Monday, May 23, 2011

The Convergence of Covenant Fulfillment in Christ

This post is part 3 of a series based on Steve Wellum's chapter, "Baptism and the Relationship Between the Covenants" [PDF], in Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright's Believer's Baptism. Part 1 provided a brief summary of main contours in Covenant Theology. Part 2 focused on the "seed" theme in the Bible ("offspring" in some translations) and examined the biblical usage of the term, reaching the conclusion that the term is used in four related but distinct ways in the text. The two long quotations in those posts were part of Wellum's summary and critique of Covenant Theology.

Now that we've set a bit of the context of Wellum's argument, we're getting closer to the point I want to emphasize. Between the two passages I quoted previously, Wellum focuses on the relationship of the Abrahamic Covenant to the Mosaic, Davidic, and New Covenants:
In the OT none of the covenant mediators—whether Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, or David—fulfilled their role and brought about the promise; they only typified and anticipated the one to come (Rom 5:14). Only our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, fulfills the roles of the previous covenantal mediators and brings about the promises stretching back to Gen 3:15. That is why the NT presents Christ as nothing less than the Lord as well as the last Adam, the true seed of Abraham, David’s greater Son, who ushers in a new covenant—a covenant which all the previous covenants anticipated and typified.

In Christ, all the promises of God are yes and amen (2 Cor 1:20). That is why in Jesus and his cross work, the desperate plight begun in Eden now finds its solution as the last Adam, the obedient Son, has accomplished his saving work. The promise that God himself must be the Savior of his people is fulfilled for he himself is the Lord. Indeed, the death of Jesus, the crime of all crimes, is nevertheless determined by the divine plan (Acts 2:23). Why? To bring to fulfillment what God had promised through the prophets, that Messiah would suffer (Acts 3:18) in order to save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).

In Jesus Christ, the prophetic anticipation of God’s coming to save in and through David’s greater Son is fulfilled. Indeed, as D. A. Carson reminds us, “the promise that through Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed, gradually expanded into a major theme in the Old Testament, now bursts into the Great Commission, the mushrooming growth of the Jewish church into the Gentile world, the spreading flame reaching across the Roman Empire and beyond, in anticipation of the climactic consummation of God’s promises in the new heaven and new earth.” [Paragraph divisions and boldface type added. This portion is taken from pgs. 139-140 in the PDF and pgs. 131-132 in the print edition.]
In Part 4, I plan to build on this platform to take a closer look at our union with Christ and the ironic similarities between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.

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