Thursday, June 09, 2011

Dispensationalism: A Critical Look At The New Covenant part 5: Only Two

Only Two

According to Covenant Theology there are only two basic covenants, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. It is understood that the Covenant of Grace is an over-arching covenant that is expressed in sub covenants throughout the history of redemption. As Walter Chantry wrote,

“God does not have multiple schemes for blessing sinners. He does not frantically crank out covenants in reaction to human decisions, until one happen to work well, thanks to man’s accepting it. From eternity past there was but one well-conceived way for sinners to be recovered. All covenants since Eden embody this one divine plan of redemption through a divinely appointed Mediator.”[1]

The New Covenant is the ultimate fulfillment of the Covenant of Redemption and there are no further Covenants or promises needing to be fulfilled. God Promises the New Covenant through the promises found throughout the old Testament. As Chantry also states,
“Even the availability of the Covenant Grace must not be misunderstood. When the Lord spoke Genesis 3:15, it was not because he saw with surprise and frustration that the earth was perverted in sin. God did not decide to give men a second chance with some wholly different alternate plan for blessing. Once the Lord instituted the first covenant becomes woven into the second.”[2]
 As also noted by Chantry, a man may only be in one of these two Covenants.
“If you have not trusted Christ (God’s mediator for sinners) you are at this moment under the Covenant of Works. All of us were born in Adam, that is, under the divine arrangement made with the entire human race. At the judgment seat God will demand that the terms of this covenant be fulfilled. Multitudes are now living under the Covenant of Works. Only those who have entered the Covenant of Grace have escaped the hopelessness of being still in Adam, born guilty, born under a curse.”
Malone also argues that there is not some kind of third position with respect to the two covenants. A person is either fully in the Covenant of Works or he/she is in the Covenant of Grace which is now expressed in the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ. In arguing against the paedo-baptist position Malone wrote,
Marcel actually says that the baptized children of believers are removed from the Covenant of Works, are no longer under the condemnation of God, and are restored to an ability to decide for or against the covenant blessings. It is as if they are a third category of people neither under the Covenant of works nor full participants of the life of the Covenant of Grace [ie: New Covenant].”[3]
 The point Malone makes is equally applicable to the Dispensationalist. As noted above, the Dispensationalist wants to make Gentiles to participate in some lesser way in the New Covenant. It is as if there is a third category. Yet when we allow the New Testament to interpret for us a proper view of the Covenants, we see this is not possible.

[1] Walter Chantry, “The Covenantss of Works and of Grace”
[2] Ibid.
[3] Fred Malone, The Baptism of Disciples Alone, 166

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