What does it mean to be in Covenant with God? It means we receive the blessings of the covenant, and Christ receives the curses. Sinclair Ferguson looks at this important subject, preaching at his church in First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C. This is a thrilling message. Don’t miss it.
Sinclair Ferguson and Eric Alexander join together for the Scottish Reformation Conference. This is a wonderful and glorious trio of messages by two well seasoned preachers.
Eric Alexander tackles the subject of the Glory of Christ. He begins by suggesting that contemporary evangelicalism has a weightless understanding of the character of God. Alexander is heavily influenced in this message by John Owen’s classic ‘The Glory of Christ.’
Sinclair takes 2 Corinthians chapters 3 and 4 for the texts of his two messages, The Glory of the New Covenant and The Glory of Christian Service. Both messages are very impactful and marvelous. In ‘The Glory of Christian Service’ Sinclair stresses the need for pastors to build up the flock. We are great at tearing down and criticizing, but we are weak in building up. He examines the life of Paul and the ministerial convictions of Paul as models for us.
In ‘The Glory of the New Covenant’ Sinclair takes a refreshingly, clarifying look at the relationship of the Old Testament to the New. He emphasizes that the Old is the incomplete covenant, and requires the New Testament to fully understand the Old.
These are 3 great messages that you will want to take some time to ponder, and perhaps listen to again.
The CTC team invited Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, to discuss his book, “The Binding of God; Calvin’s Role in the Development of Covenant Theology”
Though I’m not of the Covenant Theology camp, this discussion at Christ the Center was helpful for me to to understand more about Covenant Theology by seeing how Calvin agreed, differed, and expressed his understanding of covenant. Lilliback says when he began to research this subject for his dissertation, he did not bring any preconcieved paradigm to Calvin. Rather he just began to read the source material to see how Calvin interacted with the issue surrounding Covenant theology.
Calvin is better defined as a ‘testimentarian’, a term I am not familiar with, and Peter explains in some detail how Calvin differed from Luther and many other theologians. A great deal of time is spent discussing where works fit into Covenant theology, and the danger of Covenant theology in bringing works to bear as a basis for God’s covenant with man, which destroys justification by faith alone. Lilliback also turns his attention to the contemporary camp of the Federal Vision and explains what he sees are dangers with that.
This is not a discussion for everyone. There are some very weighty theological nuances addressed, and the discussion assumes the listener has some grasp of the historical positions regarding soteriology and Covenant theology. You could certainly learn some things here, but just be forewarned, you might do a lot of head scratching. It certainly pushed me into new territory — all in all not a bad thing.
Grudem covers the character of God as a covenant keeping God, and provides a broad sweep of the covenants, also looking at the covenant of grace. One interesting distinction he made that was new to me identified the Mosaic covenant as the demarkation of the old covenant and the Davidic with the new covenant, the new being the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant.
During the Q & A the question was raised about why God decided to use the means of the old covenant in human history if it would only be replaced later. One of the interesting answers offered that didn’t have time to develop was that without the old covenant we would not have as clear an understanding of the sacrifice of Christ. The old covenant imaged the work of Christ in a uniquely powerful way.
Grudem is dispensational, and this discussion did not directly cover the position of ‘Covenant Theology.’
John MacArthur’s recent Shepherd’s conference message has spawned a great deal of controversy in reformed circles. His message ‘Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist’ has easily been the most discussed conference session this year. On this blog it is the most visited and commented post, though I don’t post debates on this site. In light of the interest in this subject, here are a series of sermons I think may be helpful for those wrestling with the premillennial position.
S. Lewis Johnson provides an intelligent and thorough series on premillennial eschatology in 37 messages. He begins the series with 5 messages examining the amillennial, postmillennial and premillennial perspectives. The next 14 messages examine the Biblical covenants in great expositional detail. The remaining 16 messages detail the Second Coming, the Tribulation, the Kingdom age, and the Final Judgment. S. Lewis Johnson is well known for his careful exegetical handling of the Word of God.