concerning the timing of the Sabbath. When did God institute the Sabbath? Did the Sabbath predate Moses? Evidence for a Pre-Decalogue Sabbath Some theologians argue that the Sabbath has always been an obligation for mankind since creation. To arrive at this conclusion, some have appealed to passages like Genesis 26:5 which says Abraham obeyed the voice of Yahweh,…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    The Law as a Reflection of Creation Principles

    In a previous post I discussed the purpose of the Law. One of the purposes of the Law was to reflect God’s creation to a watching world. In other words, Israel was given laws that, when obeyed, showed the world what the creation ideal looked like. The connection of creation to the Law is worth examining in greater detail. The easiest way to see this connection is to examine some of the Ten Commandments (the heart of Israel’s Law code) and note their connections to creation principles. First Commandment: No Other Gods (Exod 20:3; cf. Deut 5:7) Although some of the following commandments have explicit ties to the creation narrative, the link between the first commandment and creation is implicit in its theology. The demand for exclusive worship is inherently tied to the belief that God is the Creator. Since God is the only Creator, He demands exclusive and unrivaled…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    The Purpose of the Old Testament Law

    In a prior post, I mentioned that the Law needs to be read in its narrative context. In addition to being sensitive to the narrative context, we also need to evaluate the purpose of the Old Testament Law as it is portrayed in the Old Testament itself. This is an important first step in helping understand the differences that we see between the Old and New Testaments. The Law was never a means of salvation First, we need to adimently reaffirm that the Law is not portrayed as a standard for salvation. It is common for people to accuse dispensationalists of believing the Law was the means of salvation for Israel. I have spoken against this on multiple occasions, but if you are looking for an in depth treatment on the subject, John Feinberg wrote an excellent article on salvation in the Old Testament. Additionally, as I argued previously, the…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    The OT Law in Its Narrative Context

    All too often we read sections of Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy without being sensitive to the surrounding narrative context. We need to remember that God’s giving of the Law on Mount Sinai was within a specific narrative, and we should understand the Law in light of that narrative. When we do so, we come away with the following observations. The narrative context shows the Law was not a legalistic standard to earn God’s favor. There is no reason to think Old Testament believers were saved by keeping the Law. In fact, when we look at the placement of the Law in the narrative, we see that God had already delivered Israel out of Egypt. The giving of the Law (e.g., Exod 19–24) took place after God had already demonstrated His saving relationship with Israel by delivering them (e.g., Exod 12–14). The Law was a precious gift to Israel to help…